September 10, 2012
Recently, I had a conversation asking the question whether the insiders in a dissociative system should be called parts or people. And now, after recently reading Insomniac’s cute comment to me about that very same topic, I’ve decided to make a quick, informal post about it. I’m interested in hearing what the rest of you think about this topic.
Of course, the official “politically correct” term is probably parts. Well, maybe it’s still “officially” supposed to be alters, but yuck. Personally, I really dislike the term alters, and I really don’t use it often – it’s not a comfortable term in my opinion. Nope. It has too many other implications for me, and I just don’t go there very often. But the word parts – that one I have used many times.
However…. It is true, that when I get to know people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID / MPD), and I get to know their insiders, those inside people become exactly that to me — people. DID people are people with a lot of people. I don’t see the insiders as “parts” anymore. I see them, experience them, interact with them, relate to them, remember them, refer to them just like they are people in their own right. Real people. Not a part of one someone. A group of individual someones.
For right, or for wrong – that is how it feels.
I realize this is probably not at all the expected “mental health professional” stance on describing dissociative systems. It’s not an intellectual approach. This is a statement about what the experience is like for me when I meet you all.
So yes, to me, insiders are like people. They are people that share a body, but they are people, many of whom are easily recognized as their own person within the group of people.
Inside people very much have their own voice. They have their own presentation, their own thoughts, beliefs, memories, feelings, body sensations, facial gestures, perceptions, clothing, jobs, etc etc. They can each make the same body look very different (that’s so fascinating to me!). They have their own eyes, their own way of sitting, their own way of walking. They have their own way of speaking and their own way of writing. They become their own selves. And in a way that they are not parts of any one someone, but more like they are important members of a group.
Groups are one, but the groups are filled full of lots of different individuals. Each of these individuals will have their own unique reason for being part of the group, and the whole of the group is completely flavored by the individuals that belong to it.
It is amazing to me that there are such differences between the people in a dissociative system. I realize that many of these differences are probably related to the differing demands being placed on the person as a whole at the time of creating each specific new insider, including some not-so-happy reasons to need to be somebody else. However, the basic ability to become somebody else (even to pretend to be somebody else) has got to be an incredible talent in itself – I know I can’t do that very well (and yes, I have tried, funny enough. I guess that’s why I’m not a Hollywood actress, lol.)
My hat is off to dissociative people who have created and developed highly sophisticated life skills at being different people.
It’s a rather awesome ability, if you ask me.
Copyright © 2008-2012 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
December 31, 2010
Happy New Year!!
Hi Everyone –
How was 2010? Was it a good year for you? Was it a rough year for you? Hmmmm…. Do you remember what kind of year it was for you? (lol, teasing. That’s a joke for dissociative people, lol).
Everyone, quick – check inside. Do they know how your year was?
In all seriousness, if you are unsure or blank, try asking your inner people what the year (or any particular timeframe) was like. What do you hear when you ask them? Do you hear a bunch of responses? Are your insiders remembering things? Are they mentioning things that are different from what you remembered?
Your insiders will remember bits of history that you won’t remember. Incidents that occurred while they were out may very well be contained only in their memory instead of yours. This is why having good internal communication is important. The more you know your insiders, the more you are able to speak with them, or listen to them, the more you can know what has happened in the whole of your life. Talk to your insiders regularly (about the simple, everyday type things) so when you need to know something more specific, you will have the relationship and rapport needed for them to be able to share their history with you as well.
As for 2011…
I wish the best for you.
I wish you peace in your mind.
I wish you moments of quiet, and hours of genuine relaxation.
I hope you will build friendships with your insiders.
I hope that you will find the courage to look behind those blocks.
I hope that you have more kindness and acceptance than you have ever had before.
I challenge you to talk to each and every insider that you have.
I challenge you to reach out to others and help someone else in their healing journey.
I challenge you to improve your health mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
I encourage you to be gentle, and to remember the power of compassion and understanding.
I encourage you to make the world a better place, no matter where you are, or what you’re doing.
What eleven things do you wish and hope for?
I hope that 2011 is truly a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
And from Emma – she is sending the warmest of thoughts your way…
From Oliver – he’s celebrating the New Year with a straw, as only silly Oliver can do…
From the snuggly puppies, sleeping in a pile, when they were still about two weeks old.
