Partners of Dissociative Survivors is an Internet group in the United Kingdom and as the name says, they are partners, family members and other loved ones who have a DID member in their family or circle of friends.
It is difficult to wrote posts on this blog without seeming to attack the patient who comes to believe they have DID or multiple personalities. This stems largely from the fact that it is impossible to tell you about the life of these individuals without giving examples from their testimonies or by using my own anecdotes to show the intricacies of this largely underground, secret society. My post is not meant as an attack on people who have been taken advantage of by inept mental health care providers.
I have read many posts in forums and on blogs about self-harm and emergency room visits. Individuals who believe they have DID have an additional concern – their wounds are self-inflicted and there is worry about how they will be perceived and treated by medical personnel. Trips to hospital emergency rooms make multiples susceptible to being placed on a mental health hold whereby they may be forced to stay at a psychiatric unit or facility for evaluation – which in this writer’s opinion should be done. If someone is distressed enough to think that inflicting cuts, burns and other self-mutilation will be helpful and is a productive route to health, something is wrong with their thinking. Why should this behavior get a free pass from the emergency room to a warm bed at home without a detour to obtain a psych evaluation?
It’s time to hold inept, mental health care providers who treat DID and their followers accountable for their actions. If you do the crime, as the saying goes, you must do the time. Perhaps if there was a law stating that when an individual self-harms and the injury requires emergency medical intervention, it then necessitates an inpatient mental health evaluation – no argument. Would that deter some individuals from harming themselves? What if the emergency visit necessitated that the treating psychotherapist come to the hospital? Would that deter the behavior? I doubt therapists want to be dragged out of bed at 2 am on a snowy night to attend to their patient. What if the hospital bill is sent to the treating therapist to pay, out-of-pocket? Would that deter the behavior? Patients, above all, do not want to lose their beloved therapist. Repeated trips to the ER would not be cost effective for practitioners. Would that reality deter the behavior?
On the other hand, it will be argued, self-harm will occur, but emergency care will not be sought. Then we move into the area of infections and on and on. Who is ultimately responsible when self-harm leads to suicide? Is it the patient? The therapist? Both? Society? The alleged abuser? Why is DID, a pseudoscientific diagnosis and treatment, permitted to be practiced without consequences?
Lastly, who ultimately picks up the bill? If a person with DID does not have insurance, society pays. If they have insurance, everyone’s premiums go up. Perhaps there could be mandatory public service hours instituted to pay back society. Should self-inflicted injurers require a higher insurance premium?
This issue needs to be addressed on many levels.
I’ve known several women, while I was a patient, who slashed themselves badly enough that they required an ambulance to take them from the psychiatric hospital to the medical hospital. One of my women friends overdosed on prescribed medication she smuggled into the hospital during admission. She was found unresponsive and rushed to the hospital (her distress and behavior eventually led to suicide).
What can be done? Treatment for an illness that has no basis in science is not only being practiced, it is not monitored properly by licensing boards. When infractions occur discipline of the therapist is too often ignored. What message are we sending mental health care consumers? These practitioners are permitted to create an unimaginable amount of pain and distress in their clients without responsibility. After a emotionally charged session, the patient goes home and cuts themselves; the therapist goes home and has a warm dinner after a long day at the office.
There is a strong movement within the DID community to inform the public about this “illness” so that it can be understood and so patients will be treated in a humane manner during emergency care. This movement gives credibility to imaginary personalities and unduly stresses already stressed emergency departments. This information and education is done in a variety of ways through workshops, lectures, books, papers, and other means.
The Partners of Dissociative Survivors in the United Kingdom offers a DID emergency card that can be put in a wallet in the event that an individual needs care. They want caretakers to know, for example, that they may not be an adult, may not respond due to dissociation, may respond to different name due to dissociative identity disorder/ multiple personalities.
I know some therapists will think the card is a good idea. They will copy it, and may secretly thank me for posting it. I, however, think it more important for the public to be aware of the nonsense surrounding multiple personalities.
Here’s yet another example of psychotherapy gone stupid.
Partners of Dissociative Survivors
“PODS provides support and education primarily to partners or family members of people who suffer from a Dissociative Disorder, in particular Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). PODS also works to raise awareness of dissociation and provides training and information workshops to anyone who lives or works with dissociation, ie counsellors, pastoral supporters and clergy, health professionals, and education and social care staff.
PODS was recently provided with a small amount of funding to provide some DID Emergency Information Cards. These are credit-card sized double-sided glossy cards which can be kept easily in a wallet or purse and which provide healthcare staff with further information about DID. They are therefore especially useful in emergency situations such as sudden admission to A&E, but will prove useful in a variety of settings.”