Sunday, November 28, 2010

Does Dissociation Make Us Special?

Paul's blog, Mind Parts, is a very well written blog that really gets me thinking about my own healing journey. I am slowly going back over his past highlighted posts. Yesterday I read his post "Does Dissociation Make Us Special?" and it provoked in me a lot of emotion as well as thought.

I'm not sure I completely understand why I had such a strong emotional response to this post. I felt hurt, betrayed and even anger. Intellectually I understood what Paul was trying to say and I even agree with a lot of it, which is why my emotional response surprised me.

I can understand the risk of viewing ourselves as special because of DID, how it might hinder healing. If I believe I am special because of DID then I am unlikely to move past it, wanting to hold on to that feeling of "specialness". That doesn't mean people diagnosed with DID aren't special, they are - each of those people are strong individuals who survived something horrible - but what makes them special isn't DID, or what they survived - it's that they are strong unique individuals.

I have come to know many other survivors through Pandys, blogs and other forums, and I believe all of those friends, are beautiful, strong and loving people who I have great admiration for, I think they are special people. However, personally, I haven't really ever felt special, while I can relate to these people and recognise that I fall into the same category as a survivor, I cannot see myself in the same way.  I realise that is part of my low self esteem, the part of me that still believes all of those cruel things I heard as a child. But understanding something intellectually and accepting it within yourself are two different things and while I do a lot better at not putting myself down I have yet to accept that I might be special, for whatever reason.

The topic of language in his post was an interesting one, that I still have two minds about. For a long time I struggled with terms such as "alt" or even "survivor". I still do. I have always called my "alts" 'my little ones' or if talking about them individually I refer to them by their preferred name. As I began to involve myself in the "survivor" community (blogs and forums mostly) I began to use the language myself, not because I felt differently about it but because it made it easier to communicate. It made it easier to explain to close friends.

Paul said:
The language of dissociative disorders and their definitions present narrow views. These views tend to tie us into a particular way of thinking (and sometimes being) and ultimately hold us back...

It's rather easy to say "Personality A did this" or "Personality B was out" and people, particularly treaters, will know exactly what you mean. But that's usually said because of lack of awareness, or strict adherence to the dissociative language and paradigms. As we develop awareness–as we heal–we necessarily find ourselves at odds with these paradigms and with the goal of dissociation.

I disagree with this, I do see the point he is trying to make however for me the language and definitions provide a common ground and understanding when talking to others about DID. It gives me a place to build from to then take those terms and use them to help people try and see my own personal experiences. That having been said, while I may use these terms while communicating about DID it doesn't define the way I think, feel and experience it.

I don't think using it to communicate has ever held me back or I have used it to distinguish myself, or to seem "special". Some words still rub against me the wrong way, but it is easier just to use them rather than try and explain the complex ways I feel and view my system. 

As far as referring to each alt by their names, (or as Paul puts it "Personality A " or "Personality B") this is something I do instinctively. I am aware that when I call them an alt or part some of my little ones feel insulted, they feel I am making them less than what they are.

A final comment on Paul's blog, just because I have disagreed with parts of his post and I had a huge emotional response to it, has not changed my opinion of it. It is a well written blog which I find challenging. I have a great amount of respect for Paul, what he writes and what he tries to do with things like The Expressive Arts Carnival. I admire his strength and his ability to write topics that could be consider controversial in a respectful manner.


Paul said...

Hi MultipleMe. It's humbling that you chose to write about a post I wrote nearly 1.5 years ago. I had a hard time with that post. And a lot of what I said then comes with a caveat now. Much of what I said could be construed as meaning that I don't have much acceptance for my multiple system, but that's not true. The point I think I was making, and it's hard to know now which is one of the things I don't like about blogs, is that the big picture is about personal responsibility. I think I expanded on this topic in later highlighted posts. This was one of my first attempts, and maybe I didn't do it so well!! :)

MultipleMe said...

Paul -
This post was not a criticism of what you wrote - like I said - I admire your ability to write topics that could be consider controversial in a respectful manner. It was more a way to share my thoughts and response to your post.

I also read the comments that followed this post and I could tell from your responses that you struggled with this post, that you did respect your parts.

You do not need to apologise for your post - I found it challenging and its by challenging ourselves we grow. So thank you for helping me grow a little more :)

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