Dissociative Identity Disorder

Part of this paper discusses James McAvoy’s character from the recent blockbuster Split. 

 James McAvoy plays a character names Kevin who has twenty-three distinct personalities “trapped” inside his mind. Everyone goes into the movie knowing it is about a man with a “split” personality, but “Kevin” displays these different personalities in very different manners. As the movie develops Kevin’s personalities manifest physically by changing his clothes, changing his personality (for instance, one personality is an agoraphobia, can cannot even stand a smudge on the mirror, one is a small child, who is excited to have a new person to talk to, one is a nurturing woman, one is a tough guy, who protects and guards, one is a gay man and fashion designer, and one has Type I Diabetes and needs medication), changing his medical needs, and changing his emotional state, as well as his physical appearance. Kevin also attends therapy. (I will not discuss the validity of DID in this paper, as I believe that DID is a real disorder.)

A psychologist uses, what is called, the four “D’s” to determine if a person has a psychological disorder. The four D’s include: deviance, dysfunction, distress, and danger (some consider a fifth D to be relevant in diagnosing psychological disorders; duration) (Davis, 2009). “Kevin” would certainly be diagnosed with DID if he was a real patient.

Deviance can best be described as a disruptive behavior that deviates from society’s norms, or standards of conduct (Davis, 2009). A person’s behavior can be described as deviant when it goes against societies norms, such as when Kevin kidnaps a person, and holds her prisoner, or when Kevin commits murder, multiple times.

Dysfunction can best be described as a behavior or multiple behaviors that interfere with a person’s life in a significant way (Davis, 2009). Kevin’s diagnosis of DID interferes with multiple faucets of his life. It is hard for him to interact with people socially, he has an Obsessive Compulsive disorder, and it affects his ability to maintain employment, friendships, and even his relationship with his therapist suffers over the course of the movie. Keven can be described as very dysfunctional.

Distress can best be described as the related stress the behaviors and dysfunctions have on the individual. A person can be very dysfunctional and not very distressed over those dysfunctions, or a person can have very little dysfunctions in life, and be very distressed over them anyway (Davis, 2009). It depends on the person, and the diagnosis one is looking at. Kevin experiences a high deal of distress, or at least some of his personalities do. The more dominant personalities have taken over Kevin’s physical body, the person who is normally in charge, a separate personality named Barry, has little control. Barry is very distressed by the actions of the other personalities, and he begins to call and email the therapist when he is in charge, trying to get assistance. Barry believes the other personalities will cause trouble or be dangerous, and he is right.

Danger is the fourth D, and it can best be described as the person’s ability or inclination, to harm either oneself or another person (Davis, 2009). The, normally, non-dominate personalities that have taken over Kevin’s physical body present a great deal of danger to others and to Kevin. They even run the risk of getting Kevin killed because of their actions; kidnapping, and murder.

Kevin has suffered from DID for many years, and has been, up until his non-dominate personalities decided to get revenge, a quiet, unobtrusive person who lives and works in the basement of some factory. The fifth D that psychologists look at is duration; how long has the person been suffering from these symptoms (Davis, 2009)?  For Kevin, the answer is probably since child hood, as DID is a disorder usually brought about by severe childhood abuse and trauma.

Dissociative identity Disorder (DID) is a “…complex type of dissociation in which individuals are from time to time dominated by distinctly different, complex, highly integrated personalities (LeFrancois, 2016. Sec. 10.6, para. 23).  The causes of DID are prolonged, severe, childhood abuse, with seventy-six percent of patients reporting a combination of mental, physical and sexual abuse; usually by a parent, or other close relative. Occasionally, the stressor of war can bring on a dissociative identity, as the identity of a person is still developing during childhood. Kevin has twenty-three distinct and separate personalities with their own psychological disorders to include OCD, and Generalized anxiety disorder. They have their own medical needs, and their own interests, and sexual preferences. Kevin has gone to many years of therapy to counter-react the effects of DID.

