Saturday, December 3, 2022

Comments by Sam Ruck

Showing 651 of 656 comments. Show all.

  • Hello, Jaakko and James,
    I love the idea of Open Dialogue and believe it is on the correct path: one my wife and I, unfortunately, had to take on our own. We walked the path together, sharing our experiences, sharing our struggles and difficulties, leaning on each other, finding meaning and healing from her trauma and extreme states. I also love that this approach recognizes the entire family as a key part of the dialogue. We are all in this together, and the extreme individuality and independence the West has adopted deeply hinders the ability to heal and move forward.
    Perhaps, someday, our paths will cross. I’d love a chance to share some of the things we have learned on our healing journey.

  • Thanks, Diaphonous Weeping,
    I try so hard. It’s really hard being attacked for doing the very thing, I believe, many on this website wishes their own spouses and families had done for them: doing whatever, and I mean whatever, it takes to love them, protect them, respect their agency, keep their dignity, and just treat them like a normal human being despite all the extreme states, dissociation and, at times, even chaos.

    I don’t know that my wife is ‘shy’ per se, she just wants to be treated for herself and not some caricature our culture has of DID. This article listed schizophrenia as one of the ‘worst’ impugned mental health issues. DID is right up there with it.

    My hope is that this book, if I can get it finished, will normalize mental health struggles from the family, spouse and significant other’s perspective. My wife and I have walked together through almost any extreme state imaginable, and we learned how to help her heal from all of them so that most are a distant memory from the past at this point in our journey. Yes, I’m often called to do more than I would have to for a spouse without these struggles, but I guess that’s part of being in a loving, lifetime relationship.

  • hmmm…yeah, I remember when my wife first suggested she might have DID and I immediately wondered if I was living with a psychopathic murderer(thanks, Hollywood!). Fortunately, I realized almost immediately that I had safely lived with her for 20 years and she was unlikely to kill me in my sleep at that point if I hadn’t given her reason before then…

    Sadly, the fear of stigma has kept my wife in the shadows, unwilling to give up the appearance of ‘normalcy’ by those in our lives…and though I have discussed with her multiple times how beneficial it would be for us to have more support as well as sharing our mutual healing journey on a larger scale because so many are struggling and it’s only gotten worse since COVID, she just is unwilling to live with the caricature our culture places upon those with a diagnosis…especially since hers is one of the ‘worst’.

    But for me, seeing our commonality and learning much from her own struggles helped me become a better, healthier person partially so that I could be a better healing companion with and for her on this journey…

    And I have been given the opportunity to share our journey on a larger scale using this pen name as I have begun collaborating with an expert (since I’m just a husband), but also because she brings a lot to this project, to write a book together and one of our goals is to normalize mental health struggles and living with someone even experiencing pretty extreme stuff like my wife did…and perhaps someday we’ll see the fruit of that venture if we make it to the goal.

  • Bob,
    This article reminds me of a thought I’ve repeatedly had while reading some of the articles on this website: I’ve often wondered if the prevailing philosophical materialism which undergirds most of modern science plays any part in so many of the maladies we see affecting not only psychiatry and Big Pharma, but other branches of science as well. It’s a straight jacket that too many scientists seem unable to break free of..but I’m not enough of a philosophy expert to know if it’s a hunch that is correct or not…I think it would be interesting, if you feel I am correct, to find a true expert on the subject and have him/her do an article for Mad in America sometime.

  • Hello Richard,
    well, I’ve been walking with my wife for the last 15 years helping her heal from her trauma and extreme dissociation, engaging all of her ‘parts’, learning about my own, and both of us are learning to embrace all of our selves. I think you may be misunderstanding some ‘symptoms’ as ’caused’ by the ‘protectors’ when, at least from our experience, they were caused by the associated mental traits and abilities of the various ‘parts’ that were ‘exiled’ (dissociated)…but it’s hard to see that unless you have complete access…and few do outside the primary attachment figures of each person…but I do see a lot that I agree with you on…and am glad you are having an impact…
    Too bad you’ll never read my comment: I think we’d have a lot in common…
    Take care and best wishes to you.

  • Bob,
    don’t forget family like me who have the lived experience of walking thru everything my wife experienced, at times carrying her thru it, until she could make sense of things and heal and integrate it back into her own narrative. You’ve got to expand the circle because there are few ‘peers’, probably, who would be committed day in and day out, 15 years and counting like me and other family members who are in a lifetime commitment…I know there are many family members who fall far short of the ideal and are even part of the problem and abuse…but I still believe there are others out there like me, who if they were supported and trained could learn to do the things I have.

  • I would suggest that most DSM ‘disorders’ are actually symptoms of dissociation after 15 years of embracing my wife’s extreme dissociation and walking thru it with her. And as I repeatedly assured her, “focus on the trauma and dissociation and the rest will take care of itself.’ And it has. Her other issues have largely disappeared or become minor.

    Attachment is the way I helped heal and dissolve my wife’s dissociation, but it doesn’t ‘cure’ the things caused by dissociation (the so-called dsm ‘disorders’). Those are resolved when the various part of the mind are reconnected (after the dissociation is dissolved) and then balance comes back to the person as the healing/mitigating parts of the mind can ‘balance’ those parts which need it.


  • Hi Jock,
    thank you for an interesting interview.

    I wish you had elucidated your biocognitive model more within the interview…and perhaps I’m obtuse, but why did you include ‘bio’ in the model’s name at all when it appears you wanted to get away from biological explanations of mental disorder?: “The biocognitive model says that there is no physical cause for mental disorder, but a psychological account is possible and it can account for all mental disorder. So mental disorder becomes a psychological phenomenon.”

  • In the d.i.d. world, we have to deal with the ‘False Memory Syndrome Foundation” that was largely created by abusive family to gaslight the now-adult children they had abused and say they were remembering ‘false’ memories about their abusive childhood.

    There’s no doubt there are plenty of bad-faith families out there: neither of my wife’s nor my immediate family were willing to support and join us on our healing journey, and yet, change is possible. I’m proof of that. When we first started our journey, my wife said she spent more time dealing with my weekly blowups at her counseling sessions than her own stuff. But once I got my issues dealt with, then she told me I was now the greatest factor in her healing.

    That is what we need to fight for: teaching family who are willing how to become the healing companions every struggling person needs. It’s not natural or easy. I have to fight my own self interests because I still sacrifice a lot of my own needs to make space for her healing: but I do it because I love her and because I’m seeking a win/win for us. And I just have to believe there are others out there who are like me and who would change if someone showed them the way…and there’s a chance, now, that I may be able to make that happen…(keeping my fingers crossed as it develops)

  • Hi Sera,
    based upon your response to me, my original comment should be rated a ‘fail’ for conveying what I had hoped to do, sigh. I’ve wondered for the last 4 days if it was even worth a 2nd attempt, but as I continue to see negative comments directed toward the family, perhaps I will try again.
    1) I do believe I understand the general purpose of your analysis of the comments section of the NYT article. Having walked with my wife these last 15 years and having followed Mad in America these last 6 or so years, I believe I understand the general perspective you are sharing and agree with much of it.
    2) However, I believe your analysis and the generally negative comments directed toward family by others here presupposes a generally negative ‘bad faith’ motive concerning the majority of family. However, I see them as victims of Big Pharma and psychiatry who are manipulated along with the rest of those in our culture to accept the common biomedical narrative of mental health. And NAMI to whom family turns for help, support and training, as you have written here in the past, is just an arm of that coalition and so family go there, thinking they will be helped, only to be corrupted, sigh.
    3) Moreover, I believe this analysis forgets the inherent selfishness we ALL have. We all have hopes, dreams, desires and needs. They aren’t necessarily bad, but when something extreme like severe trauma and dissociation is thrown into a relationship, sadly those things can turn a loving relationship into a war campaign to have those needs met.

    Sadly the manipulation of Big Pharma and psychiatry; our general culture, as well, and our inherent selfishness all work to create a ‘battle of wills’ even among loved ones and sadly the strongest win and the weaker loses.

    My wife inadvertently saved us from this by asking me not to read anything about her ‘condition’ when we first started our healing journey, and I kept that promise for the first 2 or 3 years until we had sufficiently developed a rhythm and methodology that worked for both of us. But I also had to fight my inherent selfishness and tell myself over and over that I was fighting for a win/win for me and my wife, rather than allowing my selfishness to twist my relationship with my wife into a battle of wills.

    Have you heard of the Better Angels group? In this ugly culture war in which our country is immersed, this group and others like it are trying to help people stop presupposing the inherent ‘bad faith’ of the ‘other side’ and instead learn to really understand each other and find our overwhelming common ground.

    I truly am sorry for each and everyone of you who have been hurt and betrayed by your family and loved ones, but unless we can find that commonality and love that I believe motivates most of us, then those who are struggling will continue to lose.

    I’ve been at this 15 years, and I’m more than my wife’s ‘ally’ as the Left uses that term. I’m her foxhole buddy who walked with and at times literally carried her thru every extreme state and everything else she experienced no matter where or when it happened. There is no group in the world that can do what family can do, period. And so we’ve got to move past the larger culture-war milieu that literally believes those on the ‘other side’ are ‘evil’. We’ve got to train and empower our loved ones to be the healing companions those who are hurt need most.

  • Sera,
    I’m really struggling how to respond to your article. I’m torn in so many different ways. I am obviously sympathetic and empathetic to your perspective as I have literally spent the last 15 years dedicated to helping my wife heal while I kept her completely out of the mental health system and off any drugs…I had to learn to listen to her. Her fears. Her perspective. Her everything…

    And yet, as a ‘family member’ we have real fears, real perspectives, real needs, too. I don’t share them much on this site because I understand its perspective and also because I chose to walk with my wife when all her trauma and dissociation exploded into our marriage and family…and so I chose the emotional distress and sacrifices that walking with her through all that stuff would require me to make in order to be a good healing companion for her.

    The real problem I see is that everyone wants their own perspectives, needs, fears, etc., validated but I rarely find someone willing to do the same for someone else, even a loved one, especially when that requires validating a perspective antithetical to or in competition with our own. And so then we engage in a battle of wills and the stronger wins…at the sacrifice of the relationship.

    What we need are people willing to seek win/win solutions. I believe you and this website are just trying to get ‘this side’s’ perspective out there, but I’ve tried to walk in such a way with my wife that there isn’t ‘her’ side and ‘my’ side. I always refer to this as ‘our healing journey’ because if I other her in any way…it creates space for us to grow apart and this journey is so hard on both of us, even today, that we won’t make it if I don’t own it all as my own because we are in it together.

  • Hello Irit,
    thank you for this review.

    I have begun to read Tina’s booklet. Much of what Tina has suggested I have done for my wife these last 15 years, and so, fundamentally, I agree with her, and yet, I am struggling with her desire to see this done on a larger scale than within families as we have done (how many have the commitment level outside of a family to go 15 years and counting???). Yes, I think others who are willing should be taught the things that Tina espouses. Yes, the laws certainly need changed to stop the inhumane treatment and stripping away of fundamental rights of others simply because they are experiencing mental distress.

    …But I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote that others do so because of their fear which I believe is driven by ignorance. Until we can cogently articulate what is going on when a person is experiencing extreme states to demystify them so that others can empathize and realize that they are just like I am, not crazy, mad, dangerous or anything else, then I fear people will continue to demand the right to subdue what they fear rather than embrace it.

    Thanks to both of you and I will continue to try and make my way thru her booklet.

  • Diaphonous Weeping,
    the ancient wisdom says, “See to it…that no root of bitterness, springing up, causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
    When my wife and I first started this healing journey 15 years ago, I had my fair share of anger and bitterness. This isn’t what anyone signs up for when he says his wedding vows…but I love my wife, and if we were going to make it, and make it well, then I had to let go of the anger and bitterness. I had to learn to ‘breathe’ the disappointment, pain and heartache that would be part of this journey. At first it was like learning to breathe underwater: my being convulsed and fought against the pain and heartache, but my love for my wife and my desperation to find a win/win for us held me until the process was completed.
    So, I still hurt, but I know it’s the price to walk with the woman I love, and it doesn’t have the power over me that it used to.

    As for ‘fixing.’ Sigh, yes. My older brother’s 2nd wife was a trauma survivor, and about the same time my wife’s trauma exploded into our marriage, his wife’s did, too. But he wanted to ‘fix’ her and drug her all over the country trying to do so…and not long after that, she filed to divorce him. I had tried to invite him to ‘walk’ with his wife, like I was learning to do with mine, but he had no interest…and my family rallied around him when he was ‘free’ of her, sigh. And then my mom tried to give a defense of him to me since she knew I was going thru similar things with my own wife, sigh. I think the rest of my family wishes I had done the same thing to my wife.
    …it was their loss. Our healing journey really has been a fantastic (though difficult) voyage…like seeing a star born…as each girl (‘alter’) joined us on the outside…and I got the privilege of helping her heal as I offered her the safety and security of a loving relationship with me: something she had never known before. And once she accepted that safety with me, then she was free to let me hold her pain and trauma…so that she could heal and move on to become the beautiful person she was always intended to be…

    My family and my wife’s missed the beautiful journey we have been on. It was their loss, and yet, we lost too by not having their support…but they are all broken people who have fought to pretend that they aren’t, while they shun my wife’s brokenness and think they are better than her, sigh.

  • Hello Diaphonous Weeping,
    I almost missed your beautiful commentary and analysis of things through your various comments because I kind of zoned out on the comments section until Steve made a comment about how we inherit so much dysfunction thru our parents, and they thru their parents, etc. You have some incredible insights and articulate them so well. So much of what you speak are things I have tried to do for my wife on our healing journey. For us there is no railing against the system or seeking justice from her abuser because the exact knowledge of him is lost to her in the mists of 5 decades ago when she was a toddler. And so we deal with the trauma and dissociation today and how it affects her and us until we can undo it.

    I did want to speak to Steve’s comment about our heritage of dysfunction. I remember when my wife and I first started this journey that I made a vow to break that dysfunction so our son didn’t continue in the mold. Unfortunately, he spent so many of his formative years touched by our struggling marriage until I began to deal with my own issues so that I could be a good healing companion for my wife. I wish I could have been a better father for him…but I am getting a 2nd chance this year since he had to move back in with us while he is trying to finish his PhD.

    Anyway, DW, you really are beautifully articulate. It’s too bad more people haven’t read and understood some of the critical things you have stated. I do agree with so much of it and our journey has mirrored much of what you have said, but my writing is always more of one who writes those dry instruction manuals for our devices which none of us read unless we absolutely must: it’s probably why there’s been so little interest no matter how I’ve tried to share our amazing journey of love, healing and discovery (blog, booklets, comments across the internet) because I seem unable to write in such a way that draws people in.

  • Hi Bradford,
    thank you for the generous comment. I wish you weren’t correct…that our case is just seen as anecdotal, sigh. Even here in the Mad in America, counter cultural movement, I have struggled to find a place to really change the conversation how family can be available 24/7, 365 days a year for their loved ones and so we MUST be the ones taught and empowered to walk with them while respecting their total agency.
    But it’s more than that; my wife and I embraced her extreme states, her extreme dissociation and everything else…and we found a way thru them. I’ve tried to shout ‘eureka’ for 15 years, but I just can’t find anyone with a big enough platform to help me spread the word. I so appreciate MiA giving me this chance to do so, but I was heartbroken by the lack of response and even ‘hits’ to this blog and even the free downloadable booklet.

