“I have DID. How long will it take for someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder to feel better?”
As a clinical therapist, I hear that question frequently. It’s a reasonable question. I certainly understand that when dissociative trauma survivors are deeply hurting and struggling in their life, they want to feel better as quickly as possible.
However, the clinical treatment for someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID / MPD) is long term. Some research has said that the treatment can be completed within two or three years, but in my clinical experience, that is far from the truth.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is a result of long-term, chronic, severe, sadistic child abuse.
As children, these survivors witnessed and experienced a myriad of heinous crimes. They typically describe repeated consuming abuse by multiple perpetrators, and then were otherwise emotionally neglected, starving for comfort, consolation, or attention. They were left alone, even while very young, to process and contain their pain by themselves.
For these children, the splitting process became their way of coping with emotional intensity, conflicts, huge distress, and intense pain that were otherwise far too difficult to manage on their own.
They blocked off their pain, locked it away from themselves, and left it there. Sitting, waiting, piling up for years.
When you understand how much pain and abuse has occurred in order to create the dissociative splits in the first place, it is no wonder that the healing process is also so very long.
All areas of dissociative survivors’ lives are touched and profoundly changed or affected by the abuse. It simply takes a very long time to address everything properly.
Some of the treatment issues for DID are:
- Stabilization of the person – both internally and externally
- Managing and eliminating self-injury and self-harm issues
- Examining and obtaining current-day external safety from abuse
- Internal system safety
- Developing effective internal communication
- Calming internal noise and chaos
- Working specifically with child parts
- Working specifically with adult parts
- Working specifically with teenage parts
- Learning about the other system parts
- Working with internal perpetrator introjects
- Creating emotional separation from external perpetrators
- Working with triggers
- Correcting cognitive distortions
- Addressing gender confusion, male vs. female issues
- Processing emotions
- Body image issues
- Reducing time loss, memory loss, amnesia
- Time confusion, time distortion
- Trauma processing – memory work
- Body memories and kinesthetic issues
- Understanding re-enactments and trauma bonds
- Healing sexual abuse issues
- Healing physical abuse issues
- Healing emotional abuse issues
- Healing ritualized abuse issues
- Healing exploitation, pornography, prostitution, sex slavery issues
- Managing family, marital, parenting issues
- Addressing addictions
- Managing eating disorders
- Household management issues – improving daily functioning
- Relationship issues and teaching social skills
- Understanding the effects of trauma on the brain
- Improving self-independence and self-reliance
- Improving self esteem issues
- Leaving disability and regaining employment
- Depression and medication management
- Bipolar disorder and medication management
- Anxiety / Panic and medication management
- Post-traumatic stress issues (PTSD)
- Reducing phobias
- Social anxiety and social isolation
- Safely eliminating suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviors
- Homicidal ideation and anger management
- Exploring spiritual confusion
- Philosophical issues
- Detachment and separation issues
- Treating sleep disorders
- Treating medical complications and physical harm resulting from the abuse
- Reaching integration, blended states, or effective system team work
That’s a tremendous amount of work. And most of these issues surface again and again and again, requiring in-depth attention on a regular basis for years of time.
Emotional healing on such a wide scale just does not happen fast. Forcing the issues or pretending to be “done” sooner than realistically possible is not helpful.
Simply put, years of severe injuries will require years of intense healing.
It takes as long as it takes.
I wish you the best in our healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
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Dissociative Identity Disorder (Photo credit: genelin1211)