Regression or Progression and D.I.D.?

As my wife and I have traveled the road to recovery from dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, I have repeatedly come across the term “regression.” I wasn’t sure what the experts meant by the term, but I could tell they felt it was a negative behavior. So I turned to google, but I still couldn’t find anything that specifically related regression with d.i.d.

But at Wikipedia I found this general definition of regression:

  • Age regression (general).In general      terms it relates to a return to an immature way of feeling, thinking or      acting, usually under stressful circumstances. In this sense the      regression is an expression of the stress and may be seen as a learned      response. For example irrational anger may have worked when you were a      child and you try it as an adult to get your way.
  • Regression (psychoanalysis). In      its more technical sense regression is a defense mechanism in psychoanalysis,in which a person adopts an      immature way of feeling , acting or thinking, in order to reduce their anxiety.      In this sense the emphasis is on the defensive function of the response to      protect the internal state.

I’ve read and re-read ISSTD’s treatment guidelines  , and I’m still not sure what they object to. I read it elsewhere too. Are they objecting to a person allowing the littles to come out and take control? Or are they accusing the host (supposed adult) of acting juvenile to foster a dependent relationship with the therapist?

Whatever the problem that therapists find with regression, I have to wonder if “regression” is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to someone with d.i.d. I have never seen Karen or the little girls act purposely regressive. Sure, there’s a lot of juvenile behavior emanating from my wife’s body right now, including tantrums, cheating at games, silliness, playing with dolls and webkinz, etc., but I see those as progressive, not regressive. Though I’m not an expert, I firmly believe that the little girls are getting a second chance at a healthy childhood, but that can only happen if I allow them to act the way they perceive themselves: as children. As I do, I’ve watched them grow and heal in a multitude of ways that I have mentioned on this blog in the past. But I never want my girls to feel forced to “grow up.” Yes, I wish they would grow up quickly, but I’m not going to force that expectation on them. I want my wife to experience a deep and complete healing that her dysfunctional and traumatic childhood lacked, and so I patiently allow the girls to mature at their own pace even though my personal needs scream silently for a mature wife.

Maybe my little band of readers could tell me if they have been accused of regression and exactly what the therapists object to when it comes to a person with d.i.d. As it stands the best I can guess is they object to the littles taking control: something that I wholeheartedly encourage in the healing of my girls.


Sam, I Am


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashana M
    Apr 04, 2013 @ 22:14:14

    I have no idea what the objection is, but I like your attitude about it.


  2. Jan Hunsinger
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 01:26:05

    Hi. I am a retired therapist. I’m on your side. DID s having little or younger alters come out has nothing to do with either defense or manipulation. They are either triggered or trying to heal by sharing and working through. BUT the profession is : uncomfortable, ignorant, disbelieving, arrogant and more….not all but way too many. If I can offer support or ideas I am happy to do so.


    • Sam Ruck
      Apr 05, 2013 @ 17:14:14

      Hi Jan,

      thank you for stopping by. Victoriarebel, told me she had encouraged you to do so. I naively started this blog a couple of years ago and thought I could share the exciting things happening in my wife’s healing journey as we walked it together. Instead I found that “novel” methods are not generally accepted. But I recently did a series of articles about how attachment theory perfectly explains why my girls have healed so deeply and with so little secondary trauma like I see in most of the d.i.d. blogs on wordpress.

      But still so few people listen, especially in the professional community, since I’m just a husband. Sigh. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I haven’t gotten my wife completely thru the process yet and so there’s still a “wait and see” attitude. So I’ve just kept my focus on my girls. I’m pretty sure I’m dealing with the last one and wrote an article about her progress a couple of months ago and the struggles we’ve gone thru to help her heal and reconnect with the other 6. It’s so emotionally and mentally exhausting especially when it so often requires the complete denial of my needs to give the little girls the saftey they need to heal, but it’s been extremely rewarding to see how far they’ve come and the depth of healing they’ve experienced. My girls are avid readers and they tell me that they know of no one who has come so far in the healing process like them. So maybe some day, if/when I get them over the finish line, we’ll have a story to tell. Until then I just keep trying to plug away and I journal like crazy trying to mitigate the trauma in my own life so that I won’t be twisted or unrepairably broken when we’re all done with this.



  3. Jan Hunsinger
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 01:38:32

    These people are NOT GOD. There are many ideas on how to help people and many of these ideas are put down because they are not conventional way things are done. This happens in conventional medicine and many other professions.


  4. victoriarebel
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 01:56:06

    I don’t know Sam… I am still following your blog, although I changed my name on Internet for privacy reasons. And am writing this and a lot more under current host name rather then legal name I used leave my comments under.
    I directed a friend of mine, who is retired therapist and worked for years with DID and became personally involved with many, to your blog mainly because I know you are looking for kinship. And support in community of supported of those with DID and have not been able to find many of those. I hope you can connect with her. She said she left a comment here, and I guess it’s waiting your approval. I hope she could be of support to you. As for my I said it before and I will say it again, I wish I could find such a support as your wife had in you in my personal relationships, including my husband with whom my marriage is falling apart for years now because I cannot meet his needs and he is unwilling to give us time to heal. He got angry recently when I tried to point him to your blog and refused to try to read it even to understand what we are going through.
    I/ we admire you a lot and can get only a glimpse of what it’s like for supporters of DId to deal with likes of us. It still does not make it any easier for us to deal with those who try to support us while desperately blaming us for not meeting their needs including sexual ones. Sigh.
    Victoria Rebel ( we used to sign with the name of famous actress whose name we took as our legal name and our email used to start with internal… Hope it reminds you if who we are. )


    • Sam Ruck
      Apr 05, 2013 @ 16:59:05

      Hi, it’s good to hear from you again. And yes, I remember our conversations from the past.

