Monday, February 19, 2018

Comments by samruck2

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  • Hi Julie,
    I’m deeply sorry for all you had to go thru and all the hacks who made things so much worse for you. I’m glad you found a way to take your life back.

    If there’s something ‘nice’ about my wife’s d.i.d., it is that it is helps me chop the various issues we’ve had to deal with up into their respective ‘parts.’

    My wife’s host is the one who suffers most from ED issues. For her there were a couple of issues going on. 1) It was a matter of control: she couldn’t control the trauma or current events, but she could control her weight. 2) It was a matter of HATING every imperfection with her body…and as we both have hit our 50’s that has only increased. And 3) it was a matter that she literally does NOT feel hunger. What so many don’t understand is that when people begin dissociating they only can access part of their mental functions. My wife’s host simply doesn’t feel hunger pangs.

    However, as the other 7 girls joined us on the outside, and as they began to heal and mature, they acted as a counter measure to the host’s imbalances. The little girls are DEEPLY connected to the body and will nearly cry if they feel hungry…and so as they have all become more connected, my wife’s host can no longer simply ignore being hungry. And some of the girls have a GREAT self body image. One of my ‘girlfriends’ who views herself as a Millenial told me one time, “I look damn good for 50!” And she does, indeed, and so as she and my wife’s host become better connected, all the negative self talk the host tells herself is being counterbalanced by some of the other girls’ great self image. And the same goes for the control issue. As I have helped each girl heal and empowered them to spread their wings and grab life for all they can, they no longer are overwhelmed by the feeling of no control from the trauma. They’ve moved on from their trauma paradigm in many ways.

    edit: oh, and I guess I should add that I have taught all the girls to work together when it comes to eating and weight. The little girls love to eat and last winter they gained nearly 15 pounds which about sent my wife’s host into a tailspin, but I help them work together so they are respectful of the host’s desire to maintain her weight. I find them food they can enjoy but which is low-cal and low-fat, and so they all work to maintain a weight that is more than the host would desire and yet is a weight that she can tolerate, and when it gets above that limit then all the girls will join together to get it back into the range to which they have all agreed.

    Take care,

  • Stephen Gilbert,

    Well…I went onto Wikipedia and tried to figure out the differences between psychiatry and psychology…hmm…maybe I’ll have to rethink my ‘critical psychiatry’ stance.

    I tried to have a similar conversation, but didn’t get much response over on the recent Freud thread over Christmas. Maybe I was so far off base and that’s why only Nancy99 responded…not sure.

    Stephen, how do you see the BRAIN’S reaction to trauma and how that affects healing the trauma, the personality, and so many other things? I tried to lay it out at the end of that blog if you want to reference it. But maybe it would/could still be covered by psychology…idk…Certainly a medicalized approach wouldn’t fix the brain’s response to trauma. Again I tried to explain the things I’ve had to face and how we took a non-medicalized approach to deal with all the ‘brain/mind issues’ that result from trauma and the resultant dissociation…so maybe that’s psychology not psychiatry…

    Seriously, so much of the stuff that MIA debates I had never even cared about or heard of since the healing journey my wife and I have been on has been in a little cocoon outside of the mainstream of mental health stuff…I’m really more a champion of attachment theory and the place of SO’s and family in the healing process, but since the MIA staff has shut that perspective out of the larger conversation on this site [unless you stick your loved one into the system and then they die and then you realize AFTERWARDS ‘this wasn’t a good idea…’] But I digress…

    Anyway, maybe I’ll have to rethink my position. Thank you for asking.

  • LavenderSage,

    I’m honestly not sure how you get around the use of the word symptom. Even though these are ‘natural reactions’ to trauma they are still symptoms of trauma. And I would argue that a symptom of trauma does NOT put it in the category of disease/disorder. It all depends on the paradigm one is using what the word symptom means. That is why so many of these discussions are fruitless because we don’t define our words or explicitly state our ‘a priori’ beliefs.

    I believe you are basing your statement on the ‘bio-medical model of mental health’, but my use of ‘symptoms’ is based upon the ‘trauma-model of mental health’.

  • DragonSlayer,
    You are correct that my correlating trauma with ‘the baby’ didn’t make sense, lol. That’s what I get for making a reply from work when I’m too busy to think about it!

    And you may also be correct that the reason that I am NOT anti-psychiatry is because when my wife first got the d.i.d. diagnosis, the first thing she asked me to do was to NOT read any of the popular literature out there because she liked what I was doing with her and the others. So she and I kind of developed our own system of doing things. A couple of years later when I was very comfortable with the way we were doing things, I started reading the literature out there from ISSTD, the trauma and dissociation ‘experts’. Oy Vey! We were doing nearly everything ‘wrong’ and yet getting better results than any of their patients. And so I was summarily blacklisted from almost every d.i.d. site because I wouldn’t affirm ISSTD’s recommended ways of ‘helping (cough, cough) someone with d.i.d.

    A little later as I was reading more, I realized I was doing attachment theory principles without knowing it. And so I became more purposeful once I knew some of the basic tenets of that theory and those have NEVER let us down at all.

    All that to say, I will give you some of your arguments. If you find ‘hatred’ offensive, I will rescind the charge, but if you read your comments, I do think they come pretty close to it.

    I guess one last chance to try to unmuddy my ‘baby with the bathwater’ comments. I’m one of the ‘critical psychiatry’ people on this website. And thus I have a very difficult time any of you in the anti-psychiatry camp make your broad, sweeping generalizations. Maybe I have that luxury since I kept my wife 100% out of the ‘system’.

    Wishing you a good new years,

  • DragonSlayer,
    I’m very clear on what you and others believe, and I stand by my statement. There is such hatred for psychiatry that you can’t see past it. The baby I was talking about is the trauma, not psychiatry. And though I’m sure some people were victimized solely and ONLY by ‘the mental health system’ as we’ve had at least one writer who said her initial incarceration was vindictive, I’m guessing most people who entered the system did so for a reason as many do so willingly.

    When my wife was diagnosed with d.i.d., it was my eureka moment. Our 20-year marriage had been struggling that whole time and we had NO clue why. Once I understood what was going on, and it took a couple years for me to truly understand d.i.d. as I carried her thru the healing process, then I was able to help her in ways that I never could have before.

    Psychiatry did NOT cause most people’s mental health issues. It may have exacerbated the mental distress by its ignorance of basic humanity and also because of its legalized drug pushing, but you and others have simply gone to the other, far end of the spectrum. That’s your choice, but I respectfully disagree, and I’m glad my wife did too when she decided to work on her trauma and all the issues it brought into our marriage.

  • Slaying and Stephen Gilbert,
    PTSD may not be a disorder, but can’t we agree that the cluster of symptoms signify there is trauma, stress, imbalance, pain, etc in a person similar to what a broken leg causes? And in a similar way, if that broken leg is not properly set and physical therapy occurs to help re-strengthen the muscles, etc, the damage/dysfunction can become nearly permanent?

    So maybe we change PTSD to PEMT(post emotional/mental trauma) symptoms, or whatever you prefer, and move the focus from the ‘disorder’ to the trauma where it should have been all along. But a weakness that the anti-psychiatry faction seems to have is separating their hatred of the bio-medical model and its complete reliance upon the useless and harmful drugging of people (often because of their personal trauma as a result of that paradigm), from the fact that there is REAL mental distress from trauma which causes REAL emotional/mental damage/dysfunction in the person if it becomes overwhelming enough, and hence, we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Nancy99,
    thanks for the reply, but I’m simply not sure where to go from it…I’ve written a half dozen different replies and keep deleting them as I have portions of this response. We clearly see things very differently, and that’s ok. Thank you for your time and responses.

  • Hi Nancy99,

    thank you for responding and happy holidays.

    My wife has d.i.d. and though she is thru much of the necessary healing, we never used mindfulness techniques. I’ve heard that catch phrase mentioned a lot, but we simply have no experience with it. The ‘nice’ thing about d.i.d. and the ‘alters’ is it allows me to go to the source of the worry, depression, ruminations etc, and use attachment theory and what any good parent would have/should have done when ANY trauma occurs…and once I did that for each girl, the trauma symptoms (over time) disappeared.

    But my hope had been for a more generic discussion of the ‘biology’ of mental health trauma. I did a search of this website, and maybe I missed it, but MIA is so against the bio-medical model of mental health, that I’m afraid it is throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

    I’m really good at observing my wife and by getting constant feedback from her, meeting her needs for her healing. But then when I try to go back and apply ‘theory’ to what worked with her in practice, that’s where I struggle and am on less solid ground.

    I think I’ve observed at least 3 places in my wife’s healing where the biology of the brain/mind hinders healing AFTER the trauma. Again, I’m NOT talking the bio-medical paradigm of mental health nonsense here. I’m talking about how the brain/mind react to the trauma and then complicates the healing if these factors aren’t considered.

    The first we’ve already addressed: the neural atrophy that results from the dissociation, but apparently from your comments it can also result from worry, ruminations, depression, etc, as well.

    But the next 2 are the ‘arrested development’ of my wife’s traits and abilities because it wasn’t only the trauma that was dissociated, but personality traits and mental abilities also got grouped into the dissociation with various girls. And so those parts of the brain/mind, once they are dissociated, go into a kind of ‘stasis’ and the personality traits and mental abilities never undergo the maturation process a healthy child’s brain/mind does. It’s been a HUGE issue I’ve had to contend with the various girls: I’ve had to literally help them ‘grow up’ because they controlled so many traits and abilities that an adult needs, but those traits and abilities were trapped back at a childhood level.

    And then the last factor that I see which further complicates healing for a trauma victim is that those mental abilities are subdivided and sequestered in the various ‘alters’ and inaccessible by the various ‘alters’ until the dissociation is removed between them. And this is the place one must understand when a person becomes unbalanced and develops eating issues, body perception issues, obsessive compulsive issues; pretty much most the dsm ‘disorders’ occur because the trauma sequesters the various ‘balancing’ factors in one’s personality. My wife has many of those tendency that are so debilitating in others but because I realized that one girl ‘controlled’ a balancing trait for another girl, it simply became a matter of ‘rebalancing’ the girls as the dissociation dissolved, if that makes sense…

    When I used to read extensively from the ISSTD experts’ literature, from my memory, they didn’t discuss these things much. Maybe I just missed it. I finally stopped reading about 5 years ago because my wife was so far past what they were dealing with and it was a little discouraging when I couldn’t get any of them to take me seriously since I’m ‘just a husband.’ Sigh.

    Anyway, if you want to continue the conversation and MIA doesn’t shut us down, I’d appreciate it. If not, thank you for your initial reply and maybe some day I’ll find someone with the expertise to help me better articulate the theory to what I have had to ‘practically’ do to help walk my wife thru all the twists and turns that occurred from her mental trauma.

  • LittleTurtle,
    I do understand what you are saying. Our conglomerate tendency is to simplify things. I understand that mental health issues can be caused by dietary issues. I guess I, and I’m kind of assuming MIA, feels that when all other biological factors have been ruled out (dietary, brain injuries, disease/tumors, etc), THEN they want to proclaim that mental health has NO biological component. What I’m suggesting is there’s still a biological component even if the person has perfect health, diet, etc. But I do feel that biological component is NOT permanent, just a function of how the brain/mind deals with trauma and once the trauma is processed and the memory is entered in the main personal narrative, then the brain/mind goes back to ‘normal’ functioning.

    That’s why I’m with you and for critical psychiatry and NOT for anti-psychiatry.

  • As we’ve been discussing things in general, the more I think about it, the more I’m trying to figure out the biological component of mental health issues. Since I can’t seem to get any of the experts to engage me on the issue, I’m struggling. I have intimate experience helping and observing my wife as she has healed over these last 10 years, but I simply lack the technical knowledge to explain what I have observed.

