Sunday, August 18, 2019

Comments by Sam Ruck

Showing 482 of 492 comments. Show all.

  • At the start of our journey 11 years ago, my wife tried to hide the other girls from our son (then 17) because all the experts said to do so. But it only divided our family. So I worked with him and the first girl to bridge the gap, and she finally couldn’t contain herself and outted herself to him on a family vacation. He’s been invaluable on this healing journey we’ve taken as a family ever since.

    I didn’t want him to see the effects of her mental trauma as something strange or scary like the rest of the culture does, and so I set the tone and he just kind of followed my lead. I wanted him to be a young man who understands that ‘sh!t happens’ and not be scared or turned off by it when it happens to a loved one, but instead learn that we rally around and help someone who has been traumatized.

    My wife and I have shielded him from some of the darker stuff, but that was more by his choice of disinterest than because we ‘hid’ it from him.

  • Hello Sera,
    thank you for entrusting us with your experiences, your pain and your rage. I hear you. I’m sorry you had to go through those things alone. I hope some day your husband can learn to be a safe haven for you and help you hold those lost memories when you are ready.

    I wish you deep healing and all the best.

  • Hi Lucy,

    I’m so glad you’ve taken such a nuanced position here and in the PTMF. And I’m glad that ‘carers’ are recognized as a group worthy of being heard. I’ve given the last 11 years to my wife’s healing and we’ve seen amazing things using attachment theory and other things we’ve learned along the way.
    I’m working my way thru the PTMF. It seems like you welcome responses and reactions to the document, but I don’t see any where to send them.
    Wishing you the best.

  • Steven,
    as someone with a theology degree, I’ve got to admit I’ve never seen or heard exorcism explained that way. Now on a practical level, I can see how exorcism was abused by those in authority to become what you have stated, but certainly on a theological level I think most scholars would strongly disagree with your statement.

  • Wow, Steve, Rachel and Julie, the cynicism is pretty thick here. I’m truly sorry if that’s the only kind of people you know. Maybe that’s why I’ll always be an outsider on this site, but, there are actually families out there who protect and care for their own. But when things get going extreme in a loved one, it is a little scary, overwhelming and/or bewildering.

    The following things never got covered in my “Being a Good Husband: 101 class” like my wife falling multiple times down the stairs, nearly breaking multiple limbs and being black and blue from head to toe for the first few years because the littles who joined us didn’t know how to use ‘the body’ very well; hiding in stores for fun or because various ones were terrified, almost getting run down by cars or trying to jump out of a car moving at 70mph (multiple times), going comatose (multiple, multiple times), looking like she was experiencing some kind of seizures, feeling like I was in an exorcist movie the first time I met one of the most angry girls, going comatose in a standing position so that I had to lunge to catch her before she hit the floor (for more than a year), and these were just A FEW(!!!!!!!) of the highlights of our first 5 years the others joined us (oh forgot coming home to our house being flooded while one of the new girls serenely read her book in an adjacent bedroom). And that didn’t include the task of simply winning the hearts of 7 disparate girls who were scared, traumatized and/or angry into my marriage and family so we didn’t turn out like the United States of Tara scenario.

    Somehow I muddled thru it all with the help of our college-aged son who helped me provide literal 24/7 coverage those 5 years, and in time I actually figured out how to help her/them heal so none of that happens anymore, but it was still overwhelming and scary at times.

    I’m sure it’s the same feeling for others, and so many of the SO’s and families turn to get help and instead get something worse than being all on their own thru it like we were.

  • “I think you’re right, it’s not very well understood, generally speaking.”

    I’m just sad how poorly understood it is on this site but even more by the ‘experts’ of trauma and dissociation like over on ISSTD. But I do understand they only see it in clinical settings. They’ve never seen it 24/7 for 11 years like I have in every aspect of my relationship with my wife, and having to make every aspect not only safe, but healing as well. And seeing it laid plainly out between the 8 girls in my wife’s system, and how they each have strengths, but also gaps in their abilities and personalities, has really helped me understand how all of us function on a foundational level as I have helped them slowly become an integrated, cohesive, collaborative group.

  • Hi Eric,
    you know, my wife’s d.i.d. has taught me so much about myself, to the point that I talk about myself being a ‘non-dissociated multiple’ on my blog. And as I have helped all the girls in her network learn to live together in harmony, I have learned to harmonize all the various, disparate parts of my own personality, especially the uglier parts of myself that I used to try to suppress, now I channel them instead, kind of the ‘benevolent monster’ like we see in Kong: Skull Island or even Tom Cruise’s Mummy.

    Anyway, I appreciate your attempts to expand how people are seen, away from the simplistic, narrow lenses that most psychological frameworks espouse.

  • Hi Lenora,
    dealing with my wife’s dissociation is actually kind of easy: because it’s out there on full display and she knows it’s happening and I know it’s happening and so we can deal with it appropriately.

    I actually find it much more difficult to deal with other people who don’t understand what is going on because there’s no way I can just say, “Hey, do your realize your showing signs of dissociation?” And so many, many people dissociate various things. Like you said, it’s on a spectrum and most of us do far more than just ‘daydream.’

  • Someone else,

    I do understand that for those who have taken any number of psychiatric drugs, or for that matter, all kinds of mind-altering substances, your statement would be correct.

    But there is a real phenomenon of hearing voices, like my wife experienced, and she was NEVER on any kind of drugs psychiatric or otherwise. My best guest is these ‘voices’ come from dissociated parts of the brain/mind and so they seem foreign to the person at first, but with time and work and help, those voices can be welcomed into the person’s narrative and eventually take part in the overall personality.

    At least that has been our experience.

  • PacificDawn,
    perhaps if you have no interest in discussing anything except activism, you should approach the MIA staff and see if they would start a corner for those with similar feelings, and also to keep track of national rallies and other events of that nature. I say this genuinely because you seem to have no interest in discussing anything else and label all other topics as means of controlling people.
    Wishing you well.

  • Ron,
    thank you for the link. I will definitely check out this group as my wife and I have been living with her ‘voices’ for the last 11 years, engaging them respectfully, lovingly, helping them heal first and then integrate into a community with each other. There’s so much that SO’s and family and friends can do. My wife’s angriest voice that despised me is now deeply attached to me and engaged with me. The hurt and traumatized ones have healed and are now full of life.

    People are afraid of legitimizing voices, but that’s exactly what we did and it made all the difference. Instead of the United States of Tara scenario, all the voices are fiercely loyal and thoughtful at this point to our family and relationship.


  • Rachel,

    I have learned so much about the horrors of the mh industry from you and others here, and I try never to belittle that, but that’s also why it’s so hard for me to communicate here because my wife’s and my experience is like a polar opposite where I always honored her and her desires; she never had any contact with the mh industry or its drugs, and where I never, ever, ever treated her as ‘crazy’ or any other kind of belittling way.

    At first she would quip that I was the crazy one for NOT seeing her like the rest of the culture, but I simply never did, and the more I understood her world, the more it truly made sense to me as I walked/walk with her in it as we find a way out of it together.

  • No Rachel, I don’t even know what you are talking about, sigh.

    Like I said dissociation is a huge issue and how it affects mental health as well as a person’s ability to fight mental distress, and if I hadn’t had to help my wife literally put all the disparate pieces of her self back together again, I would have never understood it either. That’s probably why I lack the words to convey it because our experience has been in a completely different universe than most here and elsewhere, and everyone tries to interpret what I say thru their experience, and I just can’t seem to figure out how to overcome that barrier. 🙁


  • But since there is no KNOWN link to brain problems how can psychiatrists fix it? How can random acts of brain damage help anyone?

    I wish it were that simple. On the side of the biochemical model you’ve got people spewing ‘chemical imbalance’ foolishness, but in reaction to that provably wrong belief, many on the anti-psychiatry side want to say there are NO brain factors in mental health distress, and I disagree with that, as well. But since I’m ‘just a husband’ neither side will listen to me. The former think I’m a moron since I can’t put little letters after my name (though I do have an unrelated BA), and the latter think I’m ‘speaking for’ my wife and so they won’t listen either.

    I’ve had the privilege and responsibility to help my wife literally rebuild her personality from the ground up these last 11 years. And I’ve seen what dissociation which causes neural atrophy can do and how it most certainly affects mental health and the ability to fight mental distress. I’ve tried to discuss it a little here in the comments sections, but it’s such a huge issue, and since no one ever ‘bites’ when I try to throw out nuggets I’ve learned, I typically drop it.

    It’s too bad. It’s not the only issue in mental distress, but dissociation is a huge one, and neither side gets it. Even books that are touted here like The Body Keeps the Score, are incorrect, but because he’s never gone as deep as my wife and I have with dissociation or seen it as laid out as we have 24/7 for 11 years, he (van der Kolk) doesn’t understand it’s the dissociation and NOT the body that is the issue.

  • LittleTurtle,

    sadly I see more and more comments that seem to take that view and want to turn all mental distress into a motivation for class warfare on this site. Some act as if all mental distress, illness, trauma, dysfunction, or whatever one wants to call it is completely fabricated by the mental health industry and society in general as a means of social control.

    I don’t believe that the Big Brother of the mh industry, big pharma, and gov’t shills really has his hands on the majority of society, at least not yet. Only 1 in 6 Americans are even on psych drugs or connected to the mh industry. That means the overwhelming majority like my wife and I are ‘untainted’ and yet I see a TON of distress and dysfunction that reaches throughout ALL classes of Americans. Hell, the 1% are some of the most dysfunctional of us all: just read the news to see that money and power do NOT make one impervious to such things.

    So it really is too bad for the simplistic assessments that often pass and go unchallenged on this website.

    I’m with you, LittleTurtle and critical psychiatry. There have to be others, but it is too bad they don’t take the time to comment more often.

  • Is there any miracle of events, any set of circumstances that would now be presently unfathomable, that could leave us in a place of looking at each other across “the table” and even mustering up forgiveness, acceptance and a path forward? Any?

    What would it take to at least begin a path in that direction? Or the the toast too burnt to even consider recovery?

    Maybe it is that just a pipe dream, an event that only can live in imagination and nowhere else? Or maybe, just maybe….. ?


    I can’t speak for the others on this website, but when my wife and I first down the path of healing, I had to deal with the anger that kept her and I separated. I realized that some of her anger toward me was completely justified, but also some of her anger was truly because of the abuse she had suffered as a child and I was simply a convenient object for her to vent upon.

    It took me about 6 months of asking forgiveness for anything and everything she accused me of. I NEVER defended myself because I took the position that IF she felt this, then I would value our relationship over who was right, or trying to give my side of the story.

    About 6 months later her anger was extinguished. A couple years later she even came back and apologized a little for her part in things…but until I had extinguished the anger, she simply couldn’t see past it.

    I understand your commitment level is probably a lot lower here than mine was to my wife, but that’s what it took to bring her and I completely back in harmony with each other.

  • I’m sorry no one understood how to enter into your world and walk it with you. One of the first things I had to learn was to ‘get out of myself’ so I could enter my wife’s world. Too many people try to ‘drag’ people out of their worlds into ‘the real world.’ If you look at Jesus, that’s not what He did. He incarnated Himself into our world so He could understand us in ALL our weaknesses, and then He made a way out…thru Him. That’s kind of what I’ve done with my wife. I don’t demand she join ‘the real world’. Instead I walk with her, on her terms, in her reality, and slowly we are finding our way out TOGETHER.

  • “They couldn’t reach me anymore.”

    Do you mean physically or mentally? It took me awhile to learn how to ‘reach’ my wife when she was going thru some of her more ‘extreme’ things like flash backs, panic attacks, etc. Attachment theory has the concept of a ‘safe haven’. Think of it like a boat in a hurricane that finds a sheltered harbor during the storm. That’s what I had to learn to become. I realized she could still hear me even if she couldn’t respond to me. And so I would literally wrap her up in my arms, gently and loosely, so it didn’t feel suffocating or constricting, and then I would speak gently and softly to her, pulling her out of her mental storms and confusion. Things like, “It’s ok, Honey. I’ve got you now. You aren’t alone anymore. You are my girl and I take care of my girl…” The warmth and safety of my enveloping presence and the calming of my voice would slowly stabilize her and blow out her mental/emotional hurricanes. And after a time, those hurricanes became less and less volatile…until at this point, they are mostly a distant memory.

  • The concept of “mental health”/”mental illness” is the primary lie/fraud.

    I can’t speak for Ron, but at least for me, I don’t agree with this assertion.

    I might word it slightly different because ‘mental illness’ has been corrupted by the biomedical model of mental health with which I 100% disagree, but I do think there is such a thing as mental health/mental dysfunction that is often trauma based. Moreover, I think there is a biological component because the brain/mind is biologically based, even if we don’t understand how.

    The most obvious biological component of mental health/dysfunction that I am aware of, because of our personal experience, is trauma-based dissociation which ends up re-mapping the neural pathways of the brain. And undoing that dissociation has caused my wife massive, debilitating headaches. I don’t understand it, but for every step forward as we tear down the dissociation, the headaches are so excruciating she can barely function.

    Moreover, we’ve spent the last decade retraining her mind to access those previously dissociated areas of her brain where the neural pathways had atrophied. And as she has gained access to those areas previously walled off to her, she has begun to display new personality traits and mental abilities she never had during the first 20 years of our marriage.

    I don’t understand the biological component of my wife’s mental trauma or healing on a technical level, but I mostly definitely understand it and have had to develop strategies to overcome it and work with it on a practical level.

  • Hello May-May,

    my wife used to experience a lot of dissociation. From the ‘official diagnosis’ one would expect her to experience a lot of psychosis as well. But as she and I have walked the healing path together, I’ve wondered if psychosis (that isn’t caused by drugs or medications) is just a result of the mind trying to bring those dissociated, trauma memories back to the front so they can be processed and entered into the person’s current narrative.

    I never really thought of my wife as psychotic. In the beginning she felt it was scary and disorienting, but slowly, as I learned to stayed calm and acted as an anchor for her to the present, her fear subsided, and we were able to help her brain/mind integrate those old memories into a way that she could deal with in the present.

    I can’t tell you what you are experiencing, but I don’t really believe psychosis is a helpful word or concept: it just has too much baggage because of how it gets portrayed in the media and by mental health ‘experts.’ This is what worked best for me/us: viewing this phenomenon as ‘overlapping realities’, one past and one present, and my ‘job’ as my wife’s healing companion was keeping her grounded and safely helping her sort things until at this point most of the dissociation is gone, and thus, so is the psychosis.

    Wishing you well.

  • “If we have people promoting Therapy, Life Coaching, Recovery, or Salvation Seeking, then that means that survivors are being abused. It amounts to second rape.”

    I don’t expect PacificDawn to listen, but for others, I want to state that, imo, this is so over the top, I wish it were addressed. I’m not even sure where I would begin to address all the generalizations, slander, black and white fallacies, and so forth. I’m guessing(?) this comes from her own traumatic experiences, and for those I am truly sorry, but it doesn’t help to throw around accusations at huge swaths of people who have found these things to truly help. Though I don’t consider myself an evangelical Christian anymore, the caricatures that routinely are hurled from the Left toward Evangelicals are simplistic and insulting. Sure there are abuses, just like there are in any and every large enough group that one looks at, but there are also a lot of people who sacrificially give of themselves to try to help others the best they can. My own life and how I try to help my wife is still governed by many of those principles that were hammered into me from my Christian upbringing, and I get tired of others flippantly making accusations and the majority on the Left approving whole heartedly. Honestly, this website ought to do better, imo.

    And as for the wide swath of other accusations and caricatures she is lobbing at Life Coaches, therapy, recovery, and whatelse, I’m glad my wife decided she DID want to address the trauma and pain in her life. Her decision has taken both of us on a wonderful healing journey of discovery and growth and healing for both of us. It’s been hard as hell in many ways, and yet I’m so glad we made that decision 11 years ago. I’m glad I’m NOT the same man that I was when we first started, nor is she. Hopefully we are both much better versions of ourselves.

  • Hi Fiachra,
    in some ways the brain is just like a muscle that atrophies with disuse but can be strengthened with use. Think if a person who has been bedridden for 4 decades suddenly finds a new medical procedure that allows the person to regain control of his/her limbs. Well 40 years of disuse can’t simply be undone overnight. It would take years of pointed exercise and physical therapy to regain full use of those limbs.

    That’s kind of similar to what happens with people who have experienced extreme dissociation. Those areas of the brain/mind can’t just naturally reconnect and be fully utilized by the rest of the brain/mind. And when the ‘experts’ add their ‘medications’ it only makes things worse and zombifies the person at best and wreaks havoc at worst and actually hinders the person from accessing and strengthening those affected areas. And so we’ve found it just takes hard, repetitious work that engages all affected areas of the brain/mind as they are incorporated into the whole of the person.

    We’ve found it can be done, and done with minimal secondary trauma when drugs aren’t introduced into the mix. But it’s just a slow, tedious, day-by-day process. No miracles cures, and definitely no magic pills!

  • Bruce,
    perhaps you should define your terms. Many on this website think that anything less than being ‘anti-psychiatry’ is being a sellout and being a ‘middle grounder’ and yet you hold up Bob Whittaker as someone who isn’t a sellout and yet on the rare times he visits this website, he has professed to be ‘critical psychiatry.’

    As this culture continues to fracture and both sides become more and more extreme, I sit firmly in the middle. But to me that doesn’t mean I take a ‘middle point’ on all the issues. No, what that means is I give a fair and thorough hearing to each side and then I eclectically pick and choose where I believe each side has gotten issues correct. I firmly stand against the biomedical model of mental health, and yet, after 11 years of helping my wife heal from extreme dissociation, I understand how the dissociation structurally alters the brain…yet not permanently, and not because of genetics, but because neural plasticity teaches us that if we don’t use it, we lose it. And yet, that same principle gives us hope, as I purposefully help my wife bring back to health those atrophied neural pathways.

    This isn’t the only place I part pathways with the anti-psychiatry crowd, and yet for you to call ‘the middle grounders’ “dangerous”, to me is a sad statement on our fracturing culture. I’m guessing you don’t consider Bob a middle grounder, but I know his critical psychiatry position grates on many commenters on this website. Maybe he’s not dangerous to you, but this kind of talk is NOT helpful. It just further divides us.

    Eleven years ago I had no clue about any issues concerning mental health; now I’ve had to become an expert on dissociation to help my wife heal from things even ISSTD hasn’t figured out yet. I prefer not to have litmus tests because we are all on a journey, and yes this is life and death in some respects, and yet not everyone gets it as quickly as others. My own wife still believes all the biomedical mental health garbage, and I just tell her, “you are lucky that I don’t.”

    Wishing you well,

  • Fred,
    respectfully, the diagnosis was critical. If you’ve never lived with someone who dissociates and yet is a master at hiding it(like many are), you may not understand how confusing it can be to both people. Neither of us understood what was happening. Once we got the diagnosis that was my ‘aha’ moment, and things began to make sense and I could then reorient my thinking to include something I had never before considered and then begin to grow in that understanding.

    Yes, the relationship was key to staying at this and walking this TOGETHER, but one can’t fight and overcome something if one has no concept of what is going on like the first 20 years of our marriage.

  • Rachel,
    at the most basic, neural plasticity, I believe, can be summed up as ‘the brain rewards what we use, and punishes what we don’t.” It’s really the same with the rest of our bodies. Muscles that we use a lot become stronger; muscles that we don’t atrophy.

    The brain is essentially the same: when we exercise parts of the brain, those pathways are strengthened and fine tuned, for example creating the skill needed to play a piano thru years of practice. But when parts of the brain are ignored, or worse dissociated from trauma, then those pathways are neglected and atrophy.

    And to un-do years of extreme dissociation, it’s no simple process to just ‘flip the switch’ and start accessing those areas of the brain again. It’s been a far, far, far more difficult process to help her gain access to those dissociated areas, than helping my wife deal with the actual issues surrounding the trauma.

    As for other people’s experiences on this website, my statement was not intended to belittle anyone’s experiences or victim blame them for being caught up in the system. We were fortunate, but not because we were so smart and wise. It just was outside our natural bent to go for help, and it was only later that I realized how fortunate we were to have missed the horrors that so many describe on this website. But sometimes when I read comments, the reaction toward the abuses of the mh system are so focused on just that, that the original issues get lost in the context. I understand why that is so, but I wanted to clarify that our case may be considered a ‘control group’ in that we have not been tainted by the system at all and yet we are still struggling 11 years later to undo the real issues caused from her childhood despite her tremendous healing and progress.


  • Hi Fred,

    for 20 years my wife and I struggled in our marriage. We loved each other but things just weren’t right, and when she finally agreed to get some counseling after I led the way by working on my own issues, it was suggested she might be experiencing some severe dissociation as a result of her early childhood trauma…and that was the key that finally unlocked our confusion and the impasse of 20 years.

    Now we didn’t go the typical route to deal with said trauma and dissociation. She never had ANY contact with any professional ‘mental health experts.’ But we kind of fell into attachment principles and when I learned more about that, I became more intentional about some of the key concepts from that theory that helped address her attachment issues, dissociation issues and other things. But it did start with that ‘possible’ diagnosis.

    As much as I firmly stand against the bio-chemical narrative of mental health, that doesn’t mean there aren’t real issues like dissociation, neural plasticity, trauma, ptsd symptoms, etc that have to be addressed. Neither my wife nor I ‘wear’ her diagnosis as a badge. Other than me, our son and her non-traditional counselor she refuses to tell anyone else and most would be surprised, to say the least, that she is dealing with anything. She tells me she’s one of the few in her group of friends and acquaintances who doesn’t take any kind of medicines for stress, anxiety, etc.

    I know we are an anomaly; I’ve been told that repeatedly on this website. But this website is strongly tilted by those who have had HORRIBLE experiences within the mh system. And I’m not belittling that at all, but I do take issue when people try to blame ALL their mental health distress upon the system as if nothing really drove them into the lion’s den at first and all their problems came as a result of the mh system. People suffer from real mental health issues, and when I finally took those seriously in my wife, that’s when I became effective in helping her heal and move forward.

    Wishing you well.

  • Hi Eric,

    it doesn’t seem like you respond much to comments, but I’ll put it out here anyway. Much of this blog is spot on, and maybe you’ll clarify in a future blog, but it’s REALLY important that one understands the difference between trauma and dissociation. Though trauma causes dissociation, trauma and dissociation have very different effects upon one’s personality. Dissociation has been the much more difficult issue to undo in my wife’s life than the original trauma, though the two get intertwined at points.

    If you had interest, I could discuss it further.

  • Bruce,

    the superficial analysis you state about the Right isn’t anymore helpful than when the Right spews the same about the Left. I may have moved to the center, but my wife’s and my upbringing on the Right, its focus on individualism, independence and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is what gave us the fortitude to homeschool our son through his graduation when our family all thought we were crazy. We produced a world-class scholar who is in his PhD residency at one of the elite schools in the Boston area.

    And so when my wife began to show signs of distress from her childhood abuse, I may have felt overwhelmed at first, but I never felt out of my league to figure out how best to help my wife as we walked thru the healing process together. And as we both healed and grew and learned, I realized the elitist experts who openly sneered at me were full of crap for the most part.

    I’ve learned a lot from the Left, especially since it isn’t my default position, but to suggest that all our ails regarding this subject are from the ‘authoritarian’ Right and the ‘state-corporatist rulers’ is a simplistic misreading of that position in my opinion. There are anti-authoritarian tendencies on both sides of the spectrum just as there is the tendency to mindlessly follow authorities: they simply come from different perspectives and beliefs.


  • Hi Teresa,

    I’m sorry for all the pain you and your family are in. I wish there was some place for families to heal. Soteria and Open Dialogue seem appealing to me from afar, but they aren’t available in small-town Midwest where I live, and so we’ve had to find our own way to healing individually and as a family. It wasn’t easy, for sure, but I refused to let my family fall apart or continue the dysfunction on both sides of our families for the sake of our son. For us attachment theory gave us the roadmap.

    I wish you well.

  • Hi Sera,

    I’m sorry for the many ways you and others here have been invalidated. I wish I could say it was better on the outside of the survivor’s community, but I haven’t found it so. People have a herd mentality, and if one doesn’t submit to the group-think, then one is ostracized and marginalized. And beyond that the power structures and gate keepers always look to retain their power and influence no matter what group or movement one is part. I wish it were otherwise, but I’ve spent a lifetime screaming in a vacuum for change on various issues and no one giving a [email protected] Like lemmings people happily follow everyone else over the cliff…

    Wishing you the best.

  • Megan,
    I’m truly sorry your side of the story was invalidated. It’s not the church: it’s just people in general, but sadly the Church was supposed to be something different, and I, too, have found it one of the most destructive things in my family’s life even though my wife and I still attend as it’s our only decent source of companionship in a little town.

    I’m sorry most that your husband turned on you instead of uniting with you.

  • Eric,

    I’m honestly not sure what you mean by ‘investigating.’ The most beneficial thing I’ve ever discovered is attachment theory. Thanks to John Bowlby and those who followed, it gave me the keys to help unlock my wife from her traumatic childhood. No therapist could possibly do what I have done. What our son has done. But a therapist could have been a great facilitator and taught us the ropes instead of me having to figure it out on my own while I was also dealing with my own issues that hindered my ability to help my wife.

    A paid therapist lacks the credibility that most people need: trauma victim or otherwise. We need to know that person is ‘in it’ for more than just the money, and when all hell breaks loose and the money dries up, his/her help won’t vanish.

    Respectfully, you can never do what the SO’s, family and friends can do: and that’s ok. It’s not your place. But the breadth of knowledge an ‘expert’ can have is something I simply don’t have time or energy to replicate, and that is a place that I feel can be served by those in your position to help those of us in our position.

    Wishing you well.

  • No, Rachel, neither of us have taken an medications for any distress or anything else. I don’t know…maybe it was the way we were both raised, but I don’t think either of us have ever really considered doing so. At least I haven’t. Can’t really speak for my wife on that issue, though sometimes I do know she wishes she had sleeping meds…

  • Alex,
    When Lawrence wrote this article it spoke to me as a coach might speak to his football players while giving them a pep talk before a big game. It spoke to that part of me that seeks an easy way out, that wants to find a short cut and reminds me that there is no gain without a willingness to endure some pain.

    I never suffered severe childhood trauma, and I never have had any of my rights taken away as an adult. And I’ve always been fortunate to have been in the middle class of America even if it’s not to the level in which I was raised. And so to me, Lawrence isn’t accusing me of anything: he’s sounding the alarm that we are suffering ‘first world’ issues because we’ve forgotten all the sacrifices that those who came before us made so we could live how we do in the 21st century.

    I really and truly do think I understand why the majority of the comments are the way they have been. I found your and KS’s comments especially powerful and moving, and it reminds me that there are others who have been thru even worse hell, in some ways, than my wife and I have been. I understand as much as I can, why you would see Lawrence’s words to be harmful and maybe even arrogant and definitely victim blaming and continuing harmful stereotypes.

    And so to address your second comment: whose truth is right? Whose life experiences get to dictate how Lawrence’s blog is received’? My son once wrote a paper to argue that there are ‘levels’ of truths, and not ALL truths necessarily apply across all peoples, times and situations. I think that might be applicable in this situation. I think, maybe, Lawrence could have addressed this blog to people who comfortably live in middle and upper class situations and try to wake them up from their desires to live ‘distress free.’ But when he addresses it to a website in which the majority of commenters are survivors of extreme trauma and/or the mental health system, his comments sound accusatory and victim blaming.

    Most of the time I don’t even look at Lawrence’s blogs. They usually don’t speak to me even though I know he’s fairly popular on this website. But this one spoke to me and MY life experiences, and yet I can accept why the majority on here found it otherwise.


  • Kindred Spirit,
    I am truly sorry that you find my position as if it’s a personal attack on you. I don’t see your opinion for your life as a threat to me and my wife.

    HOW did I ‘ask for it?” My original comment had absolutely nothing to do with Lee’s statements about d.i.d. and a ‘holocaust’ of those falsely accused or his understanding of d.i.d. My original post was about how people’s fears of ‘extreme states’ is part of what gives this entire issue any power, and I still stand by that assertion even if I concede it’s not the whole issue. WHY do people call the authorities when someone is in a distressing or ‘psychotic’ state, if there is such a thing???? I would never even dream of doing that because at this point I know that I am the person with the most power to stop any kind of mental distress in my wife and NOTHING we have gone thru makes me ‘fearful’ anymore. Those 3 examples were just a tiny sample of the hell she and I have gone thru, and yet one by one, we faced all those fears and overcame them together.


  • Steve,

    I’ve been thinking about this all night and your statement kind of encapsulated some of my concerns: how Lee jumped to completely discount my wife’s experience and the validity of dissociation, and his apparently blind deference to the ‘holocaust that has come to the thousands of persons falsely accused.”

    I tried to figure out where he stood from his website. It’s a weird format to read his stuff: probably did that in the hope people would buy it, and some/much of it is older, like from the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, but he seems to hold on to the fantasy of an epidemic of falsely accused people while ignoring the true pandemic of those who have been abused emotionally, physically and sexually and then are discredited and shamed by our culture’s power structures if they do speak out. Is he against the #MeToo movement as well?

    I’d love for him to clarify, but he seems to be ignoring anything I actually say because of his apparent distaste for d.i.d..

  • Julie,
    I’m not refuting the idea of false memories. The science is pretty solid that shows how easily our memories can be manipulated and changed and even ‘created.’ But the FMSF takes it to an entirely new level to discount any and all memories that might be recovered during the process of healing. I won’t get into the politics of the group, but they had a lot riding on their vehemence to mpd/did and sadly, the excesses of the so-called trauma experts lead right into the FMSF’s hand to try to discredit mpd/did.

    But like I said, that was decades ago, and yet some still hold onto the hype and excesses when therapists used to parade d.i.d. patients around like a circus freak show on the various talk shows, and so the critics point to that as their reason to discount EVERTYHING about d.i.d. Happily, ISSTD learned their lesson on that front, even if they haven’t made a lot of progress imo about how to best help people like my wife.


  • Ok, Lee, well, I was able to get the previous comments by you to work this morning…and you’ve only made 13 in total on this website. None of them was directed to me. Now if you are referencing the ‘spirited’ dialogue between me and Kindred Spirit about d.i.d., at least I have a reference point.

    It would appear from your comments about the ‘holocaust’ of falsely accused persons that you are trapped in some kind of time warp back at the beginning of the mpd movement and the hype and excesses that went on. Are you a member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation as well? If so, there’s really nothing I can say to open your eyes that even the so-called trauma experts have left those excesses behind decades ago.

    And if you don’t believe in dissociation, there really is little basis on which to have a discussion when that concept is about as accepted as gravity. But again, I’m sure you can point to the ignorance of ISSTD and make your case from strawmen about something that doesn’t really exist.

    I’m sorry if ISSTD is driving your understanding of trauma and dissociation. It certainly doesn’t drive our understanding of things, or my wife would never have made the progress she has.


  • Hi Steve,
    well, just as you and I agreed on the other thread that attachment theory isn’t a ‘cure all’, I would suggest that this subject is complex and multi-layered, and I don’t think any one perspective will ever do it justice. But what I’m suggesting is that Big Pharma and the APA are the modern-day equivalent of those selling ‘magic elixirs’ and ‘snake oil’ cures a few centuries ago. They prey on people’s fears of whatever was/is ailing them at the time.

    Steve, this problem affects EVERY class despite the suggestions of the Marxists on this site, and though it may hit the lower classes the hardest, neither my wife nor I grew up there. What I see is fear driving this and Big Pharma and the APA simply capitalizing on that fear. Take away the fear and people would have no need to turn to them. Teach them the things my wife and I learned, and mental health issues move from the category of fear of the incomprehensible that only the APA priesthood can divine, to mostly the same hardships and annoyances of a severely broken leg until it is healed.

    As for Big Pharma and the APA, of course they are going to fight this: I completely agree for them this is all about money and power. But they can’t force any of this on us despite the laws suggesting to the contrary if it weren’t for fear. I overcame my fears and never even considered committing my wife despite how hard things have been, and so they had no ability to touch my wife despite all the laws out there used to incarcerate so many on this site.

  • Lee,
    hmmm…I tried to go back and find the discussion between you and me, but either something is wrong with my browser or this website. So I’m sorry if I don’t remember it.

    I’m not sure why you would characterize me as “so strongly dedicated to the label of d.i.d.” We’ve had this debate ad nauseum on this website of whether or not to use the common vernacular or do we start from scratch every time for the benefit of newcomers? I do understand that to those who have had those diagnoses weaponized by the mental health system have a far more adverse reaction to being diagnosed than either I or my wife does since the ‘diagnosis’ simply gave us a starting point and then we pretty much went our own way from there.

    As for your dislike of the ‘trauma experts’, take a number. I downloaded the guidelines from ISSTD and did a line by line critique of them: pretty much if you take their guidelines and do the EXACT OPPOSITE, it would give you a pretty good idea of how my wife and I have approached her healing. So if you are going to judge me by their ignorance and excesses, you would be greatly amiss, but whatever…

    Since you feel you have nothing to learn from our experience, I will try to remember THIS discussion and not bother you again.
    Sincerely wishing you the best,

  • “If it were recognized by our people that science is irrelevant to the debate over whether society’s fears should trump individual rights to liberty, then we could begin what will be the long struggle to win such a debate.”

    I wonder if you and so many on this website are kind of missing what I see as the key issue because of the hatred of psychiatry. Psychiatry really is nothing more than a tool despite some giving it anthropomorphic qualities on this site. I agree with most here that it’s a terrible tool and it’s based on misinformation and it is anti-scientific in many ways. But in the end, it’s just a tool.

    But I think so many of these debates miss the real point. Psychiatry is a horrible tool that people feel compelled to use because of their fears of mental health issues based on their lack of understanding what is going on. Even on this website, people use the term ‘extreme states’ but outside of drug-induced states, I’ve always wondered why the survivors would be wiling to use this designation as it seems to lend credence to the fears others have of these manifestations.

    My wife has d.i.d., Lee. The first time she dropped to the floor in what I thought was a catatonic state, I kind of freaked out. But then the next time it happened, I kept my brain working, and I tried something. I went thru the current list of alters and lo and behold, Ally the defender popped out. I learned a lesson that day: she wasn’t really catatonic: I just had to find out to whom the baton had been passed. A fear is vanquished.

    The first time my wife went into what looked like a series of mini-seizures, I about freaked out again, as her eyes rolled back into her sockets and they fluttered in rapid motion. But the next time, my brain was working again, and I realized, “Oh, this is kind of like a computer that is glitching when it tries to switch programs but gets stuck.” So then I learned to help her thru those switches that get hung up for some reason. Another fear gone.

    One of the original times my wife went into a flash back, I was back in freak out mode, her fear driving mine, and then midstream, I chilled out, and I began to speak calmly to her, remind her she’s not alone, I’ve got her now, she’s safe now, and I pulled her out of that flash back. Another fear gone.

    One by one the issues that we had to confront because of her d.i.d. lost their ability to induce fear in either of us as we came to an understanding of what was going on and how I could help her thru each issue the best. If you were to go on WordPress and read the blogs of other people with d.i.d., they are full of fear and hatred of things that my wife and I have come to learn are just part of the healing experience. Some are more annoying than others, but none of them cause either of us any ‘fear’ any more.

    It is fear that drives people to use horrible tools like psychiatry. Fear shuts down our brains and makes otherwise intelligent people into mindless caricatures of themselves. And yet when we were first starting our journey 11 years ago, most of the professional literature was as ignorant of the mechanics of her manifestations as we were originally. So we had to learn the ropes pretty much on our own.

    And I will posit that if others were simply taught what is going on, that these NON-drug induced manifestations really aren’t ‘extreme’ but simply stronger versions of many things I have experienced myself as a non-trauma victim, their fears would dissipate like mine did. Once I learned to see so many of her experiences as just reflective of my own, the last vestiges of ‘non-normalcy’ fled, and so at this point, we live a rather humdrum life that happens to have 8 girls (alters) part of our marriage rather than one.

    This isn’t about class warfare like my Leftist friends believe. This isn’t about social control. This isn’t about an anthropomorphic psychiatry preying upon victims. In my opinion, the real issue is simply about people, both the victims and those around them, being overwhelmed by fear because they don’t understand the very natural things that are going on in the brain/mind when trauma isn’t properly processed. I argued in another thread on MIA, that if we simply would learn to see mental trauma the same as physical trauma, then all these mental manifestations would be seen no different than what occurs during the convalescent period of, say, a severely broken leg. There’s no stigma in a broken leg. We all know what to expect, and we don’t expect that person to be back up to full speed until the healing is done and any physical therapy that may be required afterwards.


  • …” But if it is at our own sacrifice, then what have we gained? Is there a way we can support ourselves and others, without feeling we are sacrificing our own lives and well-being to do so? That just seems like a hamster wheel to me.”

