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First, let's look at what has been called "multiple personality disorder", or now, "Dissociative Identity Disorder" for clarification, and then how it might impact Statement Analysis.
Critics sometimes object to changes in the DSM and sometimes the changes are worthy of such criticism, but other changes have come from a deeper understanding that, itself, came from more data.
As researchers compile data, a greater understanding can sometimes present itself.
While some debate true "multiple personalities", particularly with the "Sybil" presentation or the more recent Showtime series, the notion of "Dissociative Identity Disorder" is not that difficult to grasp.
We have all experienced disassociation at some point in our lives.
It might be seen at a funeral of a loved one where you are so "distant" from the sadness of its present reality that your imagination is powerfully somewhere else, and people stare, wondering why you are not in tears.
You may have experienced the "Charlie Brown Dissociative Effect" in school, or at home, where you were lectured by teacher or parent, yet heard "blah, blah, blah, blah, blah" because your mind was...
at the ball field, scooping up ground balls at shortstop while the nun was lacing into you about just how disruptive you can be.
But, I digress.
Actually, I project.
As a boy being lectured by the nuns, I found marvelous ways of 'escaping' through my imagination, though I might have missed some valuable life lessons. Perhaps this is why I fell in love with reading, as I "traveled" all over the world while 'conversing' with some of the greats of literature, as my 'companions.' My daughter, Christina, has it, too. She is a book (kindle) addict and I could lecture her on why she should not let the venomous scorpion on her neck bite her, while reading, and she would say, "okay, Dad" without a second thought. (In fact, on bets with Sean, I've done this very thing to my Little Love, telling her such things as, "Honey, you're grounded for the next two years and have to do all of Sean's chores this month, and Daddy is really fat and ugly, is this okay with you?" and she would not lift her eyes up from the book (kindle) yet say, "That's fine, Dad."
As an adult, if someone was tediously lecturing me with incessant talking, or "Col. McBragg" was going on and on, endlessly, without pause, about this or that, Heather would ask me later, "Were you playing chess in your head?"
It was true. I don't think I heard a word the good Colonel said to me after I realized he was on a rant. I could both play 'blindfold chess' in my head, and nod, "hmm, mmm" in agreement to whatever it was that was being said. (If you don't know who Col. McBragg is, you're too young to be reading this post.)
Talk about having to unlearn dulled listening through Statement Analysis!
We all do it, to some degree. The brain is a very powerful thing.
When I turned 30, I decided that I needed a new sport to conquer. I find the world to be a fascinating place to explore, and much of my exploration comes through books, but I like hands-on adventures, too.
I took up ice hockey even though I could not skate.
I began with holding on to the walls, appearing like "Free Willy" on skates, copying little kids taking figure skating lessons. I will learn from anyone, anytime, if I put my mind to it. My first season in ice hockey I endured horrific insults from players who cursed my very existence, seeing that, for all of 45 seconds at a time, I was taking away their ice time from them. My first season was a disaster.
But 50 pounds and 5 years later, I was playing in three leagues, and enjoying scoring against kids 18 through 25 in the MHL (that is the "Midnight Hockey League" for those of you who are still awake at such ungodly hours) with a nifty wrist shot, pretty good speed, and a lot of effort.
I did, however, lack two things.
I lacked a slap shot.
Constant ice skating, roller blading, running, lifting weights, and boycotting Ben & Jerry's all helped me become a good player and I even improved beyond the skill level of many of those who once banished me to incestuous laden curses, but in terms of a slap shot...zip.
I would wind up, with lots of strength and lots of stick speed and wail into the puck to watch it dribble up to a laughing goal tender.
A kind fellow took the time to show me that a slap shot does not hit the puck first, but the ice, which causes the stick to bend, hitting the puck and launching it with great speed.
Week after week I worked on it, but there was something amiss in the signal between my brain and my hands.
I was driving to an early morning game (again, off peak time leagues) concentrating deeply on "seeing" in my "mind's eye", the stick perfectly hitting the ice, bending back, and smoothly launching the puck towards the goalie.
As I drove down the same highway I had done week after week, I reached a point where I could, literally in my brain, see it, perfectly executed! I was thrilled.
I also drove past the exit.
I was "that" far gone in my thinking that I drove right past my exit and had to go all the way to the next, turn around, and get dressed a lot faster to make it to the game on time.
I made it in time for the warm ups where we all took shots on the goalie.
In this early morning adult league, there is an understanding among players (they were cops, fireman off shift and newspaper workers) to not take slap shots on the goalie until he is ready, as he is warming up to.
I wound up, as was my custom, with a slap shot because the 'rule' didn't apply to me as my puck would only trickle up to him and make him laugh.
This time, however, the brain "saw" the method perfectly and I blasted the shot into his chest. He skated right up to me and hit his mask against my face mask, and invoked something really naughty about my mother (see above) until his eyes widened and he realized, "it's Hyatt!"