    With MIA, I don’t believe a permanent, biological ‘defect’ in the brain causes mental health issues from which there is no hope of recovery. But I do believe there is a biological component of sorts that kicks in AFTER the initial trauma. That is the brain or mind’s desire to ‘sequester’ (dissociate) the trauma from the core personality of the personality. The earlier and more severe the trauma occurs in the person’s life, the more that biological component hinders healing from the trauma. What the dissociation does is cause a person’s neural pathway’s to work around the trauma…and yet the brain fights the work arounds and the trauma memories spill out in the form of flashbacks, panic attacks and triggers as the brain/mind desperately wants for those memories to be processed so they can enter the main narrative of the person and peace be brought back to the system.

    The longer the trauma is sequestered the more the brain/mind is at war with itself trying to un-sequester the memories…but at the same time the more the neural pathways are becoming ‘hardened’ (descriptively not technically) and thus the pathways to those memories begin to ‘atrophy’ from disuse.

    In my wife’s case, more than 4 decades after the trauma, the dissociation was so severe and so complete with the last 2 girls, that the attempts to undo the atrophy so we could reach and heal the trauma caused headaches that were debilitating for months. But slowly with work we were able to strengthen those long forgotten pathways, access the trauma and the ‘girls’ who held them, release the trauma and now we are in the process of tearing down the vestiges of the dissociation so that there is conscious access to all parts of my wife’s brain/mind.

    There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the best I can describe the biological component (in a brief space) that I have observed in my wife’s trauma. I believe ALL trauma sufferers are subject to some degree of dissociation and so they all must deal with the fallout from the disuse of those pathways. Thus, imo, the biological component is a RESULT of the trauma and it complicates the healing of mental health issues, but it doesn’t cause, per se, those mental health issues..

    I guess I’ll add, that if there are any interested, there is another factor that complicates healing: once the brain/mind begins to sequesters those trauma memories, mental skills and traits are sequestered along with those memories. And in my wife’s case, because the trauma happened during childhood, it meant those skills and traits never matured: thus there truly was an arrested development that occurs. So her healing also included a maturation of those skills and traits AND also gaining access to those sequestered skills and traits.. and until that happens the person simply doesn’t have full access to the healing and other abilities of his/her mind….which is why ’empowerment’ talk is kind of useless for early childhood trauma victims (an entirely different discussion).

  • Lauren,

    I have really struggled with your article. Part of me wonders how in the world you believe a romanticized version of feminism will fix everything. You certainly don’t support that contention in any way. I’d rather see a different kind of feminism that sees men and women as true equals and understands that only TOGETHER can we fix the problems we have all made instead of the ‘patrifocal’ strawman you have created.

    But beyond that, part of me loves your main thesis and wishes your 40,000-foot perspective was correct, but I simply don’t see it down here in reality. I wish you well. I’ve used attachment theory to help my wife heal from d.i.d., but all my attempts to share what I’ve learned about the power of human connections has been met with very mixed responses and much of it has been on the negative or at least skeptical side of the spectrum. Maybe the messenger is the problem in my case, idk, but I think people prefer their little/big blue screens, their fast-food culture, their safe personal cocoons, and being masters of their own fate even if it’s a miserably lonely, dysfunctional fate because when we are truly connected to others we have to be willing to give up some of our autonomy ‘for the greater good’. And though I’m wiling to do that for my wife and son, even I am hesitant to do it on a larger scale…

  • Littleturtle,
    Thank you for being willing to share your story in a somewhat hostile environment. I won’t pretend to completely understand, but I do applaud your desire to stand against ALL abusers and with your lost friends. You are MORE than equal to those who would harm another person.

  • Richard,
    I do agree that we need this debate, but only if it’s going to be a true debate. Usually it seems more like 2 camps refusing to discuss the hard issues…like much of the rest of our society.

    I tried to discuss with Lawrence my intimate work with my wife, how I ‘think’ maybe, biology does have some role in the brain/mind’s habit of sequestering (dissociating) trauma and all the havoc that wreaks in a person’s attempts to heal: the neural atrophy and many other issues I’ve had to contend with as I help my wife heal the trauma and remove the dissociation. But he chose not to engage me for whatever reason.

    I also was in a rather elongated discussion with Frank and LittleTurtle when Lawrence took one small statement I said and jumped into the conversation to misconstrue what I had been arguing for. I personally have NO use for the phrase ‘mental illness’ as I have NEVER seen my wife as mentally ill, crazy, or anything else. I simply see her as someone who was severely traumatized as a young child. I view her NO differently than I do someone with a broken leg. I don’t stigmatize someone with a broken leg: why would I stigmatize her? Unfortunately the healing process is MUCH longer and more convoluted when it comes to mental trauma and that’s where I disagree with the overreaction so many on this website have to the proper role (as I see it) for therapy.

    So, again, Richard, I welcome debate as long as it’s true debate. I always appreciate your comments because you are respectful even of those with whom you disagree and often try to find points of agreements even with those whom you disagree on the main thrust of an article, just as you did here with Lawrence and his article.


  • “…often instantly makes things worse in many ways, such as by implying that they are powerless to actively help themselves if they do want to change anything. It implies a lack of free will and resourceful adaptability, traits which if not used, prevent the individual from making use of their amazing abilities which humans have used to accomplish so many amazing things. It instead makes that person vulnerable, since they are more likely to passively rely on others’ help. ”

    Lawrence, you do understand the HUGE difference between an adult trauma victim and a childhood trauma victim, right?

    I’ve often thought about the difference between my one sibling who was raped and my wife. My sister fought and clawed her way back to health, powering herself thru the trauma. But my wife repeatedly confided to me that she had ‘no idea what health looks like.’ And often I’m mystified by her apparently lackadaisical attitude about her healing, even now, after 10 years. Maybe she’s an anomaly, but I saw the same sentiments repeatedly on WordPress by other c.s.a. victims. And so I finally decided the ’empowerment’ movement that you are referring to, at least for my wife who has NEVER known anything but a trauma-paradigm as she was victimized when she was 2-years old, simply wouldn’t work.

    And that’s why she and I work as a team. In many, many ways I carry her. I model for her healthy habits. As distasteful as it is to many experts I’m essentially ‘raising’ my wife, especially via the 7 littler girls. I’m always careful about her agency. I never make my love or our relationship be dependent upon her accepting my guidance in her healing, but I’m not going to apologize for doing what she needs. Maybe she’s unique and no one else in the world needs it…but I’m guessing from the feedback I’ve read that there are others who need what she needs.

  • Hi Lawrence,

    I’m sure you don’t follow my posts, but I whole heartedly agree in MIA’s stance against the current bio-medical model of mental health that is currently dominant. Where I diverge is where we go from there. As is so often the case, there is a tendency for extreme backlash when rejecting something. And I think that tendency is often in display by so many who have been abused by the mental health system on this website. I understand it. I try very hard to be as sensitive to it as I can, just like I am with how I treat my wife. But when discussing ideas, sometimes it’s a little difficult to be both ‘sensitive’ and accurate (at least how I see it).

    Your reaction to ‘mental illness’ is likely based upon your experience in the very corrupted mental health system. But I kept my wife 100% out of that system. So neither she nor I have that view of ‘mental illness’. However, I never used that concept until I came to MIA. I tend to see most mental health issues simply as symptoms of the trauma that my wife and others have suffered, but even that I mostly keep to myself when I interact with my wife. For me to harp on her issues would be counterproductive. I focus on the goal with her (the complete cessation of the dissociation between the 8 girls) and am her biggest fan and cheerleader. And if you’ve read any of my other comments here, you would realize that I believe in her complete ability to heal.

    My eureka day was when she said she ‘might’ have d.i.d. Unlike your attitude about mental illness, for us her diagnosis finally gave us hope that we could fix whatever was going on internally in her, and fortunately I never let her get sucked up into your world and so our hope has continued as I learned how to truly help her heal from the trauma and resultant dissociation.


  • “The rest of you?”

    I guess I was thinking more of the corporate position here on MIA. “Mental illness” is a forbidden concept on this site. So, ‘the rest of you’ refers to the corporate MIA attitude. For those of us on the other side of things, the SO’s who have to live with the fallout of our loved one’s ‘issues’, I think we take a more nuanced position, at least I do.

    I subscribe to the trauma model. My wife’s disorder is one of the few trauma-based disorders in the dsm, but since having migrated to MIA, I would say a trauma model would fit well with most/all dsm disorders. The brain/mind gets ‘traumatized’ and no longer functions as intended [and I do wonder if biology has at least a part in the brain’s ‘desire’ to sequester(dissociate) the trauma until it can be properly dealt with], but with help, if needed, it can heal, integrate the trauma into the personal narrative and move forward.

    But it seems the desire on this site to scream ‘no mental illness’ because of the (correct) opposition to the current paradigm in mental health circles has clouded the reality that there are real-life consequences to mental trauma and simply saying there’s no ‘mental illness’ doesn’t make things magically better for the sufferers or their families. And though the trauma symptoms DON’T have to be permanent because of a permanent ‘mental illness’, they often are because of the lack of help and understanding.

  • Frank,
    the whole problem with how the rest of you approach LittleTurle is that you all don’t realize that you are being ‘authoritarian’ to her in the same way the psychiatrists were authoritarian when they declared the rest of you to be ‘mentally ill.’ And the more the rest of you try to ‘enlighten’ her from the ‘errors of her way’, the more she digs in and won’t listen. What ALL of us want from others is TO BE HEARD!!!!

    It’s why I approach my wife’s d.i.d. issues very differently. I walk with her in them. Sure, from time to time I will voice my disagreements with the various girls. I tell them my eventual goal is to marry all of them. I tell them I believe they are all part of the girl I married 30 years ago (not the host, but the conglomerate). But for 99.9% of my time, I live in their world and validate THEIR perspective. And as they interact with me and I love them, care for them, and help them heal, my presence and example is slowly moving them toward a more healthy paradigm, but my arguments DO NOT do that for them.

    I’m making no judgments about LittleTurtle either way. But if she feels she is mentally ill but has found help in that, I believe we should affirm her, walk with her, learn from her and her perspective, allow it to change us where we are incorrect (as my wife’s issues have MASSIVELY changed me and my character), and, who knows, maybe she’ll adjust a little too. But when the rest of you simply invalidate her, you all are doing the EXACT same thing as the psychiatrists, whom you hate, did to you.

  • I’m sorry for the blowback you are getting. I’m glad you found people who could help you where you were at. I’m afraid there are so many people who have been abused ‘by the system’ that they can’t entertain a different story. I wish the tent was bigger here at MIA, but like everywhere else, there are lines drawn which can’t be broken even if others outside those lines could make significant contributions to the goal of MIA.

  • No, you aren’t. I grew up on the Right, but helping my wife pulled me to the center/right. I think there’s a lot of tendency to victim blame on the Right, and I also think it over-values the ideals of self-sufficiency and independence, and I had to learn those were NOT conducive to my wife’s healing. But that said, in the middle I simply see the faults and strengths of BOTH sides instead of ONLY seeing the faults of those on the Left and the strengths of those on the Right like I used to do for most of my life…

  • FeelingDiscouraged,
    no, my wife has never taken any psychiatric drugs. The atrophy I’m talking about is a function of neural plasticity and the brain’s habit of ‘punishing’ the disuse of neural pathways and ‘rewarding’ the ones we use.

    Stephen, yeah. It’s definitely been hard, but it’s doable even after 4+ decades of hard core, complete dissociation of the last 2 girls. I emphasize them doing activities in which all the girls have interest and as they do these over and over and over and over, slowly the pathways are strengthened until they can communicate internally as easy as I can. There are other factors which slow her progress, but she’s definitely healing and the experts out there who love to say that childhood trauma causes permanent changes in a person’s brain are full of it.

