Dissociative Identity Disorder & Abusive Alters

Dissociative Identity Disorder, commonly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is fraught with oddities and having an alter personality who is abusive is only one of them. People who believe they are inflicted with other selves inside their minds and bodies refer to themselves as multiples which is a term also used by the medical/psychiatric profession when referring to patients with Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID.

Abusive alters do more than self-harm during suicide attempts or cutting arms and legs that may require emergency intervention. Abusive alters extend their emotional angst to husbands, children, siblings, parents, co-workers, and friends. Although children in families with a mother who thinks she has other personalities is harmful enough in my opinion, covering abuse and neglect of children is beyond the scope of this post.

Spouses of multiples suffer in silence. There are not hundreds of forums and Internet groups for spouses to discuss their chaotic lives as there are for multiples. Female multiples have a wide support system of cyber friends available, but their spouses have scant support from outside the home. Spouses who are welcome to post on Internet forums for multiples report chaotic home lives that sometimes include physical assault by their wives.

Spouses, or SOs, of multiples are usually the support staff for their mate who’s emerging personalities are unpredictable, violent, or at best, immature. Child alters of a 40 year-old-woman, for example,  can emerge and demand attention in the way of game playing, doll and stuffed animal hugging, watching child videos, and other play and behaviors of real children. The spouse loses his or her wife and may be forced to become the caretaker, playmate, or the adult responsible for medical or psychiatric intervention.

One multiple reports in an Internet forum: “I have an incredibly abusive, sadistic alter … who treats a young alter in a way similar to the way my step-father treated me when the body was very young (five and six). He is both physically and sexually abusive and his role is to torment and inflict pain on the poor young alter. This alter has been doing this stuff since I was about six or seven. ”

Another multiple says, “One of the alters was out last night and threw a total fit, to go eat hamburger and fries. However, I want to try and have a baby again, and I want to get my body as healthy as possible. .. She [alter] comes out and starts arguing with my husband, getting mean, and pushes him. He locks her in bedroom and hides all of our car keys. “Debbie” starts to threaten to call the police and say he’s abusive and send him to jail, etc.

“Well, things calm down. By the time I come back [abusive alter recedes] my husband has a raging headache and is terrified because this is the first time ever any of the alters has revolted against him.

“So, does anyone know how to deal with the legal aspects of DID. I need to figure out how to protect my husband, so if the police ever do show up, they can do a peek around, but he has to say, “Look, this is my wife, but she’s not herself.” At the same time, I’m not happy with a psych hold.”

This multiple goes on to worry about herself in the event her husband dies and there is no one to ensure she does not self-harm and care for her little personalities.

Ruth Blizard, PhD.,  psychotherapist in Binghamton, New York, USA, treats people with multiple personalities, offers classes, workshops, individual and group therapy, diagnoses and treats personality disorders, complex trauma and dissociation. Dr. Blizard has an extensive list of articles and presentations on her website. Her article below discusses the alliance a psychotherapist needs to make with abusive alters. Following the article are a few resources for spouses of multiples. I do not support or endorse any of the links or organizations listed.


 Therapeutic alliance with abuser alters in dissociative  identity disorder: The paradox of attachment to the abuser.

Ruth Blizard, Ph.D.

Dissociation, 10(4), 246-254, 1997

Abstract: Abuser alters present a dilemma in the treatment of adults with dissociative identity disorder, because they often undermine the therapy as well as re-abuse the patient. They are paradoxical because they were created to help the child survive abuse, but continue to do so by abusing the self. They were often modeled after an abusive primary caretaker to whom the child was attached. Object-relations and attachment theories clarify how creation of the abuser personality serves to preserve the attachment to the abusing caretaker. By understanding how abuser alters function to maintain attachment, contain overwhelming memories, and protect against abuse, therapists can better engage abuser alters in a therapeutic alliance. Empathy, cognitive reframing, and gentle paradoxical techniques can help host and abuser personalities become more empathic toward one another, develop common purpose, and begin integrating. By working through the transference, attachment to the internalized abusive caretaker is replaced by healthy attachment to the therapist in the therapeutic alliance

Significant Other’s Guide to Dissociative Identity Disorder
http://www.pods-online.org.uk/index.html   Partners of Dissociative Survivors, provided by HiddenAngel08.

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