The Significant Other's Guild to Dissociative Identity Disorder

compiled by Jeff Vineburg (jeffv@op.net)

Greetings, friend or SO (significant other) of a survivor. I have been largely unable to find any information that would be helpful to us, so I decided to try and come up with something. I often joke to my SO that it's really difficult because dissociation doesn't come with a manual. So I give you the Definitive SO Manual. It's the definitive one simply because there are no others.

Ye Olde Table of Contents

Introduction and Partner Portion

Dissociative Portion

Dissociative Humor

Online Resources

Reading Lists

In Closing...
 

Take it from the top boys

My significant other and I went through HELL trying to figure out what was wrong. I vowed that when things settled down a bit, I'd do whatever I could to help others in this situation.

I hope that this will be helpful to SO's, dissociatives, friends, and anyone who takes an interest. If you have any comments, questions, or additions, please email me at the above address.

Throughout this text, I will attempt to use humor to make certain points. Please try to take it as humor and not as a slam against anyone. I also use the pronoun `she' exclusively. Obviously, it stands for she or he, meaning your significant other.

I have tried to make this document as safe as possible, but obviously cannot be held responsible for `triggering' dissociative folks. Please proceed at your own pace and with reasonable caution. The section titles should give you a clue about content.

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WHERE IT ALL BEGINS

I spent 2 God-awful years alternately dragging my significant other, then following her from doctor to doctor, and she wasn't getting any better. The working diagnosis was bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression. She had highs for days, followed by suicidal lows, which always led to hospitalizations.

During the hospitalizations, I thought it really odd that every day I came to visit her, she asked me what she was doing there. Preceding the stays was a period of regression and slurring (later discovered to be a suicidal alter).

She slept an awful lot. Whenever I went into the room to talk to her, she would get extremely crabby, and say hurtful things. Oddly enough, she never remembered saying them later on. We referred to this phenomenon as `Irwin', because he sounded a little like Anne Ramsay in "Throw Momma from the Train." I mentioned Irwin a lot to the doctors, but no one had any explanation.

No one was able to help. She went faithfully to see her doctors, but all she got was medical and prescription bills. The hospitalizations got more frequent, and for longer durations. When she was discharged, she went through a fog for a few days, then returned to work.

The last time she went in, the fog never let up. It was accompanied by voices. The psychiatrist gave her a drug for schizophrenia (Navane), which quieted everything down, but after a while they were back, strong as ever. After a few weeks out of work, we realized this wasn't going to lift, and applied for disability (see DISABILITY).

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DISCOVERY

"Voices?? Oh man, are we in for it."
"Only crazy people hear voices."
"Just take this and they'll go away soon. I hope."

Well, needless to say, it didn't. Through the internet, I met a wonderful lady who answered some of my questions about bipolar disorder. It turns out she had dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder. The more she told me what her life was like, the more we began to suspect that something similar was going on at my house.

My new friend broke the news to me gently. My girlfriend probably had dissociative identity disorder. After another little while, I managed to get a little of this out of her. She admitted to becoming a little girl sometimes. She lost time. She'd race off to her mom's place, three hours away, at the drop of the hat, at five in the morning. She found clothes in the closet that she didn't buy. She knew she went to school, but she couldn't remember much about it.

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WELL THEN, GO TO THE DOCTOR

No problem, Dear. You've got a well-known psychological condition that's treatable. Thank God you're not schizophrenic. We'll just talk to your doctors about this.

The psychiatrist didn't really deal with this disorder, but he mentioned that there was a guy who did, and perhaps we could have her evaluated there. This guy totally missed the boat. 

Her psychologist did actually deal with dissociation, so we were off to her office. While there, *someone* started talking and referring to my significant other as `her.' The doctor's eyes got wide, and she shot me a glance.

Apparently this psychologist dealt with dissociation, but not anything too far to this end of the spectrum.

OK then, let's dig out the insurance manual and find a specialist (see INSURANCE). After that trial by fire, we finally managed to locate someone who had worked with dissociatives before. Notice that she did not identify herself as a specialist. She saw my SO and waited quite a while to agree with what we already knew: she was a multiple.

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WHAT IS DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER?

The classic definition of dissociation is when you're driving down the highway and you arrive at your destination, not totally sure how you got there (and you haven't been drinking). You're ok, but you don't really remember driving the whole distance. Congratulations - you've just dissociated. We all do it to some degree.

Dissociation runs the gamut from the above to forgetting more things, to the opposite end of the spectrum - multiple personalities.

DID, formerly multiple personality disorder, is nothing more than a very creative coping mechanism. It is not an illness.  They are not crazy. These people are survivors of all sorts of trauma in childhood, and it affects the way they process current information and react to everyday life.

After discovering that something's up with themselves, and the survivors will bear me out on this one, they might refer to themselves as freaks. Then they get to talking with other survivors and find out they say the same things about themselves! No, they are not freaks. They're creative and resourceful, and they're survivors.

Sometime in your SO's early life, generally before the age of eight, she suffered some severe, repeated trauma. This could have been physical, emotional, or sexual abuse (ritual, religious, incest, etc.). In uncommon cases, it can be a disaster that caused it.

While the abuse was taking place, it was too traumatic for your significant other to take. So a natural defense mechanism became just simply `leaving.' Other parts (alters/fragments) are created to take the pain of the abuse, as the `host' (original personality) cannot bear it any longer.  Or think of it as the ultimate denial - "that's not happening to me" - so it happens to someone else.

This is why she doesn't remember being abused. She actually doesn't have knowledge of the abuse - someone else in the system took it for her. Typically, the host has no knowledge of what the alters did or sometimes they don't know that the alters exist. Different trauma can create different alters. See - it's a coping mechanism. It's actually healthy.

When I realized my girlfriend was dissociative, I completely rejected the notion that she could've been abused as a child. My girlfriend - a victim of incest? Pshaw. Well, needless to say, I was wrong, with a capital W. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

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WHY IS SHE IN BED ALL DAY?

For most of her life, your SO has had a `system' that has helped her cope with everyday life, as well as some horrible events in her past. The job of the system is to keep it all together and help her to function. The system was great at protecting her, but as she got older, things started falling apart.

She might have noticed that she was losing significant amounts of time. Could be an hour here, a month there, or in some cases, entire years. She starts `popping in' right in the middle of a sentence, with no idea what's going on. She becomes adept at covering for these unexplained lapses in a number of ways. The aforementioned denial is always a popular one.

Perhaps she realizes that someone takes over her body, but she can see what's going on while this is happening (co-present). The voices start. She can't concentrate, can't work, can't bathe; she can barely function.

This is the crisis stage, when it all starts unraveling. It can raise its little head in any number of ways, from mild to severe. A formerly active person can become totally unable to work. A person might be able to work, but at a reduced capacity. Or perhaps she goes to work each day, does an excellent job, but has no idea how the work gets done.

You, the beloved partner, might find yourself the only capable member of your household. Find help for your significant other and your family quickly. Enlist the aid of friends or neighbors to help with the kids or whatever needs to be done.

It is imperative that at this point, you do NOT push your significant other. Things are not well `up there' and you're only going to cause more confusion and overwhelm by getting frustrated and demanding things that she's not able to provide.

If you push anything at all on her, you re doing more damage than you think. After all, doing things against her will was what got her here in the first place, right?

Most of all, reinforce that she is a great, brave person. A survivor. Tell her that you love her a lot. She needs to hear this repeatedly, because she firmly believes she's not good, from years of abuse. Plus, you might have to repeat yourself frequently anyway, as you're likely to be talking to different alters.

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INSURANCE

This is a disgusting topic. Of these foul organizations, the most common and most evil type is the ubiquitous Managed Care (HMOs). This is a novel concept where you're well when the insurance company says you are, not when the doctor says so.

Even with some of the better health insurances, the mental health portion is managed care. So when you go to the emergency room because your SO is trying to kill herself, they have to call the insurance company to get her precertified for an inpatient stay.

While your significant other is in the hospital, the case worker has to call the insurance company, sometimes daily, to beg for more inpatient days. Watch your explanations of benefits and check your policies carefully - you have a maximum number of inpatient days, as well as a maximum mental benefit that may be separate from your physical maximum. Congress just passed a law requiring these two amounts to be equal.

You will also notice (he said sarcastically) that you have a maximum benefit amount, but not a maximum premium amount.

In the past, facilities had dissociative disorder units (DDUs). These have all but disappeared due to budget cuts and decreased reimbursements by insurance companies and managed care organizations.

Now you're lucky if the staff had even seen a dissociative. And speaking of staff... if you're looking for an actual doctor, don't hold your breath. There might be one social worker for an entire floor, who acts on the orders of your doctor (who is only required to see you a few days per week). Almost anyone can get a job at a mental health facility. Medical students, EMT's, and soon, janitors.

