Beyond the Movies: Debunking myths about DID & plural systems - Transcript

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The page with audio from the call & recording information is here. This is also a bonus episode on the Many Minds on the Issue Podcast available on many podcast services & iTunes.

Hi, welcome, everybody. And welcome back, if you're just joining us. This is January 13, 2019. It's 12pm Eastern Standard Time. And you're visiting a lecture called Beyond the Movies: Debunking Myths about DID and Plural Systems. We are the Crisses, also known as Reverend Criss Ittermann, and we're best known in the plural community as the admin and major contributor of, an encyclopedic website for plurals and those who love them. The overriding theme and mission is helping plurals build internal community. When we're not writing for, we're a life coach and author, working with plural systems on the same theme. We write self help books, we have a podcast and blog posts all centered around internal community building. Our one-to-one and group coaching work for plurals is all documented and promoted at - and that's our time and energy sponsor for today. And because we don't have enough projects, we've also helped to launch and made major writing and time commitment to, a new plural news media watchdog. So some of the material in this lecture is inspired by how many news stories are, are coming out, and everything that we've been reading and reviewing.

So first, some housekeeping. And then we'll give a little bit of a background about who we are and why we're here. So first, a content warning for my peers and my tribe. We're not going to try to be graphic or disgusting, but we're also not pulling punches in this presentation. We apologize in case we say anything that's triggering or upsetting. If you need to keep tissues handy, exercise selves-care. We're fighting stigma in the media with a mixed audience. And we have a chance to make an amazing number of allies today. So we're going to take that chance and rip the band aid off. And we need many more signatures and legally represented voices for petitions, for letter writing, for boycotting, for protesting. So hopefully, this recording and this presentation will help us get that. So for everyone else, this presentation is going to contain some spoilers for things you may not have seen yet.

So one thing to note is how we're going to refer to a group entity with DID or a related disorder and those who live within their shared body. We want to stay far away from clinical terminology. So we're going to use "residents" of a "plural system", and plural or plurals to talk about one or more group entities with a dissociative disorder. We're talking mainly in this lecture about those with dissociative identity disorder and using the largest and most inclusive umbrella terminology to cover all related disorders, such as OSDD - that's other specified dissociative disorder - and P-DID, partial dissociative identity disorder. And, by the way - to us, residents are people. We might lapse into talking about people in a plural system out of habit, because that's how we usually say it based on our perception from the inside. If it walks like a separate person and talks like a separate person, maybe it's a separate person. We think different, have different religions and belief systems, different problem solving skills, different hobbies, different preferences. So at what point are we all just people lacking a sufficient number of bodies.

So now a little bit about us and why we're here and, and how we can talk about this particular topic. We figured out we were plural in early 1986, the year we turned 17. We were hospitalized for nine months following a suicide attempt, during which time we debated whether to tell our psychiatrist about the people living in our head. And then after a few months of trust building and a three day unauthorized off ground excursion.... uh, yeah, we decided to really get to work and laid out everything we knew with our doctor. So suffice to say, this adolescent psychiatrist was not equipped to handle us. He asked whether we wanted to integrate - common question in the late 1980s. We said no. And we spent another 3-4 years in outpatient therapy with him. And then, when that relationship was over, we didn't want to go to a new therapist. Instead, we took holistic classes, we read a lot of self help books, self improvement books, recovery books, you know, trauma recovery and other kinds of recovery. And we figured things out for ourselves. Almost 10 years later, we went back to that doctor for a little tune up and some help with PTSD work that we were doing. And he was so outclassed and outgunned, the whole psychiatry industry had become about prescribing medications, and his appointments were revolving door prescription renewal. So we went back to working on ourselves without assistance until about a year and a half ago, when we employed a trauma specialist to help with body-based triggers that we're still struggling with. So we figure we might finish that therapy, that type of therapy up by the end of this year, and already freeing up energy that has been tied down in those stuck points. On a personal level, we have two external children, who are now adults. We disowned our parents on the grounds that they have not bettered themselves and they live in denial, while still tormenting other people, so we have no contact with them. And some of our abusers and intentional parental figures, like people we kind of latched on to over the years for parental guidance and stuff, are unfortunately in the afterlife. And one of our perpetrators is out of jail and on the sex offender list for life. We can have like a little applause for that. Not the 'out of jail' - the 'on the sex offender list' part.

So in addition to all of our holistic healing arts, we're trained life coach, a minister, a shamanic practitioner. These paradigms and practices help us view plural issues from several different complementary lenses that we incorporate into writing and our work. So when we work with plurals or write for plurals, it's always with the intent of being an adjunct to therapy. And for those who cannot hire a therapist, due to trauma, it gives them a place to start working on communication and internal resources, so maybe one day they can seek out additional systems if they want it.

