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So this is something that's really been weighing on me and I don't have anyone in my professional field that I can talk to about it. I'll try to keep it brief but want to provide context:

DID is a dissociative disorder in which a the development of a person's sense of self / identity is disrupted and fragmented due to trauma. It used to be called multiple personality disorder and it's highly stigmatized and sensationalized - not like what you'd see in the movies. However, people do have "alters," which are distinct personality that are usually of different ages/sex even nationalities. Generally, people have a dominant personality referred to as a "host," this is usually the identity/name that the person grew up with and the one that presents most often, but other alters take over in certain situations, particularly when trauma is triggered.

Unsurprisingly DID is over represented in the trafficking survivor community and I have several close survivor friends with the disorder. Two of these friends, both female, transitioned during the pandemic. It had been a while since I talked to them and when we did reconnect both of their situations felt eerily similar. Both were now presenting as one of their male alters and had begun medical transition (HRT; one double mastectomy). I don't know how to say this in a way that doesn't come across as patronizing, so please give me some grace, I love these two women dearly and I'm just so angry bc it seems like they've been completely taken advantage of by the gender affirming medical/mental health care industry. Both were supported by their long-term therapists who were treating them specifically for DID. It's shocking to me that a provider who KNOWS that their client has DID would just blindly affirm an alter to the point of facilitating rapid medical transition. I got a text at like 2 am from one of them that said "Hi it's "Rachel" I've been gone for a while...what happened?"

When I called her the next day, "Andy," her alter, answered the phone and when I asked he basically brushed me off and said that Rachel had come out a few times but he was here to stay.

Look, I know that transitioning is an ethical shitshow across the board, but some folks are more vulnerable to manipulation than others - kids on the spectrum or with other cognitive developmental disorders for example. And also, folks with DID. I just can't imagine how Rachel must feel when she is able to surface and realizes that her voice has changed, her breasts are gone and she, for all intents and purposes, has been erased and relegated to the fringes of her own mind.

Anyway, I think the DID population is forgotten in this conversation and I wanted to raise the issue in the only place that's really safe for me to do so. I'm just so so sad for them.

I'll link a blog piece about DID in the comments that explains it in a nonclinical, compassionate and humanizing way if you aren't familiar.

EDIT: Didn't intend for this to be a discussion about whether DID is a real thing or not and prob should have thought about the social contagion of self diagnosed TRAs going on. Here is a study from the Harvard Review of Psychiatry that dives into all of the myths about the disorder in case that's helpful: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4959824/

So this is something that's really been weighing on me and I don't have anyone in my professional field that I can talk to about it. I'll try to keep it brief but want to provide context: DID is a dissociative disorder in which a the development of a person's sense of self / identity is disrupted and fragmented due to trauma. It used to be called multiple personality disorder and it's highly stigmatized and sensationalized - not like what you'd see in the movies. However, people do have "alters," which are distinct personality that are usually of different ages/sex even nationalities. Generally, people have a dominant personality referred to as a "host," this is usually the identity/name that the person grew up with and the one that presents most often, but other alters take over in certain situations, particularly when trauma is triggered. Unsurprisingly DID is over represented in the trafficking survivor community and I have several close survivor friends with the disorder. Two of these friends, both female, transitioned during the pandemic. It had been a while since I talked to them and when we did reconnect both of their situations felt eerily similar. Both were now presenting as one of their male alters and had begun medical transition (HRT; one double mastectomy). I don't know how to say this in a way that doesn't come across as patronizing, so please give me some grace, I love these two women dearly and I'm just so angry bc it seems like they've been completely taken advantage of by the gender affirming medical/mental health care industry. Both were supported by their long-term therapists who were treating them specifically for DID. It's shocking to me that a provider who KNOWS that their client has DID would just blindly affirm an alter to the point of facilitating rapid medical transition. I got a text at like 2 am from one of them that said "Hi it's "Rachel" I've been gone for a while...what happened?" When I called her the next day, "Andy," her alter, answered the phone and when I asked he basically brushed me off and said that Rachel had come out a few times but he was here to stay. Look, I know that transitioning is an ethical shitshow across the board, but some folks are more vulnerable to manipulation than others - kids on the spectrum or with other cognitive developmental disorders for example. And also, folks with DID. I just can't imagine how Rachel must feel when she is able to surface and realizes that her voice has changed, her breasts are gone and she, for all intents and purposes, has been erased and relegated to the fringes of her own mind. Anyway, I think the DID population is forgotten in this conversation and I wanted to raise the issue in the only place that's really safe for me to do so. I'm just so so sad for them. I'll link a blog piece about DID in the comments that explains it in a nonclinical, compassionate and humanizing way if you aren't familiar. EDIT: Didn't intend for this to be a discussion about whether DID is a real thing or not and prob should have thought about the social contagion of self diagnosed TRAs going on. Here is a study from the Harvard Review of Psychiatry that dives into all of the myths about the disorder in case that's helpful: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4959824/