  • Hi Miranda,
    thank you for writing this insightful review, and also, thank you for sharing some of your story with the rest of us. Personally, I’ve struggled with suicide ideation and depression/despair/despondency most of my adult life, and I do agree with you that hope and strong relationships are some of the best ways I fight against these overwhelming feelings. Hope is also part of the reason I work so hard to be a good healing companion for my wife, since our ‘fortunes’ are inextricably linked to each other’s, and her ‘win’ will be mine, too.

    But as for empowerment. I often thought about the categorical difference between my older sister being raped in her 20’s and my wife’s experience of being molested as a 2-year old and her childhood growing up with emotionally distant and at times abusive parents. My sister quickly moved thru the healing process as she fought to get back to healthy and a few years later she was speaking to other women about her experience and how she had healed.

    But my wife? When we first started our journey together, she told me repeatedly that she didn’t even know what ‘healthy’ looked like. She had no goal to fight for like my sister because she had never known what it was in the first place. On top of that, we spent 5 years of continuous extreme states, where she was literally, constantly overwhelmed, and I had to be there with her ‘in the emotional hurricane waters”…holding her up from drowning, being the calm in her storm. I was her lifeguard, her ‘savior,’ in a very real sense…until I got her stabilized, and we moved out of that phase.

    15 years later she is in a much different place and I rarely have to ‘rescue’ her and yet I still have to help her heal in a way that my sister never needed. It’s been a struggle for me so that I don’t infringe upon her agency in any way, and yet be willing to provide her the support and help that she needs as she still is moving toward the goal of becoming healthy…having never experienced it.

    And so each person’s experience of suicide ideation, depression or any other mental distress and what each needs to heal from it and move past it will depend on their own history. Empowerment can feel overwhelming and almost like the same abandonment s/he experienced during childhood to someone who has never known ‘healthy’ like my wife until s/he has healed and stabilized enough. That doesn’t give the helper license to transgress someone’s agency, but it does mean basing the help and depth of involvement according to the needs of the sufferer and realizing much more help may be needed at the start of the healing journey.

  • Hi Michael,
    thank you for responding. You seem pretty passionate about this subject from what you’ve written here and past articles of yours I’ve read on Mad in America and also on your own website. I don’t know if the terms of your sabbatical would allow you to read a little booklet I wrote about how I engaged my wife’s ‘madness’ these last 15 years without drugs mostly using attachment strategies as I have walked with her thru almost anything you can imagine when it comes to mental distress. it’s 42 pages with lots of stories about our journey. But if that falls outside your sabbatical, I have written myself some notes, and I will try to contact you after you get back.
    Here’s a link to the free download.
    Thanks, Sam

  • Bateson wrote, “Diabasis is one of a very few institutions across the country which carry the responsibility for advancing our understanding of psychiatric phenomenon … problems which are almost as complex as any which the human spirit can present. In just a few places and necessarily on a small scale, this complexity is being faced, I would argue that those places are curiously precious, not only for the few patients who are lucky enough to pass through them, but also precious to the whole psychiatric profession and the wider field of helping skills.”

    Michael, do you really believe this? i tried to contact you via your website, but it said you wouldn’t be available until late June. Sadly, I missed you when you visited our support group that Kermit and Louisa lead. I’ve walked with my wife thru her ‘madness’ for the last 15 years: every aspect of it: the extreme states, the ‘psychosis’, the ‘delusions’ and ‘paranoia’ and so much more. If you ever wanted to talk, I’d love the chance to share some of the amazing things I’ve witness as I walked thru it all with her.

  • First, let me say how truly sorry I am for Sera, that her ex is stooping this low. Anger makes us capable of such ugly things. My heart goes out to her and her entire family.

    As someone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts for 3 decades, after a lot of journaling, I’ve come to see them as a coping mechanism; just one tool in my toolbox that I can say, ‘If things get too bad, I’ve always got an out.’ However, it’s only one tool, and there are other tools I use to keep me from using that one. But I also realized if my agency had ever been removed, I probably would have become even more suicidal.

    But I am concerned about the focus on autonomy. “No man(person) is an island.” None of are autonomous. None of us acts in a vacuum. None of us develops and grows as children or adults in a vacuum, and I think to make this a focus plays into the hyper-individualism of our western societies and why too often we don’t care enough about those in our communities. I think a better goal is collaboration realizing that I have personal weaknesses, blindspots and am limited in my experience, knowledge and wisdom and I can benefit from relationships with others. I don’t always, intrinsically know what is best for me, but I can benefit from a safe community of fellow travelers who are willing to share without coercion.

    So, I think it’s agency we should focus on, not personal expertise because all of us are limited in our experiences and sometimes we all could do with a little more humility as we accept help from others, but it ought to be our choice to accept that help, not something forced upon us because others are uncomfortable with the ugliness that life can bring to each of us.

  • Hi Louisa,
    I am aware of that line of thinking though only on a superficial level. I can’t really answer for my wife, but from my perspective most of what she experienced seemed to be various dissociative effects of the original trauma, and as I helped her hold and heal the trauma, then we could begin the hard work of reconnecting the various, dissociated parts of her greater self…and then those issues largely resolved themselves.
    I think both of us have grown as people having walked thru the hell that we did, but I wouldn’t call it a higher consciousness, just maybe a greater awareness of what really makes us all tick as human beings…but maybe that is one and the same with what you are suggesting…idk…

  • Hi Joshua,
    though it doesn’t really come out in this little introduction explicitly, in the booklet I make it clear that I don’t accept the terms ‘mad’, ‘psychosis’, ‘delusional’ or ‘paranoia’ when talking about my wife’s experiences or my attitude toward them and that is why they all appear in quotation marks…unlike voices and extreme states which do not appear in quotation marks in the booklet and yet I still take issue with how our culture views them.

    My wife is just my wife, and when I engaged her in all her experiences, things made sense from her perspective and so we found a way thru them TOGETHER.

  • Hi Niall,
    why do we lock them up? Good question. I have a guess even though I never allowed that to happen to my wife.

    We let them be locked up to spare ourselves the scary and discomforting witnessing of extreme states. The first 5 years of the healing journey with my wife, we were inundated by her extreme states and each new one was, honestly, rather scary for me to witness. When she hit the ground in a comatose episode: freak me out. When her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she looked like she was experiencing a mild seizure: Breathe, Sam! When she hid under the table at home or under clothes racks out in public in terror and panic…wth? When she tried to jump out of our car going 70mph on the highway, repeatedly, or wanted store-bought fairy-wings so she could jump and fly off a building top…ahhh!!!!…when she was hitting furniture and falling down our stairs so often she was black and blue for more than a year that I was afraid of being accused of spousal abuse…and all the voices she started to hear which our culture assures us make people dangerous and unpredictable….you know…it’s exhausting…it’s overwhelming…it’s scary…it didn’t make sense at first…and I honestly didn’t know how to protect her from herself…I honestly thought I was going to lose her to one of these episodes!

    And so we capitulate to the logical fallacy of ‘appeal to authority’, the experts who claim to have the magic cures with their pills, ECT, and all their indecipherable words and diagnoses and theories of mental ‘illness’ instead of using our love, compassion and brains for the ones we love…It really would have been so much easier (for me) to have drug my wife or passed her off to the ‘experts’ instead of our son and I caring for her 24/7 for 5 years until I walked her thru all the extreme states and figured out how to help her heal from them to the point they are a distant memory at this point.

    So I wonder if we do the unthinkable to those who are struggling to save ourselves the stress of having to walk with them thru it all…and I’m not suggesting this to shame any who have done so or elevate myself. I know the family member’s and spouses’ pain. I know their fear. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t do that to my wife other than some part of me just couldn’t do that to the woman I love. I remember the day I told myself I had to grow up and be the adult in our relationship right now because she needed me to do so and couldn’t do it herself at that moment.
    idk…just a thought…

  • Hmmm…well. this article didn’t go the direction i thought it might. i understand this is the author’s experience and so she’s an expert on her experience. And I think she voiced a lot of truth in it…but some of the things she only mentioned in passing, i think were of vital importance to the subject…as well as some of the comments below.

    I think Steve’s comment hits the nail on the head; you don’t stop self harming by focusing on the self harming. So much of what i see described here on Mad in America as the focus of psychiatry today is just symptomatic. Who cares if we stop the self harming if we don’t deal with the root issues?

    My wife didn’t cut, but she viciously bit herself…and i sat with her and held her while she did it. I tried to minimize it, but more importantly i held her and talked with her and acknowledged her pain…and as she healed and other parts of her joined us and were able to process the long dissociated trauma, then she gained access to things she had lost in the past…and eventually, she wasn’t overwhelmed by those feelings from the trauma anymore…and once the root issues were dealt with…then the symptomatic issues disappeared.

    I’m truly sorry that anyone in the author’s position would ever self harm for attention. I know it didn’t start out that way for her…but it seemed to move that direction as she never got the care and affirmation she needed…and to me, the saddest part of her entire story is that she saw the psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatric nurses as her ‘carers’ instead of her family…How I wish we family were taught and empowered to stand in the gap for our loved ones when they are struggling…that’s how it ought to be. We are the only ones there, 24/7 when they are in pain and overwhelmed by it…even our children can help the healing…our son has had a huge role in my wife/his mother’s healing…i don’t push it…but let him choose what he wants to do…and he does things for her, I could never replicate…

  • The General Theory of Love book sounds like it might be a pretty good book…it also seems to understand a principle that I think is missing in so many of our philosophies of healing trauma: that so much healthy, human functioning on all levels in any of us depends upon the active involvement of the primary attachment figure. We simply can’t heal on our own no matter what our hyper-individualistic culture says. That principle has been borne out in our own healing journey as well.

  • Richard,
    thank you for bringing up the issue of ‘logical fallacies.’ That knowledge is missing in most of our educations and has contributed to the decline of our ability to intelligently debate consequential topics.

    I sometimes wonder if a study of philosophical materialism might also shed some light on the obsession of the biomedical model of mental health’s attempt to reduce all mental suffering to ‘brain chemistry’ and such. But again, basic philosophy is something our educational system has eschewed, and so most people, even ‘educated’ ones, don’t even understand all the ‘a priori’ assumptions that are made and injected into so many of the debates of today, sigh.

  • Hi Chuck,
    well apparently I missed your original essay, but I’ll take a stab at this one.

    For the last 15 years my wife and I have been walking the healing journey together from her early childhood abuse and extreme dissociation. I do understand your concern. I NEVER treat my wife as if she is disabled or dysfunctional and yet, the simple fact is, right now, she is clearly disabled and dysfunctional, literally. There are MANY basic things she is unable to do right now. Dissociation slices and dices the brain’s ability to access many personality traits and mental functions until those dissociative walls are torn down and the pathways are re-established. It’s not a matter of she could if she just tried hard enough. It’s a matter of those neural pathways have atrophied after 4 decades of disuse and it has taken us 14 years of constant, daily work to begin to reinvigorate them. And though she has come a long way, it’s mind numbingly complex and exhaustively tiring and takes both of us to help her undo the problem.

    But that doesn’t mean i treat her as if she is PERMANENTLY disabled or dysfunctional. I look at the goal, her complete healing, as I walk with her and help her heal and re-establish the mental pathways to access the things she lost to the trauma and dissociation. I never belittle her, but I do accept her limitations for now and i help her heal and grow stronger toward our mutual goal.

    It’s a complex problem and one our culture and the mental health system gets terribly wrong. I sympathize with your desire NOT to label anyone as disabled or dysfunctional because I have NEVER treated my wife that way…and yet, right now, she would definitely struggle, to put it mildly, if she was on her own and had to hold down any kind of a job.

  • 14 years ago my wife’s childhood trauma and dissociation exploded into our 20-year marriage. She is the only woman to whom I have said, ‘I love you” and the only woman with whom I’ve been, and we both say we ‘grew up together’ because we got married when I was barely 21 and she was 22. How do you abandon that?

    So I fought for ‘us’ and a win/win solution despite all the adversity her trauma and dissociation brought us. Fortunately, she asked me NOT to read the popular literature out there when we started our healing journey, and so I really didn’t even know what ‘psychosis’ was until much later in our healing journey when I had already found meaning in most things she was experiencing, and so I never saw her as ‘psychotic’ or ‘delusional.’

    But one thing I might add from our experience is trauma and dissociation adds the ‘Rip Van Winkle effect’ as I call it to the mix, if you are familiar with that story. All the trauma-fueled dissociation my wife experienced as a child 40-50 years ago, kind of put those parts of her brain/personality ‘asleep’ and as we woke them during the healing process there was a lot of ‘disorientation’ as well as ‘overlapping’ of past experiences with present realities…and it was very disorienting to her (flashbacks, panic attacks, extreme anxiety, etc, etc, etc). We used a lot of attachment concepts, and so I provided her a ‘safe haven’ and ‘affect regulation’ as I helped her sort all those confusing and conflicting things out. I didn’t demand that she work from the present, but instead, I entered into her confusion and provided her a steady, safe person as we came to a healthier place…together.

  • As a husband and supporter and healing companion of my wife, this breaks my heart: what could have been if her family had responded to her pleas for help, compassion, mercy and understanding. Every time my wife talks about trying sleep medicine or some of the other stuff her friends are on I gently fight that inclination telling her how lucky she is to be so ignorant of all the horrors that stuff can cause.
    R.I.P., Kathleen. I’m sorry you and so many others haven’t gotten the family you need and deserve.

  • I love much of what Bessel has to say even though I’m still not sure ‘The Body Keeps the Score” after 15 years of walking with my wife thru her trauma and dissociation. I wonder if he, like most therapists, simply can’t go deeply enough like a primary attachment figure can. Our son and I, alone, have complete access to everyone in her system, but not even he is privy to the deepest stuff…which is fine as he has a completely different place in her healing journey as the adult child than I do as the spouse/primary attachment figure.

  • “C-PTSD is often described as life-altering, but it really goes much, much deeper than that. The absence of these essential ingredients in ones early life in the words of many of my own clients; creates “a void”. Life is certainly altered. But, unlike with those who suffer symptoms of PTSD, whereby there is a noticeable ‘healthy’ before — where the adult was mentally and emotionally well, capable and content in communications and relationships prior to the traumatic event — with C-PTSD there is rarely a ‘healthy’ before. As international activist, Jesse Jackson, wisely observed: “ You can‘t teach what you don’t know”.”

    I think this is a tremendously astute quote. I’ve often wondered at the marked difference between how my older sister treated her healing and recovery from being raped in her 20’s. She knew what ‘healthy’ was and she fought to get back there. And yet my wife repeatedly told me when we first started this healing journey 15 years ago, ‘I don’t even know what healthy looks like.” And beyond that, I just don’t see the ‘fight’ in her to get healthy that I saw in my sister. It’s frustrating, and yet, I have to accept it for what it is as I try to walk with her and help gently move her toward ‘healthy.’

    And it’s not surprising she never got that as a child because both her parents are fairly, emotionally/relationally dysfunctional. Last year after my father-in-law almost died twice, he talked with his daughter, my wife, about some of those topics that never get discussed in most families, even healthy ones, and he admitted to my wife that his wife, her mother, probably had mpd (multiple personalities disorder) which is the old name for what my wife has. He was apologetic for how his wife had treated her, their daughter, and confessed he never knew how to change things. But that was no revelation to my wife and I since we recognized all the signs in her mother once we started our own journey. And her own father has so many signs of trauma as well. It’s surprising my wife did as well as she did with our son because of all that she lacked in her own upbringing from her parents.