I'm so excited. So of course, there's much more than that. That's the cliff notes about us. Now, with that out of the way, we're going to try to get through a lot of ideas and material quickly, with some humor thrown in. So this isn't, this isn't always a fun or funny topic. So we'd like to kind of point out the irony of some things and maybe give a little funny twist of words, just to make it a little more amusing. We're really married to the idea of living like this for the rest of our life, and we're 50 years old this year. So we're kind of at the point where we need to find the humor in things to keep going. So expect a little bit of a rollercoaster as we take you on this media mythology journey, and tear the wallpaper and show you what's behind the scenes, like why these myths exist, perhaps a little bit, and debunk them and show you what, what really is going on in our lives.

So first thing I want to do, because I know there's going to be people listening to this who have no clue. There are three known criteria that are required to cause DID. Because this comes in handy later, when I'm talking about other stuff. The number one, a person must inherit the dissociation trait. According to science, this appears to be hereditary. It runs in families. But what extent, like whether it's dominant or not, all that kind of genetic stuff, that's not been determined yet. Number two, they have — the person who develops DID had inconsistent or poorly attached caregivers. They have no safe refuge. That's, that's what I call it, there's no safe refuge, there's nobody in their life they can turn to. So it could be that their parent is in the hospital. I mean, it doesn't have to be blame, okay, we're not looking to blame anybody. But their parent could be in the hospital with a chronic illness. Anything that means the child doesn't have access to someone to turn to for reassurance or comfort and feedback. And the third one, the third criteria, is that the person experienced recurring trauma before the age of nine, for sure. And nines kind of pushing it. Usually it starts by the age of five. And it continues, usually for years, but it's a recurring trauma. It doesn't matter whether the trauma is deliberate or accidental, whether it's abuse, neglect. It could be undergoing repeated life surgeries. Just for chronic illness for the child. It doesn't have to make sense to adults. It can be traumatic to the child regardless of what adults think. And it doesn't have to be extreme or violent trauma. It doesn't need to be physical or sexual. We don't take out yardsticks and start measuring trauma, because trauma is an entirely suggested, subjective, can't even say it, subjective experience. So it's that person's trauma, and it's how they experienced it. It's not about what we think about it. We don't sit there and judge it. So these—it's important to note, these aren't diagnostic criteria. These are what we know of the causes. And so we're talking about fiction a lot today. To be realistic, those causes really need to be present if you want to have a very realistic character and say that the character has DID. If somebody says they develop DID when they're 20 years old, it's not very realistic.

So now, starting to transition to the actual... the myths and the movies. So I want to do a little rundown of just naming some of the past, well-known plurals or the movies featuring plurals in fictional media, and some of the recent and upcoming ones that we know about. So some of these may not be out yet. So we'll tell you which ones. So some of these are plurals, not necessarily DID. So there's some kind of situation in which more than one person is in the same body. So we've got Nikki and Jessica, sharing a body in Heroes. Tyler and Nat—Narrator in Fight Club. The featured character of United States of Tara. In Harry Potter number one - depends on where you are what you call it, the Philosopher's Stone, the Sorcerer's Stone - Professor Quill—Quirrell is sharing a body with Voldemort. You've got the Hobbit with Gollum / Smeagol. We've got the one that is all the buzz in the news now, the Eastrail 177 trilogy, which is Unbreakable, Split and Glass. So now we won't mention those movie names again, we'll just talk about the Eastrail 177 trilogy. (Laugh) We've got Legion. Venom. And in Iron Fist, we have Typhoid Mary, aparently. I haven't seen it so I can't speak to it. And then we have upcoming releases. The third part of Eastrail 177 trilogy comes out this coming week. We have X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Doom Patrol, which has a plural superhero Crazy Jane - horrible name, for what at least on paper looks like it's going to be a great character, but the name, arrrgh, the name. Cowboy Ninja Viking - this was a big surprise to me. It's an upcoming comic-based film where people with DID are hand picked out of institutions for special operative work, based on some comic book from who knows when, but that's apparently going to be a movie. So Cowboy Ninja Viking. And then, in the soap opera market, we also have characters on shows like Days of Our Lives and General Hospital. I think the General Hospital character was ended in 2013. But there's one current in Days of Our Lives right now. So the list goes on, I'm certain we missed many. Fictional media seems to be ramping up and not down on depictions of plurals. They're just coming out faster than I can keep track of them. And how well they're played — so far seems mostly to be anti-heroes and villains, but it does look like that may be changing soon, knock on wood. If, um, if done well, Cowboy Ninja Viking and Doom Patrol, at least they're not villains. So who knows? I don't know. I got fingers crossed, you know? Just hoping.