The insurance company is not interested in your significant other getting better. They're interested in minimizing the stay, thereby maximizing their profits. Currently, it's difficult to get admitted to a hospital unless you present a distinct danger to yourself. And I'm not talking about appearing there and telling them you want to kill yourself - that's for amateurs. You have to tell them that you want to kill yourself and you have a PLAN. And be able to say what the plan is.

When she gets out of the hospital, it's back to therapy. It's tricky here too. Managed care refuses to acknowledge dissociative identity disorder because it requires ongoing therapy, sometimes for years. They'd be much happier writing you a referral for five visits and calling it quits. You have to stay on top of your insurance company with a microscope. Watch every decision they make, check to see who they paid and didn't pay, how much you owe, and what they're telling your doctor they'll allow and won't allow.

If you run into trouble, don't hesitate to call the insurer. Make sure you state that you're calling about the mental health portion of your coverage, as they're frequently different parts of the company. Talk to a supervisor. Then go up the line until you get the answer you want. Make sure they're upholding their end of the bargain. Have family members call to voice their concerns. Call the state health commissioner, the newspapers, your representatives in government, and anyone else you can think of. This is WAR, people.

Until we make enough noise about this, nothing will change. Call your congresscritters today and tell them you want better mental healthcare - NOW. OUR INSURANCE NIGHTMARE

Apparently, my SO's insurance allowed her to see anyone in the network (Preferred Provider Organization or PPO), except for mental. For that, it was managed care via a company called Greenspring, in Maryland. We had to check her policy book for the approved list of mental health providers, as if she went out of network there was an out of network deductible, a drug deductible, and a deductible for seeing a psychiatrist on Tuesdays.

Opening the manual, we noticed that there were no physician names - only facilities! Why is this, you ask? Because they only allow groups to participate. Want to see a psychiatrist? Call around and try - good luck. Yes, they're on staff, but they'd prefer you see a social worker instead, and perhaps he or she can recommend to your regular physician that you go on medication.

Ok, so we call a few numbers and ask if they have a dissociative specialist on staff. "DUH... ummm.... what's that," ask multiple receptionists. Nowhere in the entire provider directory do we find one doctor who can treat this. A call to the insurer is no more help - they tell me to call around - the doctors are not listed by specialty.

"Why can I find a gastroenterologist, but not a psychologist?" I asked. I got the familiar `DUH' in reply. Fortunately, we found someone almost by accident.

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DISABILITY

If your SO is too frazzled to work, get in touch with the local social security office and file a claim for disability. You'll need all sorts of information, and will have to have doctors sign forms and be able to document the fact that she can't work. They might have her see an independent psychologist for his assessment.

Regardless of how impaired your significant other appears, odds are that she'll be turned down. It is widely suspected that everyone gets turned down the first time, so the government can attempt to `weed out' the people who really don't need it.

Unfortunately, the people who really DO need it are the least able to reapply. This is governmental logic at its best.

When the rejection arrives, appeal it immediately. If you're unsure, get a lawyer on it. You only have around 60 days to appeal the decision before you have to reapply, as specified in the rejection letter. Disability lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning that they take a percentage of the award afterwards. You pay nothing up front. And if they don't succeed, they get nothing.

If you can't find a lawyer, try some sort of local community legal service, or the social security office. They'll have some listings of attorneys who handle these cases for free or for a percentage of recovered funds - nothing up front.

Check the laws on this - you're only allowed to file a certain number of times.

The determination of eligibility can legally take up to six months. Payment is retroactive to filing date, if approved or won on appeal. During the time it takes to file, if you meet certain requirements, you can apply for medicaid health and income benefits.

new info.......(5/28/97)

My SO received medicaid benefits up until the disability case was won. She received supplemental income (SSI), which immediately disqualified her from medicaid. So here she sits with a small disability income and no health insurance. She'd be happy to purchase insurance, but every single plan has a pre-existing clause. For the gibberish-impaired, this means that they won't treat you for anything you are currently being treated for, for six to twelve months.

So, if (heaven forbid) she needs hospitalization, the insurance doesn't have to pay. Nice deal, eh? AND they won't cover the day program (partial hospitalization).

None of this was communicated, by the way. She only found out she had disability from looking at her bank balance. Now, with no medical insurance, you can't attend a day program. Some genius set it up so that the disabled person is not eligible for medicare for TWO YEARS after the date of disibility. I called state senators, congresscritters, mental health agencies, caseworkers, the county, and everyone else with a phone. No one knew where to turn. Finally, I found one day program that accepted county funds. If you run out of places to turn, call the county and ask. There might even be assistance available for prescriptions. Check out it. You have nothing to lose by asking.

If you are in a group plan, you can get her added to your policy with no pre-existing requirement.

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PUBLIC ASSISTANCE

After your SO has exhausted all of her medical benefits and she's still too foggy to work, it's time to contact the county board of medical assistance to apply for benefits. You have to actually have a need for this, and be able to demonstrate it. They'll ask for income figures of everyone in the house, cars/houses/boats owned, household expenses, number of dependents, and whatever else the state requires them to ask.

If you're not married (I believe `shacking up' is the technical term for this), do not mention it. It may or may not affect benefits.

There will be at least one interview, as well as a form to be filled out by the doctor, stating that she's disabled. It's no big deal. You might have to help, depending on how your significant other feels about mail and filling out forms.

Where I come from (no, not Mars), you can get food stamps, medical benefits, and cash assistance, if you qualify for them. If one of you is working, you'll probably qualify for at least medical benefits, and perhaps cash.

One shocking thing about medical assistance is that the benefits are much better than quite a few insurances that you actually PAY for. It's not always managed care, most hospitals accept it, and it pays for prescriptions, with only a small copayment in some cases. In fact, it's easier to get care in a hospital with this than with managed care policies!!

More and more, the states are getting out of the welfare business and turning it over to managed care companies. This means that the not-for-profit agency that distributed the benefits before (the government) wants to turn healthcare over to a FOR-profit managed care company, which, rest assured, does not have your best interests at heart.

As for your regular physician, you'll have to work something out. If he sees your significant other in the hospital, odds are that he does accept it, and it's only accepted as payment in full, again with a possible co-pay. Docs are generally willing to work something out.

Privacy Notice: If you can afford it, you might want to just pay cash for treatment. If you use insurance, all of what happens is noted in her chart, and available to anyone with the proper credentials to check. This includes insurance companies (health AND home), and all sorts of other prying eyes. So if you want to keep this quiet, pay for it yourself.

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SUPPORT

One of the most important things both of you can get is support. I cannot emphasize strongly enough the value of a good support system, for the survivor and the significant other. You might be a real `he-man', like I was, and poo-poo the need for any kind of support. After all, you're doing fine.

Trust me, you're not.

Online Support

The internet is a wonderful place to find anything, and support is no exception. If you're reading this online, I probably don't have to tell you too much about the value of web surfing or newsgroups.

For the survivors, the absolute best place I can think of is the newsgroup alt.support.dissociation. Fire up your browser, which should include a newsgroup reader, or get News Xpress, Free Agent (which will let you read and reply offline), or any number of other free(!) programs.

For the SO's, there's not a whole lot of support in the newsgroups, but we're not alone, folks. Bring up your email program and send a message to snuffy@psnw.com. Snuffy moderates the SO Group List. It originates on AOL, but is a private list, available to anyone with an email address. There is also an AOL- specific chat room, but I've never been there, as I (fortunately) don't have AOL. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

I have read Sybil, The Three Faces of Eve, The Magic Daughter, The Flock, When Rabbit Howls, MPD from the Inside Out, and More than One. I highly recommend that you increase your knowledge of this subject, as it will affect you greatly in the future. One book with a ton of clinical information is "Dissociative Identity Disorder" by Colin Ross.   It's written in doctor-ese, so it's not all that easy to read, but it's well worth the ton of money they're asking for it.

As for support books for us, I am aware of only one: Allies in Healing, by Laura Davis. Don't borrow this book - go directly to the bookstore and purchase it. Although it's the only book of its kind, we're fortunate that it's a decent book. It might not be of too much help to you at the very beginning, but check it out to see what applies immediately, then go back and read it later on, when it will make even more sense. The only caveat is that it tends to overemphasize the safety of the survivor, sometimes at the expense of YOU.

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WHERE THE HELL IS MY WIFE?

That's a good question. It can have many answers, some unpleasant. The woman you met was just one of the alters, and she might not spend a lot of time out. Or she could submerge for long periods at a time. You could also spend most of your time with the one you know as your SO, which I am blessed to do.

All systems are different, and there's no way to forecast what's going to happen.

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Note: the next section deals with sexual relations. If necessary, you can skip to the following section.

WE DID HAVE A SEX LIFE BEFORE THIS, DIDN'T WE?

When realization of the past takes hold, or in crisis stage, you may well find yourself not having sex as frequently as before, or at all. Think about this carefully. Your SO was brutally abused. Imagine how it must feel, living with that. Try to be caring and supportive.

