This is our truth...
"Since you've never been in therapy, and never been diagnosed by a doctor as having MPD/DID, how do you know you are multiple?"
We are asked this question every once in a while. It's based on a time-honoured myth, which runs as follows.
"People who are truly multiple cannot possibly know that they are. Even in a group with many frontrunners, none of them can know each other or have any sort of communication. In real multiple systems, the frontrunner never knows of the others until the diagnosis is made by a qualified therapist."
We have been told this by multiples! They honestly still believe that frontrunners in multiple systems or groups are and must be helpless, unaware of themselves, devoid of psychological insight, lying at the bottom of a very dark sensory- deprived well until the almighty therapist reaches down and rescues them.
I believe this is possibly true for some. Some multiples really do follow the classic, Wilburian pattern, in which they don't know a thing about themselves until a knowledgeable therapist points them in the right direction.
We don't follow that pattern. Neither do most of the multiples we know. We know we are multiple because we have the experience of each other, and have since birth. We were in constant communication. That was our joy and our truth. Knowing we were we was a holy thing to us and still is.
We didn't have an easy time of it in childhood, largely due to the fact that the frontrunners knew we existed -- not that they did not know. There was no dissociation. There was no lack of communication. The communication was the problem. The frontrunners' main task was to find ways to allow us to express ourselves as freely as possible without getting in trouble for having imaginary friends.
"You claim that abuse is not necessary to cause multiplicity. Aren't you simply in denial regarding suppressed memories of abuse that caused you to shatter? ALL multiplicity is caused by some kind of childhood trauma. You may be in serious need of psychiatric help."
The psychiatric definition of multiplicity in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a badly worded insult even to people who experience multiplicity as a disorder that they are suffering. It completely disregards the fact that many multiples operate with no loss of memory (or, more properly, continuity of consciousness between upfront personnel). They possess subjective libraries or common memory pools that allow anyone who comes up front to be in immediate command of a situation.... and to have full knowledge of the past.
Most people who write to us with this sort of concern refuse to believe that we have full knowledge of our own past. We do. It's as simple as that.
The DSM definition and the ISSD Treatment Guidelines were written by men who don't believe anyone is really multiple, only that some people merely have a 'delusion of separateness'. I hope that by the next edition, the definition will be removed altogether, or better yet, replaced with something that more closely defines those for whom a Wilburian or disordered model is reality.
We've been presented with impressive lists of traumatic events that can cause personality shattering, and asked to identify ourselves on checklists of different types of abuse experiences. The people who wish to help us in this way are operating on the notion that the existence of more than one person per body is unnatural; that the very fact that there are others besides myself using this body indicates that Something Bad must have happened. There's something of a fundamental error here; an assumption "not created by trauma = has no experience of trauma."
Some people claim that anyone who experiences depression is suppressing abuse memories. Our answer is that no suppression is necessary. Everyone in this Godforsaken society is abused. We live in boxes that dictate to us our behaviour and occupations from the moment we are born. We wake ourselves up with harsh sounds after insufficient sleep in order to be on time for hours of work under fluorescent lights after traveling through noise- and fume-ridden streets. This is called earning a living... earning the right to stay alive. People who react openly to this unnatural sensory bombardment are labeled "autistic". Depression and stress-related illnesses go with the territory. If trauma caused people to split, everyone would be multiple.
Sometimes an emotion is just an emotion. Negative emotions have been pathologized in this society for several reasons -- overcrowding is a factor -- but mostly because, as my esteemed colleague Jay Young puts it, someone stands to make a buck off of it.
To those who wish to help us unearth our buried memories and consign ourselves to becoming owned by the mental health system, I say this:
You've chosen to rely on the medical establishment to define your reality. This may work to your benefit; it's right for you. I know of multiples who really were born as one person and split through horrific abuse, and who seek integration to correct the deformity of spirit that they sense in themselves. They know multiplicity isn't right for them, isn't how they should be. They've told us this, and we believe them. We take their word for it.
Well and good. But don't speak to us of denial until you've been inside our head and seen what's there. Don't apply your boxes to us, even out of genuinely altruistic concern for our health and safety. You don't know us.
It's possible that you feel threatened by the reality we present so wholeheartedly and without apology. It's not meant to threaten anyone, but it is meant to encourage people to question the boxes, the neat, tidy little reality-packages.
Authority doesn't have all the answers.
Think for yourself.
Last Update Saturday, July 14, 2012 10:45:48 pm
Prior Update Sunday, September 16, 2007 5:01:39 PM
Other Essays by Anthony TempleMultiple Personality and the Media Why are we constantly portrayed as freaks?
On Integration Why it is neither necessary nor desirable.. and may be impossible.
No More.. A tirade on multiplicity as sickness.
Removing Diagnostic Labels Multiple personality does not belong in the DSM.
The Kaycee Nicole Thing On the Internet, you are who you say you are. Use it wisely.
Validation and Language in Multiple Personality An answer to the often-asked question "Does this happen to anyone else?"
Fixing the DSM By Matthew of the Jinkies. A more indepth look at the DSM-IV classification of multiplicity and what can be done about it.
Why Activism? We strive to educate the public because other people tend to make it their business -- "You need HELP" -- when you come out multiple.