Are you smiling yet?
Here’s hopes for the happiest of New Years!!
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
October 11, 2010
The following drawing is a DID survivor’s response to my question: Can you picture dissociative identity disorder?
*** If you are a dissociative trauma survivor, please read the following article with caution. Some of the topics presented in this blog article could create an emotional reaction from your internal system as several difficult but important topics are mentioned. Please be sure to tend carefully to your own safety and stability. ***
This drawing is helpful to understand dissociation – the very picture itself portrays how it feels to have dissociative identity disorder (DID / MPD). Assuming this drawing represents one actual person, the plural, divided-self experiences are visually obvious.
In addition to the whole of the picture, I’ve picked out a variety of elements that could be significant to the dissociative system being pictured. I will include some of the thoughts and questions that come to mind as I look at the different areas of this drawing. A lot of helpful therapeutic information can surface by asking the following questions to the survivor artist. Many of these questions could be asked to any other dissociative survivor in terms of exploring their own internal systems.
1. The blank face in the mirror
- Why is this a blank slate?
- Is there ever a time when “no one” is there? What is that like?
- Does the face place not belong to anyone in specific?
- How often does this person switch?
- Does anyone claim the face?
- Who does the actual face belong to?
- When you switch, are there visible differences in the face?
- Is there a specific leader to this dissociative system? If so, where is this person pictured?
- How often does this dissociative survivor feel like she is living outside of her body or separated from her body?
2. Notice that there are other inside system parts visible in the overall picture –
- Some parts are in the front
- Some parts are in the back – what is the significance of these different locations?
- Some parts are unknown (blank spots)
- Some parts are pictured standing alone
- Some parts are closely connected to someone else
- Some parts are older, likely adult in age
- Some parts pictured are very young
- Some parts pictured are middle-aged children
- Some parts pictures appear to be teenagers
- Can you identify any of these insiders as specific individuals?
- Who talks to who?
- Do the insiders on the back communicate with or know about the insiders located on the artist’s paint palette?
- Since we are seeing only a small portion of the actual body, are there other parts located elsewhere that are not pictured in this drawing?
- If there are other system insiders that are not pictured in this drawing, would you consider drawing another picture that does include them?
- Do the two main figures in this picture represent two distinctly different systems?
- Are you aware of what happens when the insiders “from the back” are out?
- Do you experience more time loss with the parts that are connected to the body but not visible because they are on the back or with the parts that you can see, but are more separate and pictured on the paint palette?
3. The hair and the clothes are different in the mirror — ever so slightly — but still different. Notice the different hairstyles / clothing for the different insiders – a clue for who is out might be related to the actual hairstyle / clothing they are wearing that day.
4. What is the thumb covering? I would need to ask the artist to know what this represents for sure, but several possibilities do come to mind.
- Is this a dark area of the internal system that is trying to hide?
- Is this an area that represents difficult feelings like shame, pain, anger, or any areas of life that may not be comfortable to look at?
- Using the metaphor of the paint palette, the dark spot might indicate a hole in the palette. Does it have any other significance than that? Are there “holes” in your system? To where does that hole lead?
As much as one figure appears to be the reflection in the mirror, is the mirror actually the doorway for an entirely different system than the parts outside of the mirror? It is not uncommon for mirrors to be part of the internal world / internal landscape of a dissociative survivor. These mirrors are very significant and will require specific therapeutic attention.
Some dissociative survivors speak about circles in their life, and circles can represent specific relationships, and / or being “in the circle” can have layers of meaning.
- Is there any significance or meaning to the circle designs included in this drawing?
- Do the insiders stay separated in their circle “bubbles” or are they allowed to mingle with each other?
Since the artist of this drawing used the paint palette metaphor to show their system, do colors have an important meaning to their system? Are certain parts associated with certain colors? For example, are there parts from the “green layer” or are there parts associated together as part of the “blue group”, etc. If so, what do the different colors mean, and what are the common characteristics or job roles of the insiders associated with each color?
8. Box Frame
What is the relevance of the square / rectangle mirror frame? Does seeing a main figure inside the box frame have any significance? Are any of your insiders tucked away in boxes? If your system insiders are not in boxes, do you have other issues boxed up?