    Alex, I want to preface what follows by stating up front, I believe two people can believe very different things, and neither person is inherently ‘wrong.’ I wish more people understood that very few things are black and white. If more people understood that, we wouldn’t have the pointless tribal wars going on in America right now. We would be able to find the good in each side’s arguments, and the rest…we could learn to chalk it up to ‘live and let live.’ Instead we take differences as if they are a threat to our very existence and survival, and that is detrimental to us all because then, rather than becoming enriched by someone else’s perspective we simply see it as a threat.

    Anyway, attachment theory teaches us that in the beginning of our lives we are wholly dependent upon our ‘primary attachment figure’ and others to lesser degrees. But over the course of time that singular dependency slowly changes until, in a healthy relationship, parent and the now-adult child will become equals in interdependency, but then, eventually, the roles will reverse and the parent will become dependent upon the adult child late in life.

    However, when severe childhood trauma occurs, it typically screws up that natural progression. When my wife and I first started this healing journey together 11 years ago, she told me over and over and over, “I don’t know what healthy looks like.” And I took her seriously. Meanwhile the other little girls began to crash our world. At one point ALL 6 of the girls (alters) currently out fronted as 8-years old or younger: the youngest 3 all started out fronting as 2-year olds.

    This is kind of where attachment theory and my Christian upbringing that emphasized sacrificial love and the golden rule meshed so well. I had been naturally raised to believe that sacrifice is a good thing…but pragmatically speaking, well that was a very different thing. We struggled the first 20 years of our marriage because I expected the marriage to be mutually beneficial, mutually giving, and it simply wasn’t. And I am not implying that my wife was completely at fault: I was selfish and immature in so many ways which complicated her issues. On top of that, I was simply ignorant about how early childhood trauma was affecting the woman I love because my own childhood was rather idyllic in comparison.

    But over the course of the first 3 or so years of our healing journey, I was transforming: her issues were so massive that I had to grow up and make many changes myself or I knew we wouldn’t make it. All that to state that I had to become willing to sacrifice my needs to help her heal, but I don’t want to come off like I think I’m some saint: I’m NOT. But I had to learn to take the long view to our marriage. I sought a win/win solution, and that meant I had to be willing to do the work that her parents failed to do and help each girl become securely attached to me, help each girl then begin to connect to the others (the personality development that naturally occurs during childhood), and anything else they needed. It’s meant for much of the last 11 years, my life companion hasn’t been an adult woman, but 7 traumatized and very needy little girls in various states of dysfunctional attachment.

    But eleven years later, we are slowly moving toward the healthy, adult interdependence that I often speak. Two of the girls have grown and now front as Millenials. I got engaged to one in December and I’m pre-engaged to the other. And all the other ‘littles’ (alters who view themselves as little children) truly do the activities of adults (other than in the bedroom), even if they still interact with me as a daddy figure who they want to take care of each of them. Edit: and let me state at this point that ALL of the girls are almost wholly healed. They are vivacious, vibrant and full of life in a way that my ‘first girl’ (the only one who sees me as her husband) never was.

    My goal is still a fully healthy, adult interdependence with all of the girls who make up my wife, but we aren’t there yet. I had to be willing to start where each of them was and walk with her, at her pace and at whatever stage of dependence she started until she was able to move forward.

    …Sigh, this reply is already too long…

    And yes, you are correct that this topic of attachment is massive. I naturally used the principles to help my wife. I think we are all ‘wired’ that way, but the Western cultures seem to want to beat those principles out of us for some reason even though most of us want treated the way the theory espouses. Once I discovered the theory proper, I studied up on it so I could become more purposeful in it. I even did quite a long series of articles on my personal blog to address some of the main concepts that were critical to our journey.

    Let me simply state that using the attachment concepts of affect regulation, safe haven and proximity maintenance I was able to not only walk my wife thru EVERY extreme state that she manifested (and trust me with d.i.d. you essentially get the entire spectrum rolled up into one journey), but I learned to pull her out of them more quickly and help her heal to the point that she rarely experiences them anymore. And when she does get triggered nowadays, her reactions aren’t much more severe than my reactions to things that trigger me. And the theory helped me with all the ‘lesser’ issues, too, like depression, anxiety, and anything else you can think of.

    Beyond that is the theory’s concept of the inner working model. The littlest girls and I figured this one out together. It can make the difference between the healing one experiences being temporary or being permanent. I’ve been trying to follow the debate over on the CBT blog on this website, and I haven’t quite figured out if CBT takes into account one’s inner working model or just tries to force the change without realizing that the inner working model is like the operating system in a computer. EVERYTHING else is founded upon that, and so unless you change the inner working model from the trauma paradigm that most childhood trauma victims have to a more healthy one like someone who was securely attached, a lot of healing work will have limited effect.

    But for Steve’s sake, I will sincerely add that the theory is NOT a cure all: we’ve had to use other principles for various issues, but it definitely can help in so many, many situations.

    I guess I’ll finish. I’m sorry not to do this topic better here. Like you said, this website just is not set up for that kind of a multi-layer discussion. I wish the attachment series on my blog had gained more traction: it’s one of the things I’m most proud of, but it takes a lot of work for the SO or support person, and it required so much change on my own part before I was able to implement some of it to the fullest extent that I wonder if most people wouldn’t rather those little magic pills…

  • Alex,
    I agree with everything you are saying…and yet, attachment theory is so much more…as I started out this entire discussion, attachment theory cuts against the Western cultures’ over-valuation of independence. It is not only about instilling that secure sense of self internally during childhood, it is about developing at network around our loved ones who will have each other’s back when things go wrong. And it’s about learning to go thru life developing a ‘buddy system’; learning how to help regulate each other when life hits us with trauma or storms.

    I love John Bowlby and the work he began, but I also had to learn how the concepts of safe haven, proximity maintenance and affect regulation could be practically implemented to help my wife heal…but beyond that, how those concepts just help each and everyone of us walk thru this life that can be so difficult at times. Those are concepts that my wife and I now each use with each other AND our 28-year old son even though he lives 12 hours away.

  • Steve,
    I don’t have the breadth of experience that you do, so this isn’t meant to refute or argue with your statement, but in our personal experience until each of the girls (alters) were securely attached to me, they seemed unable to go past the original trauma. But once they had that foundation of being securely attached, it seemed to propel their ability to connect to each other (by tearing down the dissociation) and allow them to mature and discover latent abilities/traits that had otherwise been absent in my wife as a whole.

    That doesn’t mean I think attachment issues are everything, as much as I may talk about them, but they seemed to be foundational in my wife’s healing experience.

    I’m sure you, as Steve noted, would agree that often times the dysfunction is inadvertent, like it was mostly in my family, and even in my wife’s as messed up as her mom was/is. But the dysfunction is still painful even if it is inadvertent and I’ve ended up kind of being the black sheep of the family because my mom wasn’t properly attached to my dad as she blamed him for them ‘having to get married’ and so she waged a 56-year war against him as she jumped from child to child to child looking for that emotional attachment she refused to give to her husband. And yet, if I were to call her out on it, she would be dumbfounded and defensive as she feels she is the model Christian wife.

    It’s rather sad how we humans can live with so much cognitive dissonance, sigh. But I really don’t think she is, or most of us are, intentional about it. I would chalk it up to dissociation. And though I feel it’s a much milder form than what my wife experienced, I still think it’s what causes so many incongruent words and actions in most of us. Kind of like the murderous mafioso who is kind and loving to those within his own circle. He has compartmentalized, ie dissociated, the incongruence between his various spheres of life.


  • Alex, this was a VERY, VERY basic video, and I do agree that it came off kind of as if things are cookie-cutterish. But the basic concepts of attachment theory have been validated over a host of situations especially the ‘strange situation’ test that the video mentioned. But how those concepts play out…I would agree with you that they will be as varied as there are people on this earth.

  • Well, it’s a very basic video and only deals with one’s childhood. But it lays out a few of the basic concepts of attachment theory. However, it completely ignores the key concepts of safe haven, affect regulation, and glosses over proximity maintenance.

    The good news is someone who grew up with one of the 3 dysfunctional attachment systems (avoidant, ambivalent or disorganized) CAN learn a new way. However, at least in our case, it has meant rejecting the prevailing, pathological foundation of hyper-independence and hyper-individualism that our culture pushes, and it has meant that I had to understand my proper role of the primary attachment figure…something the ‘experts’ are only now beginning to study in romantic adult relationships. But the healing process isn’t easy: there’s no magic pill. I had to be willing to accept my wife’s ‘neediness’, something that this culture finds ‘toxic’. But as I filled her ‘neediness’ each day, slowly those attachment dysfunctions were healed, repaired and now for the most part, she displays all the signs of secure attachment.

  • Peter,

    I know you rarely, if ever, respond to the comments section, but I wish that you would make a place in your new institute for those of us ‘in the trenches’ who are laymen and not scientist by degree but scientists by necessity. I’ve had to figure out how to help my wife heal from d.i.d. using attachment concepts and anything else that I could. I took a pragmatic approaching, using what worked, discarding what didn’t, always relying on the feedback that she gave as we walked the journey together. She and I have learned so many things; things that I believe have wider application, but it’s hard to get a hearing when western culture only seems to care how many letters one can put behind his/her name. I learned how to take her thru all the ‘extreme’ states without any medicines, as they are called on this website, but am still combating the residual dissociation…but we are getting there…

    There are so many things that occur 24/7 ‘in the trenches’ that you experts simply will never experience in the safety and confines of the office: we, the SO’s, family members and even involved friends have so much to offer, if only someone would take us seriously.

  • Hi Krista,
    I am again so impressed that you were able to do all this on your own: that shouldn’t have been necessary, but for your sake, I’m glad you were able to do so.

    I still hope for the day when SO’s, family members and friends are taught how to be the natural allies they ought to be. It took me a couple of years to figure out it myself after wading thru my own issues, to boot, but I see so many places in your article that good allies could have helped, especially in affect regulation, and not ‘facing the enemy’ on one’s own.

    Wishing you the best.

  • Ok Alex,

    I want to honestly explain my struggles to you IF I were to do what you and everyone else suggests and “take care of YOURSELF if you want to be effective support.”

    After journaling for more than 10,000 pages these last 11 years during this journey, to help me deal with my own issues, to deal with the inherent stress of this journey, and to help me figure out how best to help and support my girls (as I phrase it on my blog), I’ve got a pretty good handle on what makes me tick.

    IF I were to take care of myself first as this culture suggests there are two things I would do: 1) I would have a healthy, intimate adult relationship, and 2) I would enter the field in which my college degree is, mainly ministering to others…these are the two things that rip at my heart every single day of my life: the void in my life of these two things is overwhelming…and yet to do so, would probably mean leaving my wife since she and I have NEVER had a healthy or especially intimate relationship (emotionally, physically, or otherwise) even though we both love each other. Her past trauma has simply truncated so many of those desires in her: so if it’s ‘me first’ do I leave?

    And the same about my vocational desires. She married me knowing exactly who I am, what my chosen vocation in life was, and within a few years, she made it clear that she would never allow me to follow that desire because it struck at her ‘safety needs.’ Again, if it’s ‘me first’ do I leave her?

    I’m really not trying to be dismissive or argumentative, but one’s marriage vows are there for a reason despite our culture’s infatuation with rewriting them to say not much of anything nowadays. I love my wife: no this isn’t the life I would have chosen or the vocation of my dreams (being in a factory), but I’m trying to make lemonade out of the lemons that we were both dealt. She certainly didn’t choose this. No one says, “please rape me repeatedly when I’m two until I break and fracture and never know what it means to be healthy” (her words not mine). But I love her, and I choose US even though I know it means I’m choosing heartache and stress each and everyday until we get thru this…

    But trust me…that heartache and stress is a great motivator. It pushes me every single day to help her in every and any way that I can. It teaches me to be in tune with her so that I have learned never to coerce her, but how best to create an environment that feels safe and loving to her so that she can heal, truly, deeply and fully as I believe is still possible.

    Again, I am not trying to be dismissive, but what you have shared, which many, many other people have shared to me as well…I just don’t know how to do that AND be true to some other core values in myself and be true to my one and only love. It’s one of the things I truly think the new testament in the Christian bible got right: the idea of sacrificial love and giving up oneself and one’s life for another as the true sign of love and friendship.

  • “Sorry that sounds soppy.”

    No, it’s not soppy, concerned carer. That’s what I’ve learned from attachment theory. For us, it’s mostly been a repudiation of the Western independence that is beaten into all of us from the time of birth when parents are foolishly taught to let their children cry themselves to sleep…and the myriad of ways we are told to let others suffer on their own and ‘tough it out’ or ‘pull ourselves up by our OWN bootstraps”. We are all systematically shamed by this culture of deranged independence, and my wife and I simply reject it.

    I make a concerted effort to, essentially, weave a ‘cocoon’ of attachment points between her and myself throughout as many aspects of our lives as I possibly can. And each of those attachment connections strengthens BOTH of us. Just because I don’t have any massive trauma in my past, doesn’t mean I don’t need the deep connection to another human, and even if she can’t give me what I most deeply need at the moment, I’ve still learned to soak up the connections that she is able to give me.

    I really do love the song, “Lean on Me” because it’s so true. Don’t ever feel it’s soppy. Interdependence is what we were all ‘wired’ for: it’s far more healthy than this independence garbage we are all force fed our entire lives.

  • Alex,
    I almost missed your longer explanation that you added after your initial post. When I googled transmediumship I only saw stuff in there about, essentially, being a medium. I certainly could use ‘energy’ if it were for real. I don’t have time for pie-in-the-sky beliefs like so many I grew up with. I ONLY care about what practically helps me and my wife…especially because her last ‘alter’ has almost exhausted ALL of us, trying to help her heal and connect because she’s different than ALL the others. She has very little long term memory, and so even though we’ve made progress securely attaching her to me, it’s like that movie of the 50 First Dates, and I have to start from scratch over and over and over, and so it’s hard for her to feel safe, which means it’s been monumentally hard for us to get her connected to the rest of the group, and she was/is so terrified as long as she disconnected from the others that ALL intimacy, emotional, physical and otherwise has ceased for more than 3 years, and we’re all really struggling right now…and I’m just so overwhelmingly tired, and hoping I/we are going to make it especially when we’ve all come so far..and yet I just don’t know how to help her past this…I’ve never had a conundrum like her lack of long-term memory has presented to us on this healing journey…sigh…oh, well, enough of the online therapy session, you didn’t ask for it…I just don’t have any one to talk to about this kind of stuff…we are so far past anything you would read from ISSTD or the popular lit…and I feel like I’m going to break if we don’t get a breakthru… 🙁


  • Hi Alex,
    you are welcome to tell me, but I’ll be honest, this journey my wife and I have taken the last 11 years has pretty much knocked out ALL of my ‘practical’ beliefs of the supernatural. I grew up a very devout evangelical Christian and got deeply into the charismatic movements and such during my young adulthood, but there was a part of me that always wondered what was wrong with me when “God” seemed to move in people all around me, and nothing happened to me…

    And then when my wife and I started this healing journey, I just didn’t have the emotional strength for anything that wasn’t ‘real’ or didn’t work, and so many of my Christian beliefs simply didn’t work out into real life, especially my expectations of some kind of supernatural intervention to help me and my wife get thru the hell we were going thru…

    And so I’ve kind of ended up with a humanistic Christianity, which my evangelical friends would call a heresy. I have a theistic worldview, but I don’t expect any help. I personally call it a Narnian Christianity: all those times that Aslan was absent for ages and ages which aren’t in the books by Lewis. I believe the moral codes, I believe there is more, BUT practically speaking, it’s up to me to help my wife heal, not some awol deity that I was never good enough to earn favors for answered prayers.

    I do understand that I’ve said a number of things in this response with which you would strongly disagree, but it’s where I’m at, and so far it’s been pragmatically useful in helping my wife and me survive the trenches we’ve traveled together. I’m sure this is far more than you expected, or wanted, especially as I can tell that for you, your journey seems to have taken you in the opposite direction toward more openness to ‘spiritual’ things.
    (edit: and I guess I’ll add I’ve become a lot more socially, religiously and politically moderate from how I was raised…I’m kind of a pariah now to all of my family who are ardent Trump supporters, lol)

  • Concerned Carer,
    I see that no one ever addressed your concerns. Perhaps I can try.

    I think you can see the resistance that the survivors have on this site to suggesting that anything is ‘wrong’ because our culture weaponizes that admission. For my own wife it took 20 years before she felt safe to do so with me and only AFTER I made it clear to her that I loved her unconditionally. Until that point, anytime I would make the suggestion, she would spit back that I was the one with a problem. And so I don’t expect any less of the survivors on this site.

    And I think that’s why talking about mental health ‘trauma’ in the same way we talk about bodily trauma is so valuable. If we see someone with a cast on her/his leg, typically we think ‘oh s/he broke it’ but there’s also an assumption in there that with time to heal, and maybe some physical therapy if it was a really bad break, the person will be back 100% when the process is over.

    But there’s another assumption that while the person is in that cast, there will naturally be things s/he can’t do until the healing has been completed. Most of us don’t assign value judgments to those things that can’t be done, we just accept them as part of the trauma and convalescence period. And if we love the person, we don’t take umbrage that we have to ‘pick up the slack’ while our loved one is healing.

    I feel all those points can be seamlessly transferred to our loved ones who have suffered mental trauma. And the manifestations that occur from that trauma, whether it be ‘extreme states’, excessive triggers, ptsd symptoms or anything else, should just be viewed the same as in the list of ‘currently can’t’ when a person has a broken leg.

    I rarely talk about my wife’s list of ‘currently can’ts’ even though there are a lot of them and some of them cause me extreme stress. And when she begins to berate herself over that list of ‘currently cant’s’, I tend to just say, ‘that’s the d.i.d. and it will get better once we get thru it.’ I tend to focus her and myself on the positives, like a good coach. We both know the negatives are there and we don’t pretend like they aren’t there, but we try to stay forward focused, knowing that what ‘currently can’t be done’ is not our final destination.


  • Hi Sera,
    thank you for sharing your experience, especially how you were reported to the authorities. As much as I’ve kept my wife out of the system, your story is a cautionary tale to me because this journey she and I are on is so hard many days that my personal journal is filled with the sigh that I’m so tired of life and the wish that I’d never been born. To me that feeling is always there, ebbing and flowing, but it’s kind of freeing, knowing that if things ever get too bad, I have an out, and with that ‘out’ it gives me power over those feelings…

    …And yet on my blog I wrote about how to help someone feeling suicidal from my personal experience, and fortunately none of my immediate family who read it called anyone on me. And when my wife and I take our daily walks together, we walk past a counseling service and part of me loves the idea of just getting some help and support on the days when it’s so hard helping her on my own…but your experience shows to me that my wife’s insistence on our anonymity is probably for the best, even though it means we can’t help others, because it protects me as well as her, sigh…

    I’m glad nothing worse than a phone call and a little embarrassment happened to you. Thank you for being willing to share for those of us who can’t yet…


  • Anechidna,
    I think you are going to find different opinions about ‘psychological injury’ on this site. To me it’s a perfectly good analogy between a severe broken leg and a severe traumatic injury suffered to the mind. With proper care both injuries can be healed and the sufferer can go on with life relatively none the worse. But if either injury is ignored, it is likely it will never ‘self-heal’ and then that injury will stress the greater system and if that stress is enough in the future, at some point it could begin to cause other issues.

    To me dissociation is the biggest physiological result that comes from mental trauma, though that may simply be because of my wife and my experience. I’m not an expert, but I wonder if the dissociation is what causes all the differences in brain mapping (though I take all the hoopla over those mappings with a grain of salt!) Anyway, I believe dissociation in the mind is similar to what happens to the body when a broken leg is never healed. From that point on the body will do all kinds of things to get around the natural use of that leg. Sure, some body parts may even grow stronger as a result of having to take over for the leg’s function, but doing so will also stress parts of the body that simply were never made to walk. In the end, the person may even learn to be relatively mobile, but that doesn’t mean that was the way the body was intended to function: it’s just a testament to our ability to adapt.

    But even decades later, as in my wife’s case, once the mental trauma is addressed and with a lot of help (kind of like physical therapy to strengthen the atrophied body parts), her brain/mind is healing. It’s just a lot more work to undo all those ‘workarounds’ caused by the dissociation than if we had know about it in our 20’s.


  • zmenard,

    I have tried to teach other SO’s on my blog but simply never got much traction: I have more than 100 articles explaining various things that I/we faced helping my wife heal from severe dissociation: things I struggled with, things I learned while I helped her, practical things and more theoretical issues, but I would guess most people really do want magic pills to give to the ‘problem person’ rather than do the hard work of helping someone heal from severe trauma. It’s really not all that complicated, but it is hard for both: there’s no way around that, and sadly our culture doesn’t do ‘hard’.

    The staff here know I would be happy to do so, but I think our story, because we are such an anomaly, causes some issues with those who have been ‘spoken for/over’ by SO’s and family members since my wife refuses to come here and affirm what I say and affirm that I’m not secretly keeping her in chains! 🙂

    So until they can find a way for me to share without it causing undo distress to some of the survivors, I try to content myself with the comments section and the camaraderie of finding other people like me who don’t think the effects of trauma make one crazy or weird.

  • “Family & friends often look to the ostensible authority for the quickest, ‘cleanest’ fix possible…usually some form of sedation.”

    I guess I’ll add the longer version:
    1) I’ve always had ‘authority’ issues and never really cared much for going along with the crowd. Plus I was school valedictorian and graduated from college with a 4.0 and my wife is literally a genius, and so I never really saw the ‘authorities’ as having anything over us.

    2) And we homeschooled our son the entire way: another X against authority. Our son told my wife that she was his hardest teacher until he got into his master’s program in a Boston-area university. And then, even though he didn’t have the pedigree of his classmates, he was the only one that his university recruited for their PhD program; so eh, who needs authorities?

    3) And even though I’ve moved to the political/religious/social center as I’ve helped my wife heal, I grew up pretty far Right, and so we didn’t expect the ‘experts’ to do for us what we could do for ourselves. Moreover, I quickly found out as she and I traveled this journey and as I read up on her issues, that the so-called experts were full of it and didn’t know half of what they thought they did.

    …so I guess all those things kind of made both of us never really look for that ‘quick fix’ like most of our culture does.

  • How did I come to that wisdom? The short version is indeed that she is literally the one and only woman to whom I have ever said “I love you” or been with, so I never considered any solution except a win/win for the both of us no matter how hard it’s been for both of us. But the longer version to that question is much more complicated and convoluted, and I deal with many of those issues over on my wordpress blog, but for now, I’ve found a philosophical home in many ways over here.

  • Well Krista,

    I’m kind of an anomaly here. My fight in this battle is about keeping people OUT of the system before they ever get entangled in it.

    Our son and I kept my wife/his mother completely out of the system when she started dealing with all kinds of ‘extreme states’ as they like to call it on this website. I hope some day that I can share with other interested SO’s and family members how they can do the same. That’s why I find it so discouraging that all of your family distanced themselves from your own fight…but my wife does tell me I’m the ‘weird’ one for not seeing her issues like the rest of humanity, lol.

    But if I have anything to offer from my perspective, I’ll be happy to do so.
    Wishing you well,

  • Hi Eric,

    I did a search for the psychological injury model and didn’t find anything other than this article on MIA. We’ve had some other articles in the past about collaborations to move to a more trauma-based model, and I wish you well. I appreciate much of what you said. I think things will change only when their reaches a critical mass of enough people who no longer accept the various cognitive dissonances that you described. Our understanding that people heal people, not drugs. The understanding that trauma is at the heart to so much mental distress, not some mythical biochemical imbalance. And more.

  • Kindredspirit,

    I honestly hear you. I really do understand your concerns: you aren’t the first person to voice these same exact issues. And I accept that you are honestly sharing this with me out of concern for me and my wife.

    I just don’t know how to convey to you that your concerns and misgivings really are based on a strawman. I don’t know where these tropes began since I’ve heard them elsewhere, but our experience is completely different than you and others are imagining it.

    First, if this is your opinion of dissociation, it is NOT our experience of it. For us/her, dissociation is like discovering a long-lost castle in the woods. it’s always been there, but the path is overgrown because no one has used it in decades. But neural plasticity teaches us that once we start to use that path, it will become worn and more and more accessible.

    When the trauma happened in the past, the mind sequesters that pain and anguish from the rest of the mind so that it doesn’t engulf the entire person and a complete breakdown of ALL functioning occurs. The only reason ‘alters’ occur is because of that sequestering. So they kind of take on a life of their own.

    Now I could demand, as you say, that I will only talk to ‘my wife’. But that’s not how each of them sees it. In her mind, she is a real, live entity with her own thoughts and feelings. Each girl has repeatedly voiced this to me when she first began to join us outside.

    And so I accepted this starting place. My validation made her feel safe and accepted. And as we walked together, I helped each girl release the lies she had accepted from the trauma. And as I won each one’s trust, they each wanted to be ‘adopted’ into our family: the colloquial term we use for becoming securely attached to me.

    As that began to happen, the trauma being healed, the lies being resolved, and the secure attachment to me giving her a safe base, we began the process of tearing down the last of the dissociation between each girl. Little by little each girl began to wear a footpath from her own, little, forgotten castle to the main pathways that all of them could access…and once we got to that phase, slowly, they each began to interconnect with the others.

    At first it was extremely important to each that she was a distinct individual, but slowly as they continue to make more and more and more connections with each other, they are less concerned with being individualistic and are acting as a group. And from what I have read, more and more experts realize that we ALL act like ‘groups’ and not monolithic personalities.

    But they still want me to recognize their individuality even as they shed more and more and more of their need to act on their own. Maybe some day none of them will care about herself as an individual, but what I did was give each the time and space she needed to heal and feel safe to integrate with the others. I didn’t demand any of them act like my wife even though I personally feel they are all my wife.

    And at this point I just got engaged to one girl in December: she wants to be my wife. I’m pre-engaged to another. And a third has mentioned it. So one by one, each is CHOOSING to become my wife, but it’s always her choice. I make clear that I will never withhold my love or affection if she doesn’t do what I wish.

    I’m just not sure how you object to me allowing my wife the space and time she needs to heal in the manner that feels the safest to each of them: that seems to be what most of the survivors here want: validated and loved unconditionally, even while I shepherd each girl gently toward the goal of healing and integration within the larger group.

  • Kindredspirit,

    some of what you have said I agree with. As well, I am aware of the various controversies around this issue. And yes, I personally operate on the premise of this being about trauma and dissociation and you can see that all over this site when I discuss particulars of how I help my wife. I agree that the various ‘girls’ are simply different aspects of my wife’s unified personality, but if I were to call her experience of things a ‘fairy tale’ all of you survivors would burn me at the stake for invalidating her experience. Instead I walk with her, where each of the girls are at, and yet I’m upfront with them that they are all part of my unified wife, but I don’t make that the basis of my interactions with them.

    The problem seems to be that you want me to be the exact opposite of what most survivors on this site cry for: someone willing to walk in my wife’s reality rather than dictate to her that she follow my reality And yet, if I did that, then you would simply pillory me for being like everyone else.

    Lastly, I DO get what you are saying: you’re not saying anything I haven’t heard before. I simply disagree.

    (edit: I guess I’ll add that even though I walk in my wife’s reality which is based on her past trauma during childhood, I model a new one without fear and trauma for all the girls, and as they live with me and our son, they are ALL moving toward this one. But I give them the time to do this of their own volition and not because I mandate it as the price to have a relationship with me.)

  • Like it or not, the SO’s, family members and friends have a real stake in this fight, AND we are the first line of defense against more people becoming psychiatric survivors. My wife couldn’t have done it on her own without me and our son when all hell broke loose with her ‘extreme states.’

    But if some want to treat us like second-class citizens based on their own experiences of bad SO’s and family members, that’s rather short sighted. We ought to be reaching out to those who are open to a new way of thinking, and helping them and teaching them, but also recognizing so many of them are dealing with their own demons, too. We should draw the circle large enough by understanding we are ALL in this together against a system that is truly larger than psychiatry or even amoral capitalism, but the culture at large that tries to sweep trauma and abuse under the rug at any cost: psychiatry is just a tool to help them do so.

    My heart is sad every time an SO or family member comes on this site and decries the trauma their loved one has suffered at the hands of the system: we have a number of authors who have done so recently. But to myself I think, “This didn’t have to happen.” And every time I read a story in the news of a cop killing someone in mental distress, I think the same thing. But until the SO’s and family members are viewed as potential allies and given a real voice for their perspective while recognizing their own distresses and issues, this movement will continue to struggle, I believe.

    I think an Open Dialogue kind of model is the way to go the little I know of it because it seems to bring all 3 stakeholders into the equation: sufferers, SO/family members/friends and ‘experts’; not this ‘survivors’ first and foremost mentality.

  • Sorry, Rachel, I did NOT mean you as in you personally. I guess I should have used ‘one’ third, person, general, rather than you, 2nd, person, ‘specific.’

    As for d.i.d. being a psych label and rejecting it. Well once again are we ALL going to start from scratch every time we discuss everything? Or are we going to use the common vernacular and go from there?

    I do understand that for those who have had those diagnoses weaponized against them, then they/you see them VERY differently, than my wife and I who see those diagnoses as an ‘aha’ moment. For us it simply told us what we were dealing with, and then we learned, together, how to deal with it from there.

  • I’m sorry you can’t see past your own experience Kindredspirit, and clearing NOTHING is going to convince you otherwise. I have no need for my wife’s diagnosis: I’d much prefer a healthy wife, not spending 95% of our private time with ‘littles’ who are starved for the love and attention and affection they never got from their parents the first time around.

    Rachel, my wife refuses to come on these sites because when we first started this journey, she did the whole survivor sites stuff, but they kicked one of the little girls off even though she broke none of the rules and ever since they have all refused to go back. Plus you add to the mix the toxic notions about d.i.d. currently going on in this culture like the movie Switch and its sequel Mr. Glass that just opened in the theaters, and a host of other books that now love to portray people with d.i.d. as some sociopathic, super killer and even cannibal. And there still is the past excesses of the so called experts(!) of the satanic crap that is still in the minds of some like Kindredspirit as if those abuses somehow discredit the entire issue.

    So instead she/they spends her/their time on other sites. We homeschooled our son, and so the two millennials (my fiancée and girlfriend) have an online personality that fits that profile and they spend it trying to help younger wives and single women trapped in pseudo-Christian, patriarchal situations. And from time to time when they can clearly see the signs of d.i.d. in people, they’ll privately reveal their own to them and help shepherd the women, if possible, to more healthy situations.

    Lavendersage, yes, you know that I HATE the language that is in the common vernacular. We’ve had this conversation in the past. If you went on my blog, you’d almost never find it, but here, I realize my story is only partially known, and so we are ALL handicapped by the decision of whether to use the common language that everyone knows even if we disagree with it or go into a long explanation of what I mean. If someone new came on this website and simply heard me talking about my wife, and then in another place I was talking about my fiancée, and then in another my girlfriend, what would they think? That I’m in some kind of open marriage? So we are all constrained to some degree by the common vernacular. And you have to notice my struggle as I’ll often say both, or put alters in quotes, but sometimes my time and space is limited and so I do the best I can. The writers on MIA often express the same struggle. I’m sorry you don’t like it: I really don’t either.

  • But the inner circle consists of survivors only. End of story.

    I’ve been thinking about this comment ever since Kindredspirit made it. I know this is the attitude of some on this website, but to see it so bluntly is still painful.

    I’m glad that’s not my wife’s attitude. It’s not mine either. On my blog I likened how her d.i.d. affects our relationship to a prison. She and I are BOTH in that prison room. But she is chained inside the room. For me, the door is open, and I’m free to leave if I want. So many people do leave in this culture. My one brother left his ‘broken’ wife. But there are others who choose every day to stay in that prison room right there with our loved ones, and vow never to leave until we BOTH can leave.

    She and I have been thru hell together. Even our son had to learn to help care for his mother when the others started to join our family. There were panic attacks, night terrors, hypervigilance, flashbacks, ‘alters’ running off for fun and running and hiding in fear, paralyzing fear, triggers galore. My son and I were with her 24/7 for the first couple of years because things were so bad. I had the day ‘shift’ while he was in college at the local branch, and then when I was at work at nights, he took the night shift. But my wife and I did try to shield him from the worst of it, and never asked him to do more than he freely did. We couldn’t have done it without him.

    On top of that things wrecked havoc in our marriage. Many times I wasn’t even allowed to hold my wife’s hand because the new girls were so traumatized and scared of everyone and everything. Real intimacy, emotional, physical and otherwise, were largely gone. But little by little we got thru it. I learned how to help each of them. The newcomers learned they were safe in our house and with me and our son, and slowly each was ‘adopted’ into the family. The lies associated with the trauma began to be undone and slowly we began to dismantle the worst of the dissociation.

    I’m not unusual. I don’t think I’m a martyr or saint: just someone honoring the woman I love and the vows I made and looking for a win/win solution for both of us.

    Your comments are extremely invalidating to those of us who are in this WITH our loved ones. We don’t get paid. And we certainly don’t get validated in this culture of the me-first attitude where many tell me I ought to just leave or take care of myself first as if that’s really an option.

    I’m truly sorry for your personal experience. The little you’ve described elsewhere on this website sounds truly horrible, but not all SO’s are selfish and manipulative. Not all families are of the NAMI kind looking for an excuse to get rid of the ‘problem’ member. And thus the ‘survivors’ are NOT the sum total of those suffering, and until this movement enlarges the circle and recognizes there are others who have just as much of a stake in a solution as the ‘survivors’, I wonder if this movement will ever really gain traction.

  • “Nothing about us without us.”

    It’s kind of ironic, but in our experience, it’s been my voice that is overridden at EVERY point by my wife’s healing needs, sigh. Her needs ALWAYS trump my needs and I have the choice to acquiesce or move on, but she’s my one and only…so I stay and fight for a better ending than either of us have had so far. Even our son has become a ‘big brother’ to all the 7 littler girls who joined the family, but at least they do defer to the mother figure when he wants/needs one: I rarely get to have a ‘wife’ anymore…

  • Hi Lee,
    my wife has d.i.d. but we were fortunate that she never got sucked up into the system and so her, my and our experience is so radically different than most in her position. We’ve walked the healing journey together the last 11 years, using attachment concepts as the foundation of her healing, but using other things as well like neural plasticity.

    If you are familiar with the show, United States of Tara, our experience is just the opposite of that. ALL the girls (alters) are securely attached to me (got engaged to the first one in December!). Sure there was some chaos in the beginning, but there was a lot of trauma to heal at that point. Now we are dealing mostly with the dissociation, and it’s a lot more difficult to undo, but we are getting there. I have a little blog over on wordpress under this name/Loving My DID Girl(s), but it never gained much traction, and so I’ve kind of let it go dormant for now. Philosophically I agree with much that is on this website, though it’s hard simply because our experience is so different than most here.
    Take care,

  • Hi Sara,
    no nothing is wrong with you or anyone who experiences these kinds of things. The picture of the little bunny and fox says so much. I believe many early childhood abuse survivors view themselves thru that kind of a picture, even if their adults selves don’t realize it.

    The ‘nice’ thing about my wife’s d.i.d. is it makes so many things extremely clear. And I still remember the various little girls (alters) telling me how scared each was and how little she felt, and my repeated reply to each was always, “I know you are scared, Honey. But you’re not alone anymore. I’m a big man. I’ve got you now because I take care of my little girls.” And that’s one aspect of how I helped walk my wife thru her paralyzing fear because I inserted myself into her picture of the little bunny and fox until she could see herself with me holding her, and that fox didn’t seem so scary with me in the picture.

    In attachment terms they call it proximity maintenance. Mary Ainsworth had a lot to teach all of us in her strange situation protocols. The experts are (finally) beginning to study how attachment concepts apply throughout our lives and not just when we are little children, but pretty much I applied the majority of those concepts that they have identified, that are necessary to produce securely attached, healthy children, to my wife’s healing, and it’s been a godsend for us. Holding her thru that paralyzing fear that she experienced was just one thing attachment theory taught us.

    I know each of us likes to view these issues thru various prisms like classes, ‘races’ economic structures, etc, but for me I see so much more relevance in the breakdown of family and social structures. There will always be a ruling, oppressive class to some extent: there always has been throughout the history of humankind, but when the family units and social structures are strong, they enable us to faces those adversities because we know that we are never truly alone in them like that little bunny facing the fox: someone actually is holding us and keeping us safe.


  • Capitalism is NOT the problem, nor is socialism the answer. The black and white fallacy going around this website gets tiring. You want socialism and to see how destructive it can be, just look south to Venezuela. And the Scandinavian states that everyone on the Left likes to point to are NOT socialist. They simply have a much bigger social, safety net than we do, but most of their industries are privately owned.