  • That’s what my wife did. I found her a theophostic counselor. Of course it’s ‘buyer beware’ but that’s true even of the ‘licensed counselors.’ And we hit gold because this lady was nearly a perfect fit for my wife as she had already competently helped someone else with d.i.d. and they connected and now are pretty good friends. So my wife has ZERO paper trail to connect her with d.i.d. There are a lot of alternative counselors out there, I believe, though it has been 10 years since I’ve had to look for one.

  • Yes, but trauma-based dissociation essentially chops up the brain/mind into smaller, partials which try desperately to keep the façade of normalcy/health, and yet because these ‘partials’ can only access part of the brain/mind’s abilities, that fact can easily contribute to some of the very things you describe.

    I don’t know if the brain scans of people with d.i.d. are accurate. I don’t really care because I’ve got extensive experience helping the 8 girls in my wife’s system overcome the limitations that their dissociation causes them while helping them connect and dissolve that dissociation.

    My wife doesn’t have a brain disease that a neurologist could help. She simply has to overcome the decades of neural atrophy that comes from dissociation and disuse which can cause many of the ‘extreme states’ this site loves to talk about. I believe my wife’s brain/mind can be whole again, just like a broken leg can be reset and after good physical therapy can become as strong or even stronger than before the trauma. But I do believe these things have at least some basis in the biology of the brain and how it copes and adapts to severe trauma. My wife’s issues are just on one end of the spectrum: all trauma survivors fit along that spectrum at varying degrees.

  • Lawrence,
    how do you understand the effects that dissociation has upon the brain NOT mind? My wife has d.i.d. and so I’ve had to deal with the worst case scenarios of dissociation upon the brain. Plus she’s over 50, and so even though ‘hard wire’ isn’t technically true, it is pretty descriptive of how hard she and I have had to work to undo the neural atrophy between the 8 girls (alters). I’ll be honest, even the therapists on this site who talk about dissociation seem to have a pretty simplistic understanding of how truly deep the dissociation affects the healing process, hindering it in so many ways and forcing me to find all kinds of work arounds as I have to help each girl individually until I can get her connected to the larger group…and until that point she doesn’t have access to the rest of the mind/brain’s abilities to heal…on top of the MASSIVE headaches that accompany this process which I can only attribute to the stimulation of those neural pathways after 4 decades of disuse…

    I don’t know…maybe you and others would place this issue elsewhere, but from my intimate experience helping my wife undo the dissociation and how deeply it affected her brain as well as mind…I still wonder if it’s truly a place for psychiatrists not just psychologists…
    …Maybe I should add, because I don’t expect you to know me or our story, I don’t think there is anything ‘wrong’ per se with my wife’s brain..and we have NEVER used any medications…but that still doesn’t mean I don’t understand the extreme changes that took place in my wife’s brain/mind when she suffered trauma early and deep enough to shatter her personality into the various girls(alters)…

  • I think Lawrence and Steve both have good points. Most SO’s seem pretty overwhelmed by what is necessary to help their mates heal, especially when so many are dealing with their own issues. I certainly was overwhelmed, but simply refused to give up until I mucked my way thru the first 3 or 4 years at which point I figured out how to really help my wife. It would have been GREAT to have the help of a professional to guide me and my wife in the beginning. I think they could have helped me get ‘my head on straight’ and also have taught me how to help my wife better and SOONER.

    The counselor that my wife still uses was invaluable in the beginning while I got my act together. But at this point, the counselor doesn’t understand what I’m doing with my wife and so her role has largely receded to being a good friend with whom the little girls feel free to talk to, the only other ‘outside person’ other than me and our son with whom they interact face to face.

    I still contend that none of them can do the things that we SO’s can do, but I do believe they have a vital role to play, and it is more than just being a ‘good listener’.

  • Julia,
    I was out on the trails of the Smokies this morning, thinking about your comment, and I wanted to add one thing.
    My wife has been subjected to many different kinds of fears, many on the verge of paranoia. What I learned when helping her is that there is no such thing as an ‘irrational’ fear from the perspective of the person who is in its grips. What I had to learn to do was enter into my wife’s and understand her fear from her perspective and VALIDATE that fear without exacerbating the fear. Many of her fears were based on past trauma, but me simply declaring, “There’s no reason to fear” didn’t magically release her from the fear.

    Fear shuts down a person’s ability to logically think about things, and so if we denigrate our loved one’s fear, all he/she can hear is “no one believes me. I’m still all alone.” And the fear intensifies because so much of the power of fear is based on a person experiencing the trauma by him/herself.

    So when the girls told me of their various fears, I would sympathize ‘how scary that would be…” and then try to redirect them and say, “But now you aren’t alone anymore. Now I’m with you, and I’ll keep you safe.” Sometimes that was enough to release them from the fear if it was a superficial fear. But for other fears, I had to be pragmatic, and say, “What would help you feel safer?” And usually the girls have very specific things that would help them feel safer…I don’t argue, I simply do what they need to help them feel safer. Once I do those things, it releases them from the overwhelming intensity of the fear and then they can begin to move on.

    If your husband still believes the CIA is spying on him, ask, “What can I do that would help you feel safer?” Remind him, “I’ve got your back. You aren’t alone anymore. They won’t get you without going thru me…” Again, validate without exacerbating the fear…and if he knows he’s no longer alone, he WILL begin to be released from the fear. Eventually he may even tell you the source of the fear, but even if he never does, your presence and support in that fear will lessen it for him.

  • Hi Julia,
    you might check into the concept of “proximity maintenance’ within attachment theory. It’s pretty much what it says: using your presence to calm a loved one like a mother does a small child. Most of the literature on attachment theory deals with the raising of small children, but I think it’s transferable to adults because so much trauma that adults deal with is based in childhood and so they are essentially stuck in childhood. My wife had one girl (alter) who was essentially agoraphobic, but over time as I submitted to her needs for extreme proximity maintenance, she slowly healed and now is fine.

    The ‘safe haven’ concept from attachment theory is another one I used a lot when I helped my wife. When she got overwhelmed, I literally wrapped her up in my arms and just said what any parent would say to a little child who is terrified, “It’s ok now. I’ve got you. You aren’t alone anymore. I’ll keep you safe.” I spent years doing that when we first started this journey, until I essentially ‘overwrote’ the fear in her mind with my words of safety and comfort.

    There were other things I did, too, if you have interest. Just realize that you have more ‘power’ to help your husband than anyone else in this world, period! Therapists can help, but we who are the primary attachment figures simply have the ability to reach deeper into a person’s psyche and bring healing where no one else has access.


  • Maybe I should stay out of this conversation, but there is another way to view those voices. I fully engaged my wife’s voices. I met them where they were. If they had needs, I met them. If needed, I made amends to them. I treated them as if they were a new part of my wife that I had the privilege to discover, and one by one each of them decided they liked the life I was offering them, and all of them at this point have securely attached to me and become a vital part of my marriage and family life.

    Ron, I never ‘called the bluff’ of my wife’s voices. I validated them even the angry, vitriolic ones and offered them a relationship with myself, without strings or ulterior motives. “Unconditional love” might be a good term. And the transformation in all of them has been pretty astounding.

  • I know this is important to Emily, but I just don’t think this is the way to help people who are called ‘mad.’ I’m 100% for respect, full agency, respecting the full diversity of personalities and human traits/abilities, etc. But indiscriminately normalizing ALL things associated with ‘madness’ is folly.

    Healing is not easy. It’s messy. It shouldn’t be forced or dictated ‘from on high’. But making a simple ‘truce’ with one’s voices is not what is needed when there’s severe trauma and dysfunction in one’s background. Those angry, vitriolic, ‘mob’ voices can be engaged, validated, loved and with patience brought to peace, healing and great positive value in the person’s life. That is much better than just making a truce with them in my opinion.

    I guess I’ll add that similar to one of the people in this article, my wife had a voice that used to say vile things about me. It was so full of anger and hatred that neither my wife’s host nor the other girl who was with us at that time would tell me what was said by this new girl. I reached out to this new ‘voice’. When she finally fronted (came out fully), for months she made me cry every time we interacted. One time I slammed my head into the wall in absolute frustration (and kind of freaked out our son at the time, lol). but I refused to respond in kind. I kept offering love, acceptance and kindness until one day…she changed. I still remember it. And then the transformation that occurred was breathtaking. She went from being angry and vitriolic to beautiful and still full of passion for social justice causes, and loving a good debate… She was the first of the girls to ask for us to get engaged.

    That’s so much better than simply ‘making a truce.’ That girl, now young woman, is breath-takingly beautiful in an inner sense and has added such depth to my wife.

  • Robert,

    although, in general, I like a lot of what you have to say, and I know that you simplified your presentation a great deal, respectfully, my concern is with the general hubris I find in most therapists. Over at ISSTD they have grabbed hold of attachment terms and some of the basic concepts of the theory and then applied them in a most simplistic fashion in their therapy methods. I see some of the same terms popping into your article here, and I hope you understand how completely unqualified most therapists are to implement attachment theory principles for the relationship they have with their clients.

    1) The first disqualifier is money because it should NEVER be the basis of an attachment relationship instead of commitment and trust. If the money dries up, most therapists aren’t committed beyond the next payment.

    2) But beyond that the more traumatic the experience and the earlier it was experienced during life (i.e. childhood vs adulthood), the deeper the traumatic paradigm is entrenched in ways that no therapist can ever reach using the boundary-crippled relationship that takes place once or twice a week in the therapist’s office.

    I have spent 10 straight years undoing the trauma paradigm of my wife and rewiring her brain/mind (or mapping it if you prefer). Every day multiple times an hour, day, week, etc, I not only am tearing down the lies of the past (trauma attachments as you call them), but replacing them with positive, loving truths and experiences of the present (positive attachments). It’s simply NOT something any therapists can do, nor would it be appropriate as I have to do this in ALL areas of her life and our relationship. It’s systemic in my wife’s personality and being all the way down to some of the simple, seemingly-unrelated habits of hers that I had no idea were related to the trauma until we were years into the journey (like why she used to refuse to use a soup spoon).

    When we first started this journey my wife begged/warned me NOT to start the journey if I wasn’t committed for the long haul. And truly I have seen so many clients with deep trauma and attachment issues devastated by therapists who had no business trying to co-opt attachment principles in the glib and simplistic fashion which seems to be gaining steam, only for them to get in over their heads or petulantly quit when the client didn’t respond on the time-table of the therapist.

    Truly I wish you therapists would understand that the best place you can occupy is to be a facilitator in your client’s life and try to help him/her set up attachment relationships where the real work of unraveling the trauma and replacing it with positive experiences can take place. Yes, there are simple things that can be done in the short span of the hour or two you have with a client each week, but the deep, systemic things simply MUST be resolved by the attachment figures in the client’s life. Thus, teaching and empowering those figures ought to be one of the primary goals of any therapist dealing with a client who has deep trauma/attachment issues.

    Finally, I don’t mean this to be an attack on therapists. Unlike so many on this website, I truly do believe in the value of therapy and therapists, but I believe they have their role in the journey just like willing SO’s, friends and family members have a different role. And the reason I believe this movement continues to falter is because too many therapists have taken up the wrong role and the SO’s, family and friends have largely been left out of the equation.