Treatment for DID mainly consists of talk therapy, but drug treatment may be necessary as well, especially if the patient presents with other psychological disorders, such as OCD, or anxiety.

Another form of treatment therapist may choose to employ for patients with DID is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an approach to therapy that attempts to change behaviors and attitudes by changing the reward for these attitudes and behaviors (LeFrancois, 2016).  Cognitive Behavioral Therapists believe that negative behavior can be unlearned and that acceptable behaviors can then replace those negative behaviors.

A more humanistic approach to therapy, one that has proven to be affective with treating DID, is Roger’s Client Centered Therapy (LeFrancois, 2016).  Roger’s client centered therapy is perhaps the most well-known approach to therapy aside from Fraud’s psychoanalyst approach. Client centered therapy is built upon the premises that all people have a desire to self-actualize; to improve oneself. Client centered therapy focuses on providing the client with a safe environment in which to explore past trauma, and their feelings without a sense of judgment (LeFrancois, 2016).  These are the therapists that asks such questions as, “how do you feel about that?” In this sense, the therapist helps the client to self-actualize, or improve upon oneself, by providing an environment where the client can grow and become of aware of their own coping mechanisms.

Because of the severe childhood trauma that accompanies a diagnosis of DID, often family therapy is recommended, if the patient is still in touch with their family. Family therapy aims to help families communicate better, as well as teach family members how to better understand the diagnosis (American Psychological Association:  Society of Clinical Psychology, 2013).

DID, like all mental health diagnosis, can be complicated and hard to understand. However, treatment has been proven to be successful in that it has allowed most patients to carry on with their lives without too much dysfunction. Patients with DID often suffer from a variety of comorbid disorders, as well as severe mental trauma from the abuse that they suffered. Because of the comorbidity of DID, a diagnosis is often not made until later in life, often after many years of suffering by the patient at the hands of psychologists who are doubtful the disorder exists. Some attribute the symptoms to Schizophrenia, however, schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder are completely different, in that in DID, patients have two or more distinct personalities, whereas, in schizophrenia, patients have paranoid episodes where they may behave like a different person.

 

References

T Davis. Conceptualizing Psychiatric Disorders Using “Four D’s” of Diagnoses. The Internet

Journal of Psychiatry. 2009 Volume 1 Number 1.

LeFrancois, G. (2016). Psychology: The human puzzle (2nd ed.). [Electronic version]. Retrieved

from https://content.ashford.edu/

American Psychological Association:  Society of Clinical Psychology. (2013). Research-

            Supported Psychological Treatments. [Website]. Retrieved from

https://www.psychologicaltreatments.org/

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Stress

Stress can have a profound effect on the human body, and human emotional system. Stress can physically cause a person to gain weight, kill brain cells, cause a person’s brain to shrink, and even unravel chromosomes. Chronic stress can lead to psychological disorders, such as depression, anxiety, cognitive problems, personality changes, and behavioral problems. Stress effects all people, even children, in varying degrees depending on one’s personality, and coping mechanisms.

People identify different emotional and environmental situations as a stressor; what may be stressful for one person, may not be for another.  People also develop different coping mechanism for stress, as well. Some of the different coping mechanism people use to handle stress include “…optimism, learned optimism, hope, locus of control (intrinsic or external), self-efficacy, neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experiences, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional intelligence, problem solving skills, self-esteem, depression, social support, forgiveness, hostility, humor, and perceived control (Snyder, 2001. Pg. 6). Some of these are more positive coping mechanisms than others, and the positive mechanism will have more of a beneficial influence while the negative mechanism will have a more detrimental influence by employing avoidance behavior (Snyder, 2001). All of these differences are inclusive in human nature, as well as one’s “situation” in life; where one lives, social and economic status, and one’s health will also play a role in how a person handles stress, all at varying degrees.

