Karen Wallace, Australia
When did you start exhibiting alternate personalities (alters) and what do you think caused them?
I never displayed or demonstrated any sort of alternate personalities until I saw my psychologist and even then it took me a month or so before I was convinced enough to play any sort of role (or let my inner child be revealed). Growing up in an over-protecting household I was emotionally underdeveloped compared to my peers and I think this was an integral contributing factor in allowing myself to become another person in front of my psychologist. The cause of my alters is simply due to the psychologist’s method of treatment and her ability to encourage and persuade me to take on their roles.
How many alters did you have?
I was often shocked at my psychologist’s interpretation of this. She explained my alters like a family tree with alters having numerous roles. I know for certain that I sketched and recorded over four hundred different aged personalities however my psychologist seemed to believe that some of them were the same alter at different stages of entrapment in the repressed memories and that I had produced more alters through therapy due to my resistance to it.
I’ve heard people with MPD/DID say they have blackouts or periods of memory loss when being different alters. Did you? If so, can you explain the cause of the blackouts?
I never experienced a “blackout” before therapy and simply could not recall important dates from my childhood. My psychologist explained this as being caused by my personalities living life without me knowing and this is why I could not recall important information about my infancy and childhood (such as my fourth birthday party etc); my alters had obviously lived the experience and the memories that were made during that time they controlled my body were individually kept by them. I taught myself how to “blackout” during therapy. I have always had a tendency to be hypnotised very quickly, even during some children’s movies as I was growing up. During therapy I did not want to believe in the abuse I was “remembering” and desperately wanted to escape from accepting what was happening to me. Each week I would train myself to not be able to feel my body, I would take pins and thumbtacks in my pockets and hurt myself causing a dizziness to come over my whole body and slowly I would be able to make myself become emotionless and unable to feel my body. During my time in therapy I taught myself to hyperventilate silently and hold my breath for longer periods of time until the dizziness would take complete control of my body. Since I have stopped therapy I cannot do these things, I am incapable of shutting out physical pain and I am completely aware of everything around me. I never had any memory loss even in my times of “zoning out”. I was aware at the time of everything in the room, and all that my psychologist was suggesting or encouraging me to participate in, I trained my body to be in a state of numbness during my sessions and also at home when I used self harm to achieve the same feeling in order to block out the intensity of the emotional pain.
Did your friends and family believe you had different personalities? If so why do you think they believed you?
I was encouraged to cut off all communication with the real world, including any social networks that were not sympathetic to my psychologist’s beliefs. At the suggestion of my psychologist I was isolated with only four people that held the same beliefs as my psychologist who encouraged them to find my personalities and build relationships with my alters. They believed whole-heartedly in my different personalities. I would change the types of clothes I wore depending on my mood swings (such as wearing all black and looking quite the ‘gothic’ type during the so-called Satanic holidays/seasons and wearing dainty white/floral outfits for church-type events). After being convinced that I had personalities I allowed myself to often dress like a child, or teen depending on what personality my psychologist wanted to deal with that week. My rage and aggravation towards the therapy, the memories and abusers was often in direct conflict of my normal quiet/controlled/ generous nature and this was also a contributing factor in the people around me believing that I had different personalities. Each horrific memory would bring a variety of emotions that I was incapable of facing and dealing with and I would become severely depressed which was interpreted as a different alter, or I would find myself enraged which was interpreted as a different alter, or I would make myself become numb and void of feeling anything…and yes, it was interpreted as a different personality. I think they honestly believed me because I was nothing like the teenager they had known previously and my moods and emotions were heightened to the point of being incontrollable.
Would you say you were acting? Did it feel like you were acting?
