This Volume discusses clinical recommendations for treating Dissociative Identity Disorder as well as pitfalls for therapists. It includes chapters on ritual abuse as well as the interface of DID and the Law.
The book is Volume 2 in the Engaging Multiples series.
Dr. David Yeung practiced psychiatry in a variety of settings on three continents. Engaging in private practice for 40 years, he retired in 2006. In the beginning of his career, despite his education, training, and qualifications, he was ignorant about DID/MPD. Through years of trial and error, he learned to recognize and treat patients with multiple personalities. It was a long and lonely journey of discovery. It is his hope that by sharing his clinical experience through this series, new generations of therapists will come to understand the importance of correctly diagnosing DID and treating it appropriately.
Have you ever wondered what creates a split personality in people? The author, David Yeung, a retired psychiatrist with many years experience treating patients with Dissociative Identity Disorder, (think, “The Three Faces of Eve”) presents his material in a balanced, calm manner. I was impressed with his ability to describe the roots of DID, and the controversy surrounding the diagnoses of this condition. The two books he has written answered many nagging questions I have had regarding DI regarding, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and delayed onset of memories of child abuse. Most people think that the only way to treat traumatic memories is to drag them out kicking and screaming, and sometimes they do spring out that way unannounced, but there is another way to treat DID patients who do not have raw memory slamming them up against the wall. This man thinks outside the box.
“A terrorized child stores information in a non-verbal way, so on recall all the child experiences are somatic sensations and visual images. This is what is characterized aptly as “speechless terror.” I was wondering about all those things that happened when a child is too young to speak. Where do the memories go?
“DID can develop when trauma occurs either before or just as one’s personality is beginning to coalesce. This is especially likely when the traumas occur during the pre-verbal stage of cognitive development. Lacking the ability to use language, very young child-victims have not yet developed the conceptualization skills of a mature mind to help them withstand the intense physical and/or psychological assaults.” Some people develop “alters”, fragmented pieces of one person. “Alters are distinct identities, each of which has its own personality traits and ways of thinking about the environment and self.” They are created in the face of unbearable suffering to dilute the pain across a continuum of consciousness.
“A single core personality has splintered into pieces, or… a single core personality was never given a chance to form – such as when abuse happens in infancy.” PTSD occurs, however, after a person has developed a single core personality and arises after unbearable stress – accidents, terrifying incidents, combat related stress, and many survivors of child abuse have PTSD but not DID as individuals vary, as do circumstances of assaults.
“There is a general denial of the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse. There is a more intense denial of the kind of abuse that is beyond the imagination of anyone who has led even a somewhat sheltered life. There are numerous examples of atrocities and grossly deviant behavior too horrible to acknowledge. Many people do not know, or do not want to know of the horrors adults inflict upon even infants.”
“DID is a complex disorder. For therapists to take the position that they should “forget about the past, just treat the manifest depression of the present” is a dangerous error of oversimplification…only through medications. Time and time again…patients…did not improve…relying on such a mechanistic view…”
There is one question I have seen nothing about until reading these books. Or shall I say there is one reality I know to be true that everyone avoids. Children are capable of having sexual feelings. However. And this is a big, big however, they are not emotionally ready for it to be forced upon them and if it is forced upon them some children will grow up and avoid sex, others will grow up and be re-victimized as easy prey for sex traffickers, and some will create “hyper-sexualized” dissociative alters after being, at a completely inappropriate age, place, and context, hyper stimulated sexually. This creates shame that casts a giant shadow on personality. For those afflicted with DID it may create internal alters that are in a life or death conflict with the angry parts of a person hating the fact that, just as a human being will digest a meal even if it is eaten forcibly or partially vomited, a person can be, like Pavlov’s dog, conditioned to experience sexual feelings that they feel they cannot live with. Just as in a person with a core self that is complete, they may hate themselves and blame themselves for this type of violation. It can be seen as a sin or a failure of fulfillment of commitments in life.
Healing is a long, uncomfortable journey in life whatever the problem. The author, after outlining his therapeutic model for treating DID says, “A DID patient may heal to the point where the alters coexist in a harmonious manner, but without full integration.”
Human consciousness is a strange and complicated thing. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy”, or so the Bard said.
If only all the mental health professionals were like Dr. Yueng! I think from what I have seen in my area, DID is not considered controversial any more but there are clearly more qualified therapists than others to treat it. As far as treatment, we are sadly far behind where we could be because of the state of affairs that mental health is in. These lives matter- their suffering should not be ignored.