Angel developed dissociative identity disorder during his early childhood.  The abuse he endured was so horrific that when he was being abused, a separate personality was born so that he would not have to feel the abuse.  Some are good, some are bad.  Some are female (?), some are male.  Some have aged with him, and at least 2 are still babies.  This is not something I could invent.  I am not making a big deal out of it.  “It” just is a fact of every day life that we try to live with!

Today, Angel was at a friend’s party.  He has one personality that is friendly, game show host upbeat, polite, thoughtful of others and the type of person who others adore.  Andy indicated he used this personality every time he went to a new foster home in the hope that that family would not reject him.  Unfortunately, this personality cannot maintain him for long periods of time, as other, more dangerous, personalities invarianly emerged.  None of the foster families could handle this “quirk”, this change from, dare I even say it, Angel to Devil.  Of course, it had not been diagnosed until he was in 3rd grade, so none of the families could have know what really caused his “severe mood swings”.

His “game show host personality” (as he calls it) was at the party today.  He lasted 6 hours before he called me to pick him up.  While I was at the party picking him up, 5 different people came over to me to tell me what a joy he is!  That he is the best kid around!  That he is so polite and helpful!  And I thought to myself, “If they only knew…”

Once in the car, Angel’s smile vanished and a look of sheer anger appeared.  He held his head an announced that his “parts” (which is what he calls “them”) were fighting.  He cannot let one part out for so long without the rest fighting, he had explained a few years ago.  It was excruciating for him to be so nice all day, he said.  I knew the anger he displayed could be dangerous, and I encouraged him to come home and take a nap, which he did.  He crawls into a fetal position and falls asleep.  In the middle of the night, the “part” that is so emotionally needy will wake up and scour the kitchen for food.  He will engulf anything edible, trying to feed his heart.  Sometimes when he falls back asleep with his stomach full, he will fall asleep and his infant self will come out.  Sometimes this self is so young that it does not yet know how to use the toilet, or it gags on regular cereal. (As an infant, it can only eat oatmeal.)

Angel knows about 10 of his parts.  He knows there are several “mad” ones that he does not know.  These are the  parts that were abused, and if they become known to Angel, then the memories of the abuse would come flooding back.  So they remain hidden as Angel could not psychologically survive the memories at this age.  Slowly they have become known to him, and some of the angry parts have joined the rest of the parts he knows.  Through them, he remembers foster mothers who left him lying on his back, crying for hours.  (In reality, when he came to live with us at the age of 3 he had a flat back of his head from lying so long.)  He remembers them coming in and yelling at him to shut up and not helping him.  He had 4 foster moms reject him, and it physically damaged his young brain.  The angry parts he does not know do bad things to him.  They resent the fact that he is living a nice life and they had to endure the abuse.  They have done things like destroy his homework, steal his cell phone, laptop computer, Ipod and other precious items.  (We’ve never found these items, and once he is conscious that they are gone, the trash has been taken away, so we had nothing to search.) Once, after his second computer  disappeared, I thought I had outsmarted the angry ones.  I locked his computer on a cord to his bedstand.  “There!” I thought.  Let’s see THAT disappear!”  It stayed fine for a week or two.  Then, one morning I woke up to Angel screaming.  “Someone” had stomped on his computer, breaking the keyboard and snapping the screen off.

Angel has been in therapy since the 4th grade, and he has made considerable progress.  Previously, he would study for a test in school and I’d test him on the way to school and he would know the material 100%.  A half hour later he would take the test and in handwriting of a 1st grader, he would flunk it wrong answers.  Through therapy, his parts have learned to cooperate.  Now only the “smart ones” go to school.

Angle has been to Baltimore and counseled by the leading expert in Dissociative Identity Disorder, Dr. Joy Silberg.  He knows the goal of his therapy is integration of all of his parts.  He has indicated he does not want that, that he would be lonely without them to keep him company.  It looks, however, that it will be a long time before he is completely familiar with those angry parts.  They are still protecting him because they are holding the memories of his abuse!


Comments on: "The Ups and Downs of Multiple Personality Disorder" (4)

  1. What a totally challenging disorder! I guess I can understand that he would “feel” lonely if they left him, it’s almost like geting rid of your family?! I pray he has a complete healing someday in the not too distant future.

  2. hey you are back! I’m so glad!

  3. I know it must be so difficult to deal with someone like that. I just want to let you know that integration is not the only option. It may genuinely be the best option for your child- it most certainly can be- but there are other options, and it may be good for everyone to find another option until he comes to terms with integration.

    My partner and I both have multiple personalities as a result of childhood abuse. We’re adults now, we have not integrated. We have both found separate therapists who know about our condition and don’t believe we need to integrate. We’re full time college students applying for graduate schools and full-time employment after graduation. We’re leading healthy, productive lives and are no danger to anyone. Our “parts” are able to work together- we can communicate and cooperate, so if someone needs to be out for longer than normal, it can be done so without all the fighting that your child experienced here. There are people who have split due to trauma and are able to live good lives without integration. They are able to work together so that the person who studied for the test is always out to take the test, or are able to find a way to make sure all the “parts” know the information they need to take the test, etc.

    I just wanted to let you know that there is another option, because many people are not aware of it. As I said- integration may still be the best option. But be aware that there ARE other options. Is a compilation of all of the resources on people who are able to live with all of their “parts” without integrating. is a site by a group that split, by my understanding, mostly due to domestic abuse. There are many other groups that originated by abuse, but often it is difficult to talk about it publically, you’re more likely to find them on private sites.

    I will be honest- many of the people out there who claim healthy multiplicity are likely faking or come off as very unstable. This does not change that there ARE people who are able to go from traumatic splitting to comfortable co-existing, though. I only want to let you know that this is an option in case it turns out to be best for your child.

    You are doing the best that you can for this child and being a wonderful parent, I hope that everything works out for your family and all of your children.

    • thanks so much for your kind words.
      Angel is actually doing very well…he has done like you have done, with his parts learning to live together. There are still a few parts, the “angry ones”, that do not communicate with the others, so every now and then he finds himself in a situation in which he has acted violently and not remembered it later. In therapy, he is learning to have his parts control the “angry ones” even though he cannot directly communicate with them. He, too, has begun junior college, but is still unstable in that if a teacher says anything negative to him, he reacts in an inappropriate way. He still has some work to do in that area.
      Thank you for the encouragement, however. I truly do believe he will be able to gain better control so he can be successful as you are. Thanks for sharing!

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