Psychology and mental health has always been something that’s interested me. I haven’t taken any classes on it or really have any clue how anything works, but the mind fascinates me. I love watching videos and reading articles on different topics and learning more about the organ that runs my body that I really have no control over. My brain continues to do everything for me every-day and I don’t have to tell it to. When I read more about my mind, I’m filling my brain with knowledge about itself… Pretty weird to think about.
Recently I’ve had a fascination with a disorder called Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID. Basically what it entails is a person will have multiple personalities, also known as alters. How a person develops this is, between the ages of one to six years old, an experience of reoccurring trauma happens to that person. When we’re young, we don’t really have one set personality. We’re still growing into ourselves and who we want to be, what we do and don’t like. Therefore, when something bad happens, the body will try to protect itself and block out that experience, so part of the personality will take over so you won’t remember what happened. The two different personalities then stick, one as the host of the body, and the other as a protector, and more develop from there. They are what you take in from your surroundings as a child, and some people have alters that are animals or even inanimate objects.
When people think of multiple personalities, the idea of what Hollywood makes it out to be comes to mind, such as the recent movie Split, or even that people are acting and want attention. In my opinion, there are actual people out there who struggle with this disorder, and I want to know more about their experiences.
An interview that I watched the other day really helped put into perspective what it would be like, but obviously everyone who has DID has different stories and there is much to learn. The woman in the interview, her name is Encina and is 28 years old, but was only diagnosed eight years ago. She has 11 different personalities in one body, and for a long time she was confused and scared of her own mind. She would wake up with amnesia, not remembering what she did for hours at a time, or even end up in a different place. What she would come to realize was happening through therapy is that her other personalities would take control and block her out.
People with DID don’t chose to have alters, or anything about them. The mind creates them and their personalities and names. Encina said she hasn’t even met all 11 of her alters, and only knows of them through therapy when they come out and they communicate through pen and paper. There are five alters in her case though that she knows, and frequently switches into. These switches can occur when Encina wants them to, or when the alter wants to and feels comfortable. Sometimes Encina is co-conscious when her alters are out and can see what’s happening around her, like being in the back seat of a car, or they can block her out and she won’t remember anything, usually to protect her if something bad is happening.
Encina’s main alter is a three-year-old girl. Her name is Mini. She’s her own person, and will come out and do her thing when she feels safe to. She talks and acts like a three-year-old would, just in a grown woman’s body.
There are cases where people consider having DID as a “super power”. Some people will have a disease, such as diabetes. When they get their blood taken, the results are positive, but when they switch into an alter, they don’t have diabetes anymore. Another famous case is a woman who is blind, but when she switches, she can see perfectly. That is absolutely amazing to me. The mind and how it controls and protects the body is just simply incredible. I hope that learning about how others work can open my mind and be understanding and willing to help others in their situations.