DID: the ultimate energy disorder
What is DID?
As a person who has recovered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), I can speak to its complexity. The return to health is often slow but the energetic tools outlined above help clients with DID. The main difference is that DID clients’ energies are hidden in little bits throughout their body and energy field. It may help to see DID as a little like a battery-powered car where only one-battery cell is available at any one time. Since many tasks necessitate the use of more than one energy cell at a time, the DID person must constantly scramble to link ordinary things like names to faces, the nuances of everyday conversation and everyday tasks such as grocery shopping.
A main goal in DID is to reestablish communication between the adult (or other person or persons) in charge, sometimes called the “main” personality, and each inner and outer part.
DID is an energy disorder that is a direct result of early, extreme, prolonged abuse that transcended the physical and emotional levels and traumatized or shattered the energetic self, disrupting the energetic body. People do not become DID by accident. People who suffer from DID have experienced abuse that surpassed the physical, emotional and spiritual levels to affect the psychic energy at the core of their being. This abuse was deliberately, cruelly and consistently meted out by caretakers beginning early in the DID person’s life and often continuing well into adulthood.
Dissociation is a brilliant defense mechanism that allowed the abused child to survive by distancing herself from the abuse. It is important to note that dissociating bits of one’s energetic self is a nonviolent conscious choice. It may be more immediately effective, for example, to join the abuser in choosing a tool of torture and possibly ‘graduate’ from being the victim to helping the abuser choose victims. By dissociating, a child is choosing to encapsulate the painful moments, the least violent choice of the moment.
DID is not genetic, though the ability to dissociate, or separate one’s conscious self from pain or dangerous situations, is inherent in some people. The dissociated energy may present itself as a named personality, such as ‘Kelly’ or ‘Stan,’ or as an emotion such as fear or anger. Many dissociative people have male and female energy parts of various ages as well as animal and object parts, such as dogs, cats, snakes, cars, radios, dolls—the possibilities are limited only by the DID person’s imagination.
Though there has been a stigma in some parts of the mental health field regarding dissociative disorders, mainly due to DID’s complex nature and the high need level of many DID adults, treating DID is not only possible, but very rewarding. The therapist is wise to remember that though a DID client may seem needier than other clients, the difference is that the DID client has waited 10, 20, 30 or more years for help. The intensity emerges because the needs are finally being addressed, and is a result of 10, 20, or more bits of the person are all crying out for help at once.
It is helpful for the therapist to remain aware that helping a DID client is similar to treating a roomful of clients, each with his or her own traumatic memories and unfulfilled needs. A DID client may have different energies available on different days. This is especially important if a client arrives agitated or with a totally different opinion than in previous sessions.
In cases such as the one listed above, it is extremely helpful to the client for the therapist to take the client’s words seriously and in the present. Saying things like, “You didn’t think that last week” don’t help because they don’t strengthen the inner communication, they can appear as a criticism or challenge, which can trigger fear or panic, which only causes the affected part to retreat. Becoming frustrated when the therapist’s best efforts do not produce the level of trust that the therapist has become accustomed to may come across to the client as an indication that the therapist cannot be trusted.
As Marlene Steinberg, M.D. and Maxine Schnall, explain in their book, The Stranger in the Mirror: Dissociation—the Hidden Epidemic, it is helpful to differentiate between the surface and hidden symptoms. Steinberg and Schnall also outlined four “C’s”—Comfort, Communication, Cooperation and Connection that they say naturally lead to integration.
The gentle approach of the four “C’s” is a wonderful way to help clients reconnect to form a functioning whole. But not all of DID is conflict. One of the most helpful skills for a DID person to build is to love and appreciate all parts. That can make melding into a functioning whole seem harder but in reality, the more understanding and compassion there is between parts, the more cooperation between parts, the easier the eventual melding will be.
People with DID are survivors of cataclysmic abuses. They deserve the same consideration as a deaf or blind person, though except for energy shifting that is often dismissed as moodiness or immaturity, dissociation is invisible to most people. People with DID are often told to ‘grow up’ or ‘stand on your own two feet’ by people that have no idea that they have no solid sense of inner self to rely on. This lack of inner guidance and inability to rely on the body’s energy leaves people with DID vulnerable to manipulation, intimidation and unethical behavior.
