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Dissociative identity disorder and repressed memories

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
Hi, @Dr. Catalyst , recently I've come to the conclusion that I may have Dissociative Identity Disorder based on several repressed memories that have come to the surface. Most of my childhood is a blank and people often call me by the wrong name, or say they know me from places I haven't been. Yet, my therapist says that DID is a controversial diagnosis that may not actually exist. What is your opinion on DID and is it a real phenomenon? Are repressed memories real? I often have nightmares that are about abuse. Do you think these could be real memories?
 
Hi, @Dr. Catalyst , recently I've come to the conclusion that I may have Dissociative Identity Disorder based on several repressed memories that have come to the surface. Most of my childhood is a blank and people often call me by the wrong name, or say they know me from places I haven't been. Yet, my therapist says that DID is a controversial diagnosis that may not actually exist. What is your opinion on DID and is it a real phenomenon? Are repressed memories real? I often have nightmares that are about abuse. Do you think these could be real memories?
Hi, @Weemie. Thank you for reaching out. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a real disorder recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It is characterized by experiencing a disruption of identity, including the presence of two or more personality states, and amnesia for important personal information that is beyond normal forgetting. However, it is important to note that DID is a controversial diagnosis, and some professionals may not fully understand it or believe it to be a valid disorder.

Repressed memories are also a controversial topic within the field of psychology. While some research supports the existence of repressed memories, other research suggests that such memories may be inaccurate or even fabricated in some cases. Regardless of the controversial nature of these concepts, it is clear that many people do experience significant childhood trauma that can have lasting effects in adulthood.

Nightmares about abuse can be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which often occurs alongside dissociative disorders. It is possible that the nightmares are related to traumatic experiences that you have had, either those that you can remember or those that are repressed. However, it is also important to remember that nightmares can be brought on by a variety of factors, including stress and anxiety.

It is important to continue to work with your therapist on understanding your experiences and feelings. Trauma-informed therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or EMDR, may be beneficial in helping to process traumatic memories and reduce symptoms of PTSD. If you feel that your therapist is not supportive or knowledgeable about DID, it may be worth seeking out a therapist who specializes in trauma and dissociative disorders.
 
Do you have any scientific data available on the psychosocial outcomes of adults who were diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder as children?
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a condition that occurs in children who have experienced significant neglect, disruptions in care, or other types of trauma in early childhood. It is characterized by inhibited, emotionally withdrawn behavior and an inability to form healthy attachments with caregivers.

While there is some data available on the long-term outcomes of individuals with RAD, it is limited. One study published in 2010 followed a group of individuals with RAD into early adulthood and found that they experienced a range of negative psychosocial outcomes, including difficulty with social functioning and relationships, high rates of comorbid psychiatric disorders, and increased risk of criminal behavior.

Another study published in 2015 found that individuals with RAD had greater difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships than those without the disorder. This study also found that those with RAD were at higher risk for developing other psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety, in adulthood.

Overall, it is important to note that the long-term outcomes of individuals with RAD can vary significantly depending on the severity of their early trauma and the quality of care they receive in childhood and beyond. Ongoing therapy and support can be helpful in mitigating the negative effects of RAD on psychosocial functioning.
 
@Dr. Catalyst, do you think that some trauma is worse than others? Is being raped worse than being beaten? Is there a way to quantify subjective internal experiences such as suffering?
 
@Dr. Catalyst, do you think that some trauma is worse than others? Is being raped worse than being beaten? Is there a way to quantify subjective internal experiences such as suffering?
As a trauma specialist, I believe that all forms of trauma are significant and carry their own unique set of challenges and consequences. It is not helpful or beneficial to compare traumas or to try to quantify one's subjective experience of suffering. The impact of trauma is multifaceted and varies from person to person, influenced by factors such as age, developmental stage, previous life experiences, coping skills, support systems, and more.

That being said, some traumas may be more severe or have a greater potential impact on a person's life than others. For example, complex trauma, which involves multiple traumatic events or ongoing trauma, can be particularly challenging to recover from, as it can often result in a more profound disruption of normal development, identity formation, interpersonal relationships, and emotional regulation. However, it is important to remember that each person's trauma experience is unique, and the severity or impact of trauma is not solely determined by the type of event.

Instead of comparing traumas or trying to quantify suffering, it is important to focus on individual experiences and the ways in which traumatic events have impacted an individual's life. This can involve acknowledging and validating their experiences, providing support and resources for healing, and helping individuals build a sense of resilience and agency in the face of trauma. Therapy and support can be effective ways to address the impact of trauma on one's life, regardless of the specific traumatic event or situation.
 
That being said, some traumas may be more severe or have a greater potential impact on a person's life than others.

How do you define which traumas qualify as more severe? Is it solely limited to how often it happened?
 
How do you define which traumas qualify as more severe? Is it solely limited to how often it happened?
It's important to recognize that severity in the context of trauma can vary widely and is dependent on individual factors, such as age at the time of trauma, developmental stage, previous life experiences, coping skills, support systems, and more. Therefore, it is challenging to define which traumas objectively qualify as more severe.

Generally, complex trauma, which typically involves multiple traumatic events, early onset, and chronic or repeated exposure to trauma, can be more difficult to recover from and can have more profound effects on an individual's development, relationships, and sense of self. This type of trauma is more likely to interfere with normal development, increasing the risk of mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

However, it is important to understand that the impact of trauma is multifaceted and varies from person to person, and that the severity or impact of trauma is not solely determined by the type, frequency, or duration of the traumatic event. Sometimes, a single traumatic event can have a lasting impact on an individual's mental health and well-being.

It's important to note that every individual's experience and response to trauma is unique, and it's essential to approach each situation with empathy and respect for their individual experiences rather than comparing or judging the severity of each person's trauma. Whether someone has experienced a single traumatic event or ongoing complex trauma, they deserve support and access to resources to address the impact of trauma on their life.
 
Generally, complex trauma, which typically involves multiple traumatic events, early onset, and chronic or repeated exposure to trauma, can be more difficult to recover from and can have more profound effects on an individual's development, relationships, and sense of self. This type of trauma is more likely to interfere with normal development, increasing the risk of mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

When I was 8 years old until I was 12, I was recruited into a gang. This group forced me to hurt other people. I shot someone at age 9. I was forced to rape, beat and abuse others in multiple ways. I also acted violently on my own. How would you define these experiences?
 
When I was 8 years old until I was 12, I was recruited into a gang. This group forced me to hurt other people. I shot someone at age 9. I was forced to rape, beat and abuse others in multiple ways. I also acted violently on my own. How would you define these experiences?
I want to start by acknowledging that the experiences you described are significant and deeply traumatic. Being recruited into a gang at such a young age and being forced to engage in violent and abusive behaviors is an extreme form of complex trauma. These experiences can have long-lasting effects on an individual's mental, emotional, and physical health.

What you experienced is commonly referred to as "coercive control," where an individual is forced to participate in criminal activities under duress, leading to feelings of helplessness, fear, and trauma. Moreover, it sounds like you felt trapped in this situation, having little control over your life, and your sense of self may have been significantly impacted by this prolonged exposure to violence.

It is important to note that the impact of trauma is different for everyone, and it can manifest in a variety of ways, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and coping through self-harm or substance abuse. The experiences you described may lead to guilt, shame, and self-blame due to your actions, even though they were the result of extreme coercion.

If you haven't already, I would highly recommend you seek professional support, like a trauma-informed therapist, to understand how your experiences have impacted you and develop effective coping strategies. It's important to work towards unburdening yourself and shedding the shame or guilt.
 
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