    Sadly, besides apparently adhering to the common view of mental health struggles, the article ends on a rather low point in my opinion as it calls for the preeminence of the ‘skilled therapist’ to do what no therapist could possible do, sigh. In my opinion, it would be inappropriate, as well as impossible, for any therapist to do many of the things only the primary attachment figure can do. It’s been a 24/7 x 15 year ‘job’ for me as I walk in all aspects of our relationship with my wife helping her heal the trauma and dissociation…and we still aren’t done. It’s labyrinthine in complexity and overwhelming in scope. If not for my love for her AND my vows, there are many days I would walk away as I feel as broken by this at this point as she conveys to me that she does. But we are in it together; healing, learning, attaching, and hopefully, someday, we’ll make it out on the other side to find the happy, healthy relationship we both so desperately want.


  • My best friends are a trans couple. My wife and I were the only ones who supported my gay cousin’s marriage. And yet, the religious fervor with which this topic is approached by the Left and Right makes any attempt at meaningful discussion on this topic moot.

    This ‘study’ is riddled with assumptions and biases. And the entire ‘science’ of this subject is based more in a priori assumptions on the subject rather than actual testing of how any of us develop as human beings. I’m all for supporting the LGBTQ+ community as human beings. I do so without qualification. But on a website like this, where ‘science’ is supposedly the basis for discussions, this entire topic is fraught from both ends with assumptions and passions that make nuance and real science impossible.

    I helped my wife rebuild her personality, block by block, part by part. Some were asexual. Some were gender ambivalent. I never imposed my beliefs upon any, but by loving and affirming each part and helping each to assimilate/integrate into a healthy whole, she has come to her own place without any shame and without all the distress and angst I see surrounding this issue from both sides.

    It really is too bad that both sides from my perspective are exacerbating the problem, and neither is willing to listen and examine their own ignorance and assumptions. As a result, this problem is only getting worse for those whom it most affects: the LGTBQ+ members and their loved ones.

  • I found this interview disturbing on a number of points.
    1) That the one interviewee expressed no concern at all that her patient was abused with ECT to knock him out of his catatonic state. My wife has experienced many of those, and after the first time, when I had to figure out what was going on internally, it never took me more than 30 seconds or so to bring her thru them…certainly nothing barbaric like ECT.
    2) That the goal of changing the name is so that people will become more docile to accept their diagnosis and ‘treatment’. Sigh

    I’m think Someone Else had some astute observations about various forms of ‘psychosis’. My wife and I never had to deal with any forms Someone Else described except that which is caused by trauma and dissociation, and I simply never saw it as ‘psychosis.’ It was more a ‘time-overlap’ issue (past overlapping with present) because of the dissociation and as we brought back ‘online’ parts of her mind which had been sequestered/dissociated because of the trauma, well those parts were still oriented in the past at the time they got sequestered/dissociated…So to me, it’s by no means ‘psychosis’. When properly understood, it’s just like being Rip Van Winkle and waking up to find everything has changed, and so my part as her healing partner is to walk with her and be her ‘safe haven’ as she slowly acclimates from the past to her new, present-day circumstances and helping those parts to connect with the rest of her so that she’s not at war with herself.

  • Thanks, Bob. Sorry I didn’t make it all the way thru, but you are meticulous, fair and accurate as always. I appreciate that you never try to ‘juice’ the facts to prove your point…of course, these facts don’t need any ‘juicing’ to prove how corrupt Big Pharma/Psychiatry are.

    As for calls how to beat this thing: until there are more acceptable alternatives that anyone and everyone can avail themselves of, people in distress will continue to avail themselves of whatever is there, even if it ends up destructive in the end. I’m glad MiA continues to push Soteria House and Open Dialogue. And I’m excited for the Soteria House and Peer Respite summit running the entire month of October…but the reach still won’t be enough to be available to everyone for a long time to come.

    I hope some day there are more things offered and taught, like what my wife and I have done, to empower families and significant others to walk with their loved ones thru emotional distress. But they will need supported to help them in those efforts, so that literally anyone who chooses can circumvent the corruption and destruction that MiA has so ably revealed.

  • Hello, Lisa…
    I grew up on the far right, conservative spectrum of things: politically and religiously. But 14 years ago, when my wife’s childhood trauma and extreme dissociation crashed into our 20-year marriage…I was forced to re-evaluate everything…and that also caused a shift in my perspective toward the center. I had to learn to appreciate things from both sides…but then our culture wars here in the States have escalated during the same time in which I was learning to see positives in both perspectives…

    Now, when my wife’s trauma and dissociation crashed into our relationship, we were told it was d.i.d.(traditional perspective), but as we were finishing up our son’s senior year of homeschooling him…(and he’s now finishing his doctorate from an elite school in the Boston area), and because we were both from the Right, and in this country/culture that means you don’t expect the government to do everything for you if you can do it yourself…and so I guess we just started ‘home-healing’ her trauma and dissociation. Yes, it was overwhelming. Yes it was a trial by fire in the worst way. But, I’d already lived with my wife for 20 years. I knew she wasn’t ‘crazy’ and I only briefly thought she might be ‘dangerous’ thanks to our cultural caricatures…but I quickly got over that as I’d slept in bed beside her for 20 years and she had yet to hurt me, lol…And there were lots of other factors that went into how I treated her…but in the end I just continued to see her like myself (as I had for our first 20 years together) other than I now understood she was more traumatized and dissociated than I was…in fact, as we walked OUR healing journey together…I learned a lot about myself…and I had to ‘grow up’ so I could be a better healing companion for her…and I had to do my own healing because my triggers were getting triggered by her issues and vise versa…and I learned a lot about mental health issues along the way, including my time on this website even though we are outsiders to the experience of most on this website, having never been touched by psychiatry and its drugs and the loss of agency and the dehumanization so many here were subjected to..

    (I’m almost there on this ‘meandering’ comment)…and so, all this to say…I understand that the Left in our country wants to dissect everyone into little groups for some reason while the Right tends to (very) imperfectly view us all the same…which is part of the reason for the BLM movement(which I mostly support) on the Left and the Right’s pushback that ‘All Lives Matter”…(I’m almost there)…

    But I guess I believe why my wife and I have made it as far as we have…even though d.i.d. is considered one of the worst things someone can have according to the DSM…is because I fundamentally saw her as no different than myself. I don’t “other” her in any way, even though her trauma and dissociation (or the 7 other ‘alters’ who have joined the relationship) cause both of us a lot of emotional heartache and struggles that we wouldn’t otherwise have…

    And so, I’d like to suggest, that until everyone in this entire movement stops ‘othering’ everyone including the rest of us on the ‘outside’ in any way and looks not for ‘allies’ as the Left likes to call people like me, but for those like myself who see you and me as absolutely, fundamentally the same, this movement for radical change concerning mental health/trauma and struggles is going to continue to falter. My wife and I aren’t ‘allies’: this fight is every bit as much mine as hers. This isn’t “her” healing journey. It’s ours!!! If I didn’t see it as ‘ours’ but hers, the pain and heartache we both suffer from her trauma and dissociation would have probably pushed me to look for an easier path and less difficult relationship as we face all kinds of things most marriages don’t and are still struggling today, together, for her full healing.

    Don’t know if this makes sense because I know I left a lot out and made logical leaps that I didn’t have space to better define….there’s just so much more I could say, but this is already a longer reply than most are willing to wade thru.

  • Hmmm…the interview isn’t available from the link unless you pay for a subscription…

    I have heard of this book for a long time having been connected to the d.i.d. world for the last 14 years. And I have a lot of respect for Bessel in general. And I admit that I have NOT read his book: I’ve only read repeated reviews of it. So I will admit I am ignorant of the intricacies of his argument, but after 14 years of helping my wife heal the trauma she experienced 50 years ago, and as we untangled the dissociation that kept so much of it hidden from her…I just haven’t found our experience to validate Bessel’s core premise that ‘the body keeps the score.’

    Yes, we have found the trauma to be more and more deeply hidden: the last 2 girls to join us outside were both mute at first, and I had to help each of them connect to the ability to vocalize themselves. The last girl to join us was very ‘primitive’ even more than the other one. I have often wondered if she controlled the ‘primal fear instinct’ in each of us…but she still was a conscious part of my wife.

    The thing I would suggest to readers to remember about the ‘experts’ is their knowledge is very wide but not correspondingly deep. I would love to have the wide knowledge the experts have: to study of the general trends, to be aware of the basics of an issue, but they simply can’t have a corresponding depth.

    For example, one of the past presidents of ISSTD stated on her website that she had over 40,000 hours helping people with d.i.d. When I read that statement over 5 years ago, I did a quick tabulation of the time I have spent helping my wife heal, helping her untangle all the dissociation, and I was already way over 40,000 hours at that point. Moreover, I know of no therapists who have complete access to their patients’ system like I do with my wife’s. My wife’s counselor only interacted with 4 or 5 of the girls on a regular basis, one time a week. I interact with all 8 girls on a daily basis. In fact, at this point, I interact with all of my wife, all 8 girls, more than my wife’s host does, the one most people would suggest is ‘my wife.’ I keep her and the other 6 girls informed of what goes on when girl #8 is out with me, as we all desperately try to get the last one connected to the larger group of 7 so they no longer ‘lose’ most of their days to her.

    So, my experience is a mile deep, but only one person wide. Whereas Bessel’s experience is probably just the opposite: he has experience a mile wide but not very deep. He, nor the other ‘experts’ simply can’t understand what I or other SO’s/spouses do as we walk with our hurting loved ones in the depths of their pain and dissociation, 24/7 in all aspects of life, not just the safe confines of the therapist’s office.

    I’ve ‘argued’ for 14 years all over the internet to bring those in my position into the discussion on a wider basis, but thus far I have found few willing to listen. I do understand many SO’s and spouses are part of the problem rather than part of the solution, but I know many of us aren’t.

  • Hey Someone Else,
    here are the links to 2 mental health organizations in Ashland, Ohio. I’m pretty sure both are in line with the basic principles that MiA promotes. They might be able to assist you or at least direct you to others who could. The last link is to a group located in Toledo who are teaching Emotional CPR(Dan Fisher’s group) and trying to establish other similar things in Ohio. I’ve been in contact with various people connected to these groups, and you are welcome to tell them you know me(use my real name).

    I finally have an appointment with the director of Appleseed this coming Monday in the hopes of starting the support group I told you about to help survivors and their family/SO’s and anyone interested to walk together on the healing journey like my wife and I have using attachment principles to stay connected and facilitate healing of the deepest trauma and dissociation like my wife had/has. If that ever gets going, I’ll email you.

    Also, please add my email to your list if you don’t mind. I don’t know if I can do anything practically to start a Soteria House, but perhaps I’m wrong.

    I may copy this and send it to your email, but I wanted to offer these links publicly in case other Ohioans might have interest in visiting their sites and seeing what is happening in our state.

  • “By communal mastery, the researchers refer to a community-oriented way of coping where people can manage life difficulties through attachments with family, friends, neighbors, and significant others.”

    That’s what we’ve found: attachment theory has given us the tools to go thru the worst of the worst, holding us together, and facilitating the healing process.

  • One of the happiest things I have noticed during the 14 years of our healing journey is my wife’s hyper-vigilance is finally waning. For most of our 33-year marriage, if we were in bed asleep together and I got up to go the restroom or go to work, if I made the tiniest of noises, she would gasp and startle awake…but she rarely does that anymore…and many times if I gently touch her to kiss her goodbye as I go to work, she doesn’t gasp or startle either…it’s so gratifying because I know how much work and healing it’s taken to get her to that point…

  • Sam,
    my wife and I do lots of fun things that engage all the various parts of her mind. I’ve also built her a craftroom and supplied it with everything she wanted, again to engage all of her. We tandem bike together, tandem kayak together, and I’ve always been willing to watch(tv or movies) or do things repeatedly to engage various parts of her to the fullest extent possible during the reconnection process.

  • Steve,
    thanks for replying. I was pretty sure I understood your perspective, and you have confirmed that I do, and like I said, I largely agree with your perspective.

    I guess I was kind of more interested in your description and understanding of neural atrophy. I’m just a layman, but it seems like that is a physiological/neural issue that complicates healing trauma, but perhaps my understanding of that term is way off. And as my wife and I have worked on restoring those pathways from long-dissociated areas of her mind/brain, the restoration has always been accompanied by debilitating headaches especially when we are changing her inner working model from a trauma paradigm to a securely-attached one, but I do understand correlation doesn’t equal causation, and so maybe they are unrelated.
    I was just interested on your take or experience on any of this.

  • I’ve read thru everyone’s comments and have appreciated them. It’s too bad David isn’t part of the discussion. I have some comments and questions, if everyone hasn’t already lost interest.

    Steve, you seem to state repeatedly, in various discussions on this website, about the lack of a biological component in mental health issues. I guess I’m curious how you would described the neural atrophy that comes after decades of dissociation and lack of access to various parts of one’s mind/brain.

    I understand your point is to hammer against the ‘mental illness’ myth, but isn’t neural atrophy a real, physiological outcome in the physical brain from dissociation that comes as the result of any trauma when the trauma isn’t addressed? For my wife and I, that neural atrophy and reinvigorating those pathways between the various parts of her mind/brain, has been some of the most difficult parts of the healing journey. I accept and affirm this is different than the ‘mental illness myth’ and believing one has an unfixable chemical imbalance, but I believe it is a physical aspect of trauma/dissociation that complicates the healing.

    As for edmr…as in the other recent thread, my wife and I have always seen this as quackery, snake oil, magic elixir and such…and yet, I do want to state that whether one calls it the ‘placebo effect’ or ‘the power of faith’ from religious traditions, if it weren’t for my wife’s faith, we would have been hard pressed to effect some of the most major changes in her inner working model (attachment theory) that have foundationally changed her trauma perspective to one in which she has become securely attached to me as her primary attachment figure.

    I understand her faith is a type of crutch, but crutches have useful purposes when a person is deeply traumatized. They allow a person to do something they either can’t do or don’t believe they can do on their own. And who am I to say, when we pray and ask Jesus to change her inner world, that He really isn’t doing it? In the end, she believes it, the needed changes occur to help her connect to other parts of her mind/brain, and without those prayers, I’m not sure I could EVER convince her that she could do it on her own…

    I sent her a link of this article because right now the biggest issue we are having is the fear of reconnecting more deeply to the other parts of her mind, and even if it’s only a placebo/crutch, even with all my focus on attachment (which I would add is simply ‘faith’ in the attachment figure, that the person will be there for you when you need it…), I have struggled to move her past those fears…


  • Kerry, thank you for responding. I have appreciated reading your views on EMDR.

    I understand this article is about that, and not dissociation, and so I won’t belabor the point unless you choose to further engage with me…but unlike most people, my wife and I chose to embrace and live ‘in the dissociation’ for the last 14 years. And thus, we learned how it works and how to tear it down: it’s not something to be avoided at all costs like most people act. In fact, the deepest healing she found was as we embraced it and brought those areas back ‘online’ which takes time and hard work. And so I’d like to suggest that it’s not what you and most people think it is, at least not 40 and 50 years later after the initial trauma, and it is definitely the harder of the two (trauma/dissociation) to undo after all those decades that the neural pathways become accustomed to doing workarounds to large areas of the person’s traits and abilities.

  • Hello Kerry,
    my wife is part of the early childhood trauma/extreme dissociation community, so I’ve heard about EMDR for a long time, and I’ll be honest, I’ve always been skeptical as it sounded like ‘snake oil’ and ‘magic elixir’ stuff, but I’ll grant you that I don’t always know why things I do to help my wife heal work, though attachment theory does form the foundation of much that we do.