I would say that I allowed myself to feel such horrific emotions on an unlimited level that it was easy to adapt my personality to deal with the trauma I was enforced to accept. I became so enraged at my parents that it was easy to allow myself to play the role of the abused child, I became so depressed and desiring death that it was easy to play the role of the child that was loyal to Satan. Yes, I was acting however I feel that the exasperation of the emotions that I was forced to experience provided a strong platform for me to be able to express myself, particularly with a sympathetic therapist. If I allowed myself to play the role of the abused child during therapy my psychologist would hold me tenderly and caress my head and shoulders. If I did not play the role that was required, I received hostility and resentment. This definitely helped me to act the role that was required of me. Yes, it always felt like I was acting, and I consistently stated that I was acting a role to my therapist; this was always interpreted as denial which my therapist had certain ways in dealing with this (financially, it was beneficial to play the role as quickly as possible and my therapist’s time management issues also had a deep effect).
If you could say one thing to yourself at that time, what would it be?
I honestly would not have listened. There were many educated people around me at that time attempting to open my eyes to what was happening to me. Close family members and friends had tried to explain how false memories could be implanted by incompetent therapists, and that I had no basis or evidence for any of the things that I was being convinced of, yet I remained loyal to my psychologist. I was in such a vulnerable state of mind at that time and my psychologist offered me a future where I was valued and possessed a type of rare gift that no other human around me could compare to. Having Dissociative Identity Disorder gave me a sense of privilege that I had never had before and I wore that status like a badge of honour. Often during the sessions I would be riddled with guilt at knowing that I was going along with the whole process and that all of it was false, but also knowing that I could not stop or cease to play along with all of the roles as the financial investment had been so incredibly high and the emotional impact I had created in cutting off my family was so traumatic that going back was not even an option. Nothing I could have said to myself back then would have changed the intensity of the situation.
What made you stop believing you had multiple personalities?
It has taken almost four years to re-train myself to stop waiting for a personality to suddenly be revealed. Once the relationship with my psychologist deteriorated, I started to realise that I did not have to act or play a role for anyone, including those people who continued to believe that I had DID. Fear kept me believing that I had these personalities: my therapist was persistent in reassuring me that I would need to have all of my personalities integrated to be free, to be normal, to live as a functional human being. For years I was terrified that there might have been some deeply traumatised child alters trapped in memories and that I would always be a dysfunctional woman with the possibility of an alter suddenly creating chaos at any random moment if these alters decided to appear. Self analysis of my own behaviours and thoughts was the catalyst in helping me find that certainty that I had never had any personalities. I became friends with a new social circle of educated people who could explain in detail the processes that I had become entrapped in with my therapist and since then, I have no fear. I never genuinely believed I had personalities nor did I suddenly stop believing. The fear that I could be mentally unwell and that there was a possibility that my psychologist was correct kept me from simply admitting the truth.
Are multiple personalities real?
I have witnessed other women and men who are diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder and observed the “switching” of their personalities. I have also talked to their different personalities and there is no evidence that they are experiencing anything different from what I have personally experienced. Knowing how easy it is to find the right evidence and convince someone that they do have alters I would find it impossible to believe that it is real. As a deeply creative person, I sketched and scribbled in different handwriting on purpose, changed my appearance and interests on purpose and sketched my different alleged personalities with the sole purpose of trying to convince myself that what my psychologist was encouraging was real. It was never real, not for a moment. I do not believe multiple personalities are real, particularly after spending five years enacting them out and supporting their fake identities with creative approaches. The men and women I have seen with this type of disorder generally have been exposed to the same type of therapy with similar social networks who are sympathetic to the belief that multiple personalities are real. I have never seen any evidence that a person can have one identity that does not know the other identities within their being and have experienced this firsthand. During my five years of therapy I was constantly aware of myself, my feelings, values and beliefs as well as my surroundings and could never realistically agree with having personalities that I had no knowledge of, take control of my body and engage in activities that I could not recall later. This entire ideology was suggested to me by my therapist and supported with stories and theory that my therapist shared in weekly sessions to perpetuate the belief that this is indeed scientifically possible.
A note from the blogger, Orphia Nay
Why didn’t I include answers from anyone who currently believes multiple personalities are real?
These people here have lived and breathed multiple personalities, and understood the reasons for and against alters to the depth of their beings, rationally concluding they are not real. They have seen both sides of the argument to the fullest extent.