  • Hi Ron,
    thank you for the interesting food for thought. I’ve been struggling last night and today after reading this multiple times, trying to figure out what I think. You’ve packed so much in here, maybe I’ll just throw out some thoughts. I don’t know how organized they’ll be…
    1) As long as we are talking about non-medication induced ‘psychosis’, which I assume you are…in my wife’s case…I just don’t see much evidence of psychosis in her even though, supposedly, people with d.i.d. typically are ‘psychotic.’ I even looked up the definitions to make sure I understood the term. I almost wonder if psychosis is in the eye of the beholder. Since I learned to see things from her point of view, the various manifestations of her d.i.d. made sense to me; hence, I didn’t think she was psychotic. She kind of jokes that something is wrong with me for NOT thinking she was crazy. It doesn’t mean she didn’t have trauma issues, attachment issues, etc. But what I observed made sense in light of her past experience.
    2) The Rip Van Winkle effect. I talk about this on my blog. When the other girls (‘alters’) joined us, they had essentially been ‘frozen in time’. Initially their frame of reference was from over 40 years ago. On top of that, their maturation had also frozen. And so I kind of took the attitude that I had to help them ‘catch up’ with things and I also had to help them ‘grow up’, but again, from their perspective it all made sense even though I had girls who viewed themselves anywhere from 1 year old to 8 years or so… So, again, no psychosis, just how dissociation works in a trauma victim and I met them ‘where they were’ and then helped them move forward in healing and maturation.
    3) As for ‘transforming’…me personally, I’ve actually moved the other direction. Having grown up a Christian, I desperately tried to live in ‘2 worlds’ but I just never seemed able to figure it out. So I happily moved to that ‘soulless objective reality’ where I don’t expect help from a god who never showed up. Since I was on my own, it allowed me to unleash my creativity to help my wife through all the things her d.i.d. has thrown at us. I think before I used my faith as a crutch and kept begging for help. Now I understand I AM the help my wife needs, and so I either figure it out, or it won’t happen, because she has made it clear to me that she wants and needs my help.

    But as for her, she still considers herself a Christian, living in ‘2 worlds’ and I see no need to disabuse her of that. I fully admit I could be, and wish I were, wrong…
    4) One thing helping my wife taught me is that ‘arguing’ over whose reality is correct is meaningless and even counterproductive especially to a person who was severely traumatized as a child. For years she told me I was the one ‘with issues.’ And even once she realized she had ‘issues’ the trauma, dissociation, rip van winkle effect, among other issues, trapped her in a matrix that she couldn’t see past. And so I chose to enter her ‘matrix’. Our private lives are dominated by the little girls who want a daddy to care for, protect and love them. Originally they saw themselves as 8 distinct individuals because of the depth of dissociation. I didn’t demand they accept my reality of them being one woman, my wife. I walked with them in theirs, and slowly as they healed and the dissociation dissolved, their reality began to morph from the trauma paradigm that was forged and trapped in the past, to one more reflective of their current lives and one that is definitely more healthy and includes them as a group.

    Anyway, sometimes I wonder if psychosis is…I don’t know…overused as a label/symptom. I know when I validate the things the various girls tell me rather than try to argue with them over perceptions and such, I could often see that such validation released them from the stranglehold that the past had on them and allowed them to move forward. People want to be heard! And ‘psychosis’ from my perspective often seems to be an excuse for ‘the non-psychotic’ to ignore what is being said by those in distress.

  • Skylar/Missy,

    that is NOT my understanding of MIA’s stance. I was asked to blog for MIA by someone whom I would think has the authority to do so based upon that person’s position with this website. But when that person talked with the staff at MIA that person was told that “nothing about us without us” meant I couldn’t say ANYTHING about my wife and my healing journey together on my own even though my slant on my blog has ALWAYS been about how we SO’s can influence the healing journey for good and also a little about our (SO’s) struggles in the midst of the journey. I probably white wash my blog too much, as I try to keep it mostly positive.

    So anyway, that was what I was personally told. If you know otherwise, then maybe the staff simply has a personal problem with me and not other SO’s in general. Since none of them have stepped in to clarify the position of MIA, all I can offer is what I have been told, and in the end, I feel the movement as a whole is worse off. I really liked the idea of an ‘anti-NAMI’ group, but I don’t know how to do that, and I’ve got my hands pretty full helping my wife, which is probably the same for most non-NAMI SO’s who are helping rather than taking the typical stance.

  • Oops, I didn’t answer your question, Julie, sorry. I think my wife would say she is better, BUT it’s hard for all of them when girl #8 is still consciously dissociated from the rest of them and so the 7 girls still have to ‘share’ time on the outside with the last girl. But my wife has ALWAYS had control of her life. Despite the skepticism with which I am met on this site, I have NEVER taken away my wife’s agency in any ways. And so as the little girls have healed and matured, they are like little birds and after a lifetime of being ‘caged’ inside, they are so ready to spread their wings and fly and I encourage them to do so. It’s really pretty awesome from my perspective to see my ‘wall flower’ wife transform into a woman who is so vibrant and self confident in many ways.

  • Julie,
    in many, many ways my wife is so much better. In many ways she is the most beautiful, vibrant and balanced woman that I know, literally. But d.i.d. is so systemic in a way that I could never have imagined, and so she’s not completely better. Physical intimacy is still at a standstill because of girl #8, and there are other minor things, too. But, yes, most of her other ‘lesser’ issues have been resolved as I’ve taught the girls to ‘work as a team’ which balances each one’s tendency toward things the dsm calls ‘disorders.’

  • Julie,
    my wife’s d.i.d. gave me a pretty good understanding (in her case at least) of what is happening internally when it comes to eating disorder issues, and so once I understood the internal mechanics, it was a matter of rallying the various girls (parts of my wife for those without d.i.d.) to counterbalance the various factors which were contributing to this tendency.

    In fact, her d.i.d. taught me that so many of the lesser disorders in the dsm really are a matter of being internally unbalanced, and so, again for my wife at least, so much of what I helped her do was teach each girl (part) to counterbalance the other girls who had a tendency toward various ‘disorders.’

  • “The reason I have not been replying to this thread lately is that it seems like some comments are implying that people with a variety of mental and emotional differences are a burden onto their significant others and family members. I just wanted to be honest and open about the fact that those kinds of statements are pretty painful for me to hear. I struggle with a lot of self-doubt and often worry that I am completely wrong for being proud of my differences. I fear that the things I consider unique and good about myself are actually symptoms of an illness that negatively affect others. Through the process of writing these articles, I have learned that listening and believing those internal voices of self-doubt/self-criticism, as well as external voices that feed into those ideas that I am a burden, negatively affect my personal well-being and self-esteem (and, ironically, that in turn very much can negatively affect others!). ”

    I’m sorry for the distress you are feeling, but at least for myself, it’s not black or white.

    I love my wife. I love all the little girls. There are so many good things in our relationship. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still difficult AND even painful in some areas. I work 55 hours most weeks, then come home do all the housework and take care of the little girls. 95% of my time at home (not in public) for the last 10 years has been with the little girls who finally have someone to love, care for and protect them. My wife hasn’t worked outside the house since we brought our son home from the hospital nearly 27 years ago. It IS a burden. I work myself to exhaustion, but that doesn’t mean I fret and fume about doing it. I have accepted that my wife needs that kind of love and care: the kind she never got growing up. So, yes, it is difficult, even a ‘burden’ at times, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love my wife; in fact, my love for her is the very reason that makes me willing to do this for her/all of them.

    And as for the heartache, I’m not sorry to admit that I did NOT sign up for a celibate marriage when I said my vows. I’m one of those weirdos who saved himself for marriage, and our sexlife has been nearly nonexistent for our entire marriage. Talk about a let down and disappointment. But again, it is my love for my wife that makes me willing to accept the daily heartache. I’ve told each of the 3 girls who needed us to be temporarily celibate while they healed, “I love you more than sex”, but they also knew how much it hurt to give them the space they needed to heal. It’s not about me being a martyr, but I do have to sacrifice things not normally required with a spouse who doesn’t have a traumatic history.

  • Hi Julia,
    I’m sorry I abandoned you. I just haven’t been up to the constant questioning of my motivations, etc, on here, so I stepped away.

    The biggest thing that helped me deal with my anger issues was to completely own my decision to stay with my wife. 29+ years ago, I did NOT sign up for what my marriage became. I dreamed of a fairytale marriage and instead it has been difficult to put it minimally. And so when she and I began to walk her healing journey together 10 years ago, it took me a couple of years of journaling, but I finally came to the place where I understood the challenges of having a d.i.d. spouse AND I understood that, for me, walking out would ‘kill’ parts of myself that I simply wasn’t willing to see die. And so I made the decision, over time, to accept my wife for where she is, instead of where I wish she were, and I understood that with that decision, I was accepting a certain amount of daily heartache. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any good things in our marriage. I love all my girls and they are truly delightful, but I thought I was marrying a woman and instead I ended up, essentially, having to raise my wife via the 7 little girls.

    It’s not easy. I struggle with suicidality at times in a way that NONE of the girls do, but it is what it is. I wish I could say their was a magic pill. There isn’t that I’ve found, but I love my wife and part of the reason I work so hard to help her heal, connect and mature is my hope for a win/win for both of us.

  • Bradford,
    it simply wouldn’t be right for me to out the person. And for me to say much more about it would do so.

    Again, this is MIA’s stance, and though I strongly disagree and think they are hamstringing their own desires because we SO’s and family members are the best hope, I believe, to turn the tide because we have the deepest access and most intimate knowledge of things even if it isn’t from the distressed person’s perspective it is still a VALID perspective.

  • Hi Rossa,
    I’m sorry I stirred this hornets nest. It just makes me so sad to see some of the stuff that is written on this site as much as I respect MIA’s purpose and desire, their experts are still mostly experts in ‘theory’ whereas we SO’s and family members are experts in ‘practice’ because we are in the trenches and never get to say ‘time out, end of session’ or “these are my boundaries, and what you need is outside of what I offer.”

    So I had to figure out how to bring my wife out of catatonic states, how to help her process flash backs, how to calm her when she was hit by panic attacks and night terrors, how to undo the attachment issues that each girl had, how to tear down the dissociative walls between the eight girls, how to undo the neural atrophy that resulted from 45 years of dissociation, how to be a completely safe person in ALL areas of our lives including physical intimacy, how to respect her agency and yet not flinch when she made it clear she needed my help and guidance because she didn’t know how to get to ‘healthy’, how to turn my wife’s d.i.d. into something that brought our family, including our son, together, rather than tore it apart, and so much more. I, like other SO’s, had to figure out how to make this work lest it tear our entire lives apart, and I had to do it despite the massive stress and secondary trauma her issues have sent my way. I love her. She didn’t desire this, but it has cost me everything including my birth family to stay with her.

  • I’m sorry that each of you has experienced such terrible things at the hands of those who professed to love you that you can’t imagine anything different. I don’t ‘speak for’ my wife on my blog. I share how she and I walk the healing journey together and the things that anyone can do using attachment principles, among other things, to help another who is experiencing mental health issues whatever they might be. But I really don’t see the point of continuing this discussion as my opinion is irrelevant on this subject .
    Take care,

  • how did we even get here, on this subject??? I write using my blog’s pen name. In doing so I have my wife’s COMPLETE permission to write about OUR experience and how I have helped her and carried her thru the healing process and done what the ‘experts’ would claim is impossible.

    In the end MIA’s policy is their policy and I’m NOT trying to create a fuss about it. I think this movement is the worse for their stance, but I do understand that the overwhelming majority of the victims of the mental health industry can’t even fathom the relationship my wife and I have. It’s why Emily kept questioning and questioning me about my definition of ‘healthy’ and ‘dysfunctional’ because, sadly, most people can’t even fathom NOT having their mental health issues used against them, but instead being joined on the journey to see them healed while maintaining COMPLETE agency in all decisions despite the fact that I unapologetically take the lead with her healing.

  • I didn’t mean to imply that MIA has any kind of a ‘grudge’ against SO’s. Before I began to participate on this website, I’d never even heard of ‘nothing about us without us.’ My wife encouraged me to start my blog as a way to give me an outlet and yet keep her privacy. I understand our story really isn’t in line with MIA’s mission per se because we haven’t been part of the mental health or psychiatric drug scene AT ALL. Her counselor is just an unlicensed ‘theophostic’ counselor who happened to have helped someone else who had d.i.d., but at this point, I’ve taken my wife way past what her counselor understands, but they became good friends along the way and the little girls love to talk to her since she’s the only real life person they ever talk to outside of me and our son.

