The Persistence of Folly: Critical Examination of DID

Critical Examination of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Part II.
The Defence and Decline of Multiple Personality
or Dissociative Identity Disorder

August Piper, MD, Harold Merskey, DM

 

 

 

 

 

In this second part of our review, we continue to explore the illogical nature of the arguments offered to support the concept of dissociative identity disorder (DID). We also examine the harm done to patients by DID proponents’ diagnostic and treatment methods. It is shown that these practices reify the alters and thereby iatrogenically encourage patients to behave as if they have multiple selves. We next examine the factors that make impossible a reliable diagnosis of DID—for example, the unsatisfactory, vague, and elastic definition of “alter personality.” Because the diagnosis is unreliable, we believe that US and Canadian courts cannot responsibly accept testimony in favour of DID. Finally, we conclude with a guess about the condition’s status over the next 10 years.(Can J Psychiatry 2004;49:678-683)
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8 Comments

  1. Belinda Berry

     /  05/29/2011

    There is more to dissociative identity disorder than alters. In fact dissociation is by far the greatest problem. I don’t experience my alters are such a big problem as I do the dissociation and chronic memory loss. When one says that D.I.D does not exist do you also mean the dissociation does not happen and the perpetual memory fog is an illusion? My emotional experiences are separate from the memories of events that elicited these emotions. I struggle to make coherent sense of my emotional experiences and to match them to events in my past or even find the events in my chaotic memory bank. If D.I.D doesn’t exist then does that mean I am not experiencing this phenomena? What name would you like to give to what I am experiencing? What’s in a label? I dissociate, I struggle with feeling comfortable with my identity (or identies) and yes, everything thing about my life is pretty much in a disordered state. I am a D.I.D sufferer.

    Let’s not get so hung up about the alters. Real D.I.D sufferers don’t want to bring too much attention to themselves. When they switch it is usually almost imperceptible and most times only a very astute observer will regconise the change. Our suffering is not iatragenically created. It’s not all in our heads. So call it what you want if that makes you more comfortable. It doesn’t change the way I experience my life as a D.I.D sufferer.

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    • Belinda, I know that dissociation is real, I just don’t think that one needs to go further into it and create separate identities – that I believe is based on the relationship between a therapist who believes in the diagnosis and a patient who is willing to follow that therapist. If DID people go to therapists who do not support DID, there will be a different outcome – but people who believe in DID will stick to their therapists and I doubt many will go outside that belief system to see what another theory will provide.

      I can’t speak to memory fog as you put it. If you believe in DID, that is a large part of the belief system. Why do people with DID not step out of memory work and move on? That is not to say that anything has to be forgotten. There are many people who have been victims of sexual abuse who do not remain in that state.

      Memory fog could be a biological manifestation of an illness like fibromyalgia or other illnesses. Everything experienced during DID treatment is Not related to what therapists and patients think is part of DID. What if you have a neurological problem that is not being addressed? There could be a host of other reasons why you experience brain fog.

      As I’ve noted many times, I know the disordered and chaotic state in which you live – I had a life like that too when I believed I had DID. You can choose to live differently whether or not you will accept that. It would be difficult to give up your lifestyle, your belief system, your alters, and your therapist. However, once you would be willing to surround yourself with people who have other ideas and theories of whatever it is you are experiencing, your life would undoubtedly change drastically.

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  2. Therapy Abuse Victim

     /  05/23/2011

    I would like to know what has become of Dr. Piper. I spoke with him once last year, and he told me I could phone him again. I haven’t yet felt comfortable bothering him again. In case he happens to stumble upon this blog, or if someone knows why he doesn’t seem to be as active in opposing this damaging “DSM diagnosis” and “therapy” as he had been a number of years ago. I think there is an important question here about why there seems to be little public exposure of this sect within the psychotherapy industry and even less articulate, vociferous argument against it by rather famous “debunkers” from the past. I am sure many who have been victimized and damaged by “DID therapists” would feel they might at least have a right to know why well-known formerly outspoken professionals opposing “DID” and “DID therapy” are now absent from public debate.
    I have been told by one of these opponent experts that

    academics have nothing to gain by getting heavily involved in fighting this sect of their “colleagues” and

    that most academics are not clinicians (so may be woefully unaware of the “real-world” damage to the client vitims), and, finally,

    that most clinicians are NOT reading the better scientific research journals, and thus are unlikely aware of the many “anti-DID-therapy” articles which are out there, but too often somewhat hidden away in highly regarded peer-reviewed SCIENTIFIC journals.

    Apparently, the “memory wars” of the 1980s-90s were actually almost exclusively about legal (money0making) cases regarding the FALSE MEMORIES encouraged in DID “therapy,” NOT ABOUT the damage done to the victims in such “therapy.” Thus, at least one former professional who was involved in fighting, believes there really never was a sense of consumer advocacy and protection inherent in those legal battles. More depressing yet, he believes there REMAINS NO CONSUMER PROTECTION, and that DID DIAGNOSIS AND THERAPY will inevitably continue damaging more lives.

