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“It’s not like you have PSTD with a touch of dissociation”: Insights into Dissociative Identity Disorder through First Person Accounts

Parry, Sarah and Lloyd, M and Simpson, J (2017) “It’s not like you have PSTD with a touch of dissociation”: Insights into Dissociative Identity Disorder through First Person Accounts. European Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 2 (1). pp. 31-38. ISSN 2468-7499

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Abstract

Purpose. Five participants with diagnoses of dissociative identity disorder offered to discuss their experiences, to provide new insights and understanding around their condition, which is often misinterpreted, misunderstood and mistreated. Procedures. Through an interpretative and idiographic analysis of first person accounts, three themes emerged to capture the experiences shared by participants. Main findings. Firstly, recognising who I am and when I am in time discusses the difficulties in locating and finding stability for the central persona in terms of time perception. Secondly, understanding the needs of the internal system connects experiences of dissociation to emotional regulation and relational difficulties, which were reported across the accounts. Thirdly, trying to help others understand what the self doesn’t always fully understand explores the complex process of facing unusual experiences and then trying to foster understanding with healthcare professionals. Principal conclusions. The participants’ accounts indicate that their alter parts have specific life times and as such some younger parts are often not aware of key life events or strengths of the adult parts. Most of the participants reported benefitting from psychological or psychiatric support at times, although experienced many relational challenges and struggled to articulate important information about their unique conditions during times of crisis, which was often when participants were invited to share information. Eight recommendations for practitioners emerged from the analysis.

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