84 comments

DID is totally fake.

It’s very fake and it was wildly popular within the Eating Disorder community back in the late 90’s, very early 2000’s. It’s making a comeback now with teen/young adult girls/women. Least surprising thing EVA if you are one to tie the Eating Disorder popularity for teen girls then to NB/Trans popularity with teen girls now.

We need to do better for our girls.

Right?? Go onto DID tik Tok, it's fucking hilarious the way people behave who've self diagnosed themselves with it. It's such an easy thing for edgy lonely teens to fake for attention. There's one girl who "switches" between man and women really badly, it's the exact same personality for both sexes. Others think they can "shift" into things that don't even fucking exist like vampires and werewolves. I've literally never seen a legitimate case of DID, or a therapist talk about it in any kind of seriousness.

I've literally never seen a legitimate case of DID, or a therapist talk about it in any kind of seriousness.

I just wanted to add that my degree is in psychology, and though DID is listed in the DSM-5 as a disorder, actual occurrences of it are vanishingly rare, highly controversial, subject strongly to the question of iatrogenesis, and present almost nothing like the current wave of psychological trend-riders "symptoms". Personally I'd be very suspect of any psychological professional who diagnoses it with any kind of regularity.

I dated a guy who was supposedly diagnosed with it after a brain injury. He was diagnosed with BPD before (can’t say I ever saw any signs of that, though), the DID started after he was hit hard in the back of the head with a metal shovel. I forget all the details but it was bad enough that he lost a few months and had to relearn a ton of shit. I think his girlfriend broke up with him after he started to recover the first time, and he maybe had to have surgery again after that to relieve the pressure. When he woke up the second time, he was a different personality—from what I could see it just seemed to be like a more .. primitive form of him? Like, he mostly wanted to be alone and play puzzle games, and seemed to just retreat into himself in every way. He didn’t talk in weird voices or anything. The times I saw him struggling to stay himself (which was rare) he also had a LOT of neurological shit going on. He would ask if I wanted something from the kitchen, and then less than 30 seconds after turning down the hall, he’d come back to ask again, and again, and again. His eyes would look unfocused and spacey (and super watery), and he would fall a lot. He wasn’t a dramatic person at all, to me it seemed more like a defense mechanism from when his brain was trying to recover (he pushed away a lot of people who were stressing him out when it was first a thing). The fact that it was nothing like the TikTok insanity makes me think it was maybe legit, but it’s such a sketchy diagnosis.. At one point his psychiatrist put him on low dose lithium and it seemed to help a ton.

Still don’t know if I believe any of it or not.

Yeah, except I'm talking about middle aged women who were sex trafficked as children whom I doubt are "doing" this for attention.

Exactly, my mother is almost 55 and she was sexually abused as a child and has had DID since she was a toddler.