    I would argue that Wall Street is much of the problem. It’s completely out of control. I read an interesting op-ed from the Left this past week that explained why OAC’s call for the 70% tax rate on the 1% is based in the history of this country, and has some good reasons for it. If I remember my history correctly, CEO’s in the 70’s made something like 60x’s the average worker, now it’s more like 400+. That’s immoral. But it’s just as immoral when I went to St. Martinique last Fall, a socialist paradise under the rule of France, and more than 40% of the populace doesn’t work because of their brand of socialism.

    So, no, I don’t agree that capitalism is the problem. I believe an a-moral and unfettered capitalism is the problem. But on a similar note, I believe socialism could work under the right conditions, too, but certainly not one like we see in Venezuela or even more benignly in St. Martinique were laziness and sloth are tolerated.

    Let’s talk about social nets. Let’s also discuss the value of work, even if it’s not one’s dream job. I have a college education but have worked in a factory for 25 years. I never would have chosen this, and I still hope to leave and do what is in my heart when my wife is in a better position, but this job has enabled me to raise our son and take care of my family, and for that I’m thankful.

  • Hi Sera,
    are you just venting or looking for solutions? Not blaming you if you are just venting. I know Will Hall vents here sometimes, too, on the lack of progress.

    I’ve often wondered what it would take to change things. My own failed attempt on my little blog to connect with other SO’s only left me with wondering what I did wrong, wondering if my wife had simply been willing to join me, would others have listened then? Wondering if I had just found the right ‘benefactor’ would that have enlarged my voice and audience? Wondering if I could get out the ‘love-story’ between me and all my wife’s ‘alters’ (I just got engaged to the first new girl. I’m pre-engaged to another. A third has expressed interest in doing so, and all the other little ones are deeply in love with me as a daddy figure: and it’s mutual on my side), would that bypass people’s defenses and apathy and make them willing to listen?

    But, alas, I have no answers; just sadness that I failed and no matter how many times I’ve begged my wife (all of them) to join me and see if that changed the dynamics, she is terrified of the stigma this culture has about d.i.d. (thank you, Switch, et al, sigh).
    Sam 🙁

  • “They were pointing out the contradictions in your posts for others’ benefit.”

    You have framed that negatively. I choose to see it as Shaun F. struggling with new concepts within his old framework. And this website can give him the space and friendly people to help him as he grasps these new ideas and how to work them out practically in his life, or we can be pissy with him for ‘contradicting himself.” He has already shown himself open to new ideas and being ‘nudged’ in a direction that most of us would agree is better, but it’s a BIG deal to him. His way of life is on the line, and for anyone to act like it’s not a big deal is showing a total lack of empathy. I’d rather see him struggle with ideas and concepts and really embrace things as ‘his’ rather that people just bully him into something or put him down for ‘contradicting himself’…

  • Hi Shaun F,
    I know you take a lot of flak on this website, but I think you are asking some of the right questions, and realizing there’s more to things than simply rebelling against ‘the system’. I’m sorry I don’t seem able to convey what my wife and I have learned. It seems you get hung up on her ‘extreme dissociation’ rather than understanding that we are ALL in the same boat; she just happens to be further along the spectrum than most, but NOT by any means the worst.

    Her experience has taught me so much about how I function because I don’t view her in a different category from me. When we first started this journey, she repeatedly told me, “I don’t know what ‘healthy’ looks like, and so it forced me to become as healthy as I could so I could be a good example for her., and yet having distinct ‘alters’ allowed me/us to dissect the issues of trauma and dissociation and neural atrophy and attachment systems, etc in a way that would have been otherwise impossible if I’d had to figure it out using my own experience or others not so far along on the spectrum.

  • Shaun F,
    I had hoped to build some dialogue with you up above, so maybe that means you aren’t interested in my experience with my wife and I’ll stay out if you want me to do so.

    Yes, it is about ‘brain wiring’. The trauma causes dissociation. Dissociation over time then causes neural atrophy. But even once the trauma is addressed and ‘healed’, the neural atrophy is still there. THAT is why I consider the dissociation worse than the trauma because it has taken me years to help my wife thru her various alters reinvigorate all those neural pathways that had atrophied to nearly non-existence. I promote lots of tasks that help them learn to work ‘together’.

    But beyond that the dissociation also splits up the brain/mind’s traits/abilities and one alter may control the trait/ability that another needs to address other aspects of an issue she is struggling with. Say for instance eating issues (‘disorders’). One girl struggles greatly with her poor body image even though my wife has a 5’6″ frame and only weighs 127lbs. Well the other girls have a really GOOD body image. One girl told me, “I look damn good for 50!” But connecting her good self image to the girl with the bad self image takes time and reinvigorating those neural pathways and teaching them how to do it.

    Trauma and dissociation and neural wiring and all that are all interwoven but they are not the same and they effect issues differently…

  • Dissassociation isn’t the real damage to the brain…it is trauma and will always be trauma. The interesting thing is that we all react differently to trauma.

    Hi Shaun F.
    I do understand why you would feel that way. In the d.i.d. world, most people do everything they possibly can to avoid dissociating. They treat it like the plague and as a result only 6% of the cases are ‘florid’ where you could actually meet the individual alters. So most of the common and expert literature view things like you do and don’t really understand that the trauma and the resultant dissociation have VERY different roles and effects upon a person’s brain/mind.

    But my wife and I have welcomed and lived in ‘the dissociation’ for the last 11 years. We’ve embraced it, and it helped me see that the two really are different and cause different issues even though the trauma causes the dissociation initially.

    The dissociation is far more destructive and difficult to undo than the original trauma and causes so many things that most people simply don’t understand because they never get to see it close up AND differentiated from the trauma. I realize I can’t possibly relay all I’ve learned in the confines of the comment section here, but maybe some day I’ll have the chance to do it more publicly.

  • Shaun F,
    now you’re talking my language, but I’m not sure I would say one’s dissociated brain/mind is ‘damaged’ unless you qualify it to mean fundamentally a different kind of damage than what the biochemical people mean.

    If you want to assert that the ‘damage’ is similar as when one breaks one’s leg or other part of the body, then I think the analogy can be useful as I just used that analogy on another thread on MIA to try to explain how dissociation works in ‘psychosis’.

    Dissociation does ‘damage’ the brain/mind in that just like a broken bone, we will stop using that appendage until it is healed. And just like broken bones that don’t heal, then other parts of the body are stressed because they try to take over for the part that isn’t healed, and so there becomes stress throughout the system and everything begins to break down some especially if the environment is hostile.

    In a similar manner, when trauma, that is not healed and assimilated into one’s narrative, causes dissociation, the brain/mind begins to do ‘work-arounds’ in the neural pathways that it must take to maintain general functioning, but it also begins to lose access to traits and abilities where the dissociated memories are stored (I mentioned that to you personally in another thread but can’t remember where right now).

    But thanks to what we know about neural plasticity, that damage is NOT permanent. Heal the trauma, and then, with help, the dissociation can start to be dismantled, but it’s a lot more work than those in ISSTD understand since they never get full access to the person’s system like a primary attachment figure/SO can have if s/he works to have it. Two of my wife’s littles helped me understand the key to undoing the dissociation when we began to redraw their inner working model (attachment theory).

    So like you, I do believe in ‘damage’ if one qualifies it and differentiates it from the unchangeable, organic damage that the biochemical model espouses. And we shouldn’t get hung up on my wife’s ‘extreme’ dissociation. We all fall on that spectrum somewhere and learning to help her taught me how to deal with my own: my issues just weren’t as complicated.

  • “I will start bawling like it just happened yesterday. I don’t escape intensity of pain over time. It feels like it will never stop hurting.”

    I understand that’s how it feels, but I assure you, with your husband’s help, you CAN heal and move on from the past. But it takes a willingness to eschew this culture’s infatuation with ‘independence.’ My wife and I have created a relationship of interdependence and all our points of ‘attachment’ that we have deliberately made strengthen her and help her heal, but they help me, too. No one is above needing another’s help and strength.

  • Abrianna,
    would your husband want me to help him learn to help you like I did for my wife? You don’t need to be trapped in the past trauma for the rest of your life, and he can expedite the healing once he understands how. Just have him shoot me an email. It’s just samruck2 at gmail dot com

  • Just be careful, Abrianna, when you seek out help. One would think that PTSD would be seen through the trauma paradigm of mental health rather than the biochemical model, and yet I got run off a ptsd site because I suggested PTSD can be completely healed if the traumatic memories are healed. Most there push the meds and their absolute belief that PTSD is a brain disorder.

    And I only share that to make sure you are careful if you seek out expert help. Most of my wife’s PTSD symptoms are gone at this point because I learned how to apply the attachment principles of proximity maintenance, affect regulation and safe haven when she was experiencing them and little by little I got her thru them. In a nutshell, I just treated her like anyone wants to be treated when they are scared: I stayed close by, I allowed my calm demeanor to affect her feelings and I physically ‘enveloped’ her as I reminded her, “you are ok, now. I’ve got you. I’m sorry no one took care of you then: but I’ve got you now, and I take care of my girl.” (most of the ‘alters’ front as little girls) Yes, the PTSD seems to make people want to flee, but I was a ‘gentle burr’ that stuck with my wife, not overwhelming her, but just staying close so that she could feel my presence, and that’s what our brains need, that feeling of NOT BEING ALONE so that they can begin to process the trauma and move on.

    And I am sorry your current residence triggers you so much. Is there any possibility of finding a new place? It’s hard to heal when you can never relax…at the same point, when my wife was triggered was when I learned to walk her thru the triggers and diminished their impact on her.

    I do wish you and your husband well.

  • Hi Abrianna,
    well you put so much in that comment. I can’t possibly comment on it all, but maybe I can hit a few points, and just a disclaimer: what I share is based on my wife’s experience and my experience helping her thru these things. Others may experience it differently and my generalizations are just that…

    I do believe traumatic experiences can ‘alter’ the brain, but it’s not permanent thanks to neural plasticity. I think just like when we hurt our leg and arm, we protect it until it is healed. The brain/mind does the same with traumatic memories: until they can be ‘healed, that is understood and assimilated into one’s overall narrative, they will be ‘quarantined’ (or dissociated). The longer the quarantine the longer the brain has to do ‘work arounds’ because those memories take ‘storage space’ often associated with personality traits and mental abilities. Moreover, those quarantines are set at the time of the memories and so they stay ‘in the past.’ And so, my guess, the brain scans show parts of the brain under ‘quarantine’ and not accessible as much.

    But our brain/mind doesn’t like quarantine: it seeks wholeness and so sometimes it will try to force those traumatic memories back into the general narrative of the person: that’s where you get the flashbacks, panic attacks, ‘psychosis’ and such. And I believe what is happening is an overlaying of past trauma to current reality which is why they feel so disorienting. Add to that the fact that so much trauma happened during childhood when we were highly symbolic and so to the outside person and the adult sufferer this all seems gibberish, but it was the best the child’s mind could do under traumatic circumstances without the aid of caring and protecting adults.

    That’s where I or your husband can come in. When my wife was being assaulted by panic attacks, flashbacks, attachment theory teaches us that I can be a ‘safe haven’ and so I (literally) enveloped my wife like a harbor does a ship and I learned to calm her during those attacks: my presence gave her brain/mind the extra strength it needed to realize they were memories from the past, and little by little I helped her assimilate them into her current narrative and now it’s been years since she’s experience any of the worst of that stuff…but the time warp experience is still pretty heavy for the various girls (‘alters’). After 40-50 years of complete quarantine (dissociation) it’s hard to adjust to their new life in the present…but it comes little by little and I just walk with each where she is. I don’t force it, but I also make it clear that I hope some day they will ‘grow up’ and be willing to marry me, and in December the first one and I were engaged.

    Anyway, that’s my layman’s explanation of what is going on. I really don’t believe in ‘psychosis’, and until I got on this website, I wasn’t used to the term and had to look it up to even see what everyone meant. To me ‘psychosis’ is simply what happens when a memory that is grounded in the past overlaps current reality, and the memory is so strong that it becomes disorienting to the person.

    Now let me qualify this: my wife NEVER had any psych drugs. So everything I’ve said does NOT take into account any of the effects of those mind-altering drugs. But without drugs in the picture, that is how I would describe what my wife experienced and how I helped her thru much of it.

    I do wish you well. Check out some of the sites that MIA lists, that will help you taper off the drugs. And hopefully your husband can continue to be a ‘safe haven’ and help you not feel so disoriented during the psychosis while your brain/mind is trying to assimilate the memories from the past. For my wife at this point, the last girl (alter) is still disconnected to the other 7, so when she switches out with any of the others, they simply ask me what’s going on/what they’ve missed and we go on: no big deal. I’m kind of their anchor that keeps them grounded, and your husband can learn to be the same for you.

  • Madmom,

    Are you talking for yourself or just in general? I don’t know if you would accept any help from me, but I’ve had experience with my wife’s ‘voices’ for the last 11 years: how to engage and interact with them. I really don’t think someone needs an expensive class to do it, (sorry Sera) and I’d be happy to get you started. I think you would find it easier than you realize once you got going.

  • Sandra,
    may I suggest you widen that scope? There are those of us who have had to learn how to walk a spouse through all those ‘extreme states’, how to pull my wife out of a catatonic state, how to pull her out of panic attacks, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, etc. Moreover, we are the ones who must securely attach someone whose attachment systems are completely broken down. We’re in the trenches 24/7. I don’t denigrate your experience or the ‘sufferers’, but we SO’s are in a unique position as well. I know that OD recognizes this to some degree, but your statement makes me wonder to what degree…

  • Yes, some of us can see that, Abrianna. When any of us get attacked, it’s so hard NOT to go on the defensive. I wish we weren’t ‘wired’ that way, but it seems like it’s kind of a default mode that takes a lot of work to overcome, and from the state of our entire country, I’d say not many have made the effort…

  • Thanks for sharing more, Abrianna,
    I’m glad your husband is so supportive, and it sounds like he’s doing the EXACT right thing for you. It’s almost exactly how I’ve treated my wife’s various ‘alters’ (gag) when they share their fears with me. I can either validate the girls, take the fears seriously and help the girls thru the fears…or I can deny their fears and the girls simply hang onto those fears more tightly because ‘no one is listening.’ The former always works better than the latter, and yet so many take the latter route…

  • “That being said, it is acceptable for people not to appreciate certain aspects of an author’s blog and to say so in the comments section, as long as the comments themselves are within the guidelines. I know this can be tough for authors, but it is a reality that has to be respected if we are to have any kind of meaningful conversation about these topics. It is a balance that has to be struck, and the guidelines are the best way I think we have to strike such a balance.”

    I don’t know, Steve, There’s got to be a better way. I’ve watched a number of authors get run off because they used the common vernacular and still retained at least part of the common mindset on this subject of mental health, and yet the staff clearly thought they had a story worth telling. It takes most people a while to learn there’s a new way to look at mental health issues: how we view it, talk about it, etc. We can’t just assume these authors are going to get it all right the first time unless there’s a LOT of heavy coaching and editing by the staff to help them.

    To take the attitude that ‘it can be tough for authors’ means we continue to lose allies for no other reason than to allow the survivors to treat the authors in a manner that I bet they never treat anyone in real life. That’s not ‘giving them a voice’: it’s just giving them a pass to be disrespectful because of their past history of abuse. If we’d just been willing to teach the authors a little and work with them as they learned new ways to think and speak of this subject, they might stick around.

    Abrianna is clearly an intelligent, articulate and studious young lady: she could end up being a great ‘point of light’ in this fight. And yet she was just as traumatized by this experience as kindredspirit and others, and this is NOT just because ‘you failed’ (in your own words) on this one, individual thread. I’ve watched this happen repeatedly even before you took over as moderator. I sincerely hope you all can figure out a better way to do this: one that respects everyone and yet gives everyone time and space to grow and learn.

  • Every time MIA invites an author to share his/her story, and he/she doesn’t use the ‘correct’ terminology or show the correct ‘attitude’ and perspective as defined by those on MIA, (and which I largely agree with!), then that author gets mercilessly attacked for his/her ignorance instead of trying to use that as a teachable moment. I DO understand that the survivors are triggered and quite naturally responding to the kind of language and attitudes that were used to dehumanize and traumatize them, but how will MIA ever expand the tent if it allows these authors to repeatedly get attacked in such a manner?

  • Not everyone hates you, Abrianna. I am truly sorry for the reception you got. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I wish MIA could figure this out. I hate to see everyone upset instead of finding our common ground to fight the real problems and issues.

  • Abrianna,
    I didn’t say you were judging her, and I am sorry she was violent toward you. I wasn’t calling you out on that. That was more for the other survivors to clarify that I understood their position and why they are upset.

    But to you, I do hope you will stick around despite how you’ve been treated by some here and try to see what MIA is all about. It’s got a very different perspective than what you appear to be familiar with. We try to see past labels, diagnoses, and even actions and understand the ‘why’ people act the way they do, though you’ll see inconsistencies just because it’s hard to talk about things without a common language, and that language has, unfortunately, been shaped by the current cultural narrative on mental health/illness.


  • Hello Abrianna,

    I’m sorry you were received so poorly at this website. I do agree with Oldhead and some of the others that you were kind of set up to fail which is unfortunate.

    I think I can see through many of the statements you made that others found triggering since I’ve never been diagnosed or labeled by the mental health industry, but I admit even I was triggered a little when you described your experience of one person with multiple personality disorder…because my wife has d.i.d. and 11 years later I’ve yet to see her psychotic or dangerous: just traumatized and kind of in a ‘time-warp’ (to make it easy to understand).

    It is clear that you have tried to read up on this issue; sadly there just isn’t a lot of alternatives to the information you have read. I don’t know if you would consider staying and trying to learn why others found your statements so upsetting. There is good information here and it might lead you to other sites as well.
    Wishing you well,

  • Shaun F,
    I know you didn’t direct your last comment to me, but it made me think about all the changes I had to go thru to become a good healing partner for my wife. It seemed like the biggest hindrance was how I was raised to believe. When those beliefs just didn’t work out in the real world, the cognitive dissonance began to grow until it got so massive that I couldn’t ignore the warring thoughts in my head.

    I had to break a number of cardinal beliefs of mine to become a better partner for my wife, but in the end I had decided which was my ‘supreme belief’ and so those cardinal beliefs were expendable.

    I guess all that to say I wasn’t open to major change until I had a crisis: my wife’s d.i.d. overwhelming both of us, and much of what I believed was a hindrance to what we needed to make it thru the journey.

    I think most people are the same and they will NEVER examine the cognitive dissonance between what they were taught, e.g. the biochemical model, and real life until there is a major crisis. And sadly, I’ve seen most people in my little sphere bend reality to their beliefs rather than the other way around.

  • No, John, that was definitely NOT my intention. I’m sorry it felt that way to you. I was trying to express empathy, that for most of the last 10 years I have been treated EXACTLY the way you have, and how deeply painful it is to be ignored and blown off and treated like I didn’t matter. I guess I shouldn’t have shared this current experience with you: it wasn’t to make you feel badly, but to express my incredulity that I happened upon one person who treated me differently than the rest.

  • John,
    I share your same frustration, and yet, to be fair I’m sure the more widely known a person is the more emails he or she gets. I can’t even imagine the amount of emails one must get who has a global reach: there’s simply no way they could respond to all of them.

    I have recently been in contact with someone whose reach is pretty large, and I’m blown away that this person has repeatedly written me thoughtful and gracious letters. He is literally the ONLY person I’ve ever contacted to do so. Sometimes it’s almost brought me to tears after a decade of being ignored and belittled in my attempts to change the conversation how we SO’s can get involved in the healing process of our loved ones.

    So I do share your frustration and angst, but I’m not sure how anyone ‘of note’ fixes the issue in the age of email.

  • Rachel,
    thanks again. I try to remember the dynamics going on here, but it is hard when I’m hurting as well. I remember when my wife and I first started down this path and her ‘defender’ joined us, filled with vitriol toward me. Admittedly, I had done some things over the course of our first 20 years that had contributed to her vitriol, but I also realized that I was a convenient figure for her to vent her anger from the original abuse. But at least she and I had a relationship, and as I allowed her to vent all that anger on me, in time, it dissipated and now that ‘alter’ and I just got engaged in December (10 years later).

    But I know there is little hope of me overcoming the anger of many who were wronged on this website because we simply have no relationship other than the words we see on our screens…

    As for your parents and other SO’s, my heart goes out to them. Many of them aren’t trying to be ‘evil’ but the system is set up against them as much as it was you, and my wife and others in mental distress. I believe there are many out there who wouldn’t shove their loved ones into the ‘system’ if they knew there was a viable alternative, but helping them learn there is an alternative is the problem and Open Dialogue and Soteria just aren’t widely available. And it’s not easy the path my little family took, especially when the system waves magic pills in front of them and says these will take care of all their problems…

  • I guess as I re-read what I wrote, maybe I should clarify to the survivors on this site because of comments directed toward me recently, that I never manipulated or coerced my wife. She was the one who asked me to engage the others, and then they ALL begged me NOT to read the literature that was available on d.i.d. because they were afraid I would stop loving them and engaging them, and so I obliged them until much later when I had seen such good results for us and knew I wouldn’t be influenced to change the methodology we were using….and it was only then that I realized how radically different we were doing things than most people.

  • Steve and Shaun F,

    when my wife and I first started our journey into her world of d.i.d. I was told exactly that: if I engaged the ‘voices’ I would strengthen them. And to a degree that is true. By engaging each girl/voice/alter, I validated her. Unlike most d.i.d. cases, I encouraged my wife’s to become ‘florid’ by our complete acceptance of the girls/voices/alters in our marriage and family.

    But in doing so, this gave me a much deeper access into the various ‘compartments’ of my wife’s personality and her memories. It allowed me to directly access the various memories and the lies associated with the abuse and begin to disentangle them and undo them. Once I helped each girl/voice/alter heal the trauma and securely attach to me, that seemed to propel her ability to begin the integration process with the others in the group..and so we came full circle. By validating the voices, we did enter a period of deeper division, but once the healing was mostly done, it seemed to allow them a MUCH deeper re-integration than much of what one would read is possible in the professional literature.

    But, Shaun F, let me assure you that there is MUCH more than just emotions behind the voices. The designations of ANP and EP are grossly simplistic. Each girl in my wife’s system seemed to control various personality traits and mental abilities that I had never or rarely seen in my wife. And as the healing and integration continued, these were unleashed and my wife’s overall personality began to radically, and beautifully, change.


  • Dr. Breggin,

    I cannot understate the role of unconditional love as my wife has healed from early childhood trauma, and yet to say that ‘all you need is love’ (cue the Beatles) would be a vast over simplification. Early childhood trauma, at least in my wife, including neglectful parents and abuse from someone outside the family filled my wife with all kinds of lies that she believed about herself: I’m unlovable, I belong to my abuser; if my own parents don’t love me, how will anyone else; I deserved this, this happened because I’m bad, etc, etc. As well it has kept her brain in trauma mode (hyper-vigilance and fearful) for nearly 50 years. It has taken us more than a decade to unpack each of these lies. I had to be willing to say and do whatever it takes, 100’s of times to help her unlearn those messages and learn new thought patterns. We still don’t have the fear-factor completely turned off, and the issues caused by the dissociation which create neural plasticity issues are labyrinthine to put it mildly. It’s simply not a quick or easy fix that she could ‘choose’ to let love wash away.

    Again, unconditional love is important. My wife had to know that I was in this for the long haul, that I would continue to love her no matter her response or lack of response to me, no matter the hardships we went thru. But it’s the kind of love that is far more than just the giddy feelings of being ‘in love.’ It’s the love that says I will go thru hell with you and back no matter how much we both hurt.

  • Thanks, Rachel,
    I do understand the dynamics going on and how many SO’s are abusive and destructive. I had a ton of change to do myself before I really became helpful and healing for my wife.

    And as sad as it is, I do think you are right that since I’m seen as ‘normal’ maybe some people will listen to me who wouldn’t listen to my wife. And yet, the enmeshment and co-dependent charges come up enough against me, that I realize most figure if I don’t see something ‘wrong’ with my wife, then there MUST be something wrong with me, sigh. Even my wife will say there’s something wrong with me since I don’t see her like the rest of the culture does. 🙁

  • Steve,
    I have tried, but I’m not going to beg or scream if I don’t get a response. And I also clarified that I understand the staff’s right to do whatever it pleases, even if I do believe we SO’s hold a crucial key in this fight against the predominant way of doing things…how to empower those people who are in the best position to help someone who is in mental distress…In the end I’ve been told this site is for therapists and survivors: me wishing to be part of the solution isn’t going to change that.

  • KindredSpirit,
    Again, I’m a trigger to you: you aren’t reacting to me, but to your experience with your SO and then transferring that experience onto everything that I post.

    I’ve got an entire blog of specifics if you care, but I try not to use this website as a platform to pull others over there: I really have kind of let that blog die as the world doesn’t seem interested in anything other than their magic pills. It’s hard work to do what I do to help my wife heal. And our 27-year old son is doing just fine: he has his parents and the ‘alters’ have always deferred to the ‘mother’ figure anytime he wanted her, but in the end they ALL are part of his mother and my wife.

    As for their integration it goes on every single day as I live and interact with each of them, as I help them rewrite their ‘inner working model’ so that internally they view themselves as interconnected. They are more integrated than the pseudo integration that ISSTD fosters, where it FORCES the issue. My wife’s ‘alters’ are being drawn together despite themselves, because as I help them release the pain and trauma of the past, I believe her mind is reaching to be whole and united.

    As far as enmeshment…well I think that charge comes from a culture that is toxically independent and hyper-individualized. I am securely attached to each girl, and that’s all. In a few weeks she’ll fly out to Boston to be with our son for a week as she does a few times a year, and she has her own women’s things that all the girls enjoy going to, and last summer she was gone a couple of weeks. I missed her, of course, but we made it just fine.

    Yes, I’m aware that there is a group of people that hate me on this website and think I only come on here to praise myself, which is why I go back and forth between interacting and withdrawing. Maybe it’s time to withdraw again, I get tired of there being no place on the entire internet for us SO’s who haven’t drunk the biomedical model koolaid, and this is the closest I have found, but enough of the survivors have made it clear they distain me and so I try to keep my distance until my loneliness overwhelms my care about being repeatedly attacked…and then I try again…only for it to happen again.

    I am truly sorry for your experience, but your experience is NOT ours.

  • Steve,
    you are coming at things from a very different perspective than I. I understand you and others here have seen a LOT of coercion, and so you default there, and insist on the patient’s rights and autonomy. But I come at it from a couple’s perspective, an attachment perspective, where my wife and I are ‘in this together.’ Sure, ultimately, she decides whether the things I do are helpful or not, but after watching her for 30 years and more so these last 11, interacting with her, carrying her thru many things (at times even literally), I’ve learned that I can set the environment of our relationship to be healing in ways she doesn’t always understand, but she benefits from them anyway. We’re in this together. We walk side by side. Sometimes I do, indeed, lead. Other times she leads. But neither of us are our own little island of autonomy. That’s back to the toxic individualism that others were talking about on another thread recently.

  • JClaude,
    I don’t think I’m a scapegoat: I’m a trigger. Helping my wife I learned we all get triggered. There are good triggers and bad triggers. Good ones, like a certain smell or song, can trigger happy memories, but bad triggers throw a person back into a traumatic one. And sadly too many family members are the cause of the trauma in our lives, and so I understand that I’m lumped in with the bad family members for too many people.

    Heck, even in the d.i.d. world there aren’t many of us SO’s who welcome the ‘alters’ into the marriage and family with open arms like I have. Too many reject the ‘alters’ like United States of Tara showcased. It was sad that show was made under the supervision of one of the best known d.i.d. therapists in the world, and yet almost everything they did on that show, in my opinion, was the exact opposite of how they should have done things. So I do understand how much skepticism I’m met with…it’s just sad because I really do like the philosophy of MIA and think we SO’s are a key piece of the puzzle to fight this scourge of forced hospitalizations.

    A case in point, is a new commenter (Robert) over on Sera Davidow’s old blog about NAMI. He didn’t know where else to turn living out in Iowa, and NAMI was there. My little blog is about empowering SO’s and parents to realized they can do things to help and stabilize their loved one that NO one else in the world can do, not even the drugs. I walked my wife thru her self harm issues, her panic attacks, her flash backs, when she went comatose on me…I figured out how to help her using attachments concepts to such a degree that she has completely healed and those things haven’t been a part of our journey for years now.

  • HelpStillNeeded,

    Sadly I’m a huge trigger issue for too many of the patients, victims, etc here on MIA. I’m seen as speaking ‘for’ my wife, rather than speaking ‘to’ other SO’s and sharing all the things I’ve learned from my wife and from our journey together. That’s the entire point of my blog: to empower other SO’s to take the lead in their loved one’s healing. I’m not anti-therapist, but I learned very quickly that NO therapist can be in the trenches 24/7 like we SO’s are, and so it’s not even appropriate to expect them to do what i had to learn to do to keep my wife OUT of the hospitals and OFF the drugs. But I have no interest in causing dissension. MIA isn’t my website, and the staff are at liberty to pick and choose whom they will give a voice. At least they haven’t run me off like so many of the other websites who espouse the biomedical model. Philosophically, I am naturally aligned with MIA.

  • Hi RobertJ,

    there is an alternative to NAMI, but I had to figure it out on my own (and then later I came to this website and they have pointed to a couple other alternatives, but with very limited availability). I’m so sorry for your struggles: I do understand them very much so. When my wife first started going thru things, I was completely overwhelmed: physically and emotionally. I was just lucky that my background was such that I didn’t look ‘outside’ very hard and we had a decent alternative counselor (theophostics) to help us until I got my head screwed on right and figured out how to help my wife. I try NOT to push my blog much over here, and I’ve kind of let it die anyway: just wasn’t enough interest in it from others. But I tried to outline some of the basics of how I used attachment theory and neural plasticity to help my wife overcome her deep, childhood trauma. You can look me up on wordpress if you have interest. No matter what, I wish you well and I’m sorry for your distress.

  • Honest question,

    for all of you who are anti-psychiatry. Does that include anti-psychology? Or is that viewed totally separate? I never seem to know based on the comments. Any who follow my comments know I’m a HUGE believer in attachment theory, but maybe that’s seen as good psychology and not in the domain of psychiatry….
    Thanks for any clarification…

  • Respectfully, but my wife’s diagnoses of d.i.d. was the BEST thing that ever happened for our marriage. For 20 years we struggled…there was constant tension, and more arguments than I wish. But when it was suggested she ‘might’ have d.i.d. it was a eureka moment for me, and it finally gave me a place to start.

    That’s the problem with the anti-psychiatry position in my opinion: it wants to completely eradicate everything without any kind of thought. Tear it down: burn it down! But it’s not all wrong. My wife’s diagnosis saved our marriage. Sure, we didn’t take the ‘approved’ route to help her heal, and NO drugs, thank God! but without that diagnosis we’d still be wondering what the hell was wrong when we both, clearly, loved each other…

  • Hello, Ekaterina,

    I’ve been thinking about this article since I read it yesterday. You and I have very different philosophical approaches to this subject, and so I don’t want to get sidetracked too much by that. My wife has d.i.d., and I never saw her as crazy or mad or delusional or psychotic. I find those terms more to show the ignorance of the user than offering any insight into the person. Once I entered the world of the 8 girls (alters) and learned to see things from their perspective, most made sense, even the ‘extreme’ stuff. I came to understand that most of their ‘world’ was frozen in time, created by the original trauma. So they were kind of in a time-warp so to speak and there was nothing ‘psychotic’ or ‘delusional’ about their perspective once I adjusted for that. And so I decided to walk with them wherever each girl was/is, and little by little she decided she liked her new world and life with me and our son better than that old, scary and lonely one…and that’s where the healing began.

    All that to say…I do appreciate your sense of wonder and mystery. If I had taken the typical route and labeled my wife with those kinds of terms and drugged her rather than walk with her thru all the stuff that came along on this journey, I would have missed so much. I’ve always felt like I had the privilege of watching a star be born as each of the 7 new girls joined me outside, securely attached to me, began to shed her chains to the past, trauma-formed world she had known, and then began to stretch her wings and start to fly in this new life she found with me and our son.

    Having read the majority experience on this site, I am so glad my wife was never trapped in that, or I would have missed the amazing, though difficult, journey with her.


  • If you ever get where that doesn’t work, the option we took was I validated the angry voices, understanding that much of their anger was based on past wrongs and trauma, and then slowly I helped them to see that today was no longer the same as in the past. But I also had to take responsibility for the anger I had caused the first 20 years of our marriage, much of it in ignorance, because I didn’t understand what was going on.

    It’s a two-step process, but worked well for us. In fact the angriest of all (my wife’s defender) who vehemently hated me when she first joined our family, she and I recently got engaged after a long pre-engagement.

  • I do wonder if a better way to teach others empathy for hearing ‘voices’ is to help people see the similarities in their own internal communications. Like I said before, after watching the 8 girls in my wife’s system interact and helping them to heal and dealing with lies associated with the original trauma and oft repeated things, I began to wonder if my own internal communication was just a milder version of what she/they were experiencing. I also wondered if the dissociation was a factor for my wife: that as the dissociative walls began to come down, new areas of her mind began to release ‘pent up’ memories and associated words, sounds and such and these would feel very foreign to her at first until she began to accept them as part of her larger self.

    idk…watching her taught me to learn to listen to myself better and recognize and validate those things that I had previously ignored for a variety of reasons…maybe this makes no sense to anyone else, but it seemed to help me empathize with her and listen to myself better…a win/win

  • “We’re all single, no matter who we live or sleep with, and we all die alone. ”

    I’m sorry that’s the world you live in. People who are securely attached are never alone. It really has nothing to do with being single or married because it OUGHT to be done during childhood, but I understand that so many parents are effed up that many people aren’t securely attached when they get to adulthood. And so once that opportunity is missed in childhood, typically, an SO is the only other ‘primary attachment figure’ that any of us will have, and they are really the only ones with the ability to address those issues later in life like I learned to do for my wife…but who gets taught this stuff? Certainly I didn’t: it was a big learning curve so that I could do what my wife needed done to help her heal.

  • I’m still learning, Sera. Until I came to MIA 2 years ago, my wife, son and I operated in a little bubble completely outside the system and the only contact I had with others was thru my little blog. We had no idea, other than thru TV and Hollywood (and I discounted those portrayals), that people with mental health issues were treated so inhumanely, because I NEVER treated my wife that way. And so I accept what you all (from the system and mistreated by family) say, but it’s just beyond me because despite all the issues the trauma causes our marriage, we have walked this journey TOGETHER and I have viewed ‘her issues’ as ‘our issues’ to be overcome together.
    Take care,

  • Hi Sera,

    perhaps ‘peer’ isn’t the correct word for me. Typically I refer to myself as my wife’s healing partner, but I’m also her primary attachment figure (as she is mine) and a host of other things. I do understand the fear of NAMI on this site, but me saying a 1000 times “I’m not like that” isn’t going to convince anyone of anything, and I don’t expect people to read thru my blog to see otherwise. I do understand ‘power dynamics’ but our marriage couldn’t be more egalitarian, and I learned VERY quickly that even my suggestions had to be couched very careful in non-coercive terms so that everything, ultimately, was 100% her choice.

  • Hi Rachel,

    it’s not about ‘lumping’ people into arbitrary categorizations. I agree that being married doesn’t make a person mature/loving/sacrificing nor does being single make a person the opposite. Attachment theory, (and it is one of the most deeply verified theories out there AND one of the easiest to see in action for the doubters of anything by the ‘experts’), is about how humans (and many other of the higher animals) are wired to support each other. Yes, that support can be done in a group or community to an extent. That used to be more true of our own culture until modernity fractured our families and communities. But a communal life still can’t fulfill the deepest needs of our attachment ‘wiring’ for lack of a better word.

    I’m sorry that your father would say such an ugly, simplistic and untrue thing to you. For myself, I didn’t really understand a lot of this until my wife’s d.i.d. crashed unto us 11 years ago, and I was forced to grow up and get educated or we would NOT have survived because she simply was NOT in a place for about 5 years to be much of a spouse for me, and even now the ‘littles’ have limited most of our adult connection (not just sex) for nearly the entire time. But using attachment principles, I learned to weave our lives together to hold BOTH of us together thru the needs her past trauma has forced onto our relationship.


  • Hi Sera

    our son lives in Waltham. Sometimes I wish I could swing by and meet you and we could find a point of collaboration. We may not see everything identically, but I appreciate much of what you have to say. I keep hoping some day to find someone who realizes we SO’s hold a vital part of the key to changing this battle of perspective and also keeping our loved ones out of the system…when we know what is needed…I keep hoping to empower other SO’s to understand they don’t need an ‘expert’ do the overwhelming majority of things our loved ones need to feel safe, loved and begin to heal.

