Nov 24, 2008

Delusions vs. early childhood trauma memory

Part of my internship for my counseling degree was with the inpatient psychiatric ward of a hospital. The hospital did not acknowledge DID and, as a student, I was advised not to make any waves. While it was clear many were delusional or schizophrenic, there were times I would have at least screened for dissociation. Instead, the hospital psychiatrists simply prescribed medication for delusions or "hearing voices" that would be against treatment guidelines for dissociation. No one bothered to even distinguish if "hearing voices" was from inside or outside. Outside voices usually goes with schizophrenia, but not always.

One of the reasons so few were diagnosed with DID in the past is that those with DID were misdiagnosed as schizophrenic. Colin Ross, M.D. wrote a book on this topic but is also supported in much validated research. I had one client who came to me while still heavily medicated from being diagnosed as schizophrenic for several years. He did not believe he was getting better. His psychiatrist was very nice to work with me and wean him off the zombifying medications. While the client was not DID, he had dissociated memories of abuse. His personality blossomed as the medications wore off. He maintained his antidepressant and antianxiety and healed to have a much more functioning life. In early interviews with him, he disclosed he was diagnosed as schizophrenic because he heard a voice and, in fact, had a name that went with the voice. Maybe not clear to all, but clearly to me the sign of a self state.

Tyler, the young boy whose healing is described in the first post of Believe the Children recalled adults dressed up as gorillas. Actually, he told me they were gorillas who could talk to him and who forced him to engage in sexual activities. Perps in gorilla suits. A 5-year-old reporting to a therapist who is not open to understanding DID that gorillas touched him in bad places and was made to do sexual things likely would have been labeled delusional or having fantasies. I shudder to think where that little boy would be now if he had seen someone who did not hear what a 5-year-old was trying to say or use techniques to help the child explain what a "gorilla" meant.

Tyler did not dissociate. Adults healing now from DID may have a similar trauma memory of a group of clowns or devils or gorillas forcing themselves upon the child. Remember the intentional unbelievability factor of child porn and exploitation groups. I have to wonder what is going on with therapists who are treating DID but then believe they are working with someone delusional if a memory comes up outside the therapist's realm of believability. What is happening to survivors of sophisticated and/or organized pedophilia in the hands of a therapist who cannot accept that the "delusions" are intentional and very treatable in someone with DID?

In my attempt to help my client with community law enforcement, I was repeatedly asked if she wasn't really delusional? How did I KNOW she wasn't making her current abuse up for attention? This is the life of every survivor. It's stepping through landmines to get help at any level. Change needs to happen.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your courage and wisdom. I have added you to my blogroll. You can visit my survivor site at: Blessings!

Maiya said...

A friend referred me to your twitter. I requested to follow you there. I am a survivor who never disassociated and now my 10 yr old daughter has repeatedly made disclosures, during investigations against her father, that he has been sexually abusing her since at least 2 years old. child protective teams in Seminole County, FL keep shutting the case down saying that they do not believe her testimony is anything more than my own childhood projections. She is not being heard because of my own abuse history! People find it hard to believe that the system would protect the perp's rights over a child's, but it is common here. I am glad to see that there is someone bringing these child abuse issues to the masses. I am interested in assisting in any way that I can. My email is

Grace said...

Thank you, Maiya. I'm sorry I never responded to your offer for help. Am posting main articles wherever and whenever I can. Maybe Obama administration will help place more focus on these issues.