[–] Philogynist 0 points Edited

Ehh, I think it's definitely a real thing that people fake all the time. I've seen someone have a DID episode in a not fun way within a hospital and I could tell it was 100% genuine.

I'm wondering why you feel the need to say this - do you have data or professional expertise to back this claim?

[–] penelopekitty 28 points Edited

In the 70s there was a rash of people claiming to have multiple personalities and there were even movies made about it like Sybil and The Three Faces of Eve. Since then it has been widely debunked and only recently re-emerged with the Tumblr crowd. Just like "gender dysphoria" it doesn't seem to be a real thing.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/saving-normal/201401/multiple-personality-mental-disorder-myth-or-metaphor

Ah yes so I am definitely not referring to the mythologized "multiple personality disorder" or whatever may be going on w tubmlr etc. Anyone can say they're something on the internet but that doesn't make it true.

I have yet to see scientific research "widely" debunking DID though. Can you share?

Also, I wasn't aware that gender dysphoria wasn't a real thing. Maybe I'm just really behind on all of this.

The only patients who have this disorder just so happen to be the ones with therapists who believe it exists. Other doctors who don’t encourage the idea don’t have patients who go on to display different “people” so to speak. The dissociation itself is real but the idea of alters is not.

I strongly disagree. My mom has DID and if you spent even a few days with her you would see it present itself in obvious and practical ways. I like this example - one morning she told me, my spouse and her spouse that she liked her coffee with cream and sugar, later in the day she said she likes her coffee black and was absolutely certain she would never say she likes cream and sugar.

Real therapists diagnose people with it. It is also mentioned in the reputable book “The Body Keeps the Score” as a legitimate transition borne of trauma.

they do, though in my experience - it remains a very controversial diagnosis.

[–] legopants 8 points Edited

Therapists can't diagnose. They're simply for talking and working through the diagnosis, but only a psychiatrist can actually diagnose you. And usually there's tests involved.

[–] LunarMoose -7 points Edited

I'm a social worker, and I can diagnose someone. I've done it my whole career.

ETA: Here's a link - I'm a little bewildered that people are so confused about what social workers do - but perhaps this will help :) . https://socialworklicensure.org/articles/clinical-vs-direct-services-social-work/

Clinical social workers must hold at least a master's degree in social work (MSW), and they have the authority to diagnose and treat clients with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems.

[–] Ave_Lucifuge gender atheist 26 points Edited

I was under the impression that doctors didn't believe that alters were fully fleshed out identities, but rather developed pieces of someone's pysche that come forth when they dissociate (their inner child, their sense of self preservation, etc). They may have a different name and claim to be a different sex, but they don't really live intensely separate lives from the original. Has this view changed recently?

Regardless, It seems grossly unprofessional to give someone treatment they ask for when they're dissociated. How could they consider that consent?!

Yes i thought that too. Can people really have fully fleshed out personalities like this? It sounds like complete science fiction to me HOWEVER i am not a medical doctor.

My mom has mainly lived as her second alter for the past 5 years or so. Her alter is a nut case. 100% fleshed out, very different person from my mom.

I'm not sure how the conversation may / may not have evolved in the mental health community, but I can tell you from my experiences with my friends (and their alters) they seem to be pretty fleshed out "fully fledged" identities, or at least it appears that way and is definitely how they describe it. Also, Yes they do come forth in a state of dissociation). It's actually really interesting. One of my friends has an alter who is Irish and uses slang that she (her dominant/host identity) doesn't understand - she knows this bc the alter wrote her therapist an email (I read it) and she was like "I don't even know what half this stuff means!" she also felt violated and really upset - her email said things she did not want her therapist knowing. This too makes me even more concerned about the long term outcomes from the transition. If an email feels like a violation then good god how is cutting off body parts going to feel?. It may be easy to just pass all of this off as nonsense and I'd probably be skeptical were in not for my firsthand exposure, but

They've explained it to me this way: alters are distinct and generally have qualities that they needed for protection as kids, they also all have an "inner child" alter who doesn't speak at all and comes out only when really triggered. While these alters are experienced in a distinct way, they are all part of the same "system" if you will. As for "claiming" to be a different sex, I mean yeah obviously their sex doesn't change and my friends (except for the two who are now trans) don't think that their sex actually changes when an opposite sex alter surfaces. The way they describe it and my own experience of interacting with their alters feels like much more than a "claim," which to me implies a conscious choice to take on an identity which I don't think is possible in a state of depersonalization / derealization....