Another thing to pay careful attention to is WHO you're making love to. Yes, she's got the body of your significant other, but you want to make sure that she is the one you know as your SO before you begin. Some of the alters are children, and YOU CANNOT HAVE SEX WITH CHILDREN. Some are troubled teens, and we all remember our teenage years, don't we?

Some of the alters have the job of providing sex. This job may come as a substitute for love, or to prevent worse abuse. If so, let this part know this is not what you're about.

If you're in the midst of things and something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't (learn to trust your instincts - they're good friends). She might have switched sometime (see SWITCHING). If she asks for or does anything uncharacteristic of your SO, stop right there. You do not want to cause further damage to the system.

How do we make sure? This is a hairy topic (if you've seen my web page, I'm a hairy guy, so I'll have a go at it). One way is honesty. Ask her what her name is. If she refuses to answer or gets really angry, odds are that someone else is out. Some alts don't want to be identified by name, so they'll go to great lengths to avoid saying it (shades of the movie Beetlejuice).

If you're on good terms with some of the alts, ask for some help, or for a contract that states that you will only make love to your SO (see SUICIDE AND CONTRACTS).

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Important Note to Men: As we get older, it is important to continue to have sex. (Yes, we all know this, Jeff.) But it isn't for the reason you suspect. Ever hear of your prostate? As we age, the prostate becomes more prone to problems. The way to prevent this is to routinely engage in sex - this exercises the prostate and prevents it from enlarging, causing all sorts of other painful maladies.

Now us Sensitive Guys in Committed Relationships cannot got out and find it elsewhere, so we're left with one option; masturbation. Use it or lose it, guys.

Anecdote: I had a kidney stone at age thirty. They say it's every bit as painful as childbirth, which makes me admire women even more. It WAS painful. I saw a urologist, who asked me if I had a sex partner (single at the time, I held up my left hand). He imparted the above wisdom to me about the prostate, and recommended about three times a week.

Since I didn't have a partner then, I asked if he would wrote a prescription for one, and would Blue Cross cover it? :)

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SUICIDE AND HOSPITALIZATIONS - Full And Partial

At times in her life, your SO is probably going to wind up in the hospital (you might already be laughing hysterically at me, after her second trip this month). You might not even know it's for DID at the time, but it will happen.  Colin Ross estimates that five percent of inpatients have DID and are undiagnosed.

One of the most frequent reasons for hospitalizations is suicidal attempts or ideation (thinking about killing herself). At this point, drop everything and get her to the hospital. At the desk, let them know she's suicidal - this tends to make them move a little faster.

Make sure to find a hospital with a good psych floor, as recommended by her doctor, preferably where he practices.

After her intake evaluation and the inevitable call to the insurance company, she'll be transferred to the psych unit. This is typically a locked unit, for the patients' safety. Visiting hours are bound to be a bit weird too - don't be surprised if you can't see her for a while at first.

Bring her a bag containing some clothes, toiletries, underwear, a stuffed animal or her favorite comfy item, shoes and slippers, bedclothes, paper and pencils, and magazines or hobbies. You might want to keep a bag packed for emergencies. You never know where they will occur. This bag will be searched, so do not include anything that they might want to remove, such as razors, sprays, anything with alcohol (perfume, cologne, mouthwash, cosmetics), and anything that can possibly be used to hurt herself or others. Matches and lighters are held by staff - check for specific rules on smoking. Generally a separate area is set up for smoking, and everyone is taken as a group (for whatever reason, most seem to smoke).

You're liable to see all sorts of things on the ward. The truly dangerous patients are (hopefully) in restraints or isolated somehow. You will see all sorts of things that you'd probably expect to see on a psych ward, and a few you didn't plan on. Remember, these people have problems, so be gentle. It could be you instead of them.

You could get yelled at, mistaken for someone they know, totally ignored, as well as watching some behavior you've only read about. Everyone's there for their health. Keep your significant other safe.

The hospital is really only a place to prevent self-harm these days.  Very little actual healing and therapy takes place.  I know it helps to look at it in this context, otherwise you might wind up punching a hospital employee.

Be supportive during your visits. Bring her presents, if she's up to receiving them. Little things mean a lot during this time. Some of the alters will be freaked out at being cooped up. Try to explain why they're there, in non-threatening and non-judgmental terms.

When she comes home, give her time to recover. She won't spring back to 100% immediately. Help where you can.

When you go to visit on weekends, let me prepare you for what you will see. Nothing gets done on weekends. And I mean nothing. The doctor will probably not show up, they have trouble getting help on weekends, and they're invariably short-staffed. She will get her medicine and her food, but don't expect much more.

It's odd that, for an industry in crisis, no one mentions that there are at least two days per week that are wasted in terms of therapy. The insurance companies can save two days right there by requiring therapy on weekends. You'd think this would motivate a business that's so profit-driven, but who can explain it?

While an inpatient, she will have therapy (we hope), like group, individual, art, and women's issues. Safety will be worked on. Odds are that she will be tossed out by insurance before any meaningful work is done, so it is important to proceed with her therapy when she's back home.

One way to continue therapy is to go to a day program, or partial hospitalization. This will depend entirely on your insurance and your doctor. A day program is a good thing, in that it teaches skills and gives your SO consistency in her life. There will be groups, activities, therapy, and in some places, medical checks. This might not take place in a hospital - perhaps a dedicated facility.

Do not rely on the day program to combat serious problems or to supplant regular therapy. They may not be equipped to handle this. She should continue to see her therapist.

Hospitalizations tend to serve the function of keeping her safe.  Not a whole lot will happen inside, aside from not allowing her to kill or harm herself.  Some systems might even try to work out their own problems when faced with hospitalization: no one likes to be `locked up.'

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CONTRACTS

At some point, the system might be able to enter into a contract with you or the therapist. Sometimes it's as simple as agreeing not to commit suicide or do any harm to herself. If you get a contract, try not to leave loopholes. And you must have the consent of the whole system, or it means nothing. If they don't agree, they're not bound by the terms of the contract. Just when you thought you'd had enough of lawyers....

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ALTERS

There are as many variations in systems as there are dissociatives. Some you may recognize from reading, some may be completely foreign to you. You have to be adaptable and resourceful. Again, experience with children comes in handy here.

This was the Ultimate Irony for me, as I'm uncomfortable with kids. (Note - I'm learning)

Your other half has a bunch of alters, or parts, or people. I find it helpful, as does her therapist, to think of the others as parts of her. Her job, in the long run, is to communicate with all of them, and stay present, instead of letting the others take over when it's uncomfortable for her.  The power is there - she will have to patiently learn to use it.

Try to deal with the alters on their own level. Many are children, so you have to relate to them as such. Set limits, don't yell or argue, and don't allow yourself to be taken advantage of (but don't be preoccupied with the thought of being taken advantage of).

If you have or like children, this is excellent preparation for interacting with alters. Remember though, that an alter might be only five, but he is a very ADVANCED five. He might know how to drive. She might be 10, but she took all the college math courses for your SO.

Never underestimate the alters. And never NEVER lie to or break a promise to an alter. You have to have an atmosphere of trust and communication. Remember - they were abused and lied to in the first place. You have to be someone they can trust.

If you want to address a certain alter, Miss Manners suggests that you only address the alter who's out at time. If you want to speak to a different one, ask the out personality to send a message, if that's possible. If there's danger, ask for the appropriate part.  

Whenever an alter comes out, you will eventually notice subtle (or not so subtle) clues as to his or her appearance. If you've read the books, you know it was mentioned that when different alters came out, the person took on almost completely different looks. She could appear to be taller, she could write with the opposite hand, frown, have a different blink rate, and/or appear younger or older than your SO. This can be quite dramatic, or you could have a hard time noticing it.

Watch and you will soon be able to tell who's out by voice or appearance, if not by context. Remember though, that they spent all their lives being your SO, so they're liable to want to not be noticed or identified. This also has something to do with getting hurt in the past if they `told' something.

Don't prod or badger an alter. If they want to talk or interact with you, they will. Your job is to create a trusting, loving atmosphere. Since they were hurt, it s very difficult for them to trust anyone. They can also become wonderful friends, somewhere down the line.

Each one has his place in the system, as well as a function. One might handle certain school subjects, another might do other subjects, one can be the perfect spouse, one might strive to please her abuser, a few can do sex, and some might pop out when you're in a toy store.

Type of Alters:

Suicidal: this is just as it sounds. When this one's out, she might try to kill the system. They seem to have no fear or regard of death. Sometimes they consider it a relief.  They frequently think that they're killing the host and they will live.   They are wrong.

Protector: you have to be careful here. This is also just what is says. The job of this alter is to make sure no harm comes to the system. This can be accomplished in many ways, some being nastiness, arguments (if I make him go away, he won't hurt us), and picking up and going elsewhere without notice (he can't hurt us if we re not here).   A lot of persecuter alters are miguided protectors.