    For me, I never saw my wife as crazy, but she always said that just meant I was weird and not normal like most people, lol. I guess that’s a good thing. But after living 11 years with her florid d.i.d., I realized that there really is very little that is different between me and her…just a matter of degrees mostly, and in fact, I learned a lot about myself by observing how the various girls interacted. Even the ‘extreme’ states associated with d.i.d. really don’t seem that extreme nor that far out of my own experience once I began to look for points of similarity.

    Take care,

  • Hi Rachel,
    it makes me cringe to hear you use the ‘monster’ word. My wife once used the same word about herself despite the fact that neither I nor our son ever treated her that way. I hate this culture that stigmatizes because of its ignorance.

    I wish you well and I hope some day you are pleasantly surprised that there is a man out there who neither sees you as crazy nor a monster because that’s true of how I see my wife…and honestly all of you who struggle with the fallout from trauma.

  • Hi Plebtocracy,

    I’m sorry for using initials…it just means ‘significant other’. I try to use that term since we seem to be in a post-marriage age, and I try to be as inclusive as possible…though the lack of ‘lifetime’ commitment that comes with marriage, does strike at one of the key needs in trauma victims for safety and stability in the relationship in order to heal deeply.

  • Thanks, JClaude,

    but you and I both know that words break the spirit in a way that sticks and stones can never do. It is what it is, and though I fully support Bob Whittaker’s philosophy, I understand I will never, truly be welcomed on this website. So I will continue the fight on my own, and maybe when my wife is ready to ‘out’ herself, she’ll join me so we can show the world how mental health issues ought to be handled: within the love and safety of an attachment relationship..

  • Hi Plebtocracy,

    I’d be happy to tell you whatever you want. Using attachment theory I have navigated my wife thru all her panic attacks, flashbacks, and self-injury issues until they are a distant memory for us now. I have also securely attached each of the 8 girls in her system (the ‘alters’) to myself, and that seems to be the necessary step for them to begin to connect to each other. We’ve worked on her inside world (the inner working model) and as we’ve restructured that, it provided her the foundation to radically alter her self perception from the trauma she grew up with to a more healthy and non-dissociated one now that she is in a safe relationship with me.

    Respectfully, but a therapist simply could never do what I or any SO can do for someone who is severely traumatized and whose attachment system has been destroyed (I’ve done this 24/7 for 10 years straight and my ‘billing schedule’ is a steal, lol). It’s really not rocket science: essentially it’s just good parenting/relationship skills, and I had to be willing to be whatever each girl in the system asked me to be whether that was friend, boyfriend, daddy and now I am engaged to one of them. But therapists could teach SO’s, family members and friends so they wouldn’t have to figure it out on their own like I did.

    I don’t know if this is what you were looking for. There’s so much more, but it’s kind of hard to do it here.

  • Helpstillneeded,

    I can’t comment ‘officially’ but from my perspective, I’ve watched commenters get attacked mercilessly on this website if they aren’t exactly in line with some of the survivors’ opinions. I do understand that they are probably just triggered by their personal traumatic-experiences, but it’s kind of sad because I’ve watched some people who could have been good allies in this cause be run off just because they didn’t 100% subscribe to some of the things that some of the survivors feel is a must.

    Beyond that this website also has a definite tilt toward the Left which puts another unnecessary hurdle in front of commenters. I’m kind of a moderate politically, socially and religiously and open to most ideas, but the constant Leftist tilt that is simply assumed by many of the authors and commenters is another hurdle.

    I still read many of the blogs, but I find myself more often than not refraining from commenting anymore because, as an SO of a woman with d.i.d., I know I’m a second-class participant here.

  • Hi Sharna,

    attachment theory is more than just about good parenting. My wife has d.i.d., and I’ve used some of the major concepts of attachment theory (secure attachment, proximity maintenance, safe haven, inner working model) to help the various girls (‘alters’) attach to me, heal their trauma, and then begin the process of connecting to each other as I have literally helped them redraw their inner working model to reflect a unified and healthy self versus the dissociated and traumatized one they started with 10 years ago when they first started to join my life, marriage and family. I keep hoping some day I’ll find someone with attachment understanding who will listen to what these concepts can accomplish no matter the time of life (we are in our 50’s now) or the early trauma suffered. It’s been almost breathtaking the transformation I’ve watched and been a part of in my wife’s life.
    Happy Holidays and best wishes,

  • Hi MedLawPsych,

    I’m pretty systematic though definitely not ‘clinical’ as I help my wife heal: she/they let me know anytime I cross that line, lol. Attachment theory has provided most of the key guidelines that I needed to help her. We’re 10 years into this now, and most of the girls are interconnected internally as well as externally, to various degrees. She’s definitely more ‘together’ than she’s ever been in her life, and though I use that as a d.i.d. pun, let me be clear that I NEVER saw her as crazy, delusional or psychotic: just traumatized, and I was her fox hole buddy who helped her thru that trauma.

    I was fortunate to keep my wife completely out of ‘the system’, though my wife has an alternative counselor who was invaluable in the beginning until I dealt with my own issues and learned the ropes how to help her best (she was my teacher).

    I can’t speak for psychotic depression, but the ‘voices’ in d.i.d. seem to be the different parts of the brain that have been dissociated from each other and to the one in ‘front’ (host or alter) who hears them in the beginning, they seem like something outside her experience/being. But with healing and tearing down the dissociative walls, those ‘voices’ just become part of one’s ability to communicate internally.

    I could talk forever on this subject, but that’s what my blog is for. I’m pretty proud of how far she/they have healed and interconnected, and I’ll leave it at that.


  • Hi MedLawPsych,

    First, I want to state that I appreciate your attempts to be thoughtful.

    When you asked ‘what to do with a person who is delusional and hallucinating’, this is my take. First I think you are making HUGE assumptions by using the toxic words ‘delusions’ and ‘hallucinations’. They prejudge the person’s experience.

    My wife has d.i.d. I ALWAYS assume that the various ‘alters’ (gag, ack, hate that term) are describing their reality correctly, and it’s up to me to enter into their reality instead of judging theirs by my own. Once I learned to do that, their worlds made sense.

    It’s kind of like entering the Matrix. It is VERY MUCH a real world to the people who are in it. And me declaring by fiat that they are delusional and hallucinating carries NO weight to someone inside the Matrix. I’ve found it much better to enter the world my wife’s ‘alters’ live in. Yes, it was a world created in trauma and it was frozen in the past, but my presence in that world gives them a stability they NEVER had before. And as I interact with them, love them unconditionally and give them the safety they never knew, then little by little they have started to examine their world with the current one they have with me…and all of them are moving to the world they share with me and our son. But I never do it by coercion. I make it clear that I love each of them no matter what they choose or believe.

    So back to your question. I believe it’s the wrong question. I believe everything the girls tell me has a basis in truth and in their experience and when I walk with them in it, then it frees each to move forward and into the present.

  • kindredspirit,

    I’m sorry that is your experience, but it is NOT true of all families and SO’s. I get a lot of SO’s desperate for information how to help on my blog, but the system is stacked against us. Even my wife has ‘drunk the koolaid’ of chemical imbalance theory. Fortunately for her, I never did even before I found this website, and so I will NEVER let her get close to the mental health system no matter how much work it takes to help her thru things largely on my own.

    I hope someday this website will embrace those of us who are NOT in league with NAMI, but who honestly have no other support and little information out there on how best to help. My little blog shouldn’t be ‘unique’ in all the world, but I’ve been told it is by others looking for information outside the prevailing theory. Maybe some day MIA will start a subsection for SO’s like it has for parents.

  • yeah, I think proximity maintenance speaks fairly directly to this issue and what happens when our hyper-independent-oriented culture insists that children wean off the safety provided by their attachment figures before they are able or ready. Heck, my wife and I still practice it for our son in his doctoral program to keep him grounded during the extreme stress he’s under. None of us ever outgrow the need for a safety net.

  • Hi Bob,

    I do hope some day that this section, or one similar, is expanded to include the SO’s who also have to help a spouse/mate who is experiencing mental duress. It took me a long time to figure things out on my own so that I was a help instead of a hindrance to my wife’s healing. I’ve had other SO’s repeatedly tell me how little help there is out there for those of us in our position, especially help that doesn’t follow the biomedical model of mental issues.

  • Hi Carlene,
    thanks for sharing. 30 years and counting for me. I guess I’ve been lucky(?) that my wife never takes me seriously when I tell her how I’m feeling nor my family the few times I’ve mentioned it publicly, so I’ve never been institutionalized and suffered that indignity on top of the daily struggle just to keep going. For me it’s all about hope…or the lack of it. And when my hope wanes that things will ever get better, the struggle to keep going increases, and vice versa. Today’s an especially hard day to find some hope to hold onto.

    I really don’t understand why suicide is such a difficult concept to grasp and why the ‘experts’ seem so ignorant of the mechanics of it, sigh. Maybe I’ve been journaling about my life for so long that the subject is just obvious to me at this point when I’m struggling with it and when I’m not and exactly why and the various strategies I have to keep it at bay.
    Take care,

  • Sasha,

    I love when you report what is going on in NYC. I wish we lived closer and could participate, but I wish you wouldn’t forget about the ‘third wheel’ of the mental health equation: the SO’s and families who want to be part of the solution and who refuse to go the traditional mental health system way for their loved ones who are in distress. I’m ‘in the trenches’ 24/7 with my wife. I never let her get on any of those drugs. And in many ways I carried her thru so many things like panic attacks, flashbacks, the ‘chaos’ of integrating all the newcomers (alters) into our family and marriage, and so much more. Not all of us go want to go the NAMI route. We are on the frontlines in a way the professionals simply never will be. We are often thrust into the decision of ‘making the call’ or not doing so. My wife was fortunate I never did that, despite the chaos, and so we muddled our way thru things until we began to figure it out, and now she/we are doing so much better, but there needs to be help and support for others who’d like to do the same, but didn’t get as lucky as we did to figure it out on their own.

  • shaun f,

    I don’t support Trump! but my greatest concern is that both sides have become so tribal that neither even attempts finding a place of common ground anymore. No one talks of us all being Americans and assuming the goodwill of the other side even if we disagree. Hence, Stephen Gilbert’s Stalin and Hitler reference.The rhetoric is full, self-righteous, tribal war as the leaders on both sides fearmonger in order to keep people from calming down and realize where we are heading if things don’t change.

  • shaun f,

    I get that you have clients who are truly distressed, and as I pointed out from the start, I did NOT vote for Trump because of his many personal faults, foremost for how he treats women because my wife is an abuse victim. Hence, I would never vote for a man like that.

    But what I tried to do was put TAD in the context of the larger cultural war where both sides dismiss the real distress that each feels. By framing this the way that Chris did his main point got lost in the partisan rhetoric. And so, he effectively ‘preached to the choir’ rather than having any hope of reaching beyond the far Left. He even made it difficult for those of us in the center…because I personally am tired of the dismissiveness and partisan attacks from both sides.

  • I do understand it wasn’t your main point, but that’s how this article comes off because of what seems to be your strong tilt to the Left. When you caricature Trump the way you do(a fascistic, narcissistic, tiny-handed orange moron ), you immediately lost 1/2 of your audience. Even though I agree with your main point and consider myself a centrist at this point, I really struggled with the rest of the article as I internally told myself this was just another partisan hit job.

    Your main point deserved better.
    Wishing you well,

  • Full disclosure: I couldn’t and wouldn’t vote for either, major candidate in the previous presidential election.

    I grew up on the Right, and even though I have moved toward the center, I understand the fears on the Right, which were stoked during the Obama years, which the Left dismisses out of hand. But I also have learned to appreciate the fears on the Left, which have been stoked by Trump, which the Right dismisses out of hand. This article does nothing except continue the misunderstanding and dismissiveness by BOTH sides, and that’s unfortunate.

  • Well said, Jan Carol,

    but I can I tweak what you say based on how it’s worked with my wife?

    When the trauma occurs and the mind begins to sequester the unprocessed memories…those memories essentially get frozen in time and, thus over time, there becomes a disconnect, as you say, between the inner and outer worlds. Once I realized that the dissociation had caused her to be internally trapped in the past, then I could understand her reality….and instead of arguing with her about it, I joined her in it and provided her the safety that she didn’t have originally…and once I did that, she was able to begin to process things in light of my presence in her inner reality. In other words, I changed the equation of the past by gently joining her in it.

    So I would say the disconnect isn’t so much ‘the dissociation’ but it is the result of how the dissociation works.

  • Hi Oldhead,
    after I made that comment, I realized I did make a few errors. And maybe I didn’t answer Steve’s point, but mine is still valid as the topic of dissociation comes up repeatedly and what exactly it is…

    You are correct that I that I didn’t differentiate between the mind/brain…I thought about that all night…and it’s not because I don’t see a difference. However, you are incorrect that I think the ‘brain runs the mind.’ Actually I would probably argue the opposite. The mind runs, or maybe more accurately, ‘uses’ the brain, however, the brain IS an organic body and like all the rest of our body it is ruled by the principle of ‘use it or lose it’ but when it comes to the brain we speak in terms of ‘neural plasticity.’ And so if I had to clarify what I said last night, I would say the MIND likes to sequester all trauma that isn’t properly processed…but over time that propensity causes the BRAIN’s neural pathways to atrophy…and that is where the dissociation takes place, as the pathways become harder and harder to access.

    It is a physically painful process (as in debilitating headaches) for my wife to reinvigorate those pathways as she accesses sequestered memories and then begins to make vibrant connections between all the girls. All 8 girls work every day to invigorate those pathways between them so that they collectively have access to all the abilities that each girl controls individually and/or partially.

    So thank you for pointing out my lack of clarity even if you assumed the opposite of what I meant.

  • Steve McCrea,
    I’m not exactly sure where you are going by charging shaun f with being a strict materialist…

    My layman’s understand of dissociation and how it works as I’ve helped my wife is that the brain/mind reacts to trauma off all sorts by sequestering the experience of that trauma in the absence of that experience being properly processed. Over time if this experience is not brought back to the forefront and dealt with, the neural pathways begin to atrophy according the principles of neural plasticity..and so the brain/mind because of its natural inclination to sequester all trauma eventually ‘hardens’ the dissociation until those ‘walls’ become quite difficult to breach.

    The last 10 years I’ve had to provide the safe place my wife needed to open those trauma events back up so they could be processed…but even after the memories were processed and re-evaluated and the pain and lies and terror calmed, the effects of the dissociation, the neural atrophy, continue. In fact, it is the dissociation that has been far more difficult for me to help my wife undo than the original trauma. And it is the dissociation, imo, that causes so many of the mental health issues that people complain about because the brain/mind gets divided up as pathways atrophy and with the various divisions the mental faculties and abilities to deal with life become truncated as well.

    Not sure if that makes sense, but it doesn’t make me a materialist to understand that dissociation is a natural reaction that the brain/mind has toward all trauma which then hardens over time because of the principles of neural plasticity.

  • Hi shaun f,
    my wife has d.i.d. Let’s just say there is much, much, much more that can be done to completely heal the PTSD symptoms and undo the long-term effects of the dissociation that always result to a lesser or greater degree depending on a number of factors. But it’s not quick or easy, and it uses attachment concepts that a paid therapist simply can’t emulate no matter how much tries to bring the language into their articles. But you can facilitate what is needed so that other SO’s wouldn’t have to figure it out on their own. It’s been years since my wife/the other girls (alters) have experienced the worst of the PTSD symptoms like flashbacks, panic attacks, agoraphobia, etc, because I learned how to apply the concepts of safe haven, affect regulation, primary attachment figure and proximity maintenance into my relationship and so when those phenomenon were occurring, I would envelope them during the mental/emotional storms which allowed them to process the intrusive memories behind all the stuff going on externally. Now the mental hurricanes are little thunderstorms if/when they do happen, and it takes much less effort to pull her through them…but that’s just basic attachment concepts that we all need someone to lean on at times. At this point, she’s learned enough from what I did for her, that she returns the favor when I’m struggling.

    As for the long-term effects of dissociation, that’s an entirely different beast that’s really hard to grasp unless you have intimate access to every alter and can see how each mental-distress issue is often, partially or wholly connected to one of them because they ONLY control part of the brain’s ‘geography’ for lack of a better term. Anyway, we used the concepts of neural plasticity to help re-connect the various ‘alters’ once the majority of the trauma was resolved, but the process of them learning to connect so that one ‘alter’s’ issue (say eating disorder issues) can be balanced by another’s strength in that area…is a frustrating and long-drawn out process…but my wife/my girls are slowly getting there.
    (edit: I guess I’ll add, since most people don’t rise to the level of my wife’s d.i.d., that the partial dissociation that all of us experience to greater or lesser degree depending on the individual trauma we have experienced, still affects the mental-health issues in a similar manner that you are likely to see in your practice…)

    I wish you well. Sorry this is the abbreviated answer, but don’t let your detractors get you down here. Not everyone believes mental health issues are caused by the mental health industry. My wife was never in the system at all.
    Take care,

  • Yes, attachment theory has made ALL the difference in our experience. For those who watched United States of Tara, that series was produced with guidance from one of the top d.i.d. specialists in the world…and as I watched it I thought how sad it was if THIS is what the top specialist in the world considered ‘normal’ experience for a family touched by d.i.d.

    Ours has been completely different. I did a review of the differences in the show and our experience a few years back, but our experience is even MORE different at this point as ALL the girls (8 ‘alters’ it total) are securely attached to me and 2 asked to become pre-engaged to me, and one of those is ready to become fully engaged with me. But beyond that our family, my wife, our son and I have become closer as we journeyed thru this together, not torn apart like the family in the series…

    Most people don’t have good enough insurance to afford good therapy, and even those who afford it, can’t find good options like Soteria. But in the end it’s the families, friends and SO’s who are in the trenches 24/7, NOT the professionals. And we can make ALL the difference if we know how to support our loved ones, but also connect the entire family and not make it ONLY about the survivor. It still takes me and my wife a LOT of work to make sure our 27-year old son still feels connected and attached to us and not like his mother’s issues are the only ones that count.

    Sadly MIA seems unable to comprehend that if they really want to change the equation in the mental health arena, then we, the family, SO’s and friends are where to start, NOT the ones in mental distress because… they are in distress. When someone is drowning, it’s the ones around them that have to learn how to rescue them while we refute and reject the bizarre independence of this culture that would suggest ’empowering’ someone who is currently overwhelmed and drowning. But instead family and friends have been brainwshed into thinking you call the ‘professionals’ or God forbid the police, when someone is in distress and it goes down hill from there. There is a place for the professionals, I believe, but it is as a collaborator with the family as I believe Soteria believes. I wish my wife’s counselor understood that, but since she didn’t, I had to learn it on my own.

  • Robert,
    I think until MIA figures out how to appropriately deal with the family members who are actually in the trenches with their loved ones, dealing with the fallout 24/7 of mental distress, keeping them off the drugs and not allowing forced hospitalizations, providing the attachments and safe haven and everything else that goes with helping someone heal from severe childhood trauma…this website will continue to cater to only 2 of the 3 legs in this equation. If you look back over this entire discussion it’s all about either the ‘professionals’ or the ‘survivors’. The only mention of family was derisively about NAMI. You may not remember the private email conversation we had with some of the other staff and founders, but in the end I was told point blank that my perspective was NOT desired on the website unless my wife validated it…doesn’t matter what I’ve done, accomplished, sacrificed to make her experience so radically different than most here who got sucked up into the system. But most family members feel lost and overwhelmed at the thought of doing what I did…I know I did the first few years until I learned that I really did have more ability and knowledge and power to help my wife heal than ANY professional who would see my wife an hour or two each week…in some ways I wish we hadn’t had that conversation as my attitude was never quite the same here…knowing I wasn’t really welcome here…the proverbial unwelcome third wheel in a discussion that I feel I have so much to offer…but not here…and so mostly I’ve moved on…and part of me is loathe to even make this comment as I, too, am tired of getting attacked…

  • My biggest concern about ex-patients/trauma victims who go on to become therapists is that too many of them simply haven’t dealt with their own issues and then they get triggered by their patients’ issues and it gets ugly quickly. I’m not saying that’s the case with Noel as I have no personal knowledge, but I’ve seen tons of patients on wordpress who have to deal with therapists’ issues that end up further traumatizing them.

    And I speak from experience: until I dealt with my own issues, my wife and I were simply in a vicious circle. Once I got my stuff together, she couldn’t trigger me. She can and still does hurt me, but now I’m able to process it for what it is and continue to help her despite that….

  • Frank,

    Just watched a movie on Hulu starring David Tennant about Laing. It was interesting, though if it was accurate, I feel Laing failed because he had a savior complex. He was trying to be a ‘safe haven’ for too many people. It takes a ton out of me to do that for just my wife, and he tried to do it for all those in his care at his Kingsley house or whatever it was called. It was an interesting movie, but a little sad by the outcome.

  • Oldhead,

    After I made my first comment to you, I began to wonder if my approach to these various movements has been all wrong. For the first 20 years of my marriage, my wife and I were in a slow death spiral. I would give to get, like most of us do. But she was so engulfed in her pain, that she wasn’t able to respond in kind. So then I would be in a huff…until I would try again…over and over and over…until I finally broke the cycle and began to love her unconditionally. And it was ONLY when I began to love her unconditionally that she began to open to the fact that she wasn’t able to do the same….and maybe that’s how I should view these various movements. These are the cries of people who simply want to be loved unconditionally, and until that happens they will never feel safe to open themselves to pulling back the curtain to address whatever trauma might be there…

  • Oldhead,

    I have no problem with diversity. I’ve been fairly immersed in the LGBT world ever since my wife was diagnosed with d.i.d. as many of my fellow bloggers are from that community. And our closest ‘couple’ friends are a trans couple. I don’t get much chance to be culturally inclusive as I live in small town Ohio, but I try to live the golden rule no matter what and no matter who.

    My problem is the indiscriminate acceptance of diversity when at least some of it is based on the mind’s attempt to cope with pain and dissociation. In my opinion, Mad Pride, Neuro-diversity movement, Hearing Voices and a host of other movements exacerbate this problem in their attempts to affirm the people whom society discriminates against. So, imo, they are addressing one problem (discrimination, public shaming and coercion) while they still leave the pain from the trauma and the dysfunction from the dissociation unaddressed. And though it is a step forward, since I don’t believe most of psychiatry or psychology’s tactics work, it still leaves these people engulfed in the aftermath of whatever trauma they have suffered.

  • SDP,

    Mad Studies is anything BUT critical psychiatry as Emily and I have been going round and round about it’s uncritical acceptance of all things ‘mad.’ As much as I am happy for Emily that she feels it saved her life, simply normalizing ALL experiences isn’t helpful to those of us who realize that some ways work better than others in our daily lives. And I’m pretty sure this all goes back to the Left’s uncritical acceptance of ‘diversity’ as that concept seems to pop up over and over and over on this site, and so we are right back to the intractable culture wars, sigh, which on this site have been won by the Left.

    Ironically, I’m the one who struggles more with my wife’s healing and the natural integration that is occurring between the 8 girls in her group, than they are. 2 of the girls have assumed more and more of the ‘fronting’ duties for the others. And so despite what Emily probably thinks, I actually miss the days when the 8 acted more individualistically than now when they act more as a group. They are all still there. I can call any of them out when I want and they can jump out any time they want, but when one heals the trauma and removes the dissociation, it would seem, at least in my wife’s case, that the personality moves toward integration and not remaining separate.

  • I do wish you understood that they are an example of what happens when dissociation becomes so hardened that part of the person views another part as ‘the other’ or ‘an alien’. Some of the girls in my wife’s group still, kind of, see the others that way, and yet, they’ve come to the conclusion, after a lot of healing and the dissociation dissolving, that they work better when they work together as a cohesive group. I believe MIA even discussed this in Ron’s most recent blog here when he talked about psychosis.

    Again, I do wish you well,

  • I wish you well in this endeavor, Emily.

    I’m not sure I saw anything about dissociation in your series. It’s the direct outcome of trauma and the earlier in life the trauma is experienced the more hardened the dissociation becomes…and the more it wreaks havoc on a person’s personality and mental states. Most people don’t get the chance to see it close up, not even many in the d.i.d. community because so many of them, imo, take the exact wrong approach and desperately do all they can to avoid the dissociation (only 6% allow their d.i.d. to become ‘florid’), whereas my wife and I fully embraced it, and I believe it made all the difference in her healing.

    Essentially it allowed me to see how so many extreme states (which aren’t chemically induced) are a direct result of the fracturing/dissociation caused by early childhood trauma. And just because someone doesn’t have d.i.d. doesn’t mean they haven’t been affected by dissociation. It’s a spectrum issue and we all are affected by it as we all suffer trauma to varying degrees.

    Anyway, maybe someday you would find that as key a concept to understand as I did when it comes to the entire concept of mental health, mental health states and even the formation of our personalities and include it in your studies.

  • Rachel,
    I was raised a conservative, evangelical Christian and even have a ministry degree…and I’m really NOT sure I understand your statement about extreme states being sinful according to the Bible???? Now I know that some (ignorant) Christians consider my wife’s d.i.d. as a form of demon possession, especially if they would have talked to my wife’s defender in the beginning (gravelly voice filled with hatred and vitriol), but which ‘extreme states’ are you talking about that would be considered sinful???

  • Matt,
    I haven’t read thru the comments: so I’m not responding in any way to any of them.

    If you want this ‘movement’ to reach some critical mass, then get it out of the domain of the “Left” and find some common ground with the other half of the country. As someone who used to be on the Right, but now, happily and firmly lives in the middle, I have grown tired of the smugness of both sides. You mention Black Lives Matter and the LGBT movement and others, and the Right would point to the defense of the unborn and a host of social outreaches that are largely missing on the Left.

    This website is so Left leaning, that it is a little tiring hearing all the self-righeous moralizing assumptions that come from the main commenters. I often wonder why the founders of the website are largely absent, and I’ve been told, moving on.

    In the past I’ve tried to argue for the key place that SO’s and families hold in turning the tide on this scourge against our common humanity, but instead I get treated more like I’m the enemy and a NAMI spy than embraced as someone who has NEVER seen my wife’s d.i.d. as anything other than a quite logical reaction to terrible trauma. And yet if we SO’s who don’t take the typical route and drug or institutionalize our mates, complain even slightly about how hard it is day in and day out to help our loved one heal and all the sacrifices it requires to do so, then we are attacked like we are shaming those with mental health issues and they should just be allowed to be whatever they want to be as if their issues occur in some kind of magical bubble that doesn’t affect anyone else.

    So, until you open up your eyes, get past your Leftist tilt, and embrace not only those struggling with the fallout from mental trauma but those in their sphere of influence, this will just be another piece of a rather tiring culture war that I’m no longer interested in partaking of. I kept my wife out of the mental health system and she is healing better than anything ISSTD can even imagine is possible, and yet I still get attacked like I’m part of that oppressive system.

    I do wish you well. One of my wife’s ‘alters’ has opened my eyes to social justice issues, and I do believe in them, but until all of us find a way to bridge the Left/Right divide and see our common humanity, instead of moralizing about the decadence of the other tribe, we will continue spinning our wheels in the culture wars.

  • Emily said:
    “I did want to clarify that I don’t see healing from trauma as necessarily negative. I just don’t believe it should be the required or expected approach for all cases. If your wife wants to heal and has made that decision for herself then that is great for her. But people should also have the right not to heal and to be accepted for who they are.”

    I agree that people ought to have the same rights concerning their mental health, that they have for their physical health. No one forces someone to have a broken leg set or a cleft pallet fixed or decayed teeth filled or cancer be treated if they are an adult…and yet this website has taken a very curious stance that seems informed by the Left’s uncritical view of diversity and thinks we should ‘celebrate’ a person’s decision to stay mentally unhealthy. Wouldn’t we look at someone a little odd who ‘chooses’ to leave a broken leg broken? Sure it’s his/her choice and right to leave it broken…but who does that? Wouldn’t even those of you on the Left wonder about such a choice? Is there no end to the uncritical acceptance of diversity if you are on the extreme Left?

    I guess I’m glad my wife finally, after 20 years of marriage dysfunction and emotional heartache on both our parts chose to try to get better. My wife has full agency in her healing. I do suggest many things, but always with the caveat that, “I will love you no matter what you choose”: and she knows I mean it and never ever make her ‘pay’ for rejecting my suggestions. But I’m glad she’s trying to deal with the trauma and resultant dissociation and all the other things (symptoms) that come from them…though we do focus on the roots and the symptoms tend to take care of themselves…

  • …well since you didn’t respond in any way to my reply…maybe you only care about my views on Missy and Skylar…my views about them are completely irrelevant since 1) I don’t have a relationship with them and 2) they didn’t ask my opinion. It’s unfortunate that the Left feels we must agree with someone’s views, that we must affirm an uncritical stance to ALL diversity or somehow we are setting ourselves up as judges. As someone who has lived intimately with a person who has d.i.d. I have numerous reasons why the route my wife and I have taken is not only better but adheres more closely to the nature of our humanity. Besides, my wife was once where Missy and Skylar are. I didn’t ‘force’ her/them in any direction, but as the lies from the past trauma were replaced with the truth of our love and relational security, the power of the dissociation (the fear and pain from the trauma) dissolved (with help). It saddens me that MIA has diminished its credibility by uncritically publishing stories about issues that it doesn’t understand just because it adheres to some progressive views on diversity. I hope some day you understand that even though diversity is truly a great thing, all diversity is not equal.

  • Hello, Emily, and thank you as always for being willing to engage me thoughtfully and politely.

    Yes, I did read that blog when it was first publish.

    It is so hard to bridge the gulf between your experience and that of the other mental health system survivors on this website, and the experience my wife and I have had as we walk the healing journey together totally outside that system. I use words that I feel are obvious, and yet I can tell by your reaction and that of many others here, that they seem to be taken just the opposite of my intentions. And I’m not sure how to overcome that.

    When I talk of healing, I’m not talking about outward ‘traits’ like one’s weight or personality. I’m talking about untangling all the lies associated with the past abuse. Releasing my wife from her abuser’s lies like ‘you are MY girl” and “no one else will ever want you” and “I will kill your family if you ever tell them” and the feelings associated with the abuse of being dirty and feeling utter terror and the physical pain. But it also meant undoing the feelings of being all alone and unloved by her emotionally distant parents. I have spent 10 years undoing each of the 8 girl’s feelings of being unloved and unlovable, by filling each of them with happiness and joy and companionship when they had been lost and forgotten inside for over 4 decades. When they express wants and desires, I make it clear that it is my great privilege to meet those needs. When the littlest girls want me to care for them just as any little child dreams of a daddy caring for her/him, after I get home from 10-hour shifts each day, I never make them regret asking for my help or needing me to take care of them while I also manage most of the house and serve them dinner and whatever else they ask. Unlike her/their parents who couldn’t be bothered by their daughter’s needs, I relish in the chance to love them and care for them and they know it.

    I truly am sorry that you see healing and treatment negatively. For us healing and treatment has meant I had to learn to be a safe and gentle man for each of the girls (‘alters) no matter what each girl needed even when it has meant repeated, temporary celibacy as 3 of the girls healed and connected to the others. It meant I had to resolve my anger as I made a renewed commitment to live with and love my one and only love despite all the difficulties that her d.i.d. brings to our relationship . And for her she has learned to be loved, to be cherished, to be released from the lies of the past and as the dissociative walls have come down between the 8 girls, I’ve taught them to respect and care for and help and work with each other… and that’s all. I don’t have some mold of conformity that I demand of her/them. Instead I feel like I’ve had the privilege of watching her be reborn from the ashes of her trauma and spread her wings like the glorious phoenix as each girl adds to their collective beauty.

    Yours Sam

  • Sizeism, Sanism and Paternalism. Growing up on the Right, I really struggle with this kind of stuff. My wife and I like to watch TED talks to expand our understanding of issues, especially those outside our upbringing. We didn’t make it thru the one on a similar topic. But I have sat with your blog and tried to listen and hear what’s behind it even though I do disagree with some of your points.

    It’s always wrong to fat-shame. I never ever do it and can’t even imagine some of the stuff I read and how cruel others can be. Whatever happened to the Golden Rule, sigh? But then again, I have never ever ‘crazy-shamed’ my wife for having d.i.d., not ever. When she got the diagnosis, it helped me put the pieces of the puzzle together why our marriage had struggled for the first 20 years and allowed me to begin to walk with her in a much more gentle and understanding way.

    I struggle to understand the desire to make obesity and/or severe mental health issues ‘normal’ on this website and elsewhere. I try to see it as an understandable reaction when so many have been so cruelly treated. I just don’t think I’ll ever get to the point of seeing it as ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’; however, that doesn’t mean I believe it’s my place to ‘fix’ my wife and certainly not others with whom I have no relationship. So I wouldn’t get in a face-to-face argument with others about their relative physical or mental health: I have enough issues of my own to worry about. But for my wife, her issues have pushed me to be the best, most healthy and balanced person I can be as I walk with her, and as we interact I try to provide her the love, stability and attachment she needs as she heals. However when she makes certain, definitive proclamations about herself/her personality, I usually deflect and just say, “we don’t know how you will be once all of you girls get connected, so let’s just wait until then…” because the other girls have radically changed ‘who’ my wife as a whole is at this point. My main focus for her is the trauma and dissociation and not the outward reflection of her current inward state.

    Thanks for giving me a glimpse of the pain others have to endure, and I will continue to try to hear that and not focus on the areas where we may disagree.

  • Just because the dsm is corrupted and has been co-opted by big pharma and big insurance doesn’t mean people don’t suffer from real mental health issues. Trauma victims do suffer dissociation and dissociation is a nightmare to undo when it’s left for decades like my wife’s. So I hope Ron won’t affirm your simplistic challenge. When my wife got her d.i.d. diagnosis, it finally gave us something to grasp and understand and ONLY then did we finally understand what had been plaguing our marriage for 20 years. She has come so far in the last 10 years, and it started with the diagnosis. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I kept her out of the mental health system completely, found an unlicensed counselor, and realized our son and I were the best people in the world positioned to undo all the attachment issues my wife had suffered which are at the root of d.i.d.

  • How it seems with my wife is that some of the girls definitely struggle with low-self esteem and the tendency to blame themselves for anything and everything that goes wrong, but that seems to be very different than the constant negative memories and lies that her mother or the abuser fed her. Both girls who struggle with esteem issues have come a long way, but her mother is still toxic at times and I constantly hear that ‘my mother wouldn’t like this’ though they tend to do it anyway as she’s not really a part of our lives and lives 2 hours away. But even on that front her mother’s negativity is less and less powerful because the other girls who don’t care about their mother’s opinion can help the ones that do…

  • Hi Fiachra,
    I’m not totally sure I understand your question…my wife was an early childhood trauma victim…since her parents were wrapped up in their own issues, there was no one to help her process the trauma and so those memories got sequestered (dissociated). They always bled out some, but 10 years ago she purposefully began to embrace them with my help…and as we brought the memories, voices, pain, etc back out…after the healing, we discovered those other girls (alters) controlled huge amounts of personality traits and mental skills she, my wife, had lost access to. And so, to answer your question, yes those other voices hold all kinds of perspectives and skills and traits my wife formerly never had. On my blog I make the analogy that my wife, kind of, was ‘flat-Sam-ish’ but now as she connects to the other girls she has become much more…I don’t know…more in so many ways…vibrant, vivacious, beautiful, adventurous, emotionally expressive and less…of a wallflower, someone willing to stand up for things…

    Just rambling at this point…not sure I answered your question…

  • Hi Little Turtle,

    for my wife her panic attacks were caused when unresolved feelings of terror/fear from the past abuse and trauma was triggered by something in the present. As I helped her heal and resolve the issues from the past, the present lost its power to trigger those feelings. She tells me she still gets ‘triggered’ but at this point its much milder and what I would consider more typical of what most non-traumatized people experience. There’s still work to do, but she no longer gets overwhelmed like she used to be.

  • Phoenix…I’ll take that candle, lol…

    When girl #7 came out she was mute and I had no idea what to do. I’d been wooing her out for more than a year, and then when she finally came out, she couldn’t talk. I didn’t know what to do for a couple of months and we happened to be in D.C. and our son always loves to go to the big Catholic Churches there since they are architecturally so beautiful. And I think we were in St. Matthew’s…no in the National Basilica to Mary, anyway, I’m Protestant from birth, but saw those candles, and threw a Hail Mary and lit a candle, and that night I discovered that little girl knew sign language…and from there I connected with her until she co-opted another girl’s voice and now she is fully healed…but now girl #8 has me completely lost how to move her forward…we’ve been stuck for nearly 3 years…and I just don’t know what to do to move her forward…and we’ve been celibate 2 years just trying to get her to feel safe which adds MAJOR stress to everything else, sigh…just not sure what to do or how to help her…she’s been a conundrum and unlike ANY of the previous girls..sigh…

    Maybe the candles are just ‘superstition’ and yet I’ve come to realize the power of believing in a ‘higher power’ even if I’m not sure the higher power is actually there. Without my wife’s devout Christian beliefs, I wouldn’t be able to ‘pray’ certain fundamental changes into the structure of how the ‘alters’ interact with each other in what is called their ‘inner world.’ and so I’ve come to appreciate the ‘power of belief’ even if it’s not necessarily something I completely believe in…if the person believes it is real, that belief can give them the power to heal and move past their self-imposed limitations…

    Oh, as for how the ‘alters’ work…there is debate in the d.i.d. world about ‘who the original is’ but I believe they were all part of the original and so none of them by herself is the original but each is also far more than a mere placeholder or ‘ghost’ as you put it: each is fundamentally essential if my wife is ever to be ‘whole’ and complete again someday.

