Deliberate Self-Harm: In Dissociative Identity Disorder & Multiple Personalities

It is common for dissociative people who believe they have multiple personalities, to struggle with affect regulation –  meaning that their emotions are all over the score board and coping with  them is not their strong point.

In a warped manner of coping, there is non-suicidal self-harm; the most common is cutting their bodies. Some people cut in places that can be easily hidden by clothing like torsos, thighs, and groin. Others make repeated injuries to their forearms, wrists, or legs which are not as easily hidden – I question the chosen location of the cutting wondering if it is done to elicit reactions from other people who can observe their bodies. I lean towards the attention getting aspect because that was what I witnessed while an in-patient at a psychiatric hospital receiving treatment for multiple personalities.

What I saw with patients who self-harmed is that wearing white bandages was a badge of honor. It meant that they did something in secret that instantly became very public. Even so, their secret remained hidden behind bandages and left the rest of us patients to wonder why they hurt themselves. Cutting let everyone know they were in pain and desperate, but it did even more.

In my opinion, it demonstrated that they had courage. The kind of courage I wish I had had, but didn’t. I wanted to get better (from mpd, an illness that never existed) and decided that when I was well, I did not want scars running rampant across my body like a road map.

I was somewhat envious of them. Their determination and seeming lack of fear was admirable – at the time. Here we were all 21 of us locked in a hospital unit together and only one or two of us took self-harm to the wall and injured seriously enough to leave the unit on a stretcher. Pretty ballsey to be in the intensive care unit of a psychiatric hospital – locked in 24 hours a day – and still find an escape, even if it meant lots of blood and an ambulance ride to another hospital.

I don’t find self-injury an admirable quality anymore. It’s quite a sad situation as I see it. Those who do it claim that it brings release. OK. I’ll accept that as their experience. The result remains. There is always an element of attention seeking involved.

Taking cutting to higher level, some keep the wounds from healing by picking at it or re-injuring the area. Yes, this does happen and an mpd/did friend of yours could be engaging in this behavior. Although I suspect you know about it because telling or hinting about it is titillating for injurer and their audience.

Protected by Copyscape Online Plagiarism Test originally published 11/7/11

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20 Comments

  1. cat slave

     /  01/24/2012

    First, I want to say that your background sucks, because I can’t see complete posts because of the dark brown stitching (just an observation, no offense meant).

    I was diagnosed with what was then known as MPD in 1987, mainly because of my laspses of memory, extreme child abuse, having people call me by different names, and at one point not realising what each of my alters were doing, I was simultaneously going to college, working a full time job and working a part time job as well.

    All this aside, as a nurse, I knew/know how to cut where no one would notice (the creases in the feet, or hands or other places on the body). Yes, I usually ended up with stitches, but once I saw the blood, I would come back from ‘never-neverland’ and back into my body. Just as once the pain sent me away (as a child), as an adult it would bring me back. Yes there were/are some times when I need to see blood to know I am ‘real’, and the physical pain does push back the emotional pain. In some people I do believe it can be a cry for help, but in others (myself included) I do believe it is a coping mechanism that has gotten out of hand. There are times when the old ‘hold a piece of ice in your hand and come back to the present’ doesn’t work. I do believe in extreme circumstances that self mutilation is acceptible. And following that note, what about tattoes, extreme ear piercing or stretching, body piercing, etc. Is a belly piercing a fashion statement or a cry for help? Where do you draw the line? Just curious….

    Cat Slave

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    • Hello Cat Slave. Appreciate the feedback that you are having difficulty with the background.

      I would draw the line at the point where one has a compulsion to hurt themselves. Of course that is naive as I know next to nothing about self-harm. All I know is what I experienced with other women diagnosed with MPD in the hospital.

      Unlike you, I don’t find self-mutilation acceptable – but again, it’s your body you can do what you want to it.

      I was diagnosed with MPD in 1986 – and you in 1987. We are on the same path at one point yet our lives took drastic paths. I can sit here and cry thinking I could have spent decades still believing, like you, that I have MPD.

      It’s a hard life you live, I know it well. How you keep a job in a high stress medical field is beyond me. I couldn’t do it on my best day! lol.

      Have you been injuring yourself all this time? Are you getting better? I sure hope so. As I said, it’s a tough life living as you do (IMHO) and you’ve been doing it for decades. I wouldn’t have been able to.

      Thanks for dropping by and offering insight and a glimpse of your life. My regards.

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  2. K

     /  12/23/2011

    I would just like to say that when I or an alter cults, we do so on the thighs. We want to keep it hidden. Our sister is a salf harmer, as well, who cuts on her arms for attention. We never want to be like her! I can’t speak for my alters on reasoning, but I know that when I cut, it’s because the external pain distracts me from emotions and allows me to seperate from them more affectively without just switching and allowing another alter out.

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    • K, appreciate your comments.

      Don’t the scars keep you in a state of remembering pain and the emotions you felt when you cut? I mean, there is no way to erase the scars, so there is always a reminder. Just askin’

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      • K

         /  01/24/2012

        There are ways to prevent scaring. As long as you avoid going that deep, or as long as you avoid using the same place for cutting too often, then the scars fade rather rapidly, and are barely noticable even until then. However, we were never heavy cutters. Once every four or so months, perhaps. It’s a coping mechanism, and not a very good one; it’s not something to be endulged in. Unfortanutly, cutting releases endorphins to stem the pain; this causes the brain to actually start to look forward to cutting! Like other bad coping mechanisms, it can become addictive.

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