The Kids: are precisely this. They are young, and enjoy all the things that real children do. Teddy bears, crayons, arts and crafts, animals, and whatever else you can imagine are their playthings. They can be easily frightened.

Helper (Inner Self Helper): this one is generally fairly powerful, and has contact with a lot of the other alters. She might be able to tell you things that the others can't or don't know. She may hold The Kids in her lap to calm them down, or referee disagreements within the system.

Self Mutilators: these alters cut, burn, scrape, scratch, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves. This can be to release pain, or perhaps due to feelings of inadequacy.

Frequently, alters are not aware of time or location.  Some may be frozen in the time the abuse took place.  If possible, you can try to make the alter aware of the time, place, and year.  This can sometimes help.  If someone's constantly on the lookout for abusers, you can make her aware that the abuser is far away (if this is true), or dead, and that she's safe.  It happened in the past and although her pain is real, it's not going to happen now.

It's a good idea to alter-proof your house. Think of how you'd childproof the place, then do it. Get rid of all non-necessary medicine, trash the razor blades, and do whatever's necessary to keep the alters safe from themselves and each other. You might have to learn the hard way, by catching an alter trying to do harm, but then you will know better next time.

ALT LOGIC

If you can gently help them to realize that this isn't so, you'll be helping.  Use logic and don't be forceful.

You'll hear all sorts of interesting things from the mouths of alters. You must remember that these people grew up in their own little universe, with radically different rules and beliefs from what we consider normal. They don't think like us (some multiples jokingly refer to us as `singletons' or as having Single Personality Disorder). All their lives this went on, so this is their normal way of thinking and doing things.

Each alt was `born' for a purpose, and generally has a pretty set way of thinking and doing things. So you'll be greeted with some totally outrageous statements, but try not to sound too surprised: you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

The protector alts were born to protect (obviously). They're generally on alert, even if there is no reason to be. This is also alt logic. The kids may be afraid of a lot of things.

If you want to truly communicate, try to do so on their level. This will be difficult, but you'll adapt quickly.

(the following statement comes from an alter who really grew up a lot since I first met him) EVIL.........OF THE COMMITTEE OF RBW, reinforces the point:

ONE THING FOR YOUR BOOK IS THAT US ALTS WILL LISTEN WHEN YOU SATISFY FRAG LOGIC.

(fragments are alters of limited capacity - like only for cleaning or cooking. Evil is also a great example of the differences between the host and alter: male in a female's body, types in all capitals, can sound incredibly like his name when he needs to)

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SWITCHING

Another tricky aspect of this is the switching. When your SO feels threatened, she may switch. What's odd about this is that it can be caused by something totally inconsequential (to you). It could be a reflection, a word, a person, something that reminds your SO of something traumatic in her past, or any number of things.

It's not easy to figure out what it is that's triggering the person, as they generally `go away' when triggered, so they aren't aware of it. A semi-impartial observer can notice that whenever a certain thing happens, she goes away. Once the trigger is identified, you do your best to avoid it. Perhaps the therapist can get to the root of it later on.

Switching also takes place when one of the alters takes control. This will all have to be worked on within her system and with the therapist. Give up any notion of control here. Just try to work with whatever you're handed. You'll develop skills you never knew you had.

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CONTACT WITH ABUSERS

Odds are you aren't going to know who abused your SO at first. Memories come back in pieces, sort of like parts of a movie. She can describe watching what happened from above, or it could be like a TV.

There's not a lot of advice I can offer here. Until the memories come back, you just have to be careful. She might feel drawn to her abuser, like a child who strives to please his parents. If you don't know, there's nothing you can do, other than to keep her safe.   One part of her will try to be the `good little girl' and other parts will be terrified of the people that abused her, all at the same time.

When you're certain where the abuse came from, quite obviously you need to cease all contact. Your SO might not want to `hurt anybody by telling who did this to her, but it is important to find out so no one else will have to be subjected to it in the future.

She might want to discuss this with her siblings or family members. Quite often there's a lot of denial involved, even though the family long suspected that something was wrong. And heaven forbid one or more of her siblings were also abused. Get it out into the open when she's ready. Hopefully the abuser(s) hasn't gone on to other victims.

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Note: the next section mentions cults. If you don't feel safe, skip to the next section.

SECRET CODES

Some cults and abusers deliberately try to create alters for specific purposes (I emphasize *some*). They can be set up to come forth on command. Some can even be created to `tell on' your SO if she tries to get help. It is imperative to cut the abusers off from your SO. This includes visits, phone, mail, and any other contact.

Again, this is not true in all cases, but more prevalent in ritual and satanic abuse.

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Note: the following section mentions religion/possession. Read on or skip to the next section, as you feel comfortable.

WE DON'T *BELIEVE* IN MPD

Ok, your SO has lived with this since she was really young, and you've lived with it since you met her. Yet quite a number of doctors and therapists don't believe in dissociative identity disorder.

Belief - like it's a religion or something. Like you have no proof but faith!

When you encounter a `non-believer,' go elsewhere. Their medical education did not go into enough detail about this to make it real, or they haven't seen enough of it to make an intelligent observation and come to the rational conclusion that is DOES exist. I think an adequate demonstration would be for them to spend a week at our houses. They'd learn to believe pretty quickly!

There is also a something called the False Memory Syndrome. People believe that that abused are `making this all up.' If you encounter one, go elsewhere.

Some people believe that dissociative identity disorder is demon possession. Oddly enough, these folks don't sound too rational in other areas either. I am somewhat suspect of religious therapists, but you have to go with what works for you. In any case, make sure the therapist is familiar with and has treated dissociative identity disorder before, regardless of religious persuasion.

In his book, `Dissociative Identity Disorder,' Colin Ross speculates that quite a bit of possession was actually dissociation. A lot of them have `demonic' alters, leading the people of that time to believe they were possessed.

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HOW DO WE FIX THIS?

You don't. She does.

It's really that simple. Your SO is not going to get well at all until she decides she wants to, then acts upon that impulse.

Your SO needs a lot of things to help along the road, one being a good therapist. Good luck there, folks. Dissociative identity disorder is almost an afterthought when educating medical students. It s a curiosity, and not much time is spent on it (see WE DON T *BELIEVE* IN MPD).

Here are some suggestions for finding a therapist:

 

Some survivors prefer one gender for their therapist over another. It's all about feeling safe. Remember, you provided a safe and secure enough environment for her to start sorting things out: now she needs someone who can help her the rest of the way. Someone she can trust and feel safe with.

The therapist might mention integration. This is where all of the personalities are fused into one. If so, do not make a big deal out of this. Alters are generally terrified of this concept, and it's not going to happen until all parties agree, if it's going to happen at all. One cannot force this.

Another method of treatment is to simply get the parts cooperating. Some survivors don't integrate. If all of the parts can learn to work together, function can be returned to the system.

Her therapist will want to make her feel safe to begin with. Once a relationship is established, they start mapping, wherein they try to find out who's in there, as well as their placement relative to one another (who is more powerful, who does what - see ALTERS). The therapist's role is part support, part parent, part communications facilitator, and part teacher, teaching her patient to parent herself or `grow herself up.'

She will try to talk to the various alters and determine where they came from and what their function and place is within the system. The alters are encouraged to communicate with each other (some do naturally) and with your SO. This is a great awakening for all involved. Once your SO hears some of the others, it becomes that much more real (see DENIAL).

Things will go a lot better when the parts start communicating and getting along better.

Rules are made and hopefully observed, for the good of the system.

Don't expect this to happen this week, next month, or even next year. Dissociative identity disorder therapy can take years, and typically does. There's no Magic Pill or wand waving here, folks. In fact, it's all talking and doing. And again, you're there for support.

EMDR

This is a new therapy traditionally used on Post Traumatic Stress patients, but is found to help dissociators too. For more information, see Online Resources.

PAY ATTENTION, DOCTORS!!!

Does your patient have persistent migraines, with every organic cause ruled out? Does she fail to fit into any `normal' category? Is there significant, unexplained episodic amnesia? Check the DSM-IV under Dissociative Disorders.

I'm somewhat hesitant to give tips here, because if you're not comfortable with dissociatives, you don't belong treating them in the first place.

When treating a multiple, it is *extremely* important that they feel safe. Safety can take many forms. I will list some of the things I have heard that might help. This applies to therapists, psychiatrists, dentists, and any other professional (survivors can print this out and take it with them if they're uncomfortable asking for things).

Rainbow Colors (of the internet newsgroup alt.support.dissociation) said:

The ISSD [International Society for the Study of Dissociation - do a web search or check my links page] seems to cover this pretty well. Check with Peter Barach in the group [a.s.d.] for the guidelines. The main thing about therapists is that disbelief is ignorant and useless. If you don't believe you have _no_ right/business treating a multiple and you should probably get some further training as multiplicity is an official, acceptable disorder as valid as depression. If you are going to pick and choose what you accept you should ethically be limiting your practice to just these problems.

