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First-person Descriptions of DID
  • 1 Billy Milligan

    Notes: Milligan's description emphasizes the separation between the different identities involved in <span class="caps">DID</span>. The host identity simply disappears, an alter takes over for a while, and then the host re-appears somewhere else having &#8220;lost that time.&#8221; As we'll see, however, this is by no means a universal experience of the relationship between the host personality and the alters. In other cases, different personalities can be co-conscious, they can communicate, and they can coordinate their responses to situations. As you move through the module, keep in mind the manner in which our conception of the relationship between the alters affects our conception of their criminal responsibility.

    "Imagine yourself standing in front of a sink. You're getting a glass of water. And the whole world around you instantaneously changes, and now you're in a park acting like you're getting a glass of water. Out of thin air. And you just lost that time. That's what it's really like. And basically to me, I'm sick and tired of the phonies, the freak shows and the phonies, because what they're doing is not only damaging the people that they're making role play these games, they're damaging the people who are desperate for help..."

    -- Billy Milligan, 21 October 1996


    Last accessed: 9 September 2012

  • 2 Anonymous

    Notes: Note the difference between this description and the one Milligan gives. Milligan claims total separation between the identities &#8212; an utter absence of consciousness, and then a re-appearance at a different time. The anonymous &#8220;survivor,&#8221; however, suggests that at times he or she is &#8220;watching&#8221; her body, but unable to control it. That is, she remains conscious, but at some kind of distance from her standard capacity for agency.

    “I watch a body that looks like me, doing things I’m ashamed of. I can’t will myself back into that body. I can’t control its movements, its thoughts, its feelings. I can only watch and feel the shame and fear. It’s alarming to see the newspaper date, five days ahead of the date I know it to be. It’s frightening to “wake” with the razor in my hand, my arms bleeding and yet know I could never cut myself.”

    -- Survivor of DID


    Last accessed: 9 September 2012

  • 3 John Woods

    This is an article written by Judith Armstrong, a psychologist assigned as an expert witness in the trial of a man — John Woods — whom she had diagnosed with DID. Mr. Woods had killed his girlfriend, Sally, during an argument about her faithfulness. Read Section IV: The Interview (pp. 212-216). In it, Dr. Armstrong conducts separate interviews with the three alters involved in the crime.

    Notes: This is the lengthiest of the descriptions given thus far, and it reveals the complexity of the dynamics that develop between the alters. Note, for example, that Ron &#8220;overhears&#8221; what John is saying to Sally (p. 213); that Donnie knows who Dr. Armstrong is because &#8220;that information got<br /> passed around&#8221; (p. 214); that Donnie wants to &#8220;ask&#8221; Ron what is going on, but Ron &#8220;won't talk to him&#8221; (p. 214); that Donnie tries to impress Ron and John by jumping off a balcony (p. 215); that John and Donnie both think that Ron is &#8220;usually right&#8221; (p. 215 and p. 216). All of this suggests not just internal communication and co-consciousness, but an intricate network of relationships and power dynamics operating amongst the alters.
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