9. Connection to the Body
One of the strongest themes in this picture relates to the way the different parts of the system appear to be very separate from the body.
- How often is this person in a numb, dissociated, depersonalized, or out-of-body state?
- When the parts from the paint palette are “in the body”, can the artist feel that they are present? Or do these parts continue to have a separated distance?
- Does the body feel the same or different when the mirror-reflection group of insiders is present in the body?
I have found this drawing to be rich in information that would be useful when discussing the dissociative issues experienced by this trauma survivor. There is much to learn about this survivor-system and asking these questions is just the beginning.
What do you see in this picture?
What else would you wonder about?
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
February 15, 2010
The healing process for survivors of abuse and neglect is very difficult. While it is a rewarding journey, it is a painfully difficult process.
Trauma survivors with dissociative identity disorder typically have lots of child parts in their systems. Sometimes these child parts may seem to outnumber the adults!
Working with the kids is an important part of the healing process. Inside kids often know a lot about your internal system, family dynamics, and trauma memories.
But these inside kids, while very much connected to the rest of your adult self, also have real kid needs. They need to be cared for, kept safe (inside and out), allowed to have healthy daily provisions, given support, comfort, and compassion. These are the parts of you that were frozen in time when your needs were not properly meet during your actual childhood. They are the parts of you that just could not go on any further in life, and had to stay stuck where they were, back in that time. They are often the parts that lived through the horrors that you are remembering.
If you ask me, child parts are little heroes. If you think that working on your trauma issues is hard as an adult — with a therapist and all the current-day resources available to you — imagine how hard it was to be a little child living that trauma, completely on your own, with no help at all. Your little kids have had a rough go of it. It really is important for you to do what you can to soothe their wounds and heal their hurts.
One thing that helps child parts to move forward and to not stay stuck is to meet some of their unmet needs. Between years of abuse and neglect, and many incidents of trauma, your child parts will have oodles of experiences of not having their needs met appropriately. The sooner you and your system can treat your child parts in healthy ways, the sooner they will heal. Having corrective emotional experiences will allow your child parts to experience the positive things that were missing in their development.
If your child parts are not in a place where they can emotionally flourish, it will be important for you to help them reach a place where they can experience creative happy living.
Reading good children’s stories with your child parts are as helpful for your inner kids as they are for outside children.
The book, “I Knew You Could” by Craig Dorfman is a wonderful children’s story about encouragement, support, positive self-belief, and healthy determination. The story is about a little train that goes through different areas of life, questioning his train-abilities and wondering if he can make it through the various stops in life.
I am not a professional storyteller by any means, but through the years of working with DID / MPD clients, I have been asked by many a child part to read a story. It seemed to me that maybe other child parts out there in the world would also enjoy having a positive, encouraging story read to them.
Please use this story as a way to encourage yourself and comfort your inner kids. Your healing journey is difficult — filled with lots of stops and bumps along the way — but you have already survived the worst of it. You can heal from here, and create a much better life for yourself and your insiders.
When you hear “I Knew You Could”, what are your favorite lines in the story?
Which phrases fit your life right now?
What does this story mean to you?
And whatever difficult things are happening in your life… keep working at it!
You can do it.
I know you can!
Kathy Broady LCSW
January 3, 2010
Some days just feel too hard.
Those days feel like you just can’t make it through…
Those are the days when you wish you could curl up in a ball, and sleep or stare all day long…
Or hide away forever…
Ever had a day like that?
Ever felt like your problems were just toooooo big? Or tooooo never-ending? Or tooooo all-encompassing?
Ever felt overwhelmed with hopelessness?
When the pain is just too much, or the traps are too thick, or the future looks too bleak, or too many abusers snarl in your doorway…
What do you do then?
How do you not give yourself over to those deep dark days?
How do you hold onto hope when the fight seems to be bigger than you can fathom?
How do you find your strength when you feel exhausted to your very core?
Dissociative trauma survivors know these feelings all too well. Year after year of enduring the pain of trauma and abuse has demanded more from the inner self than can be put into words. DID survivors, overwhelmed by the attacks and betrayals by the people near them, create amnesiac walls and a wide variety of inside parts to get some relief from the overwhelming intensity of such painful experiences. These walls provide a much needed separation from the suffering, space from the heartbreak, a fresh start for a few simpler moments of time.
