Concurrent Consciousness and Dissociative Identity Disorder

My wife, my girls, and I have now passed the 9-year mark of our healing journey for her dissociative identity disorder. The last 2 years have been hard and disappointing ones which is why I’ve been so quiet on this blog. I never blame the girls for the difficulties. It’s not their fault: no one asks to have d.i.d. But after almost having the first 7 girls completely connected and our sex life finally becoming minimally healthier after 27 years of utter dysfunction, Jenny’s healing needs have reset the clock in so many ways.

And yet, Jenny has made progress in so many ways. Moreover, despite her domination on the outside for the last 2 years, the other 7 girls continue to make progress as well. As for Jenny, she, like Tina, was 100% dissociated from the other girls which has made tearing down the dissociative walls so much harder. But unlike Tina who had Sophia’s help during the connection process, Jenny has had no other girl able to help her, yet. However, she and the other girls have developed a pre-cursor to co-consciousness. It’s what I call “concurrent consciousness.”

Concurrent consciousness is the subconscious ability for Jenny and the other girls to do things ‘together’ without recognition that they are doing it together. From my vantage point I can see all kinds of collaboration between Jenny and the other 7 girls. They’ve done numerous sewing projects together since Jenny joined our family. They also read vast numbers of books together: probably at least 10 books a week. And at this point, I hear regular updates from ‘both sides of the divide’ on a range of daily activities that Jenny and the other 7 have done. The stories always correlate, often verbatim. And yet when I point out the obvious connection Jenny has to the other 7 girls, they are all mystified. They don’t disbelieve me, but they simply have no cognition of doing these multitude of tasks ‘concurrently.’

And as I think back, Tina and the other girls also developed this ability before they were co-conscious with the others. But fortunately for each of them, they were able to move from ‘concurrent consciousness’ to ‘co-consciousness’ more quickly than Jenny has. During this phase I always hear the ‘new’ girl claim to do tasks and the other girls refute those claims saying, “She did not! We/I did it!” It’s a little funny from my perspective to hear them arguing over who did what. To me, I’m simply happy that the new girl is clearly interested in the activities of the other girls because I know that interest is what will eventually draw her into full connection with them. But until then, I simply remind the other girls that it is a good thing that Jenny feels she is doing these tasks with them (and she is!)

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Attachment Theory and Ambivalent Caregiving: The Roadmap for Healing D.I.D.

As my girls and I have traveled together these last 5 years, seeking their healing from dissociative identity disorder, I found myself unknowingly validating the tenets of attachment theory. John Bowlby began to formulate this theory of “the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans” after WWII, and it seems to have become the predominate view of our time.

Attachment theory recognizes that 4 basic attachment patterns arise in children up to age 18 months based upon the primary caregiver’s behavior. A securely attached child’s caregiver responds appropriately, promptly and consistently to the child’s needs and cries for help. An avoidant pattern arises from a caregiver who gives little or no response to the child’s needs and cries for help, discouraging crying and pushing independence. The ambivalent/resistant pattern comes from a caregiver who is inconsistent in his/her responses to the child, swinging from appropriate to neglectful. And the disorganized child often is subjected to an abusive caregiver who frightens the child or is frightened herself. (Wikipedia)

As my girls and I have traveled this road, I began this journey as an attachment figure who was inconsistent. To the little girls I was always appropriate, but I spewed a lot of anger toward Karen because of the neglect I had received as a husband for 20 years. My issues caused wild swings in me from loving to pouting to angry. As a result I caused the girls to be ambivalent, especially Alley who was trying to defend everyone.

But once I dealt with my issues and grasped the larger picture of how my actions would either speed or hinder my wife’s healing, (and thus affect my own happiness), I became a solid caregiver. And as I learned to respond appropriately, promptly, and consistently to everyone including Karen, it freed all the girls to become securely attached to me. They no longer had to guess what kind of a mood I would be in from moment to moment. And that is when their healing began in earnest. My consistent actions now gave them the freedom to focus on healing as I gave them a secure base from which to do so. More

Attachment Theory and Proximity Maintenance: The Roadmap for Healing D.I.D.

As my wife and I have traveled together to heal her dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, in reflection our methodology bore striking conformity to the tenets of attachment theory. And as I continue to study this theory of human development, experts say that the primary goal of infants in forming attachments is to meet their needs for security and protection. Hmmm. And yet what was the thing that most d.i.d. sufferers lacked: security and protection.

Attachment theory maintains that a child’s need for security is primarily met thru the proximity of it primary attachment caregiver. In other words the child feels safe if it knows momma is close by. As the child matures, its feelings of security provided by its caregiver is what enables it to begin exploring its own world. When its security feels threatened, it rushes back to the safety it finds in the presence of its attachment figure until the threat has passed. Then exploration is renewed.

When the girls first came outside, their overwhelming need was for me to be close to them. They did not want to leave my presence. And the phrase that I could be heard saying to them repeatedly was, “It’s ok now. You’re not alone anymore. I’m here, and I will take care of you.” I’ve spent 5 years doing this with each of the girls as she entered my life. I’m still doing it with Tina as I help her thru the initial phase of becoming attached to me.

And as I’ve hammered this message into each and every one of the little girls, I’ve watched their desire to explore and conquer the world revive. In fact, just last weekend I was taking the girls to shop at Hobby Lobby, and Karen expressed her frustration that the girls will not stick with one crafting technique. She likes the security of being good at something and staying with it. But in response I told Tina, “You girls like to learn new things, don’t you?” Tina voiced her confirmation. The little girls have finally found their safety in my proximity, and so they are unleashing the pent up need to explore and learn new things that was taken from them during their initial childhood.

I clearly remember the day when the littlest girl, Sophia, exclaimed to me, “You make me safe! You make me safe!” And it is that safety that has allowed each of the girls to exhibit the traits of a securely-attached child as they leave behind their trauma paradigm.

I have to wonder if one reason that so many people struggle as they try to heal d.i.d. is that we’ve forgotten the desperate need a child has for “proximity” with its attachment caregiver. More

Attachment Theory: The Roadmap for Healing D.I.D.

About 5 years ago, Karen and I began a journey together to heal her dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder. As we continued the journey, 6 other girls joined her and me on the outside. Neither Karen nor I knew much about d.i.d. theory or healing, so we “did what came naturally.”

As we traveled along, I ran across some literature on attachment theory about 2 years ago when I was briefly a member of TAG in the UK. Then recently I revisited that literature and read other literature that was focused on attachment theory.

This time with nearly 5 years of healing under our belts and the last girl in my wife’s network almost thru the preliminary phase of joining our family, the attachment theory literature I read really hit home. I was shocked to see how much of the attachment tenets I had naturally used to help my girls heal. And I finally found some answers to inner questions about our experience.

I will put some links to attachment literature at the bottom, but to put it succinctly attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans (Wikipedia). Attachment bonds begin in infancy between the child and the primary caregiver(s). The strength of the relationship and the reciprocity involved are what enables the child throughout the rest of life to build strong relationships and have the inner strength to explore and conquer the world. But when a child experiences trauma at an early age AND is not securely attached to its caregivers,  major upheaval occurs and lifelong patterns of dysfunction develop.

I’ve read more and more about various tenets of this theory that has come to dominate the view of a person’s development and relationships throughout life. It’s helped me understand what I naturally was doing with the little girls and why they have moved from the “avoidant”, “ambivalent/resistant” and “disorganized” categories of attachment to the “secure” one. I believe this theory also explains the virtual lack of negative side effects my girls have suffered on this healing journey and why they work together so well with me as the focus of their secure attachment. More