Okay, so now we get on to the myth. Got a long list of them. So myth number one. We're gonna start with the biggie that I'm sure everybody's like dialing in on the recording and coming here to the presentation for. (Sigh.) It's the 'people with DID are a danger to others' myth. I want to get this one out of the way. It's a big one. So we call this the Jekyll/Hyde trope. Then a little bit of background on the character Doctor—Dr. Jekyll, I'm not going to go into details of the book, but the actual writing of the book, or the role it plays in, in fiction. So firstly, it's not based on DID. That should be 100% clear. All these movies that take a DID person and then give them a Jekyll/Hyde trope are basing it on complete fiction from the very get go. It was published, uh... The book, Robert, Robert Louis? Oh boy. Robert Louis Stevenson's book, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was published in 1886. And it's about the repression and unleashing of toxic masculinity. So, just to let you know, it's not about somebody who was hurt as a child who then goes on to do horrible things. So in this timeframe, back in 1886, men are expected to be genteel, poised, educated, sophisticated, but there lurks this undercurrent of needing to vent their repressed, quote unquote, 'animalistic urges'. Stephenson's book was a huge success around the world, where people read it hungrily, turning page after page, wishing they could unleash their inner whatever. And if you look back in history, there's also a similar popular current of unleashing stuff - repressed stuff. If you look back another century to the Marquis de Sade, or sadism. And the published works of the Marquis de Sade also took on this like underground like popularity about 100 years earlier during the Victorian era, and started a whole movement of stuff. So now we're going 100 years forward from Jekyll and Hyde, the 1980s. So, you know, we're over 100 years old, looking at the Jekyll/Hyde trope here. And in the 1980s, and on, now we've got more and more of this Jekyll/Hyde 'unleashing the inner monster' stuff popping up. But because now we're in a more scientific era, they have to find a fictional excuse. So they're blaming this unleashing on DID. It's, it's, it's mean. And it's it's kind of rationalizing that, that people's repressed urges can be unleashed under the umbrella of mental illness. So it's extremely unscientific, fiction based idea. And they're, they're hurting and further stigmatizing people like us who were traumatized again and again and again as children.

So just a little summary in case that all confused somebody. Eery century or so, art and culture seems to need to help average Joe vent repressed desires, If not in physical acts, because nobody wants to get thrown in jail, then they can unleash these these desires by sucking in this fiction-based stuff. In the last, you know, what is it now 40 years - I can count, right? 40 years like, since the 1980s. We're in a 40 year binge in our media outlets on picking on dissociative disorders. And we're driving people into hiding and driving some to misunderstanding themselves to the... to the point of actually finding out what they are and, and hurting themselves. And some of this misunderstanding is also leading scientists and doctors to deny that the disorder exists. There's also a lack of research and funding, especially, and I'll mention this again later. Given that this is 1-3% of the population. There's bullying and targeting, shaming, stigmatizing, getting harassed on social media, driving people who survived really extreme, extreme adversity. Both makes us angry and a little crazy, but not violent. So we usually take out or violence on ourselves. And having said that, that brings me right to this statistic. A horrible, sobering, you know, chilling statistic, that 70% of people diagnosed with DID have attempted suicide at least once. 70%. That's pretty staggering. So the clear results of the stigma, and the difficulties of even getting diagnosed and things like that, and causing this disorder to go unrecognized in younger people, and untreated is a very serious life-hampering issue. And we'll never know how many people, how many plurals we've lost, in that average six years that it takes to even get that diagnosis.

So setting that aside for the moment, it really, to me, it begs the question, "Why do screenwriters keep writing us into killers or violent villains?" So it's because selling people an outlet, and an excuse not to unleash their own inner repressed violent urges on the big scr—you know, putting it on the big screen, it's worth money. People pay money for that. And really, that's about it. It makes them money, at the end of the day. And every single movie that's appropriating our disorder and misusing our disor—disorder for profit really owes research funding a big whopping check to pay for it sins. We're not a freak show, and we're not society scapegoats for perpetrating violence.

So it's also worth saying, in almost all cases, people who have been victims before become victims again. We end up with broken boundaries, we put ourselves at risk, in harm's way, we trust the wrong people. Unfortunately, many of our peers are being stalked, abused and controlled while we're adults. Sometimes by the same people who hurt us when we're children, sometimes by other people. Then we're also trolled on social media, like I mentioned, we're bullied or harassed on the big screen by depictions that show us as monsters, they increase stigma against us. And they perpetuate these myths that we're addressing today. And this kind of lack of acceptance and empathy in our society can mirror that lack of good caregivers when we were children, so that it makes people with DID afraid to even go out, afraid to have and lose friends every time a new movie comes out. Afraid to come out as plural to family and friends because of what they'll think. Or even having family you know, because often their family is not safe. So they lacked support and caregivers who are vested in their recovery. Due to the disabling effects of PTSD or Complex-PTSD from repeated trauma, many can't hold down a job. And so we also have many peers who experienced extreme poverty, homelessness, and all the crimes and further trauma, they can come from living a desperate life with no, no resources.