    As for my talking about ‘our story’. It is just that. It’s not her story: it’s our story. I’ve been thru HELL carrying her thru the healing process, and it’s a little insulting to suggest that she’s the only one who should have a voice, and the other SO’s on this website know exactly what I mean even though MIA refuses to recognize it.

    But in the end, this is their website, not mine, and though I’m disappointed by their stance, I’ve got more important things to do, like help girl #8 become securely attached to me, than worry about whether or not MIA allows me to share with others how attachment theory might help them and their loved one.

  • Julie,
    that may be the truth in your case, but I was specifically told what I wrote by someone with direct access to the entire staff. Unless my wife ‘validates’ me, I’ve pretty much been told, I can’t submit anything on this website other than in the comments section like I have been doing. It’s a little disappointing, as I see so many hurting people. And I go back and forth between being frustrated by their attitude and pulling back, and then I saw Emily’s current blog and it tugged at my heart so deeply because it simply does NOT have to be that way, if SO’s and families knew they could make such a huge difference. And I realize there are TONS of ugly SO’s and families out there who ARE the problem, but not all of us. I’ve also been contacted by so many on my blog who were desperate for answers. But too often I’ve seen the ‘experts’ blatantly say that they alone should deal with d.i.d. And it’s simply not true. I can do things an ‘expert’ NEVER can do because I’m there 24/7. I’m not anti-therapist. I’d love to see them collaborate with us, but they need to learn where they can best help, and it’s NOT trying to usurp the attachment roles like is currently happening over at ISSTD.

  • Though it has been suggested by various people, even by one person who ought to have a lot of pull at MIA, that I submit articles for publication here, I was told there was enough ‘blowback’ from others on staff that felt I should not be allowed to submit anything unless it was in conjunction with my wife. And that’s their call. It’s their website.

    But I feel I could offer other SO’s and families who want to help a blueprint using attachment principles. My wife’s d.i.d. is considered some of the hardest stuff out there to deal with. Lots and lots of experts won’t even touch it. And one of the quickest ways to keep people out of the mental healthy industry is to teach those of us ‘in the trenches’ with our loved ones that they have far more power to help than ANY drug out there or any expert can do. Even if only 20-30% of SO’s and families were willing to do what I do, we are talking tons of people kept from the drugs and involuntary incarcerations.

  • Hi Sa,

    yes, that is what I was told as the reason why this website refuses to let us SO’s have a larger voice. However, I believe a more correct understanding of things would be: “There’s my story, her story and our story.” I understand that this website is all about giving people with mental health issues a voice; however, sadly, it seems they are wiling to silence those of us who, I believe, could have a huge influence on changing things. We are the ones who are in the trenches 24/7 when our spouses are having PTSD issues, psychotics issues, and everything else. And there’s a reason why so many families call the ‘experts’ when these kinds of things happen: because they’ve been brainwashed to believe that they CAN’T do what the ‘experts’ can do. Fortunately for my wife, we were homeschoolers and grew up on the Right where we didn’t expect the government to do everything for us, and so I never even considered having her committed or drugged even though I nearly collapsed from mental and physical exhaustion the first couple of years until I ‘found my stride’ and learned how to help her heal using attachment principles.

    So I do understand MIA’s hesitation especially when there are so many untrustworthy SO’s and families out there, but sadly, they’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater, not realizing that many other SO’s and families who want to help are one of the best options there is to keep people out of the mental health industry.

  • its over at
    Thanks and I wish you well, too!

    edit: thus far I’ve seen little evidence that SO’s want to band together to make a difference. I had hoped for more on my blog, but it never happened, and I have searched the web and only found one place in the UK that seems to be thriving for SO’s of people with d.i.d., but they ONLY let people join if you have attended their meetings in person…and they are strongly aligned with the model that ISSTD promotes for healing d.i.d. which I flat out reject.

    I wish this website would review it’s stance toward us SO’s. I believe we have so much to offer this movement especially as some of their writers/commenters bemoan the lack of progress in this movement overall, but thus far each attempt I’ve made to have a greater voice here has been ignored.

    If you ever figure out how to start something, let me know. I’d be happy to be part of a place where I was fully accepted and had a voice to make a difference. I support so much of what MIA stands for…they just don’t want what I have to offer, sadly…

  • Hi Julia,
    I’ve been told this website is for ‘mad’ people and therapists fighting the biomedical model and NOT for those of us on the ‘receiving’ side, and though I think that is a VERY shortsighted perspective and have tried to explain that they NEED people like you and me and the perspective we have and the lessons we have learned, thus far it’s fallen on deaf ears.
    Take care,

  • Missy,

    I reread your comment, and I guess I should also explain that I am the BIGGEST advocate of the ‘reality’ of ALL the girls in my wife’s system. When my wife’s host kept trying to convince herself none of the other were real, it was I who gently kept saying otherwise. Yes, I find it terribly, terribly invalidating and hurtful when arrogant ‘experts’ strongly try to suggest that the other ‘alters’ aren’t real and the best way to deal with the issues someone is having is to get rid of the ‘unwanted alters’!

    I tell all my girls that I have worked too [email protected] hard to find each of them and help them heal and make them a part of my life to EVER make them disappear back inside! One of the little girls read an article by some moronic ‘expert’ on the internet, and he called her class of insiders a ‘splinter’ and suggested the best thing to do was banish them back inside. She was so crushed that I spent weeks reassuring her that I would never, ever, ever get rid of her because I loved her too much!

  • Hi Missy,

    I truly am sorry that I have offended you! If you were to visit my blog, you would see that I rarely ever use any terms to refer to my girls except for their names because I interact with each of them as she desires!!! But on this website no one has access to their names, and so I struggle with how to address them and fall back on the more common terms associated with d.i.d. I agree with you that it IS offensive to deal with ‘alters’ in any other way than to fully validate them and treat them on their own terms. I do not dictate the relationships that I have with any of the girls, but I seek the deepest relationship each girl is willing to have with me.

    I wish you well,

  • Emily,
    First I wanted to step back a little. I’m worried I’m coming off a little too arrogantly and definitive about things. I do fully believe in the power of attachment theory and its concepts because it has been proven to be so effective at producing emotionally healthy people in general, and so I am simply applying to my wife what she missed during childhood. Four decades after her childhood, the concepts and principles still work even though so many ‘experts’ suggest that an abusive childhood can never be undone and somehow these people are ‘broken’ beyond repair. What I see at ISSTD is such a travesty; what they try to foist upon people with d.i.d. and so I get a little too excited to share when I find someone who is willing to listen a little, and then I let my excitement overtake me. And so I really am sorry because I think some of my statements are coming off arrogantly as if ‘I know it all’ about d.i.d. and how attachment concepts can help everyone just because they have been nearly miraculous in my wife’s life with a disorder that is the worst of the worst in the DSM when so many ‘experts’ won’t even touch a person with d.i.d.

    Anyway, back to your questions. You really want to box me into a definition of ‘dysfunctional’ don’t you, lol. And I’m trying hard NOT to let you do so to me! Because I do understand what a slippery slope that is when one person begins to define dysfunctional for another. I go out of my way NOT to do that for my wife on so many issues…but can we agree that PTSD symptoms aren’t very functional? I’ve helped my wife heal from nearly all those symptoms which she displayed using attachment theory.

    But my wife will readily admit that she has attachment issues and intimacy issues. She WANTS to enjoy sex and knows other women do, but it’s beyond her how they do that. Are you familiar enough with attachment theory and the various attachment styles to understand that when someone isn’t ‘securely’ attached during childhood but instead experienced some of the other ways of attachment like disorganized and avoidant that it can cause a lifetime of dysfunction within relationships and other areas of life? Thus, the number one thing I do when another girl joins me on the outside is prioritize ‘securely attaching’ her to myself and as such we have NEVER had any ‘alters’ (gag) run around like you see on United States of Tara and for which this disorder is generally known. My wife’s host quips ‘why would they when you (me) give them whatever they want!’ But it’s more than just giving them things: I woo them and date them and make it clear that I love them as much as my wife’s host whom I’ve known for 30 years, and so they relish in the love and affection that I give each of them and they have NO desire to go looking for it anywhere else.

    So it’s with the bigger issues that I see her as dysfunctional and not little symptomatic issues (which will take care of themselves as she continues to heal). I’m very careful not to manipulate her especially as the 8 girls are making a new life together and figuring out who they are as a ‘group.’ Her makeup, wardrobe, likes and dislikes and so many other things have radically changed over the last 10 years as the other 7 girls have begun to influence my wife’s host who was very much a wallflower and didn’t want to stand out at all. I will voice my opinion about things I like when they ask me, but I always make it clear that my love for each of them is never predicated upon them looking or acting a certain way to please me.

    But beyond that, you need to understand that within d.i.d. each ‘alter’ (gag, hate the term) is dysfunctional on a more fundamental level because they are truly a ‘part’ of the whole person. I don’t talk about it much as I see I’ve even caused some discomfort for one of the other MIA readers, and I NEVER treat the 8 girls in my wife’s system as if she is ‘only a part’. I always treat them respectfully and completely validate her for her own self, separate from my wife’s host, and yet the reality is, on her own, each girl is greatly hampered by the fact that she doesn’t have complete access to all the mental faculties nor personality traits that a non-dissociated person does until I can get her connected to the larger group. This fact also greatly hampers the healing efforts as I must work with each girl on her own while I try to connect her to the others without the benefit of healing abilities that some of the other girls control.

    Now as for your friends and acquaintances…people with d.i.d. typically experience extreme abuse BEFORE the age of 6. My wife tells me she has NEVER known what it is to be healthy. For the first 20 years of our marriage, any time I suggested to my wife that things weren’t right and maybe we needed some help, she would tell me categorically that I was the one with a problem! And so I finally realized that I can, indeed, ONLY fix myself. And so I worked on my issues until she came back to me and confessed she was NOT treating me well and that’s when she became willing to get help for her issues and we began the healing journey for her d.i.d. together. I still don’t view myself as ‘fixing’ her. When I talk about being her ‘mental therapist’ so much of what I do is simply create a caring, loving and fun environment in which I work purposefully to attach each of the 8 girls to myself. I do help them reconfigure their inner working model which attachment theory explains well and I make lots of opportunities for them to learn to work together to address the neural plasticity issues caused by the dissociation.

    In the end I never feel it’s my place to tell others how to live their lives. I have friends in my life who clearly have some major issues, but I’m old enough to realize most people don’t care about my opinion. So I interact with them how they want, and on the rare occasion that I have said anything, when their lives were unraveling, they rejected my suggestions, and so I just try to be supportive on whatever level they feel comfortable and not overstep our relationship. I understand that it took 20 years of learning to unconditionally love my wife before she felt safe to face her own personal demons, and I don’t expect less from others. Even on this website I understand that I am viewed as an outsider since I’m neither a therapist nor a survivor of the mental health meatgrinder. And so I go back and forth between voicing my views and pulling back as I understand I’m really not ‘part of the group’ because my wife refuses to ‘validate’ what I say.

    And if your friends are comfortable where they are and their lives are relatively stable, I understand that they don’t know anything different and moreover, it’s a long, hard journey to face the demons from the past and undo the trauma and dissociation and many people choose not to take that journey: that’s their choice to make and they should be free to choose it! But my wife wanted to be able to treat me better and so SHE chose to take this journey and she allowed me a level of intimacy with her on the journey that most SO’s never have the opportunity nor desire to take.