Anyway, take all of this with a grain of salt. How individual people with DID perceive / experience the disorder doesn't necessarily mean that's how it's viewed by the mental health professionals that specialize in this.

I'm sorry to invalidate your friend, but in the trans community I met many people claiming to have DID, so I have strong doubts that even half of them are genuine. They would go to the trouble of making these convoluted scenarios to try to prove it is real, or sign every message with whatever alter was speaking at the moment, sometimes switching off every other message. It felt more like attention-seeking behavior than anything else. Most of them seem to have gotten the idea from Tumblr, TikTok, or "plurals" on Twitter.

Even if DID was very real, a scenario like the one your friend claims (using slang the host doesn't understand) is in supernatural territory. Consider this: How many people with DID did you know 10 years ago compared to now? You say you have multiple friends (and alters) now. How likely is it that a seemingly very rare mental condition is becoming more prevalent among your friend group? It sounds like another instance of social contagion or coping mechanism, especially considering the overlap with the trans community. Sorry if this comes off harshly, text always sounds a bit aggressive in hindsight when I read over it again...

It's okay I don't see it as harsh at all. I actually brought up the slang thing and she said she was likely exposed to it somewhere but didn't have conscious access to that info (there's so much we don't remember that influences our actions and perceptions).

As for validating / invalidating, I hear what youre saying and totally get the pushback give what's going on online. So my friend is a survivor of child sex trafficking and the trauma she experienced was extreme (it's also a documented in a federal court case)... I too am a survivor and have a lot of survivor friends. Given how traumatic being sex trafficked is, I actually am not surprised that it's over represented and of the 100 or so survivors Id say I know well, three have been diagnosed w DID and were diagnosed quite a long time ago.

EDIT: three that I know of. These are some very anecdotal stats here, but just want to give context for the community of friends I'm referencing here. None of them are the TRA tumblr type and none talk publicly about having the disorder, they're actually very private about it

To me, the anecdote about the Irish alter makes your friend’s DID less believable…if your friend isn’t Irish, neither is their alter.

Where did this alter pick up on Irish slang? It’s not like this is a person who was raised in Ireland with Irish family and friends to impact them culturally. It’s more likely your friend is imitating Irish stereotypes and acting the way they think an Irish person would act.

I feel like there are some parallels here with TIMs acting how they think women act but missing the mark completely. You can’t identify into a culture that you aren’t a part of, just like how you can’t identify into being a sex that you aren’t.

So her explanation (nonclinical) was that it absolutely was those things: stereotypes, slang she must have picked up somewhere - but couldn't recall in her nondissociated state. No one (not her or me) is saying she's actually irish. And yeah ,the whole thing is insane. But she's not a TRA. She had never even expressed any trans beliefs or ideas at all for the 10 years id known her. I think the isolation of the pandemic was really hard mentally and it pushed her over the edge. I linked an article in the actual post that may be helfpul. And again, the contagion of self diagnoses among TRAs isn't the population I'm talking about here. I'm talking about survivors of child sex trafficking whose experiences were unspeakably traumatizing. I

Who says the alters have to make any sense? They’re a defense mechanism, not meant to be fully fledged believable personalities. They serve a purpose - to absorb the trauma the main can’t handle.

DID is a fairly controversial disorder in that there have been decades of disagreement within the medical world about whether or not it’s even real.

