New DVD on Dissociative Identity Disorder
A new DVD has been made to help professionals, friends and family better understand a range of dissociative disorders triggered by trauma and abuse in childhood. Health correspondent Kim Briscoe met an analytical psychotherapist and a women with multiple personalities who helped to make the DVD.
Many of us have heard of multiple personality disorder, but how many really understand what causes it and how to interact with someone who has the condition?
Now referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), the theory is that the brain's response to deeply disturbing trauma or abuse in childhood is to create different identities, which have no knowledge of what is too emotionally painful for an underdeveloped mind to process.
It is a survival technique designed to protect someone from the horrific truth and enable them to continue functioning as a daughter, mother, wife, son or husband.
Now a new DVD has been produced to help health, mental health and social care professionals have a better understanding of the whole spectrum of dissociative disorders and how to support someone with one of these disorders.
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It is also hoped the DVD, called 'A logical way of being', can be used by people with DID to help families, friends and colleagues understand what they are going through.
Among the organisations involved in making the film are charity First Person Plural and the Pottergate Centre for Dissociation and Trauma, which is based in Princes Street, Norwich.
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First Person Plural is the only national charity run by people with dissociative disorders themselves and was co-founded by Norfolk woman Melanie Goodwin, who appears on the DVD talking about her own experiences of living with DID.
She said: 'We want more recognition for this condition and recognised pathways of care in the NHS. At the moment people have to fight to get help and even then they are being pushed towards short-term cognitive behavioural therapy or medication, when what they need is long-term sessions with a therapist.'
Remy Aquarone, director of the Pottergate Centre and an analytical psychotherapist who also appears on the DVD, said dissociative disorders are estimated to affect between 0.5pc and 1pc of the population.
They range from depersonalisation disorder and dissociative amensia right through to the most complex cases of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).
He said: 'Although this condition has been recognised for 25 years, there's still a huge amount of professionals, even within psychiatry who either dismiss it or tend to say you will never see someone with it because it is extremely rare.'
DID in particular can be characterised by abnormal periods of amnesia, which happen because one 'alter' or 'part', as the different identities are sometimes called, is not conscious of what is happens when another alter is at the forefront.
Sufferers often report finding themselves somewhere with no memory of how they got there, and it can be an extremely isolating and confusing condition.
Clinicians who are sceptical about the condition argue that some therapists look for it and can either consciously or unconsciously prompt their clients to 'remember' abuse.
But Mr Aquarone, who treats NHS patients for the condition as well as private ones, says therapists are very careful not to use any language associated with abuse or trauma, unless that word has first been said or used by the patient.
To find out more about First Person Plural, or the order a copy of the DVD, log on to www.firstpersonplural.org.uk/ or write to First Person Plural, PO Box 2537, Wolverhampton WV4 4ZL.