“And if we do speak out, we risk rejection and ridicule. I had a best friend once, the kind that you go shopping with and watch films with, the kind you go on holiday with and rescue when her car breaks down on the A1. Shortly after my diagnosis, I told her I had DID. I haven’t seen her since. The stench and rankness of a socially unacceptable mental health disorder seems to have driven her away.”
― Carolyn Spring, Living with the Reality of Dissociative Identity Disorder: Campaigning Voices
There are so many different myths in society about mental illness. However, when you begin talking specifically about a disorder there are even more. And Hollywood doesn’t help when people with mental illness run wild and crazy and going around killing people. If that’s the only side of mental illness that people know and see then, of course, that is what will be formed in their minds about mental illness. This is very harmful and degrading to people who have some type of disorder.
So……. I’m going to write a little bit about these myths and see if I can help dispel some related to Dissociative Identity Disorder. I have found some of the more common ones in different places on the internet. I will do my best to try to dispel these myths. I haven’t told many people about my diagnosis because they take their uneducated ignorance and usually turn and walk away. I don’t take it personal because it’s just a lack of education. But I do smart back at them and I usually say, “Don’t worry I’m not going to cook you and eat you!”
Truth be told, if you walked up to someone and asked them what dissociative Identity disorder is, they would probably say, “What are you talking about?” But if you asked them what multiple personality disorder was they would unload all kinds of myths probably related to the movie Sybil, Split, The Three Faces of Eve, Frankie and Alice and any movie like that and could tell you all kind of information that was wrong. I will and in no way cover all the myths, but some is better than none.
1. Myth: DID is not real. In 1980 the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM-II) classified this as a mental disorder. So, this diagnosis has been around for many years.
2. Myth: DID=Schizophrenia are the same thing. There are similarities but there are significant differences. DID is a trauma related disorder and schizophrenia is an organic and psychotic disorder. I could expand on this topic for the rest of the day. But my best advice it to look it up yourself.
3. Myth: DID alters are obvious and extreme. The opposite happens. Unless you live around the person you most of the time won’t know any of the alters. Switching is so subtle that the average person wouldn’t be able to tell when a switch occurs. The disorder was designed to keep the individual safe from a very abusive situation so that’s why switching alters is not obvious. My wife knows a lot about my alters and my switching but even now things have changed and most have hidden deeper because my alters have gotten hurt by people and they only feel safe being around certain people.
4. Myth: DID is an iatrogenic rather than a trauma-based disorder. This statement means that the disorder is caused by the therapist or other professional. Contrary this disorder IS caused by trauma and not the therapist.
5. Myth: The belief that it’s only something that happens in a movie. Hollywood has created this belief and others. Very seldom does the movie industry present this disorder correctly. Remember that the industry needs to make money to survive just like any other industry. And they will do that anyway it needs to. So, if that means misrepresenting mental illness to get it done it will
6. Myth: People with DID are more prone to violent behavior. Individuals with DID are no more prone to be violent than anyone else. In most cases there is not an ‘evil’ alter.
7. Myth: The belief that treatment is harmful to the patient. I can personally say that had I not got adequate treatment that I would probably be dead. Treatment is crucial for the individual to receive to be able to get better.
This is by no means a complete list of myths. With all the information out on the internet I would highly advise looking through scholarly journals to get more of the accurate information about these and other questions that you might have about this disorder and any other disorder. Educate your self about mental disorders and mental illness and then there will be no reason to fear individuals that have a diagnosis. Are there people who are violent and have mental illness? Yes, but that’s not most people with a disorder.
“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shames us all.”