People with DID have a sliding emotional and age scale. An adult with DID who is triggered by a stressful situation may suddenly speak in a young child’s voice. The sudden shift is the result of a complex system of variously aged personalities, some of whom handle stress better than others. The root cause of the many personalities is the consistent, prolonged, brutal disruption of the DID person’s energy fields from a very young age. DID personalities are not imaginary friends or make-believe. They are real parts of the DID person’s psyche.
Stress, illness, long work hours or seemingly innocuous events that are connected to hidden memories can trigger a person with DID. The word ‘trigger’ is a challenging concept since it is sometimes used when people harm others or damage property. Though a dissociative person who is triggered may act childishly, possibly damaging property without memory of doing so, many people with DID would rather regress to a childlike state or harm themselves than harm another person.
How Can I Help?
Understanding the complexity of the situation is crucial. Observers need to remember the DID person is going through a very tough recovery process just as a person recovering from multiple injuries would be. Blaming a person with DID for the unstable emotional energy that is part of their recovery process or admonishing them to ‘grow up’ or ‘handle it’ is like telling a person with a broken leg to dance.
Peop0le with DID often revert to a younger age when stressed. It isn’t helpful to decide a person talking in a childlike voice is helpless. Instead of deciding for others what is best, calm yourself and reassure the DID person that she is safe. An adult with DID can usually find ways to handle herself if given a little space. Calmly go through options with her or help her find a quiet place where she can work the situation out herself.
Since DID is an energy disorder, the kind of energy shared with people with DID is very important. If you would like to be helpful, give everyone the very best energy you can. This not only positively affects everyone you come in contact with but benefits you as well, since you create your own experiences based on the energy you send out.
You may not give much thought to the kind of energy you share with others, but your energy is your most important and influential asset. Your calm energy to a panicky adult is extremely helpful and will often allow a calmer energy to surface regardless of the situation. People with DID are expert at reading energies and often recognize a potentially dangerous pattern long before others do. Being an expert energy reader also means that if angry or impatient energy present, the DID person may panic simply because she picks that up. Calm, kind, compassionate energy goes a long way.
DID is an Asset
People with DID are important in the world for several reasons.
1) To raise awareness of the kinds of abuses that go on every day, all around the world, even in countries like the USA. As the authors of The Stranger in the Mirror said as part of their title, DID is a hidden epidemic. In their conclusion on page 298, they say, “You ca help put an end to our current epidemic by striking a blow at the root cause—the inexcusably high incidence of childhood abuse and trauma in our society.”
2) To show that abuse damages more than the mind and body, also harming the psyche or soul.
3) To help us all to see how important the energy we share with others really is.
4) They are absolutely amazing multitaskers who can get many things done at once and solve problems others have labeled as impossible because they have ‘thought outside the box’ for most of our lives.
To understand DID is to understand that we are, first and foremost, energetic beings. People with DID, dissociative disorders and other energy diseases are the ‘canaries in the mine’ of our energetic world. We remind others that energy is neutral. When we choose to use energy in negative ways, it can be as devastating as sticking a finger in a light socket. When we choose to use energy in positive ways, we create miracles.
Hope and Healing for DID
DID is a curable disorder. It is essential to create communication between the parts, initially to establish a sense of safety for the DID person, and ultimately to reassemble the shattered psyche (core self). This is done through energetic, intuitive counseling, combined with grounding techniques such as EFT, Reiki or acupuncture and the use of psychic intuition to help rebuild inner communication between dissociated parts and to recover the memories each part holds or represents.
Thanks to several wonderful Reiki teachers, EFT teachers and a couple excellent intuitive therapists who helped me become grounded, helped me to communicate with my dissociated parts and taught me about my energetic self, I am recovered from DID. I had 207 energetic parts, most of which have chosen to join my main personality and reform my core self. Healing from DID was challenging, since my psyche was shattered like a pane of glass. It was painstaking work to piece each bit to form the mosaic of my healing self.
I intend to raise awareness about DID and how people live with it. Though it is a largely invisible disorder, it need not be a misunderstood one. All who come with gentle and accepting hearts are welcome. I leave you with a few words from a wise wizard and a word of universal peace: Namaste.
“. . . he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.””
--Gandalf, in The Lord of the Rings
Theory, Healing Resources and Philosophy
The Stranger in the Mirror: Dissociation—the Hidden Epidemic, by Marlene Steinberg, M.D. and Maxine Schnall
The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted J. Kaptchuk, O.M.D.
The Courage to Heal, by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis
Unlocking the Secrets of Childhood Memories by Dr. Kevin Leman and Randy Carlson
Expressions of Healing: Embracing the Process of Grief by Sandra Graves, Ph.D.
Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward
Adult Children of Abusive Parents by Steven Farmer, M.A., M.F.C.C.
Forgiving and Reconnecting—Bridges to Wholeness by Everett L. Worthington, Jr.
Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw
Surviving the Darkness: Help for Dealing with Depression by Grace Ketterman
Unspeakable Truths and Happy Endings by Rebecca Coffey
Father-Daughter Incest by Judith Lewis Herman
Linked to Someone in Pain by Cheryl L. Sanfacon, M.D. and Joyce Magnin Moccero
The Courage to Care by Jeffrey A. Watson
The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D.
Haunted Memories: Healing the Pain of Childhood Abuse by Perry L. Draper
Child Sexual Abuse: Hope for Healing, by Maxine Hancock and Karen Burton Mains
The Obsidian Mirror: An Adult Healing from Incest by Louise M. Wise Child
The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to do When A Parent’s Love Rules Your Life, by Dr. Patricia Love
Healing from Damaged Emotions by David A Seamands
Healing for Damaged Emotions Workbook by David A. Seamands and Beth Funk
Outgrowing the Pain: A Book for and About Adults Abuse as Children
If You Had Controlling Parents by Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.
Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic by James Gilligan, M.D.
Neurotic Styles by David Shapiro
The Gift of Pain: Why We Hurt and What We Can Do About It by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey
Betrayal of Innocence by Dr. Susan Forward and Craig Buck
Secret Survivors: Uncovering Incest and Its Aftereffects on Women by E. Sue Blume
Thou Shalt Not Be Aware by Alice Miller
Amongst Ourselves: A Self-Help Guide to Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder by Tracy Alderman, Ph.D. and Karen Marshall, L.C.S.W.
Got Parts? An Insider’s Guide to Managing Life Successfully with Dissociative Identity Disorder by ATW
When Feeling Bad is Good by Ellen McGrath, Ph.D.
Healing Hurts That Sabotage the Soul by Curt Grayson & Jan Johnson
The Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson
The Battered Child Syndrome by Selwyn M. Smith
Self-Growth in Families by Robert C. Burns
Power Over Panic by Bronwyn Fox
Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Geringer Woititz, Ed.D.
The Gift of Therapy by Irvin D. Yalom, M.D.
Yearning for the Wind: Celtic Reflections on Nature and the Soul by Tom Cowan
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.
Love’s Executioner by Irvin D. Yalom
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine
The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook by Deborah Bray Haddock, M.Ed., M.A., L.P.
Children of the Self-Absorbed by Nina W. Brown, ED.D., L.P.C.
The Wise Child by Sonia Choquette, Ph.D.
Releasing the Bonds by Steven Hasson
The Empowered Mind by Gini Graham Scott
Multiple Personality Disorder from the Inside Out, edited by Barry M. Cohen, Esther Giller and Lynn W.
Growing Beyond Survival: A Self-Help Toolkit for Managing Traumatic Stress by Elizabeth G. Vermilyea, M.A.
The Journey from Heartbreak to Connection by Susan Anderson
Steering Through Chaos by Os Guinness
Original Self by Thomas Moore
The Planets Within by Thomas Moore
Soul Mates by Thomas Moore
The Spiral of Memory and Belonging by Frank MacCowen
Exposure Anxiety: The Invisible Cage by Donna Williams
I Can’t Get Over It by Aphrodite Matsakis, Ph.D.
Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman, Ph.D.
Uncovering the Mystery of MPD: It’s Shocking Origins. . .It’s Surprising Cure by James G. Friesen, Ph.D.
Energy Psychology by Michael Mayer, Ph.D.
Little Girl Flyaway by Gene Stone
Nobody Nowhere by Donna Williams
Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore
The Soul’s Religion by Thomas Moore
A Rock and A Hard Place by Anthony Godby Johnson
Daddy’s Girl by Charlotte Vale Allen
When Rabbit Howls by Truddi Chase
One Child by Torey Hayden
They Cage the Animals At Night by Jennings Michael Burch
Whatever Mother Says. . . by Wensley Clarkson
The Lost boy by Dave Pelzer
A Child Called “It” by David Pelzer
A Man Called Dave by David Pelzer
Help Yourself by David Pelzer
The Happy Room by Catherine Palmer
Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
The Wounded Spirit by Frank Peretti
How Little We Knew by Dee Ann Miller
DID: the ultimate energy disorder