    When the abuse subsided, most of the other girls went dormant and with them they took huge swaths of my wife’s personality traits and even some of her mental abilities (like one little girl was the ONLY one of the 8 who could figure out how to set their alarm clock, and another little girl was the only one who could meticulously sort and categorize 15,000 digital cutfiles the others had amassed for their crafting…) and so maybe if you think of a mannequin that gets broken and each piece has a real function and was part of the original and yet it develops its own identity separate from the whole, not realizing it’s part of the whole because it can’t remember back that far, but the part that is left to front to the rest of the world (called the host) tries to carry on pretending to be ‘whole’ and yet can still feel the pain and loss of the others pieces..but has no idea how to reassemble everything…

    Again I deal with my philosophy and observations about ‘how this works’ on my blog if you are interested…others have different ideas, but so far these principles have kept us moving in a reasonably good direction without too many setbacks…it’s just a long and slow process..

    Again I wish you and Gabi and Rossa well!

  • Yes, there are parts of this journey that are truly wonderful. I feel like I’ve been part of seeing huge areas of my wife come back from the ‘death’ her trauma caused her long before I ever knew her. And as I helped each girl heal and mature, each one is pretty awesome and adds so much to our marriage already and I can’t wait until each fully matures and wants to marry me like the 1st of the 2 Millennials.

    As far as how they perceive themselves…well…it’s kind of complicated, again, sorry…Each of the girls sees herself as a completely individual person, period. Some of the girls still wish for their own bodies and hope when she gets to heaven she will get her own body. But my own philosophy is that these girls, including my wife’s host the only adult of the group, are all larger and smaller parts of the woman I married, and as I help them heal and interconnect to each other they are becoming more and more dependent upon each other’s strengths and becoming an ‘integrated group’ as the dissociation dissolves between them…but I still interact with them independently or as a group depending on the needs of the moment as expressed by each girl(s).

    As for the trauma, well some of them know more than others. I feel that ISSTD gets it backwards. They force knowledge of the trauma on the host in a misguided attempt to bring that trauma into the personal narrative. But my wife’s counselor and I have taken the opposite approach, where we help the girl who already holds the knowledge of that trauma deal with it and heal it. And then it kind of filters through to the others in time. It’s much less re-traumatizing that way.

    I just did an article on my blog about teaching my wife how to control the switching process between the girls so that all 8 girls can switch at will now, instantaneously.

    Thanks for the well wishes. I wish you the same in your relationship and hope all continues to go well.

  • Hi Phoenix,
    thanks for the link to the waltz. I loved it and the wonderful picture of two people in harmony. There is so much truth to that analogy. There is so much truth in your comment that I must both embrace the traditional role of the male as I have literally carried her thru parts of the healing process, and also the modern ideals because I have to be so in tune with her that she never feels forced and never feels as if she loses her agency. When I cross that line, she quickly shuts down, and then I have to step back and restart the dance…

    I also love it because so much of her healing came as I filled her with love, joy, laughter and happy memories, something that she didn’t have much of during her childhood. In that respect the d.i.d. gave me unfiltered access to the ‘parts’ of her that were hurt the worst and so I could directly fill those girls with love and happiness. And in doing so, those experiences helped to crowd out the emptiness and neglect she suffered beyond the abuse.

    The healing is also in the intimacy of the dance: feeling someone in intimate contact and yet knowing you are safe and not being violated in any respect: intimate, passionate, and yet appropriate no matter which girl I was with. Most trauma victims withdraw from intimacy because their boundaries were violated, and so I have had to help my wife feel safe as she opened up those boundaries to a man who never violates them, but has taught her the joy of being connected to another.

    I do understand the peril women in my position can be in. I never feared for my life or physical well being, despite watching the terrible caricatures that Hollywood produces of people with d.i.d. Just saw another one last night on Father Brown Murder mysteries, sigh, which really upset one of the girls. I got some bruises, but they were never intentional, just part of living closely with someone who used to experience panic attacks and flashbacks as I walked her through those.

    I am so sorry that people undercut you when you were in my position. It seems to go with the territory: people who are cynical about ‘what we get out of a dysfunctional relationship’ instead of trying to understand the power of love, faith and hope for happier days.

    As far as the imbalance, just like a good parent seeks the full maturity of one’s child, that is what I’m doing with each of the girls. When the other 7 girls joined my life and family, they all presented as littles, 8 years old and under (after I got past the defender’s bravado and vitriol). But now two of the girls have healed and matured to the point where they present as 20-something Millennials and each are pre-engaged with me, and one of them wants to get fully engaged, but is waiting on the last girl to get connected better. The other 5 girls are in the strange mixture that alters live in as they heal: still presenting as ‘littles’ and yet more and more living in the adult world and enjoying adult things.

    And so that is what I work for with everything that is within me as I dance with my wife and gently move her toward full healing and emotional maturity as I have no desire for this imbalance to remain permanently.

    Outside my relationship with her, I just wish I could find camaraderie and sure a little validation, but I also hurt for those who are still struggling and haven’t found what we found in attachment theory. Each time I read a story here or elsewhere where it ends badly, a part of me wishes I could share what we discovered. The obsessive independence of our culture is the root of so many of our problems. We are strongest when our relationships are strong. And when someone is in distress, the strength of the relationships surrounding that person can act as a ‘safe haven’ until the emotional storms have passed. Moreover, those relationships actually foster healing…but sadly my voice is lost in the maelstrom of our culture’s dysfunction…and instead I see so many people looking to ‘snake oil’ cures instead of love, connectedness and the safety of being securely attached to others.

    And on this site they silence the very group that has the most power to change the dynamics of the entire mental health issue because when the SO’s and families don’t know what to do…they call the ‘experts’ never realizing their own power to do what no expert can do. I’m not anti-therapist, or anti-psychiatry/psychology, however. I think it has a place and could teach those of us in the trenches how to best help those in distress…but it is we, the SO’s and families, who truly hold the power to help those in distress, if we only understood it…

  • Hi Phoenix,
    thanks for both of your kind and thoughtful replies. No, I don’t see myself as a martyr in any sense of the word: I’m desperately trying to reach a win/win for me and my wife. She’s the only woman I have EVER been with. She’s my first love. The only one I’ve ever told, “I love you.” I saved those words and myself for her, and I so desperately want us to both have the happy ending I still dream of.

    Yes, even our son, who was so instrumental in helping me when the ‘alters’ first started joining us, told his mother he thinks we are co-dependent. I just laugh at another psycho-babble term that is so descriptive of our hyper-independent, western culture. Of course, I like to be with my wife: I’ve made a point of making a life WITH her, and it’s what’s kept us together despite all the hardships and heartaches of her d.i.d.

    As for the ‘imbalance’ in our relationship…well I don’t have a good or easy answer. It’s very complicated…I essentially live in two worlds, simultaneously. For the last 10 years my wife’s ‘littles’ (that’s d.i.d. speak for alters who present themselves as small children, say 1-7 years old) have dominated our home life. I simultaneously treat them as my equals, ‘parts’ of my fractured wife, but also how they want me to treat them, as the daddy figure they never had who loves, cares for and protects them. I had an aunt by marriage who cared for my uncle with MS who eventually died from it in his 40’s after he wasted away for more than a decade, and she was always true and faithful to him and is still deeply loved and respected by our family for the way she treated him. And her example greatly impacted me…and as I have done this, I’ve seen my wife, all the girls, grow, heal and connect in a way that the ISSTD experts never see with their patients. But it’s just slow going: no magic pills in any sense of the meaning…

    But back to the how I try to deal with that ‘imbalance’. I guess I reject our culture’s definition of imbalance. I reject the self-centered idea that it’s all about me or that a relationship has to be at least 50/50. Of course, it’s ideal when both partners can give 100% and love and care for each other, and you and I both know how much it hurts when the partner can’t give back, but I believe those ‘old-fashioned’ wedding vows were for a reason. We can’t see the future, and if I drop my wife and run for a ‘better’ woman…karma might decide to be a ‘-itch’ and hit me with some debilitating something and maybe my next spouse will think I’m worth dropping because I can’t keep up my ‘fair share’ of the relationship. And so it’s back to love and giving, the golden rule, not about imbalances and keeping a ledger sheet.

    It’s a struggle every day. But I just keep trying to be goal oriented (win/win) for myself and the woman I love and take it day by day and not let the pain and heartache overwhelm me. I wholly subscribe to attachment theory and it’s repudiation of the foundation that so much of our current psychology is built upon, and even though I have moved away from my evangelical Christian roots, I still subscribe to its teachings on unconditional love, ‘the stronger helping the weaker’, the husband ‘giving himself up for his wife’ and so many of the things that are the ‘best of Christianity’ in my opinion, like “Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends…”

  • Hi Gabi,
    I’ve been told this website is first and foremost about giving the mental-health-system victims a voice, even if it means silencing the voice of loving and involved SO’s. As much as I feel that’s incredibly short sighted of them and even spent some futile time trying to reason that we non-NAMI spouses and families should be a key part of the change they are seeking, it fell on deaf ears. And so I have tried to move on, not wanting to force myself where I’m not really wanted…but it is lonely out there on the internet and real life where you and I simply don’t fit in. And so I come back here from time to time. I often formulate responses to articles I enjoy, but then delete them knowing my perspective is tolerated at best. Or when I do respond, I quickly regret it as my words get twisted, ignored or attacked.

    Personally, I’ve come to the point where I truly do see my wife’s d.i.d. as the ‘enemy’ and when she can’t do something that I need her (desperately) to do, like be part of a two-way relationship, I tell myself it’s the d.i.d. not her, and though that doesn’t take away the pain and heartache, it does keep them directed in the direction I choose so I don’t come to hate her and lash out at her like I used to do.

    I wish I had great words of wisdom for you, but after 8 years of blogging how I have helped my wife and how I have struggled to cope in the midst of it, I am still held in suspicion by nearly all quarters (therapists, trauma victims, even fellow SO’s who just want to victim blame and get a divorce), I know that I’m going to be alone in this and so I take whatever fleeting camaraderie I can find on a day to day basis.

    I do wish you well. I do understand your pain. I wish that mattered, but I know what you and I really need is some true, sympathetic help in so many ways that those on this website simply won’t acknowledge, as if in doing so would somehow invalidate their own struggles, instead of seeing that we are ALL in this together as we try to undo the trauma and neglect that our loved ones suffered from a dysfunctional childhood.


  • Hi Alex,
    for you to make this simplistic equivalency argument makes me wonder if, whatever your issues are, they are pretty mild. And if so, I’m very happy for you. However, though “we’re all on a journey of healing and growth”, some people need much, much, much more help than others.

    When my wife and I started on her healing journey, it took our 17-year old son and me giving her 24-7 coverage to keep her out of the mental health system and off the meds. It was that way for the first 3-4 years until we got her and all the ‘alters’ stabilized and connected enough for things to calm down. Even now, 10 years later I work a 55+ hour job AND do the majority of the work inside and outside the house when I come home (even though she’s technically a full-time ‘housewife’) because the ‘littles’ dominate the outside, non-public time and never had anyone take care of them when they were growing up. And so I submit to their needs as I undo the trauma/neglect she suffered from her parents who didn’t actually commit the sexual abuse but were so wrapped up in their own issues that they didn’t realize what had happened to their daughter under their noses.

    So I respectfully disagree with your argument of simple equivalency and hope you are simply ignorant about how hard it can be for some families and SO’s. I love my wife. I love all her alters. I don’t think I’m a martyr, but sometimes I wonder if your attitude, that I’ve seen in others on this site, is the reason why some of the MIA bloggers are bemoaning the lack of progress in this movement. Many on this site act like those of us who give our all to support our loved ones should be silenced to chants of ‘nothing about us without us’ and treat us suspiciously like we should all be lumped into the NAMI group. It’s no wonder the movement doesn’t go further when that is the prevailing attitude.

  • Hi Gabi,
    I haven’t found any good sites either (there are a few bad ones out there that I have been run off). It’s a little frustrating, and as you’ve said MIA prefers to give voice to the victims over those of us who stay and fight in the trenches to keep our loved ones out of the system. I was happy to see they allowed Rossa to share her story despite the ‘nothing about us without us’ mantra that normally is chanted.
    I’m sorry for the frustration I hear in your reply. I do understand it. An internet friend and I have been talking recently about trying to start something for SO’s, but so far that’s as far as we’ve gotten.

  • Hi Steffen,

    My wife has d.i.d. I’ve been walking thru the healing journey with her using a lot of attachment theory concepts to help her work thru the trauma and undo the dissociation. So that is the lens I see things thru.

    I know you briefly addressed another person’s question about trauma. How does your group understand the practical effects of dissociation? If I wanted, I could try to list the 8 ‘alters’ in my wife’s system, and explain how each girl’s cognitive biases, distortions, delusions, etc are a direct result of dissociation and the resultant fact that each only controls a portion of the mental faculties of a non-dissociated person. It wasn’t until I helped heal the underlying trauma which then gave me access to connect the girls internally that those distortions, bias and delusions were foundationally altered.

    There are still 3 holdouts in my wife’s system, and so those 3 girls (alters) tend to default to their unique distortions even though I have them superficially connected to the others in the system…but until I can remove the internal barriers via a restructuring of their internal working model, I understand that any progress they make externally is limited though moving toward permanency.

    I know that’s an extremely simple explanation of what has occurred over the last 10 years that she and I have walked this journey together…so I will just summarize saying, unless you address the underlying dissociation that is likely at the base of much of what you are seeing in the distortions, delusions, etc, I’m afraid your therapy ‘may’ be temporary.
    I wish you well,

    Note: maybe I should add that some people like to differentiate d.i.d. from schizophrenia by saying the voices are internal versus external, but I have to wonder about that arbitrary delineation. When my wife first started hearing the ‘voices’ she thought they were external, too. She called them aliens. But I redirected her by gently insisting they HAD to be internal and thus part of her ‘system’. It took her a few years to fully embrace the other girls, alters if you prefer, but now she recognizes them as part of her internal mental system.

  • Hi Rossa,

    It’s so nice to meet someone else who understands the power of walking WITH someone in distress. My wife has d.i.d. and that’s what I’ve done these last 10 years. I didn’t dictate, but I also didn’t shy away from being 100% involved in her healing process or what I often call “our healing journey” on my blog. And we found what you found: most of her healing has been completely outside what the mainstream tells everyone is best.

  • I have been trying to figure out how to personally address the entire, uncritical acceptance of “diversity” pushed by the Left. I understand that it seems to be a pushback against some of the uglier things from the Right, but sadly this unfettered celebration of all diversity will damn many into a lifetime of pain and dysfunction. I’m far more conversant in the push to uncritically accept ‘diversity’ in the area of hearing voices since my wife has d.i.d., and it saddens me to read some of the stuff from the Hearing Voices Network. I can respect my wife’s agency. I can treat her lovingly and kindly. I never treated her like she was crazy. I recognize that she is literally a genius and joke about me being the family ‘idiot’ now that our son is in a PhD. program. But that didn’t mean I had to celebrate her d.i.d. and all the pain and dysfunction that comes with it. I give my wife’s host and all her ‘alters’ my love unconditionally, but I also walk with her and gently move her toward a healthier existence as I have helped release her from the trauma, pain and lies from her past. But if I had uncritically celebrated her ‘diversity’ like I see being pushed by the Hearing Voices Network and what seems to be a similar move within the autistic community and elsewhere, she would never had a chance to experience a release from her trauma paradigm as she has begun to experience the benefits of being emotionally healthy and ‘securely attached’.

  • “Michael Meaney of McGill University has shown how early-life stress permanently blunts the ability of the brain to rein in glucocorticoid secretion…”

    when these so-called experts make definitive statements, I get skeptical…especially after my wife and I continue to accomplish things in her healing that the ‘experts’ say can’t be done…like shutting off her hyper-arousal that kept her in a heightened state of stress…It can be done…

    I could be wrong, but stress is still one step away from the real problem even if I give you the assertion that some people default at higher stress levels (which is a BIG if)…thus, stress is a symptom not a cause. For my wife the cause was her childhood trauma, for others it may be something else, but I didn’t address the stress, I addressed the trauma and now the hyper-arousal, i.e. stress, is gone…

  • Hi Craig,
    my wife has d.i.d. I have shepherded her healing using attachment theory among other things. I get frustrated by her ignorance of how lucky we got as she never used any drugs nor got caught in the mental health system. I have struggled to show her how detrimental these drugs are while she defends all the women she knows who uses them. So I sent her your 4 charts and hope, maybe, a picture will be worth a 1000 words to her.

  • 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…

  • Hi Robert,

    I’ll throw you a ‘bone’ as I’m more of a ‘reformer’ like you than an abolitionist like the majority on this site.

    My wife has d.i.d. and as with most people who suffer this, she has excruciating headaches. It might be one place where a biological understanding of the brain could help…

    This is my guess as I’ve watched the 8 girls (alters) heal from the trauma and then connect to each other: I think the extreme headaches have something to do with the ‘reconnection process’. I’ve read that d.i.d sufferers have actual grey matter loss in the brains (I think). And the worst of the headaches ALWAYS correlate when the ‘new girl’ on the outside begins to internally connect with the others. So I’ve wondered if the headaches somehow are connected to the re-vitalization of her neural connections between the once-dissociated girls (alters)…maybe the regrowth of gray matter, if that’s possible…anyway, I’ve watched her become un-functional from the headaches as each girl ‘moves ahead’ to connect internally and then the headaches, mostly, subside at the new plateau point until one of them moves forward again with a deeper internal connection.

    I’m probably not explaining it well, but deep dissociation does cause real brain issues and not simply ‘mind’ issues. This would be a place that I wish the MD’s could figure out how to help lessen the headaches while the re-vitalization of the neural synapses is occurring between the various girls (alters).

  • Hi Eric,

    as the husband of a wife with d.i.d., the ultimate voice hearing from trauma, I’ve been trying to think of what I would advise parents to do so that SO’s like me aren’t stuck trying to figure out how to undo 40+ years of neglecting the trauma.
    1) I would suggest the parents validate the voices. Learn to accept what the voices are saying whether or not what they are saying is ‘rational’ or ‘reasonable’. Sometimes healing comes just from ‘saying the unmentionable and unsay-able’. But it’s also learning that validation of what is being said doesn’t mean validating the accuracy of the statement. It’s more about validating the child so that they feel ‘heard’. If only my in-laws had ‘heard’ their daughter when the abuse was going on even if all the particulars weren’t exactly accurate. But too many times we adults worry about specifics rather than grasping the underlying meaning and the power of HEARING someone’s plea to be heard!
    2) If the voices desire it, ENGAGE them. When my wife’s insiders began to heal, so much of it came from being engaged by me and our son on the outside. It’s not creepy or weird when I talk with the 8 different girls, using 4 different voices all emanating from my wife’s mouth. It may feel a little odd at first, but I allowed my wife’s voices (insiders) to show me what they needed in their relationship with me, and I got used to it rather quickly.
    3) Engagement and validation will NOT cause greater separation long term, though it might in the short term. Too often I hear the argument that ‘if you engage the voices, you’ll make the separation greater.’ What I have learned with ALL 8 girls, is that there is, indeed, a temporary, greater separation that occurs as that part of my wife’s clings to me for love, safety and healing, but then there seems to be an irresistible pull for each of the girls to be interconnected and she is now better integrated than most people I know who have no history of trauma.

    Anyway, I learned to enter into my wife’s world when I validated the voices. I didn’t try to refute them. I engaged them on their own terms, and then slowly I walked with them to a more healthy place as they connected with each other.

  • Hi Sera,
    I followed the link from your recent comment over to this blog. I’m sure you probably aren’t watching this anymore, but I thought I’d still ad my $.02.

    As much as I appreciate so much of what you say, and for that matter, so much of what you say in ALL your blogs, I still think you are missing the point of peer even though you keep stating it. In my mind the 2, and ONLY 2, key things about being a ‘peer’ is 1) equality of the power structure, 2) the perspective of BOTH people being ‘in it together.’

    I have literally, physically and emotionally, carried my wife thru the healing process. Providing her with ‘affect regulation’ and a safe haven when insiders were joining us on the outside and bringing all kinds of PTSD symptoms and so much more that is typical of people with d.i.d. I was her calm in the storm, her safe haven. That doesn’t happen from a safe distance: it happens by jumping in the maelstrom, swimming to the person that is drowning emotionally, and holding them emotionally and physically, so that the words, “It’s ok. I’ve got you now. You are safe. You aren’t alone anymore” have real meaning.

    Our ‘common experience’ is NOT the abuse: I had a nearly idyllic childhood in comparison. Our common experience is that, like the song says, I have literally ‘walked thru hell with you.’

    I never saw my wife as crazy or less than me. H3ll, I joke that I’m the family idiot compared to her and our son. I never treat her or ANY of the other girls, even the littles who present themselves as 1,2 and 3 years olds. It’s just how d.i.d. works, but I walked into her maelstrom and held her hand (or carried her as need be) as we gently, BOTH found our way out of it…together.

    Our commonality is today, not some experience in the past.

  • Hi Sera!
    You probably won’t see this as the thread is getting old, but I wanted to comment on something you said:

    “Based on what you say here, I’d also go several steps further and question your use of the word ‘peer’ in at least two other ways. First, you seem to be using it to mean an identity. Thus, right from the start, you are using the word in a co-opted manner. ‘Peer’ is not an identity you get to claim because you have some particular life experience. ‘Peer’ is a way of relating to other people. It’s an approach. A way of being. You serve to do the work of co-optation of the role simply by changing it to mean something else.”

    I hope some day this view is embraced more. I see myself as my wife’s peer. She and I are in this healing journey together. I view her d.i.d. as the ‘enemy’ and not her. We are ‘fox hole buddies’ when she was going thru all the PTSD crap in the beginning. I NEVER let her go thru it alone, so I could be her ‘safe haven’ and once she realized she wasn’t alone…that’s when she began to heal. When I make suggestions, she/they are free to accept or reject and I always make clear the rejection of my suggestions will NEVER affect the status of our relationship.

    I have to remind myself when reading about ‘peer’ support, they really don’t mean me, even though by your definition, I ought to be welcome. Maybe some day.

  • Hi Sa,
    thanks for your thoughtful reply. No, I’m not blaming the survivors except for the ones who have a chip on their shoulder and seem to feel it’s their right to be as ugly as they want when confronting various authors who come onto MIA and espouse things which (I agree) are NOT in keeping with the tenets of MIA.

    But the mantra “not about me without me” is somewhat misguided. It completely invalidates the real stake that SO’s and family members have. For the first 5 years my wife began her healing I was completely overwhelmed and felt like I was running a 24/7 trauma ER. We had panic attacks, flashbacks, littles hiding or jumping out of cars, nightmares and terrors and so much more I can’t begin to list it, and in the midst of all her chaos, I was drowning because my own needs were completely ignored and yet I still had to hold the family together and her together. It was complete chaos. But now on, mostly, the other side of things, I can look back and see that I and others like me have something to offer, IF this movement will listen and stop treating us like so many SO’s and family members who are part of the problem instead of the solution. We can teach those entering or still in the chaos how to make it thru, how to hold the marriage and family together and, maybe, even how to help the one in distress heal in a way that no therapist can do because we are in the trenches 24/7 and don’t get to draw boundaries about office hours and phones calls or emails and remuneration.

  • Ted,
    I guess I thought I was talking about the function of these conferences and opening them up to a segment of the stakeholders who has yet to be tapped. But after 9 years of being on the internet blogging and vainly trying to participate in various survivor communities, I see plenty of places for professionals to participate including here at MIA, and plenty of places for survivors to participate including her at MIA, but I have been unable to find any place for those who are supporting…unless you want to say that NAMI is viable.

    You may think that you have the ‘most at stake’, but I would disagree as I tried to point out in my original post. The professionals who stand against the tide and in so doing sabotage their own potential aspirations sacrifice a lot. And SO’s and family members lose all kinds of opportunities as well as the secondary trauma that they suffer.

    So until you and other abuse survivors stop minimizing the stake that the rest of us have in this movement, it only hurts the movement itself.

  • Maybe I muddied my reply by including Harper’s complaint in my response as everyone seems to be missing the MAIN POINT of my reply…

    The original post and question was why hasn’t the movement gone further and what can be done toward that direction. I tried to point out that there really ought to be 3 components to this movement: therapists, ‘consumers’ and ‘support.’ And yet on MIA and almost everywhere I go, I am nearly an anomaly. I’ve been told my blog is the only one of its kind where a husband is deeply involved and even leading his wife’s healing. That shouldn’t be. And in fact, I think it may be part of the reason the movement on MIA and elsewhere hasn’t taken greater root. Until family members, SO’s and close friends step up and realize they are the BEST hope for someone experiencing ‘extreme states’, what other option does someone in that position have than the mental health system. And yet I’m told that on MIA I’m not allowed to have a voice unless my wife joins me.

    But that’s the entire problem: until people in my situation realize we can do what NO expert can do because we are in the trenches 24/7 with our distressed loved ones, things won’t get better. It breaks my heart every time I read an article about a family who calls the police because a family member is in distress and the police end up killing the person. Seriously? Not only is that an egregious wrong, but why the h3ll did they call the police when they are the ones BEST suited to calm someone in distress if only they understood the concepts of safe haven and affect regulation according to attachment theory.

    So, no, my post wasn’t whining about comment moderation. It was about a call to MIA to realize that until they welcome people like me fully, this entire movement is missing one of the 3 legs it has to stand on. My wife is doing fine, in fact, better than fine from a disorder that most therapists won’t even touch. I’m no saint or hero: I just refused to quit. But a lot of people in my situation get scared or don’t know where to start and so they simply capitulate to the ‘authorities’ and until that stops and until someone helps them realize they hold the key to the healing of their loved one, this movement will continue to falter…imo.

  • The ‘pot shots’ comments was just more in general. I do agree with you that on this website it is nearly assumed that the Leftist ideology is the default and Richard passionately argues for that more than many, though I do feel he tries to be as fair as anyone can who believes the ‘other side’ is morally bankrupt as the current feeling is in the mainstream media and centers of higher ‘learning.’ But I actually ‘default’ to the right and then have to claw my way to the center in my attempts to be more balanced thanks to my wife’s issues causing me to, essentially, question everything I was taught growing up…

  • Hi Brett,

    sadly, even with something like my wife’s d.i.d. in which the DSM got the trauma basis right and all of ISSTD has been formed to figure out the ‘best practice’, you are correct that it doesn’t seem to inform the psychiatrists or psychologists much better other than if one happens to be personally more intuitive and insightful. It’s a sad fact that using attachment theory and the concepts of neural plasticity (both actually science based) as my basis for much of what I do to help her heal requires me to do nearly the opposite of the ISSTD guidelines they put out.

    Of course, it’s kind of clear to me that ISSTD really doesn’t understand d.i.d. How can they when they have such a truncated view of it as their therapists only see it in action in the office AND it’s highly unusual for someone, especially therapists, to have 100% access to everyone in the system like I do…and trust me the 3 littlest girls who NEVER talk to my wife’s counselor had the worst trauma and taught me all kinds of things I didn’t have to deal with in the first 4 girls who will talk to the counselor.

  • Richard,

    of all the things I’ve sorted thru from my Christian upbringing, the one thing that I hold on to with absolute resolution is the Golden Rule and ‘greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for another.’ It’s why I do the things I do for my wife even though her inability to return some of the simplest things to me has caused me great heartache for nearly 29 years. I love her fully and without strings.

    On each and everyone of the issues you have listed, I can point out strengths and weaknesses from both ideological sides despite the Left trying to act as if they own the moral high ground. Applying the golden rule to each of these subjects requires me to support so much of what the movements mean, but to break with them when they veer off course, imo. I truly am sorry you seem unable to have the same clarity with the Left’s weaknesses as you definitely have for the Right’s! You are passionate about what you believe and I always find you try to be fair even with others whom you clearly disagree.

  • Richard, your ideology is blinding you just as much as it does the same to those on the right. And as much as I find it a little amusing watching each side take pot shots at each other over who has the ‘better’ arguments and the moralizing about the ‘terrible’ capitalists and the ‘lazy’ socialists, it’s really a disservice to this movement. There are strong and weak points on both sides of the political and philosophical divide, but I’m with Ted and hope we can be a little more pragmatic and work with each other even if we don’t have the same TOTAL foundational reason for doing so other than loving our fellow human beings.

  • Frank, Thanks for the clarification. I have seen both terms used on this site by those who have been caught in the web of the mh system, but I will try to remember this is the preferred one especially since some find it ‘offensive’. I particularly don’t care for either term, as they both imply a choice rather than the victimization that is going on thanks to the deceptive narrative being spun. It’s only by serendipity or grace or whatever someone wants to call it that my wife didn’t end up in the web as well…or maybe it’s because we both grew up on the right and didn’t expect the system/gov’t to do everything for us…but that’s a discussion for another thread…

  • Ssanchez, I’m sorry I didn’t see your question.

    First I’ve spent most of my life identifying as a Christian and thus believing in ‘possession.’ However, 9 years ago when my wife was diagnosed with d.i.d. I had to re-evaluate a LOT of things. When my wife’s defender joined us on the outside..she would have fit the part of a demon very nicely…gravely voice, full of vitriol and rage… I loved her and loved her and loved her…until I got past her defenses and then she morphed into the most beautiful little girl…who has now healed and matured to the point of wanting to get engaged to me.

    Now I realize that’s only one anecdotal story, but from my experience and understanding of d.i.d. and what I read elsewhere, I’d bet my life that most ‘possessions’ aren’t much more than that: dissociated parts of a person which have taken on the characteristics of what we would call ‘devils’ or ‘demons’ as part of a defense mechanism for protection. I spent a lifetime believing in the supernatural only to be disappointed in the complete lack of any compelling evidence. I understand the lack of evidence doesn’t prove there isn’t any out there, but I think my changed position aligns better with the reality of the human experience.

  • If MIA is indicative of the anti/reform psychiatry movement, then I think until there is a restructuring of the players within that movement, it will continue to find itself hindered. There ought to be 3, EQUAL groups partnered in this fight: the ‘professionals’, the ‘users’ and the ‘support’. But in my short time here, I have seen some of the ‘users’ regularly shout down any and all with whom they disagree and then act like they have a right to do so because of their past experiences. In doing so they deny and denigrate the very real, past experiences those of us in the other 2 groups endure. It can’t be easy being a therapist who stands against the prevailing model and all the professional shunning that goes along with that. And it sure as h3ll isn’t easy being an SO that doesn’t cut and run OR force his/her mate into the mental health system, but instead spends 24/7 helping, healing and being in this ‘together.’ Harper isn’t the only one who isn’t allowed to blog here because of her position. And until there is some recognition and respect from the ‘users’ that you can’t do this on your own, I think this movement will continue to falter.

  • Good article. So much of the positive thinking garbage for me, I think, is inherent in my Christian upbringing. “Count your many blessings, name them one by one…” was going thru my head as I read this. There’s a place for that, but there’s also a place for being honest when life sucks and my heart hurts because of so many things…

  • lol, I was waiting for someone to spew that feminist drivel. I have yet to see any of those ‘patriarchal benefits’ in my 29-year marriage, but even if my wife diidn’t have d.i.d., marriage is much more than the simplistic twaddle you seem to feel it is. There are all kinds of studies showing the personal and societal benefits of two people committing to love, honor and cherish each other over a lifetime. I’m sorry you have a such a low view of it, and I’m sorry so many people do a really bad job of ‘being married’, but even with all my wife’s issues and all the pain that her issues have caused me, I’m still glad I’m married, and I can still see how it has benefited her, me and our son.

    edit: and I guess I’ll add, before this becomes some kind of feminist flashpoint, that one of my wife’s ‘alters’, her defender, whom I love and who loves me and has asked for us to get engaged, she and a couple of the other girls are ardent feminists, and I’m ALL for supporting them and their feminist tendencies as I am not at all frightened by a strong woman, but neither am I cowed by one. I push them to grow, mature and strengthen, but I it doesn’t have to deteriorate into some kind of silly battle of the sexes stuff. I win when they win and vice versa.

  • I could be wrong, but it doesn’t appear that Daniel has any interest in dialogue. He seems to be in full attack and defend mode. Unfortunately, in my opinion, he seems to be fighting a ghost enemy from battles in his past as Marilyn is CLEARLY NOT disparaging real autism or anyone in that community. This article is about a pseudo-autism that can be fixed simply by giving children the attention and love they need. That’s a huge difference from the little I know of people who have genuine autism.

  • It’s unfortunate the assault that marriage has been under since the 60’s. There ought to be a HUGE difference in commitment levels between living together and being married though easy divorces have certainly diminished that. Many times have the words, ‘for better or for worse’ come to mind as my wife and I have slugged it out against her d.i.d. And certainly her littles have wanted to know if I loved them ‘forever’ and would ‘never’ leave. Living together simply lacks the permanence that a trauma victim needs to feel safe enough to open the past back up and begin doing the hard work of healing. As well it’s quite the impetus to me to help her heal rather than both of us spend the rest of our lives in misery or me simply cut and move on.

  • Hey Eric,
    I had meant to make a comment earlier, but got distracted. Just wanted to voice my agreement for much of what you have said in your original comment. It’s unfortunate that Frank is twisting your meaning. I had to learn to give my wife a lot of ‘grace’ as Christians call it. It’s not about treating her like a child BUT realizing that if she’s going to heal, I had to do MORE than my fair share and sometimes, especially in the beginning of her healing journey, I couldn’t hold her responsible for her actions. I understand that it’s harder for a society to make these allowances, but I do wish we’d try. I grew up far-right, but helping my wife heal has definitely moved me toward the center and hopefully made me more empathetic toward others.


  • Thank you, Peter, for giving us ‘the rest of the story. I sent my wife a link to this and your previous blog. I wish I could get her to understand how fortunate we were that we took a different path with her own healing…but thus far she has chosen to stay ignorant of the wholesale issues with psychiatry and big pharma even though I keep trying to help her understand. But she has shown interest in this story nationally, and so I’m hoping you can open her eyes to the larger problem instead of taking her situation for granted. As hard as things have been for us during her healing, they could have been so much worse if she had been caught in the tentacles of ISSTD and their misguided guidelines.

  • In a world where sex abuse is rampant and the understanding of how to help child-abuse victims is rather simplistic, I offered a rather detailed explanation of the various layers and obstacles which I have found need to be addressed before real and complete healing is possible. My wife isn’t there yet, but she is making progress. And unlike your accusation, I, not she, have insisted on various times of celibacy to help her heal and connect to the others, but always with the goal that ALL girls some day will grow, mature, connect and eventually partake fully in their marriage to me.

    I live according to their perspective in which 7 of the 8 don’t see me as their husband, (though 2 of them are willing to do adult things with me because the two ‘girlfriends’ have sufficiently matured), but that doesn’t mean I accept their perspective as ‘healthy.’ It’s not. It’s the result of their cPTSD/d.i.d. and how they were frozen in time from the trauma.

    I will try to be mindful of your opinion in the future and the fact you find this subject triggering. You probably won’t believe this, but I am far safer with the little girls than my wife’s host is. I had to teach her to listen to their fears even though submitting to those fears(like temporary celibacy) while I help them heal and grow has been anything but easy.

  • Actually now I know you are reading things into my comments especially since the opposite is actually what’s happening in our marriage right now as I help girl #8 connect to the other 7 girls. In fact I am the one, not any of the girls or my wife’s host, who insisted we temporarily cease at various times for 3 of the 7 girls while they healed and connected to the others.

    And as for ‘her child parts’… they are all part of my wife’s group and the goal is to help them ALL grow up NOT live in some kind of Peter Pan existence where they never grow up.

