What is Dissociative Identity?

 

Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.) is the psychiatric label for the natural survival response people default to when they are subjected to repeated unbearable trauma.

This term does not accurately describe the phenomenon of Dissociative Identity.
 
Dissociative Identity Response is a more apt term for this natural human survival function.
 
 
 

D.I.R. – Dissociative Identity Response

Dissociation is a normal human response that protects a person’s mind, body and spirit.
 
Instead of the misleading and inaccurate label Dissociative Identity Disorder,
Dissociative Identity Response (D.I.R.) is the more apt term survivors are now using to describe the broader truth of this valuable and clever human ability.
 
Dissociative Identity Response is mistakenly named a disorder in part due to how, after its helpful purpose ends, Dissociation that remains unprocessed can cause a broad range of unwanted intrusions and interferences in our lives. (See Spectrum of Dissociative Effects section.)
 
Dissociative Identity Response goes beyond dissociating some aspects of a traumatic experience into dissociating all aspects of an experience (or series of experiences) into a container that needs an identity, sense of self, or separate personality to hold and cope with the fullness and depth of the impact of repeated trauma.
 
For example, a young child repeatedly sexually abused by the neighbor down the street who everybody loves may need to completely partition away the part/s of self that must endure the ongoing traumatic experiences, so that the part of the child that must be around the “nice neighbor” can stay safe and not know/need to tell the “nasty neighbor secrets”.  This means that without the child’s conscious awareness, he/she must create a container self to hold the “nasty neighbor” traumas and adapt the “usual self” to interact with the “nice neighbor” at neighborhood BBQs and such. So, the “usual self” can interact with Mr. Nice while removed from all awareness of the personality/dissociated identity created to endure Mr. Nasty.
 
Now imagine this same child is later sexually abused by a teacher at school and also continually shamed and humiliated by a sports coach, both of whom are well-liked and respected authority figures. Since the child’s natural survival response already learned how to segregate  experiences to endure the unbearable, new dissociated identities are naturally and readily created for the new traumas and abusers.
 

 

Dissociative Identity Manifests Differently for Each Individual

Just as every person is different and experiences, thinks, feels, responds and remembers in their own unique ways, Dissociative Identity Response manifests in ways distinctly unique to each individual. 
 
As a result, how a person dissociatively contains their experiences cannot be predicted, and any dissociated identities one person may have will be at most only similar to another person’s dissociated identities. Therefore, any label or treatment must incorporate this understanding to produce accurate definitions and fully effective healing results.

 

 

Other sources of Information about Dissociative Identity Response include:

Although these sites still use some outdated terminology, the following sites have reasonably accurate information. Still, as always, I urge you to listen to your gut feelings and responses and make your own decisions about what resonates for you, what feels right and true to you.
 
My Dissociation-related Definitions – Dissociative Identity   Read more… 
 
 
DID/MPD Information Pages – comprehensive information and hope for the MPD/DID community – didmpdinfo.com
 
 
All Psych Journal – the virtual psychology classroom – dissociative identity disorder information – allpsych.com
 
 
First Person Plural – survivor-led information and training for DID and similar complex disorders – firstpersonplural.org.uk
 
 
DID – A Legitimate Diagnosis – A Spiritual Healing – survivor site with resources – didlegit.com