    The last point I want to address is your comment about your friends functioning as ‘multiple people.’ My wife’s d.i.d. has taught me a LOT about myself, and along the way, I realized that I actually function better as a ‘multiple’ too, but the difference is I’m NOT dissociated AND I have dealt with my mild trauma issues (I believe that Noel Hunter mentioned that recent research would confirm this reality in a recent comment of hers elsewhere). I have embraced the term ‘non-dissociated multiple’ for myself. I reject the term ‘singleton’ which the d.i.d. community uses for the rest of us. And so, again, it’s NOT the multiplicity that I have a problem with, it’s the trauma and the dissociation and those are the ONLY things I work with my girls to heal.


  • Emily,

    you have asked me so many thoughtful and valid questions, and I know there’s no way I can do them all justice, but I will try.

    1) I do think I understand the point of ‘mad pride’. It seems to have been born in reaction to the complete invalidation that so many people experience for being ‘different’. However, I don’t understand what seems to be the attempt to normalize the effects of trauma, abuse and dysfunctional family life during childhood by the mad pride movement. But in the end, I have never treated anyone less than respectfully whether or not they were trauma victims. I realize many people DO treat people differently unfortunately, though.

    2) Like ‘mad pride’ I affirm others where they are at, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with their perspective. The 8 girls in my wife’s system see themselves as 8 individuals. I disagree with them, but I interact with them the way they prefer. I do that with everyone in my real life. On this website, I may voice my disagreements, but in real life I would accept wherever someone is and feel no right to try to persuade them unless they first asked my opinion.

    As for your questions: I think I hear a lot of fear and concern behind those questions when you mention ‘dysfunction’ and some of the other things you have said. I understand that my wife’s and my situation is kind of in a completely different universe than the vast majority of people on this website. My wife has never been touched in any way by the mental health system. She has never had any psychiatric drugs of any kind. And I have NEVER treated her as crazy or weird despite all that d.i.d. brings to our relationship: I don’t even think of her in those terms. But I do understand you and others’ concerns when I use terms like ‘dysfunctional’ concerning my wife. To you those are terms people used against you in various ways that our many writer/contributors have shared on this website even to the point of involuntarily committing people and forcing them to take unwanted drugs. To me, I see the term no different than a physical therapist sees a broken leg. It’s dysfunctional: it can’t do what it was made to do: as well the broken leg stresses other parts of the body as those parts attempt to overcompensate for the inability of the leg to do its job. And moreover, once I understand the areas in which my wife’s d.i.d. causes true dysfunction, then it
    enables me to pick up the slack in our relationship until she is sufficiently healed to function more ‘healthfully'(?). Spouses who have paraplegic mates have different expectations than those whose mates have healthy bodies. In the same way, I typically work 55+ hours a week, and then come home and take care of my wife’s littles, do the majority of the housework, make meals for both of us, and try to keep things going because the little girls NEED the care and affection from me that they never got from their parents growing up. I willingly accept the huge disparity in contribution to our relationship right now because they need me to supply the love, kindness and affection they never got during childhood.

    Anyway, back to your questions. I do understand your view of d.i.d from your acquaintances and even their view of it. I would, humbly, suggest that their view is based upon their lack of healing. My wife still has those tendencies, but the more and more I help her tear down the dissociative walls between the 8 girls, the less and less they view themselves independently and see themselves ‘needing’ each other as they realize they don’t control the same abilities that other girls control. We are NOT looking for homogenized integration as ISSTD uses it. We are looking for group integration where every girl has a unique and valuable place that she occupies in the group. Some girls have vast abilities and others control relatively small amounts of the mental ‘hardware’ in my wife’s overall personality. But as they connect more and more they are able to access the abilities of each other until we are at the point where one little who at first could neither read, write, barely talk and had hardly any motor skills, is now safe to drive our car and do anything else that the other girls do because she ‘channels’ the other girls’ abilities.

    Again I can hear your concern about my use of the term dysfunction, but it’s not my main concern. The dissociation is my main concern, and the dysfunction is simply a byproduct of that dissociation. So I am going for the root (the dissociation) rather than worry about the symptom (her dysfunction). And no, I see NO value in d.i.d at all. When you read those lists of ‘positives’ about d.i.d, again, I would humbly submit that they are based on ignorance and a lack of indepth understanding about how this disorder works. The disorder takes a person, smashes up the personality into dissociated ‘partial’ people who truly see themselves as ‘wholes’, and then it arrests the maturation process on top of it. And so they are trapped in a matrix that they don’t understand but one in which they desperately try to appear ‘normal’ to the rest of us (the appearance of normalcy IS the fundamental goal of a d.i.d. system!!!) . My wife has repeatedly told me she has no idea how to ‘become healthy.’ Did any of us understand the development process of our personalities when we were in childhood? So I had to become a student of her and of myself, try to figure out how personalities develop, and then I had to enter her ‘matrix’, her world, and I walk in that world
    with her each day while I slowly guide her out of it.

    But when I say I see no value in d.i.d. that doesn’t mean I find no delight, wonder and awe in the healing journey with my girls. Those 7 girls who have joined my life are awesome! Once I helped each of them heal from the trauma, they began to blossom and bloom. And now they are each a true delight in my life and I feel like I’ve had the awesome privilege of sharing their rebirth because I went ‘all in’ when we began this joint healing journey 10 years ago.

    Lastly, my wife’s issues may be ‘extreme’. They are on the far end for people who have suffered trauma, abuse and dysfunctional childhoods. But as I walked this journey with her, I realized we are ALL on that continuum. I see evidence of her symptoms in nearly everyone I know. And like I said to you earlier, so many people’s ‘issues’ are exacerbated by the lack of strong attachment relationships in their lives. Those relationships are what keep all of us healthy and balanced, and in their absense all of us begin a vast array of coping strategies some of which are destructive and some of which aren’t quite so destructive, but all of which, I would argue, can never truly replace the burning desire each of us has to be strongly attached to at least one other person in this world.

    I know this doesn’t answer all your questions, but I hope this answers some of them. I wish you a good Thanksgiving.

  • Emily,

    as I continue to watch the replies, once again things seem to be steering in the direction of ‘nothing is really wrong except that you accepted the BPD diagnosis, and once you throw off that diagnosis everything will be happy again.”

    I guess this is my stance. My wife has dissociative identity disorder. There is nothing biologically, or neurologically wrong with my wife. But when someone is subjected to severe mental, physical, sexual trauma, especially during childhood, that creates certain mental ways of thinking which inhibit one’s ability to function at full mental and emotional capacity. And just like a physical therapist can help someone regain complete mastery of his/her physical abilities after a severe physical trauma, I’m kind of a ‘mental therapist’ for my wife. I help her undo all the lies associated from her past trauma which inhibit her from functioning in the world today where she isn’t subjected to constant trauma.

    On top of that trauma often causes dissociation in a person and over time that gets ‘hard wired’ into a person’s mental landscape. Think of dissociation as the atrophy of muscles which aren’t used after a physical trauma: those muscles then have to be re-invigorated before they can do what they were made to do. And so I’ve had to use the concepts of neural plasticity to re-invigorate those neural pathways that had atrophied between the 8 girls in my wife’s personality. Until the other 7 girls joined us, my wife’s host was very ‘flat Sam-ish’ if you understand the analogy. These other 7 girls controlled all kinds of mental traits and abilities that my wife’s host had zero access to previously. And so I also help and coach them and teach them to work together and strengthen the pathways between themselves so that they can work together as a group.

    And to further complicate things the traits and abilities that the other 7 girls control had experienced an ‘arrested development’ of sorts: they hadn’t had the chance to mature and develop like what happens during a healthy childhood. So I’ve also had to help each girl have the opportunity to experience life and grow and mature the abilities/traits under her direct control.

    I don’t know your situation well enough to make any judgment about you. And like I said from the start when I interact with my wife I neither act like a martyr to her, nor do I constantly tell her how dysfunctional she is. A good physical therapist focuses on the goal: complete restoration of the person’s physical abilities, NOT the current state of the person with whom he/she is working, and that’s what I do for my wife. I’m her biggest coach, cheerleader AND fox hole buddy. We are walking this healing journey together. And yet, she is still very dysfunctional in some areas. We haven’t been physically intimate for over a year and a half as I work with girl #8 to help her feel safe and secure. But her simply saying, “I don’t have d.i.d. and, voila, now everything will be happy’ won’t cut it.

    I wish you well.

  • “If excessive fear of abandonment is hurting your relationships why not just say, “I need to overcome this fear. It’s excessive to the point of irrationality and frightens people away”? It’s a fear you have; not a moral diagnosis that defines your innermost soul.”

    This is simply wrong on so many levels. There are so many reasonable reasons that people ‘fear abandonment’ especially when trauma and abuse and dysfunctional families enter the mix, and essentially telling Emily to ‘get over it’ won’t help.

    What does help is when others affirm those fears, but also say, ‘now it’s different. Now I’m with you. Now I love you.” I spent years, multiple times each day, telling each of my wife’s “alters” that I loved her, was happy she was part of my life now, how special she was to me, etc, etc. I never acted like it was annoying to have another chance to reaffirm that I cared for her. I never scolded her for being afraid, And each time I reaffirmed my relationship with her, a little more of that ‘unreasonable fear’ was chipped away until at this point, all 8 girls when I ask, “Do you know how much I love you?” Will reply “Of course!” and the littler ones will dance with delight because all those fears have been replaced by my willingness to affirm those fears and then slowly undo them.

    Shaming someone for their fears never helps. Affirming the reasonableness of the fears AND showing him/her that now things are different DOES help.

  • For my wife, at least, when those urges overwhelmed her, I just wrapped her up in my arms and told her, “It’s ok, honey. I’ve got you. You aren’t alone anymore.” I didn’t necessarily stop her from biting or clawing herself because I didn’t want my actions to feel coercive to her anymore than the original abuse, but I gently kept her from doing any serious harm to herself. I created a safe haven for her as the emotional storms assailed her and slowly my emotions calmed her emotions. Only one of the eight girls ever wanted to tell me the why. Most of them simply wanted to know that I loved them and they were no longer alone.
    She rarely gets those urges anymore…

  • Well, I’d have to disagree. Crap happens to us all. When we insist on this ‘sanitized’ and romanticized view of childhood, we create a lot of the hedonism and narcissism that I see so prevalent in the western cultures and why we have so few, mature adults.

    I’m glad I involved our son in my wife/his mother’s healing. I never made him do more than he was willing, but I set the tone in the family to treat her with respect and dignity even as her symptoms plunged all 3 of us into all the variety of symptoms and situations that come with dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder). I reject the notion that children should be protected from their parents’ issues. That just fuels this culture of abandonment where if someone has ‘issues’ leave them rather than stick it out and help them.

    I’m sorry for your very painful experience, but it doesn’t have to be that way, and I’m glad I chose to make my wife’s healing a family experience rather than just something she did on her own or even something that we did as a couple.

  • “I just wanted to clarify that I didn’t intend the message of this piece to be that nothing is wrong with me. I am far from perfect!! But I don’t necessarily agree that something is more wrong with me than the average person. To be human is to be imperfect. I hope that clarifies my message a bit.”

    I fully agree that nothing is wrong with you more than anyone else. Your responses to fear, trauma, anxiety and such that you have shared here and in other blogs are all very typical responses that we humans have in the absence of strong attachment relationships which help us to weather those things. That is the failing of our culture and NOT you, my wife or anyone else.

    I got lucky. My mom securely attached me to herself when I was growing up. If she hadn’t, I don’t know that I could do what I do to help my wife. I’m no better or worse than my wife or you or anyone else. I just got lucky and my wife didn’t.

  • Emily,
    sometimes I wish this website could see the black and white fallacy to which it’s falling victim. When I read your very moving story, I don’t see a young woman with whom something is ‘wrong’ per se. I don’t even see it with my wife/my girls who have d.i.d. But that doesn’t mean I have to take the opposite view and say NOTHING is wrong.

