Is a Person with D.I.D. ‘Broken’?

My wife and I have been married about 27 ½ years. The first 20 years were an odd mixture of us being loving and affectionate, but the relationship was always laced with an underlying level of stress, blowups and frustration because of how she neglected me and my needs. Then about 8 years ago, she had a change of heart, and shortly thereafter she entered counseling and was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Thus began our journey to help her and our relationship heal.

 About 5 ½ years ago I began to blog here on WordPress about the journey we have taken together to heal her disorder. I try to read various sources about d.i.d. from experts and those who experience it. One of the topics that comes up from time to time is whether someone with d.i.d. is or should perceive him/herself as ‘broken’ and whether that person needs ‘fixing.’ It is apparent that these terms connote a lot of negativity when used by some.

 Dissociative identity disorder can develop when a very young child is traumatized over a long period of time. A second key component in the causation of d.i.d. is the lack of a loving, primary attachment figure who can help the traumatized child heal and reframe the trauma. At a basic level the disorder causes the personality to be dissociated, fractured, or ‘broken.’ Instead of an assimilated personality that reflects a lifetime of learning to balance differing perspectives and desires within a person, the personality becomes a mishmash of traits and needs that can go dormant or are pursued independently by the various ones in the d.i.d. network.

 And so from my perspective using the term ‘broken’ seems a very appropriate use of the term in conjunction with someone who has d.i.d. In many ways I have been ‘broken’ by the secondary trauma that my wife’s disorder sends my way. As I have journaled I have learned to accept and embrace that brokenness as part of the price of helping and staying with the woman I love.

 And yet, I know that term is offensive to many. That term and others like it often carry a lot of emotional baggage. This may include taunts from past abusers, abusive or unsympathetic family members and a society that would rather view a broken person as someone deserving derision and jeering rather than respectful compassion, empathy and appropriate offers to help.

 Moreover, I must realize that my ‘brokenness’ is different. I will not be labeled or caricatured as my wife sometimes is by family, friends or the society at large. I do not have to worry about having my rights stripped from me in a society that uses the term ‘going mental’ as a slur and as justification for all kinds of laws worthy of the Dark Ages. In some ways I choose to be broken by choosing to stay with my wife as we work together for her healing: she was given no such ability to choose.

 So as I walk with my wife, my girls, on this journey to heal their d.i.d., I try to find balance and empathy. Yes, my wife’s personality is literally broken into dissociated parts; and yet, it is disrespectful to use terms that have come to be full of negative connotations. I won’t claim to be perfect. At times when I get frustrated and/or Alley, Amy or Karen in particular act ungraciously about things I do for them, sometimes I play tit for tat with them. But it’s not helpful. And so I try to keep my eyes on the goal of her and our complete healing. To do so I must treat her/them as equals and as my fellow traveling companion on this journey. She is not a charity case. She deserves my full respect even though her disorder causes so much heartache for both of us.





10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pepper
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 19:35:50

    Tough one. Perhaps it is the spirit that is broken, which of course affects the whole. We are split so therefore broken could be one way to describe that. I believe recovery helps piece us together again and for me God is integral to that. Finally admitting I was broken (or “powerless” or “sick” and that I needed help) was my first step to getting on my way to start to build a new identity in a loving God and with a new framework to life, or a new foundation. So yeah, DID peeps are broken, abused people are broken- but we can be fixed / healed. It just takes the right tools. 😀


    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 09, 2015 @ 05:04:19

      Hi Pepper,

      I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. I’m on vacation and this is the first I’ve looked at my blog for a couple of days. Thanks for taking the time to make a comment. I do agree that from the outside I would think that ‘admitting’ one is broken is the first step towards healing, but I see so many resenting this term and similar ones that I guess I figured it’s not my place to force the issue and I’m always trying to find ways to understand and be empathetic when possible.



  2. Ormarie
    Apr 12, 2016 @ 16:23:24

    Great read! Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us, I will look forward to read your future entries. As a d.I.d, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, patient & etc etc, it feels great seen how other people can deal with their illnesses and is very encouraging for me to see family members to take this opportunity to help other understand how it is to live with this type of disorder. As you My husband is very involved in my treatment too, and I appreciate everything he does for our family, I bet that your wife feels the same.

    Take Care!!


    • Sam Ruck
      Apr 13, 2016 @ 07:07:59

      Hi and thanks for taking time to stop by my blog and leave a comment! I’m glad your husband is involved in the healing process. That can make all the difference in the world!

      Take care, Sam


  3. thedaedalus
    Oct 29, 2016 @ 17:37:36

    It’s all about perspective(s).

    I am broken when I see my inability to connect with people in a long term way. But I have this detached compassion for humanity, that I think a lot of people are out of touch with.

    I want to see needless suffering go away. I want to see humans choose evolution instead of destruction. People fascinate me with their behavior and the way they think.

    My traumas have had a huge impact on my life and my ability to be around people, but it’s also responsible for my love and curiousity when it comes to how the mind works, and that is a big part of who I am.

    So, in some respects, I am broken, but in other respects, I feel whole and well.

    Great post. 🙂


    • Sam Ruck
      Oct 31, 2016 @ 08:52:12

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking the time to comment. I agree it is about perspective. I try to focus on the positive but not by ignoring the negatives which is sometimes what I feel people do.

      Take care,


  4. ARM
    May 03, 2017 @ 12:40:20

    I’ve taken to using the term “fracture” for the DID state of internal separation.

    “Break” feels like a term of art for periods of psychosis.


    • Sam Ruck
      May 03, 2017 @ 13:08:22

      Hi ARM,

      thanks for stopping by my blog and taking the time to make a comment. Yes I can see where ‘break’ has other connotations when it comes to mental health issues.


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