MEDICINE

Medicine is not a treatment for did. It can help with some of the symptoms, such as depression, or concurrent disorders, like bipolar disorder, but it won't fix things.

Depression is a very common problem. Many dissociatives take an antidepressant. These are fun little pills, in that there are so many different kinds, each with its own method and side effects. Some antidepressants are stimulants, some are sleep- inducing.

The current breed, called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI's, such as Prozac and Zoloft), is the cleanest, safest pill yet. Good news for all of us - it's damn near impossible to overdose on them, so if you live with someone who has a pill problem, this won't kill her.

The next paragraph contains information on side effects, some of a sexual nature. If this triggers you, skip to the next section.

The bad news is that SSRI's have pretty common side effects. Drowsiness, sleeplessness, decreased need for sleep (this is actually helpful), headaches, stomach aches (take with food unless your doctor specifies otherwise) and the most fun of all - sexual problems. Most common is decreased drive, followed by delay or inability to climax. This goes for men AND women. I suspect this class of drug was invented by a woman, as revenge for lousy male lovers. How many times have you ever heard a man grumbling that he did not climax? You just might, if he takes an SSRI.

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ABREACTION

Have you seen the movies? Read the books? It's true. At some point, your SO will relive certain horrible moments. She won't just think about them, she'll actually BE there. It will be happening again for her.

As terrible as this sounds, it's actually a good thing. Once it gets out, it's therapy. Just make sure she's safe. There's not much you can do at this point.   Try to orient her to the present.

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DENIAL As they say - it ain't just a river in Egypt.

When faced with the news that she is a multiple, it's not unusual to want to believe this isn't true. Must be something else... depression, mood swings, bipolar disorder, PMS, whatever (oddly enough, sometimes it's also a great relief - now there's a name for what's happening).

Even while in therapy, it's common to go back and forth.... I'm not multiple, yes I am... Just let your SO be. You can't force her to believe it, even if you know it's true. Remember - at her own pace.

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WHY DOES SHE DO THAT?

You're both sitting on the couch, reading. All of the sudden, she says `what?' This is because someone `inside' said something and she might not be aware that it was coming from inside. Or she just `popped in' to the conversation and only caught the end of it.

Did you just have a fight? Is she sweet as sugar now, wondering why you're upset? You just had an argument with an alter. She's probably unaware of this, unless she's co-conscious with that particular alter. Look for behavior uncharacteristic of the one you know as your SO. This generally signals that someone else is driving the bus.

Is there always a headache, toothache, or tiredness? Headaches are caused by switching, as is fatigue. Believe it or not, this is hard work, even if it's not conscious work. Expect down time after therapy and hospitalizations too.

Unexplained ailments can also be something from the past that's real to your SO, but not caused by anything really being wrong. It might be abreaction.

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YOUR S.O. WANTS YOU TO KNOW THESE THINGS:

Back off, idiot. :)

No, really, no harm intended, but get out of her face. If there's something she needs to tell you, she will. Don't try to pry it out of her - this is intrusive and sometimes constitutes a threat. Yes, I know you live with her, but respect her wishes.

Shiloh (from a.s.d.) adds: When she comes home from the therapist's office or hospital, don't leap right in and insist on knowing what happened. If she wants to mention what transpired, she'll do it on her own, and in her own time. She might even be more happy to tell you if she doesn't feel pressured to spill it all immediately.

Are you angry about something? Don't immediately hammer her when she walks in the door. Don't accuse. Don't threaten. Try to state your dilemma in even tones. If she feels threatened, she might start switching.

The above is excellent advice for `normal' couples too.

Don't `therapize'. Someone's paying good money for therapist visits. Hopefully, the therapist is a trained professional who knows just what to say. You are a supportive partner - that's your job. Take care of her and yourself to the best of your abilities. Of course there are times when you can help, like showing her all men aren't bad or reminding someone they're in the present.

I am intensely curious about how people work, and even moreso now. So I have to watch myself in this regard. You may know more about what's going on than your SO, but don't open your mouth unless you're asked to. This is a hard lesson for us hard heads, but a valuable one. She gets shrunk enough at the doctor's and at the hospital.

If you need questions answered, ask your own therapist or hers, with her permission. NO SECRETS.

Rainbow Colors (from a.s.d.) wants you to know: What seems like arbitrary behavior without reason isn't.

We _are_ genuinely just as confused as you are about all of this. If we could, we would stop it!

It _really_ doesn't matter what the SO thinks of multiplicity. It could be facets or parts, it could be all delusional, it could be possession by aliens *grin*, it doesn't matter. All that matters is what the person who is multiple believes it to be. This is a major ego shock to many people, but it is vital to getting along with a multiple. (many therapists have trouble with this as well)

While in therapy we will be working on changing unsuccessful behaviors, learning new coping skills, and changing some basic aspects of ourselves. This is hard work! We are going to act very odd at times; it won't be a quick process. If you can't cope say so and get help or get out, don't lie and drag it out. This just gets in the way.

Our therapy isn't about you (the SO). You really have no business being involved unless we want you to be and then only in the ways we want it to be. This problem isn't because of you and it isn't about you so you don't get to be involved just because you want to be. (again, a harsh ego slap that many people have trouble with)

Accept what we believe and work from that framework. Any changes will come from therapy and not from the SO. Let us go at our pace and accept that this will be a _long_ process. Remember, we aren't doing this for fun and if we could we wouldn't do it at all!!!

[Jeff's Note: if that sounds tough, it is, but it's 100% true. You didn't cause the problem, and aside from support, there isn't much you can do to `fix' it. She'll get better on her own time, at her own pace. She might not be comfortable with you at the therapist's office. Most therapy will take place without you, with the possible exception of couples issues]

tatiana states: i personally have a lousy memory. that's just the facts. then the whole time loss / dissociation thing gets it way outta whack.

daily things aren't even the hardest part, however. as abuse survivors, i feel we all need a lot of positive reinforcement to destroy the old tapes. as multiples, we need this for just about everyone in the system. this is not to say that one's SO is specifically responsible for this area, that'd be enough to drive a person gagootz. what i am saying is that there should be a *big* *honking* *reminder* (*&*&*&*&* honking? quacking? *&*&*&*&* ;) to SO's for when they feel they've been through the "you are not a horrible bad person" song and dance a million times. a reminder that says that we appreciate what they are doing for each person individually. that we know even one survivor is tough to support in a relationship, and that they should be commended for their patience with so many. though you may feel like you are saying things a million times, there may be some who have not even heard. perhaps a list of creative suggestions for more enduring support.

*a card that says things that you want them all to know.

*flowers with notes on them.

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WHAT IS SHE FEELING?

Rainbow Colors says: We have no idea! You will probably understand better than we do at any given time so maybe you can tell us *grin* Remember, feelings might be coming from other alters, from dissociated memories, from a non-verbal part of the brain (memories are stored in different ways so if it's an emotional response that is stored tactilely for example it might not be accessible by the verbal centers of the brain because of the dissociation or because of storage problems)

And of course the feelings might change in mid feeling as others inside get into the act.

Please read the section for dissociatives to gain a little more information from their perspective.

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THIS ISN'T ABOUT ME - **********the most important lesson of all**********

Guess what... it *is*.

A common reaction of most partners is that all of the problems in the relationship stem from their SO's disorder. They don't.

The problem isn't about what SHE does - it's about your REACTION to what she does. It's really that simple.

I have deliberately saved this for the last section of the partner portion of this file. This is the most important thing that you have to take with you, even if you get nothing else from this.

You are responsible for only YOU. You have to make sure to take care of YOU.

This might sound ridiculously simple, but it isn't. I learned the same way everyone else does: through trial and (mostly) error. Snuffy <mailto:"snuffy@psnw.com">(snuffy@psnw.com</a>, runs the SO email support group) brought this to my attention after I went on about banging my head against the wall, trying to `take care of' my SO.

I drove myself nuts thinking only of her welfare. I worried about everything that happened, fought with a protector alt a lot (unknowingly), and went into deep financial trouble, all for love.

Well, not all for love.... also for what I found out was codependency. I thought that was just another sensitive guy psychobabble term, until I saw myself doing it. What is codependency? It's love taken to an extreme. It's when your happiness is dictated by the state of your SO. When things are going well, you feel great. When things start to get ugly, you're totally miserable and depressed. When she's in the hospital, you can't function. You draw your happiness solely from HER.

Why? Probably something from your past. I know, I know more psychobabble, Jeff. But hear me out, guys.... maybe you lost a parent when you were little. Maybe someone mistreated you. Whatever happened in your past contributed to the person you are today, but not always in a positive way. If you were hurt, you can have a fear of someone hurting you that can hinder relationships. If you lost someone(s), you could have a fear of abandonment, leading to a controlling tendency. This is your own defense mechanism. It keeps YOU from being hurt, much the same way DID keeps your spouse from getting hurt.

