Should Alters Share Responsibility in the DID System?
Friday, April 20 2018 Crystalie Matulewicz
Taking responsibility is a major factor in a dissociative identity disorder (DID) system. No matter how one views a DID system -- as individual entities sharing one body, or as a single person with multiple parts -- how to take responsibility for actions and behaviors of alters or parts within the DID system is important. Should each part be held accountable for his or her own actions, or should it be the responsibility of the DID system as a whole?
Responsibility in the DID System According to the Media
DID system responsibility is unfairly handled by the media. You may have seen it in a movie, read about it in a book, or heard someone say it, either seriously or in jest: A person claims it wasn't him or her that did it, it was his or her other personality.
The excuse has been used in countless court cases in which the defendant claims they are not responsible for the crime because another part of them did it. A lot of the time, the person is faking DID to get away with something. But even so, history and the media have portrayed DID as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility.
The Debate Surrounding Responsibility in DID Systems
Aside from media portrayals, there are people with DID who believe that any actions or behaviors of the alters, with or without his or her knowledge, are not his or her responsibility. Since alters can take complete control of the body during dissociation, the core person or host may not have participated in the behavior at all. So why should that person be held accountable?
The difficulty lies in the fact that no matter how one views a DID system, there is only one body. The body commits the action. The body goes through with the behavior. Outsiders don't see alters taking over; they see a body, a person, performing an action. The legal system doesn't account for multiple parts or identities. One body, one legal name, one responsibility.
Shared Responsibility Among Alters in a DID System
The majority of people living with DID believe in shared responsibility. Whatever one alter does, the responsibility is held by the main person and the others in the DID system. There is no shifting blame to individual parts. Everyone works together as a system and as a team, and everyone shares responsibility.
That doesn't mean that there is no individual responsibility. Every part is responsible for his or her actions as well. But it's important to recognize and to let everyone in the system know how each alter's actions affect everyone inside. When an alter self-injures or harms the body in some way, they are harming everyone inside the body as well.
Communication is essential. However you communicate within your DID system, whether it's through writing, internal dialogue, meetings, etc., it's important to come up with an agreement among all your parts concerning individual responsibility as well as system accountability.
Work with each other, not against each other.