But, what is stress? What constitutes as a stressor? According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, a stressor can be anything from the death of a loved one to a vacation, and although the death of a loved one certainly ranks higher than a vacation on the inventory, either can be stressful, depending on the person (Snyder, 2001). People are different and handle different situations with different attitudes, and personality attributes; while one person may be high in optimism, another person may be high in depression or hostility, these two people will handle stress in very different manners. While the person high in optimism will likely try to shed light on even the death of a loved one, and not be stressed by vacation at all, the person high in depression may have an emotional break down over the death of a loved one, and worry about everything from packing to hotel reservations on a vacation. One’s personality and coping mechanisms will determine how one handles stress.

According to my score on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory (436), I am due to have a health break down within the next two years. However, I handle stress very well, so I’m not worried.

Within the past year, as the test asks, I have experienced many things that I would not consider a stressor, but that the test calls a stressor. For instance, I went on vacation, but I would not consider that a stressor, as I had a blast and relieved my stress while I was there. I have also experienced many things that were, and still are, very stressful; the biggest would be the recent passing of my brother in law. My husband and I struggle with that every day.

The passing of my brother in law has brought about some changes in my personal life. For one, it has made me realize how precious and short life is; I do not want to waste one more minute of it. My husband and I have set a timeline for our goal of moving to a more hospitable place, mainly California, as one year, and we have every intention of meeting that goal. We have also drastically reduced the amount of drinking we do; not that we were very heavy drinkers, but now I almost drink nothing at all, and Tim has cut back to only a few drinks on Friday night. We have chosen to handle this stress by being better people; people our brother would be proud of.

I generally handle stress very well. I cry to relieve stress when I need to; that can be a big stress reliever. However, what I do the most is meditate. I would like to say that I do yoga on a regular basis, but, sadly, I only do yoga occasionally. I could do more yoga to help cope with stress, as it does help very much. My husband and I hike, sometimes seven miles a day, on the weekends. We also communicate our needs to each other; so if he is feeling stressed out, I can empathize and help, and vice versa. One’s social support can be a huge coping mechanism, that’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with good people, who make you laugh. Laughter can also be huge stress reliever.

The way one handles stress can change over time. A person can learn mediation techniques, or pick up a hobby that helps relieve stress, or deliberately change their behaviors. One can learn to handle stress better. Some things, however, will just take time.

 

Click the link below to take the Stress Inventory Test, and see where you fall on the scale. How do you handle stress?

 

 

 

References

Snyder, C. R. (Ed.). (2001). Coping with Stress: Effective People and Processes. Cary, US:

Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

The American Institute of Stress. (n.d.). Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Retrieved from http://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory/

The Need to Succeed

What drives a person to achieve a goal? Is it the need to attain some item of value, or is it an intrinsic need to please oneself? Psychology says it may be both. What drives one person to succeed may not drive the next person, or may only drive the next person to a certain length before they give up. What makes a person keep pushing beyond their limits to achieve a goal? What gives a person that drive?

I would like to harness and bottle that drive. I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I wish to do, and I am an early bird, and a night owl; I read somewhere that these people are called hummingbirds – I like it. I love hummingbirds, always flying around at break neck speed; little wings moving so fast they can hardly be seen. Early birds are the productive birds getting the best worms (so they say), and night owls are the creative ones; hummingbirds must be creatively productive, with a side of procrastination.

Society gives high school students a hard time if they do not know exactly where they want to go in life. Are you going to college?  What will your major be? What are your career plans after college? Etc. We’ve all heard these questions. I’m old enough to have raised a child, and am only now figuring out what I want to do, and where I want to go with my life. It took me many years to figure that out. I now know, I want to travel the world with Tim (and our kids, as long as they are minors and want to travel with us), and write about it. I want to study other cultures. I want to assist in humanitarian efforts. I want to write, and take photographs of the places we go, and the amazing people we meet.

So, what makes this goal different than the other goals that I have not attained in my life? The explanation for that is simple, and yet not simple at all.

I have grown, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and I know myself better now than I did when I was younger. Many people change their minds about what they want to do many times before they make a final decision; how can you decide what you want to do for the rest of your life, while you are still discovering who you are? You can’t. So go with the flow and don’t’ worry about it so much. Life experience has taught me that things generally work out. (Unless of course you have a drug problem or some other type of problem, in which case, please seek help from the nearest professional.)