So what do you do? Well, support her to the best of your abilities. But do something for you too. Get a life outside of being a caretaker. Spend some time alone and with friends. See a movie. Surf the web. Play a musical instrument. Catch up on email. Whatever your hobbies are - indulge yourself.

You're going to need some support from someone - friends, family, email buddies, a support group. People you can go to for help, people you can bitch to, people who are also interested in you.

Detach a bit. Let your SO heal. You're not going to speed anything up, so sit back and do what you can. You also are not allowed to be consumed by what MIGHT be. This might sound harsh, but you have to sit back and let her drive, even if it means she's sleeping in the back seat.

She might try to commit suicide. You can only do what you can to prevent this, but you really have no control over it. I'm not suggesting that you leave razor blades around the house, but you can't spend all of your time worrying about what she MIGHT do next. In a short time, it'll be YOU in that hospital.

Again, I'm not trying to be anything but brutally honest. Again, this is the most important section for partners. This is called boundaries, and you have to have healthy ones to survive.

This was the hardest thing for me to learn. I thought the people who told me this sort of thing were almost cruel. After some therapy and some reading, I realized they were right. Now I'm telling you - make yourself a life outside of being a SO or a caretaker.

 

If it gets to be too much to handle, think hard on it. You might have to leave to protect yourself. Don't hang in because you think you'll hurt her. Ultimately, it's about YOU. You'll only hurt her more in the long run by staying. I cannot emphasize this point enough. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF TOO.

The person who helped me a lot (snuffy) has this to say: On keeping your SO her from danger.... She has to do it. She has to come to the decision to live, through therapy and then will need to make the decision to heal, after which she will have to over and over again remake the decision to live. Fact is that during the process of healing through therapy many time issues which cause my wife to actually believe it is not worth the pain to heal come up regularly. She has to battle within herself to regain the will to live. You see this stuff is all about her, not about me. Your SO's stuff is all about her, not about you. The best you can do is to be her friend. The worst is to beat yourself up if you happen to trigger her. They have so many triggers, and until they have had each one pulled they don't even know it exists.

That is why you need to work on you. Do you attend counseling? You need to be able to be strong enough to survive if she fails in her attempt to heal and go on and have a life of your own.

Allow me to close this section with some tremendously valuable words from KE, a SO and generally wise person: I disagree with some of the stuff you've been told. I agree that what is going on is "not about you", and that there is a need to deal with the reality of your SO's history, etc. And I agree that we as partners AND as people ALWAYS bring our own feelings and behaviors into the relationship, and that the feelings affect how we handle our partners' distress....

However, I don't think it's reasonable for anyone to expect us to have NO expectations regarding our primary relationships, or to expect us to have NO feelings related to our loved ones' inconsistency, withdrawal, distress, etc. That's just bullshit. (pardon my french).

I think that partnering someone through this process requires a tremendous amount of patience, flexibility, and ego-strength (self-esteem, solid sense of self and self worth). But even when we have these attributes, there are times when we get frustrated, hurt, angry, and MANY MANY times when we feel completely helpless/powerless. We need to find ways to sustain ourselves through these times.

It is also true that circumstances require us, far too often, to stuff our own feelings (at least temporarily) . I think we need to work to find other ways and times to express those things (obviously one of the purposes of this list).

I think your suggestion to "do something for yourself" is really key here. Because these relationships we are in can be so complicated and sometimes so draining, I think we need, each of us, to make sure that we aren't trying to draw all of our sense of self/self-worth from our relationship with that person. Actually, I don't think that that kind of pattern is healthy for anyone in any partnership, multiple or not. But I think it is particularly dangerous for those of us who are partners of multiples--- partly because of how easy it is to get caught up in the whirlwind, and partly because we are probably IN these relationships in the first place because we are caretakers/rescuers/fixers by our own inclinations....right?

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**************** =THE DID SECTION STARTS HERE=********************

Ok, now let's get down to spending some time on dissociation for the dissociators. SO's - pay particular attention to this. You'll never know how it feels, so read it and store it. Knowledge never hurts, and this will help you to help your other half.

I'VE JUST DISCOVERED I'M MULTIPLE - WHAT SHOULD I KNOW?

You know what? I'm just a SO. I have no idea how it feels, other than what I've read. I'm going to let others who are dissociative tell you first hand.  Just know this:   there are others out there just like you.  You are not weird, you are not a freak; the things that you feel are quite common. Talk to other multiples and find out just how normal you are.

Here are a few symptoms of  dissociative identity disorder:

 

 

Rainbow Colors (of the newsgroup alt.support.dissociation) wants you to know: You aren't crazy, there really is something going on and it has nothing to do with being crazy! Dissociation is a survival skill used to keep you alive in a traumatic event. 97% of all multiples in therapy remember something traumatic so the chances are good you will too. This can be medical, sexual, physical or some natural disaster. The important thing is that it is something that happened more than once and you couldn't deal with it in any other way. It is important to find someone external to your system to do reality checks with. This could be an SO, a friend, a therapist or whatever. Make sure the person is validating and safe and then use them to check out any misperceptions you have that are causing you trouble. And most important, you are NOT alone! Shiloh talks about art therapy: art has been increasingly helpful for me. I get a big dirty mound of clay and make it into whatever. Usually it travels from my gut through my heart and through my fingertips; always bypassing my brain. This is good. I don't have to think. Just create. I love to see what is in my gut and how my heart interprets this. i fire the little creations in a kiln and display them for all the world to see. Personally i think that they are a little on the strange side, but people seem to either really like it, or really hate it.

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WHAT CAN I TELL MY S.O. ABOUT TRYING TO HELP ME?

What seems like arbitrary behavior without reason isn't. We _are_ genuinely just as confused as you are about all of this. If we could, we would stop it! It _really_ doesn't matter what the SO thinks of multiplicity. It could be facets or parts, it could be all delusional, it could be possession by aliens *grin*, it doesn't matter. All that matters is what the person who is multiple believes it to be. This is a major ego shock to many people, but it is vital to getting along with a multiple. (many therapists have trouble with this as well)

While in therapy we will be working on changing unsuccessful behaviors, learning new coping skills, and changing some basic aspects of ourselves. This is hard work! We are going to act very odd at times; it won't be a quick process. If you can't cope say so and get help or get out, don't lie and drag it out. This just gets in the way. Our therapy isn't about you (the SO). You really have no business being involved unless we want you to be and then only in the ways we want it to be. This problem isn't because of you and it isn't about you so you don't get to be involved just because you want to be. (again, a harsh ego slap that many people have trouble with)

Accept what we believe and work from that framework. Any changes will come from therapy and not from the SO. Let us go at our pace and accept that this will be a _long_ process. Remember, we aren't doing this for fun and if we could we wouldn't do it at all!!!

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WHAT BUGS YOU ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE?

A nice person sent this to me: It is the worst, in my opinion, for someone to ask me who is there. I mean when someone says. " And who am I talking with now. " I know sometimes the SO can't get around this sort of question, but it does not make any of us feel like a human.

[Note to Partners: at times, it *is* important to know who's out - work out something with your SO.]

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HUMOR

I put together some dissociative humor. Laughter is the best medicine, and I hope you get a grin from it. If you know of any d.i.d. jokes, please forward them. My stuff is the first group, right up to the second double line. The rest is stolen/contributed.

Which brings to mind a comedy sketch involving a roomful of dissociative people trying to make dinner....

Hey, um..... You.... I'm hungry.. could we make dinner now?

Huh?

I wanna eat. Let's make something.

Huh? Uh- what? Ok.

What do you want to eat?

Umm... I don't know.

Ok, hand me the thing...

What thing?

You Know.. the THING. Over there....

Oh.

Well?

Well what?

Hand me the thing.

What thing?

[phone rings] I'll put the phone in the oven.

The what?

The phone.

In the oven?

Yes, what's wrong with that?

You don't put the phone in the oven... they're too tough to eat.

I know that.

Then why did you tell me to put the phone in the oven?

I said no such thing.

Yes you did.

You're making this up....

Huh?

You're making it up.

Making WHAT up?

The oven.

What about the oven?

Aren't we going to eat?

I'm not hungry.

You just said you were hungry.

No I didn't. [ad nauseam] ----------------------------------------------------

True Hospital Humor: It was becoming time to take a trip to the hospital, so I called the hospital to get my SO precertified:

Me: Hello, I need to call in an admission.

Hosp: Sure, what's the problem?

Me: my girlfriend is hearing voices

Hosp: what are they saying?

Me: I don't know, I can't hear them. ---------------------------------------------------------

Who's Out First (a parody of Who's On First)

Ok, so who's out first?

No Who was out yesterday.

Who?

Yes, Who.

Ok, I'm asking you who was out and you're telling me Who?

Yes, Who.

Well who are you?

I'm not Who, I'm Nobody.

Nobody?

Nobody.

But you can't be nobody - you have to be somebody.

No, Somebody's generally angry.

Who is angry?

No, Who is happy.

Angry is also angry.

