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What is a Dissociative Identity?


#KristinChronicles

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"Exploring Existence with a Certifiable Vagabond" was the original title of my blog, & it depicted my journey extremely accurately.

Three years later, my diagnosis changed from bipolar type II to dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Along with this change, I adjusted the name of my blog to accurately reflect the diagnosis change & what it means for my journey. My blog is now called "Kristin Chronicles: Living with a Dissociative Identity."

What is a dissociative identity, anyways? What does that actually mean?

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So, what does it mean to have a dissociative identity?

Every person's consciousness, which is externally experienced as personality, fully integrates as a child, typically by the age of nine but often at a much younger age such as five years-old.

When someone faces adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), or what people typically refer to as "trauma," the process of personality integration is severely disrupted & harshly impacted.

In some cases, the subconscious reacts in extreme measures: rather than forming as one whole consciousness, the personality fights for optimal survival by developing a more complex consciousness where separate parts exist within one brain & operate as a team unbeknownst to others.

A person with a dissociative identity may be aware of something being "off," something malfunctioning within themselves or their life overall, yet have no idea what the root of the problem truly is. Similarly, other people notice that the person is "not themselves" at times, but a complex medical condition is rarely if ever suspected.

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In the rare event that this happens, it typically occurs sometime between birth & age six, as the personality & the awareness of consciousness is beginning to form. Then, the "internal family system" has two separate states of consciousness: the "core" alter, meaning the original state of consciousness, & another alter that was created to help cope with intense life experiences.

This person now has a dissociative identity, meaning an identity that survives every day life through the coping resources of dissociation.

Someone with a dissociative identity does not control when dissociation occurs because the subconscious is in control of it all. The person's life is managed by the various alters, or alternate states of consciousness, rather than by the noticeable parts of the aware-consciousness that the true self has access to & control of.

Photography by Lauren Uhlendorf with Lauren Emily

Photography & Design based in Northern California.

However, with time & extensive therapy involving a suitable approach, one may learn to become more aware of the self so that the subconscious may be managed better than before. That is the primary objective of treatment for someone like me with dissociative identity disorder as I begin to take true control of my life for the first time.

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