Dissociation is Everywhere

Dissociation is Everywhere

Last week, I wrote about the horrible invalidation that comes with claims that dissociation is not real.  But there is another belief about dissociation (and particularly Dissociative Identity Disorder) which leads to an underestimation of its prevalence.  That belief is supported by movies and programs like Split (horrible) and United States of Tara (not as bad).  That belief suggests Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.) manifests in extreme ways.  Of course, most of us know what is wrong with Split.  It portrays those with D.I.D. as criminals.  But even with United States of Tara, there are extreme behavior changes when switches happen.  Does that happen in reality?  Absolutely.  But it is important to understand D.I.D. and its purpose so we can fully understand how it works. D.I.D. (and any form of dissociation) is not about attention seeking.  It is about coping.  It is meant to go undetected.  Most of the parts are trying to fit in, to gain acceptance.  They are trying to behave in a way that will keep others from questioning them.  There are exceptions.  The freedom fighters are less interested in fitting in.  And the defenders will do bold things to ensure safety.  But most of the time, a switch is undetectable unless you are looking for it or know the person very well.  What does this mean for us?  It means that D.I.D. is far more common than we think.  There are many people walking around with parts who have no idea they are switching.  And nobody else around them knows either. Now you may be asking yourself how you know if D.I.D. is a part of...
Dissociation is Real

Dissociation is Real

Recently I was alerted to an article on Psychology Today which denounced dissociation as a real response to trauma.  Not surprisingly, this article made my blood boil.  The most infuriating part of the article was how he kept repeating how dissociation was used as an excuse for behavior.  So basically, he was saying that if someone doesn’t want to take responsibility for their behavior, they could claim dissociation caused it.  It was written by someone with the letters behind his name.  I am sure he had went to school and read the books.  I am sure he has worked with some clients with some mildly irritating symptoms associated with some mild forms of trauma.  And suddenly, he is an expert on what does and doesn’t exist. These kinds of articles are irresponsible for so many reasons (most of which I don’t need to tell you).  Dissociation is hard to acknowledge even for those of us who are graced with severe forms of it.  We have learned denial from the best.  That’s why we dissociate in the first place.  Acknowledging dissociation requires us to admit there is another narrative, a narrative we have been denying a very long time.  Of course, we need help with that.  We need to hear from credible sources that we are on the right track, that what we are uncovering is real.  We won’t hear that from our abusers.  We won’t hear it from the general public.  So we have to hear it from trained professionals.  When they throw denial in our direction, they cause more damage than they will ever fully understand. So why...
Rethinking Paranoia

Rethinking Paranoia

Paranoia is one of the most stigmatized symptoms of complex trauma.  It is often viewed as a sign of a serious mental illness.  But the reality of paranoia is different.  It is everywhere.  I believe childhood trauma makes it a guarantee.  Paranoia can be so many things.  It can be as simple as “waiting for the other shoe to drop”.  It can be as intense as expecting abusers to come around the corner at any second.  It can be as unrealistic as waiting for a lightning strike.  But no matter the manifestation, it is debilitating.  It holds us back from our purpose because we don’t feel safe or free to pursue what we want. Paranoia is so confusing because it rarely exists on a conscious level.  Our adult self will often have a mature enough understanding to have left most paranoid thoughts behind (although not always).  But the paranoid thoughts exist in the unconscious with the inner parts who needed to create explanations for unusual and traumatic experiences.  And as they linger there, they can make life very uncomfortable with strong anxiety, panic and hypervigilance as the manifestations.  But why does it happen?  Why do we suffer from paranoia in the first place? Kids are prone to magical thinking. When we are kids, we are creative.  We have the ability to come up with all sorts of amazing stories.  And we are told amazing stories.  Many children believe in a magical fat man who travels the world in one night and a bunny delivering candy eggs.  The line between reality and fantasy is very fine.  My own children are...