Of course angry is angry, but you're definitely somebody.

No, I'm Nobody.

Ok, let me see if I have this.... you're no one..

No, I'm Nobody.... No One was out this morning.

No one was out?

Yeah, No one.

Well if no one was out, who was I talking to?

No One.

Nobody?

No - No One.

Something's wrong here....

No, Something has been sleeping for a while.

Who has been sleeping?

No, Something has been sleeping. Who was out yesterday.

But something has to be someone, doesn't he?

No, Someone is a he, Something is a she.

Huh?

Huh is asexual.

Huh?

Yeah, Huh.

Excuse me, I'm going to commit suicide.

You can't - that's Suicide's job. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH! ----------------------------------------------------

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Thoughts on hearing voices...

May the voices you hear all be pleasant ones.

If the voice tells you to get born again or pay more taxes, seek help.

If the voice tells you to see a doctor, it's mine.

When the voices suggest bizarre sex acts that don't involve blood, they just might be good ideas.

If the voice tells you to get cooking, it is a wise one.

Ignore any seemingly wonderful ideas to stuff a toothbrush down your throat, whistle tv themes, or contribute to Pat Buchanan's campaign.

If they say you don't deserve a bath, tell them to take up residence with a compulsive.

Never listen to advice on killing people in your immediate household.

Did you ever notice that people don't hear voices telling them to clean the house and vacuum the rugs?

If they start to pick on you and call you names, remind them that they're just fragments, while you have a real job and a dog. HA!

Q) How many dissociatives does it take to change a light bulb?

A1) What?

A2) None. Something horrible will happen if I try.

A3) None - I can hallucinate just fine without light.

A4) We need to buy more plants.

 

 

 ----------------------------------------------------------

I was thinking of selling T-shirts. Remember the "I'm with Stupid" T-shirts? How about "I'm with Them" T-shirts ?????

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YOU KNOW YOU'RE A SINGLETON WHEN.....

 

  1. You start using the pronoun `I'.

  2. You get a party line because you miss the voices.

  3. One first name is suddenly enough.

  4. Switching now refers only to long distance phone service.

  5. If you hear voices now, you're schizophrenic.

  6. `I forgot' is no longer an excuse.

  7. It suddenly occurs to you that you had a childhood.

  8. To keep your SO on his/her toes, you imitate an alter every now and then.

  9. When you mess up, you can no longer blame it on somebody else.

  10. DID becomes just a past-tense verb.

--------------------------------------------------------

How many times have you heard this phrase from a `professional'?

"There is no such thing as dissociative identity disorder."

Ok, fine, now you tell *them* that. -------------------------------------------

Systems come in incredibly different varieties, with all sorts of interesting quirks. We discovered that this one alter took diet pills. We were just wondering if that alter could become co-conscious with the alter who was crazy about chocolate and cut a deal.... ------------------------------------------

Is it ok for me to refer to my SO as my `other halves'? ------------------------------------------

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Why oh Why Can't I Win?

For whatever reason, whenever I walk into the bedroom, I get my SO's protector alt, who tries to engage me in a fight to get rid of me. We have a dog. He was also abused (my therapist would have a field day with this information). When I come into the room, he growls at me. Lovely.... no matter when I go in, someone growls at me.

And some nights, both of them start..... Hmmm.... maybe he's multiple too. Yes folks, it's Dissociative Dog! I can just see it now..... when I come into the room, his protector alt comes out and growls at me. I think it's a Pit Bull, but I can't find his helpful alt to ask him. Lately, his puppy alt has also been active.

Of course we're now faced with a really difficult problem, in reference to therapy. My SO's therp lets the dog come along, but he doesn't seem to be getting any benefit from it. Might be the language barrier. His diagnosis list must be longer than hers by now; neurosis, halitosis, MPD, and hallucinations. I know he can hear the refrigerator talking to him, because he sits near it and watches. And how in the world are we going to pay for *another* family member in therapy? Blue Cross refuses to cover him as my child, even though the therp accepts it.

Don't even get me started on his breath.....

There's also; I'm not multiple, they are

Voices, what voices? Shut up in there

I keep telling the others inside they don't exist, but they just laugh at me :)

Q: How many multiples does it take to change a light bulb?

A.: mak dat tinajer do it, me scar lectrissy!!! ----------------------------------------------

We saw this on a bulletin board at the office we've been working at, and thought it was funny. :) It said: --------

HELLO, Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline!

 

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ONLINE RESOURCES

One of the first places to go (when you're done here) is 

the Sidran Foundation "http://www.access.digex.net/~sidran/"

Once there, you'll find all sorts of resources 
for DID's, SO's, and therapists.
To get information about the SO email list, 
email "snuffy@psnw.com"

"http://www.geocities.com/Athens/3059/" LOADS of links to 

stuff dealing with MPD and dissociation of a lesser degree.

IRC (internet relay chat) There is one IRC network,dal.net, which has a MPD support channel...#divided. The telnet address I use to access dalnet is davis.dal.net Once you get there, just type /join #divided.
 

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THE READING LIST
 

Here are some books and online ways to learn about DID and to help with support.
 

_When Rabbit Howls_ by the Troops of Truddi Chase is great, but I hear it's also triggering.

The Flock is a personal favorite.
 

mouse likes this one:
_Obsidian Mirror_ by Louise Wisechild, is VERY good, and in a similar vein, though I don't remember if it deals with dissociative identity disorder or not, but it does describe severe sadistic chronic familial abuse. I think its relevant.
 

(James Smith recommends these)
"Someone I Know has Multiple Personalities" by Sandra J. Hocking ISBN
1-877872-08-3 is a basic primer.

"Reaching for the Light" by Emilie P. Rose ISBN 0-8298-1079-x is a RA recovery guide that discusses MP throughout. OK even for agnostics.
 

(Rudolph P. Brinker sent this list along)
"Through Divided Minds" by Dr.Robert S.Mayer ISBN #0-385-24396-0
"Satan's Children" by the same author-don't have number

"Uncovering the Mystery of MPD" by James G Friesen,Ph.D ISBN#0-89840-322-7

"Unchained Memories" by Lenore Terr,M.D.(excellnt) ISBN #0-465-08823-6

"Breaking the Circle of Satanic Ritual Abuse" by Daniel Ryder,C.C.D.C.,L.S.W.

What verified for me the reality of SRA abuse was a police investigative book written in California " Cults That Kill" by Larry Kahner (not sure of spelling)

Try also the classic "SYBIL" and "When You are Ready" ? It is about a person tortured /molested by her mother....like Sybil Dorrsett's mom this woman was a beast
too.
 

For those going the Christian healing route, consider..."The Dangers of Growing Up in a Christian Home" by Donald E. Sloat,Ph.D. ISBN# 0-8407-3064-0

"Defeating Dark Angels(breaking demonic oppression in the beliver's life) by Charles
H. Kraft ISBN #0-89283-773-X

"Exorcism-fact or fiction?" by Dr. Ken Olson ISBN#0-8407-3403-4
"People of the Lie" by Dr. M. Scott Peck
 

(KE hopes this will help)
The following list came from a folder in the women's area of America Online. There's other stuff there and web links to other potential resources... go to keyword: womentalk, then choose the topic chats folder and then go to the women living with mpd/did folder.
 

Clinical Theory and Studies ------------------------------

_Clinical Perspectives on Multiple Personality Disorder_ by Richard P. Kluft and Catherine G. Fine. This anthology offers a variety of articles and viewpoints.

_Diagnosis and Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder (Foundations of Modern Psychiatry)_ by Frank W. Putnam

_Multiple Personality Disorder_ by Barry Cohen

_Multiple Personality Disorder: Psychiatric Classification and Media Influence (Oxford Monographs on Psychiatry, No. 1)_ by Carol S. North, Daniel A. Riu, Jo-Ellen M. Ryall, and Richard D. Wetzel

_Multiple Personality Disorder: Diagnosis, Clinical Features, and Treatment (Wiley Series in General and Clinical Psychiatry)_ by Colin A. Ross. Ross has a good reputation among most people living with MPD.

_Multiple Personality, Allied Disorders, and Hypnosis_ by Eugene L. Bliss.

_People in Pieces: Multiple Personality in Milder Forms and Greater Numbers_by Alana Marshall.

_The Fractured Mirror: Healing Multiple Personality Disorder_ by C.W. Duncan

_The Osiris Complex: Case Studies in Multiple Personality Disorder_ by Colin
A. Ross

_The Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder (Clinical Insights Monograph)_ edited by Bennet G. Braun, M.D. Another anthology of articles, generally very good.

_Through Divided Minds: Probing the Mysteries of Multiple Personalties --A Doctor's Story_ by Dr. Robert Mayer

_Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder_ by Bennett Braun
 

Self-Help Books

_Living With Your Selves: A Survival Manual for People with Multiple
Personalities_ by Sandra J. Hocking

_Multiple Personality Disorder From the Inside Out_ published by The Sidran Foundation. A collection of first-person essays from the editors of the newsletter _Many Voices_.