    I am curious how you deal with dissociation. Any unprocessed trauma that isn’t dealt with, eventually becomes ‘sequestered’ or dissociated. For us, the trauma is the relatively easy part to heal using attachment concepts of ‘safe haven’, ‘proximity maintenance’ and ‘affect regulation’. It’s tearing down the dissociative walls and retraining her brain to access all those areas that had been largely unavailable for decades that has been the much bigger issue, and we’ve only found doing repetitive tasks, based on the concepts of neural plasticity, to undo that.
    However, beyond the neural plasticity issue, is the fact that the dissociative walls hide so much of the trauma, and at least in our case, the deeper the trauma, the more I’ve been the ONLY person she let into those dark places as her ‘primary attachment figure’ and so I wonder how much access you realistically have. My wife’s counselor didn’t have half the access I do, plus I’m with her every day, 24/7.
    I’m just throwing things out. I would love for EMDR to work. It’ seems so wonderful and easy…nothing like the hell we’ve gone thru the last 14 years as I’m still helping her tear down the dissociation and every time I think we have the trauma gone, another bit ‘pops’ up because we tore down more dissociation or for other reasons that are too numerous to delineate here.
    I do wish you the best.

  • I’ve struggled with this article all week. I’ve watched all the positive comments about it show up. And I keep reading it, trying to see if I’m misunderstanding something, and I freely admit that may be the case. And I truly am deeply sorry for all those on this website who have had their normal, reasonable feelings used against them to take away their humanity and strip them of their agency and dignity.

    But this document seems to be guilty of some binary thinking, if I’m reading it right. I unequivocally stand against the biochemical model of mental health, and ‘mental illness’ and ‘chemical imbalances’. I stand against the weaponizing of people’s distress to use against them. I stand against any form of dehumanizing others just because they are struggling…but have none of these cosigners ever dealt with someone who experienced extreme trauma in early childhood? Any unaddressed trauma eventually causes systemic dissociation. ISSTD (international society for the study of trauma and dissociation) with whom I generally disagree because they adhere to the typical model despite dealing with trauma victims, still gets it right when they talk about ‘structural dissociation’ and how a little child’s mind who is subjected to extreme trauma will desperately attempt to sequester(dissociate) the trauma in order to find a way to keep living. But after a time, that coping mechanism becomes ‘structural’ and it causes a host of dysfunctions and dysregulations that are real, not imaginary.

    I love my wife. Just yesterday, I told her for the 1000th or more time, “I don’t blame you. NO ONE would ever choose this” but it’s kind of insulting to people in our situation to minimize the extreme damage she’s suffered and which has infiltrated so many parts of our relationship. I’ve spent 14 years helping retrain my wife’s brain so she could access all those areas that she literally had NO access to previously. I work a full time job, often 55 hours a week, and yet I come home and do all the house work, inside and out, and then I spend all my free time, building a relationship with my wife, using our tandem bike, using our tandem kayak, doing everything we possibly can do TOGETHER so that the strength of our relationship enables her to face the past pain and fears and tear down those ‘structurally dissociative walls’. It’s hard on both of us and so exhausting even today, 14 years later, and it still brings me to tears many nights when I wonder if we will ever get thru this.

    I don’t know. I hope I’m reading this wrong, but the choice isn’t binary. It’s not the biochemical model of mental health or simply empathizing with a person’s past. When the trauma is early enough, and the dissociation becomes structural, it takes real, daily, concerted effort to undo all the effects as you retrain the person’s brain/mind, and I truly am happy if none of you have ever had to deal with what is still an overwhelming task to me and my wife.

  • I’m honestly not sure how these ‘contracts’ work when the examples given seem to focus on the symptom instead of the root issue. Do people self harm in a vacuum, for the fun of it? Then focusing on that issue instead of what is motivating the self-harming seems unhelpful. Moreover, if there is any unaddressed trauma in the past then there will be some form of dissociation, and so these contracts may not be made with the part of the person who is ‘responsible’ for the self harming or the addiction issues. I do think the community part of it could be helpful in an attachment capacity: drawing on one’s connections with others for strength.

    I like the end part of this interview, finding the middle ground, finding nuance, living with apparent contradictions (because of our ignorance). The binary, polarizing, black and white thinking of the States is simply making things worse as I have seen so many instances of it spilling over into how we help and see people who are in distress.

  • Hello Rebecca,
    my wife and I have spent the last 14 years implementing attachment concepts in our marriage to help heal the many attachment wounds she suffered as a little child. Those concepts have been the roadmap for our healing journey and can do things for someone experiencing extreme distress that I wish would get more talk: I’m glad you’ve shared just the tip of what they can provide to any of us.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you the best.

  • Hello Daiphanous Weeping,
    I’ve been following some of your comments here and on other threads. I’m sorry you aren’t feeling validated very well. I wrote a response last night and then deleted it. I try to watch myself since I’m just a husband and neither a ‘survivor’ nor an ‘expert’, but you say a lot of things I can relate to the journey my wife and I have been on the last 14 years. And if I remember correctly, the only difference between your schizophrenia and my wife’s d.i.d. is some ‘expert’ decided if the voices the person hears seem to be external, then voila, ‘you have schizophrenia’ whereas if the voices seem internal, then, poof, ‘you must have d.i.d.’

    For us, my wife’s diagnosis of d.i.d 14 years ago was a godsend. For 20 years before that we struggled in our marriage. WTH was wrong? We didn’t know. We loved each other, but so many things were a struggle for us, no matter how hard we tried. We finally started seeing an alternative counselor who suggested she might have d.i.d….and we finally had a name to our unknown assailant.

    Now we were fortunate. She didn’t get caught up in the mental health system. Our son and I helped and kept her safe the first 5 years when all the pent up trauma and emotions let loose in a hurricane of extreme states. We slowly found our way, together as a couple and family, as we utilized attachment concepts amongst other things to effect real healing that the drugs only mask.

    I’m sorry you feel crazy. My wife felt the same at first. I can’t imagine dealing with all the stuff especially if you don’t have someone in your life to help stabilize and normalize things. When a ship is in a hurricane, stuff gets thrown and tossed and you feel like your life is going to end at any moment, at least that was how it was for her. But I went through those hurricanes by her side as a ‘safe haven’ literally carrying her and wrapping her in my arms at times when it was worst, and little by little the hurricanes diminished as my presence and assurances somehow gave her mind the extra help it needed to process those things from the past and assimilate them which stopped the storms permanently.

    I can’t speak for you, but the trauma and subsequent dissociation seemed to be the biggest issues for my wife…and the dissociation seems to have caused most of the extreme states and other stuff she struggled with as the mind desperately wanted to get back in a sort of ‘stasis’ because it wanted access to everywhere. We are still working on dissociation issues, but the extreme-state stuff is mostly in the past.

    I do wish you well. I think I understand a lot that you are saying and I agree with much of it, and so I just wanted to speak up and say I hear you.

  • I think part of the problem is people confuse symptoms with root causes. I always focused on the trauma and subsequent dissociation that the trauma caused. IMO, these are the root causes of everything else. So much of the dsm is just symptomatic issues which spring from the original trauma and the mind’s subsequent coping mechanism of dissociation that then become systemic when the trauma isn’t dealt with.

    However, there is one other issue I see when helping a survivor of early childhood trauma. S/he may have no baseline for ‘recovery.’ During a healthy childhood, the parents serve as role models for the child. But in a traumatic childhood that is often missing. When my wife and I first started our journey, over and over and over she told me, “I don’t know what ‘healthy’ looks like.” I took that as a cue for me to grow up and become a role model that my wife was lacking originally. I don’t dictate the outcome, but I try to model healthy behavior as we walk the journey together.

  • Miranda,
    I hope Mad in America will really explore the healing power of life-long attachment relationships especially when childhood abuse occurs and the person’s attachment system is deeply traumatized. When understood correctly and lived appropriately, these attachment concepts, as laid out by Bowlby, literally can heal the worst of trauma and dissociation and all the extreme states that come with those. The science is there, but unfortunately, too many of the experts try to do what only family can do as the primary attachment figures in the person’s life.

    I’m glad to see Mad in America embracing the larger family system because one never knows which family member will/can step up, and with some training and understanding, fulfill the healing role the person needs. Ideally it would be the parent or spouse, but I’ve got a newphew struggling with attachment issues because he was adopted and from what I’ve been told his older sister is the best at looking past her brother’s issues and loving him despite and through them.

    If there is ever anything I could do to assist this section, I’d be happy to do so. I had to learn it all on my own: that’s something I don’t wish on anyone else.

  • Fourteen years ago the trauma and subsequent dissociation my wife had experienced during childhood crashed into our 20-year old marriage. We were in our son’s senior year of home schooling him, and I guess it didn’t really occur to me to do anything different with her needs. We did find an alternative counselor, but as anyone suffering extreme mental distress knows, it’s a 24/7 thing, not a once-a-week-at-the-counselor’s-office thing.

    But her counselor offered us a lifeline for the first 5 years while I dealt with my own issues and we developed a rhythm between us. Eventually the attachment strategies we had always leaned toward with our son and each other became the foundation of our relationship interactions on the healing journey we found ourselves upon. I always refer to this as OUR healing journey because I had to decide to own all the fallout from her trauma and dissociation lest I ‘other’ her and it become a wedge between us. Moreover, it’s OUR healing journey because I had a lot of healing and changing that I had to do before I was someone she could depend upon at all times. I studied up on attachment theory and then became much more purposeful in implementing it in our relationship, and that is when I really became a healing companion that could facilitate her healing in profound ways.

    Before You Call for Help is a tiny synopsis of the highlights of our last 14 years from my perspective and how I learned to be the healing companion she could trust with her deepest fears and pain. It was only when I began to frequent Mad in America 5 years ago that I realized how I had inadvertently spared her and us so much additional trauma at the hands of the mental health system here in the States. At 30 pages it could only scratch the surface, and I’d be happy to discuss anything further if anyone finds something of value in it for their situation.

  • Daiphanous Weeping,
    though attachment is most easily done during childhood through healthy interaction with a loving, providing parent, the science supports what my wife and I have experienced the last 14 years: that adult couples can provide the same for each other. But the challenge for us is undoing 5 decades of trauma and dissociation that became systemic in her thought patterns. If only I had understood what was going on inside her when we were first married at 21, it would have been so much easier than when we finally started at 40 and now into our mid 50’s, sigh…

  • Hello E. Baden,
    I see you are from the Midwest. There’s a little group of us in Ohio trying to change things here. I’m just a husband but I’ve walked with my wife thru all her trauma and extreme dissociation and extreme states. For most of the last 14 years I have mostly done it alone and have been blacklisted across the internet by those who don’t want to hear of a better, non-medical/medicated, relational (attachment concepts) way to heal. But just a few months ago I met some others who actually embraced me for the first time…and I’m still struggling to believe I may have finally found a home. I just turned 54 and haven’t given up my hope and dream to share the better way my wife and I found, and happily, Mad in America just posted a little quick-reference guide in their family section that I wrote.

    All that to say, don’t give up the fight. I know it’s hard. I hurt so deeply most days, especially the days when I was screamed at (online), called a pedophile, wife abuser and all kinds of other things. But we need people like you. I wish I had the wisdom you do when I was 25. If you’d ever like to talk, shoot me an email at my blog address (samruck2 @ gmail dot com). Finding other like minded people makes all the difference in the world. I don’t know where you are in the Midwest, but perhaps, there are others in your neck of the woods, too.

  • Hello Curiousmedia,
    I don’t really want to debate economics. I understand there is a ton of inequality in our system, and so many are being left behind, but I don’t think it’s truly a function of capitalism, but of the avarice in our leaders and the 1% hearts. At the same time, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and unchecked socialism has a history of failures from last century.

    Anyway, I believe Megan’s main point was ‘we don’t have everything we need’ within ourselves, and attachment theory would affirm that. It’s the foundation of everything my wife and I did on our healing journey from her childhood abuse. Attachment theory teaches us as the song says, “We all need somebody to lean on” and that’s not just when we are in crisis, but throughout our lives.
    By the way. I’ve been here over 5 years, but thanks for the welcome, but I’m an anomaly here, and so I don’t comment much anymore.

  • Hi Megan,
    I think your anger toward capitalism as the culprit of all the ills of this society is misplaced at least in regards to the main thesis of this article. I would suggest it is the West’s overemphasis, and especially the United States, on rugged individualism, independence, autonomy, the me-culture and such. I never really bought into all that stuff, and so when my wife and I naturally began following attachment theory from the start of our healing journey, it wasn’t a huge change for us. We just had to learn to become more purposeful as we implemented its main tenets into our relationship.

  • Bob,
    thank you as always for your thoughtful work and analysis of things.

    The very last question you answered in this interview had to do about family. I strongly believe the tipping point for this movement will come when we train and empower the significant others, family and friends to walk with their loved ones who are in distress whether from ‘psychosis’ or any of the many, other, varied extreme states that come from trauma and dissociation. I’m glad you recognized that it doesn’t take a ‘peer’ to be empathetic, and it is usually only family and SO’s who are around long enough to effect true healing for that 30% who weren’t helped in the studies you cited. For me and my wife, it’s year 13 or 14: it’s been so long at this point that I’m losing count, but we are still drug free and moving forward, even if it’s not at the pace we had hoped when we first started.

    I wish you the best as you continue to spearhead this movement to treat others as any of us would want to be treated instead of ‘othering’ them. For me it’s just part of the Golden Rule.

  • “Participants are encouraged to understand their voice-hearing experience on their own terms, and no one narrative is emphasized over any other. This means the biomedical explanation of voice-hearing is on equal footing with the alien-implanted technology explanation during these meetings. There is a strict rule that participants do not criticize each other’s narrative around voice-hearing.”

    Has Mad in America tilted so far to the Left that it can’t see a HUGE issue with this statement? Does validating other people’s experiences mean the total rejection of any kind of baseline for truth or facts at minimum?

    I like a lot of what HVG does, but this is NOT one of them, and that Mad in America would uncritically make this statement, a website dedicated to the refutation of the biomedical model of mental health, is a sad statement on the loss of…I don’t know exactly what, but I’m truly flabbergasted.

    I validated most of the things my wife told me about her voices, but when she told me they were ‘aliens’ I gently pushed back, and slowly over time, her views changed to something more in line with a perspective that would facilitate her healing. We still have divergent perspectives on her ‘voices’ so it’s not that I think there is only one ‘truth’ but this is a low point in the fight for a better way if one can’t gently help others find a perspective better in line with basic facts.

  • Lauren,
    I’m sorry this article didn’t get more views or comments. I was in a Zoom meeting last night and this course got mentioned and so I did a search on MiA and found your article today. I recently wrote a 30-page, quick-reference guide of my experiences learning to become a good healing companion for my wife. The others in the meeting represented those who have experienced trauma and the mental health system. But we agreed on our common humanity and the need to move past divisive terms and ways of seeing each other. This course you explain seems like a good, first step, and there’s so much more for those who are in a sustained relationship like I am.

    I sent this link to the rest of the members in our little collaboratory group.

  • When dealing with (false) accusations, these were a couple of things that helped me:
    1)“Apologizing does not always mean you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.”
    2) Allowing myself to be the ‘scapegoat’ for my wife’s justified anger at her abuser. Sure it hurt, but I saw the end goal when the anger and rage were gone so that they no longer separated us.
    3) Asking for complete accusations so I could give FULL apologies, in detail…and never justifying myself in any way. Again, the goal is to diminish the anger and broken trust and validation. Later, there will be time for ‘my side of the story…’

    As for psychosis, sigh, I still don’t understand the obsession with this concept. I feel it is completely unhelpful and judgmental. I walked with my wife in her perception of reality, validating it, learning from it, and providing her a ‘safe harbor’ in the midst of the storms that were associated with all the ‘extreme’ states…and so we developed our own reality as we walked together and moved out of the constructs forged from her traumatic past.