To the second myth, "every DID system has their own take on The Horde looking to overthrow the nice people and the potential for having The Beast in their system". This is a lot of people that, that watched the second Eastrail 177 film, and really thought this when they left the theater. People who went to see it, because they either had, or they knew someone, or either with a friend who was plural, were so shaken and unsettled when they watched the film, that they immediately ceased their friendship. They, They broke up, or what do you want to call, you know. They, they just basically said, "I can't be your friend anymore" over this movie, out of fear of their personal safety. So, obviously, I'm here to say this is not true. And it's heartbreaking that a plural would confide in a friend and then, you know, go through the whole process of building trust with them, only to have it extinguished because of this, like, film that exaggerates what plurals are like. So in a little more detail. The Beast is a complete, not just exaggeration, but a faulty, overblown caricature of an excuse to make a horror story. It pushed the idea way too far. The premise in the first film was a plausible exaggeration of human possibility. Bench pressing 350 pounds is not completely unrealistic. But the Beast is completely unrealistic and unfair. To stick that in a movie, that's spending so much time and energy trying to seem realistic, is a grave disservice to people who are horribly stigmatized to begin with. So now, the part that's somewhat true, and Phil exaggerated to extreme. With no healthy role models, and desperate attempts to "play normal" and mask, or needing to discipline residents of a plural system who make mistakes, or disagree about the direction of their shared life, people inside can build up resentments towards each other. There can be "teams" and "sides" in internal struggles for who runs their shared life. How, how often does that actually work anywhere else, like at work or school? It doesn't. You know, when you have cliques and groups around this water cooler and that water cooler, it never works. It doesn't work in any environment. It pushes people apart. So when you share a body, it just makes everyone miserable. It increases panic in the system - it doesn't make people violent, it makes them upset. And it dials up the anxiety and all the dissociative systems and creates internal chaos. So, a good friend would encourage the media to provide positive role models of internal community -characters who are just DID and not the central plot device. They are like, the main character's roommate is DID, or something. And, and get more funding into the programs and services that help plurals to do the mediation work needed in their internal relationships, so that it's moved out of the more expensive and time-costly elusive therapy sessions. And so therapy, can kind of concentrate on trauma, while other services can help with internal relationships.

So, myth number three. So coming from that one, the next myth is 'DID is rare'. And actually it's not. It's 1-3% of the population, as I mentioned before. And as a comparison, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1.1% of adults in the US live with schizophrenia and 2.6% live with bipolar. So 1-3% is around schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, somewhere around there. It doesn't discriminate by country, race, religion, you find DID everywhere you find children who are neglected or traumatized, abandoned, abused, molested, or otherwise put in harm's way constantly. And not all children who are hurt repeatedly do develop DID, because there's two other criteria, detached caregivers and the dissociative trait that may be inherited. But it may look like DID is rare. So the true part of 'DID is rare' is because it takes six years to diagnose. So there's the people who are misdiagnosed, under diagnosed. Those who never even show up to be diagnosed There are people who suffered too much to make it even to getting a diagnosis. That's back to the 70% statistic. It also, sometimes some of the myths are that it's a white phenomena, or it's a United States phenomenon. But white people generally have better access, better health coverage, a better culture of accepting that people can take advantage of therapy. So it's not in our culture to avoid therapy. So we just, I mean, tend to be the ones at the therapist's office because of access. And, and even though it is said to be, you know, a US thing, it's not. It's—their studies that show that it's not true. And now there's a bunch of movies with DIDD characters, whether good or not, coming out of movie movie studios in India, for example. More therapists are trained to spot it here. I'm in New York. So here in New York, and in the United States, there are more therapists trained to spot it, better knowledge of it, but it's still not perfect. People fall through the cracks all around the world. And it's really horrible and shameful. So anybody that says it's a White American phenomenon hasn't been really paying attention, and that's kind of part of the problem.