    So many of the things I read in your story and my wife’s life and others that I read are simply attachment needs that aren’t being met and so they express themselves in all these diverse ways. I do believe our culture is the main problem with its neurotic need for independence complicated by its hedonism and narcissism. Everyone one wants to point to Trump, but I just read another article that boo hoo-ed about us spouses who are willing to stick it out in marriages that are less than satisfying as if something is wrong with us for not being as hedonistic/narcissistic as they are.

    It IS hard, Emily, living with someone who has extreme attachment issues. But that doesn’t mean I have to tell my wife, constantly, about it. I’ve learned to voice the pain that her issues cause me without trying to make myself look like a martyr OR without trying to make her feel badly for it. It’s just ‘what it is’. She didn’t ask for this, and I have chosen to remain with her because I love her and want to see a win/win solution, and so that means I choose the pain that her d.i.d. does cause me each and every day. It’s the d.i.d., not her something that she chooses, and so that’s how I keep from venting on her what she can’t control and didn’t want or choose.

    Anyway, it’s complicated. It’s NOT black and white. There’s nothing wrong with you for needing a ‘safe haven’ or ‘primary attachment figure’ or the affect regulation one can provide. The various things you experienced was just your mind screaming to be securely attached to someone safe, loving and protective when you were experiencing the anxiety, panic and fears. We ALL need it, but in this toxic culture where independence is valued over interdependence, I do understand how hard it is to find that even when you have loving family members because they have been filled with the same toxic message and so they don’t realize how much we each must unlearn what was pounded into us from birth.

    I wish you well.

  • “And your idea that an individual cannot allow themselves to be known unless someone else does the telling for them is a curious one.”

    When you twist my words thru your biases and lack of experience, there truly is no place in which to have an intelligent conversation.

    Peter Barach called d.i.d., at its foundation, an attachment disorder. Hence. we who are the primary attachment figures WILL have the primary roles in healing those attachment issues. I have 7 out of 8 girls in my wife’s system securely attached to myself and the 8th girl almost there. That is something no ‘expert’ can possibly do, and it wouldn’t be ethical if they tried. And until the ‘experts’ learn where they can best function in the healing journey and how to help those of us who MUST do the heavy lifting in the trenches, those who are dissociated will continue to suffer.


  • Noel,
    I’ve thought about your reply for days. I’m disappointed, to say the least, by your lack of curiosity. You and your fellow experts are only looking at the tip of the iceberg in an artificial, clinical setting. My fellow SO’s and I experience the outworkings of dissociation 24/7 in every kind of real-life setting, and yet, respectfully, you like every other expert I have tried to engage don’t realize how little you know. My wife’s counselor has access to 3 out of the 8 girls in her system for an hour and a half each week. I have complete access 24/7. On top of that the experiences you seek from the ‘1st-person’ point of view are DISSOCIATED(!), but you must not understand what that means. It means you will NEVER get the entire picture no matter how hard your clients try to give it to you, because I doubt you have 100% access like I do.

    Kathy Steele used to brag about her vast experience with d.i.d. patients on her website…40,000 hours. I passed her a long time ago.

    Good luck. I really do hope you find what you are seeking. I am sorry that you feel I have nothing to offer you.

  • Hi Tina,

    having grown up on the Right, there is nearly a hatred and definitely a mistrust of the UN. But since I began to help my wife heal from the severe abuse she suffered as a child, my views have definitely moderated on a lot of things… So…I’m just wondering if you think there is ANY chance the USA would respect this ruling when there are so many people like I used to be?

  • Noel,

    just so you understand, we are NOT seeking fusion or integration as ISSTD pushes. Quite the opposite, we are seeking a ‘group integration’ where the dissociation is gone so that all 8 girls can learn to work together and yet each one’s unique abilities and perspectives are maintained…

    If there are ‘experts’ out there seeking the input of the SO’s I’ve never run across them in the 9 years I’ve run my blog and reached out all over the internet trying to connect with others, but maybe some day I will.
    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  • When you are ready, if you would like, we could brainstorm. The non-verbal ways of connecting with a loved one are endless…as varied as there are people, and even though each of the 8 girls in my wife’s system are only ‘part’ of my wife as a whole, the desire/desperation to connect to each one taught me just how many different ways each of us have of connecting to our loved ones. Sometimes it takes a little time, effort and thinking about ‘what makes my loved one ‘tick”, but I have yet to meet a girl in her system that I couldn’t connect with in some way that was also unique from the other girls as well as general ways which most or all the girls enjoy…

  • The best way to help someone with PTSD is via the ways a primary attachment figure can provide. However, since you said you’ve lost so many relationships already, you might check into something like this:

    I wish I could offer you more. When PTSD is wreaking havoc with a person, he/she needs something stable on the outside to calm and stabilize and when the trauma issues finally, hopefully, cease, something to help heal.

  • This is a very sad article on the state of the dissolution of our attachment relationships in our culture which, in the past, would have kept most of these young adults from the debilitating anxiety they feel. I know I’m a broken record, but attachment theory is foundational, period. It provides the stability we ALL need to face an unsafe and uncertain world. The need for affect regulation, a safe haven and proximity maintenance are never completely outgrown in our lives. I did all these for my wife as she’s been healing, and she in turned provided them for our son and his need remained as he went away to his masters programs as his last semester approached and his apprehension grew and so my wife simply talked him thru his overwhelming anxiety by spending as much time as needed each night on the phone walking him thru his fears, helping him with his coping strategies. Sadly one of his classmates literally disappeared for 3 weeks because he was so overwhelmed. Even now as he’s in his PhD program, we continue to foster the attachment ties he has with us. We hope some day when he finds a significant other that she will take over, but until then we recognize we are his safe haven in a high-stress environment…so I will be buying a PS4 soon, per his request, so that we can play Drake’s Fortune over the internet like he and I did at home during his undergrad years, and my wife is looking for a way to take him on a vacation, per his request.

    It’s very sad that the mental health system as a whole still doesn’t understand the basic concepts of this theory and what it can do for people in distress. Moreover, in our fast food culture and single-parent homes or where both parents work, few people have the time or patience to do the hard work of maintaining strong ties with those in our lives…

  • Well…I was done talking to myself…but I guess a part of my brain won’t shut off and instead woke me at 2:38…so here I am…continuing to talk to myself when no one else cares. But here goes.

    The ‘state’ of dissociation is a reflection of one’s internal working model (attachment theory) but is known as one’s ‘inner world’ in the d.i.d world of sufferers. Thus it is highly important that the inner world be slowly reshaped to reflect less dissociation. Practically for my wife, this is what I had to do.

    From the start 5 girls had limited internal contact. As I began working with them for their healing [which included 1) securely attaching to me 2) dealing with the lies associated with the past trauma and 3) daily activities to strengthen the neural pathways between the girls that had been atrophied by decades of the dissociation (neural plasticity)] we also began to purposely reshape their inner world. Now I used their belief in a higher power (Jesus) and we ‘prayed’ these changes into their inner world. And so we added features into that inner world which they found conducive to a higher level of internal communication and thus less dissociation.

    But girl #7 started with ZERO internal connection to the others. But somehow the other little, I’ll call her girl #6 even though she was outside with me from the start, began internally to ‘speak’ to her. Well internal ‘speaking’ is not as high a level as internally ‘seeing’ and so over the course of a year or so, I began to reshape girl #7’s visible world until she and girl #6 not only could ‘see’ each other, but I moved her inner room beside girl #6 and eventually they tore down one wall between their two rooms…and eventually they ‘adopted’ each other. At this point they have partially ‘fused’ but unlike ISSTD we always make fusion optional, something in and out of which the girls move according to their interest in what is happening in real life outside.

    Now for girl #7 I was working to connect her ‘visibly’ to girls #4 and 5 as well but that process got interrupted by girl #8 and is on hold. Thus girl #7 continues to communicate internally THRU girl #6 to the other 5 girls. It’s frustrating because I know she has the neural pathways sufficiently strengthen at this point to communicate freely with the others, but it’s the latent fear inherent to the d.i.d. structure, and so she continues to function like a ‘ghost’ to the other girls on the inside and girl #6 is her ‘medium’ to the others for now.

    My wife’s host (girl #1), however, continues to ONLY be able to internally ‘speak’ with the main 5 girls. She is still too scared to allow us to open a visible connection to them from her inner room and so foundationally she remains dissociated from them. What that means is her ‘default’ is to act separately from them because she views herself internally as if she IS separated from them, but she can and does interact with them constantly on the inner ‘verbal’ level.

    The last girl, #8, is still internally disconnected both ‘audibly’ and ‘visually’. I have done things with her to slowly change her inner room to make it more pleasant and hospitable because she started out with, literally, a dark and isolate corner. I have also given her internal ‘clothing’ and a new ‘hairdo’ which is important so that she feels ‘pretty enough’ to visibly meet the other girls at some point. But she continues to fear meeting the others…and it is that inherent, structural fear that was built into the system during the trauma which continues to perpetuate the internal separation. And until I can address that fear with something desirable enough for each girl to overcome their fears and internally connect, they choose to remain internally separated even though I have done the neural plasticity work with them to revitalize the pathways between them. As I said in my previous comment, there is conscious and subconscious communication going on between all of them, even girl #8, but until they can consciously recognize it…they view themselves, internally, as disconnected/dissociated.

  • Well, having now read thru the majority of the comments here, and realizing that I am probably speaking to myself, I would like to add a few brief comments. First, my wife rarely had what would likely be termed ‘psychotic’ episodes or delusions. However, from my intimate observations of how the 8 girls in her d.i.d. system function individually, when separated from the group, I could see psychosis as a natural outworking from dissociation because of the convergence of 3 different things going on.

    The first is the ‘arrested development’ that occurs when the various ‘alters’ begin to dissociate from the core personality. This means the alter who holds the specific trauma never matures nor the mental abilities which she controls. So her perspective AND ability to deal with the trauma is essentially frozen in stasis until healing begins which prevents healing from beginning…a perfect vicious circle.

    The second issue is that when we call alters ‘parts’ it does have practical significance which is never acknowledged in the literature. The problem being each alter, each part, only controls ‘part’ of the mind’s abilities and traits which allow for the trauma to be processed. Moreover, the designation of ANP (apparently normal part) and EP (emotional part) by the ‘experts’ is meaningless and irrelevant to anything. These designations only go to show the superficiality of their understanding of how d.i.d. actually works because there are NO normal functioning parts nor are there ANY, only emotional parts!!! They all are just part of the person and they are ALL dysfunctional on their own! (Rant over) Anyway, this is the most frustrating aspect because one alter may control a trait that would aid in the processing of the trauma that a different alter ‘holds’ but until the dissociation between the 2 is breached, those abilities are unavailable to the first.

    I think the last issue would be the various attachment issues that go so much with trauma sufferers. There are a myriad of things that the primary attachment figure can provide a trauma sufferer (affect regulation, safe haven, proximity maintenance, etc) and these are still very much needed in adulthood for the trauma victim BECAUSE OF the first 2 issues I mentioned. When my wife called the other girls aliens, I gently refuted her and continued to exert my pull upon her and the other girls as their primary attachment figure. They had ZERO affection for each other in the beginning, but they were attached to me (because I made the effort to attach them to myself), and that attachment to me is what eventually drew them toward each other and tore down the dissociation between themselves.

    It’s kind of a cruel reality, but having seen what I have and what our son and I provided my wife, I just don’t know how childhood trauma victims who suffer dissociation can heal on their own without those strong attachment figures to help repair the dissolution of the personality.

    Enough talking to myself…

  • Hello Noel,

    I know this is 3 years too late, and I’ve already read your thesis which I enjoyed and reviewed on my blog. But someone mentioned this blog and I wanted to check it out for myself.