  • Hello, Lauren,
    my wife and I are fellow homeschoolers, though our son is 30 now. I have a lot of happy memories of those days, but I know my wife shouldered most of the burden of the schooling: I supported both of them the best I could so that it was a family effort.

    I’m sorry for your experiences and the trauma they have caused. I couldn’t quite tell if you are still struggling with eating issues amongst other things or not. I’m glad it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good support network, too. I’m glad it sounds like you have a good therapist now, but never underestimate the power your husband has to support and carry you through the hard times. Once I learned how to help my wife, it made all the difference in her healing.
    Take care,

  • Trishna,
    wow. You have found the exact same thing my wife and I have at nearly every point. I’d love to swap stories with you, though you do seem to come at it from my wife’s perspective and not mine…I’m astounded how closely you mirror what’s taken place on our journey.

  • Even though I strongly disagree with the FMSF and its disinformation campaign, I think it was disingenuous and unhelpful for the author to completely ignore some of the catastrophes like the satanic ritual abuse and daycare scandals. How can we learn from the past, if we choose to ignore the missteps that caused those scandals?

    However, as someone who has helped my wife heal and integrate her dissociated trauma memories, I never found them to be part of some ‘super category’ of memories. They were fragments and snapshots associated with extreme emotions of fear and terror. I’m glad her abuser was long gone, a neighbor from the distant past of whom we had no name to associate with the vague description of him that she could recall, so we never even thought to attempt some kind of reckoning, legal or otherwise. For us, the point was never about the abuser, it was about her coming to terms with those memories and extreme emotions in light of her secure relationship with me today so she could integrate them into her personal narrative and finally be released from their ability to chain her to the past and how they affected her today.

  • Kermit,
    since Open Dialogue is about a collaboration between therapists, family and the person in distress, it would be nice to see the other two legs of that equation brought into these town meetings and not ONLY the experts. I wish we could hear from the family and how their needs were validated, but also how they learned to be better healing companions for the one in distress. And it would be good to hear from the one in distress and how they viewed his/her interaction with family and how it propelled the healing process.

    I would also love to see a vision laid out to expand Open Dialogue. There is nothing here in Ohio. When I contact some of the groups you have listed, I’m just ignored because I’m a nobody, sigh. How do we get this available on a larger scale? Why not look into a program to empower families? There are lots of ‘peer programs’ out there, but I have yet to find one that teaches families how to travel with the one in distress and do the kinds of things I had to learn to help my wife, like walk her thru ALL the extreme states she experienced so that she actually healed and not just ‘coped’, like how to implement the attachment concepts of safe haven, affect regulation and proximity maintenance that were so critical to walk my wife thru the worst things she experienced, like how to navigate power dynamics, like how to weigh the needs of various people in the relationship when there simply is NO way that everyone can get what they need, like how to deal with the stress brought on by extreme states and remove the fear of the unknown, like how bringing our adult son into the healing journey added a dimension to her healing that I could NEVER have replicated on my own…and so much more….

    I’ve got so many thoughts and questions, and sadly, I probably won’t be able to participate in this even though I signed up for it because it’s our first day of vacation.
    Good to see you back here.

  • Hi Amy,
    well, I was bored today. I’ve seen this article on the website for awhile…and hesitated to read it because I was afraid it was another culture-war piece…and this war is wearing me out from both sides. But honestly, as I read your article, I was caught up in the story arc of the episodes and found myself wishing I could experience the same.
    I do understand some of the horror the survivors have expressed in the comments section. I can’t imagine my wife would ever allow herself on the show at this point in her healing journey. And I did cringe when Reddy was ‘attacked’ by the Fab Five as I’m pretty sure how parts of my wife would react to anyone but me or our son doing that. But I’m pretty sure she liked the original series and she likes a lot of these makeover reality series, AND as you and Bob have made clear, it’s ALL consensual even if it’s hard and disruptive to the ‘heroes’.

    Thanks for sharing. Maybe I’ll even send my wife a link to it and see if she’d like to watch it with me.

  • Hi A.S.!
    I always feel a special affinity toward Finland because of the exchange student from there that we had in our family 35 years ago. We still keep in touch with her via Facebook.
    I’m so glad your parents rallied to help you. I hope some day there is far more help offered to the families who want to help a loved one in distress but don’t know where to start and don’t want to go the NAMI route.

  • Joanna,
    Are you talking about people who are using street drugs and alcohol or just people in severe, mental distress? My wife was never the former, but she was definitely the latter, and I never tried to ‘control’ her nor did it really matter if she was ‘reasonable’.
    Think of a person in the water during a hurricane. She was flailing, desperate not to drown. Control and reason are irrelevant in that situation. Validation, engagement and attachment were what mattered. She had to know I was right there with her in the water and even though she felt overwhelmed and out of control, I wasn’t, and I wasn’t going to let her drown.
    When people are ‘too disturbed’ as you put it, that’s when the attachment concepts of affect regulation, safe haven and proximity maintenance can slowly calm the worst of cases like my wife used to be. She didn’t need drugs and never used them. She needed empowered family who knew how to ride the hurricane out with her…and now our seas are much calmer…

  • Joanna,
    as a husband who has been doing this very thing for my wife the last 12 years, what you say is correct. It takes way more than kindness and it is exhausting, and yet, we, the family, are simply put in the very best position to do what is needed. It’s a 24/7 ‘job’ especially in the beginning. Our son was attending a local college while at home. He took the night shift, and I took the dayshift (since I worked nights) helping my wife, keeping her safe. We did that for nearly 5 years until he moved out to do his graduate work by which time my wife was in a much better place.
    I love what Open Dialogue seems to be, but there is no one like that here in the Midwest states. I would have loved someone to help me learn the ropes, but in the end only I can be her primary attachment figure and do the hard work of helping her heal all the attachment issues she suffered from severe trauma and dissociation 5 decades earlier…and helping her tear down the dissociative walls so she can be whole again.

  • There’s a lot of stress in my little family. I like to think of attachment points as the little, individual filaments of a spider web. The more points of connection I can make between my wife and our son, the more we are all held together so that we can bear the stress and turmoil we face.

    I email our son and the 8 girls in my wife’s system every single morning. I played PS4 with him over the internet 2-3 times a week. I share a mug of coffee with my wife each day of the weekend. We take tandem bike rides. We always eat together and watch tv together, sitting next to each other. We run our weekly errands together, go to church and bible study together and whatever else we can when I’m home from work.

    The more points of contact I have with each of them not only hold them to me when they are facing hard things like his 4th year of his PhD program, or all the stress she has healing from her trauma and dissociation, but they also serve to hold me when I’m struggling with the overwhelming despair and despondency that have plagued my adult life.


  • Hi Paula,
    as someone who has struggled with this most of my adult life (I’m 53) the loss of hope that things will get better is the biggest driver of the feelings of despair. I find myself desperately looking for hope, even false hope, that things will get better to keep me going when it’s worse. Sometimes the thought of death itself gives me hope that ‘if things get too bad, I have control, I have an escape…”

    The sad things is, I know how I could fix things pretty easily, but it goes against all I believe, and so I’m trapped in a double bind and going thru the problem is the only hope for things to get better, and yet, solving that problem isn’t within my control…it’s truly overwhelming…sigh…

  • There is, of course, nothing wrong about people criticizing MIA or me personally. The criticism can open the door to further discussions and debate, which you can hope will lead to a greater understanding of important issues.

    find a way to enlarge the circle of family members allowed to contribute at MiA. Thus far the only family I’ve seen allowed to contribute are those whose loved ones were caught up in the system. Why are their voices allowed, but those of us who have fought 24/7 for years to keep our loved ones OUT of the system are not allowed to share how we did so? Is the audience at this website, only and solely, composed of those caught in the system other than me? Is there really no interest in empowering families and SO’s to keep their loved ones totally out of the system?

  • “There is a radical need for a world where ‘us and them,’ ‘center and margin,’ and ‘normal and crazy’ are no longer needed.”
    Perhaps this best describes the path my wife and I have taken. I see her fundamentally as no different than myself. I believe our refusal to embrace the dichotomy between ‘survivors’ and ‘the rest of us’ is why my wife and I sidestepped so many of the issues that have engulfed all parties within the mental health industry/world and most attempts to reform it.

  • Hello Dmitriy,
    Thank you for sharing your life and experiences.

    My wife and I have walked this healing journey together, as equals. I almost always engaged her ‘voices’ first because of the dissociation she experienced. The loving and respectful relationship I developed with each one was instrumental in her overall healing and the eventual tearing down of the dissociative walls so that she could make a new, corporate life with each voice. I did things she absolutely couldn’t do for herself, and yet we learned to how to do it in ways so her agency was never diminished nor did I ever abuse the potentially huge power differentials in our relationship (she is a housewife). We are both richer for the journey and I learned much about myself and my own inner workings as well.


  • I’ve tried for a day to formulate some kind of response to this study. I guess it’s always good to look for alternative treatments, but I still have major problems even using the word ‘psychotic.’ It prejudges the person’s experience by those on the outside instead of helping the person to find meaning and a way thru it.

    I googled psychosis, again, and it’s known to be a symptom: so why are they still taking a symptomatic approach rather than dealing with the real issue? Coping is not healing. Therapists cannot be the main therapeutic instrument in the sufferer’s life.
    I understand sometimes symptoms must be reduced so that the real issues can be addressed, but there are so many questions this study didn’t answer or even attempt to address, sigh.

  • Hmmm…
    Well, I guess I should state first that my wife and I feel fortunate that we really didn’t have to deal with incest issues in her past, but that doesn’t mean many of the issues brought up by this author had no bearing in our healing journey. and her extreme position on many of these issues, imo, hurt the cause of survivors rather than help.
    1) Her critique of the FMSF is rather simplistic. The d.i.d. world is extremely familiar with this society and its attempts to discredit survivors while protecting offending family members, and yet that doesn’t mean there is no credibility to the malleability of memories and how therapists of the past blatantly manipulated survivor memories and produced wild claims of satanic ritual abuse and more and paraded d.i.d. patients around talk shows like circus freaks while they stoked their own careers and egos.

    Dealing with dissociated memories is a delicate dance of validating the person and what is uncovered while at the same time understanding that these memories can be vague, symbolic at times, trapped in childish understandings, and fragmentary until other pieces of the puzzle are revealed later in the journey, etc.

    The FMSF’s disingenuous attempts to discredit survivors doesn’t mean survivors’ memories are infallible. I ALWAYS validated my wife, but I also gave her the space and safety to later alter those declarations of memories as other pieces of the puzzle were added to clarify things, and some pieces may always be lost to the fog and mist of things that happened 4 and 5 decades ago.

    2) The author’s definition of incest is so wide as to render it meaningless. If she’s going to expand it to mean family friends, other children, pastors/priests, or ‘anyone who betrayed the child’s innocence and trust’, then it loses power as it alienates thoughtful people who might otherwise affirm the horror of incest. It’s an overreach that does NOT help survivors. Incest is clearly defined as sexual abuse (in all its forms) within the family and relatives, period.

    3) Validating and believing the survivor doesn’t automatically transfer into a legal ability to bring justice against the perpetrators and recognizing that reality seems to be a problem for some. It’s a conundrum that is frustrating and upsetting.

  • Hi Karin,
    this is a very powerful story. I’m very sorry for all you suffered just because others couldn’t handle your grief.

    I did much the same for my wife as I walked with her thru the healing journey, though I always told her I was ‘sharing’ and ‘helping to carry’ her fear so that she didn’t have to do it alone. It seems we possibly mean the same but say it differently as your friends appeared to do for you the same as I did for her.
    Best of wishes,

  • Hmmm…
    Well, I guess I should state first that my wife and I feel fortunate that we really didn’t have to deal with incest issues in her past, but that doesn’t mean many of the issues brought up by this author had no bearing in our healing journey. and her extreme position on many of these issues, imo, hurt the cause of survivors rather than help.
    1) Her critique of the FMSF is rather simplistic. The d.i.d. world is extremely familiar with this society and its attempts to discredit survivors while protecting offending family members, and yet that doesn’t mean there is no credibility to the malleability of memories and how therapists of the past blatantly manipulated survivor memories and produced wild claims of satanic ritual abuse and more and paraded d.i.d. patients around talk shows like circus freaks while they stoked their own careers and egos.

    Dealing with dissociated memories is a delicate dance of validating the person and what is uncovered while at the same time understanding that these memories can be vague, symbolic at times, trapped in childish understandings, and fragmentary until other pieces of the puzzle are revealed later in the journey, etc.

    The FMSF’s disingenuous attempts to discredit survivors doesn’t mean survivors’ memories are infallible. I ALWAYS validated my wife, but I also gave her the space and safety to later alter those declarations of memories as other pieces of the puzzle were added to clarify things, and some pieces may always be lost to the fog and mist of things that happened 4 and 5 decades ago.

    2) The author’s definition of incest is so wide as to render it meaningless. If she’s going to expand it to mean family friends, other children, pastors/priests, or ‘anyone who betrayed the child’s innocence and trust’, then it loses power as it alienates thoughtful people who might otherwise affirm the horror of incest. It’s an overreach that does NOT help survivors. Incest is clearly defined as sexual abuse (in all its forms) within the family and relatives, period.

    3) Validating and believing the survivor doesn’t automatically transfer into a legal ability to bring justice against the perpetrators and recognizing that reality seems to be a problem for some. It’s a conundrum that is frustrating and upsetting.

    I would love to see the stigma removed from all topics of abuse, but unfortunately this author seems to fall into the tribalism and culture wars our country is experiencing and thus adds to the confusion and division in general rather than capitalizing on the common views most people have on this topic.

  • I think it’s important to remember that Dr. Aftab should probably be considered an ally to those of us in the critical psychiatry camp: His attempts to bring nuance to the debate may be frustrating to those in the anti-psychiatry camp who want to burn it all down, but my reading of that interview was a very careful dance he did, allowing Lucy to have a clear voice on her position while articulating many of the refutations, deflections, and many other spurious arguments the mainstream psychiatrists would suggest to ignore and caricature any who oppose the status quo. He has an audience that many will never have, and if he alienates it with the passionate rhetoric of those in either of our camps, he will lose his chance to continue to move those who are moveable. I know that’s not what the victims of psychiatry want to hear, but it is reality.

    Thank you, Lucy, for putting yourself out there especially in light of the ‘refutations’ at the end and the haters on Twitter.

  • Mark,
    I wish I could give you a ‘big name.’ I started a blog 10 years ago geared toward SO’s and families and to teach them how to be involved in the healing(recovery) journey. My wife and I gravitated toward attachment concepts as the best means to hold all of us (including our now adult son) together as we walk thru the various issues created by her extreme childhood trauma and dissociation. Though we haven’t ‘arrived’, she has recovered to the point she tells me she just doesn’t fit in most survivor/trauma boards online.

    But the blog never gained the traction I had hoped for though I met others doing similar things. My best guess is that those of us who are doing this are so involved we just don’t have much time for anything else. And I’m unaware of anyone else advocating for this, but I can’t believe I’m the only one.

    Personally, I wish I could team up with Open Dialogue, but there’s no one in Ohio who does that and so we largely continue to walk on our own, outside the mental health system.

