This morning on the CBS Sunday Morning Show, a segment was dedicated to “Multiple Personality Disorder” now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder. Dr. Richard Kluft validated it’s existence while Dr. Paul McHugh said we, the professionals have created this non-existent mental illness. Apparently all psychotherapists have been influenced by the movie, “Three Faces of Eve.” We have a fascination with the concept and have therefore indoctrinated our clients to believe it is so. As a psychotherapist who has worked with people who have DID I say that is ridiculous.
The Debate Rages On
This debate has been going on forever and while I can join the debate on both sides on varying specifics, I think the truth is with the person. A good therapist will facilitate self-exploration and allow a person to realize his or her own truth. We can name it, label it, call it a mental illness, reimburse for it, give it a diagnostic code, but what matters the most is the person’s conceptualization of the experience and growing into a positive place if the experience has been negative.
A Real Story
Hurray for Herschel Walker for telling his truth and for stating what should be the obvious- the “professionals” can talk all day about the non-existence of MPD/DID but the real truth lies in the person’s experience. Herschel lived it, not Dr. McHugh. CNN offers a a great overview of Herschel’s experience. He has written a book too: Breaking Free- My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I like that his “alters” are identified discriptively such as “The Warrior” – the football player, and “The Hero” who took over during public appearances. We all have characteristics within us that we pull out when needed, don’t you think? People with DID have characteristics of their personality that have become more defined and split off.
Of course, the segment this morning did mention United States of Tara – a new show on Showtime Television. And Dr. Kluft explains it well when he says that while Tara’s displays are not uncommon in someone with DID, the difference is, it IS entertainment, and what we see in Tara is a highly concentrated version of someone who might have alters.
As the debate continues, I will continue to listen to my clients. Understanding their experience and making sense of it for themselves is much more important than any label I assign to them.