McClelland (a psychologist), says, that the need to achieve can be driven by two factors: the desire to achieve success or the fear of failure. Both of those factors can be driven by either internal or external forces; so we can desire to achieve success because our internal drive pushes us toward that goal and will not allow anything less, or we can be so scared of failure, for personal reasons, that we cannot allow ourselves to fail; we have placed intrinsic value upon the goal either way. If we are driven by external factors then we have a need to achieve the goal for reasons that relate to family or career achievement, or maybe a promotion or raise. One could argue that intrinsic value is more beneficial, but one could argue that everyone works for external value, such as a paycheck, so I have to say, it just depends on the goal and the person.

I feel like I am driven by an intrinsic need to achieve this goal, and have this life that Tim and I want together. This goal is different because everything in my life is different. I know who and what I want. When I picture my life, that goal, is what I picture, and I picture achieving it with Tim, and only Tim. We talk about it all the time.

Many people from Buddha to Dale Carnegie have said that thoughts create the world. That what you think you achieve. Tim and I talk about and plan this life every day. While daydreams are nice, one needs a plan of action, and the drive to succeed. We have a goal, a plan, and a need to succeed.

What drives you to succeed?

Morning

I love early morning.

I love the quiet of the morning.

I love that the sun is rising over the horizon, and that, that looks like magic every morning.

Nature has a way of showing off, putting on a show for us early risers.

I love the sound of the birds singing to the world.

“Wake up!” they say, “It’s a brand new day!”

I love the sound of the wind blowing through the trees.

I love how they wave at me.

It’s a beautiful day!

Go!

Be free!

The Story of the Treasure Chest

Tim and I have19883666_10211252328478811_1378476776_n.jpg always been adventurous. We can often be found hiking off trail, exploring our surroundings, and we have been known to spend more time in the woods than actually hiking the trails. Our first day hiking the trail at Horse Thief Lake in the Black Hills National Forest, we found a treasure that made me even more glad that we have always been adventurous.

Shortly after entering the trail head, we found a small stream, across the stream, heading into the woods was an animal trail, we followed it. At the top of the trail was a small cave with, what looked like a pile of leaves with a log under them. I was happy that we found this cool cave, but Tim says, “There’s something under those leaves!” I said, “Yeah, it looks like a log.” He says, “No, it’s a chest!” He leans down and scatters the leaves on top of the “log,” and low and behold…there’s a TREASURE CHEST hidden under the leaves!19883450_10211252329558838_1359794171_n

At this point, Tim and I are very excited and surprised. We open the chest to find a bunch of notes, and fool’s gold. There are also some business cards, and a pen. We read all the notes, finding the original wasn’t hard, it read, “Take some gold, but leave the chest, or we’ll find you.”

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The earliest dated note was from 2015. The chest had been there for over two years! We left our own note, written, as so many others were, on the fallen bark of an aspen tree. It read, “Happy trails, my friends. Love, Tim & Harmony J.  It was the most awesome thing we have ever found in the woods, not for the chest itself, but for the significance of the chest, and what it represents.

This chest was buried in that cave two years before we found it. Multiple hikers had found it before us, but not as many as one would think, and, it was still there! It still had fool’s gold in it, it still had a pen, and it carried within it the well wishes of everyone who had come before us.19964967_10211252328558813_1091796090_n

Do you think the original owners of the chest came and restocked it? I don’t know, maybe. But, imagine for a minute that they hadn’t. Imagine that everyone who came upon that chest, only left a note and took a single piece of gold. Imagine a world filled with people who thought of others who would come after them. Imagine a world filled with unselfish people.19883472_10211252331638890_1565534857_n.jpg

In the words of our newly found friend, Jim, “Doesn’t that give you hope for humanity yet?” Yes, indeed it does Jim. Indeed, it does.

Family

I’m tired. The soul kind of tired. The trip to the Black Hills was supposed to help my soul and it did, but of course, that didn’t last very long. Because I had to come back here, and deal with the same old people, and their same old drama.