_More Than One_ by Terri A. Clark, M.D.

_Multiple Personality Gift: A Workbook for You and Your Inside Family_ by Jacklyn M. Pia

_The Family Inside: Working with the Multiple_ by Doris Bryant, Judy Kessler, and Lynda Shirar

_United We Stand: A Book for People with Multiple Personalities by Eliana Gil. This is most clear and comprehensive book you could get to explain MPD. It's short, and small, and inexpensive, and perfect. Great to give to friends, partners, family members to introduce MPD.

_The Silver Boat_ by Ann Adams. A charming fable about how a young girl in trouble comes to meet her Others, and then to learn to use all of their strengths when she has to be one again.
 

another aol resource is their "Online Psych" area--- much good info re: dissociative disorders and MPD/DID. Obviously the people who put this area together were not from the "old school" they're-just-making-it-up school.

 

Rainbow Colors actually did her thesis on dissociation. What follows is an exhaustive list of books and technical literature:

Interesting books

Shatter
When Rabbit Howls (The Troops for Trudy Chase)
Sybil
The Minds of Billy Milligan
The Three Faces of Eve
I'm Eve (? Sizemore)
Through Divided Minds
Little Girl Lost
Jennifer and Her Selves (Gerald Schoenewolf)
Suffer The Child (Judith Spencer)
Prism, Andrea's World (Jonathan and Eugene Bliss)
Daddy's Girl (Charlotte Vale Allen)
Kiss Daddy Goodnight (Louise Armstrong)
My Father's House (Sylvia Fraser)
Father's Days (Katherine Brady)
Ritual Abuse: What It Is, Why It Happens, How To Help (Margaret Smith)
How To Survive Trauma (Benjamin Colodzin)
(there are also several books by Elaina Gil written about repressed
memories and dissociation that are very good. She writes books for
professionals and laypersons and all of her stuff is worth reading.
One I believe is called 'United We Stand' and is written specifically
for multiples and their families. It is written so that even little
kids and inside people will like it.)
Courage To Heal (Laura Davis and Ellen Bass)
Allies In Healing (Laura Davis and Ellen Bass)
The Secret Trauma (Diana Russell)
More Than One (Terri Clark)
Multiple Personality Disorder From the Inside Out
(Barry Cohen, Esther Giller)
The Fractured Mirror (C.W. Duncan)
Safe Passage to Healing (Chrystine Oksana)
Trauma and Survival (Elizabeth Waites)
Repressed Memories (Renee Fredrickson)
Healing Hidden Memories (Mary Jane Williams)
Treatment of Adult Survivors (Eliana Gil)
The Flock (Joan Frances Casey)
Satan's Children (Robert Mayer)
Voices (Trula Michaels LaCalle)
The Right to Innocence (Beverly Engel)
Secret Survivors (E. Sue Blume)
Reach for the Rainbow (Lynne D. Finney)
Restoring Innocence (Alfred Ells)
Healing the Child Within (Charles Whitfield)
Adult Children of Abusive Parents (Steven Farmer)
The Emotionally Abused Woman (Beverly Engel)
All Around the Town (Mary Higgins Clark)

Thesis References

American Psychiatric Association. (1987).
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders
(pp. 235-254, 269-278, 335-358). (3rd ed. rev.). Washington, DC: Author.

Arbetter, S. (1992). Multiple personality disorder: someone else lives inside me.
Current Health 2, 17-19.

Barlam, C. (1989). Women on the verge: the surge in borderline personality disorder.
Mademoiselle, 140.

Benner, D., & Joscelyne, B. (1984). Multiple personality as a borderline disorder.
The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 172,(2), 98-104.

Bliss, E. (1984). A symptom profile of patients with multiple personalities, including MMPI results.
The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 172,(4), 197-202.

Blum, H., & Marziali, E. (1988). Time limited, group psychotherapy for borderline patients.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33, 364-369.

Castillo, R. (1990). Depersonalization and meditation.
Psychiatry, 53, 158-167.

Chu, J., & Dill, D. (1990). Dissociative symptoms in relation to childhood physical and sexual abuse.
American Journal of Psychiatry, 147,(7), 887-891.

Coons, P. (1986b). Dissociative disorders: diagnosis and treatment.
Indiana Medicine, 79, 410-415.

Cornell, W. & Olio, K. (1991). Integrating affect in treatment with adult survivors of physical and sexual abuse.
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 61,(1), 59-69.

Dawson, D. (1988). Treatment of the borderline patient, relationship management.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33, 370-374.

Derogatis, L., Lipman, R., & Covi, L. (1973). SCL-90: an outpatient psychiatric rating scale.
Psychopharmacology Bulletin, 9, 13-28.

Eppel, A. (1988). Inpatient and day hospital treatment of the borderline: an integrated approach.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33, 360-363.

Evans, R., Ruff, R., Braff, D., & Ainsworth, T. (1984). MMPI characteristics of borderline personality inpatients.
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 172,(12), 742-747.

Figley, D., Scrignar, C., & Smith, W. (1992). The aftershocks of
trauma.
Patient Care, 121-138.

Frankel, F. (1990). Hypnotizability and dissociation.
American Journal of Psychiatry, 147,(7), 823-829.

Hughes Clark, N. (1986). Shatter.
New York: Bantam.

Kluft, R. (1984). Aspects of the treatment of multiple personality disorder.
Psychiatric Annals, 14,(1), 51-55.

Kluft, R. (1984). Treatment of multiple personality disorder.
Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 7,(1), 9-29.

Kluft, R.(Ed.) (1985). Childhood antecedents of multiple personality.
Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.

Kluft, R. (1986). High-functioning multiple personality patients.
The Journal of Mental and Nervous Disorders, 174,(12), 722-726.

Links, P., & Steiner, M. (1988). Psychopharmacological management of patients with borderline personality disorder.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33, 355-359.

Links, P., Steiner, M., Offord, D., & Eppel, A. (1988).
Characteristics of borderline personality disorder: a canadian study. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33, 336-340.

Mesic, P. (1992). Presence of minds.
Chicago, 101-131.

Mitton, J., & Huxley, G. (1988). Responses and behavior of patients with borderline personality disorder during semi-structured interviews.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33, 341-343.

O'Leary, K., Brouwers, P., Gardner, D., & Cowdry, R. (1991).
Neuropsychological testing of patients with borderline personality disorder.
American Journal of Psychiatry, 148,(1), 106-111.

Putnam, F. (1989). Diagnosis and treatment of multiple personality disorder.
New York: Guilford Press.

Ross, C. (1985). DSM-III: problems diagnosing partial forms of multiple personality disorder.
The Royal Society of Medicine, 78, 933-936.

Ross, C. (1989). Multiple personality disorder: diagnosis, clinical features, and treatment.
New York: Wiley & Sons.

Ross, C., Joshi, S., & Currie, R. (1990). Dissociative experiences in the general population.
American Journal of Psychiatry, 147,(11), 1547-1552.

Sanders, B., & Giolas, M. (1991). Dissociation and childhood trauma in psychologically disturbed adolescents.
American Journal of Psychiatry, 148,(1), 50-54.

Spiegel, D., & Cardena, E. (1991), Disintegrated experience: the dissociative disorders revisited.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100,(3), 366-378.

Steinberg, M., Rounsaville, B., & Cicchetti, D. (1990). The structured clinical interview for DSM-III-R dissociative disorders: preliminary report on a new diagnostic instrument.
American Journal of Psychiatry, 147,(1), 76-81.

Steinberg, M., Rounsaville, B., & Cicchetti, D. (1991). Detection of dissociative disorders in psychiatric patients by a screening instrument and a structured diagnostic interview.
American Jornal of Psychiatry, 148,(8), 1050-1054.

Steiner, M., Links, P., & Korzekwa, M. (1988). Biological markers in borderline personality disorders: an overview.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33, 350-354.

Wallace, J., & Martin, S. (1988). Can psychological assessment address borderline phenomena?
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33, 344-349.

Wickens, B. (1989). Multiple personalities: some victims develop a separate reality.
MacLean's, 60-61.

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IN CLOSING
 

I would sincerely like to thank everyone who has so generously contributed to this document. They took time out of their very hectic lives and healing to help others somewhere down the line.

I value the support and friendship of the fine folks on the SO Email Group. They've taught me some valuable lessons.

Also alerting me to reality are the survivors on a.s.d. Their viewpoint is invaluable

Most of all, I want to thank *my* SO for coming into my life. It hasn't been easy, but who would want it any other way?
 

I hope this has made some sense to you and that it might be able to help you in what is a very confusing time, whether you're a survivor or SO. If you're surfing, I encourage you to bookmark this URL, link your page to it, save it.

If you have any questions, comments, or additions, please feel free to email me. at jeffv@op.net . If you submit something, let me know if you want to be credited, and how.

Thanks for reading!