And our myth number four, is that 'people with DID are completely debilitated'. Which is ironic, when considered alongside the killer myth. So yes, many people with DID are debilitated, on disability, unable to work. Some residents may be very capable of adulting, while others are in constant pain, or fear, or have anxiety issues and they're unable to go out into public. And, to me, when I say functional, I mean that somebody is able to do the things they want or need to do. Work may or may not be one of them. So there are a plurals fully capable of being functional working, or passing a singular in public, or holding down jobs, working while being plural. And sometimes there are jobs that it's actually a requirement to have a mental health diagnosis and to be open and out about it. So in some cases, it can be a direct asset to getting a job. And it's interesting, because if you think about it, many people get diagnosed later in life. After working, after raising kids, they, they're in their 30s, or 40s, maybe even 50s or 60s, when they finally get diagnosed with DID. And it was always there, it wasn't like it was hiding entirely, it has symptoms throughout, but they got along. And so to understand the flip side of it being debilitating, and why this is kind of a shaky one. Yeah, it's true, but it's not true. I that people made it with DID from childhood, sometime, maybe late teens or whatever, all the way through to when they got diagnosed, they made it through and weren't debilitated. So the DID was there. It didn't just show up when they were 50 or 60. It was there the whole time. And somehow they got through. So one of the things that we like to say to people who are just finding out, just waking up to this, like, "Oh, that explains everything." No. (Laugh.) But you know, you were all there, you were all there for the last 20, 30 years. Just because you didn't bump into each other or know each other's names, doesn't mean you weren't there. So it's not like these are new people. It's not like somebody to be afraid of, or have a problem with or argue with. You've all been there the whole time. You, you did okay. The only thing that's really, you know, whatever, maybe there was a trauma or something new that happened that, you know, cause a flare up as they would call it of your PTSD symptoms, or whatever it was, a new traumatic event. So maybe you have to handle that. But you were doing okay before, so you can do okay again. You know, it's not like doom and gloom. "Oh my god, I've got the worst diagnosis ever." No, it was there the whole time. You just found out about it. The only thing that happened between yesterday and today is you found out about it. So another big factor that that affects whether or not people can be quote unquote 'functional', as in have the ability to act on their needs or desires, is how much control over switching they have. So if there's a carousel of people fronting in the wrong situations, that can be awkward. You can't be in a supermarket and become your four year old, you know, and then your cart ends up all full of ice cream, you know, or things like that. You know, you can't drive because people are coming out who can't drive. These are things that would interfere with the ability to do the things you want to do when you want to do them. So the more control that everybody has over who's fronting, the more functional a system can be.

Which is a good time to debunk myth number five. 'All plurals are alike.' No, actually, no two plural systems are alike. So we can't judge one system by another. So we definitely can't judge all systems by one movie, for sure. Even if the movie or the docu-drama, or documentary, or article in Cosmo, you know. Not, not trying to name names, just saying, you know, like, these are places you know, like Vox, or wherever, all these places that have stuff coming out. Even a great depiction of a multiple and their life, a plural and their life, is not going to be accurate for everybody. We can't—we can't transmit one to the next. So there's a buffet of trauma situations that combined with all of the different ways of coping with trauma to come up with this kind of unique mix of whatever's going on. And everybody in... inside of the residents come up with, I don't even know how, but how they develop, I guess, develop with all these different traits. And they're all different than the next person. So because we're not all alike, and we're building up a plural culture and language to describe ourselves... Interesting, when we're in safe spaces where we can really be ourselves, plural safe spaces. So where some... there's kind of what's called a minor myth out there that when you get a bunch of plurals together in a room, it's going to devolve into a bunch of triggered hurt people getting upset. But usually, instead, we just compare experiences and enjoy talking about fairly normal, daily stuff. Like, I don't know the latest news, or what did you do yesterday, or what hobbies people have, and things like that. But we like to do that in the context of saying 'we', and not having to mask if we switch, and stuff like that. We don't have to worry about being found out as being more than one person. So when we're in a plural space, it can be very liberating, even if we're just talking about normal, boring stuff. (Laugh.)

So myth number six is a bundle. Okay, I put, smashed a bunch of them together, because they're all related to the same problem. So DID is "powerful", and "special". DID in and of itself is a superpower. Plural people are smarter. And anything else that makes it look like somehow we made off better in the trade-off between a pleasant and secure childhood, versus having company all the time in our brain. Or, to quote the Eastrail 177 Truly part two - this is a horrible quote. "We look at people who have been broken and shattered like they're less than us. What if they're more than us?" Like, oh, you're horrible. So 1-3% of the general population around the world has DID. We're not the smarter ones. We're the hurt ones. People marvel with what it takes, quote unquote, "what it takes" to develop fascinating defense mechanism. Well, what it takes is extreme adversity. It requires that, that three part formula of circumstances, and there's absolutely no one waving or favoritism from the brain fairy and no blessings from beyond or miracles. It's just real hurtful and harmful circumstances over a long period with no safe refuge, and a treat that's probably genetic. So to think that this is "special", in an envious way, is kind of gross. And we wouldn't wish this "gift", if you will, on anyone. Marveling at us and saying, "Wow, I wish I had gone through hell as a child. So I could have a chance to be plural!" It's 6 years to get a diagnosis. 10 years of therapy after that, probably 10 or more years of childhood torment, starting at least age 5. So basically, it's like saying you want to spend 30 years of your life in rocky torment to that you can share your headspace with roommates who keep moving your shit, and don't clean up after themselves. And that's not worth envying or admiring or fascination. Yeah. So then, how about the superpowers? Like how about realistic exaggerated superpowers for DID? DID doesn't grant the power to climb walls. That's radioactive spider bites. Unless it's because your anxiety makes your palms sticky, you know, and then maybe, you know, it's like a superpower of like super sticky, clammy hands. I don't know. But I don't know where the climbing walls came from. And so I don't think that climbing on walls or super-powered strength would be like our thing. So the ideas that we came up with for what would be like realistic superpowers, if our traits were exaggerated, you know, in, in some kind of superhero flick. It would be losing things - like we can disappear things, and instantly forget where they're hidden. So if you have a telepath villain who's like really trying to find the thumb drive that has their evil plan on it, we can like lose it on them. And we can say with 100% conviction that we don't know where it is. And, you know, they couldn't read our mind and find out because they wouldn't be able to find it either. Or, like, doing something different with each hand at the same time - we could whistle Dixie, while one hand is picking a lock and our toes or breaking code on a computer. Like, that could be a superpower. Or, like I'm just thinking, okay, so then what we our like kryptonite be. It would be missing appointments. Like in a superhero film, the villain says "You have one hour to comply." Then we just show up like really either way too early, like without whatever it was we were supposed to do. "Woops, I'm sorry, I forgot." Or we missed the deadline completely, like "Oh, sorry, guy. I lost track of time." Those are those are really, like I'm like "What would our superpowers be?" It would be really lame superpowers, but that would be it. So we're just being completely—I mean it is sarcastic, but it's like, what what would they be? I mean, I dunno. Well, I can, I can, I can jot down notes with one hand while driving and watching the road with the other, like, part of my body? I shouldn't, but I can, because I don't have to look down at the paper. I've been writing all my life. Anyway. Don't tell anybody I said that. Anyway.