That explained it. His anger quickly dissipated into laughter. "When did you learn that?", he asked.
"While driving here this morning", I answered.
He must have thought me either nuts, or a liar.
Words do not come from a vacuum.
I so concentrated on what I had been taught that in a manner fitting for "step by step" instructions, I rehearsed, in my mind, what steps were necessary for success and was so "far away" in my mind, that although I controlled the car perfectly (by instinct), I still drove past the exit.
This is a mild form of disassociation that is common to us all.
Let's take a look at how it impacts mental health.
What? Oh, right.
You wanted to know what the other thing I did not learn how to do in ice hockey was.
Stop from the left side.
Pride before the fall? I had a breakaway, as I stole the puck from one of my most bitter detractors, who, just a few years earlier, was incessant in his insults. I was now faster than he was and stripping the puck from him meant: no way he could catch me on the breakaway. I was giddy with gleeful revenge.
Instead of feigning left and going right, I feigned right, and went left, and, having not learned how to stop from the left side, I went, feet first, into the boards and shattered my ankle in two places.
Say "hello" to the pain, crutches, the couch and my old friends, Ben and Jerry.
I wish I could disassociate myself from that story.
Disassociate Identity Disorder or, "DID" is not difficult to understand.
A child's brain is growing.
Let's say the child is being sexually abused by someone the child trusts.
During the abuse, the child's brain seeks to protect itself, by disassociating itself from the abuse. (the impact of abuse may be even worse if the abuser does not inflict pain upon the child, as something that 'feels good' physically, causes acute damage due to confliction, guilt, etc).
Let's say this abuse continues over time, specifically during critical years of development.
In fact, let's say the abuse pre-dates speech.
We now have the "perfect storm" for hell:
A child is being sexually abused:
a. During critical brain development
c. By one to whom trust is presupposed
d. The abuse is ongoing
e. The abuse sends horribly mixed messages about both pain, and boundaries.
The child's brain is desperate to try to find a way "out" of this situation.
Women have consistently described this as "floating" or "watching myself be abused", as if "above" the abuse.
It is a strong signal that the brain developed a self-preserving mechanism of disassociating itself from the situation, specifically during developmental stage, allowing for a seemingly "other" person to "develop" or "form."
The child suffers, but with a myriad of circumstances, seems to 'quiet' down.
(we are assuming this child is female, as male and females, statistically, react differently).
Suddenly, adolescence hits and a new surge of hormones arise impacting...
The wonderful child is now 15, and is doing anything and everything she can to destroy herself.
Untreated, the self destruction may succeed.
We have covered in depth the "PTSD" language found within the statements of adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. Suffice for here:
even with DID, the subject's personal, internal, subjective dictionary is one.
Often, when the adult victim of childhood sexual abuse "disassociates" from a trigger of stress, she then will not simply access the same internal dictionary, but often has 'dulled' language, that is, while disassociating, suffering from depression, uses less words, and less colorful speech: signals of depression.
The analyst should not be looking for a "different subject" but look (or listen) carefully, for access to the same dictionary, sans detail, as well as the 'oft used' language of despair.
The adult victim of childhood sexual abuse, besides references to water, doors, windows, blankets, coverings and light, may also have language lacking in sensory description which is 'the language of experience' and the language of 'color.'
In treatment, the trained social worker (therapist, counselor) should be aware that the drift to disassociation is often subtle and it is advisable to repeatedly listen to recordings, carefully noting language, or view transcripts, and attempting to gauge the 'difference' in language, which should be seen as a reduction in vocabulary; that is, less volume, less descriptive words, as well as the overall 'fatalism' that sometimes enters the language.
Self destruction often targets a specific area of the body, so leakage should be carefully monitored (for more understanding of leakage in Statement Analysis, search on this blog), where any references to body parts are mentioned. The head is often a target, as is the face. (Look for sentences where "head" or "face" are used, where the subject is not specifically speaking of her own head or face (noun) but as verbs: "heading off the problem" or "facing up to the truth", and so on. It may indicate self loathing, disgust, etc, is targeting those areas. Specific sexual words are more likely found in victims 18-35, while a decrease in hormone levels may be signified by the language shift to other parts to 'target' with self animosity.
This is all for the use of experts seeking to assist victims of childhood sexual abuse, whether or not diagnosed with DID or not, as it is one of the most insidious maladies that an adult can face, with suffering ranging from anything, including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, self destructive behavior, self loathing, on to a severely compromised immune system.
Careful noting of language, especially passivity, should be carefully considered, as the passivity itself may indicate disassociation, and not deception.
This, when taken with PTSD and present tense verbs, should be taken together, alerting the professional to a potential dangerous situation, seeking to learn:
Did the subject recently experience intrusive thought, or a stress trigger?
Careful note taking and review of the notes may help identify the source, and recognition that the sufferer of DID, while disassociating, may mimic the language and presentation of an adult with mild adult autism.