Dissociative Identity Disorder: Fearfully And Wonderfully Made (11)
Psalm 139: 13 – 18
One evening, while Jane was asleep, her ‘father’ woke her up. She refused to talk to him and went back to sleep. Pete (about 70 years old), her father, had abandoned her when she was 5 years of age. Subsequently, whenever the alter Pete came, because of her refusal to engage with him, he would make Jane faint, and this can take place any time during the day. She informed me at a following session that I should talk to Pete, as she was very angry with him. As soon as Jane went into a trance in my office, Pete surfaced.
“Hi Pete, I have not met you before. Can I introduce myself to you?” I said.
“I know who you are. You are Jane’s counselor. I have been listening to you talking to the others. And we have been talking among ourselves too about you.”
“Oh. OK. It is great that you are familiar with some of our conversations. Is there a reason why you tried talking to Jane during the last week?”
“Pearl, pushed me out. She wanted me to help Jane remember what had happened to her in her earlier years, but she refused to talk to me, and said that I should talk to you instead.”
“OK. You probably are aware why Jane refused to talk to you and how upset she is towards you?”
“Yes. But I do not blame her. Those were difficult times when my wife died and I felt very lost.”
“Yes, you must have felt a little depressed and wondered how on earth were you going to bring up two young kids without your wife around. Can you fill in the blanks for me what you remember of those days?”
At this point, Pete’s permission was sought to have Jane passively listening in on our conversation. He agreed whole-heartedly. This conversation with a third person as though Jane is outside of it, needs some getting used to in dissociative therapy, but that is characteristic of it. Bearing in mind also that these are not actual persons but memories dissociated into an alter. However, real persons with given names normally do or did exist. The patient, i.e., Jane, gives the alter a name. At times, the patient may not have a name for an alter, in which case, a name or a title or a nickname can be allocated after discussion with the client.
“After my wife’s death, I left Jane with my younger brother, Eddy, and my younger son with someone else, as I worked in another part of the country. My son died four years later. I never saw Jane again as I left for work overseas. I remarried and had another family. Then I had a stroke and was wheelchair bound.”
“You are such an irresponsible father. Everyday, I waited for you to come back for me as you had promised, but you never came. You never write to me to tell me where you were. You just left me with uncle Eddy. You betrayed me. You are wicked!” Jane interrupted, shouting at Pete.
Pete apologized immediately, and asked for forgiveness. At which point, Jane spoke about her disappointments, still with her eyes closed. We addressed the issue of old memories, grudges, and trying to let the past go. I explained again to Jane who ‘Pete’ really was, and how he had kept this painful memory for her all these years. Alternating between the two of them, I had each open their eyes to note their dress code, and to agree that they were wearing the same dress, and that they both inhabit the same body. Once Jane was convinced that Pete was part of her memory and vice versa, forgiveness was extended to Pete.
After forgiving each other, Pete said that this would be his last talk with Jane. I then got an undertaking from him that he will not disrupt her sleep again nor make her faint. I thanked him for holding Jane’s painful memory and checked with him whether there were other memories he held for Jane. He answered in the negative.
Alters’ promises are to be taken lightly, as the counselor may be unaware whether there were other memories that had not been shared or emotions unexplored or not completely dissipated. Or the alter might not have control over their promises as they come under the influence of another controlling alter. When earlier promises had been extracted, checking-in with alters become a necessity whether they had kept to them or reasons why they had broken them in ensuing sessions, until such time stability has been established. These would probably take a few sessions for each alter.
The following week, Jane fainted on four occasions, but Pete was not the defaulter. Pete’s brother, Eddy, and Jane’s foster father had been out each night attempting to converse with Jane, but she refused to talk. When Eddy came out in my office, he immediately apologized to Jane for not being an honest caregiver to her, being unable to stop his wife’s mistreatment of her, his son’s (Fabian) grievous sexual misdeeds, withdrawing Jane from her school, and his wife trying to sell her to a brothel. We spoke at length on these issues as Jane listened in. Again, a three-way conversation was employed working towards forgiveness.
The ‘fainting spells’ punishment tactic was getting quite familiar, and I was despairing of the possibilities of further physical injuries to Jane if they persisted. I spoke with Pearl about the issue and my concerns, and secured her co-operation and permission to address this issue to all the alters under her influence, to help them understand the dangers to Jane. I called out each alter by name and had them all become co-conscious with each other and to Jane, before talking about the dangers of punishing Jane with fainting spells. Jane also mentioned her bruises and hip fracture. Then making sure they all got the warning, an undertaking from each one to desist from using these fainting tactics was extracted. Each agreed. I thanked and assured them that I would monitor their compliance with the help of Pearl.
In the next episode, Pearl continued to push out several alters for Jane to come to terms with their memories.