A Working Theory of Human Personality

How do I posit a working theory of human personality? I am just a husband who had only a smattering of psych discussions in classes more than 25 years ago on the subject (so reader beware! lol). And yet after 6 years of helping my girls heal from the fractured personality that dissociative identity disorder gave them, I have struggled to provide myself some kind of framework to use as I help them and figure out where to point them toward final healing. I’m still struggling how to conceptualize what I have learned as I have lived with their disorder 24/7 for over 6 years, but here it goes.

I think when we are born we have a large portion of the personality traits and abilities spectrum available to us. I do think there are other factors that determine our relative strengths and weaknesses in areas (which is outside the scope of d.i.d. and therefore this entry), but we start out with a full slate of personality traits available.

But trauma and choice and upbringing and experiences seem to chip away at our ability to access that full spectrum of available traits. I think people whom we would call “far right” and “far left” have over the course of their lives moved into very narrow positions within their possible personality ranges. They are then held captive from being able to see multiple perspectives at one time. Not only can they no longer see multiple perspectives, but they feel threatened by others who do. Hence, not only the religious wars against the un- and anti-religious and vice versa, but also our political and cultural wars between left and right. The more polarized one becomes, the smaller the amount of choices that are left to him/her within their personal paradigm.

We regularly use the language of multiples in our daily lives, and yet the stigma of hearing voices in our culture is such that we shun the value of holding multiple perspectives on a single issue. Our mind is trying to provide us with multi-layered and complex perspectives so that we can make the best possible decisions and experience life fully, but our cultural tradition upholds the ‘clarity’ afforded by simplistic, single mindedness over the more complex and mature ability to be double (or multi-) minded. Here are just a few of the terms that we use that hint at the multiple nature we all have within our brains: “fully engaged” vs. being on “auto pilot”, “on the one hand…, but on the other hand…” being “double minded”, “part of me thinks”  etc. just to name a few. I wonder if Freudian slips can be better understood in light of multiplicity and recently experienced it myself when I had intended to buy a certain flavor of coffee to please my girls, but when I got to the front of the line, I ‘found’ the flavor I preferred in my hands…

So when a person develops dissociative identity disorder, he/she doesn’t become a ‘multiple’ while the rest of us are ‘singletons.’ The real difference between us is simply what the name of the disorder states; this person has now become a dissociated or separated multiple while the rest of us ought to be non-dissociated multiples. The sad thing is we take our cultural bias against hearing internal voices and try to damn people with d.i.d. into “integrated singleton-dom”. We have lost sight of the fact that multiplicity is an inherent gift even though most people seem to lose it because of a lifetime of self-limiting choices, training, experiences and trauma. We lose the ability to comfortably hold two ‘opposing’ views at the same time as we try desperately to turn our multi-colored worlds into black and white.

As I have lived with my girls and observed them and my self, I have realized that currently I live largely like my wife’s host, Karen. The secondary trauma I have suffered as a result of her disorder and dysfunction in our relationship has left me living life on a flat plane. I am numb to much of life and rarely, fully engage it. On some levels I think it’s what therapists might call de-personalization. Trauma strips our personalities of the ability to enjoy the full spectrum of life and thus we go thru life zombie-fied, or de-personalized.

But my wife’s disorder gave her a gift. Once we awakened the other girls and brought them out to join us, they also brought intact the parts of the personality that they each controlled. The trauma had hidden huge swaths of her personality in the little girls until Ka’ryn Marie was represented typically by the somewhat de-personalized host, Karen. However, once the healing began, the other girls re-invigorated the full spectrum of my wife’s personality such that she is now being re-personalized as the 7 connect with each other.

So my goal for my wife is not 100% engagement of all the girls at all times nor ‘integrating’ away the extra voices (i.e. girls) into simplistic quietness. My goal for the girls is simply to end the dissociation between them. I want all 7 girls to have access to each other when they want it and to be comfortable with it. Right now we are dealing with 3 of the girls’ ability to connect to each other on a deeper level. Even though they can be co-conscious and at times merge with each other, the lingering discomfort one of them has being with the other two betrays the aftermath of the dissociation. Once we have helped move these 3 to the next level, we hope to help the other 3 little girls do the same, and then finally to bring Karen to be with all of them..

And my hope for myself is that once my wife’s dysfunction is over, we will be able to awaken the huge parts of my own self that have gone dormant from the deprivations of our dysfunctional, 26-year relationship.

I know this isn’t by any means systematic, but it’s a sketch of the working model that I am using to help my wife heal. I also use it to help me cope with the massive secondary trauma I have sustained from my long-term dysfunctional relationship with her. Moreover, this paradigm shift has helped me move away from my black and white view of life and appreciate the stunningly complex tapestry of all life.

Blessings,

Sam, I Am

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Glenn
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 12:27:49

    So nice and needed to see you posting 🙂 Please keep posting because your insight and thoughts help me to understand what is going through my mind but I cannot express as well as you can.
    I can relate very much to the secondary trauma aspect with the spouses that support someone with DID. We have to repress so much of ourselves to help our spouse that at times we lose ourselves.
    If we were to follow what most people do, we would have cut and run at the first sign of a problem with our spouse. That is why divorce is so popular today. We have chosen to fight for our spouses mental health and a fight it truly is in so many ways. We have to fight our personal inclinations and desires,our selfishness and pettiness, our desire to be loved.
    Sometimes our lives are a barren desert without any emotional support or affection. Sometimes we see the good we have done in helping our spouse and giving of ourselves without reserve.
    This trauma is something we choose. That may sound harsh, yet I think that is why it is easier when and if we heal the other to fix ourselves.
    I can help but say this quote because it is what drives me to be more charitable and giving of myself than I ever thought possible
    “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me”

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Aug 22, 2014 @ 20:49:13

      Hi Glenn,

      thank you for the encouragement. It’s been a tough year to post. I thought I was going to have my wife/girls thru the healing process this year and even booked a “celebration” cruise at the end of September…barring a miracle, we aren’t going to be done by then. Sometimes it feels like we’ll never be done as this disorder continues to stretch my ability to combat and undo it’s effects in my wife. So I appreciate your comments and encouragement.