    We all know the standard answer in the d.i.d. world of the difference between d.i.d. and schizophrenia which is: with d.i.d. the voices are internal whereas they are external with schizophrenia. I say, “Says who?” I wonder if their reticence to really answer your question is because IF they did, then they would be taking on the entire biological model whereas at this point, they have carved a little niche out for themselves in the DSM for dissociative spectrum disorders based on trauma despite the prevailing model.

    When my wife and I first began the healing journey she called her voices ‘aliens’. It was I who gently and repeatedly told her, “No, Honey” and slowly with time and my continued insistence, she began to embrace those voices as other parts of her larger, initial self.

    I realize your desire for first-person experiences probably doesn’t include SO’s, but it should because we are the ones who see the big picture. My wife is still caught in the middle of the dissociation and though I have 7 of the girls connected to varying degrees, girl #8 still is ‘mostly’ disconnected/dissociated.

    So what would I say dissociation is after having shepherded the 8 girls in my wife’s system to varying degrees of connection? I think it’s more than just ‘vertical’ if I understand what your colleague is saying. There is the conscious dissociation between girl #8 and the other 7 girls. Consciously they have ZERO ‘consciousness’ that they are interacting at all, in any way.

    But this is where it gets messy, because they ALL claim to not know what the other group is doing although they do many, many activities concurrently and will give me identical descriptions of what they have done during a day, often even using the same words. They will also relay information to me that comes from the other ‘group’ (girls 1-7 being in the main group as they can all communicate to various degrees and girl #8 in her own group). I am regularly told by girl #8 various decrees and dictates by my wife’s host or others even though they supposedly have no ability to communicate with each other. And the main group will similarly tell me things that girl #8 feels or wants.

    Moreover, girl #8 has varying degrees of connection to the main group. Sometimes she will pull information from my wife’s ‘main frame’, what I call general knowledge information. She quoted StarTrek’s 5-year mission to me while we were biking last week, but other times she will be completely clueless about general knowledge information and I will literally have to teach her basic skills, or more often than not, being 3-years old in her perspective, she wants me to care for her, even though she can drive the car on her own, surf the internet and she, like most of the other girls, always scores in the genius levels when they take those silly little tests on the internet.

    Now I will explain that I have been working with girl #8 for the last 2 1/2 years to help her bridge the conscious dissociation between her and the other 7. She’s been the slowest of all the girls to break the conscious barrier, but all the while the subconscious dissociation between her and the other 7 is more quickly dissolving especially between her and the girl whose voice she co-opted to speak to me (neither girl #7 or #8 had their own voices, but each of them has co-opted the other littlest of the litttles) as these two are beginning to act more and more like each other, even using the characteristic mannerisms that I have always used to differentiate between the two.

    So, anyway, dissociation…I think I view it as multi-faceted, and multi-directional. I could share so many stories with you how the 8 act together as a group, subconsciously, while the conscious barrier continues and yet they consciously can pass information between the 2 groups which they will then share with me if I ask. But I will keep working with all of them until I can tear down the residual dissociation. I/they still have work to do between my wife’s host and girl#7, but I won’t be surprised if, when, I get girl #8 consciously connected that the residual dissociation between the other 2 girls comes crashing down as well.

    Take care,

  • “But along with that, He wants to put you through Hell — to make you suffer for your sins…”

    Respectfully, Eric, … I hope not… I spent most of my life calling myself a Christian and beat myself up trying to do the right thing to get the blessings I see in the bible. I finally gave up and just focus on the golden rule now. I think most people trapped in the ‘purgatory’ and/or ‘hell’ of mental health issues or their spouse’s issues as with Sa probably feel they’ve already done enough suffering. At least my wife and I have: I can’t truly speak for others…

    If you ever want to talk Sa, I’d be happy to do so. I don’t know what you are going thru, but you can always reach me privately on my blog email: samruck2 at gmail dot com. I’m sorry for your frustration. I do understand how hard it can be to break thru barriers. Currently girl #8 is going to kill me if I can’t help her thru her impasse…and before that girl #7 did the same thing to me and she was mute for the first 6 months until we figured out she knew sign language and so I took a crash course on the sign alphabet and we worked our way from there…Each girl has presented me with different obstacles and I’ve had to take different approaches with each…

  • “I would love it dearly if our allies, at least, could set aside their prejudice…”

    Hi Eric,
    thanks for being willing to share your experiences. Yes, it was hard for me to do just what you asked with my wife. I found myself arguing with one of the little girls over something she claimed repeatedly. When I realized how I was invalidating her, I pulled back and affirmed her the next time she brought up the subject. She never brought it up again, so I’m not really sure what to think other than how important it was to her for me to affirm her whether or not I understood or agreed.

    Good luck to you,

  • One of the biggest problems I see with this entire movement is the tendency of the survivors of the ABUSIVE mental health system to then act as if mental health issues are somehow ‘made up’ almost as if out of thin air by the ‘devious’ mental health experts to keep the masses in their place. Moreover, your lack of familiarity with those who have gotten healing and help from their traumatic childhoods does NOT therefore mean that no one has.

    People who are traumatized during childhood or otherwise, do indeed, suffer from it and often adopt very poor coping mechanisms. All of us may need help working thru that trauma if it is substantial enough. I wouldn’t haven’t spent the last 10 years of my life helping my wife thru her d.i.d. issues if I thought she was making it up. Moreover, she is MUCH BETTER now than when we started this journey, and at this point I would say in many respects she is more balanced than I am or most other people I know for that matter.

    People don’t seek out help for ‘imaginary’ issues. It’s the quality (or lack thereof) of the help that is at issue.

  • If we turn this into a contest of ‘stupid’ I can point out silliness on both sides. I realize this site likes to lean Left and there is a lot of angst over capitalism and other things cherished on the Right, but as with most things, the extremes of both sides are unbalanced, and it’s unhelpful that both sides argue against the extremes, thus essentially creating strawmen and therefore we never are able to find that common, middleground where the majority of us tend to live…

  • Seriously Jilly2468? That IS a pretty ignorant and disgusting statement. My wife and I are both white and middleclass and she has tried to help me understand the plight of my fellow Americans of color and our position in the systemic racism of this nation. I’ve been a life-long Republican and Evangelical Christian, but I won’t close my eyes any longer when I see what is happening to my brothers and sisters who aren’t white like me.

  • Zenobia,

    I know you don’t often answer comments, but I’m curious if this is as big a deal as it would appear. After Will’s blog of ‘lamentation’ last week, this nearly seems the polar opposite. It almost seems like the movement just made a huge victory? Is the UK irrelevant unless the US gets on board? I wish someone ‘in the know’ would answer…

  • “As activists, we also interpret our world in ways that can make us feel worse: identifying and dwelling on the injustice we and others face without being able to change it significantly inevitably takes its psychological toll.”

    hmmm…maybe it’s partially a state of mind…if you want to blame everyone else for your own problems, it just makes you feel worse…I’m not saying our current, virulent capitalism doesn’t have some massive problems of its own especially as it games the system more and more for those already rich, but I think capitalism gives people the hope that they can do better, while it appears socialists just want to blame everyone else that they aren’t doing better…as usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between…

  • YAA,

    I understand that many SO’s and families are a HUGE problem, but that doesn’t negate the fact that many others are NOT, and IF we are going to produce real alternatives to the mental health incarceration system, it’s going to HAVE to include those of us who are willing to be part of the solution. I don’t know the numbers, but even if it’s only 30-40% of families willing to help, that’s still a huge number that could be a part of the change. But I have fought against the naysayers from day one who told me what I could and couldn’t do…and proved most of them wrong. I can do things NO therapist can do because I have complete access to my wife’s d.i.d. system in all of life, not just once or twice a week in a clinical setting. I had to earn her trust when we started this journey together, but now I can help her in ways no one else can.

  • Respectfully, Will,

    1) Electoral college…ummm no. Those of us in the Midwest have NO desire for our voice to be obliterated by the coastal elites. I am NOT a Trumpite, but even though I’m a moderate I still have ZERO desire to have my life run by Illinois, NewYork, and California. Thank you very much.

    2) Now to the real point of your blog. It’s easy to blame someone else for your own defeats. I spent the first 20 years of my marriage blaming my wife for our marriage problems. I finally realized the ONLY person I can change is ME. Once I began to work on my own issues, my wife took note and wanted to change for the better, too. But as long as I tried to change her first, she simply resisted.

    So if you’ve got a new boogey man to blame, good luck on that. Sure the 1% is a problem, but it’s not the main problem. The problem is systemic, and trying to pinpoint one little problem as the ‘key’ isn’t going to work. I see lots of areas where this movement could improve. MIA probably is tired of me advocating for a greater voice for SO’s, family members and such. But that’s where I’m at. Maybe once I get my wife completely thru the healing process, I’ll have time and energy to do more on that front. It’s a front I see sorely lacking as there are only a few of us out there advocating for the things that we alone can do since we alone are in the trenches 24/7 with the ones who are hurting.

    Anyway, I wish you well, but you are misguided. We can ONLY change ourselves, period.

  • Memories are a tricky thing. I had to be very careful when helping the one girl in my wife’s system who held the memories of the initial abuse. I didn’t lead or probe. And she could only remember bits and pieces and a few of the threats the abuser had told her. I worked with ONLY what she offered me as I helped her move past the lies so she could heal and safely attach herself to me.

    Unfortunately, there is still plenty of ignorance of the subject on both sides of the debate, though I believe the False Memory Syndrome people had ulterior motives to protect the abusers, while the therapists seemed to learn from some of the just criticism lodged at them.

    I have other contentions with the therapists of ISSTD over ‘recovered memories’:

    From my wife’s experience, it’s pretty clear that memories can be dissociated, but my concern has to do with the methodology ISSTD promotes for ‘recovering’ memories and their ignorance concerning how the people within a d.i.d. system work and how that affects the recovery of memories and the overall health and stability of the system. ISSTD’s method unnecessarily re-traumatizes the person because they do NOT understand how the various people within the system function, sigh…

    I would NEVER question the memories of an abuse victim like was done to Kluemper, and I feel badly for her being put under the microscope like that. But my focus with my wife really wasn’t the memories per se, but rather what effect they had on her today. And so I really didn’t care if the memories were accurate, inaccurate or completely fabricated. When it comes to healing, what is important is dealing with the impact of memories, not the accuracy of the memories, so that they can be processed, the lies untangled, and the person can move on.

  • Larry, I tried to read thru this entire thread yesterday after I got back from vacation. And if I remember correctly, you were espousing the idea of ’embracing one’s freedom.’ As much as that sounds like a wonderful concept that I heard all my life growing up on the right side of the political and religious spectrum…it didn’t really hold water once I began helping my wife heal from the severe trauma she suffered as a child which resulted in her developing d.i.d. That trauma becomes so ingrained in people that it becomes nearly impossible for them to see any kind of freedom without MASSIVE amounts of help…which I have been providing to my wife as I slowly ‘reprogram’ her mind/thoughts to move from the trauma paradigm she grew up with to a healthy paradigm that truly does allow her to ‘celebrate her freedom’ as you espouse. I had to learn how to help my wife do this while unlearning so much that I thought I knew most of my life. That is the kind of help Matt would have needed to overcome the suicidal thoughts, but I understand most people don’t know how to give that level of help: I certainly didn’t until I was forced to learn it in order to help my wife…but I didn’t really want to come onto this thread for Matt and use his death to push my ‘great idea’, but that’s what I had in mind with my simple statement…

  • “We have also collated quotes from a variety of other voices: survivors, professionals, activists, academics, researchers, and people who identity as some or all of those.”

    Sigh…still no voice for those of us who are in the trenches 24/7 with our loved ones and who refuse to abdicate the key place we have for the healing of their traumatic past with love and empathy while treating them with dignity and the respect they deserve as our equals…