Separating into different people helps endure the abuse as it is happening.
Leaving the trauma by floating away or hiding within can allow for an escape for at least a few minutes.
The dissociative walls can ensure more separation from the details of what happened.
Box it up, contain it, push it away. That should work, right?
Sometimes it does. In lots of ways it works, but not completely.
Even with layers of separation, it still hurts in there.
Sometimes, trauma survivors use drugs, alcohol, self-injury, shopping, running, or any other form of addiction to help create even more distance from that black hole of pain that just never seems to leave or dissipate.
How does one ever move past such deep emotional pain? The body heals, bruises fade, the bleeding stops. But the heartbreak and sadness and emotional pain remain so long that hopelessness and despair can find a comfortable lodging place right up front on the front row of life.
What do you do, when you feel like you can’t go on anymore?
What do you do when it just seems to be more than you can bear?
Give yourself the permission to feel what you feel. It’s ok to acknowledge that pain, to feel that hopelessness, to sit in your despair. Stay there for awhile, if you need to. These are real feelings, and it really does hurt. You don’t have to pretend that it’s not there. Your heart is heavy, and it feels like there may just be no way out….
But there is a way out.
It will mean doing some new things, but there is a way out of that place of hopeless and despair.
In acknowledging the pain, you might finally give yourself permission to cry. Find a private, safe place, or sit with a trusted friend or therapist, just find a place far away from anyone that will hurt you because you have tears. Find a place where tears are allowed… and let the pain come out naturally… Don’t hold it in. Let your pain have an expression… Let your pain have its own voice.
Wrap yourself in things that are comforting. That might mean surrounding yourself in music that touches your soul, or in warm tight blankets that soothe the skin, or with pets and stuffies that are kind to you.
Self-soothing is important.
And as you can, one by one, tackle those things that have been too huge to touch. Look at the truth of what happened, find ways to separate yourself from those who have hurt you, let yourself have safety and distance from anyone that brings you harm, allow yourself to end the abuse. Your healing will be compromised if you stay involved with people that hurt you. You don’t need that anymore – enough hurt already! Your life will feel much more hopeful when you are safely away from abusers.
So be brave. And be honest. Look at the reality of who has hurt you in your life. Don’t blame people that just happen to be in the way. Look at the real source of your pain. If you blame the wrong target, just because it’s easier, you will still be missing the boat. And no matter how many false targets you take down, you will still hurt inside because you are still not being honest with yourself.
As you reconnect with the pain you once separated from, and as you allow yourself to find true safety and genuine comfort, your heartbreak will lessen. This is not easy, and while there are all kinds of complicated twists and turns in this journey, it is the way out. It’s hard to deal with it all, but little bit by little bit, you can move through it.
Look for something in the future that you might like. What would you like to be able to do that you haven’t been able to do because of all the muddy muck that entangled you? Maybe you’ll have to explore new things to know what else you could enjoy. Maybe you’ll have to be courageous enough to try something completely new. But you can. Have the courage to go there, because if you don’t break out and away from where you’ve been, you’ll only have more of that old stuff.
You don’t have to have the talents of Carrie Underwood or the smarts of Albert Einstein to be successful in your own life. You will have your own abilities. But be willing to try new things to get there. Who knows what talents that you have!
In all honesty, you’ll probably find that you have strengths, talents, and abilities that you never knew you had. You’ll be able to develop interests and skills that you could only dream of before. Your life can be filled with new activities, different priorities, and creative options that you never knew were possible.
You’ll be able to build relationships built on respect, caring, and warmth. Being alone won’t be stifled in pain, but connecting with others won’t be paralyzed with fear. Your insiders can be your very best friends in the world, and effective teamwork can replace isolation. This doesn’t happen overnight, but you can get there.
As you experience true freedom and genuine safety from the chains of abuse, your life will be free to have hope, excitement, fun, and adventure. You can explore the beauty that life offers instead of being tied to the abuse and torment of perpetrators.
You won’t have to stay drowned in hopelessness and despair when you can see something creative and exciting and positive in your very own life that belongs to you.
When you like what is happening in your life, you can feel hope again.