    Does anyone out there want to pursue what happened to Dr. August Piper and why he no longer seems to be publicly opposing this? Maybe someone is interested in contacting him about this. The answer could be enlightening!

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    • Hey TAV, What I know of Dr. Piper is that he is in private practice. He has joined Harold Merskey, MD from Canada and written a few articles. Phone him again, he might be very enlightening about what is going on with his colleagues. Many of the anti-MPD theorists have retired unfortunately. They put up a good fight while they were active.

      It’s time for the next generation to pick up where they left off. Paul McHugh, MD – you probably know that his is the former Director of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. He continues to be active and fought hard to keep DID out of the next issue of the DSM (do we have enough acronyms here lol) Many seem to believe the MPD craze has sunk into the background and is not longer an issue. That is part of why I started this blog and will continue it.

      The shift seems to be in another direction. Tana Dineen, PhD is active writing about the psychology industry and others are doing the same. Elizabeth Loftus, PhD continues memory research and her influence on students and colleagues is widespread so I imagine many of the New therapists out there are educated and don’t fall for the DID nonsense.

      Mostly, I agree that mental health consumers are not protected – another reason for this blog. My law suit was about medical malpractice and negligence so it didn’t become a circus with the false memory scenario – although that was mentioned in the complaint.

      For sure – most therapists who practice DID do not read professional literature and OR they ignore it. The refuse to read and comprehend how memory works and continue to rely on debunked Freudian theories. The APA, AMA, and APA put out many position papers years ago warning about the use of hypnosis, for example, in therapy saying it does not lead to accurate recall – did that have an impact? Largely, no.

      Why “professional” therapists are permitted to ignore the APA and continue doing whatever they want is beyond me.

      People like us who have to live with the fall-out of MPD/DID treatment (and others) are left to our own devises. And, there are few therapists available to us.

      Bottom line, it’s up to us to keep the consumer issues alive. Therapists like Mindy Jacobson-Levy who treated me for MPD using art therapy was able to slide into the shadows and into treating – largely – eating disorder patients. She still practices dissociative disorders – and who knows where she takes it from there. It remains the consumers responsibility to “out” these therapists and to tell our stories.

      Think about it – the more educated consumers get, the less likely they will go to DID therapists. When we cut off the patient supply, it will help curtail that practice. However, all a DID therapist needs is 2 clients and they are set for life with an income. Once a client of DID therapy, they will be there for years and decades. One of my former friends while I was in therapy in Philadelphia has been in treatment for DID for 30, count em 30 years! Now her former psychiatrist (and mine) is retiring. Where does that leave her? I am worried about her.

      It’s criminal and shameful.

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  3. Steve

     /  05/22/2011

    This article is a good analysis of the flaws inherent in clinical diagnosis and treatment of MPD and is well worth the read.

    It’s important to understand, however, that MPD patients get reinforcement well beyond just an hour a week with a psychiatrist.

    Many, if not most of them may be in group therapy with another therapist, especially if they’ve been treated in a DID/MPD hospital unit or are in a community support program. and the disorder may also be reinforced by psychitric nurses or case managers/social workers.

    They will also be reading many different books about MPD and related issues, may well be writing an ongoing journal about their experiences, will be participating in online chats and websites, and will develop a support network of other MPD patients and people who believe in the diagnosis.

    A culture is created that becomes a way of life, and it’s typical that anyone who doesn’t believe in the disorder is excluded from the patients life, often at the encouragement of the treating professionals and lay support system.

    In short, it becomes very cult like. Exposure to reinforcing stimuli is maximized and exposure to anything that might break the spell is minimized.

    Intruding into that world with reality and logic is, in my view, the single best approach for ” curing” someone of DID/MPD.

    I would say that psychiatry and psychology have an absolute obligation to begin this process slowly and steadily with anyone they’re still treating for these fictitious disorders..

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    • Thanks, Steve for your insights.

      The subtitle to this blog is: The Secret Lives of Multiples. Some patients have objected to referring to MPD/DID as secret, in addition to being underground. But it is. Once I did a Yahoo groups search for groups related to this and the results numbered around 100. Many people are in several groups. I’ve been trying to get accepted into some groups using my real name – no luck so far. As you say, dissenting opinions are unwelcome.

      I find it interesting when people say that their understanding of multiple selves is not contaminated by what can be found on the Internet and book stores. MPD is all over our culture.

      I can imagine therapists who hear about this blog from their patients discount it and, as you say, reinforce that I am wrong and should be disregarded. I agree that anyone who doesn’t support the DID lifestyle is tossed out of their lives it doesn’t matter if it’s a parent, sibling, aunt, cousin, friend – they are gone the instant it’s known that they question what’s going on. This is mostly prompted by therapists, like mine, who say that questioning people can be abusive and surly hinder treatment.

      What do we have then? Brainwashing and adherence to the DID theories.

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