Why We Don't have Multiple Personality Disorder
When we first found out that what was going on with us was this thing
called Multiple Personality Disorder we scrambled to get our hands on as
many books we could. We were always avid readers and thought this
was the way to understand ourselves. In the books, we thought, would
be the knowledge we needed, we would find ourselves looking back.
Unfortunately we were wrong, and what we did read was to our detriment.
The personal stories of multiples were always horrific and bleak.
None of them had normal lives, instead they were all in chaos and barely
functioning. The professional books spoke of multiplicity that we
could not relate to; of hosts, of obvious, dramatic switching, of overt
behaviours. It was all so foreign to us. But we were multiple,
that couldn't be denied (even though we tried) There was more than
one person inhabiting this body, which is the basic definition of multiplicity.
Because we had made fitting in a life time occupation, our first and
prolific reaction was to learn what was expected of us as a multiple and
become that. We were no longer reading to find ourselves, but rather,
to discover what we should be. the underlying belief was that to
be accepted as multiple there was one way of behaving, the right way to
be multiple and we had to do that. we chose to ignore all we were
and replace that with what the books said we should be, at any cost.
And soon the cost became high. To fit ourselves into that little
box of MPD was a tight squeeze and something had to give. Instead
of doing the sane thing, accepting who and what we are, we decided we had
to change, we had to totally reorganise ourselves, and lie about things
we really were.
The literature said, multiples have a host personality. They described
the host as weak, depressed and anxious. So we looked around at the
people that were interacting with the world the most an picked the one
that fitted that description the most. When I think about that now
I cringe, we took the weakest, most depressed person and forced her to
take on the responsibilities of host. She now had to interact constantly
with the world, she had to be responsible for all we were and did.
And she couldn't cope with that. As the months past she became weaker,
less able to perform. She struggled with the simplest of tasks, and
eventually even those things that were her strengths became to hard for
her to do. Our need for a host, to fit into the MPD paradigm was
literally killing her.
Add to that, we thought our switching was unacceptable. Up till
then we would switch regularly through the day, probably switching on average
50 times a day. What we read called this unacceptable, that it was
a sign of an unhealthy stressed system and would require intervention,
probably hospitalisation to control. Switching, they said was in
response to show stimuli resulting in an alter to come out to perform some
task. There was no mention about people coming out to just be there,
just because they felt like it. So we struggled to control switching,
making our new host remain in control of the body for the majority of the
time, demanding that people needed a valid reason to be out. there
was another issue about switching that freaked us out. Supposedly
it had to be dramatic, that the switching process should be obvious and
prolonged and the differences between alters should be easily observed
and highly defined. Although, at that point, we had no idea what
we looked like when we switched we knew it wasn't dramatic. Later
friends have told us they can spot it if they are paying attention, some
thing about the eyes blinking and sometimes a change in the energy.
But it's not flamboyant, hell nothing about us is flamboyant. for
years it was physically dangerous to be seen switching, so it had to be
covert. Even now, as a multiple in a world that has no real understanding
of multiplicity and is rather close-minded, it is not exactly prudent to
show switches dramatically.
As for the differences in people, that is an issue that still worries
us. We don't feel we present all that different. When
trying to fit in we would either lie, saying we hadn't switched, therefore
the differences wouldn't be there. This would cause problems when
the , supposedly, same person would be contradicting themselves, or were held
responsible for something they didn't say or do. Or we would reduce
ourselves to one dimensional caricatures. Taking one obvious
aspect of a person and only portraying that. We were therefore becoming
the exact thing we hated people thinking we were. We aren't caricatures,
and therefore the differences are for the most subtle. Yes when we
switch from adult to child there are definable differences, but for the
most it's just the subtleties that don't show unless you take the time
and effort required.
This feeling of being too different to be multiple was accentuated,
when we finally did meet other multiples. We would listen to them
talk, and wonder how we could possibly be one. They all seemed so
similar, so alike. I believe now, like me, they hid their differences
so they could develop their own sense of belonging. But at the time
I just wondered where I fit in. The children of other multiple systems
all seemed to write in the same idiosyncratic way, like they had all learnt
it somewhere, or it was part of being a inner child. Our kids soon
stopped talking to others because they wrote responsibly normal.
A few spelling and grammar mistakes, and they had the usual problem with
irregular nouns and verbs. But it was, in general standard english.
The longer I stayed in these multiple communities, the more I had to hide.
There seemed a need to stay overtly multiple. By this I mean that
as the communication and cooperation grew within our system, and that our
people would start to get on together, the less acceptable we seemed to
become. There was within groups of multiples, at that time, almost
a multiple police. Those that set the rules on how to be multiple.
So instead of finding that sense of community we were looking for, I discovered
that I was more alone and different.
We spend years worrying about whether we were a true multiple, and trying
to squeeze ourselves into that tiny medical model of MPD. Our life
experience up to that point had always been about fitting in, about finding
what was expected, and become that. So we tried the same thing, losing
our true selves to become the image of what we were seeing and experiencing.
It was a hard time, and in lot of ways a dangerous time for us.
But eventually, we had to pull back, we closed all our books about MPD
and stopped communicating with other multiples. This was a time for
us, to regroup and find ourselves again, it was the beginning of what would
be our new focus on multiplicity. We started to realise that our
multiplicity was the life we had, it wasn't some medical model, it wasn't
some disorder written up in textbooks. We found that who we were
didn't have to fit someone else's definition. It was a slow process,
having to give up this need to fit, and embrace who we were. New
skills of self acceptance had to be learned.
No where, in the literature, or in personal experiences, did we hear
about internal worlds. For a long time we thought it was a sign of
delusion, that we had this world inside, that felt not only as real as
the one out here, but also as important. We lived simultaneously
in both, enjoyed our life in both. We kept this secret from everyone.
Then as this new acceptance grew we started talking about it, acknowledging
it's existence and it's importance. We talked about the history of
Idia, it's culture, it's appearance. Even giving out the name of
our world was a big step. It was like declaring it was real.
It wasn't just the minds way of dealing with more than one person, it existed
in its own right. The fact that Idia exists, shows we aren't some
disorder. Because we are not figments of someone's disturbed mind,
that we live lives intricate and separate from this world, how can we be
a disorder, or merely a coping mechanism. In many ways the acknowledging
and acceptance of the existence of Idia was the catalyst for the changes
in us. It helped us realise that we weren't a textbook, we
weren't a disorder. As we grew from accepting to celebrating our
internal world, so our celebration of being multiple grew.
All those things that we tried to hide, tried to change, became strong
parts of us, became the way our multiplicity was, without questioning the
validity of it, or hiding it from fear of being different. We remember
reading in some professional's book on MPD, that the disorder was a personal
one and therefore would be different for each multiple. But the author
then went on to defining how all multiples would be. The contradiction
meant that we didn't take in the first statement. Multiplicity may
not be a disorder, but regardless of the label it is a very personal thing.
It develops for many reasons, but it does develop within an individual,
or group of individuals. It is therefore different from one multiple
to the next, for each one has developed in their own way, for their own
reasons. Our multiplicity developed the way it did, we
do not follow the medical model of MPD, so that is why we have learnt to
say we are multiple, rather than we have MPD. The doctors
can define MPD as much as they want now, for it is not something we are
concerned with, not a disorder we have. We do not have Multiple Personality
disorder, therefore we do not have to fit into that paradigm anymore.