  • Ew what? I think you are reading things into my statement for you to say ‘ew’. If you are connecting my example of one’s sex drive with the statement ‘do it with the other girls’ then I am sorry for the misunderstanding…the ‘it’ at that point is simply any task they are attempting, NOT a euphemism for the people who can’t say the word ‘sex’. Otherwise, I really don’t understand your issue with helping connect all the girls so their truncated abilities work together like a football team where each player has a specialty, but none of them can play the entire game on his own…

  • This article is a good start, but it’s only a start…there are 3 key parts that I have found in helping my wife heal from her c-PTSD

    1) The trauma: This is the one area the experts all ‘get’. And untangling the associated lies and subsequent behaviors is extremely important, but it’s only the start of the healing process, and yet so many think by doing this the next two steps can be skipped or forced.

    2) The arrested development: From the article:”Each “persona” or “mode” is rigidly committed to a lack of growth and causes a level of stunted emotional development.” But the matter is much deeper than simply stating it as if it will care for itself after the trauma is addressed. This is a huge issue. Each persona controls personality traits and functioning, and all these have been severely stunted and missed the normal maturation process that untraumatized children experience. The article talks about adults throwing “3-year-old’ like temper tantrums which is true. But think of it in EVERY area that these persona control…and just to add complexity…each persona may only control PART of an area.

    On my blog I dealt with how my wife’s sex drive is clearly divided between 7 of the 8 girls in her system. Each one controls bits of what we would associate with a healthy, normal sex drive. And so a key part of her healing is helping each girl grow and mature and as she does the associated personality traits and functions correspondingly mature. Then I still have to teach them to work together so that they can function in a normal, healthy way. After 40 years of dissociation, they default to doing things on their own. So I have to work with them over and over and over and remind them to ‘do it with the other girls’ But at first they WANT to do it on their own, sigh, and so it’s a process not a destination…

    3) The dissociation: Again the article acts as if, once the trauma is addressed, integration will naturally happen: it does NOT. And ISSTD’s method is to FORCE integration by what they call ‘fusion’ and these ‘fusions’ have a notorious habit of not being permanent.
    The fact is integration, even after all the trauma is addressed is complicated by a couple of things:
    A) some of the personalities will continue to have a latent fear of connecting with the others. It’s important to remember that the entire dissociative scheme was based on the overwhelming fear of the trauma that was happening, and so even after the trauma is over, and even after it has been addressed and healed, the mind has been conditioned to think “I MUST keep these personas separate to protect the system.” It’s like a safety programming, and it’s really hard to undo this programming. I’ve done it for one girl in my wife’s system, but I am really, really struggling with a second girl who fears connecting with the others even though she loves being part of our family. And the other persona resisting the integration is surprisingly my wife’s host: the one adult in the entire system, sigh…but the host got the ‘easy’ parts of the childhood and so she still has the latent fear of what the other girls know even though she can communicate with them in many respects, she still holds back total communication.
    B) Because each persona only controls part of the personality, he/she doesn’t necessarily have access to the mental traits that might help facilitate the integration.
    C) And this is where ISSTD stumbles the worst: just because you ‘force the integration’ doesn’t mean the brain has the neural connections to actually support it. Neural plasticity teaches us that pathways which have been atrophied by dissociation for decades don’t miraculously become invigorated because some expert tries to force fusion upon various personas. For my wife, I’ve encouraged all kinds of mental and recreational activities that draw the attentions of the various girls and as they all focus on these activities, wanting to be part of the newfound sources of enjoyment, slowly those pathways between them are invigorated and a true, natural ‘group integration’ takes places. But it take a LOT of work and not some expert raising his hand over the person with a ‘hocus-pocus, now you are fused together’ mantra.

  • Eric,

    thank you for being forthright about the basis to your conclusion: evolution. If I were a better philosopher, I’d probably try to debate material determinism which seems to be the driving foundation of evolution, the bio-medical model of mental health and now I guess your parasitic view of voices among many other beliefs. It’s not normal for most writers to come right out and say, “This is my philosophical foundation and from there I came to this conclusion.” Instead we debate symptomatic beliefs and never realize that the underlying philosophical positions are the reason for such vastly different opinions and why we never can come to any sort of agreement because we aren’t using the same starting points.

    I reject biological evolution and the material determinism that drives it, and thus I have a difficult time accepting your parasitic view of voices. My wife has d.i.d. Her experience taught me to learn to listen to my voices. I taught her to embrace her voices (the other girls) and helped her see the meaning and context of each of them as they are learning to live in harmony. I see meaning and context in mine as well.

    Vestigial organs were once touted as a great sign of the veracity of biological evolution. What they really were was a testament to the ignorance of the people espousing the concept. One by one we discovered the very important function of each ‘vestigial organ’ until now there are very few that someone will use to bolster the evolutionary argument. It would appear that your argument has a similar basis. You don’t understand your voices so you will blame them on some kind of vestigial origin of the prefrontal cortex.

  • PTSD is the little brother to cPTSD which most d.i.d. sufferers have, so I’ve heard a lot about EDMR, though we never used it. It kind of always sounded like snake oil to me, and as I tried to research it a little this morning, clearly the jury is still out and proponents simply have declared it evidence-based on ambivalent evidence…par for the course in modern science it seems, when they push agendas to get funding rather than being patient and doing the hard work involved to be truly evidence based.

    I’m not very familiar with CBT either, so I did a little reading on it as well. I think I used some of its concepts with one of the girls. But from the description it sounds like, used by a therapist, it would be only helpful in relatively simple trauma because as the depth and scope of the trauma increases, the sufferer’s need for strong attachment bonds with someone to help ‘hold’ and walk them thru those memories increases. And of course, the worse the trauma, the more likely dissociation will become an issue, and that adds layers of complexity to the healing process…

    I may sound like a broken record, but why not teach parents the clearly proven principles from attachment theory: safe haven and affect regulation? Not only are they good parenting skills to have, but if I was able to untangle a web of 40 year-old trauma events causing PTSD issues in my wife using these principles, they would certainly work in real-time for single trauma events. Moreover, then the parents are no longer beholden to the experts for things that they can do better, freeing the experts to do things they alone can do…

  • Hi Kalina,
    I’m a firm believer in journaling, too.

    Not sure what your specific, religious upbringing was from your vague references, but I hope you are able to untangle things without abandoning the good things. One of my wife’s ‘alters’ has a ministry online of helping former homeschoolers who were raised in strict religious/family settings, and trying to help them move on. There’s a lot of ugly stuff done in the name of religion, and yet there’s also a lot of good things and it’s a hard process to throw out the ugly and not lose the good at the same time.

  • Hi Lynne,

    My wife and I both grew up as conservative, ‘born again’, evangelical believers. She still strongly believes, but I’ve kind of moved toward…I’m not sure what…spiritual, though I call myself ‘Narnian’ (lol) and believe mostly we’re on our own but have some kind of a divine imprint on our humanity despite the ugliness we all see (Gen 1:28).

    Anyway, my wife was never on any psych meds, but I still ‘use’ her spirituality to help her heal. In fact, without her belief in a compassionate, loving God I would be hard pressed as I help her reshape her ‘inner working model’ from it’s trauma-base to one that reflects each girl’s (alter) secure attachment to me and their interconnectedness to each other as the dissociative walls are torn down. I regularly ‘pray’ things into ‘being’ in her internal model which will NOT happen if we only talk about it. To me it’s definitely the power of belief even though she would argue that “God’ is doing it.

    She also uses a woman versed in theophostics which in my opinion is simply tapping into her spirituality beliefs. Again, I would argue it’s the ‘power of belief’ not God healing her when she prays with that lady. She’s the only ‘counselor’ my wife’s ever had during her healing, though at this point my wife is so far past what the other woman understands that mostly the lady is just the only outside friend that the various girls in my wife’s d.i.d. system feel safe to front with.


  • Hi George,

    my wife has d.i.d. and she and I have walked the healing journey together for the last 9 years. I naturally fell into attachment strategies as I walked her thru all the stuff that comes with this disorder, and later when I read about the actual attachment theory, I became even more purposeful to attach each of the 8 girls in her system to myself in everything I do with her/them, and in so doing, we bypassed many of the hallmark issues that those with this disorder display. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy, but the journey is made so much worse by the misguided guidelines from ISSTD.

    As far as “Panic can be the deadliest enemy”, attachment theory’s concept of ‘safe haven’ is spot on. When I kept my cool, no matter what she was experiencing, it allowed her to embrace the healing process rather than fight it because of the fear it engendered in her. Now most of those memories and feelings from the past have been healed and assimilated to the point that she no longer has panic attacks, flashbacks, self-injury issues, etc.

    One thing I would like to see people from this movement do is to STOP using the phrase ‘extreme states.” Maybe my wife is unusual, but she wanted to feel normal and not feel like she was going crazy. I always treated her the way she desired. Moreover, the more I entered into her world, the more EVERYTHING that she was experiencing made sense to me. It was my ignorance that made things look bizarre and unusual or ‘extreme’. We don’t talk about the trials of healing from a broken leg as ‘extreme’, and neither should our attitude be different as a person’s mind is healing. At this point most of her symptoms are rather ‘ho hum’ to us, just part of the journey and how the mind works when it’s healing from severe trauma and reconnecting to long-dissociated parts of itself…and the ability for me to ‘downplay’ what she was experiencing as normal while not invalidating her fears helped her relax and accept what is necessary to heal even though it’s still hard for the both of us.

    One little example is that this site recently put up a link to an article about a person who was desperately fighting her ‘dissociation and PTSD” symptoms, and I made the comment that it was the worst thing she could do. If she’d only had someone help her embrace those symptoms like we have done, her mind could have processed the underlying memories and feelings and she would have moved on with her life instead of being stuck in her own version of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day movie. We still haven’t fully connected girl #8 with the other 7, and so when they switch back and forth, the dissociation is mostly complete, but they simply ask me what they missed and we go on. It’s really not a big deal and none of them act like it is anymore, but if someone is upset because she missed something special, I simply do the event again, so no one misses out. Again, there’s nothing ‘extreme’ because I set the tone and so we all view the various symptoms as part of the normal healing process.

    Anyway, I enjoyed this post and look forward to your next one.

  • “The only way out of this is to give up the search for a “cure” and look for ways to get on with life while being the person one is…”

    Respectfully, Ron, I disagree. With my wife’s d.i.d. I’ve helped her thru a host of various, maladaptive personality traits. “Acceptance” is NOT the only option. I would suggest healing is the first step, if the trait is directly linked to trauma, and then after that we sought ‘balance.’

    Of the 8 girls in her system, each one had personality/mental strengths and weaknesses, and so I had to teach the girls to let one’s strength balance another girl’s weaknesses and vice versa. It’s NOT about letting parts of a person die. It’s actually just the opposite. As I helped ‘bring back to life’ the 7 girls who had been ‘buried’ in dissociation for 40+ years, I was able to help bring back the balance that my wife lost so long ago when those other girls ‘disappeared’ due to her childhood trauma.

  • So you reject the bio-medical model that states biology(genes) dictates mental health, but you accept the same biological narrative about human sexuality and gender identity? If you can’t see the incongruity of your position, what is there to discuss? If you were sincere in your question, which I doubt, the alternative would be the same approach that we use for other issues on this website as we understand that ALL aspects of human personality are a confluence of biology, positive and negative personal experiences, decisions and preferences; cultural influences, geographical context and a host of other things.


  • Let me say from the start that I am 100% against the conversion therapies and 100% for treating the LGBT crowd with the same dignity and rights as the rest of us!!!

    But this is a poorly handled subject from ALL directions. One of my best friends is trans and one of my cousins is gay, so it’s not that I object to them, but there’s a LOT more going on underneath that no one wants to deal with…and after having, literally, helped my wife (re)build her personality, ‘part by part’, connecting the dissociated girls to put ‘humpty dumpty back together again’ and seeing how each ‘part’ (girl) of my wife controlled bits and pieces of various personality traits and abilities, the level of ignorance by the ‘experts’ once again astounds me as they have jumped on the pc version of this subject instead of slowing down and doing the hard work to understand what goes into ‘building’ a personality and all the factors that influence gender identity and sexuality as well as the rest of our personalities. It’s not a simple ‘biology’ issue, and for MIA who stands against the simplistic bio-medical model for mental health issues, they ought to understand there’s a lot more going on underneath with this subject as well.

  • Why not ‘healing’??? You break your leg, it needs to heal. You suffer mental trauma, the mind (not brain!) needs to heal as well…. And just like GOOD physical therapy can actually make the traumatized body part stronger than before, I think good mental therapy can as well…

    edit: another good benefit of using ‘healing’ over ‘recovery’ is that according to the bio-medical model ‘healing’ is impossible. Thus to use the term signifies something clearly NOT in line with the bio-medical model.

  • “Charles Fernyhough, a psychology professor at Durham University in the U.K. who studies the topic, said one theory holds that the phenomenon appears to be similar to the self-talk that everyone does. It seems a certain percentage of people don’t experience their internal monologues as being something that they themselves have produced, leading them to experience the voices as coming from another person.”
    From the article, and I believe this is what my wife’s experience taught me…and once I understood that, I was better able to be in tune with myself…

  • Hi Sera!
    I followed the link from your current blog to this one. You probably aren’t following this anymore, but I’ll add my 2cents.

    First, I think what you are offering sounds great! Maybe some day I can get my wife to take a more activist stance like I said on your current blog. The problem is she doesn’t know how good she had/has it with how our son and I supported her, and she got tired of how she got treated by the online d.i.d. community because her experience was so different than what is typical, and so she just doesn’t seem to have any interest in reaching out and helping others. I hope some day that changes!

    With my wife’s d.i.d., I can remember her first calling the other girls(voices) ‘aliens.’ Fortunately, I took the path of validating her ‘voices’ and treating them as if they were ‘no big deal’ and eventually she (my wife’s ‘host’) was able to do the same as we brought 7 other girls into our family and relationship.

    But along the way, as I lived 24/7 with them/her, I started to realize that her ‘voices’ were just kind of a normal part of one’s mind…and taking her lead, I learned to hear my own ‘voices.’ It was kind of like learning to listen to your small intestines. When everything is fine, it’s REALLY hard to hear them hum along doing what they do, but when something is putting stress on them, they can get pretty loud. But in the end, the noises are just a normal, natural part of how our intestines work whether the noises are audible.

    Though I think the ‘why’ is important for myself personally as I’ve learned to listen to my mind so that I can figure out a proper response and also monitor things internally, when I’m dealing with my wife, I mostly focus on the ‘what’ to enter into her experience so that I can validate her experience, and respond appropriately within the context of what she is experiencing. It’s much easier to walk WITH her in her mental experiences and give her stability or whatever else she needs/wants, than to proclaim ‘from on high’ how she ought to view her experiences externally.

    I will admit I have a problem seeing the ‘why’ of the voices as irrelevant, however. Universal negatives are hard to prove but the supernatural and spirituality seem unlikely even though I spent most of the earlier years of my life calling myself a Christian and desperately seeking those experiences. BUT, that said, I love the example that was given on MIA recently of a patient who would only ‘glub, glub’ like a fish and the person who was able to reach that person was the one who got down on the floor and ‘glub, glubbed’ back! That person got it! We have to enter into the reality of the person and it is from there that we can reach them and help them IF they want and need it.

    For the last 9 years, I have lived in the reality of the 8 girls in my wife’s system. Only one views me as her husband. To the rest I am a friend, boyfriend, or daddy. But I walk with them and slowly their reality is healing and changing. One other girl wants to marry me now, and her BFF is dating me. And slowly the 7 girls are moving toward the fact that they are all part of my wife even if they don’t understand that yet.

    It’s important for me to know the why so that I can be the best healing partner possible. I don’t use that knowledge to give her dictates, but so I can be more compassionate and understanding as I walk the healing journey with her.


  • Thanks, Sera. I wish I could attend. Seems you all have a lot of good things going on in the Boston area. My son is in Waltham, maybe some day I can get over and see first hand what’s happening…if only my wife was a little more interested in being activist …sigh…

  • Uprising, is your statement directed at me? Mine wasn’t directed at you.

    Unlike some in the anti-psychiatry crowd on this website, I don’t have many litmus tests for those with whom I would collaborate. It’s not ‘all or nothing’ with me which I think would be a far-wiser way to choose allies rather than Bush 2’s simplistic, ‘you are either with us or against us’. That kind of black and white thinking is juvenile and denies the complexities of people’s experiences and reality. So if you are for ending coercion, I’m all for joining you on that point even if we may not see eye to eye on anti-psychiatry vs. critical psychiatry.

    But even if someone wasn’t against ending coercion, I might, though it’s a big one, still be able to work with them if they were passionate about another aspect of the larger issue that I feel is important, like attachment theory, or refuting the bio-medical model, or validating the place/voice of the supporting family/SO’s in the healing journey, etc.

  • Frank,
    I’ve been following this conversation. I’m with you, 100%, that ending coercion ought to be our #1 priority, and if people can’t collaborate on that, they either are ignorant of the most basic points of this issue or they simply won’t be a good partner for much of anything.

    Beyond that, I’d love to see the bio-medical model discredited, thoroughly, but I don’t know how much practical good it will do because with my wife’s d.i.d. it is the ONLY disorder that I’ve been told is trauma-based in the DSM (haven’t checked out that claim; just have heard that’s the case), and yet I really don’t see much practical difference that acknowledgment makes in how people with d.i.d. are treated over on WordPress. Most still have psychiatrists part of their ‘team’ and their psychologists don’t really seem to grasp the disorder any better than the disorders in the rest of the DSM that are supposedly ‘bio-medical.’

    I’m a pariah in most of the d.i.d. world because of how I approach her healing using attachment theory: h3ll it’s their own theory and they still hate me because they really don’t understand trauma-based issues any better even when they reject the bio-medical model for d.i.d and most have no desire to learn even though my wife’s recovery puts her in a completely different category of pretty much anything anyone has ever read about d.i.d.

  • Hi sggriff!

    I was going to welcome you to this website, but see you have made a few comments in the past. Most of these ‘disorders’ really aren’t. They are simply descriptions of people’s behaviors. Now my wife has d.i.d. and I’ll stand by that and say it’s a disorder because of how the ‘hard-wired’ dissociation affects the person’s ability to function and integrate all aspects of one’s self into something semi-functional. And what I have learned as I helped her heal (and undo that ‘hard-wired’ dissociation) is that more than likely, most other ‘disorders’ really are just varying degrees of dissociation that may not rise to the level of those with full-blown d.i.d. but I see the hallmark markers of her issues in the other ‘disorders’ just to a lesser degree.

    Anyway, I understand you will probably disagree based on your past comments, but I wish you well, and maybe there’s a tiny kernel of our experience that might help you to reconsider your position.

  • My one and only experience with a psych drug, fortunately, inhibited the one thing that I was absolutely unwilling to give up in my already inhibited marriage: sex. After 2 failed attempts in a relationship that saw so little of it happening to begin with, I never took another pill and thought I’d rather have stress, lol. Now I realize how fortunate I was not to get deeper in the grips of these destructive drugs.

    As a side note, it’s unfortunate that the author of this article is doing the absolute worst thing she could do when it comes to her dissociation and PTSD symptoms: she’s fighting them instead of embracing them. Yes, it’s scary and that’s why one truly needs a healing partner to be a ‘safe haven’ and ‘affect modulator’ during them, but if you fight the symptoms, then the underlying memories and feelings stay unprocessed by the brain, but if you embrace them, then the brain can process them correctly and the person can permanently move forward instead always wondering when the next ‘attack’ is coming…

  • Steve,
    They try to do this with d.i.d. They make their little lists of ‘positive’ things associated with d.i.d. and I always think how truly clueless and ignorant these people are. My wife’s childhood abuse systemically affected her in a multitude of ways that not even she truly understands because she has never known anything different. I love her, but it is so hard, And the ‘strengths’ she may have gotten from adapting to the abuse came at a terrible cost to her AND to me. Mostly I think these studies show the ignorance of the ‘experts’ as they ‘study’ these issues from their ivory palaces. If they want to come down into the trenches and join me 24/7 as I help/carry my wife thru the healing journey all the while trying to keep my heartache in check so that I can continue to be a good healing partner for her, then I’ll show them the ‘strengths’ she has. YES, YES, YES, she has become a beautiful person as she has healed and begun connecting the 8 girls in her system. But the cost has been staggering to our relationship and many times I still wonder if we will make it in spite of how far she has come…

  • In ‘truth’s’ defense, I think he/she was being satirical, I think. But yes we need to be careful when using satire because HSN took it seriously. Typically when I see people use satire on forums like this they will put (satire) in their comment to alert their readers since it can be hard to understand otherwise.

  • Gary,

    I think your goals are rational and reasonable and worth discussing…but after 9 years of helping my wife heal, I understand the power of ‘triggers’. We all have them, not just abuse survivors. Sadly, triggers are one of the biggest hindrances to rational and reasonable discussions whether it’s what you have suggested or any other topic. And the stronger the emotion attached to those triggers, the harder it is for someone to hear another with whom she/he may disagree.

    When I look at the ugliness of what the U.S. has become on the right and left, I see triggers abounding from both sides. No one even pretends to listen. They have their ‘response’ ready to fire before the other side even says it’s first word.

    Until we can figure out how to move past people’s triggers, sadly, I think your reasonable arguments will never be heard by some.

  • As much as I understand your concern for the cat, right now, I’m not sure it’s the biggest concern as HSN seems to be barely holding on and insisting he get rid of his only living companionship might not be for the best.

  • HSN,

    I was on my blog and tried but failed to find that link of the dogs that are being trained specifically to help people in your situation. They become attuned to a person’s mental distress. I will keep looking and see if I can find the program.

    It’s not about who had the ‘worst’ experience. Our lives are a conglomeration of all kinds of experiences and relationships which shape and form each of us and help or hinder our ability to cope in life. So much of our ability to cope does hinge on our attachment relationships which is kind of a cruel reality in our Western society that neurotically values independence and self-sufficiency and so it despises people in your situation and creates a vicious circle of punishing those who need help the most: the more help a person needs the more we punish them for being ‘needy’. It’s not right! But I don’t know how we change an entire culture’s foundation, sigh…
    edit: found it!

  • HSN,
    I devise different ways to give me HOPE. For me that seems to be the #1 key to the level of suicdality that I feel. When my hope of things ever getting better between me and my wife dims, then my suicidality increases, but as I feel more hopeful that some day things will get better, it decreases. So I constantly find new, little focuses that give me hope in the midst of our battle with her d.i.d.

  • Hi Helpstillneeded,
    as Steve has already said, yes, d.i.d. is most definitely possible in males, too, because it’s basically childhood, trauma-based dissociation that becomes systemic over time: something that easily touches both sexes. And it’s one of those sliding scale things, so I see a lot of evidence of bits and pieces of it even in people who are generally considered ‘healthy’. So even if a person wouldn’t be considered to have full-blown d.i.d. they could still show a lot aspects of it, like the dis-integration you feel and see in your own life…could be milder forms of dissociation even if they don’t rise to the level of the complete dissociation my wife experienced…or they could be full d.i.d. My wife appeared VERY normal and healthy much of her adult life to everyone except me: she couldn’t hide her issues within the intimate areas of our marriage, but I was too ignorant and naïve at that point to understand what was going on since she is the only woman I have ever been with.

    Thank you for the compliments, too. My experience and understanding were forged in the fires I walked with my wife. It’s not that I’m so great, but I love my wife and couldn’t leave her in this mess and so I HAD to figure out how to help her…and ISSTD really doesn’t understand what they are talking about in all their protocols and guidelines they put out concerning d.i.d. If you look at their guidelines on their website (, it’s kind of sadly funny, but so much of what I do is the exact opposite of what they tell the world is the ‘best’ methods of helping someone with d.i.d. Attachment theory is the foundation of most of what I do with her, but I also use other concepts like neural plasticity and then things I learned along the way which are specific to d.i.d.

  • Helpstillneeded,

    I’m sorry your ‘extreme panic attack’ overwhelmed your friend: they can feel overwhelming. I remember one of my wife’s. It began to suck me into her panic. Fortunately, I was able to recenter myself while I had her in my arms, and then my calm was able to ‘overwhelm’ her panic. But I remember the fear that her panic attack created in me until I got control of it for both of us.

    You are not a blight to those around you. No one asks for trauma or overwhelming fears. Unfortunately, most people aren’t taught how to help someone through the trauma or fears: I certainly wasn’t. And so those in need and those who try to help both end up getting sucked into the vortex, and the experts can’t help because their protocols keep them detached nor CAN they help, even if they knew how, because so much of this happens outside the office where they aren’t or can’t be.

    I’m sorry for the place you are currently in

    ‘yet you haven’t abandoned your wife or your life…’ She’s my one and only. I’ve never been with anyone else. And after lots of journaling, staying true to myself means finding a win/win solution for both of us… which means helping her heal.

  • “researchers hope to find “brief psychological interventions that require minimal expertise to deliver”

    They ought to be looking to attachment theory’s concepts of safe haven and affect regulation if they want ‘minimal-expertise’ solutions. When my wife started to self harm for a couple of years, I simply sat with her, wrapped her up in my arms when she was doing it, and held her thru the emotional storms that assailed her. I didn’t ‘stop’ her from doing it (she would viciously bite herself), but sometimes I had her bite me, sometimes I would minimize the biting that she did to herself, but mostly I stayed calm and ‘cocooned’ her in my embrace as I carried her thru the storm. It’s been awhile since the last time she did it.

    Experts make this too difficult but they also want it too easy…back to our fast-food mentality. Attachment theory gives us solid concepts to deal with self-injury. They are easy to understand and simple to implement, but they aren’t quick fixes. It takes time to undo decades of emotional turmoil.

  • Helpstillneeded,
    it’s not about blame. Unfortunately the human mind gets trained by the events it experiences and then it becomes VERY hard for any of us to retrain it to new ways of thinking, but it is possible (neural plasticity). The fact that you pulled up one of your father’s lies is evident of that. One of the girls in my wife’s system had similar lies from her abuser and so I helped her thru those lies in a number of ways. It wasn’t a one-time, ‘that isn’t true, I love you!’ kind of thing, but something I addressed multiple ways both in word and deed and I still wear a necklace charm around my neck of a saying that she and I developed to counter the lie of her abuser: I choose you. We belong together.

    Anyway, again, it’s not about blaming you for all your failures: if there’s anyone to blame in my wife’s life it would be her parents and her first abuser, but my wife needed my consistent help to get her thru that early childhood ‘brain training’ so that she could move on to healthier thinking. We are at the end of year 9 in this journey of 24/7 undoing the thought patterns that were ‘engrained’, as you say, into her. It’s not quick. It’s not easy. But it is possible.
    Take care,

  • Helpstillneeded,

    I’m sorry for all the pain you are in. And I’m sorry your friends moved on. Sadly our culture teaches us to despise ‘needy’ people who won’t ‘accept our love and care’ on OUR terms. It takes a lot to help someone unlearn all the destructive thinking patterns. Unfortunately most people simply aren’t willing or able to invest the time, though it does require some intentionality to it that many people simply don’t grasp.

    On my blog, for those who lack the people in their lives to help them heal, my best suggestion is to try a larger pet (i.e. cat or dog) if your living circumstances are such that you can have one. There is even a program in which dogs are being trained to help trauma victims, though the numbers being trained are not nearly sufficient for the need that is present. I just bought my wife/my girls a kitten and it is helping the one girl heal and shift her self-perspective in ways that not even I am able to do for her. We also ride a tandem bike and the better we become the more self-confident the various girls become, again helping to shift their inner-narrative. Healing can come from many things as well as people. Finding a hobby in which you can learn to excel may be another way to help you shift that inner narrative.

  • …completely down a rabbit trail…but the longer I watch this website…the more I wonder how helpful it is for everyone to continue using the phrase ‘extreme states’…having helped my wife thru d.i.d. and all the various PTSD issues, panic attacks, catatonic whatevers, flashbacks, self injury, mini seizures, etc…part of the healing process for her was for me to keep my calm and to minimize her symptoms. Minimize as in not blowing them out of proportion and calling them ‘extreme’ but just to tell her, ‘it’s part of the healing process’ and helping her feel safe as I walked her thru them…I had to learn to ‘keep my cool’ when she was ‘losing it’ and as I did, she could draw from that peace to calm herself…I just don’t think it’s helpful to keep calling it extreme…those ‘extreme states’ really are NOT; they are just kind of normal reactions of the mind to various trauma and other things..imo

    Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program….

  • “the Hoffer/Osmond Diagnostic test uses a sequence of, thoughts inside of head, hear thoughts like voice, thoughts outside head, voices about or to individual.” ”

    Respectfully, but this is an illogical test. ‘Voices’ have 1 of 4 main possibilities: 1) they are audible and hearable to everyone, 2) they are internal and hence MUST come from the hearer’s mind, 3) you believe in the supernatural and that being has the ability to only let some people hear those voices or 4) they could be sensory issues as Sara seems to indicate is possible.

    If it’s #4, then the voices are a chemical imbalance issue as Sara seemed to discover. Though I can’t rule out #3 because of the difficulties of proving universal negatives, I’d say that option is highly suspect. And no one is debating option #1. Hence, the ONLY option left, if #4 was outruled for someone who ‘hears voices’, is #2.

    Thus, logically, any and all voice hearers are simply connecting with various (unfamiliar…i.e. dissociated) parts of their mind and it’s truly irrelevant how the voices seem to feel to the hearer. It’s far more relevant, imo, as I did with my wife, to help her embrace the voices, recognize them as part of her larger self even if she doesn’t recognize them, and help her integrate them into her personal narrative.

  • not me, my wife, and it appears that d.i.d. may be different from schizophrenia as I would NEVER characterize my wife as hallucinatory or psychotic…though I will admit that probably most experts and even sufferers might say differently, but I think that’s because I was wiling to enter into the various girls’ (alters’) worlds and see things from their perspective and once I did that nearly all of it made sense, hence no hallucinations or delusions, just a difference of perspective…

  • Hi Sara,
    I’ve always heard that distinction between schizophrenia and d.i.d., too: schizophrenia is ‘outside’, d.i.d. is ‘inside’ the head. I wasn’t sure I accepted that distinction until you explained your story and now I think I understand the difference. The problem is, imo, because our culture pathologizes ALL voice hearing, they don’t make a distinction between your sensory issues and what, for my wife, was simply a part of her internal conversation.

  • Hi bcharris,

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think d.i.d. is going to be treated with niacin or nutrients as its inception is from early childhood trauma that kicks in the mind’s dissociative defenses and those defenses overtime get out of control and become systemic in so many ways. If you note Sara’s story, she still had to deal with her trauma and PTSD symptoms after the niacin treatments.

  • Hi Sara,
    I’m so happy for you and your complete recovery! Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you well as another player in the fight to tear down the destructive mental health system we currently have.

    I’m curious…my wife has d.i.d….did your voices disappear from the Niacin treatments or just the hallucinations and delusions??? Just curious since schizophrenia and d.i.d. are the two big diagnoses for voices that I’m aware of, but hers I would argue are completely normal and part of her internal conversation and the only reason they appeared abnormal to her is because they had previously been dissociated away, but now as she/we are working on healing, those ‘voices’ (the 8 girls in her system) are integrating together as a group and forming a more coherent, internal conversation.

    Again, very happy for you!

  • I think for further clarification… another reason it was important that I deal with my issues first, is it made my wife feel secure in our relationship. For years we had argued about who had issues, and she always quipped that I was the one with the problems…and yes, it is true that we all have issues, but the bigger issue was for her as an early, childhood trauma victim, she never knew what it was to be ‘healthy’ and so she had no baseline from which to understand ‘healthy’ adult relationships because of her own trauma and her parents were no more healthy than she. Thus, when I began to work on my own issues, not only did it make hers more glaring in her own sight, but more importantly, it was no longer a combative situation of me trying to force her to change…now I was leading by example and willing to become a better man for her without trying to manipulate her to do the same…

  • I read a lot of marriage books the first 20 years of my marriage: most of them weren’t very helpful. I finally decided to work on myself, and as I did, my wife began to see her own issues and realized she was NOT treating me well. At that point she finally told me she needed to get help…and then began our journey thru her d.i.d. which stirred up all kinds of other issues that I thought I had dealt with and so I spent another couple years figuring out why I was still in the marriage. For me the best thing I ever did was begin a daily journal so I could figure out who I was and what was important to me. Once I was settled on that, then I could help my wife heal because her issues no longer triggered mine. Not saying her issues still don’t cause me considerable, daily pain, but I now understand what staying in this marriage with her means and my goal is for a win/win situation for both of us.

    As far as specific books, I really can’t recommend any, I’m sorry, but once I learned about attachment theory, it helped me become more purposeful in the way I interact with her so that we are in the healing journey together rather than ‘combatants’. Now I see her issues as the enemy and not her, and that was a huge distinction in my mind.

  • Shannon,
    this article leaves me a little discouraged with the prevailing attitude of the ‘experts’ on voice hearing. When my wife began ‘hearing voices’, I didn’t pathologize it. My attitude was ‘since they weren’t audible, then they were ‘in her head’ which means the voices are a part of her, and just because she hadn’t ever ‘heard’ them before, didn’t mean they weren’t ‘real’ or anything else pathological.’

    The longer we were in the journey together, the more I reflected on how she functioned, but also how I did as I learned how ‘voice hearing’ works: her experience taught me to ‘listen’ to the voices in my head. I realized that because of our culture’s stigmatizing of ‘voice hearing’ it teaches us to dread ‘hearing voices’ and so we learn to ignore what I would contend is a very normal mental process.

    So if it only took me a few years of helping my wife to realize how normal it is to hear voices, why is it so incomprehensible to the experts who work with people all the time? I would contend that we ALL hear voices, but like breathing air or paying attention to other autonomous body functions, it’s something we’ve always experienced and so until someone says, ‘slow down…listen…yes, that’s it’ we just go on blithely ignorant of what’s happening and for those few who can’t ignore it because of the internal turmoil happening, then we put them in a ‘special’ category of ‘voice hearers’.

    That’s my biggest problem with this entire study and even the ‘voice hearers’ movement. I could be wrong, but I firmly believe we all do it and the movement would better serve themselves and us to help everyone understand that this experience is as natural as breathing, rather than acting like ‘voice hearing’ is some impediment or something only ‘the few’ experience. Learning to hear voices ought to be one of the first things taught to a person in distress. It’s kind of like getting your temperature taken. Those voices are the mind’s way of bringing attention to issues that haven’t been dealt with or integrated as well as they should, or quite honestly, they can simply be part of one’s ability to see things from multiple perspectives (something that our hyper-polarized society clearly needs to relearn to do), and so the voices keep ‘popping’ up, but our cultural fear of them means we desperately ignore them rather than embrace them and see them for the great value they could bring to each of us.

  • Peter,
    I love the summation that Timimi gives at the end as he points out the problem of our fast-food culture. We would rather a magic pill than deal with the underlying issues that take more time and effort but ultimately prove more rewarding and long-lasting by building strong and stable attachment relationships.

  • EBM is only democratizing if you are part of the guild and part of the favored…for all others it is, indeed, a way to control and delegitimize…and for the author of the critique to dismiss the authors of the original article in the way he did at the end, shows he is doing exactly that: protecting the guild by delegitimizing and controlling who and how it is allowed to be critiqued. That doesn’t mean I’m against EBM, but like everything it is only as good as those who hold true to the best of its tenets and methods.

  • Now to your major point, Corinna,

    let me first say that I mostly, maybe even wholly, agree with the premise of your article, and yet this entire premise of dismissing ‘anecdotal’ evidence has become a hammer that the ‘experts’ use to put the rest of us in our place while hiding their lack of scientific curiosity…because what is the very first step of the scientific method? Gathering anecdotal observations and seeing if there is a larger pattern possible. But instead the experts throw around their ‘studies’ at the rest of the ‘unenlightened’ and ‘ignorant’ and expect us to bow to their greatness.

    Again, I mostly support your premise but this entire biomedical juggernaut that has been forced down everyone’s throat was done, supposedly, because of the ‘weight of the aggregate evidence’ and now other experts like you are trying to be heard and say, ‘don’t look at their evidence, look at ours!’

    Again, I’m mostly in support of your premise and the demolition of the biomedical model, but this isn’t the only scientific theory that I have enough knowledge of to tell me the ‘experts’ are full of it and aren’t even following the basic premises of the scientific method when they supposedly give us science-based methods in so much of what we accept as common knowledge…let’s just start at Galileo or any other great discovery and remember how hard the consensus keepers work to invalidate the innovators that only have anecdotal evidence available to back them no matter how careful the innovators were in their method. The consensus-keepers throw their ‘vast, aggregate’ knowledge around to demand our obedience, and when any of us can prove otherwise using their OWN methods, yet we don’t have the standing to go out and do a massive study to get ‘aggregate’ evidence, we are told to “shut up, your evidence is just ‘anecdotal’ and therefore irrelevant.”

  • Corinna,
    “Dialogue is a two way street. I don’t know how to “hear” these people who LIKE their meds and don’t know any better. Give me some better ideas for these challengers in the comments?”

