June 11, 2009
I hope everyone has already recorded his or her score for the DES before reading this follow-up blog.
If you haven’t yet taken the DES, please do so before reading any further.
To explain the scoring of the DES, I’m going to quote some material from Dr. Colin Ross’s book “Dissociative Identity Disorder”. This information can also be found online at http://www.rossinst.com/dissociative_experiences_scale.html . Dr. Ross also provides a lengthy discussion about dissociation in the general population, charts, graphs, and comparative information with the DDIS, SCID-D, SCL-90, and MCMI.
The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) is a 28-item self-report instrument that can be completed in 10 minutes, and scored in less than 5 minutes. It is easy to understand, and the questions are framed in a normative way that does not stigmatize the respondent for positive responses. A typical DES question is, “Some people have the experience of finding new things among their belongings that they do not remember buying. Mark the line to show what percentage of the time this happens to you.” The respondent then slashes the line, which is anchored at 0% on the left and 100% on the right, to show how often he or she has this experience. The DES contains a variety of dissociative experiences, many of which are normal experiences.
The DES has very good validity and reliability, and good overall psychometric properties, as reviewed by its original developers (Carlson, 1994; Carlson & Armstrong, 1994; Carlson & Putnam, 1993; Carlson et al., 1993). It has excellent construct validity, which means it is internally consistent and hangs together well, as reflected in highly significant Spearman correlations of all items with the overall DES score. The scale is derived from extensive clinical experience with an understanding of DID. In the initial studies during its development and in all subsequent studies, the DES has discriminated DID from other diagnostic groups and controls at high levels of significance, based on either group mean or group median scores. In most samples, the mean and median DES scores for DID subjects are within 5 points of each other.
…The higher the DES score, the more likely it is that the person has DID. In a sample of 1,051 clinical subjects, however, only 17% of those scoring above 30 on the DES actually had DID (Carlson et al., 1993). The DES is not a diagnostic instrument. It is a screening instrument. High scores on the DES do not prove that a person has a dissociative disorder, they only suggest that clinical assessment for dissociation is warranted. This is how we report DES scores in our consults, as within or not within the range for DID, and as consistent or not consistent with the clinical and DDIS diagnosis of DID. DID subjects sometimes have low scores, so a low score does not rule out DID. In fact, given that in most studies the average DES score for a DID patient is in the 40s, and the standard deviation about 20, roughly about 15% of clinically diagnosed DID patients score below 20 on the DES…..
The DES is the only dissociative instrument that has been subjected to a number of replication studies by independent investigators. We found in our original replication (Ross, Norton, & Anderson, 1988) that it discriminated DID from other groups very well, with scores similar to those found by Bernstein and Putnam (1986), and this pattern has persisted in all subsequent research….
The DES can predict who will not, and who may have a dissociative disorder with high accuracy. As well, the DES taps into the dissociative component of general psychopathology… The DES is not just picking out a dissociative anomaly that is unconnected to anything else.
Because of the properties of the DES, and its extensive research base, It is the best self-report instrument for measuring dissociation available….
In other words, most trauma survivors that are clinically diagnosed with DID score in the 40’s on the DES, but survivors with DID can certainly score lower than 20 and higher than 69. Scores over 30 will indicate a high likelihood of the person having dissociative identity disorder.
Basically, the higher the score, the more likely the person has DID. The DES is not an official diagnostic tool, but it can certainly help to screen for people with dissociative disorders.
In my personal opinion, for dissociative people, the DES score will be somewhat dependent on who in the system takes the test. The parts that have more denial and dissociation from the rest of the system will likely score lower than others in the system that are more aware of the others inside. Also, I would guess that the DES score might vary with the different stages of therapy and treatment.
In any which way, the DES can be very helpful in your therapy process, and I strongly encourage you to discuss your scores in detail with your therapist. Various questions may have specific personal importance for you and can provide good foundational material for processing the ways your dissociation affects your life. The DES can give you an excellent starting place for talking about how life is for you as a dissociative person.
It can be helpful to take repeated DES tests over the course of your treatment, so you can record the changes over time. Hopefully, your dissociative scores will decrease as you progress through your therapy process.
- Which questions do you most relate to?
- If you have scored higher than 60% on any question, does your therapist understand that this experience is so common for you?