Kathy Broady LCSW
September 6, 2009
I am still amazed by the excellent group discussion and active participation that was generated by my last blog post. Considering that one of the main purposes of this blog is to “discuss dissociation”, I think that’s good! Thank you, everyone, for your active interest. I do appreciate that.
I have been contemplating a number of different follow up topics after such an intense discussion. There is a wide variety of important offshoot directions that I could take.
However, after reading some of the comments submitted, I’ve decided to first post some tips and guidelines to remember while using this blog as a healing resource.
The longer I have Discussing Dissociation, the more I can see how reading this blog — or any blog – can have a significant impact as a healing resource. What do you do with the information that you read? Why do you read it? What keeps you interested and coming back? I’ve been thinking about all that, and it’s becoming clearer to me how this blog is having an impact on the healing process for many of you.
Thank you. I am genuinely honored that so many of you are using this blog as a resource.
There are some things that I would like for you to remember while you are reading this blog.
1. I am simply sharing my thoughts based on my experiences as a trauma therapist who specialized in dissociative identity disorder, but there is nothing “simple” about DID. I find it very hard to dissect the complex, layered, multi-faceted elements of DID into one single article, 700-1500 words at a time. There is just sooooo much more to say about each and every topic, and please know that for every point in one direction, I completely understand there are 20 other points facing other directions. But one blog article can only be so long before it becomes too cumbersome to read or write. But … keep reading over time. The more I post, the more the various angles will be addressed.
2. The way each individual trauma therapist conducts his or her therapy sessions is as unique as the way an artist paints a picture. Your therapist may very well do things very differently than I do. That is not unusual, and the challenge is to incorporate the information and methods that works best for you and your healing. It is not about right or wrong – it is about what works for you.
3. I hope that the issues discussed in this blog encourage you to think. I do not presume to have all the answers, but I can give you a starting place to process and explore your trauma issues. Learning to think for yourself is a very crucial part of your healing. Please take the information I provide and work with it as it fits for you. Ask yourself questions. Journal about it. Check inside. Write a comment. Write more about it on your own blog. Just remember – your abusers would have controlled your thinking for a very long time. Breaking out of their dictated thought processes is very important, so yes — thinking on your own is a very good thing.
4. Please know that it is ok to take the topics you have read in my blog to your therapist for more individual discussion on a personal level. I write about the things I have learned in my 25 years of working with trauma and dissociative disorders. I know patterns relating to the DID/MPD diagnosis, typical information about survivors with DID/MPD, techniques to use in sessions, questions to ask, etc. But your therapist knows you and your internal system. If you find information that seems to fit you, please discuss this further with your therapist.
5. If you feel particularly triggered or upset by anything written in this blog, including the comments written by other readers, please discuss this with your therapist as well. Emotional triggers can be uncomfortable and upsetting, but they can also be enormously valuable milestones in your healing process. If you work with triggers to understand what they are bringing up for you, you can most definitely use this information to push further into your healing.
6. Please understand that your therapist and I may have very different approaches to working with DID. That is ok – to each his own. As I said, each therapist is his or her own person, and we all work in the ways that best fit us as individuals. However, if you see a significant contradiction in what I say compared to what your therapist does, it is ok and important to talk to your therapist about this. This blog is not intended to undermine your therapy or your therapist’s opinion. I emphasize again — I hope that you can and will openly discuss any significant questions or concerns with your therapist, as needed.
7. If you are a regular reader of this blog, I strongly encourage you to let your therapist know that you read here, especially if you are finding that you are having any personal or internal reactions (either positive or negative) while reading here. It’s often important for a therapist to know where their clients are getting information. It’s been historically proven that some members the dissociative population can be easily persuaded and affected by opinions of others. If you feel or believe that this blog is affecting you on that level, please be sure to discuss this with your therapist.
9. Remember that you will be reading and interpreting articles and comments from your own personal perspectives, life experiences, and trauma issues. It’s nearly impossible to not do this. The key isn’t to fight or deny that, but to be aware of its impact. We all assign meaning and interpretation of what we read from our history and assumptions. It typically takes a lot of hard work and detailed conversation to genuinely understand each other, especially if someone is saying something different than what you already believe or expect. Genuine communication is hard work. But that’s ok. It’s important work.