So myth number seven: 'DID folk need to be rescued from their misery.' People with DID are 'broken'. There's something inherently wrong with being plural or multiple or having DID - somebody has to fix us. So we call this Humpty Dumpty trope, this poor suffering person shattered beyond repair Quick, get an expert to save the day! No. (Laugh) So while it usually takes an adjustment period, figuring out that you're plural can be a significant paradigm shift. It doesn't have to be a miserable fate. Nobody really needs to rescue us from ourselves but us. Maybe some help is warranted, because you know, we can't figure it out. Like, how do you do it? But, you know, nobody can do it for us. So it's, it's awful when the films make us out to be miserable and helpless or feel sorry for us. If you're a friend of somebody who's, who's DID, then just ask if there's anything we need. And if they come up empty-handed, just offer a hug. That's free, cheap, easy. You know, everybody benefits. Ah. So then we're thinking more on this topic. So while many plurals are in need of assistance, there's nothing inherently wrong with this as a survival strategy. There's a lot of things wrong with why it was necessary for us to employ this survival strategy. Like, the causes or the circumstances are what was wrong, not what we chose to do about it. So we shouldn't have suffered the way we suffered as children. Doesn't matter whether we think it was what caused our plurality or not, we just been through enough and really don't need (laugh) don't need any more BS. So for an example, we heard, somebody said, the interviewer asked them a lame question. They said, "What is it like to have an episode of DID?" And we've, we've thought about that and said well, I know what I would say. I'd say, "Well, let's see. Every episode starts when we wake up."

"...Please continue..."

"Well, that's it, it's still happening."

But an episode of DID - what does an episode — we, we live with this for years, what's an episode? I don't get it. (Laugh) So sometimes we do make fun of or, you know, try to make the best of our shared situation or try to enjoy it. We've never known what it's like to be alone in a body. So there's fun things, we tell ourselves jokes, and we're really surprised at our little jokes and stuff because we didn't hear it come in. (Laugh) Or we play games against each other, with everybody really trying to win. Or, you know, we get to pay one price and we all get to go to the movies or the amusement park or buffet, so it kind of feels like cheating. You know, like sneaking all your friends in under your coat, you know, and saying you're only one person. So that's kind of cool. (Laugh) On, on the side of things, let's see what, what amazing, particularly useful things we can do. Well, this one fits in with the "rescuing and mis—misery" theme. We need to be rescued from our misery. We can reparent ourselves, which is really cool. So if you think about it, our, our most hurt children, they could need like 10 plus years of like constant positivity and loving support. And we don't want that to ever be at risk for them. We don't want them to suffer again. So we don't want somebody who might not have time for them, or might not be available when they need them, or might move or retire. And we can't turn to our family for that support. It wouldn't be appropriate from our partner. And you know, they've got their own life and things to do and they can't always be there to raise the children in our head. So what we do is we have ourselves do it. We reparent ourselves inside. So we provide a stable internal relationship and partner a nurturer with younger residents who need constant love and care and attention, so that we can give them the kind of support that nobody else on this planet can deliver. And so that I would say is a superpower. Like 100%. I'll back that - that's a superpower. Being able to parent the kid and give them absolute 100% 24/7 365 doting attention, the way they should have gotten the first place, is a superpower. And by extension, we can also provide ourselves, the adults within our plural system, we can provide them with comfort and support whenever they need it. In troubling or difficult situations, give them advice, whatever it is. We can provide things that our friends can't sometimes. And that doesn't mean we don't need external friends or support, but it's a huge comfort that we get along and we work together. So that's, that's almost, almost as good of a superpower as reparenting our children. Not quite but... definitely reparenting our children is an enormous superpower. If they could blow that one out of proportion for the big screen they'd probably help the whole world, but I don't think so. But the, the everybody getting along together - that's one they can exploit on the big screen. They've got my permission - they can have a bunch of hurt folks getting together as a team, like the Avengers, in one body and have them all go and kick butt. But they have to get together as a team, even though they're hurt, y'know, and dysfunctional. Like The Avengers (laugh) because y'know, they are.