With that out of the way - when I saw this post I immediately thought of r/fakedisordercringe, a subreddit dedicated to TikTokers pretending to have disabilities. As an aside - I find this subreddit fascinating because it really shows the whole social contagion aspect of social media. For instance, a year ago the main fake disorder was Tourette’s and then it shifted to ADHD.

Last time I checked, the TikTokers appear to be really obsessed with DID and “switching” and it’s just fucking crazy. But here is the funny thing - the overwhelming majority of the fake DID people were trans. It became an inside joke that “oh wow another trans DID faker - SHOCKING”. So much so that the moderators put up a sticky saying that you weren’t allowed to comment on fakers being transgender.

I'm so confused. Aren't tourettes / ADHD real disorders? Is this comment saying everyone is faking tourette's too? Or is it that ppl started faking a real and rare disorder. If that's the case, then yeah I agree and I dont think it's crazy to say that child sex trafficking survivors would be a population that would be more vulnerable to developing disorder like DID given their trauma....

People are faking really disorders and mental illnesses. My adhd groups have tripled in size in the last two years and every day there is 20-40 people saying they haven’t been diagnosed officially but they identify with the disorder. It’s becoming controversial in one group I’m in to really even discuss being diagnosed because it’s a ‘privilege’ now and self identification is as valid. It’s being fueled in part I think by the focus on being neurodivergent.

There are ADHD support groups? Where do you find them?

Since CoVid and moving to remote work, my ADHD has gotten so much worse. So much so that I sometimes refer to it as debilitating. I think a support group, and knowing others battle it, would be really helpful.

I mean I was diagnosed less than a year ago, but it was under diagnosed in girls when I was a child. I’ve had all the symptoms:/signs of adhd my entire life but never even thought about having it until my dietician mentioned people with binge eating disorder (which I thought I had) often have adhd.

It’s not all fakes, some of us have just been left floundering through life because we weren’t diagnosed until we found information ourselves and were like oh shit. Adhd is fairly common and under-diagnosed in women.

Sorry for the confusion - absolutely Tourette’s and ADHD are real, it’s just obviously people faking having these disorders. For instance, people with Tourette’s don’t just blurt out everything under the Sun - they tend to say the same things repeatedly. On the other hand, the fakers blurt out criticisms and fully formed thoughts. That’s not what Tourette’s looks like. As for ADHD, people show videos of them being really hyper and bouncing off the walls and being “quirky” and claim it’s ADHD. While ADHD does cause hyper activity, it’s typically gonna be constantly bouncing your leg or moving your hand not literally jumping up and down. Also, the physical symptoms decrease as people get older. I have ADHD and it’s more akin to being spacey (getting lost in thought and not hearing people talking to you) than being loud and obnoxious.

As for DID - it is possibly real, but if so, exceedingly rare. One of the main features is unexplainable memory gaps because the whole theory is you dissociate and some alter ego takes over or your on autopilot. The running theories are that this stems from child abuse. If an alter takes over and has a conversation the person would have no memory of it. So if DID does exist, the person wouldn’t really know who their alters were or what happened when they take over. They would only know what they were told by others not what they experienced themselves. This is why people diagnosed with DID tend to be clustered around specific providers - their diagnosis is more about the therapist than it is the patient. This is a main reason professionals are so suspicious about whether it really exists as professionals can go their whole careers without ever coming across DID but somehow certain therapists have dozens of patients with DID.

That's really interesting. and again definitely not an expert in any of this but it sounds like what she is experiencing is in line w what you're describing. She's never claimed to be conscious of her alters. She got to "know" them as part of integration therapy in which she kept a journal and would write sometimes slipping into a dissociated state. The fact that she doesn't remember any of these switches are one of the reasons I'm so upset about this. Her text asking me what happened was awful. Maybe she is just making the whole thing up but knowing her for as long as I've known her I have a really hard time believing that. In terms of therapists, she didn't start working with a "DID specialist" until probably 4? years ago after her psychologist diagnosed her and gave her a referral bc she didn't have the expertise or experience to support her.