I have spent my entire life trying to cultivate an attitude of peace and love. My name literally means agreement or accord, and has synonyms such as peace, friendship, fellowship, cooperation, peacefulness, understanding, sympathy, like-mindedness, and the list goes on. Ever since I was little I have taken the meaning of my name very seriously, and I have never allowed any one to shorten it. I have never had a nickname. I am, as I have been called numerous times, a hippie.

However, over the years, I have developed a little bit of a “go ***k yourself” attitude along with my peace and love, because I have grown up with a family that doesn’t understand what family is. Instead they think it is funny to spread rumors and lies about people, trying to sabotage their lives.

Everyone expects to lose contact with friends as they grow older and move away. It’s a natural part of life. No one should have to lose family though, and I’ve basically had to cut all of mine out of my life because of the trouble they cause.

Family carries a certain element of foreverness. We never expect to have to dolefully cut family out of our lives.  We grow up believing that blood is thicker than water, and that your siblings are your first friends and will be your last. What happens to a person when that expectation isn’t achieved? I’ll tell you. It shatters their perception of family, and wrecks their ability to trust in people.

I will forever think people hate me because of what my family has done to me. I will forever worry that I am not good enough. I will forever wonder what I could do differently. I will forever be my own worst critic. Thank you family.

Romantic Getaway??

I am so excited!

I was born in South Dakota, and spent about three minutes here before my parents moved to another state, and then another, and then another… I think you get the point. As a result, I have what my mother calls “itchy feet.” I have to move or I become restless and irritable. Call it a curse if you want, but I call it a blessing. Because of my itchy feet, I have explored more than half of the continental United States. I will see more of this world before I die – watch. My boyfriend, Tim, and I try to go someplace new at least once a week, but normally we stay within two hours of home. I absolutely love that Tim hasn’t been everywhere yet (hardly anywhere, if we’re being honest), because I get to go with him, and I love doing things with him, especially exploring new places! However, this weekend, we are not going someplace new, for either of us.

Have you ever noticed that when you watch a beloved movie from your childhood with a child, that movie becomes this new movie, that for some reason, you’ve never seen before? That was always one of my favorite things about watching Disney movies with my kids, it was like experiencing it for the first time, four times; pretty neat. But, I digress…. I think it’s the same when you go someplace with someone for the first time, rather it’s your first time or theirs or just your first time going together, it’s like experiencing that place for the first time. I love it, and today I get to experience a place I’ve been to tens of times, with someone I love, with all my heart, but have never been there with him. Although, he’s been there a lot as well.

Today, Tim, and I, are heading out on a romantic getaway to the Black Hills, South Dakota! Maybe romantic is the wrong word, considering that it will be spent hiking through the woods and sleeping in a truck, but I’m using romantic because the kids are staying with grandma!

Tim, after thinking for the last week that he wasn’t getting any time off for the fourth of July, found out yesterday that he is getting a four-day weekend, so we are taking advantage of that. I am almost ready. Luckily, we do not need much to be ready to hike through the woods, as hiking is one of our favorites things to do, but we usually come straight home at the end of the day. This is a little more complicated, as we will be gone until Tuesday morning, but I cannot wait. I hope to get some really nice pictures of the night sky; I will be sure to share them with you when I get back.

I doubt that I will have excellent service in the hills, but I promise to keep a diary and tell you all about it when I get home. I am looking forward to early morning yoga and meditation overlooking the mountains. I believe the mountains and forest are my true home, because my soul has been yearning for a visit. Do you every feel like you have to go someplace, rather that place is the beach, or a park, or even a coffee shop, where you feel like your soul is at peace? Hiking in the mountains does that for me, and it’s been years since we have gone anyplace near a mountain. (Virginia was close, but we didn’t do any hiking due to the massive amount of sight-seeing we were doing.) Tim always takes every opportunity to point out that the Black Hills are hills and not mountains, but I will take what I can get.

If it was up to me, we would buy an RV, and travel forever.