  • Mark,
    the fact that you would leave SO’s and families out of your PowerPoint list of people in your ranks is incredibly dispiriting and indicative of why, I believe, this movement continues to falter. Our son and I single handedly kept his mom/my wife out of the mental health system by giving her 24/7 coverage for 5 years when all hell broke loose as we started our healing journey together. 7 years later I still do all kinds of things to help and support her. I have always had her 100% full recovery in mind and work every day toward that goal doing ‘whatever it takes’ to see all the trauma and dissociation healed and reintegrated into her personal narrative.

    There is a small band of us on the frontlines despite the lack of affirmation here and elsewhere. I hope some day that changes and what we have learned and accomplished is recognized as integral to the fight against the dehumanization of those who have suffered mental health trauma/distress.

  • dfk,
    though I don’t accept or use the term ‘psychosis’ because it shows a judgmental ignorance (imo) of what is really happening, I do agree it’s a ‘software’ issue. After walking with my wife for 13 years in this, I think much of non-drug induced ‘pyschosis’ is related to dissociation and overlapping mental realities (past and present). I help her reprogram her software by walking with one foot in her “Matrix” and one foot in the present. I don’t demand that she change, but simply am a safe companion for her, interacting with her where she is and helping her as needed, and slowly she is moving from the past to the present at a rate that she is comfortable changing as she brings those dissociated areas into her general narrative.

  • “The fundamental principles that guided the authors’ rights-based approach are participation and empowerment, equality and non-discrimination, quality and diversity of care, social inclusion, autonomy, and dignity. ”
    I find most of these principles worthy of recognition, but I do have concerns about autonomy. No one is an island, and the demand for autonomy is just more of excessive western independence rearing its ugly head. It’s almost ironic that they put social inclusion right before autonomy: you can’t have it both ways in my opinion and even less in the intimate relationships of family and SO’s/spouses where a rights-based approach truly needs to be hashed out and everyone must learn and/or be taught how to honor each one’s dignity and agency in the context of relationships…which can’t only be one way…but flow in all directions.

    I find it a little telling that the article this was based upon mentioned Open Dialogue and then spent NO time dealing with the issue of family/SO’s. ‘Peers’ are well and good, but it is family that can either be the best or worst partners on a healing journey. We are the only ones who are truly set up to give long-term 24/7 coverage and who are probably willing to make the necessary sacrifices to do so like our son and I did for my wife. I doubt any ‘peer’ would give 13 years of his/her life to commit to walk the healing journey, and despite the bad rap family often gets on this website, I bet many family members/SO’s would be willing to do so if only they were taught and given the tools to help rather than abdicate what ONLY they can do to the ‘experts’ at the urging of NAMI.

  • Sera,
    I wonder if Bradford meant to capitalize ‘here’ also…meaning your privilege on this website, though the website’s reach is little comparatively.

    As for the tone or ‘style’ as you say, yes, this article was a struggle for me to get thru, and I typically enjoy your articles. One of the girls in my wife’s system is a social justice warrior, and she has helped me move to a more -balanced (i.e. center/right) position on most issues, but this kind of read more like something I’d see on Slate. If I used similar, derogatory language coming for my formerly, far-Right perspective, it would never even make it thru the moderators, and it shouldn’t.
    The style detracts from your article.

  • I’m afraid that having an ‘urge for a social approach to mental health’ will lead to dead ends, at times, just like the biomedical approach has. When any of us force fit mental health/trauma into a preconceived paradigm to fit our proclivities, then it closes us to the things which don’t fit into that paradigm…and not all trauma is socially/culturally based by any means.
    This approach by HVM is very concerning, even if it is a little better than the biomedical approach.

  • Thanks Snowyowl, I just wish MiA would be willing to find a solution like Open Dialogue apparently has (according to Steve) for us to truly partner together. I know I could offer more to this movement to end the dehumanization that so many of you have experienced. I kept my wife from it: I think I could teach others in my position who would have interest to do the same.

  • Steve,
    my wife and I will have been married 32 years in 4 days. In a relationship of any duration NEITHER voice can be raised above the other. Both have to be heard and given equal weight. Moreover, in a very real sense her issues are my issues. I can’t help but be affected by everything happening within her, and vice versa.

    Now I understand that many spouses and partners do NOT take the path I have taken, but I wonder how many who end up at NAMI do so out of good faith. I contacted them once because I was desperate, alone, and needed help. In the beginning of our journey I was absolutely overwhelmed and our son and I gave my wife 24/7 coverage for 4 years while he attended a local university and I worked 2nd shift, and yet she still wasn’t physically safe and for a year or more was covered in bruises, and she had many, nearly-broken bones because the new girls didn’t know how to ‘use’ the body very well. I had new girls trying to jump out of cars going 70mph or running thru moving traffic or wanting to buy fairy wings from the store so they could jump off buildings and fly! And that’s just the tiniest tip of the iceberg! When you all tell people in my position that our voice is 2nd class and we are engulfed in this kind of stuff, how many stick around? I’m not here near as much as I used to be for that very reason.

    The way to beat NAMI isn’t by belittling what the family is going thru but by showing them a better, though harder, way, and giving them the support to walk it with the person who is suffering. Again, I learned to wade through all the issues: I’m NOT special. I just refused to give up on my marriage and my wife. If we helped others, they might be willing to do the same!

  • Sera,
    I believe systemic problems are changed one story at a time until it reaches critical mass like, hopefully, BLM seems to be doing now. None of us change the past: we change today and hopefully that changes the arc for the future like I’m trying to do with my little family. It’s unfortunate you are turning me into an ‘exception’ rather than seeing me as a potential ‘example.’ I may never have ‘othered’ my wife, but it still took me years to learn how to change our relational dynamics, how to fully implement attachment concepts to hold us together as we walked thru hell and help heal her own attachment system, how to see thru ‘extreme states’ so they became understandable, and thus healable, etc. I will never fully understand what my wife experiences but neither will she understand fully what I do on our journey, but that doesn’t stop us from treating each as equals. And if I could learn to do this, others could too. I don’t want to be an ‘exception’ but I do wish I could help others in a way that I never got any help for myself.

  • Sera,
    I agree with much you have said, but I hope some day you will see that you seem to be judging our situation from YOUR experience. If that isn’t the case, then I apologize. It took me years to learn to see everything my wife was going thru by HER perceptions of it. My wife has never been ‘psychiatrized’ and as for being ‘diagnosed’ well, that was by an alternative counselor and, once I quickly got past the Hollywood caricature, for me it simply meant ‘your wife was deeply traumatized and is dealing with massive dissociation.’ Everything else we learned together, on our own, apart from the system because she even made me promise NOT to read any books on the subject (until years later). So I entered the journey without any preconceived ideas. We just kind of ‘fell into’ attachment strategies as the best thing to help us thru this. Later I became better educated on that subject, so I could help my wife even more, and so I owe much to John Bowlby for the road map he unknowingly provided us!

    It took me years to wade thru all the power dynamics of which you speak and learn how to use my strength for her advantage while never, ever, ever using it for my own advantage or even coercing her ‘for her own good.’ I had to learn that when I tried that tactic it never produced true, deep healing, and so I stopped doing it and learned to wait for her to move at her own pace, not at mine

    I do continue to wish you all well. I hope some day my wife will be willing ‘validate’ what I say, but if this is only for us, then so be it.

  • Sera,
    thank you for your sincere question. I will try to answer it the best I can.

    12 years ago when the other girls (alters) started to join my marriage and family and all hell broke loose because of all the extreme states they all went through, I never saw my wife any different than a person with extreme physical trauma. I never ‘othered’ her. I never thought she was crazy. I never thought she was psychotic, delusional, paranoid or any of the other derogatory things that are said of people who find themselves caught in effects of extreme mental trauma and dissociation.

    I ‘owned’ all the effects that her trauma and dissociation brought into our relationship. I saw us as ‘foxhole buddies’, in it together, 100%. I understood that a lot more would be required of me as the other girls (alters) joined our relationship, and our marriage today is certainly not typical to say the least. Many times I both physically and figuratively have
    carried her through the healing journey: I did whatever it took to help the only woman I have ever loved, and it was only when I found this site that I understood how much our efforts as a family (adult son included) had saved her from all the additional trauma and suffering so many of you have suffered from the drugs, the dehumanization, and the forced incarcerations you were made to endure.

    But when I got here I was immediately ‘othered’. It didn’t matter that I was an expert with lived experience on how to keep someone suffering extreme states, extreme dissociation and everything else my wife has experienced out of the system and off the drugs. All that is seen on this site is that I’m NOT a trauma victim. No matter how much I have argued that SO’s, family and friends MUST be part of the solution, it has been made clear to me that I will always be 2nd class unless my wife ‘validates’ my voice, here.

    Let’s go back to George Floyd. I’ve read lots of op-ed’s lately. A number of them by black authors have essentially said that until white people ‘own’ the protests, the blacks can only take things so far because white people control the power in this country. George Floyd changed the ‘other’ into a human face that many for the first time could connect to and white America has finally seemed to change the tide of this racist travesty in our country.

    I hope some day that Mad in America, Western Mass RLC, HVN and others will understand the same, that people like me must be more than just an ‘ally’ which still feels like a 2nd class ‘othering’ term to me. My wife and I are together on our journey 100%. There is no ‘other’ in our healing journey. There is only ‘us.’ This is not her struggle: this is our struggle. And I believe that it will only be when we help others like myself to ‘own’ this struggle, as the whites are finally doing with BLM, that things will change in the mental health arena as well.


  • Bob,
    I hope some day MiA will find a way to expand its circle to include people like me. I have worked 24/7 for the last 12 years, as you know a little, to keep my wife OUT of the system completely. If people had the knowledge and tools to do the same, so much of the carnage psychiatry causes the majority of your readers would never even have a chance to occur.

  • Sounds like it was a good meeting with lots of interesting takes on the topic.

    “Contacting police should be treated as a very last resort, and true trauma-informed care is built on collaboration and trust”
    Until family, friends and carers are taught how to understand ‘non-drug induced extreme states’ so they are de-mystified and the fear factor is removed and then those people are taught how to help the person thru those states, people are naturally going to call in help. Those states definitely can be overwhelming and scary the first time one sees them, even as an outsider, and that just adds to the fear of the person experiencing it. Fear feeds fear, but if the carer can remain calm, then the one in those states can learn to feed off that, as well.

  • Kermit,
    NAMI elevates the voice of the family over the sufferer of mental distress from what I read on MiA. However, it is my experience that MiA elevates the voice of the sufferer over the family. Until true parity and dialogue occurs and is facilitated between the 2 parties most interested in this entire topic, I wonder how much progress will be made.

    It appears Open Dialogue takes that more balanced approach though I have no personal experience with it (wish I did!). I hope some day MiA can move thru (and beyond) the pain and trauma of the sufferers to see that the families are suffering as well (from the fallout of the trauma and distress of the sufferer and not only from the effects of psychiatry) and healing will only come when all parties are brought together and learn how to love and create safety for everyone involved.

  • Hi Sam,
    I’m sorry for the terrible things you’ve suffered at the hands of the ‘experts’, but I didn’t learn about attachment theory from them. My wife asked me NOT to read any of the literature out there the first couple of years we started our healing journey. And so she and I just kind of developed our own style. A lot of it was based on the Golden Rule, though I always tried to listen to her feedback if she didn’t like something I was doing.

    If she was crying or scared, I’d try to comfort her, just like I would want comforted if I were in her position. I spent many nights literally carrying her around the house as she would bury her face in my neck. I tried to be calm, when she couldn’t be. I learned to validate her fears from the past, but after I had done that, I redirected her to her new reality that she was no longer alone: I was with her and I would take care of her and protect her. It helped that the other girls (‘alters’) fronted as little girls because it helped me throw off the terrible maxims so many of us adults have been taught in our hyper-independent, western cultures to be strong, self-reliant and not ‘needy’.

    After a few years of us doing things our own way, I thought I ought to read and see why things were going relatively well for us, and that was when I ‘discovered’ attachment theory…but it was just stuff we’d been doing all along since we didn’t have anyone to tell me otherwise (that’s also when I found out I was doing things all ‘wrong’ according to the ‘experts’ despite how well she was doing, lol). After that I became a little more purposeful about some of the best points of that theory, but I in no way changed how we’d been doing things from the start.

    As for the ‘navel gazing’, my wife used to get caught up in that, too, and I try to steer her away from it. I tell her, “let’s just focus on the trauma and the dissociation, and the rest of the stuff will take care of itself” and for the most part that has been true.

  • Hi Phoebe,
    thank you for the affirmation: I’m glad your own life affirmed the effectiveness of attachment techniques for even the most extreme of altered states. My wife went thru the entire gamut, and we never had to resort to drugs or forced interventions.. Maybe some day I will be able to do an article or series here as you suggest. There is such a desperate need to teach non-medical interventions to those who surround someone in distress.

  • Hi Sandra,

    since you gave me the link to this article of yours in our brief interaction a month ago, I read it, again. I read you and your husband’s recent interview in the Psychiatric Times that MIA gave a link to in their “Around the Web” section and it made me think of you. I tried to track down a contact email for you on the internet, but then wondered if that might feel creepy…sigh.

    You said you intended to go thru more of my personal blog, but then my wife and I left for Europe and the holidays hit, and I never heard back from you. Maybe you found nothing of interest there, nothing that might help with even a few of your questions that you throw out in this blog and elsewhere…and if that’s the case, then maybe I really have nothing to offer…I can’t get my wife to join me in my efforts to change the conversation on how to approach extreme mental distress issues, no matter how often I beg her, and nothing I have tried on my own for these last 11 years has been accepted by any corner of the discussion on dissociation, ptsd, attachment concepts, mental health, the SO’s place in the healing journey, or anywhere else I have tried to find a ‘home’ for myself. I just, literally, seem to fit nowhere in this world or its internet…and that’s a really hard reality to have to face…

    Our son lives over in Waltham, outside Boston. Sometimes I wish I could stop by your place, even if I had to pay for your time, and just figure out if I really have wasted my life and these last 11 years, especially, as I carried my wife thru all the issues that come from extreme dissociation, thinking I could show the world a better way to approach mental distress. But no one wants to listen…and I’m really running out of hope and strength to keep trying to make a difference.

    I know this ‘comment’ really ought to be in private, but I didn’t know how to get it to you, and maybe you won’t even see it now as this is such an old blog of yours. I do wish you well and am glad there are people out there like you who are brutally honest with the truth…even if you found nothing of any value that I had to share…

  • Hi Steve,

    well, I did qualify my response because Ayurdhi writes in a more clinical style than I am used to reading. That’s why I wrote ‘if I’m reading this correctly.’ It seemed that this blog was a largely positive portrayal of the study designed by Marlowe, Perry and Lee. But I am aware that I was going against the prevailing negative opinion of this blog in the comments section.

    So with that said, IF I am reading Ayurdhi correctly, then I stand by what I stated previously. I have tried many times to lay out my understanding of dissociation on this website to little effect. But I do understand my understanding isn’t mainstream but has come after 11 years of walking thru its many aspects with my wife on our healing journey. I would love to do a series on dissociation here like I did on my personal blog, but I won’t hold my breath. I think it would help make sense of the many confounding things that the various authors on this website note, but have no explanation for. And that’s why I tried to interject my understanding into this blog because the original authors seem to understand there is something more going on than they can explain: thus, their call for further study. I see it thru the lens of dissociation and thus, I think their study is a great start and hope they will continue to pursue it.