"Real" or not there's definitely something going on w her and to me it is clearly trauma based..so even if DID isn't real how her symptoms of whatever is going on are treated by gender affirming loons is what I'm bothered about. No one should be allowed to remove body parts when theyre in a dissociated state.

[–] butchplease 6 points Edited

Yes, DID is comorbid with transness. So is being otherkin, transracial, transage, having artificial tics, and many other disordered types of attention-catching, identity-based behaviour that should not be encouraged by any competent therapist.

I made a playlist of videos relating to trans and DID because I noticed the same correlation. 10 short years ago, the idea of prescribing hormones to a person with DID would have been preposterous. But now if you oppose it, you'll be called a bigot.

Thank you so much for sharing this playlist! I'm so glad to know other people are aware of this (and have been aware for much longer than I have!). It's just so tragic in a way that I can't quite explain.

You're very welcome. It's like therapists don't even want to do their jobs anymore, they think they can just throw hormones at people and solve any problem. Next they'll be prescribing hormones for trichotillomania and narcolepsy, at this rate.

I'm a member of (shall we say) an alternative spirituality group, and lately it's been full of these people.

My best friend has DID and has struggled for years. I mean, I've known her for 37 years, and mostly she copes. She's been hospitalized, treated, and can mostly hold it together, but it starts coming out when she's in a stressful or dangerous situation. It isn't anything like the movies or the forums about it, and I don't want to get into it further, but I want to say that it is very real, just oversensationalized and misrepresented. She has diagnoses from more than one legitimate doctor and was briefly institutionalized for it. (I have never known her to have a male alter or any desire to be male, so it's maybe not relative to this, but everyone is different.)

Exactly. It’s not like the movies or these tik Tok kids. It’s very subtle and devastating for the person who has it. My mother has no stable relationships. Her alters come out for reasons not just because. Switching is not obvious. She was sexually and physically abused by basically every human who came in contact with her for the first 10 years of her life and it shattered her into multiple alters.

I can’t even begin to tell you all the fucked up things my moms alters have done and how it’s ruined my family.

I'm sorry to hear that. That would be really difficult for a child to grow up with. It must have been difficult to understand.

My friend was also abused while very young, and lived through some horrendous things.

My mom has DID and never in a million years would her therapist have affirmed her alters. She had 22 and over 13 years of weekly therapy they were merged into 3. The goal of DID treatment is to merge them back into one whole person. The alters are imposters who only serve to protect the main personality from trauma.

My mom loses time to her alters, I can’t imagine having an alter take over and transitioning to another gender then suddenly coming back and finding out what’s happened. It would be traumatizing, and to know my therapist supported it would be even more traumatizing.

Oh shit I know a TIF with DID and it never occurred to me that it could be an alter taking over

Here's a blog about DID that does a stand up job of putting a human face on this complex disorder: https://www.beautyafterbruises.org/blog/youdidnotshatter

Does that mean DID is a childhood development disorder?

It's generally a result of childhood trauma, which does affect development but I'm not sure I would call it that.

I'm not a mental health professional, but I've only seen this as a result of childhood trauma, so maybe? I guess it makes sense since childhood is when we form our sense of self

Trauma disrupting normative childhood development that creates adaptive compartmentalization rather than an integrated self.

If you don't mind, I am bit interested in switching.

Is it similar to code switching, where people (sometimes unconsciously) change their behavior according to their audience and surroundings?

But instead of a person drawing on their entire life experience and knowledge to change their behavior, a person with DID draws upon their alter whose experience and knowledge best aligns with the topic, person or situation at hand and whose manner is already different.

So in short summary, in code switching, you can say the behavior was induced or modified but in DID, switch is an actually accurate term because the manner itself is fully-formed and independent but the alter was switched out.