Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is believed to be caused by overwhelming experiences, traumatic events and/or abuse during childhood. This came up today in association with a former foster care youth who had a terrible experience in foster care, is now in her teens and wants to share that with others.
One mature woman shared her experience – I went into the system at 3, taken from mom at 5, and emancipated through marriage at 16. I tried to share my story. I got a lot of rejection from other teens. That was a different time, though. Teens these days are a lot more understanding of trauma and mental illness and they welcome the opportunity to hold space for those who have gone through horrific experiences.
Another person was very supportive of this teen’s desire saying, It’s her story and she’s old enough to share. Will she receive backlash….possibly. But I bet she’s going to get more support vs. backlash, which is what she is seeking. She’s seeking a community that says “I hear you and I understand”.
Foster care children have been stripped of everything. It is hard to understand why people would take children into their home for foster care and not intend to make them feel at home. Examples –
Only buying the child the bare minimum or giving them hand me downs. One mature woman who was once in foster care shares – It always made me feel less than or like a charity case.. often I was given her biological daughters clothes/school supplies from the previous year etc. I remember the first time I got my own winter coat at around 7-8 years old. It was like Christmas to me.
It is no wonder children subjected to these situations develop personality coping mechanisms. Schizophrenia and DID are often confused with each other, but they’re very different things. Schizophrenia is a psychotic illness: symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, disorganized thoughts, speech and movements and social withdrawal. It does not involve alternate personalities or dissociation.
People with DID are not delusional or hallucinating their alternate personalities. Individuals with DID may experience some symptoms related to psychosis, such as hearing voices, but DID and schizophrenia are two different illnesses. There are very few documented cases linking crime to DID. The idea of an ‘evil’ alter is not true. People with DID are more likely than the general population to be re-traumatized and experience further abuse and violence.
Personality disorders are a constant fixed pattern of feeling and behaving over time, usually developing in early adulthood. Personality disorders, like borderline personality disorder, involve extreme emotional responses and patterns of behavior which make it hard for the person with the disorder to have stable relationships and function in society.
DID is a dissociative disorder. Rather than extreme emotional reactions to the world, people living with DID lose contact with themselves: their memories, sense of identity, emotions and behavior. Unlike personality disorders, DID may first manifest at almost any age.