10. This can be seen here already, and if you look, you’ll see examples to what I’m talking about. Of course, you can all see what I’ve written and you can hear my preferences. Go beyond that for variety. There are well over 1000 comments made here in this blog. Have you noticed that some of the frequent commenters here have a visible theme / repeated perspective to their comments? Remember — I did not say this is a bad thing. It’s an engrained perspective that naturally affects interpretation. What is your long-term perspective on therapy / therapists / healing / DID / abuse, etc.? How do these things affect how your think? Just keep these ideas in mind as you are interpreting what you read.
More Questions for Thought:
When you read something on this blog (or any blog) that is particularly powerful for you, what do you do with that information?
Do you journal about it? Talk with your insiders about it? Do you talk to your therapist about it?
How does reading this blog help you? What does it give you?
How does this blog impact your life? Your healing? Your therapy?
How does reading the blogs of other survivors help you?
What do you do with differences of opinion? Is it ok for people to disagree? Is it upsetting for you to see conflicting perspectives?
What if I present an idea that is opposite to how your therapist works. What do you do then?
How do you incorporate what you are learning here into your daily life with your insiders?
What do your insiders think of the various topics covered in this blog? Are you all talking together about the information you read here?
Good communication is very hard work, but positive internal communication is the key to healing from dissociative identity disorder. The more you can talk and communicate effectively with your entire system, the more healing and progress you will make. Let what you are learning from communicating in this blog group apply towards helping you communicate effectively with your internal group.
Kathy Broady LCSW
March 28, 2009
Ok. So I was all kinds of optimistic and hopeful that the Showtime series, United States of Tara, would be a positive statement for dissociative identity disorder. After all, Showtime interviewed Dr. Richard Kluft, an informed psychiatrist, one of the founding fathers of the treatment of DID/MPD. That was a good sign, wasn’t it?
As a trauma therapist with 20+ years of clinical experience working with multiples, I have to say I’m quite frustrated that Showtime has presented multiplicity in this way.
First of all, the word is dissociation. Pronounced di-soh-see-ay-shun. The word is not disassociation. There is no additional “a” sound in the word. Saying dis-a-soh-see-ay-shun is the wrong pronunciation and a different word altogether.
Secondly, there is not a medication that can remove or prevent or end dissociative identity disorder. Medications can address various symptoms, and can even slow the thinking down, but medication cannot remove multiplicity. The idea of drugging away the parts is particularly offensive to me, and as far as I am concerned, it is totally opposite to genuine treatment. Insiders are there for a reason, and promoting the idea that the inside can be drugged into silence seems abusive to me. This idea is absolutely absurd and smacks of perpetrative behavior.
I understand the idea of “creating additional drama” for the sake of entertainment and to get a viewing audience. Fine.
And I can understand that the visual presentation of the various alters is metaphorical for how switching feels from within. It is true — or can be true — that when insiders surface on the outside, they “feel” like they look on the inside. Insiders are often confused and upset about looking externally very different than they feel internally. They are convinced they are shorter, or wearing different clothes, or have different hair, or are even a different gender, etc. And yes, internal parts are very often adamant about being a very different person from the host personality.
For the Tara show, the insiders get to look as extremely different on the outside as they feel on the inside. However, it’s not typical for DID’ers to actually present so drastically even if they wish they could.
The different presentations of Tara are excessive, but it makes the point, and it helps the viewing audience to catch on to a switch to one part from another. I would have hoped the viewing audience did not have to have that much help in recognizing switching, but maybe they do.
Now to my biggest beef about United States of Tara: the criminal behavior.
I suppose that somewhere out there in the world, there are multiples that beat up teenagers on school property, break in to and vandalize homes of others, urinate on others while sleeping, froth and drool in public, and sexually assault their child’s underage boyfriend. I suppose I cannot say that no multiple in the world would ever do that.
But really?!!! Is this the kind of message that we want the viewing audience to have about DID? Do multiples really present as the criminally insane?
Not to me!
The multiples I have met in the past 20+ years are not out-of-control monsters like this. Their inside parts know that there is a legal body age, and while they typically feel younger than the body age, the insiders have an understanding that they are not actually the same as outside people of that age.
DIDer’s might have flashbacks or a hard time functioning or emotional outbursts, but typically, trauma survivors will have enough self-control to manage their behavior without committing a crime in public.