    There’s a saying in some groups that goes, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”… As I began to help my wife heal, I made a point of never coming off as if I was ‘fixing’ her. I made a point of never coming off as if our relationship was predicated on her accepting my help or suggestions. I made sure she, all the girls in her d.i.d. system, felt 100% safe in their relationship with me no matter if they ever got healed, period.

    And I think until you can find a way to show you care about people, it will be the same. I realize you can’t have a personal relationship with everyone you talk to, but somehow people have to see the willingness to ‘walk in their shoes’ first…it’s not easy, but at least in my one, anecdotal, experience, that’s how it worked…

  • The very first thing I had to do was work thru my own issues. Part of staying in a dysfunctional relationship for me was ‘owning’ the decision to do so. Until then I had a LOT of anger issues because I did NOT sign up for this in my mind! Who signs up to essentially raise his wife with a lot of littles(young ‘alters’) ruling the house 95% of the time at home? So I did a lot of journaling to deal with my issues and also understand why I was choosing, again, to stay in the relationship. Once I did that I was able to accept the fact that emotional pain would be a regular part of the relationship. And once I had made an informed decision, I rarely lashed out at my wife after that.

    Now I can share my distress with my wife…and leave it at that. If she is in a place to help, that’s great. If not, I understand it’s part of the healing journey and I hold on to the hope that someday as she heals, the relationship will become more healthy for both of us.

    Another important way that helped me deal with the distress of my situation was finding ‘safe people’ for me to share with outside our marriage. My family of origin was NOT safe. I think they essentially wanted me to get rid of my wife like my older brother got rid of his wife who had issues. However, my uncle who lived in town was a safe person. He could listen to me pour out my distress without trying to turn me against my wife. And even though he was ignorant at first of what I was going thru, over time, he became more understanding and so he could ask informed questions and be excited as my wife healed and progressed.

  • And that is completely the right of this site to lean that way. It’s kind of why I was told my voice would never be seen as ‘really’ valid on this site without my wife’s presence. I understand that this site sees itself as a place for survivors to have the voice that they NEVER got when they were abused by the system…unfortunately that ‘voice’ often means piling on others who might be able to be ‘cultivated’ into better allies if they weren’t attacked and silenced when they reveal their ignorance of the larger issues…

  • KS, I think I understand your position AND hers, but reading the interactions from kind of an outsider’s position, it was like a feeding frenzy as she got picked apart and the more that she said that showed her ignorance on the larger issues and acceptance of the biomedical model, the more everyone ‘attacked’ (or informed) her how wrong she was.

    Anyway, it all just goes back to the question of MIA’s mission and attitude in general. How exclusive or inclusive is this website and movement going to be? Or what ‘bottom lines’ (going back to this blog) are going to be drawn? Lauren isn’t the first guest blogger to get picked apart in the brief time I’ve been participating more fully on this site. Anytime someone doesn’t fit the narrow definitions of this site, they get attacked, and I wonder, run off…

  • Steve, I kind of had a similar start with my wife. The first couple of girls to come out BEGGED me NOT to read the literature out there on d.i.d. because they liked what I was doing ‘naturally.’ And so I made a point of asking lots and lots of questions, learning to see things from their perspective, and dealing with my own issues, and it really seemed to work. Only a few years later did I think I should become ‘educated’ on the subject when I started blogging and then I realized how ‘wrong’ I was doing everything…until I started reading about attachment theory…and it was like a blueprint of what I had done to help them heal.

  • Madmom,
    I believe I may have suggested to you before to find literature on attachment theory for adult relationships. There’s not nearly as much out there as for children, but there is a growing body of works. And attachment theory makes clear that adult attachment relationships SHOULD be reciprocal in nature. In fact, that’s been the most painful part of my 29-year marriage: the lack of reciprocity. However, as my wife has healed, she has naturally become more attentive to my needs and feelings…and that’s as it should be. It should be NO different in an adult, parent/child relationship. And I would argue that to keep it asymmetrical would be a bigger problem than to encourage your daughter to ‘give back’ to you like you do to her: that’s a sign of healing, growth and maturity.

  • FD and KS, I’m sorry if I misrepresented your intentions, but that is clearly how she felt. I’m not saying I don’t have a LOT of issues with what Lauren was saying, but clearly the editors of MIA thought she had something of value to add to this site, and instead I have to wonder if Lauren regrets sharing. It’s not just WHAT we say but HOW we say it that is important, and especially when it comes from a faceless keyboard it’s even more important if this site doesn’t want to run off people who could be allies even if they don’t understand the full scope of the issues…

  • Zenobia,

    as a helper, this is an interesting study…I think this area, the occurrence of distress in the helper, is one of the greatest areas in which a good therapist/counselor could help because there were so many things in my wife’s healing that NO counselor/therapist could ever do in my place because I was in the trenches 24/7 with her. But if I had had someone to help me sort thru all the distress that the process brought my way, it would have helped a lot.

  • You aren’t the only one on that thread attacking her. Steve is trying to engage and teach her…you and others are attacking her for her naïveté, social standing, partial acceptance of the biological model, use of ‘you people’ etc, etc…

    again if this group makes ideological purity and bottom lines and whether or not to use a hyphen in a word some kind of litmus test, that’s its prerogative. I’ve been told by higher ups that there’s a good chance I’ll never really be acceptable to this group because my wife refuses to ‘speak for herself’ and therefore my story will be considered ‘invalid’ by the survivors wing of this group even though I have walked thru hell with my wife instead of walking out like so many other SO’s have, sigh…

    Again this group is free to be as exclusive as it wants and is free to attack any and all who can’t or won’t subscribe to its various ‘bottom lines’, but then it loses the opportunities that others might bring with them…

  • Lauren,
    I am sorry for all the crap that is getting thrown at you.

    As a Christian you might consider that your depression isn’t so much genetic as learned behavior: the ‘sins’ of the father being passed down to the 3rd and 4th generation kind of thing…not to say MH stuff is a ‘sin’ but just to say that it definitely can be learned or better coping skills ‘not learned’. I remember when I first started helping my wife heal, I told myself that I was going to BREAK the issues in her life that had come down from her parents.


  • I do understand WHY she got backlash, and yet I think that backlash was short sighted!!! And I understand the power of triggers as I have helped my wife thru so many. Whether or not Lauren is in it for herself is irrelevant to the fact that IF she can win this case, it would be a massive win for this movement, but everyone is so concerned about her ideological purity and her motives that we are missing the importance of her case and that she can be an ally even if she is ‘outside’ this movement…

  • Oldhead, who gets to decide? I still am frustrated when Lauren got attacked for her article because she partially supports the medical model…I still believe she could be an incredible asset if she could win her case at the Supreme Court level of New York State. I understand her position may be a trigger to psychiatric survivors as well as her economic position be a trigger in our toxic cultural state in this country, but if she could win that one case, in one of the biggest states in the union it could send shock waves throughout the nation and yet she got nitpicked for not being ‘pure’ enough…this group runs the risk of alienating good allies if it insist of a litmus test instead of accepting a little more pragmatic viewpoint…

  • KindredSpirit,

    I don’t think any movement gives disclaimers to their point of view on ‘the truth’. They are all coercive to some degree, and it’s kind of up to all of us to have a ‘consumer beware’ attitude. Not to politicize it, but i think it’s one of the weaknesses of the Left in their Nanny State approach. It’s great when consumer advocates are there, but it’s also made us all lazy to rely on advocates and experts rather than do our own research.

  • Bonnie,
    I’ve been watching this conversation from afar, not really feeling much since I kept my wife completely outside the system while she has been healing, but I guess, I’m a little frustrated that commenters are mixing the need many people have for ‘therapy’ with the horrors perpetrated by forced psychiatry. The two issues are completely different imo.

    And, respectfully, Julie, it takes more than just ‘good friends’ to help someone heal from the extreme trauma that distorts so many childhoods and leaves people without the emotional life skills so necessary as an adult. I see it all the time on WordPress as abuse survivors bemoan their desperate need for help and not having a clue how to implement the things their somewhat naïve therapists tell them to do.

    Our son and I are BOTH deep attachment figures for the girls in my wife’s d.i.d. system, but he is simply a ‘big brother’ figure to the girls, while I am extremely intentional about what I do to help them heal, connect to each other, tear down the dissociative walls, and learn the life skills that my wife’s parents never taught her.

    Now I will admit that my wife/my girls don’t like it when I ‘preach’ to them or get ‘formal’ in what I’m teaching them, so I have to do a lot of life-modeling, but without me there to gently and almost invisibly guide them, there’s no way in the world they would heal like they are doing.

    So, I’m all for anti-psychiatry and antipsychiatry and abolish and reform. Take away their ability to FORCE themselves upon the rest of us, and they have no teeth, so I really won’t care after that if they wither and die or just scream in a vacuum without the ability to violate the rest of us. But where I draw the line is the backlash against psychiatry swooping up the need so many, many people have for quality help to overcome their childhood trauma AND the need they have to learn the lifeskills the rest of us got by ‘osmosis’ while we lived in more healthy families. I applaud Open Dialogue and other similar initiatives that involve families and understand the need for ‘therapy; but also the need for them to FACILITATE the many things they can’t do because they aren’t ‘in the trenches 24/7’ like we family members are.

  • KindredSpirit,

    I hope I’m not coming off as if there’s only one way to view recovery: I’m sorry if I am. That wasn’t what I was attempting. And recovery for my wife from trauma has nothing to do with ‘illness’. I 100% agree there, too. But the brain does ‘wire’ itself according to the concepts of neural plasticity: rewarding what we do or think upon and ‘punishing’ what we ignore or in my wife’s case and other trauma victims, what they sequester (dissociate). So there is a kind of ‘neural atrophy’ that takes place. I don’t know that one could actually ‘see’ it in an electron microscope if one knew where to look. But the connections between the 8 girls were anywhere from barely existent to completely non-existent for the last 2, most deeply hidden girls. When those 2 girls ‘switched’ in and out, the body would literally collapse until I could pull another girl out to take over outside: ZERO connection with the others! But with work, practice, attaching to me, strengthening connections between some of the others, now 1 of those 2 is mostly connected and the other one is connected subconsciously though not consciously: so we still have work to do there.

    Again, I don’t know if it’s literally something that you can see physically, but the brain does respond to how we use and disuse our minds.

    I do appreciate your talk of nuance and other kinds of recovery, as well. Sometimes having grown up white, middle class, Protestant and in a small town in the Midwest, I can forget that there is so much ugliness to others outside my little bubble. My wife’s healing has moved our entire family more toward the center as some of the girls are much more liberal and social justice conscious than either she(the host) or I ever used to be, and I think that’s a GOOD thing.

    Anyway thanks for the interaction to help me understand the issue better from more than my perspective!

  • Yes, I do understand that he was quoting multiple people with different perspectives. Like I said in my reply, over on WordPress and at home with my family in our little ‘cocoon’ away from any involvement with ‘the system’ I hadn’t even realized this was an issue. But it seems to keep popping up on this site and it also seems that some who have been abused by ‘the system’ want to totally disavow that they have ANY need for healing and recovery as if to admit that, they would legitimize what was done to them in ‘the system’…and that kind of concerns me. So I guess I was trying to give my 2 cents: how one can affirm the need for healing and recovery without invalidating the humanity and respect that all people deserve…

  • Hi Oldhead, I had made a second, clarifying comment that somehow got deleted as ‘spam’. Not sure why or why it didn’t get put back when I noted it to the powers that be. But to me ‘recovery’ is the baby, the psychiatric system is the bath water. I’ll copy in my other reply here, if they allow it to stand.

    “But Recovery has the language of illness embedded in it, that’s why it works for the system. You have to be sick to recover.”

    Sascha, clearly this is a topic that is important to people on this site as I’ve seen it brought up in a number of blog articles. And to be honest, I understand when people who have been abused by the system are struggling with this concept. I guess it’s a struggle I was unaware of over on WordPress and in the little cocoon I created as I helped my wife heal outside the system.

    But let me try to explain how I approach this and maybe there is something that those of you who were subjected to the system can take away from it.

    One of the biggest issues I had to overcome when learning to help my wife was the Right’s attitude about mental health issues(how I grew up). I was taught ‘it’s just in their head” or that they should ‘just get over it’ or the many other ugly things that I’m sure many of you have heard. I had to learn that these mental, trauma-induced issues were, indeed, every bit as real as a broken leg or other bodily trauma.

    Two, I think we would do well to understand that mind trauma is very similar to body trauma. When a person experiences mind trauma, the mind adapts to cope with that trauma the best it can in the absence of true help and healing. The mind will sequester the trauma whether it’s full-blown dissociation like my wife’s d.i.d. or less-severe compartmentalization. It will begin to view current events thru the ‘trauma-lens’ of its past.

    It’s very similar to what happens with a broken leg that goes unset and without physical therapy that will cause the person a lifetime of issues as the rest of the body will begin to compensate for the loss of use of that limb. It will put stress and pressure on other joints, the loss of mobility, loss of range of activities one can participate. But even if a person’s leg is immediately set, the body still has to cope with the initial trauma and difficulties during the healing process.

    Additionally, we now realize there’s more to healing than just setting the bones which is why we focus on physical therapy too, to retrain the body and re-strengthen the muscles connected to the bones and to retrain the body toward a healthy use of the repaired limb. And yes, a person can emerge stronger from trauma and learn valuable lessons and skills from the experience, but that doesn’t mean we should embrace the coping mechanisms that the body acquired during the trauma and the healing process.

    Three, I guess I don’t view or define my wife by her d.i.d. I realize so many of you were defined by your ‘illness’ when you were in the system. Just like that broken leg, I don’t define the person by the broken leg and yet to ignore it as if it doesn’t impair the person is ignoring reality imo. And so I can still completely respect, love and give full agency to my wife while she has d.i.d. without ignoring the real issues that her disorder creates in her life, our family life and our personal relationship.

    Four, so in the end I kind of view myself as her ‘personal trainer’ to teach her mind to work in new, healthier ways. As an early, childhood trauma sufferer, she has literally never known what it is to view events from a non-trauma paradigm, and so I help her see things outside that paradigm. But it takes WORK to retrain one’s mind after a lifetime of trauma-bound thinking. That’s what neural plasticity teaches us: that the mind rewards or ‘punishes’ the neural pathways that are used or those that are ignored and ‘sequestered’ because of trauma. And so, after addressing the trauma, I’m helping her re-training her mind to use those pathways that were sequestered for most of her life because of the trauma she suffered.

    Five, maybe this explanation won’t resonate with those of you who experienced the harsh cruelties of being de-humanized in the system, but I do have concerns that this movement is throwing out the baby with the bathwater and losing sight of the proper need for ‘recovery’ from the effects of trauma and poor coping mechanisms that a mind uses without proper help. This is especially evident when said trauma happens during childhood as it has for so many. There is a reason many people enter the mental ‘health’ system unwittingly but willingly: because their mind is using unhelpful coping mechanisms as it tries to deal with unresolved trauma.

    Thus, recovery to me is about dealing with the trauma AND helping my wife’s mind to move out of the trauma-induced coping mechanisms that tend to get ‘hard-wired’ over time.
    Respectfully, Sam

  • I’m with Daniel and have a hard time when people seem to throw the baby out with the bath water. My wife was severely TRAUMATIZED as a young child and I am helping her heal and move toward more healthy ways to think, feel and live. Her brain literally was ‘wired’ toward dissociation of those traumatic events and so I’ve had to help her re-integrate those traumatic events into her ‘personal narrative’ and undo the lies associated with them. And something the d.i.d. experts don’t understand is that when the brain dissociates the trauma along with it go parts of the person’s mental abilities and personality traits that otherwise would have been available.

    So I’m still struggling with this attempt to ‘normalize’ the effects of trauma. It does leave real issues in how the brain is wired and thus how a person can function. It doesn’t mean it can’t be undone, i.e. neural plasticity or therefore that the brain is ‘forever sick’. And that acknowledgment doesn’t mean I can’t treat my wife with full respect, love and give her complete agency WHILE I also am willing to mentor and teach the various girls in her d.i.d. system better ways to approach life.

    But after all that is said, Sascha, this sounds like an awesome event. I wish they had something similar in Ohio…


  • For my wife’s d.i.d. it’s mostly about attachment theory! Her attachment to me and our son gives her the feeling of safety that she needs to deal with the trauma, heal the attachment issues, tear down the dissociative walls, connect the various girls in the system. Glad to see that Olga believes family, friends and community along with a good therapist to help facilitate the attachment relationships is the #1 issue to address. Wish we had had a good therapist that understood what was needed. Thanks for the article: it’s spot on.

  • Respectfully, Lauren, you are coming from a ‘biomedical model’ of mental health issues but speaking to a group that promotes a more trauma-based model… Unlike KindredSpirit, I think you would be a GREAT ally! However, again respectfully, it appears you don’t understand the chasm of difference between those 2 models and until you educate yourself, you will find some deaf ears…Again, if I am wrong about your understanding of the larger issue, please forgive me….

  • Forgive us for our assumptions, Lauren. You will find a wide spectrum of beliefs concerning psychiatry on this website though most tend toward the negative. My wife and I have no personal interaction with it, but let’s just say that our son and I have helped her thru what is considered one of the ‘worst of the worst’ disorders that many, many psychologists and psychiatrists won’t even touch…and we did it without any of the licensed professionals’ help. We did use a theophostic counselor in the beginning which you might be interested in because of your Christian background, but other than that, our son and I did what the experts say is impossible with someone who has d.i.d. Anyway, I can’t speak personally about the mental health professionals except to say they were unnecessary and our family accomplished what many of them say ‘can’t’ be done and that without any of their mind-altering ‘medicines’…

  • One of the greatest things I have personally learned while my wife and I have been on this journey, is that people need a safe place to express those ‘unmentionables.’ For me, my journal is my safe place to mention all the internal rants and pain that my wife’s disorder causes me. And as I express them and give vent to them, just the act of expression itself, often helps take the emotions down a notch or two, as I give validity to the emotions without acting upon them. So, yes, teach people how to express those extreme feelings and emotions in a safe way without threat of incarceration for doing so…

  • I’m with Richard, and as one who has struggled with suicidality for decades, Mark’s suggestion filled me with more despair not less. I believe part of giving people ‘agency’ includes over their own lives. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t reach out and try to help them and ease the life situation that makes someone feel like ending things, but we have no right to FORCE the person to keep living and that threat keeps people from seeking help…

  • oldhead, yes I read her website, too, and figured she was fortunate in that her stay was so very, very short. Not to minimize her experience at all, but 18 days, as horrible as it was, is just a blip compared to many of us, plus she minimized her symptoms and saw the experience itself as more a political assault (per the name of her story) and not really a mental health assault. So I’m not really sure she identifies herself as someone with ‘extreme states’ or some of the other terms that folks on this website use to explain their experiences. BUT, in the end, if she could simply put a chink in the ‘involuntary commitment’ laws that would be such a huge win for everyone! I’d love for her to stay and become more informed about the entire subject, but I believe we should link arms with as many allies as possible as long as they don’t undermine any key issues…

  • How can so many people be so inhumane to other humans in America? How can we possibly think we are a ‘city on a hill’ to the rest of the world, when this is regularly going on? It’s so heartbreaking and sickening. This story sounds like something from hundreds of years ago, not a few years ago. I’m so sorry you had to endure this.

  • Me? I’m a nobody, but if I have anything to contribute to this fight it’s how our son and I are helping my wife/his mom heal. My wife has real issues, unlike you, but we still treat her like a REAL human being worthy of respect and love and I’ve documented each day of our journey, so maybe, someday when she is ready, we can share our story…

  • Helen,
    this was a painful article…I’m sorry I couldn’t even finish it. My wife has d.i.d. I feel so fortunate that I kept her out of the system. It wasn’t intentional…just kind of happened…growing up on the Right…homeschooling our son(though he’s now in a doctoral program at an Ivy-league level school)…and my wife’s csa…she didn’t trust doctors and we kind of lived outside the system anyway…but then after I had found a way to help my wife thru attachment theory and began to read what others were doing…I was truly horrified the more and more I read. That could have been my wife! How fortunate we were even though the stress on me as caregiver and healing agent is overwhelming so many days…and yet she is healing…beyond anything ISSTD says is possible…in spite of their supposed trauma-based model for d.i.d. they really aren’t much better than the medical model of the rest and still use so many of the same methods…

    I don’t know how you do it…but I wish you well…and I wish you strength in such an ugly and invalidating environment.

    Oh, one thing my wife’s d.i.d. has taught me is the absolute ‘naturalness’ of hearing voices…in fact once I began to recognize my own voices and understood both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to them, they helped me develop strategies for my own self care in the midst of the self-denial so necessary to help her heal. I’m almost astounded at the lack of validation when it comes to the simplicity and beauty of the voices in our head and how they give us a roadmap to what’s going on…and how obtuse psychiatry is in writing them off.

    Blessings to you in such a difficult situation,

  • madmom,

    you can learn to enter into your daughter’s world: it just takes time and practice. I do it every day with the 8 girls in my wife’s d.i.d. system. It took time, but I had to learn to see things thru each of the girl’s eyes and NOT thru mine. When she tells me stuff, I validate it and ask questions, so I can understand better. I don’t correct them: I learn from them. Once I entered their lives, they attached to me securely, and slowly we have made our way together to a better way of seeing this world for both of us…You and your husband can do what NO expert can do because your daughter, hopefully, will trust you in a way that no sane or ‘mad’ person would trust a stranger (especially one who is drugging her!). Don’t belittle your lack of ‘expert’ knowledge (though you should learn about attachment theory in adult relationships if you can)!!! I have helped my wife heal from d.i.d. in a way that the experts say is impossible because they simply don’t have the access with their patients that I have with my wife.

  • Feelingdiscouraged,

    I’ve kind of watched this conversation from afar, and I, at least, completely understand your original statement and would hope that MIA would not remove it. I, too, am happy that madmom can’t even comprehend your original intent: that is how ALL parents ought to behave, but sadly I have seen the despotic ugliness that too many parents show toward their own children.

    Anyway, I just wanted to voice my support and understanding…truly I’m sorry that you are correct that there are, indeed, parents as you describe, but that’s reality.

  • kind of off subject…but as a fellow sufferer of suicidality, on and off for most of my dysfunctional (though loving) 29-year marriage, I feel my suicidality is COMPLETELY logical!!! Having journaled thru so much of it, I realize it is part of the price I pay for sticking with my wife and loving her and helping her heal while she is NOT in a place to care for many of my own emotional/physical attachment needs. I hope some day when she is in a better place to care for my needs as I do hers, then hopefully the suicidality will subside, but until then, to me, it’s just a logical reminder that things are not well and gives me impetus to continue working on the root of its cause…

  • My pastor has taken charge of a young man whose family was unable to care for him. When I heard the young man had ‘adhd’ I gave my pastor the link to this website with the hope that he might be open to recognizing the horrible scourge being waged against young people who often are simply restless from long hours of sitting…

  • Emily, I don’t expect you to continue in a long conversation…but I’m still thinking about what you said in the article and your reply…and still struggling with key concepts of the Mad Pride and your ‘third option’ where you validate ALL responses and essentially deny(?) that there is anything such as unhealthy, healthy or healthier responses in life.

    Our cat of 13 years recently died. He had adopted us all those years ago. He had clearly been abandoned as he showed up on our porch neutered and declawed. He was very skittish and fragile and in clear physical pain in the beginning and only later in life did he feel secure enough to move toward being a lap cat. We recently got a new kitten to help fill the void of our beloved elder cat. This kitten immediately attached herself securely to us. The various girls in my wife’s system are amazed at the complete difference between the cats and they recognize that the basis for it is the one was a trauma victim and the other clearly was not.

    Now I know there’s a difference between cats and people, but my wife has told me herself that she has ‘never know what healthy is.” Her abuse began when she was 2, and though it stopped soon afterwards it left her with extreme attachment issues that kept her from enjoying normal physical and emotional attachments/affection for our entire marriage.

    She’s really not even in a place to know ‘what she wants about some things.’ When she reads about other people enjoying sex it is beyond her ability to imagine it or even imagine how to get there. She accepts that most other, healthy people enjoy that aspect of intimacy, but for her it’s always been a struggle and we’ve spent many unhappy years struggling because of it.

    Now, I do NOT try to ‘fix’ her. I have an older brother who married a woman and he took that attitude toward her trauma issues, and they were soon divorced. However, that doesn’t mean that I have to passively sit by and ‘hope’ my wife will some day figure out how to become healthy on her own. We are a TEAM. And as such, I’m not afraid to gently lead her. It’s never by coercion. And though it means a LOT of self-denial, I always allow her complete agency and to have unilateral veto rights over anything I suggest to help her on the healing journey. And I rarely EVER voice to her that she is ‘unhealthy’ or ‘ill’. I try to lead by filling all the girls with happy experiences with me and 1 by 1 they securely attached to me because I made it clear that I unconditionally loved each one of them.

    I don’t know…I’m just struggling with your stance, and again, maybe it’s because you have autism and maybe it’s radically different from trauma issues, though you say you have both…again, I’m sorry to belabor this, and I don’t really expect you to continue in a conversation, and I hope I’m not causing you any distress, just trying to think out loud and also explain that there are more approaches available than the ones you outlined especially for early childhood trauma victims who truly do NEED a willing model of a healthy approach to life. It’s why I like attachment theory so much because its ideas of safe haven, affect regulation and proximity maintenance have proven themselves over and over and over as I have helped each girl thru her trauma, thru her attachment issues and modeled good affect regulation to each until they have become MORE balanced than I and learned the lessons to the point that now they, happily, reciprocate to me in many ways….

  • Thank you, Emily, for taking the time for your long and thoughtful reply. I agree that not everything born out of trauma is bad. My own experiences from the secondary trauma of my wife’s d.i.d., I think bear that out. And as my wife has healed she has become one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. I do always give her full agency in the healing process: it makes it a challenge trying to help her (all 8 girls) because at times she rejects things I feel could speed the process for the unique issues we face from d.i.d., but I learned a long time ago (before we started this journey) that anything from force was NOT from love.

  • Emily,

    I think there is another option. If your leg was broken you wouldn’t say, “that’s the way I was made, and you and I have to live with it.” You would accept the limitations it put upon you but understand, with time, healing and also physical therapy you could get back to have a fully functioning leg.

    My wife has d.i.d. I NEVER EVER treat her as if she is crazy or ill. In fact, I joke about me being the family ‘idiot’ as she is a certified genius and our son is in his PhD program at Brandeis, and me, well, I was just a lowly senior class president and valedictorian when it actually meant something.

    Anyway, my wife, literally does have issues. The d.i.d. means she can’t access all the rational/emotional faculties that non-dissociated people have because we haven’t gotten all 8 girls fully connected yet. So I understand her/their limitations at the moment: I never belittle any of them for things they can’t control BUT I do NOT accept that this is the way they will be forever. I use the concepts of attachment theory to help them with their attachment issues, and I use the concepts of neural plasticity to reconnect each of the 8 girls to the ‘whole’ so that my wife (all of them) can function more and more with full access to her faculties like a non-dissociated person.

    I do understand the double stigma and think it’s unfair and inaccurate!!!! But rejecting that doesn’t mean that one must therefore accept that he/she is ‘made’ this way when at least for my wife, her issues are trauma related. I’m not sure how autism works, and maybe for you it isn’t trauma related and therefore your circumstance is different than my wife’s.


  • Properly done, attachment theory is a two-way street. In the beginning a LOT was on me, but as my wife healed it became more and more two-way. Even in the available literature, experts are studying how attachment theory works in romantic and adult relationships.

    One of my favorite quotes by John Bowlby, father of attachment theory is this:
    “Human beings of all ages are found to be at their happiest and to be able to deploy their talents to the best advantage when they are confident that, standing behind them, there are one or more trusted persons who will come to their aid should difficulties arise.”

    edit: I do understand that you are correct and many abusive families are looking for an out, but even if it’s only 20-30% of the families who would be willing to do what our son and I have done, can you imagine how many people we could save from the mental health system if they knew what we learned?

  • Steve, as always you try to find the positive without ignoring the negatives. Yes, avarice, will make it nearly impossible to turn Big Pharma, but I think there would be more, how many I don’t know, families out there who would be open to other possibilities if they were simply given a choice.

    Attachment theory works! I almost laughed when Robert wrote “even those with the most damaging diagnoses such as “schizophrenia.” For those of us in the world of d.i.d. I would love to have simply faced schizophrenia, but the fact is, someone with d.i.d. often has a long string of ‘co-morbidities’ because each ‘alter’ on his/her own only controls part of the person’s mental/emotional faculties and so EVERY alter has his/her own ‘disorders’. So I’ve had to help my wife through it all, and though I used other concepts like neural plasticity, it was attachment theory that was the bedrock for everything I did to help her thru the healing process without ANY medications or really any contact at all from mental health professionals (we do use an unlicensed ‘counselor’ who practices theophostics but she doesn’t really understand what I’m doing and so at this point she’s just a good friend and the only ‘real life’ friend the other girls will talk to outside me and our son).

    Anyway, again, it’s not that I’m great or wonderful, but attachment theory WORKS; however, it goes so against our Western culture’s worship of independence and even our obsession with always being BUSY! And it also goes counter to our fears of being ‘co-dependent’ or ‘needy’. I’ve spent 9 years focusing on my wife’s healing, often just sitting on the couch with the various girls and holding them (or just being with the ones who at first didn’t feel safe with snuggling at first). The girls hear me often say, “Life was meant to be shared” and so whenever possible we do things together rather than simply be roommates with benefits like so many of the marriages I see around me. I actually LIKE to be with my wife and have built a life WITH her.

    Anyway, attachment theory is a LIFESTYLE choice. Hollywood romances the idea of being ‘soul mates’ and yet in spite of my wife’s issues, in many ways she and I have become soul mates as we have implemented attachment theory…but as I’ve said before, in spite of blogging for 8 years of so on wordpress, I’ve found few people willing to do what I have done, sigh…sometimes I feel like I’m yelling ‘eureka’ in a vacuum because no one hears me…sigh…

  • Robert,

    this is a wonderful article…and yet how do we get people to see the necessity of it? It was extremely difficult and painful as I worked thru all the trauma that my wife’s d.i.d. had caused me over the course of the first 20 years of our marriage, but until I did that I was minimally able to enter her world and begin to help her heal. For me I remember thinking ‘one of has GOT to be the adult, and she simply can’t right now.’ And at that point I began to be the adult for both of us, slowly understanding the limitations that her d.i.d. caused, which helped me understand her inabilities to be a full partner in our relationship until she was fully healed.

    Anger is such a huge issue. Until I dealt with my own, I was powerless to enter my wife’s world. And I see so much seething rage on both sides of the political/cultural wars in our country and so little attempts to find the common ground you talk of.

    I hope others can hear your message and not react to the past trauma they have suffered. Your perspective on how NAMI got to it’s present state is worth considering instead of seeing them as part of the ‘evil empire’ to be fought.


  • Hi Ron,
    thank you for taking the time to reply. Perhaps(?), we are seeing the same issue from 2 different perspectives. When my wife first began this healing journey, she told me repeatedly, “I don’t know what healing looks like.” And so that compelled me to figure out how I functioned so that I could help her move toward ‘healing’….however, along the journey, as I was intimately involved in her healing, I began to realize that I functioned in a similar manner to how she did, minus the dysfunctional dissociation. In fact, helping her taught me a LOT about myself and how I functioned and even places where I, too, was dysfunctional and needed to change before I could help her more.

    In other words…maybe…minus the dysfunctional aspects of her d.i.d. (and they are systemic for a variety of reasons that I don’t have time or space to explain here), I have learned from her while she also learned from me, and thus we both expanded how we experience and view life so that I no longer see a divide between ‘normal’ people and others…in fact, I often think that most so-called ‘normal’ people are much less self-aware than those of us who have gone thru or helped someone go thru a deep-healing process like my wife and I have.

  • Hi Ron,

    thanks for the thoughtful article. I do appreciate it, and I do agree there is some middle ground, somewhere. I can’t speak for your experience, but my wife’s d.i.d. is still based on dysfunction though I have done my best to help all of us (her, our son, and me) find the beauty that we could/can in it. I feel like I have had the privilege of helping and watching my wife heal and come to life in a very real way as I helped the 7 other girls heal and begin to connect with each other. As they have healed, each girl has become delightful, beautiful, and adds special facets to my wife that the ‘host’ never had on her own. And to help them heal, I had to open myself up to major change as well.

    But I’m struggling with the concept of something based on trauma, her d.i.d. or someone’s psychosis being inherently beneficial. I guess I’m struggling with your concept of ‘gaining mastery’ over something that is inherently dysfunctional. That doesn’t mean our journey together hasn’t radically changed the both of us for the better.

    From my Christian upbringing I would liken it to being in ‘the crucible’ and the fires of her/our healing journey has burned out a lot of the ugliness and immaturity that was in me as well as making her more beautiful and healthy in the process, too. At this point, I pity my family of origin and how ugly they are to my wife because they think they are ‘normal’ and she isn’t. They missed seeing her rebirth and transformation and missed the transformation in me, too, that helped me learn to see things from her perspective even when things were darkest on the journey.


  • Hi Vanessa,

    I’m so glad you are doing better and have started this program to help others!!! I still am horrified by the horror stories of others that I read, and that you and others just kind of take it for granted: that should NOT be!!! It’s not necessary to retraumatize a trauma victim IF people knew what they were doing!!!

    My wife has d.i.d. and so eating issues and body perspective issues come with the territory. I definitely agree with you about the importance of relationships. I have pushed attachment theory with my wife before I even knew it had such name. I have walked the trenches of her battles with her and in many instances, I have literally carried her when she or the other girls wanted/needed to be carried.

    But for us, it was also about balancing those internal voices/perspectives. As my wife was being traumatized during her childhood and her brain began to sequester the trauma in the other girls, she lost access to the mediating voices that those girls offered. My wife’s host still borderlines on eating issues and has terrible body image, and yet as I helped the other 7 girls heal and reconnect with the host, those 7 girls had much better body images. In fact, I still smile when I remember the one girl telling me, “I look damn hot for 50!” and all the other girls feel their body looks ‘just fine’ even though it’s not as perfect as it was when in their teens. And so those girls as they have healed have begun to offer their voices to my wife’s host and helped balance her. Now as the 8 work together, my wife (all of them) work together to maintain their weight but also is learning to deal with the imperfections that 50 brings with it…


  • Thanks, Twilah, what a sad and ugly history we have of being inhumane to our fellow humans…

    I love this quote you gave: “Let me remark in passing that killing them makes their custodial care still easier.” I think it captures the essence of what so many REALLY want from those in their families who has ‘issues.’ It’s a sad history of abuse, victim blaming and being too busy to help those we claim to love…

  • Hi Sera,

    thanks for the insight. As my wife and I have gotten closer to what I hope is the end of her/our healing journey, I contacted the area NAMI rep last year, thinking maybe I could team up with them and start a support group in my town. I had already begun to reconsider that decision because of other things I’ve read here. It’s just so frustrating the depths of influence and manipulation going on in so many areas because of the greed of big pharma and the willing partnership of family members who clearly don’t have the best interest of the one’s they ‘love’ in mind, sigh…

  • Hi Kindredspirit,

    I do understand that so many families are the perpetrators of the abuse themselves. Fortunately that was NOT the case with my wife’s family. Her parents’ problems were that they themselves had been abused as children and so they were in their own ‘funk’ while my wife was being repeatedly raped as a toddler: and they are still in that funk 50+ years later, sigh, all the while maintaining their ‘perfect Christian family’ display to those around them. It’s beyond my comprehension how that can happen, but I understand it did and still does…

    My family? Well I think they’d just rather me get rid of my wife and move on like my older brother did with his second wife and then my mother had the nerve to ‘defend’ his action to me in light of my unwillingness to do the same to my wife…My family is the good conservative family who believes everyone should pull themselves up by their OWN bootstraps…sigh…(took me awhile to unlearn that one…)

    I know there are a myriad of reasons why people are unwilling to help, and so even though I highly respect Bob, I think he’s wrong to think that the majority of people will ‘see the light’ once we destroy the biomedical narrative. I still support and applaud his work and others as a key part of this fight, but I think we need something more to take on this Goliath…and even then the history of how cultures take care of their problem members makes me think many people will just find another way to blame and remove the victims rather than taking responsibility for helping them heal…

  • Sa,

    it’s so hard navigating all the hazards while helping my wife heal: my needs which so often have to be subordinate to her needs at various points; figuring out what’s important and what can be ignored; learning to be comfortable with certain ‘unhealthy’ patterns while addressing larger issues that are more pressing, and always trying to maintain a spirit of being ‘together in things’ rather than letting things devolve into ‘you versus me’ attitudes, and more….just so many landmines. It’s one of the areas I wished I’d had outside help…except that I read so many horror stories of MH experts who sabotage relationships…and so I just try to do the best I can and listen, listen, listen to all the girls so I don’t let us take a bad turn…

    And LavenderSage,
    I had to go and look up the lyrics to that song: guess I’ve heard it my entire life and never knew what it said. Yeah, I don’t know how else to repair it except going back to the beginning and securely attaching EACH girl to myself according to her needs. The last 2 girls have been the hardest as they were the ones most deeply hidden and with the greatest trauma and needs, but we’re getting there…
    Thanks, Sam…

  • Sandra,

    I know you are ‘one of the good guys/gals’ but power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Whether it’s ‘nefarious’ or guild pressures, or whatever, is kind of irrelevant except in a theoretical sense, though I do appreciate your attempt at fair play. Even if psychology/psychiatry had anything to offer as I help my wife heal, I will NEVER let her close enough to find out because of the absolute power they wield (edit: though I do use their attachment theory and some other concepts in ways they can’t/won’t). I’m doing well enough, heck, way better than the experts from ISSTD ever claim to do with their patients, and so I will never let the woman I love be potentially subjected to the horrors I regularly read on wordpress where I blog and elsewhere, even if it literally kills me from the stress as I try to help her heal…

  • I would be happy to correspond with you, and I would also direct you to my blog where I have tried to lay out many of the attachment theory principles and other things I have learned to help my wife. It is at and if you have specific questions that aren’t on the blog, I can be reached at [email protected]. But I will also send this to the gmail account you listed in case you don’t see this reply.

