Hollywood Thinks My Dissociative Identity Disorder Makes Me 'Crazy'
Stereotypes are ill-conceived perceptions of certain groups of people or things.
Probably every person has, at one stage or another, looked at someone and made their own judgments. I. for one, am so guilty of this. I don’t do it maliciously, but one of my favorite things to do is to sit on a bench, watch people walk by and make up stories, imagining their life. I’m stereotyping these people based on what they look like, the way they carry themselves and how they speak. I’m judging them.
Some ill-informed folk also judge people with mental health difficulties, whether that’s depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anorexia nervosa or schizophrenia. We see people’s scars from self-injury and assume they’re suicidal. We see people talking to themselves and think they’re “crazy.” We assume, we think, we judge.
According to the media and Hollywood, I am completely “crazy” potential ax murderer who could, at any time, go on a spree of revenge with my “multiple personalities.” Some doctors think I have an extremely rare and unique illness that is hardly recognized.
None of this is true. It is a perceived judgment from people who are misinformed about dissociative disorders — specifically dissociative identity disorder (DID) — due to Hollywood stereotypes, among other offenders.
Let’s shine some light on some of these judgments and misconceptions.
1. “An extreme minority.”
DID affects 1-3 percent of the population. Doesn’t sound like a lot right? Well just 1 percent of the population is 75 million — mind blown or what? And that is just the lower end of the estimate, not even taking into account those who are yet to be diagnosed. That’s like everyone in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales being supposedly “unstable.” If we were all axe murderers, then DIY stores would be doing a lot more business.
DID is not a personality disorder or psychotic illness. It is a coping mechanism a child forms to survive when faced with severe and prolonged abuse from a very young age. Someone with DID does not have multiple personalities, as it was once believed many moons ago. Someone with DID has “alters.” Each alter is a part of the whole person or “host.”
These alters can be any age or gender, and may have different likes and interests. One alter may like tomatoes and another may not. One may identify as having blonde hair, another red.
3. “Hearing voices.”
Dissociative identity disorder is not schizophrenia. Yes, at times there are internal voices, but these are not delusions or hallucinations as in schizophrenia. These voices — sometimes described as loud thoughts — are often the monologue from other alters/parts that are present inside.
So, next time you come across someone who may be a little different, remember not to assume that the Hollywood representation is true to life. Not all is as it seems. I am not “crazy.”
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Getty Images photo via javitrapero