      I’m so sorry about your husband. I just don’t understand spouses who are unwilling to help their loved ones heal. Your disorder affects his lack of happiness as much as it affects yours. I don’t know if you remember the entry I wrote about why I have chosen to be so involved in my wife’s healing but the gist of it was that I could either help her heal as quickly and deeply as possible or we would both continue to be miserable, since leaving wasn’t/isn’t an option to me.

      Take care and I hope someone comes along who might be able to help your husband see how counterproductive his actions are.




  5. Bourbon
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 06:35:38

    Previous therapists have used that word with me before. I find it offensive. It makes it sound like a choice. I, as the host, CHOOSE to “regress” into a child-like state and play with a puzzle… No. I SWITCH into an ALTER who IS a child. Such a difference. Luckily my current therapist won’t utter that word, regression, unless its to say that it is NOT what I am doing.


    • Sam Ruck
      Apr 07, 2013 @ 11:22:15

      Hey Bourbon,

      thanks for stopping by and thanks for adding your experience. I’m glad you’ve got a therapist now who “gets it.”

      Take care,



  6. Keith R Wilson
    Apr 14, 2013 @ 07:29:53

    I’m a therapist. Here’s what I’ve always understood about regression. I don’t know anymore if it’s my original idea or I heard it from somewhere.

    When we are under stress we revert to what we already know, old established patterns, and don’t tend to try new things, or do things that we are not as practiced at. For example, when I’m sick with the flu I become more childlike, dependent, immature, and demanding. I little like a two year old. This is not the way I act normally.

    I think it’s easy to see why it makes sense to regress when one is under stress. Why add new stress by trying the new or doing things that you are less practiced at?

    Because therapists tend to be people who believe in the possibility and desirability of progress, they tend to treat the things we are progressing from in undesirable terms. Because our culture, by and large, also believes in progress, they also treat terms like childlike, dependent, immature, and demanding, as negative traits. However, they are not necessarily negative. No reasonable person blames a child for acting childlike and no one should blame an adult who is under stress for acting childlike, either. It’s just what we do.

    The thing is, my wife would lose patience pretty quickly if i were to act the way I do when I’m sick, all the time. She knows I can get my own ginger ale, listen to her tell about her day, and not moan and groan all the time about my aches and pains. She believes adults are just better at things, they understand more, have more resources, and can show more compassion. If you believe that, too, you will value progression over regression.


    • Sam Ruck
      Apr 14, 2013 @ 09:26:55

      Hi Keith,

      thank you for the explanation. That makes sense for those of us who are healthy, but I’m still not sure I see the relevance to someone with d.i.d. The insiders literally were frozen in time…at least the ones in my wife. And so the parts of the personality that they control literally are immature. As I’ve brought them out to join me in Karen I’ve watched them grow in the social, emotional and mental skills and slowly they are growing up. Not as fast as I wish, but they are progressing forward finally.

      I don’t know. Your explanation makes complete sense for someone like you or me, but I still don’t understand the relevance for someone with d.i.d. Not trying to be contrary; I’m just trying to wrap my head around why ISSTD would use the term repeatedly in their guidelines for someone with d.i.d.

      Thanks for adding your professional perspective. I really do appreciate it!!!



  7. hsreid
    May 03, 2013 @ 21:08:13

    Hi Sam..God bless you for your blog. I’m a very young husband (25) and was in the midst of getting divorce papers because I felt the relationship was hopeless. My therapist brought up that my wife’s symptoms seem to have traits of DID, so I finally started doing research. She has had multiple traumas in her past, and a lot of the stories and situations I’ve read are spot on to what I’ve been going through. She was declared to have depression and anxiety a few years ago, so I always figured that’s what was going on. But it is definitely DID.

    It is actually a relief of sorts, now that I know it is an actual condition, and not that she is doing these things to intentionally hurt or abandon me. Do you have any advice? We are on our own, short on money, and are in the process of moving away from each other/divorcing because I was not understanding this change in personality. Now that it could be DID, I don’t want to leave her knowing that the relationship could have been salvaged.



    • Sam Ruck
      May 03, 2013 @ 21:20:18

      Hi HS,

      First, thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you know how fortunate you are to have found this out so early. My wife and I were past 40 before we finally figured out what was wrong. And it was definitely a “eureka” moment for me/us. Once we got a diagnosis of what was wrong, it helped me to help her and gave me renewed hope for my dysfunctional marriage.

      We don’t have a lot of money either, but I have tried to lay out on this blog exactly what I did to help my wife thru the healing process. The blog kind of follows our healing progress, but someday I would love to organize it into related categories because the topics jump around. But my wife regularly says the things I do, (the things I espouse on this blog) have helped her and the little girls heal more than ANYTHING else.

      I did a recent series (5 or 6 articles) on attachment theory which I unknowingly followed with the little girls and I think that’s the reason why my girls have progressed so quickly and safely thru the healing process. You might want to start with those entries. But you are welcome to email me at samruck2 at gmail dot com if you have specific questions.

      Take care,



  8. survivingstill
    May 30, 2013 @ 18:52:47

    Hi Sam, I’ve read a bunch on your blog and though you say you’re not an expert, I would say you are. In my book, practical experience is what makes an expert, and you’ve got tons of that.


    • Sam Ruck
      Jun 01, 2013 @ 00:24:54

      Thanks…unfortunately without credentials I’m basically ignored by the establishment. But maybe if/when I get my wife thru this ISSTD will be willing to listen. I really do appreciate your and anyone else who visits this blog comments. They keep me going…hoping to show a better way to help those with d.i.d. heal.



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