Showtime crossed the line by making Tara a sex offender.
It is true that many multiples have been tangled up in sexual crimes, but typically, multiples that are in treatment have not chosen the life of a sex offender. All too many trauma survivors were forced to perpetrate as part of their victimization by organized perpetrator groups, or even by violent single abusers, but being forced to hurt others is not anything near the same as purposefully deciding to sexually offend in the day world.
Most multiples are not sexually inappropriate of their own volition.
For the writers of United States of Tara to present multiplicity in this light is cruel and inaccurate.
I’m disappointed, to say the least.
What a slam.
A great big huge insulting ridiculous slam.
I am not impressed.
- What do you think?
- What are your thoughts about the show United States of Tara?
- Are you criminally insane?
- Would you do the behaviors that Tara is doing on this show?
- If you are multiple, what are your feelings about being portrayed in this way?
Kathy Broady LCSW
March 15, 2009
It is no secret that trauma survivors get depressed, and depression is the most commonly known and experienced mental health disorder.
Typical depression symptoms include:
- Suicidal thoughts, recurring death thoughts, death wishes
- Suicidal behavior and suicide attempts
- Self destructive behavior, self injury, self harm
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, self hatred, or not deserving to live
- Loss of energy, fatigue, excessive sleeping
- Little or no interest or pleasure in anything or anybody
- Inability to think, or to concentrate, or to make decisions
- Significant but unintentional changes in weight loss or weight gain
- Significant but unintentional changes in appetite
- For children, not making normal and expected weight gains and physical growth
For trauma survivors, depression can have layered meanings beyond the typical medical symptoms.
Repeated patterned depressions can be very much related to a specific or recurring trauma, or to a significant loss. For dissociative survivors with DID/MPD, the information detailing the specific loss or trauma may be hidden away or blocked off by dissociative walls. Someone in your system might know why you are feeling depressed, and they might know what the loss is, but the host / front personalities might not have a clue.
Do you have a pattern of depression occurring at the same time of year each year?
Think back through all the years. Do you have any hints that tell you how far back this pattern goes? Do you repeatedly feel the need for hospitalization at the same time each year? Do you find yourself struggling more than usual at the same time each year? Do you find yourself having thoughts of suicide or self-injury more often at a specific time of year? Do you know how long this pattern of depression been happening?
If you have Dissociative Identity Disorder, be sure to check inside and to ask your various inside parts what they have noticed as well. Some of your insiders might have a different awareness of patterns and events than you do.
For repeated patterned depressions, it is important to find the original starting point of this depression pattern. Once you do, you will get more clues as to what it is about.
My general approach to repeated depressions that follow a pattern is to “assume” that there is a trauma-based reason for it. Unless you have a better explanation, in terms of a bipolar type depression pattern, or a seasonal depression pattern, then quite possibly it is a trauma-based pattern.
Look around inside, ask around inside, to see if there is anyone that knows the depressed time of year to be a particularly bad time for them. While you are talking with your system, be sure to pay attention to the following ideas:
- Who inside feels the depression the most?
- Do you see anyone inside who is showing the depression in the way that they are sitting, standing, laying, not communicating, not being “their usual self”, etc?
- When you look at your internal system, who is showing / feeling the biggest list of depression symptoms?
- If you can’t automatically see an internal someone who is depressed, take a broader look at your internal world. When you walk around your internal landscape, can you find-feel-sense the center of it?
- Is there a place inside where the depression feels the most intense vs. the generalized depression of everyone (similar to finding the eye of a hurricane).
Other trauma-related questions you can ask your insiders include:
- Were there any significant losses that happened at this time of year?
- Who in your system has experienced these losses? (Do not assume that everyone in your system is aware of the same losses!)
- Did you or anyone inside lose a child /children, or a close friend, or a loved one at this time of year?
- Are your feelings of grief and loss repeatedly surfacing as a type of depression?
- Was anyone inside specifically traumatized or abused at this point in time each year?
- What happened? What do you know about that trauma?
For dissociative trauma survivors, a significant period of depression can be a very important clue that there is an unresolved trauma waiting to be addressed. If you have the room in your life to explore its foundations, and to address how the trauma issues are related to that recurring depression, you will be able to interrupt and resolve the depression itself.
Kathy Broady LCSW