Karen answers Acacia

Comment by Acacia on December 3, 2008 3:34 pm

Hi Karen and Richard,

Congratulations on accomplishing a book on what it’s like to be suffering and healing from multiple personality disorder. Who decided to change the name to dissociative identity disorder? To dissociate is one thing, living with multiple personality disorder isn’t the same. All people dissociate to a certain extent but all multiple personality people dissociate to survive. There’s a big difference. Don’t you think?

I am suffering from depression and anxiety from past abuse. I am not going to say I dissociate because I don’t think I do. My question is complicated. While I was being abused I watched myself being abused from the sky.  I was raped repeatedly by an uncle in his backyard on rainy days. I hate the rain because of this. When lightning and thunder strike I fly into a panic attack but don’t dissociate like I did those days I watched from the sky. Is this how you felt when you dissociated? I want to compare what happened to you to what happened to me.


Dear Acacia,

I’m not sure why or who changed the term multiple personality disorder to dissociative identity disorder.  I know the words share the same meaning, but Dr. Baer and I felt the old term “multiple personality disorder” defined my illness more than DID.  I believe the word “multiple” refers to more than one distinct personality, whereas “dissociative” seems vague and not as accurate a description of what I had.

I agree and believe as you do that to dissociate is one thing, but to live life as a multiple with a fragmented mind and distinct alternate personalities is something different.  MPD seems more appropriate.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts on MPD. 

I can understand that you don’t believe you have MPD.  There are other possible explanations as to why you “watched” your abuse happening.  I am not a qualified therapist and can’t give advice, but in my opinion, when you experienced being raped, you felt as if you were watching it from above because your mind couldn’t accept that it was you being hurt, and removed you to protect you. This was very similar to my experience of dissociation.

For me, dissociating my pain and abuse meant my experience of pain was removed from my awareness.  I put myself elsewhere so that the direct impact of what was happening to me would feel as if it were happening to someone else, much like watching a movie and seeing something horrible happening but you’re at a safe distance from it.

I can empathize with you when you describe your reactions to rain, thunder, and lightning.  I have also experienced triggered memories that are associated with my past abuse.  As time goes by, most of these triggers disappear.  Sometimes, when a memory is triggered, I may have a nightmare and wake with my heart racing.  Although this doesn’t happen often, it can be debilitating for a few moments. I usually get over it quickly once faced with the reality of today, and the fact that my abuse happened long ago.

Thank you for your compliments! I wish you well.



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