online conference transcript
Our guest, Anne Pratt, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist at the Traumatic Stress Institute. Her expertise centers around psychological trauma and Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). The discussion focuses on getting your alters to work together.
David Robertsis the HealthyPlace.com moderator.
The people in blue are audience members.
David:Good evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com.
Our topic tonight is "DID/MPD: Working Within the Multiple System". Our guest is therapist, Anne Pratt, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Traumatic Stress Institute, a private mental health organization devoted to research, treatment, and training of other professionals in the area of psychological trauma. Dr. Pratt has worked in the field for fifteen years, and has extensive experience with Dissociative Identity Disorder. If you are unfamiliar with DID, MPD, here's a link for a further explanation of Dissociative Identity Disorder (a.k.a. Multiple Personality Disorder).
Good evening, Dr. Pratt, and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. We appreciate you being our guest tonight. I can imagine that having several alters within can become very disrupting, making it difficult to live a "normal" life. Because everyone in the audience tonight may not be DID/MPD, but may be just friends or family members, can you give us a description of what it's like living in a fragmented way?
Dr. Pratt: Good evening. I will try! People with Dissociative Identity Disorder differ considerably from each other, so this description won't fit everyone with DID. People with DID who do not have what is called co-consciousness (awareness of what is happening when other alters are out) experience significant disruption in their lives, through amnesia, and through finding out that they have behaved in ways that they don't usually behave.
David: And the result of this is what?
Dr. Pratt: Sometimes a person with DID is called a liar, because people accuse them of doing things that they deny doing. Sometimes they are viewed as weird or flaky because their behavior is so variable. Their internal experience is that the world is kind of unpredictable, difficult to navigate at times.
David: Tonight, we want to discuss getting your alters working together towards a common goal, whether it be healing or just everyday living. Is that even possible or reasonable to expect that to happen?
Dr. Pratt: Oh, yes. It sure is. When people can get their alters to agree on things, life gets much easier and less disrupted. It's a difficult goal for many to reach, but not impossible. Alters were created because there were things that were too hard for one person to accept that happened to them. So, the barriers between alters, barriers between knowing what one or another is thinking or doing, are there for a reason. When the barriers get in the way, though, and disrupt one's life, it is more helpful to have openness within the system.
David: Is this something that can only be accomplished in a therapeutic setting?
Dr. Pratt: I don't think it can only be accomplished in therapy, but if the therapist is experienced in dealing with dissociation, it sure does help. I expect that many people accomplish this outside of therapy, but we therapists, just don't know that much about it because we only see people in therapy.
David: A moment ago, you used the term "openness within the system". What does that mean?
Dr. Pratt: By that, I mean "internal communication," or communication among alters. Internal communication is the first step toward cooperation.
David: How does one accomplish internal communication amongst the alters?
Dr. Pratt:For many people with multiplicity, it is a difficult task. This is because, as I said earlier, the barriers between alters are there for a good reason, self-protection. But for others, it is relatively easy. If the person wants to establish communication, but can't "hear" others inside, they might start by writing to each other in a journal.
I'd like to add, that if you contemplate doing this, please check it out with your own doctor. This isn't a good idea for everybody at different stages of treatment.
Others, who can hear each other, might start trying to have conversations about their different needs and wishes. It's a little like getting any group of people to work together. You find ways to get the word out, and then you take care to listen carefully to each other.
David: As you can imagine, we have a lot of audience questions. Let's get to a few and then we'll continue with our conversation:
Dr. Pratt: Sure.
saharagirl: How can one get alters to work together when they have different loyalties?
Dr. Pratt: Saharagirl, that's a good and important question. I think that different loyalties are one of the primary reasons why this doesn't happen quickly or overnight. Alters (and the "host") need to respect each others' loyalties, needs, and wishes. Like any group of people who experience conflict, this is not easy. But if those who are trying to accomplish internal communication and cooperation keep emphasizing respect for everyone's point of view, it will help. Even those alters who have seemingly self-destructive points of view have them for a reason. If their reasons are understood and respected, it will build a bridge to working together toward mutual goals.