  • Being cynical, but I don’t believe many family members or SO’s really want to know the truth. There may be some who will welcome the truth, but I believe that many people want their own lives and don’t want to worry about doing the very hard work necessary to help a spouse or family member heal. Our culture’s distaste for emotionally ‘needy’ people is one factor. But, the biomedical model also relieves neglectful or outright abusive families of their responsibilities for contributing to a person’s issues, and if a trauma model was generally adopted suddenly there becomes the issue of culpability that the biomedical model neatly attributes to one’s genes.

    I love my wife, but dealing with her issues cost us our entire marriage so far, her entire life, and our son’s entire life. At least we finally understand what was happening and now I know how to help her heal, but I simply don’t believe most are willing to do what it costs to help someone heal. I’m not saying that because I think I’m so wonderful and others aren’t, it’s just because I understand the terrible price my wife, son and I have paid trying to undo what was done to her by abuse and neglect of those in her childhood, sigh…

  • Hi Robert,

    thank you for the thoughtful article. To me the most important part is your question at the end: where do we go from here? How do we break the juggernaut of Psychiatry and Big Pharma? But I think that question should also include: how do we change the public’s willing acceptance of the narrative, because, truly, the public, the majority of the families and SO’s of those who are in distress just want a pill they can give to their ‘loved’ one so that they don’t have to deal with unpleasantries. Certainly my wife’s family and mine couldn’t be bothered to help me and our son help my wife/his mother to heal. And most of those who visit my blog have VERY few people, if any, who are willing to do the hard work over an extended time, to be the healing partners these people need.

    I’ve spent 7 years blogging about the phenomenal things an SO can do with someone who has d.i.d. So many of the guidelines ISSTD gives for these people, I’ve done the opposite and as a result she’s not even in the same universe as most others with d.i.d. when it comes to how far she has healed, and yet the tiny following I’ve attracted makes me wonder if people really would just rather give the ‘problem’ family member or spouse a pill so that their own lives won’t be disrupted, sigh…


  • Steve, I thought we had a therapist on the website awhile ago who stated that if she didn’t protect herself by hospitalizing the person involuntarily and the person went thru with the suicide, then she could be held legally liable. If I’m correct in my memory, then we’ve put thoughtful therapists in a double bind where their own self preservation trumps that of the person in need…

  • respectfully, but, that’s very sad. The voices are there for a reason. I understand this is your only post, but if you stick around maybe you could check out the Hearing Voices Network. Our culture’s attitude toward voice hearing is the problem, NOT the voices themselves.

  • One of the hardest things I had to learn when I first started helping my wife heal was how to accept the vile and vitriol she threw at me. Some of it was earned (after 20 years of marriage), and I had to learn to apologize WITHOUT excuse. Years later as she healed, she was able to see my side of things. But the un-earned stuff was important too. I had to allow myself to accept what was rightly for her abusers, too. Once she got it all out, she was able to heal and move on, but I still have to watch myself, constantly looking for signs that I’m forcing her to do things, even if helpful, that she simply isn’t ready or able to do. Healing is ALWAYS on her timeframe, no matter how much I wish it were faster so our relationship could be more healthy. It is so hard to constantly watch myself AND see things from my wife’s perspective, but I know that only as I do that does she feel the safety to give me complete access to everyone in her system in the healing process.

    It is a fearful thing how deeply I could hurt my wife even when I have the best of intentions…but happily, as she has healed and as all of the girls in the system have begun to connect, she(all of them) is much stronger now, and so when I do stupid and even ugly things from time to time, she’s better able to handle it, though I have also learned to more quickly make amends to the girls who feel the wrongs the deepest…

  • Again, not saying Carmela has d.i.d. like my wife, but sometimes when the girls switch they kind of ‘glitch’ and get stuck like a computer program that doesn’t quite fully load and it causes minor seizures. I just keep them calm and talk them thru it. It’s not a big deal as long as I stay calm so I can keep them calm until they get out of it.

    I don’t understand the biology of it, but I think the mechanics of it, in layman’s terms, is my wife’s brain is working hard to strengthen the neural pathways between the various girls that were allowed to atrophy for 4 decades, and sometimes there are little ‘hiccups’ during that process. They rarely happen at this point…

  • My wife has d.i.d. Though I’m not suggesting you have it, in the past she has displayed all the symptoms you have mentioned. She didn’t deserve incarceration in a mental hospital or forced druggings, and I never let them happen. I never feared sleeping in the same bed with any of the girls at nights. I always treated her and the other girls as equals and with full respect. I never forced myself on any of them, but respected the boundaries they voiced so that they would feel the safety each needed to heal.

    You deserve the same. I don’t live close enough to be there with you, but I will keep you in my heart.

    I hope some day that you will find a safe person who is wiling to let you be you but also who can help the internal chaos in your mind quiet and heal so that those symptoms are no longer present. You shouldn’t be forced into an either or choice just because of the ignorance of others.

  • I think you stated this in passing, Steve, but I think it ought to be restated more clearly and forcefully: trauma victims are VERY cautious about speaking with others about their trauma experiences. We must EARN the right for others to share with us. And usually it’s a process where the victim starts small and as trust is earned, the victim may choose to share more. Sadly too many experts and people in positions of authority act like they ‘deserve’ to be told ‘the whole truth immediately’ just because they asked.

    It took me 7 years of patience, kindness, and unconditional love before the last girl in my wife’s system felt safe enough to come out and begin to connect with me and 2 years later she still doesn’t tell me everything. I gently prod for more but I NEVER push. I NEVER assume the right to her secrets and trauma, and yet so often I see and read things by experts who just kind of have an attitude of outright disbelief, victim blaming or ‘well I asked and she/he didn’t say anything.’ That’s just not how one works with a severe trauma victim.

    I approach my wife from a completely egalitarian plane when I am helping the various girls deal with their trauma because anytime I move toward force and authority, the girls move away or will divert and ‘give me what I want’ but not necessarily the truth…

  • Kurt,

    suicidality is a SYMPTOM. It’s not the real issue to ‘be treated.’ Surely you understand that unless you’ve bought into the biological model of the brain. I do hope you were simply careless with your word choice though being an expert on suicidality and the entire tone of this article make me wonder.

    As someone who has struggled with suicidality for 30 years, I understand how it works in me pretty well. And after 8000+ pages of journaling, I know exactly WHEN it began and WHY it began and continues. And as long as forced hospitalizations are on the table, I would never, ever seek help…besides no one can fix the causes of my symptoms other than me and my wife.

    I’m all for helping teens not make an overwrought, emotional choice when their brains are not fully developed. Life for them hinges on things that, with perspective, are not nearly so important. And again it’s great that the IDF dropped suicide rates by 40% with one small change in policy. But you admit these don’t address the real issues driving people to the ultimate solution to their pain, isolation and hopelessness. Until the life experiences behind those feelings are addressed, everything else is but a short term solution.

  • Thanks, Stephen, I wouldn’t mind writing here and I have my wife’s approval IF MIA allowed me to continue using the pen name I use on my blog, Sam Ruck.

    At the risk of sounding arrogant, I do believe I have learned some phenomenal things using attachment theory to literally help build my wife’s personality from the ground up. It’s not that I think I’m great or special, but I was shoved into a situation that was pretty unique, and the only way to stay true to myself and to the woman I love was to tough it out with her, by her side. She and I have disproven so many things that the experts say without evidence, like, the ‘fact’ that these early childhood trauma victims can ‘never’ overcome the effects of that trauma. And ISSTD mostly focuses on ‘coping’ skills. My wife is LIVING life, not just coping with the fallout from her trauma. I learned out how to completely move her past her PTSD issues using attachment theory, and so many other things.

    Again, it’s not me. I’m nothing special. Really. I wish I would have quit many times, most days, as the pain is so hard for both of us, but since I refused to quit, I’ve had the awesome privilege of watching her flower and blossom and bloom in so many ways that the experts say is impossible…they are wrong…

  • yes, it is political but it is also personal. Having grown up on the Right I tend to see things more as a personal responsibility, though helping my wife has definitely moved me toward the middle and trying to find that middle ground between personal responsibility and corporate responsibility, I guess, is the question. I do wish our culture would facilitate a greater corporate sense of compassion and help for those needing it…it would have helped me as I helped my wife…our support network was VERY thin most of the time except when our son was living at home during his undergrad years. Those 4 years he was awesome…fortunately when he moved out to pursue his grad studies, my wife(the girls in her system) were much more stable and I was able to continue without his support…but it’s still a lonely journey because of our society’s attitude…

  • This sounds like a great movie, Sasha, but as for your question: What if we had the resources in place to be able to hold people through crisis — from breakdown to breakthrough?

    I’m not sure it’s a matter of resources, but a matter of time and commitment. I’ve literally sat with my wife for much of the last 9 years and held the various girls who have joined our family and my marriage. I revamped my life to make time and space for my wife’s healing. Some years we were almost housebound because one of the ‘alters’ was so terrified. Now she(all of them) and I ride a tandem bike as many days a week as possible because it helps the different girls in her system connect. I wish I had had help and an expert to teach me the things my wife needed to heal (though I’m honestly not sure most of them know what I’ve learned), but it was the time needed, and not the ‘resources’ that were the biggest requirements. Was I willing to make my wife’s healing a priority in light of our hedonistic culture that says self actualization is primary?

  • Hi Kelly, thanks for your thoughtful article.

    My wife has d.i.d. and we got so lucky that, somehow, I naturally began to use attachment theory principles with her. Only later did I discover that someone had given it a name. But I would think attachment and ‘community’ are one and the same. My wife has side-stepped so many things commonly associated with people who have d.i.d. and I give all the credit to the deep, ‘secure attachment’ I have with each of the girls in her system. It’s too bad that even though the West gives lip service to attachment theory, they still attack it with their insistence on boundaries, abhorrence over co-dependence and enmeshment and a host of other concepts that they pathologize in their obsession to maintain their ‘independence’. Sure, any of those concepts in the extreme can be unhealthy, but when done in a healthy manner it enabled me to heal my wife’s ptsd issues, her trauma, and also begin the process of connecting the 8 girls in the system. We never had any acting out because the girls adore me (as I do them) and unlike the sad United States of Tara series, I welcomed each girl into the family and worked hard to ‘adopt’ them (securely attached). So what reason would they have to sabotage the family that welcomed them and gave them full rights and privileges unlike on that show and with the many real life cases I know who don’t welcome the ‘alters’ fully and unreservedly?

    Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts. I’m so glad I ‘fell’ into attachment principles and it has made all the difference in her/our healing journey. Sadly our culture would rather a ‘fast-food’ pill to fix the people in pain than to come along beside them and walk the healing journey together.

  • Martin,

    thanks for an interesting post. Having grown up far-right and finally extricated myself from much of its ideology, I’m sadden when either side self-righteously rails against the other. IMHO it seems the further one goes to the right or left the more unbalanced he/she becomes. Whether you call it matriarchy/patriarchy, conservative/liberal, or whatever other label you put on it, it’s the loss of balance that seems to be the key.

    As I’ve helped my wife heal and brought the 8 disparate and dissociated girls together, they’ve side-stepped so many of the pathologies that others with d.i.d. have because I’ve taught them to balance each other. I try hard to find win/win solutions. And it’s the balancing of the voices within my wife instead of allowing one or two voices (girls) to dominate that has helped her to become one of the most beautiful and well-balanced people I know.

    But sadly so many people prized “single-mindedness”. I know my own Christian upbringing taught that anything less was being ‘double-minded’ and wishy-washy. But in retrospect, I now understand that is a recipe for unbalance and obsession and lack of perspective.

    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the dialogue from all.

  • Hi LavenderSage,

    for some reason my computer is only giving me “reply” boxes on some comments and not others…not sure why, so I put this reply as close as I could.

    Anyway, I struggle what to say and how to say it on this site because there’s so much in our background and there’s just not room in my comments to give it all which is why I capitulate here and use the ‘common terms’ associated with d.i.d. even though our journey is anything but the ‘common way’ which I believe is why my wife has healed so well.

    Anyway, I’m over at if you want to see what we are doing.

  • and maybe I should add…she used to be on various forums and boards for abuse survivors, but after a couple of years on the healing journey she was so far past where any of them were, that she got tired of arguing with them about what was possible and do-able, and so she bowed completely out. I feel her absence on the internet is a great loss because I know there’s a natural skepticism against me. I would love for her to validate what we have done together…for it really is as a team even though she doesn’t understand some of the technical aspects of what I do for her, there is NO power difference between us. We are completely egalitarian on this journey and she has full rights to reject what I suggest.

  • Hi Lavendersage,
    if you were on my blog you would RARELY hear me use the terms ‘alters’ and the other psycobabble terms except to tear those terms down. On my blog, just like in real life, I pretty much just use the names of the 8 girls and have a little side bar so readers know which girl is which. But just like an author on MIA recently said, sometimes it’s easier to use the common term even if it’s not the one I prefer or agree with. Plus over here on MIA I’m ‘just’ a commenter and no one knows me or my story except for bits and pieces that come out in my comments.

    I would love, love, love for my wife/my girls to join me on my blog. I talk about it with them regularly, but d.i.d is the ‘soup d’jour’ of mental health issues in Hollywood, and how is it painted? As a bunch of psychotic murderers and now a cannibalistic supervillain thanks to Switch. And so my wife, sadly, sees herself as a ‘monster’ (her term) even though our son and I have NEVER, EVER treated her with anything but respect. I treat ALL the girls in my wife’s system, even the 3, 3-year old little girls with respect and as my equals, for I view them as all part of my wife, and as I help them connect and interconnect, those lines are already beginning to blur as I recently wrote on my blog.

    Maybe some day when I get the last girl connected to the other 7, and technically she will no longer have DISSOCIATIVE identity disorder (because they will no longer be dissociated/separated) maybe then she will allow us to drop the pseudonyms and join me to show the world there is a much, much, much better way to address d.i.d. and most mental health issues via the things I have learned from attachment theory, neural plasticity and some other things I learned to help her along the way…

  • Richard,

    I can’t reply for James, but as a former, far-right, conservative, evangelical Christian I can speak for how hard it is to question how you were raised, (though I would make the same comment about everyone). It was only in the crucible of helping my wife heal that I questioned EVERYTHING I had ever espoused and if it didn’t mesh with reality or help me help her heal, it got discarded or modified. I haven’t thrown out my theistic worldview, but I am much more moderate in my beliefs and practices, but only because I was FORCED to re-evaluate everything.

    And I think most of us are that way. Parts of me knew for decades that some tenets of evangelical Christianity simply didn’t mesh with anyone’s life experiences, but it was easier to go with the flow…until I was in an extreme situation that nearly ripped me and my family apart and then I couldn’t afford the luxury of beliefs that were unhelpful and even harmful.

  • Joanna,

    first thank you for your thoughtful article.

    I’d like to comment on your comment: “I do see some people, however, who are really distressed and overwhelmed by psychotic experiences, tormented by paranoid feelings and voices and utterly engrossed in a bewildering and often frightening internal world. In this sort of state people are unable to connect with other people, so providing other sorts of help is difficult.”

    Respectfully, I took my wife thru d.i.d. and most of the symptoms you describe here are pretty much par for the course(we are in the end stages at this point). She didn’t need any drugs: I simply used attachment theory and it’s concepts of ‘safe haven’ and ‘affect regulation.” And at this point, I’m in the process or helping her reshape her ‘inner working model’ such that it reflects a more healthy one not based upon her early childhood trauma (her frightening inner world as you put it).

    It can be done, but I understand that it’s way beyond what an expert is able to do simply because of lack of access and the time commitment that is required. That’s where I dream of the day when experts like you would team up with SO’s and family members like me. I had to learn all this by trial and error, but if my wife’s counselor had been willing to work with me and team up with me instead of protecting my wife’s privacy to the extreme, she could have facilitated the process instead of making me learn it on my own.

    Again, thank you for this thoughtful article, but there are alternatives even in extreme cases; it’s the time commitment and attachment relationships that are key, though.

  • “Meanwhile, I’m glad that your wife is okay with you posting anonymously about her life. You definitely deserve support; it’s just that most of your comments are about much you have helped her and how broken she was before you found her, how much of a burden it is on you to be her husband, how long-suffering and gallant *you* are in the face of your wife’s terrible condition. I suppose as someone with “mental health” disgnoses and a history of trauma – someone who is probably in your wife’s position in the stories of people that I know – it just bothers me. That is “my reality.”

    I’m posting about OUR life and healing journey together. Independence in a relationship is a western myth that I don’t subscribe to. I fully embrace attachment theory. My wife and I are doing this healing journey TOGETHER: her d.i.d IS my d.i.d. in so many ways. Her dysfunctions affect every facet of our marriage and so in a very real and tangible way they are MY dysfunctions, too.

    I’m sorry that your past experiences have left you so cynical that all you can see from my comments is how wonderful I think I am and how awful and dysfunctional I think my wife is. I realize you don’t get the full picture over on this site like my blog readers do over on wordpress. I try to share what is possible with a fully engaged healing partner.

    I guess if you speak for the majority on this site, it’s not the first site I’ve been made unwelcome or outright blacklisted. I’m sure it won’t be the last either. I understand you are only one voice and there may be others like Steve who feel the opposite, but I get tired of putting myself out there to try to say there IS a better way and even on a site like this, you are so caught up in the fallout from the biomedical model and lack of people willing to join hurting people in the trenches that you attack people like Brett and me who are trying to make a difference no matter how imperfectly we may do it.

    I guess your trauma gives you the right to judge the rest of us since we aren’t trauma victims but are willing suffer the secondary trauma effects so we can help the ones we love rather than walk out like so many SO’s and family members do…

  • Thanks, Steve. I love my wife deeply in spite of how hard her d.i.d. makes things. I kind of hate to use the word ‘dysfunctional’ because it’s NEVER how I treat her which I believe is one of the biggest reasons she has healed in a way that the ISSTD experts say is impossible. Whether I’m dealing with the 3, 3 year old girls, the 5 year old, the 6 year old going on 35, the 2 millenials or my wife’s host I ALWAYS treat them respectfully and as EQUALS!!! Always, always, always. And some day I hope to see a win/win for both of us, and we’ve already seen so many awesome milestones that others with d.i.d. rarely see, but it’s so systemic that it just takes awhile: whole lotta love and patience…

  • Uprising,
    “Samruck, I too am sad to see Brett drop out of the conversation. But “attacks”? “Vitriol”? I don’t think so. Not that I agree with all the comments, but MiA has one of the tamest comments sections on the internet.

    By the way, do you have your wife’s permission to talk about the most personal details of her life here?”

    Attacks and vitriol are in the eye of the beholder. Isn’t that somewhat the ENTIRE point of the comments afterward by those who disagree with James? Brett specifically used the words ‘personal attack’ and you specifically denied his reality, even as you and others have complained about him and ‘the experts’ doing the same thing to their patients….and that is why we NEVER get anywhere. We refuse to apply the Golden Rule and do unto others as we wish they would do to us UNLESS they do so first…and so the vicious circle continues ad nauseum and we drive people like Brett away who may be flawed, in your opinion, but who are honestly trying to make a difference.

    As for my wife’s opinions…#1) Sam Ruck is NOT my name, it is the pen name I use on my blog. #2) I have run my blog about our JOINT healing journey from her d.i.d. for over 7 years on wordpress, and though it is certainly sanitized from daily life with someone who has d.i.d. it is far more graphic than anything I say on this site. #3) As part of the ‘deal’ for me staying in the marriage with someone who was/is extremely dysfunctional, she knew I needed an outlet. Her d.i.d. is also MY d.i.d. in many, many ways. I keep her anonymity per her demands, but she allows me an outlet for the extreme distress her issues cause me per my needs. If she’s ok with it, hopefully you can be, too.

  • Brett, I’m sorry to see you go. And I’m sorry that James never engaged the comments. I do understand how hard it is to be attacked especially when the anger is misplaced. When my wife first began to deal with her childhood abuse, and her defender came out, which meant ZERO filters on the anger and defensiveness, I had to suffer thru 6 months of her anger. Some of which I deserved for we had been married 20 years at that point, and I was certainly not blameless. But I also realized that somewhat I gave her a person on whom she could vent for all the sins of her abusers. It wasn’t easy and I cried after many of those sessions. And so I certainly understand that you feel no need to take the vitriol hurled at you for the sins of others in your profession. I do hope you will continue to fight for change within your profession even if you don’t feel safe here to interact on subjects like this one.

  • I always validated the fears of the various girls in my wife’s system. I think the WORST thing people do is to delegitimize or belittle other peoples’ fears. Even when I didn’t understand the reasoning behind the fears, I believed the girls had a reason that was ‘reasonable’ to them. When I validated their fears and stood with them IN THEM, then they no longer felt alone and their defenses began to lower and AT THAT POINT they were able to consider other possibilities. But as long as they were afraid, they were unable to consider any other point of view.

    In your case, I would have offered to eat your mother’s food first: serve as her ‘cupbearer’ so she could see that the food was safe for her to eat. Fear overwhelms a person’s ability to think. Invalidating a person’s fears, simply convinces them they are alone and they become more fearful in their isolation rather than less fearful; and hence, they become less able to consider alternative possibilities.

  • Maybe you are correct, Brett. Maybe it’s a conversation that MIA needs to have. It’s a historic question. When faced with a cancerous institution, as has happened repeatedly in the past, do you reform from within or blow it up and start a new institution from without? Maybe MIA should consider starting a sister organization so it can facilitate both positions and ‘may the best man win’.

  • Our ‘story’? No, as I’m still in the process of helping my wife heal. She’s come a long way, further than the experts over at ISSTD even believe is possible. But I do blog about how we have walked the healing journey together at I use attachment theory as my foundation. So what I do is pretty science based. I simply can do things as a spouse that the ‘experts’ can’t possibly replicate. Sadly they are unwilling to admit their inherent limitations.

  • James,

    I realize you tried hard to put a lot of caveats into your article. And I can appreciate your attempt to thread the needle between a belief in rigid, black and white absolutism, and the ‘anything goes’ of relativism, but I was never imprisoned in the mental health system like many of the MIA readers.

    I still think you are approaching this subject as an ‘authority’ does. It comes across in your feeling of ‘civic duty’ to correct others who are “perpetuating negative outcomes” by their beliefs and actions.

    Growing up as a conservative Christian, I used to feel that way. I thought I had a ‘duty’ to tell others ‘the truth.’ But as I’ve walked alongside my wife and helped her heal from d.i.d., I realized that ‘duty’ was misplaced. My wife is an autonomous moral agent. In fact part of her healing was allowing her to embrace her ‘personal autonomy’ even when I disagreed with it. I believe ALL 8 girls in my wife’s system are part of ‘my wife’, but only 1 girl ‘feels’ she is my wife. So I live with the other 7 girls according to their reality, their perspective. And from within their perspective, I am slowly able to move them toward a more healthy ‘reality.’ They all know that I consider them part of my wife, but I don’t ever try to impose that view upon them. There are a lot of ways they could function more healthfully if they’d give up some of their beliefs, but I can’t force that. I can only interact with them as an equal and live in such a way that I hope to draw them to myself and a more healthy way of living.

    I think we Americans tend to get caught up in our moral superiority complex, even when, like you, we try so hard to add lots and lots of caveats to say otherwise. I appreciate the spirit of your article, but sometimes the mature thing is to realize affirming another person’s worth and autonomy means we MUST allow them to retain the rights to their beliefs, EVEN when they are clearly dysfunctional and unhealthy.

  • thank you, Bob, for your article. I hope the ‘open dialogue’ is truly that, but as another commenter mentioned, would those of us ‘in the trenches 24/7’ be welcome to those open dialogues? I’ve taken my wife thru d.i.d. and done things the experts say ‘can’t be done.’ I was there 24/7 in every situation, and until the experts understand their limited exposure to how disorders truly work in real life, their knowledge will always be severely truncated.

    Wishing you the best,

  • I wrote about this subject a little on my blog. 29-years of dysfunctional marriage because of my wife’s d.i.d. has had me on the ropes on and off for much that time. The emotional heartache and hopelessness of things never getting better no matter how hard I tried. Even after 20 years when we finally got the d.i.d. diagnosis, the hopelessness of ‘the unknown’ simply was exchanged for the overwhelming hopeless that comes from her disorder being systemic in ways not even the experts at ISSTD really understand from the comfort of their ivory towers.

    I know I have NO mental issues: just extreme emotional and physical fatigue from a one-way relationship and then trying to help her overcome the ‘impossible’ once we finally got the diagnosis. What I suggested to my readers were 1) empathize and sympathize without belittling the pain. The pain is real and justified even if not from your perspective. 2) give appropriate physical affection. Even a heartfelt handshake can break the feeling of isolations. In our hyper-sexualized culture, we’ve lost the power of appropriate touch. 3) Ask if there’s anything you can do, but ONLY if you mean it. I was overwhelmed helping my wife heal, working 60+ hours a week, AND keeping the household running: I could have used a little bit of help… 4) Be a safe, confidential person. Those of us who struggle with regular thoughts of suicide are in a double bind. If we share, we risk our independence. Plus I find so many people uncomfortable with extreme emotions. So it’s just easier not to share rather…but then that means I just continue to struggle along alone…

    There’s not much anyone could do to end the pain of having a wife with d.i.d., but I’ve thought those things might have helped a little.

  • Hi Chaya,

    my wife has been in counseling for 9 years with the same woman. She’s unlicensed and does it because she loves to help people, though over the years as she entered her ‘grandmother phase’ she slowly got out of counseling except for my wife. They both share with each other and pray for each other. My wife has d.i.d. and all the older girls consider the counselor their friend. She doesn’t accept money, and it’s very much egalitarian, especially as my wife considers me her main ‘healing’ provider and so her attachment to the counselor is appropriate and not all-consuming as I so often see other d.i.d. patients on WordPress where I blog.

    I’m sure many therapists have good intentions, but as I’ve stated on my blog there can NEVER be an appropriate attachment relationship when money is the basis for the relationship. You found that out when your therapist could no longer accept your insurance and she couldn’t even be honest enough with herself to realize that she may not be ‘in it for the money’ and yet, she has allowed herself to be a part of a system that most definitely is in it for the money.

    I wish you well.

  • Hi Micheal,
    My use of attachment theory in my wife’s healing from d.i.d. has been foundational to so much that I do to help her heal. In the beginning, when the various girls (‘alters’, gag) were experiencing panic attacks, flashbacks and mild self-injury, I would wrap them in my arms and gently whisper, “It’s ok. You aren’t alone anymore. I’ve got you now.” And slowly my role as each girls’ safe haven brought them thru the terrors and emotional storms, and happily, it’s been a long time since we’ve had to deal with any of that stuff.

    But even with the less dramatic stuff, I made sure to keep the (appropriate)physical and emotional attachment with each girl constant as it helped calm them and help them securely attach to me and then begin the process of connecting with the other girls in my wife’s system.

  • Yes, I’d have to say that unconditional love to each of the girls in my wife’s d.i.d. system is one of the key things they have needed to heal and feel safe enough to begin connecting to each other…I’m sorry for all the years you had to suffer in the mental health system, but every time I read one of these stories, it makes me so happy, in spite of the incredible hardships and heartache, that I kept my wife completely out of the system so she could heal and so I could become a better person, the kind she needed to be her healing partner. Wishing you the best,

  • “by consisting of extreme, bizarre, usually dysfunctional and sometimes unfathomable manifestations of human agency”


    you said you were interested in our comments, but I haven’t seen you back since the original post. Maybe you are simply observing the responses. I do hope you understand that I am thrilled for the attitude that you displayed in your original article and so I hope you understand that I am NOT trying to attack you. But I think your use of ‘bizarre’ and ‘unfathomable’ reveal an unhelpful attitude that ‘experts’ too often have, even ones like you who are open to a better paradigm concerning mental health.

    I have lived with the 8 ‘alters’ in my wife’s d.i.d. system for the last 9 years. They have joined me over the course of that time with the last one joining me 2 years ago. But I just interact with them as girls because that’s how they begged me to do so. Some see me as a father figure. Some as a friend. Two are dating me and have promised to marry me some day. And one sees me as her husband. The three youngest view themselves as 2-3 years old, 2 are ‘middles’, the girlfriends are teens and the host is the body’s age, 51.

    I would NEVER characterize these girls, their thoughts or actions, or my interactions with ANY of them as bizarre. And the only time things were unfathomable was in the beginning because of my own ignorance. Once I began to understand the logical way that my wife’s d.i.d was constructed, ALL the things associated with d.i.d. made sense and I could help my wife thru the healing process and avoid so many pitfalls that are common.

    But I’ve been in the ‘trenches’ with them 24/7 for the last 9 years. It saddens me when I hear the majority of ‘experts’ using similar terms you did. Maybe it’s the clinical setting and the experts never get a chance to deeply interact with their patients in everyday settings like family and friends do.

    I guess my hope for you, when you are speaking to your colleagues, is that you will urge them to step out of their own perspectives and into the perspective of the ones they are helping. When I learned to do that, it revolutionized my ability to help my wife heal.

  • You know, as much as I hear about psychosis, and even psychosis related to d.i.d., I can only think of ONE instance in 9 years that any of the girls in my wife’s system talked about something that clearly was impossible. At first I kind of argued with her every time she brought it up as it was clearly impossible (being a spy in Europe in her past). But then I changed tactics, and the moment I validated the girl and sincerely asked her if she could tell me more about it, I NEVER heard about it again….almost like she simply wanted someone to validate and ‘hear’ her…

  • “What attracted me to psychiatry, and what still interests me, is the intuition that mental disorder has something profound to teach us about the nature of being human. And it does this not by reflecting brain abnormalities, but by consisting of extreme, bizarre, usually dysfunctional and sometimes unfathomable manifestations of human agency.”

    With respect…my wife has d.i.d. I have guided her thru the healing process without medications and mostly using attachment theory and the concepts of neural plasticity. But my attitude was always to downplay the ‘bizarre’ aspects of the disorder. It’s not that I thought her actions and/or thinking weren’t dysfunctional, but I always treated her with respect and whenever she got side-lined by various ‘co-morbidities’, I would simply assure her that these were the result of the various girls in the system being separated/dissociated and once I got them all together, those ‘bizarre’ or ‘dysfunctional’ things would melt away. And that has, indeed, been the case. At this point, 9 years into the healing process, where I have 7 of 8 girls connected, and the 8th one, nearly connected, she (as a whole) is one of the most put-together and beautiful people I know. I believe I was able to help her and guide her partially because I entered the world of each dissociated girl, understood things from her point of view, and then gently guided her toward a more healthy and interconnected life with the others.

    To me it was about my ability to simultaneously live in 2 realities: mine and hers and NEVER belittle her or cause her to feel like a dysfunctional freak even though she was highly dysfunctional.

  • “The expectation is that they will work with agitated patients in the same manner that they work with all patients, engaging in a respectful dialogue with them, and that the ward atmosphere will provide its own calming effects. If a patient becomes agitated, they will want to know: “Why are you so agitated? Have we done anything toward you that would make you so agitated? What can we do to make it better for you?”

    It will be important, she added, that “we not make rules that say, ‘you should not break a glass.’ We need to create an atmosphere where this is a place where such things don’t happen. And if someone did throw a glass, we will look at it as the community that broke down. We didn’t want (the person) to have to throw a glass to get our attention.””

    Hmm, I loved this article, but these questions and attitudes mystify me. If they want to be able to help trauma/abuse victims ‘without medications’, as I helped my wife who has d.i.d., they need to be ready to deal with anger, hatred, vitriol, aggression, self harming, etc. I used the attachment theory concept of ‘safe haven’. I had to ALWAYS be safe and calm in the midst of whatever storm was currently assaulting my wife. And yes, sometimes I inadvertently got hurt in the midst of those storms, but part of being a safe haven is understanding that it’s not really about me or the present. It’s about the past, and I gave my wife a safe place to expel the pain and trauma.

    At this point she is long past most of that, but it’s because I helped her process things that she often didn’t understand herself. Don’t expect rational thinking necessarily. My wife’s pain stretched back 45+ years to when she was a toddler. She couldn’t explain much of it, but she did feel it, and thru her attachment to me, I gave her a safe way to release it.

  • This isn’t an either or situation as usual. When my wife was self harming, I simply went thru it WITH her. It’s about being a ‘safe haven’. I helped her process the overwhelming emotions she was experiencing and didn’t let her do any major damage to herself or me, but I also didn’t ‘stop’ her.

  • Hmmm, skipped over most of the comments before I made my first comment. It’s sad to see so much ignorance surrounding this disorder in the comments section here. If it can be ‘exorcised’ it sure as heck wasn’t d.i.d. Sadly many good-meaning but ignorant Christians have taken that approach to the insiders of a d.i.d. system and all they accomplished was sending the insiders to hide back inside. They’ll be back later or the host may go blithely on in ignorance and never realize that the trauma was hidden more deeply by the ‘exorcism’.

    When my wife’s defender first came out, she could have played the part of demonic possession with her voice all gravely and the vitriol that she spat toward me. But I just loved her until I broke thru to her, and then she transformed into the most beautiful of girls and now she has matured to the point of wanting to marry me. The Exorcist may make great watching, but it’s not reality and d.i.d. isn’t spiritual. It’s just the way a child’s mind desperately tries to cope with overwhelming trauma, and it all makes sense when the rest of us be quiet long enough to listen to those with the disorder and understand what’s going on from their perspective. I’ve considered myself a Christian for most of my life, but trying to spiritualize this disorder is just as bad as what the movie does by trying to sensationalize it.

    And though I strongly object to what ISSTD proscribes in their healing standards for d.i.d. sufferers and would NEVER allow my wife to be subjected to their ignorance, I certainly don’t find the diagnosis ‘laughable.’ Really? I find it very sad what the ‘experts’ proscribe and do for the healing of this disorder but one thing they got 100% correct, unlike the rest of the mental health experts, is they understand that this disorder is, indeed, trauma based. And in that respect, I feel like those of us in the d.i.d. world hit the jackpot because we aren’t subjected to the biomedical model of the brain quackery that the rest of mental health patients are…though the prejudice and methods of that model still bleed thru to many of the ISSTD therapists.

  • Hi Sera,

    my wife has d.i.d. I am the one guiding her healing journey for the most part. She has a counselor, but her host tells me regularly I do far more for her and the other girls just by the fact that I have 100% access to everyone in the system and I live with them 24/7. And our now adult son played a pretty big role in her healing as well when he was living with us during his undergrad years.

    My wife has never known what ‘healthy’ is: she would tell me that regularly at the start of our healing journey. So I began to look at myself and how my personality functioned so I could help her rebuild hers. Let’s just say I came to the conclusion that I actually do function as a multiple, but the key difference between me and her is the lack of dissociation brought by her trauma. So we focus on healing the trauma and removing the dissociation and we have NO desire to remove the ‘multiple’ aspects of her personality. I always tell the other girls, “I worked too hard to find you: there’s no way I’m getting rid of you now!” The integration occurs naturally the way we are doing it, but it is better seen as ‘group integration’ rather than what is forced upon people with d.i.d. because our cultural ignorance about hearing voices.

    Anyway, thanks for the article about Switch. I hope some day we can turn the tide, and Hollywood and the media will stop promoting false and inflammatory views of this disorder. I have never been scared of any of the girls except at the very beginning because of the views promoted in the media. Once I actually met them, they may have been angry, and one HATED me passionately, but I was never afraid. And once I helped the angry girl (defender) heal. she transformed and 6 years later now we are in the process of getting engaged.