So myth number eight. Oh, yeah, here we go. "It must be so exciting to be plural!" So we've got, we've got, like, all these myths that are like, almost in direct competition with each other. You know, "Oh, you poor thing." Now we've got "Oh, so exciting." So where, you know, I don't, I don't see the exciting. I'm excited by life, you know, but I'm always excited about life. Other people in here are not as excited as I am, but I'm excited by life. And as a group, we're pretty excited because we're like, kind of breaking ground and adventuring and, you know, trailblazing and stuff like that. And you know, we make it exciting. Because we tell ourselves, like, you know, stories. We're a D&D j—you know, junkies, like from when we were younger. So we like adventures and the idea of "Woo, we're going into the dungeon now, or we're out in outer space." And we're, you know. So that's how we make it exciting. Like, we imagine shit. (Laugh) That's how we make being plural exciting. We go on adventures together in human space and tackle problems. But folk who aren't plural, and can't tell us what it's like to be singular. And we've always been plural, so we don't really have like a frame of reference to tell people how exciting it is to be plural, because people can be as excited about life and be singular, like, as we are. So. So we're like—exciting things like, like we just mentioned, like always having somebody to talk to, or brainstorming sessions all day if we want them. We love brainstorming. We like to eat at buffets, because everybody in our head can have a little bit of what they want. And if they really, really want, and we still have room in our tummy, they can go back for more. (Laugh) And another really cool thing is like, even though, like we only need a twin bed, like a little bed, we can have a cuddle pile every night. So like, as many people as we can fit in our imaginary bed, in our head, can sleep together and cuddle each other and stuff every night. It's great. We like to play together, drive and sing at the same time and trade lyrics off between people in our system. So like, every time the song comes back on our iPod or on our phone, it's like fresh and new. And we, we grew up playing games together and singing Broadway show tunes. It's like, so terrifying, right? But that's what we were doing when like, we were alone. When WE were alone, because we were always we. (Laugh) So we're never bored. And if we don't bring a project with us, like, and we have to wait for an appointment or something, we just hold an impromptu meeting and get some stuff, like, done between us while we're waiting. And we can multitask. Like, you know, chew our shoelaces and—chew our shoelaces. There we go. We can tie our shoelaces at the same time we're chewing gum. I mean, I guess other people might be able to do that without being plural, but I don't know. Because I'd never been anything but plural. And if that's like sounding too boring and routine, there's, there's other things like, burned out of all of our jobs within three years. That's exciting, right? Really interesting stuff. You know, you too, you too can have this exciting life of burning out of everything or stuff like that. Something we did when we were 16. Somebody in our, our—this was just before we knew we were plural. Somebody broke up with our boyfriend without having group permission. And they did it in the worst way ever. So yeah, that's something else that you can look forward to. And things like that. You know, just like not such great stuff. Nothing exciting about being plural there, you know? (Laugh) I just I find it so laughable if somebody thinks it's exciting. Exciting... This is a true story. Somebody asked me for an exciting website and we gave them a background that had pink and purple polka dots. And they loved it. That was pretty scary. Because we didn't know like, we asked them for clarity. It's like, what do you mean by exciting? What is an exciting website? Sorry, I dunno, this 'exciting' word really bothers us. So, daily living, what's, what's exciting about daily living? When we need to work on our web server, we had to chase down one of the three people, one of the three residents in here who know what they're doing. It's kind of like being at work, and you're looking for the tech person. You're like, running around, like "Is so-and-so at their desk? No, they're not there. They're with so-and-so." You've gotta like run around the building looking for them. So yeah, we're, we got that problem, you know. And different handwriting, that's another daily interesting thing. It can be great when you're writing in your journal, because you can look back in your journal and go "Oh, so-and-so wrote this", you recognize their handwriting, but not such a great thing when you're writing a thank you card to a professional acquaintance, and your handwriting changes mid-sentence. I mean, like completely changes, like, notably changes. Like you're—you start out printing really neat. And then also, it's these big, you know, fancy scripts and stuff like that. Thank goodness, it was going to somebody who already knew we were plural, so we just laughed, put it in the envelope and stuck it in the mail. But, yeah, that's been an issue. Getting locked out of accounts and forgetting your passwords, or having different signatures on checks or credit cards than what's on file and get in trouble. Yeah. So tricky in legal situations. Internally, we have misunderstandings, just like anybody else who has to communicate with someone does. So, we just have more people inside of us that we deal with on a daily basis than we do outside. So it can be, hm, tricky. Just about as tricky as having communication issues with anyone else. And if you think it's hard to share a single bathroom, like in a one bathroom home with your family, try sharing a whole body. Yeah.