  • Madmom,
    I don’t know if you’d be open to my experience as I literally, at times, carried my wife thru her extreme states and PTSD symptoms…
    There are 3 concepts from attachment theory that were vital for me to ‘master’ as I helped my wife thru these various experiences, though much of it I would categorize as simply being a good parent or SO.
    1) affect regulation. This first concept is most easily understood that the person in distress will mirror your reaction to the situation. If you stay calm and cool when she’s in the midst of an extreme state, that WILL affect her and calm her, too, but if you ‘lose it’, that will cause her to escalate. You’ve probably seen this concept played out in movies and such when all hell breaks loose but the ‘leader’ of the group keeps his cool and thus enables the rest of his/her band of followers to follow that lead.
    2) Proximity maintenance. Basically this means that your very presence has a calming effect upon the person in distress. You don’t always have to say something. Sometimes just your presence can be calming, but this is important: don’t minimize the importance of touch if your daughter is in a place to receive it. We humans need non-sexual touch to feel connected, and I have made it a hallmark of how I keep my wife connected to me for these last 11 years. You would almost always see me with my arm around her, or holding her hand or sometimes I’ll simply reach out and touch fingertips or rub noses or stroke her hair or her cheek. All these little things are powerful ways to emphasize that she is NOT alone. She is connected. And that connection, that attachment is what will hold her when the extreme states would otherwise overwhelm her.
    3) Safe Haven. To me I always visualize this as protected ship harbor during a hurricane. She would often run away from me when she felt scared and overwhelmed, but I NEVER let her be alone during those times no matter how much she would try to push me away. It was a balancing act, and so I was careful not to force myself upon her, but I would gently envelope her with my presence, with my words, with my affirmation. If she was hiding under a table or something, I would crawl under it with her and wrap her up loosely in my arms and legs and just whisper to her, “it’s ok now, Honey. I’ve got you. You are safe now. You aren’t alone anymore. I hear you. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there with you before, but I’ve got you now.”
    But I think safe haven also means when she thought she was going crazy and all the other derogatory things she’d safe about herself, I’d respond, “No, Honey, you’re just hurt. We’ll get thru this.” I had to learn NOT to overreact to all the things that got thrown my way. It really helped me once I understood what was going on inside of her.

    Now you’ve got the additional issue of the drugs, so everything might not ‘make sense’ in time like it did for me, but I’ve had to deal with mini-seizures, her going comatose, panic attacks, extreme anxiety, flashbacks, night terrors, self-injury issues, and more…but at this point, all those things are a distant memory and she hasn’t had anymore for years.

    I’d say the main issue was me. Once I got my ‘stuff’ together, my wife began to make much greater progress. Like it or not, we the SO’s and family and friends can make all the difference as the ‘primary attachment figures’ in the lives of our loved ones. Yes, it is exhausting, but we made it, and you can, too. You’re welcome to email me, if you’d ever like to correspond more.

  • Ontological insecurity is defined as Quote:
    “Vulnerability to psychosis, wherein the self is experienced as lacking in coherence and consistency, precariously separated from the body, others, and the world and on the brink of disintegration into psychosis.”

    If I’m reading this correctly, this is just another way of saying ontological insecurity is the result of major, entrenched dissociation caused by trauma. From my understanding of how psychosis is described, I think it can be understood as the mind’s attempt to reintegrate dissociated, traumatic memories but as it attempts to do so, there is an overlap between the past memory and current reality which leaves the person experiencing it disoriented and unable to tell the difference between past and present. If I’m correct, it’s why I really don’t believe in psychosis because I think it would be better explained as experiencing overlapping realities (one past; one present) rather than the more common view that it is a ‘break’ from reality.

    According to R. D. Laing’s theory, ontological insecurity could lead to full blown psychosis when significant others interact with a person in a confusing, intense, and critical way. At its core it is the lack of a coherent and stable self. It is related to a crippling fear of loss of autonomy, especially the fear of engulfment, implosion, or depersonalization, in relationships with others.

    This is where the SO’s understanding of the attachment concepts of ‘safe haven’ and ‘affect regulation’ and ‘proximity maintenance’ are key. It really didn’t matter which attachment style my wife was currently experiencing when she was in an ‘extreme state.’ What mattered was that I satisfied her need for a safe haven and affect regulation by remaining calm, cool and anchoring her to the present and that I was physically present. A few times I let her pull me into her fear/anguish from the extreme state, and then I just elevated her distress, but when I stayed grounded, I was able to ground her and she would more quickly come out of those states, and, happily, that is what her mind seemed to need to begin the process of integrating those traumatic memories into her personal narrative to the point now that she rarely experiences ‘extreme states’ and they are rather mild when she does.

    I believe attachment concepts provided me a way to ‘hold’ my wife during psychotic-like events, gently cocooning her while she herself felt ‘ontologically’ fractured and insecure, and by me doing so, it gave her time to heal and gain that sense of self-security that she had previously lacked.


  • Thanks for sharing, Bob.

    Every time I read one of these heartbreaking stories, it makes me so glad my family and I side stepped all the pain and misery caused by the mental health system and its drugs despite our path not being an easy one. Maybe some day we’ll find a mutually amenable way that I can share how we did it here on MIA.

    But I can certainly empathize with Zel: I have struggled with similar thoughts for decades though for completely different reasons. It really is too bad that so many people in this world are too blind and self-absorbed to see those who are suffering alone, and how it strengthens both people when they learn to ‘attach’ to each other.

  • As someone with 11 years of lived experience, that is living with someone (my wife) who would be considered to have a ‘severe mental illness” I 1) don’t consider her dangerous, 2) don’t consider her crazy, 3) and don’t consider her biologically, mentally ill and in need of drugs to ‘control’ her. I am truly horrified by this push of Trump and Dr. Drew in the wrong direction.

  • Sam Plover,
    I looked back over my response just to make sure, but I never said I was ‘fixing’ my wife. I do NOT see that as the case. I have an older brother who tried to ‘fix’ his 2nd wife, and it didn’t end well.

    As for me and my wife, we live together, we interact together, I love her, I support her where she needs it. Yes, I do a lot of things intentionally to create a loving and safe environment for her to heal, but I never see myself as ‘fixing’ her despite her many dissociative issues. We are in this healing journey together. I have had to change in many, many ways to be a good healing companion for her. It’s not all about her: it’s about us.


  • Hey Bob,
    I’m glad to hear that MIA is growing and expanding and from your opinion, you seem to think the tide is turning: that’s very different from many other writers on this site who bemoan the lack of progress. I hope you are correct!

    I’ve been frequenting this website for nearly 5 years. Philosophically, I thought I’d finally found a ‘home’ here, but then I learned I’m not really part of the in group because I’m not a survivor or a therapist and I didn’t stick my loved one in the system with horrible results. I’m just a husband who has spent the last 11 years, 24/7 doing everything and anything it takes to keep my wife’s story from being the same as most on this website. And for the most part we are thru it, together and better, both of us changed from the experience of walking it as a couple and family.

    I’ve argued without effect that people in my role, the SO’s, family members and friends are the front lines in the battle. When people in mental distress begin to experience ‘extreme states’ as this site calls them, what’s a person going to do? Do they call the cops or experts? I haven’t seen anyone here teach others in my place how to deal with panic attacks, flashbacks, mini-seizures, going comatose, extreme anxiety, PTSD issues, dissociation, self-injury, hearing ‘voices’ and all the other things that typically drive them to call for help, for backup, even if it’s bad help and backup in the form of the mental health ‘experts.’ There’s not a single Open Dialogue practitioner here in Ohio: so who are people in my position going to turn to?

    Maybe MIA has decided people in my position are not their core focus group, and that’s your right to do so. But I don’t see the tide truly turning until people learn how to deal with these issues on their own or have good help concretely available.

    I do wish you and MIA the best,

  • Dear Sandra,

    I always appreciate your articles. You are always so careful with the facts and try so hard not to over or understate things. You are willing to live with difficult, messy realities when surrounded by so many ideologues.

    I got thrown into this world of mental distress because the woman I love finally opened her own Pandora’s box after 20 years of marriage and we got sucked into it together as we tried to make sense of the hurt, pain and dysfunction and find a healing path forward, together, as a couple and as a family. Eleven years later we are still together on the journey, and I hope coming to the conclusion of this phase, though that may be wishful thinking.

    I’ve always wished I could find someone like you who would be willing to sit down and listen to the things we learned about fully implementing attachment concepts in a way that even the attachment theorists simply don’t understand because they limit themselves. And I wish I could share with someone like you about the true scope and nature of dissociation and how it underlies so much of what you would see in people’s signs of mental distress. My wife and I chose to live in her dissociation. We embraced it, breathed it, walked in it, and conquered it. I’ve helped her integrate most of those dissociated areas of her mind, and though we aren’t completely done, we know what needs to be done.

    I wish someone like you would be willing to read my feeble attempt to share what we learned about attachment concepts and dissociation. I tried to share them in my little blog, but I know they would never withstand critical scrutiny, as I just tried to share my observations about what worked and then tried to find a theoretical basis for why they worked, and so I’m sure I got a lot of it wrong even though what we did, did work.

    I’m glad you like Open Dialogue. Someone who practices it here in the States out West said what I do with my wife would be a good fit with their philosophy, but there’s no one here in Ohio for me to connect with.

    Anyway, I do wish you well and hope you find what you are looking for like my wife and I did.

  • The article was extremely brief and really didn’t get into much and appears to be gearing toward a promotional for the attachment ‘interventions’ that the author offers thru his clinic. I’m afraid that it will promote therapists as a legitimate source to heal attachment issues, and though I do think they can be a resource for healing/changing one’s attachment issues, I really don’t think someone whose relationship is based on the flow of money is a good person to model to the ‘patient’ how to securely attach in a healthy relationship.

  • Well, hello David,

    apparently we are fellow Buckeyes. I will definitely contact the email you gave, though at this point, I’m hoping my wife and I are on the far end our healing journey, though that could be wishful thinking, lol, as the last girl to join our family has taken longer to get connected to the others than all the rest combined, sigh.

    I have walked with my wife thru her d.i.d. for the last 11 years, without the use of medications and outside the mental health industry. I accepted where she was and then we walked together from there to create our own reality as we both have healed and changed and grown. I never treated her as if she was crazy, but validated all the experiences that come along with extreme dissociation, such as voice hearing and a host more.

    Take care.

  • Hello Itay,
    I admit I struggled with your use of ‘anarchy’ in this article: I think your use of ‘egalitarian’ and some of your other word choices, at least to me, better represent what I believe is the intent of your message.

    I love Open Dialogue from ‘afar’ having never had the change to experience it on the healing journey that my wife and I have been on, but I was told by one of it’s practitioners that what I do with my wife fits very well with their philosophy.

    And I’m not sure why the swipe at marriage in the book you referenced: when my wife and I first began our journey together, over and over, she wanted to be reassured of my absolute commitment to her if she was going to visit the deepest, darkest corners of her childhood and it was ONLY within those safe confines of our marriage that she felt able to go where she had ignored for so long.

    But our egalitarian relationship and the contribution it engenders to our journey together most definitely fits with the spirit that seems to undergird your article. I have made attachment concepts the bedrock of everything we do to create a strong, cohesive relationship that can withstand the extreme pressure her many dissociative issues have brought our way…and thus far that has meant the difference of us not only staying together but growing stronger as a couple and family as she has healed in ways that many say is impossible without the use of any drugs or being connected to the mental health system at all.

    I wish you all the best. We are excited to visit your country very soon!

  • Boans,
    I never realized until years later that one of the most important things my wife ever asked me when we first started our healing journey was for me NOT to read anything about her issues, and I honored that request. That gave us about 2 or 3 years to develop a system of me helping her that truly worked for her and us.

    Later I started to read the literature out there, and only then did I realize how radically differently we were doing things, but by then I was unaffected because I’d already seen the extremely positive results we were getting.

    It is too bad that so many families that want to help are instead ‘turned to the dark side’ so to speak and become agents of more pain and suffering instead of the healing agents they could be.

  • I think this movement has struggled, in my opinion, because it doesn’t know how to get past its fundamental refutation of the biomedical model of mental health and heart breaking stories by those harmed by the mental health system. Yes, those things are important, but when loved ones are experiencing ‘extreme states’ which are NOT drug induced, then how do the people around them help without knee-jerk calling the police or authorities? How do families raise children who aren’t even enticed by drugs and so many of the other things that people use to dull their overwhelming pain? How do people navigate the overwhelming stress that 21st-century life places on all of us, not just the poor and people of color, though it may be exacerbated within those groups?

    Until the movement empowers and teaches those around the person in distress how to help AND how not to freak out, I think the default is going to be to bring in the ‘authorities’, never realizing they themselves are actually the only people who can walk someone thru ‘psychosis’, extreme anxiety, paralyzing fears, ‘paranoia’, mini-seizures, dissociative issues, becoming comatose, flashbacks, panic attacks, and more.

    I contacted Open Dialogue a few weeks ago to see if there was anyone in Ohio that I could team up with, and there’s not a single practitioner here. That’s really sad. Until we start giving real, practical alternatives to people, they are going to go to the ONLY help there is, even if it’s terrible help.


  • I’m not thrilled with the amoral and unfettered capitalism that we are seeing today as Wall Street cares ONLY about padding the profits of the 1%, but I think this struggle is so much bigger than the Left/Right divide. Maybe this review is misleading.

    Anyway, I think this movement has struggled, in my opinion, because it doesn’t know how to get past its fundamental refutation of the biomedical model of mental health and heart breaking stories by those harmed by the mental health system. Yes, those things are important, but when loved ones are experiencing ‘extreme states’ which are NOT drug induced, then how do the people around them help without knee-jerk calling the police or authorities? How do families raise children who aren’t even enticed by drugs and so many of the other things that people use to dull their overwhelming pain? How do people navigate the overwhelming stress that 21st-century life places on all of us, not just the poor and people of color, though it may be exacerbated within those groups?

    Until the movement empowers and teaches those around the person in distress how to help AND how not to freak out, I think the default is going to be to bring in the ‘authorities’, never realizing they themselves are actually the only people who can walk someone thru ‘psychosis’, extreme anxiety, paralyzing fears, ‘paranoia’, mini-seizures, dissociative issues, becoming comatose, flashbacks, panic attacks, and more.

    I contacted Open Dialogue a few weeks ago to see if there was anyone in Ohio that I could team up with, and there’s not a single practitioner here. That’s really sad. Until we start giving real, practical alternatives to people, they are going to go to the ONLY help there is, even if it’s terrible help.


  • KindRegards,

    I would even suggest that faith is a VERY powerful force for healing. My wife’s faith, her belief in a higher power, has been instrumental as I’ve helped her move past the lies of the past, but even more importantly, as I’ve helped her ‘restructure’ her internal working model from that of a trauma victim to a more healthy, securely attached person. Without her faith, I honestly don’t know how she would have been able to tear down the dissociation between the various girls. And whether critics want to argue it was a placebo effect or proponents say it truly is Jesus answering those prayers, in the end, without her faith that He was doing it, I’m not sure it would have happened.


  • Lawrence,
    I spent most of my life as a born again evangelical. I have a ministry degree with a biblical studies major. But in the course of the healing journey my wife and I have been on the past 11 years, I reevaluated everything, including my faith. The cognitive dissonance that had always screamed inside my head on some points between my faith and ‘the real world’ no longer could be ignored. I just didn’t have emotional strength to support anything that wasn’t pragmatically helpful in my desperation to keep me, my wife and our son together and moving forward in our journey.

    And so I will give you that there are many, obvious areas to me in which most Christians engage in cognitive dissonance to uphold their faith and still function in this world. But it’s no different than the cognitive dissonance and blind faith that I see in the mental health experts or the macro evolutionists whom you seem to think are above such human foibles. Come to Ohio, and I’ll share some of my library that reduces many of the materialistic-evolutionary tenets down to what they really are: blind faith of its adherents. I’ve got an especially funny book, just of quotes, of the biggest names in the movement that shows their candor about their faith’s inherent unscientific basis within their own priesthood and yet they still promote it zealously to the public thru their willing conspirators in the media. I’ve often thought of suggesting MIA create a similar book of quotes of the priesthood of psychiatry and big pharma.