      It’s nice to hear a fellow-husband who can empathize how much easier it would be to cut and run when we stay and fight for the women we love. I’ve often pictured myself in a jail cell with my wife. She’s in chains, but I’m not and the door is open. And that’s the hardest part everytime I read another divorce account and typically over insignificant issues while I’ve been fighting the ‘dragon’ of her d.i.d. for 26 years and have to choose every day to stay with her in that jail cell with the escape door open and calling my name as I help her fight that dragon.

      I’m also running out of topics to cover. Maybe there are some you’d like to see done. I’m thinking about covering comorbidity sometime. I’m sure there are others to do, but it’s been a hard summer as I worked 12-hour shifts for 2 1/2 months and then Alley getting bogged down and only recently was I able to get her unstuck…and then she immediately got stuck again…so I’m trying to help them figure out how to get past the current roadblock…

      You are always welcome to email me if you just want to correspond outside this blog at samruck2 at gmail dot com.

      Sam

      Reply

  2. ccchanel41
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 15:21:08

    Sam, that was quite possibly the most beautiful explanation of DID I have ever read.
    It irritates me when “experts” in the psychiatric world constantly “theorize” and change “ideas” and “models” and “nomenclature” of this condition. On one hand, research needs done, but at the expense of who, and what is the research and how is it being done? That is just my own rant, I suppose, as no one truly knows unless they have lived with DID, or loved someone with it.
    I have read several of your posts. It is hard for me to read all of the blogs I follow completely, as I have not been on here long, and I do not follow a lot of mental health blogs. I don’t find that healthy for me. I follow those that I find healthiest.
    I really just wanted to say that because, if I may, I read yours to my husband, and he found great strength I feel in it, for many reasons. Thank you for that.
    I feel like it is in many ways simply one large, love letter to your wife, all of her. And it is so informed and thought out, and beautiful.
    Glad to see you posted as well. Keep posting, keep being involved, and I hope that you find the strength you need as well. Peace and love to you and your family.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Aug 22, 2014 @ 22:40:42

      Hi Channel,

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment and encourage me. It’s hard to keep going on this blog when I get so few comments. On top of that I’ve been shut out from most d.i.d. groups and shunned by therapists when I try to “strike up a conversation” with them since I’m not doing things ‘by the book.’ I just got kicked off another site last week for my ‘heresy.’ I try not to think about it or mention it too much, but it takes a toll on me…as I debated (with myself, lol) whether or not to post this entry as I knew it would just be another thing to put me in the lunatic category.

      I’m glad it’s encouraged your husband as well. Maybe some day my wife/girls will read my ‘love letters.’ They’ve only read a few of my posts even though they support me doing this blog, since they struggle with me talking about them. So I try to be sensitive how I present them and protect their privacy as much as possible.

      If you have any topic suggestions, I’m open. I feel like I’m running out of things to say and try not to speak just to hear myself talk.

      Peace and love to you and your family as well!

      Sam

      Reply

  3. ccchanel41
    Aug 22, 2014 @ 23:33:31

    Well, one of the things that struck me right away is that I feel no one can deny you have the best interests of your wife at heart. That is obvious. Again, I have read around, and will try to take a day to read all of it, but my opinion is that every system is different and no one approach is going to be the same for everyone. So, I cannot comment to anyone else’s reasoning, but I have yet to see one thing that I found harmful that has been done. And your description today was one of true insight. I have read other true insight as well.
    You are always welcome on my blog, I have seen you like my posts. We have just started. I will tell you, my experience with therapists is that most have been ill equipped to deal with our needs regarding our system. We have done most of our work on our own with some help with what we knew from trauma work in past therapy, some from this last therapist in learning our parts, and SOME DID work (although she said she was an SRA/RA expert as well), we do not believe she was…and our husband also helped quite a great deal, just by helping us process through our flashbacks, body memories, and by giving us a feeling of safety…as you had mentioned. Although, that stopped. We work on it.
    You may want to blog a little more on yourself and what you go through as a spouse of someone with DID…maybe that would help you?? In between your post updates on your wife. I don’t know how comfortable you would feel about that, but you may be surprised at the support you find, just writing about your feelings, even if they are non specific.
    Anyway, don’t give up the blog. a lot of people do not leave comments on blogs. And DID is a sensitive area for people. i think you are doing and have done a wonderful loving job.
    🙂
    CCChanel et al

    Reply

  4. Cecilie
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 07:49:59

    I live in Norway, and don’t have DID, but I have worked in the psychiatric field and am interested in topics like this. I am diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder and bipolar2 myself. I just want to comment to say that I have read a lot of your posts, despite not commenting before. You are doing a great job, and don’t give up!

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Aug 28, 2014 @ 14:20:14

      Hi Cecilie,

      Welcome to my blog and thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment and also for the encouragement. I had hoped to connect to more therapists and such and build a cooperative bridge between them and those of us supporting, helping and fighting for our loved one’s mental healing. But so far I’ve not had great success.

      So I really do appreciate the encouragement because many times I do feel like giving up.

      Take care,

      Sam

      Reply

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