- Did you hear or sense internal arguing about how to answer any of the questions?
- Were you surprised to see any of the questions?
- Which questions asked you about dissociative experiences that you have not yet told other people that you experience?
- Do you find the DES to be upsetting? Comforting? Frightening? Confusing? …..? (fill in the blank)
Kathy Broady LCSW
March 27, 2009
I am writing this blog article in response to a blog comment / question sent to me re: the frequency of ritual / cult abuse. I am also going to clarify what the term “organized abuse” means to me.
For the purposes of this blog response, I am going to give an answer based on my personal experience as a trauma therapist that specializes in dissociative disorders. Some day I will check into the official statistics for how many trauma survivors with DID have ritual / cult abuse backgrounds versus how many do not. For today, I can more quickly pull from my 20+ years of clinical experience in working with multiples from all different areas of the USA and from different countries of the world.
I have worked in specialized inpatient units for trauma and dissociative disorders, had a busy outpatient private practice, and have been working with multiples online since 2002 via AbuseConsultants.com. SurvivorForum.com group members, and now the survivor writers posting comments on this Discussing Dissociation blog have also written about their ritual abuse histories. I also have collected hundreds of “The Negative Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse” surveys from trauma survivors via AbuseConsultants.com where many survivors have included information about their experiences with ritualized abuses. Between these various opportunities, I have had contact with hundreds of different and unique DID survivors over the past 20+ years.
While individual stories and life experiences have varied greatly for these different survivors, there are a number of overlapping similarities as well. Some multiples have spoken in great detail and clarity about their ritualistic / cult-based abuses, and some multiples have had nothing of the sort happen in their background.
Yes, without a doubt, people can dissociate and split and fragment into different personalities, thus becoming DID, even without cult-type abuses. That is absolutely true. One does not “have to have” cult abuse in order to become multiple – not in any way, shape, or form.
What I mean by “organized abuse” is that the abuse was happening under the controls of an organized group of perpetrators. This could mean a ritual / cult type group. This could mean a governmental / mind control experiment group. This could mean a sex slavery / sexual exploitation group. Organized abuse means that the primary abusers are not working as isolated individuals. The abusers are part of a larger group of perpetrators that have specific plans / ideas / routines / procedures / steps / methods that fit their purposes.
There are any number of organized groups highly skilled in mind control techniques, some more heavily laden in religious beliefs, others just based on making money through selling various versions of sex. Groups such as the KKK, the Masons, and the Illuminati have been named as organized perpetrator groups, with hidden rituals centered on purposeful, planned, severe abuse of children.
The CIA has declassified documents describing various military mind control research programs from the 1950′s through the 1980′s in the USA involving the abuse of children.
For more information, read a lecture series with Dr. Colin Ross and his presentation, “The CIA and Military Mind Control Research: Building the Manchurian Candidate” . Dr. Ross presented this lecture at the 9th Annual Western Clinical Conference on Trauma and Dissociation. Some of the more known military research projects are MKULTRA, BLUEBIRD, and ARTICHOKE.
Some pornography rings — sex slavery groups selling the most extreme forms of sex — claim “ownership” of a variety of children they use, sell, and exploit through various forms of pornography and prostitution. These perpetrators can and do use specific forms of mind control techniques (which typically cause splitting and dissociation) in order to facilitate more control over their “slaves”. The more highly trained a sex-slave is, the more dissociative they are, the more different roles they can play, the more money the prostitution ring can make from selling their services.
Ritualistic abuse and satanic type abuses are an additional complicated type of abuse that is talked about by many survivors. For some people, the SRA is presented as the ultimate goal of their abusers, with the religious beliefs holding the ultimate reward. For others, the cult-like rituals are presented as busy, overwhelming, gory, but purposeful layers of abuse (or screen memories of perceived abuse) that are there to discredit the person and/or to hide the deeper mind-control and exploitation purposes hidden underneath.
In my experience, meeting dissociative trauma survivors with at least one of these types of organized abuses has been the norm, occurring more frequently than meeting clients without them.
Apparently there are a whole lot of real nasty perpetrator types living here in the USA.
At least there are some genuine, skilled trauma therapists that can help the survivors of these atrocious abuses.
Even if you were a victim of any of these kinds of horrific abuses, there is hope for you.
Kathy Broady LCSW
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