    I’ll be honest. I don’t really know what I am anymore. I don’t really fit much in the traditional sense of Christianity, but I do tire of people who clearly don’t understand the bible but love to wrench a few proof texts out to prove this or that point. I just don’t understand MIA’s willingness to promote these facile attacks on Christianity, other than it seems to be politically correct and acceptable nowadays. If they want an honest critique of Christianity, I could give them an insider’s view as someone who has dealt with the problems, but also still sees value in some of the over arching themes and narratives that have helped me and my family stick together and witness her healing in a way that the mental health experts tell me is impossible. It would be a lot more honest evaluation than this critique has been.

  • Hello Ayurdhi,

    there is so much in your article that is positive, but it’s just a start. I do hope this vein of thinking will be pursued further as our family has validated many of the concepts and findings you bring up.

    I’ve never really cared for the term psychosis as I find it to be an judgmental term, almost a pejorative, by those on the outside to absolve them from entering the experience of another. If my wife is ‘psychotic’ then I have no responsibility to try to understand what she is experiencing. But I never took that route, and instead deeply entered her experience, and once there, I found that so much of her experience made sense. And from that point, she and I could walk together to find a way out of the things that were dysfunctional and yet we also found many new ways of seeing things that added to our relationship and life. It really wasn’t all bad, though it was very difficult.

    I might point you to attachment theory and its concepts of proximity maintenance, affect regulation and safe haven. They were absolutely critical in helping me steady my wife thru her ‘extreme states’. Once I learned to be the ‘calm in her storms’, her storms began to calm as well, and then that was the place at which real and deep healing began for her.

    I wish you well,

  • Thankyou, Kindredspirit, for expressing many of my exact thoughts, but I thought this website is so far to the Left that it would shut me down and sensor me for saying so. This entire debate from both sides misses the point and it saddens me that the issue has only been further muddied and made worse by the current state of war between the two tribes…

  • Hello Ruth,
    I am a fellow caregiver. I’m sorry for the terrible experiences you and your daughter have had. I’m very intrigued by the Open Dialogue Champions group and will try to check it out. My wife, son and I have mostly gone on this healing journey on our own, and I’ve always wished we had more support, so I can definitely empathize with you. We were just very fortunate/lucky that she never got caught up in the mental health system.

    I’m glad you are finally getting some support. Maybe some day we will, too, though I’ve about got her thru things at this point.

  • Hello Susannah,
    well, I’ve taken a very pragmatic, humanistic approach, but I would never demean anyone’s perspective that takes a more supernatural or spiritual approach as you seem to have suggested. I just don’t seem to have access to those kind of things no matter how hard I tried to gain access to that realm for most of my life…

    Anyway, when my wife first started hearing voices I remember telling myself they could be A) part of herself, or B) something supernatural that only she had access. And even though I couldn’t disprove B, I thought A was the easier to believe and work with. And so I’ve always followed that course, believing the voices were part of my wife’s larger self.

    Over the course of the last 11 years, my understanding of voices has definitely expanded beyond that very elementary understanding, but I’ve never seen anything in her personal experience that contradicted that understanding. Today I would add the voices are ‘dissociated parts’ of herself caused from the initial trauma. I was also, always careful NEVER to play favorites with the voices: some were kind, loving and easy to get along with, one hated me, others were scared of me…but if they were all part of my wife’s larger whole, then as a husband I felt called upon to love ALL my wife and not just the easy parts.

    I would also add that because of the wonders of the mind, those dissociated parts take upon themselves their own, distinct personalities, and I always honored that part of the ‘phenomenon.’ All but one ‘voice’ had a personal name she had chosen and so I saw/see each by her name and interact with her based on her desire even though philosophically I view them as ‘part’ of my ‘greater’ wife, if that makes sense.

    And so I never wavered from my respectful, gentle and hopefully loving interaction with each of the ‘voices’ and over the course of the last 11 years, the fearful ones became stronger and less afraid. The angry one realized she wasn’t alone anymore and could trust me to help keep the others safe (and eventually she even asked to start dating me). And all of them began to mature and interconnect with each other to the point that they are more a heterogenous group of ‘friends’ than the disconnected group of ‘voices’ that they started as.

    My wife as a ‘whole’ person has expanded as she incorporates each voice into her larger collective self and so we validate the voices rather than having their ‘annihilation’ as a goal which so many experts pointedly express.
    There’s so much more, but that’s some of the highlights…

  • Steve,
    since you put your comment under mine, am I correct to assume it’s directed toward my comment? If so, I think we may be talking about completely different issues. My comment has to do with the question, ‘what fundamentally is a ‘voice’?’ Your reply seems to have more to do with ‘how to handle voice hearing’ on an individual basis.

    How one answers my question will fundamentally affect one’s approach to voice hearing no matter how it is applied on an individual level.

  • This approach is a good start, but there really is so much more to it. The thing I observe from the article is that talking about ‘voices’ in the abstract creates for a fuzzy base upon which to act. It’s no wonder there is such wide spread disagreement on whether and how to engage the ‘voices’ when I’m not sure most people, experts and hearers alike, even have a good answer for ‘what are the voices, fundamentally?’ Once you answer that question, the whether and how kind of take care of themselves.


  • I didn’t realize this was such an old blog already, but I’ve never forgotten it and the unsatisfying way that the experts have defined dissociation. I finally got around to writing a 3-part discussion of dissociation after my wife and I have lived and breathed it for the last 11 years. This is what our experience has taught us about dissociation if anyone cares.

  • People in my position are desperate for help and support: NAMI offers it. I contacted them a long time ago and met with the leader of our local group, but I never ended up going to the meetings. It was only later that I started to frequent this website and realized they had been co-opted by big pharma and psychiatry.

    It’s too bad MIA doesn’t have a vision to offer a counter balance to NAMI: it’s a huge need, learning how to deal with all the things that manifest in a distressed loved one and also cope with the hurt and pain those things cause in the relationship. Maybe some day my wife will be in a position to allow me to start something…

  • In the spirit of scientific inquiry, I’m sure this is a good thing, and those who struggle with ‘voices’ probably would love to ‘control’ them, but I’m afraid this may not really help move the person toward ‘healing.’ This would seem to be a way for people to put another layer of ‘lids’ over the original trauma. My wife and I embraced the voices: the good, the ‘bad’ the vitriolic, all of them. We didn’t control them; we unleashed them, so to speak, and it made all the difference.

  • Kindred Spirit,
    since I specifically mentioned Open Dialogue, why would you bring in NAMI which we all know is generally disrespected on this website as a tool of Big Pharma and Psychiatry. Furthermore, since you just posted a positive comment about Open Dialogue on that thread, why would you try to twist what I say here?

    I’m sorry for the things you have shared in the past about your abusive ex, but I am NOT him, and there are a lot of us spouses out there who are in it with our loved ones whether you choose to believe that or not. And until this website can come to some kind of accommodation for both sides, those with abusive families and those with supportive families, I think this movement will continue to falter.

  • “We are like a little gnat buzzing around a great big elephant that can be swatted away with a quick flap of the ear. But our new 10-session course will at least explore this landscape of “systems change,” with the presenters bringing to this topic a diversity of experience and perspectives. The presenters include psychiatrists, leaders in peer services, former directors of state mental health programs, and trainers experienced in helping providers implement trauma-informed care.”

    Respectfully, Bob,

    but for as long as I have frequented this website, I have tried to get people to expand your collective vision past those whom the system has wronged. I don’t ever want to demean the experience of those who were caught in the system and abused by it, but the overwhelming majority of Americans haven’t had that experience, and yet they are still touched by this issue. Additionally, no matter how many times I remind this website that the first line of defense in keeping people out of the system is to train people like me, the primary attachment figures, how to help someone in distress, my call seems to be ignored. I had to learn it on my own, but it is possible. What my wife and I went thru, most therapists won’t even touch, but we got thru it together and without any contact with ‘the system.’

    But when I look at your list of contributors, there is no one on it who represents my group, those of us in the trenches, 24/7, who deal with the hell that our loved ones are experiencing. Some of us have even figured out how to help them thru it: I’m not the only spouse out there who has walked his loved one thru all the crap that we’ve gone thru.

    I like Open Dialogue so much, even though we never had access to it, because it understands the families must be brought into collaboration for the healing journey because we are the ones who get awakened throughout the nights, on the weekends, on vacation, during intimate times and every other situation in life. And so we have to help walk the person thru the night terrors, the panic attacks, the dissociative issues, and so many other issues no matter where they hit life and the relationship that I won’t belabor the point here.


  • RR,
    I’ve done this for the last 11 years with my wife, and I’ve publicly shared the journey and what I/we’ve learned on my blog. You are welcome to come and see what you think. I welcome dialogue and even debate on it.

    But our experience is so completely different than what I read on this website that we aren’t even in the same universe when I read experiences, understandings and solutions on here. And so I’ve had to realize I will always be an outsider here and seen skeptically rather than embraced as someone able to point the way to the very things this website seems to desire…

  • rasselas.redux,

    “It is a significant, life-changing, restrictive, challenging and potentially dangerous choice to make, to help someone severely mentally ill, without the resources and legal protections of a governmentally-sanctioned system.”

    It can be done, but I agree there are few out there doing it, and I find it extremely sad that no one on any side of the debate seems to care about our perspective and what we’ve had to learn and do to make it thru this journey with our loved ones.

  • Bippyone,
    thank you, but I don’t feel very amazing, especially as we’ve been stuck trying to help girl #8 connect to the other 7 for the last 4 years. If you really have interest, you could visit my blog on WordPress. I lay out much of my application of attachment theory and other things I’ve done to help my wife heal there.

  • Hi Bippyone,
    hmm….written responses are so difficult to convey meaning…and none of what I say is meant to criticize what you did…so I just want to say that up front…

    But when I talk about understanding what was going on with my wife, I kind of meant it in a more technical way, though still in laymen’s terms. For example, when my wife went catatonic, I had to learn that what actually happened was one personality left executive control, but no one else came out to take control… so the “lights were on, but (literally) no one was home’ or out front. Once I figured that out, it just became a matter of me calling or pulling another girl out, and the catatonic issues were largely resolved.

    When my wife suffered ‘mini-seizures’, well that was a different issue. That was more like a computer program that had glitched while changing programs…and my wife had ‘glitched’ when switching from one girl to the next. And so I learned to ‘help’ her thru the switching and the seizures ended.

    The flashbacks and panic attacks were another issue. That was caused by the overlapping of past, dissociated, traumatic memories that were controlled by one girl breaking thru to another girl who was in executive control on the outside. And so I had a number of ways, mostly based on attachment theory’s understanding of safe haven and affect regulation, to calm her and help her integrate those new memories in the ‘overall narrative.’

    I also had to learn that some part of my wife was ALWAYS accessible, even when it appeared otherwise on the outside. And so even if she didn’t respond, I would still speak to her, using my attachment points to remind her she was no longer alone, she was safe now, etc, etc, etc… And so I learned to effect healing even when she didn’t appear to respond to me.

    So it was a matter of becoming able to diagnosis what was going on internally with her, and tailoring my response to her current reality…and little by little as I provided her that safe haven, affect regulation and proximity maintenance, the trauma memories no longer overwhelmed her because she had the additional support of my presence, and so she could slowly integrate those memories into her overall narrative…and thus they were no longer able to overwhelm her from a dissociated area previously inaccessible to her.

    Clearly, I can’t tell you what was going on with your husband or son, or make any judgments about you or them, but by walking this journey WITH my wife and learning to listen and become ‘in tune’ with her, I was able to facilitate some pretty dramatic healing to the point that most of the ‘extreme stuff’ is a distant memory and we are only dealing with tearing down the vestiges of the dissociation between the various girls, and that requires another, different approach based on attachment theory’s understanding of the inner working model.

  • Rachel,

    I don’t like those terms (and I would include psychosis with them) because had I perceived my wife in any of those ways, it would have absolved me from any need (and more correctly, any ability) to understand what she was experiencing…and it was only once I really understood things from her perspective that I was able to help her heal and move forward and be a good healing companion. Once I understood what she was experiencing during panic attacks and flashbacks, her going catatonic, etc, I was able to help her thru them and permanently heal the underlying causes such that she hasn’t experienced that stuff in years at this point.

  • Hi Bippyone,
    you are correct that it takes a lot more than a nebulous ‘loving someone’ to help them thru extreme forms of mental distress and trauma, and I’m sorry if I watered down my reply to the point that it looked simplistic to you. I wish there was time and space here to tell you all the ways I have systematically and intentionally helped my wife heal thru some of the worst ‘extreme states’ you could imagine, but my doing so required no medication and though I would have been happy for additional help, as her primary attachment figure, the majority of responsibility was always going to be on me anyway, though our son was a huge help in the beginning.

  • Hello Bippyone,

    I do understand what you are saying and absolutely agree with your statement, but I think my use of ‘wrong’ had a different intention.

    Today’s biochemical model of mental health posits that some people are fundamentally flawed, in their dna, and they are ‘broken’ without any hope of ‘repair.’ Whereas the paradigm I use is the trauma model. I believe that what is ‘wrong’ with my wife is the result of trauma, and with love, help, and strong attachments she can heal.

    Restated: the biochemical model says there is a category of people broken, ill and fundamentally flawed. The trauma model just believes the mental distress and other issues like my wife’s d.i.d. are not ‘inherent’ in the person but the natural cause of pain and fear from life’s traumas and those CAN be healed.

    So the best I can tell you is we are using the same words but they have radically different meanings.
    I hope that helps!

  • Ekaterina,

    I’m honestly not sure why I NEVER saw my wife as ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’ or ‘ill.’ I don’t like any of those terms, and I really don’t even care for the attempts to take back ‘mad’ and turn it into some kind of badge of honor or ‘in your face’ retort.

    I see my wife as traumatized, no more or less than someone who suffered a severe body trauma like my brother-in-law who fell 30 feet in a hurricane and crushed one side of his body and spent years in rehab and surgeries and still struggles with issues caused from that. My sister and he still have to deal with those issues, but no one looks at him like something is wrong with him because of his injuries. The entire family accepts his struggles and limitations. My sisters tells about the period where she had to ‘wipe’ him after he’d go to the restroom because he couldn’t do it himself. They are ‘in it’ together just like my wife and I are in her issues together, and yet I’m told ‘something is wrong’ with my wife because of her struggles, and they wonder why I don’t feel like being around them much…sigh.

    I’ve often wondered about the various reactions of people to other’s struggles, but I typically assume it tells me more about them than the person struggling.

  • Quote: “I am, to put it quite plainly, a true schizophrenic, and that means I’m schizophrenic all the time. It doesn’t change. It’s all day, every day — no exceptions. I will put my “crazy” up against your “crazy” any time, no matter who you might be, and I’m pretty sure I’ll win. I hear voices that talk about God, the aliens, and about secret government programs all day long and sometimes even all night long, and I believe in practically all of it. Its sheer logical consistency has me convinced.”

    Eric. I know this was more of an aside, but I just can’t seem to get away from your statement here. It breaks my heart to hear you say this, even though you put ‘crazy’ in quotes. I never saw my wife that way even though she could easily match you in every way.

    I hope someday our culture radically changes it perspective on hearing voices. I’m very sorry for how you have been treated because of our cultural and scientific ignorance.

  • 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…

  • 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 canR