So, myth number nine. This one we find both amusing and frustrating. 'Whenever possible, plurals need to change their clothes when they switch.' So we've seen this in United States of Tara, we've seen this in Eastrail 177 trilogy. It's weird. So this one, it may be kind of partially true, a little bit, based on a half-truth, or maybe it's a quarter true. There's no 'have to', it's not a need, or usually isn't a need. But let's break this one down a little bit. So that, that large and varied wardrobe in the second film of Eastrail 177 trilogy. Had to say, that's not a myth. It's frequently true. I can't tell you how much closet space I've taken up in my life. But the part of it that's not true is it doesn't come with labels, or whose outfits are whose. So sometimes you get this large wardrobe of outfits. And if you don't know everybody, you don't know who owns what piece of clothing. There are times when multiples will turn around and find out there's more clothing in their closets than they knew last time they were in there. And sometimes that therapist, if they suspect that somebody might have DID, they may actually ask whether they start finding anything new in their house that they don't remember buying. Yeah, so this can be frustrating if you once had the money budgeted for something important, but now you can't pay your bills because somebody went on a shopping spree. And it can be a real struggle for people with DID to manage their spending. And the part of the clothing miss that really frustrates us is that none of us, none of us plurals have the superpower of quick clothing changes. So I—where I understand that because it's in a visual medium, it's trying to like show people as being very different so that the audience gets it. But the, the fact that, you know 1-3% of the population has DID and kind of goes under the radar is probably why they think maybe they have to make it more obvious. But there's other ways to depict the changes and not rely on clothing. So voice, posture, accents, mannerisms, the actions they're doing, the dialogue. And, and there was like a nine second switch from one character to another. We were watching it and like, wait a minute, that was really fast. So we went back and timed it. The nine second switch from somebody in a tracksuit, to somebody in a business suit, although they didn't button all the buttons, but they did change their undershirt. (Laugh) So they went as far as changing their undershirt and their shoes in nine seconds. Like, what? So this is definitely false. We do not have the superpower of fast clothing changes. It probably takes plurals longer to change, because we're arguing over what to wear. Or if we switch while we're trying to get dressed, then we change our mind about what to wear. And then we have to decide on how to accessorize. Like, "Well, if I wear this watch, that'll annoy so and so. So I don't wanna wear that watch, I gotta wear this other one because it'll, you know, more people are comfortable with it." Or "Well, later, so and so might be out. So I better bring this because they really like it." And you know, so there's, there's just much too much going on to do a nine second wardrobe change. It's just not happening. And then the other thing is like, for most plurals, we get dressed for the day, we kind of know - I mean, once we know we're plural, we kind of know that others may be out later. So if we're being kind, we'll try to make accommodations in how we dress to make them more comfortable if they come out. They're not just like wearing something completely not them. So in our case, it's t-shirt and jeans, like a lot. Unless there's like a particular reason we know so-and-so is going to be out they like this. But most of the time, it's kind of compromising a whole lot on what we wear. And as much as we love to have our own outfits. You know, if we're packing for a trip, it's just well, T shirts and jeans, everybody will be comfortable. I mean, that's the best we can do. If we're wearing polyester, people are going to be uncomfortable. So it's got to be cotton. I mean, that's like, that's our thought. We're 50 - we're kind of at the, you know, 'who gives a shit' stage of life. (Laugh) But we have had other things like removing and putting on jewelry, tying up our hair, adding layers or taking layers off because people experience the temperature of the room differently. And it's not always just because of external appearances, but because of our physical comfort that we do these things. Some people just don't like having something on their wrist, or the sound our necklace makes, or the feel of hair on our neck, or whatever it is. And you know, it's kind of like a pet peeve for them. So when they're out, they get bugged by it, and they do something about it. And it just changes between the different people. So, so when we're physically with people, they'll see us, you know, we have a bracelet on, and the bracelet comes off, you know, things like.

Myth number ten: 'Plurals can change their body chemistry with their thoughts.' That's a quote from the Eastrail 177 trilogy, uh, second movie. So we can change our body chemistry with our thoughts. Like, oh my god, did you really just say that? No. (Laugh) No, this is false. It's really, really false. Like any other physiological process, these changes happen on the level that we can't control with thoughts. Like you can, you can make thoughts, you can choose thoughts, but you cannot choose these physiological things like diabetes, hypertension, different eye glass prescriptions. This is like such blatant misint—misinformation. I mean, I understand, she probably used the wrong word and meant... mind maybe? Or brain? Like change your body chemistry by activating different sections of your brain. Okay, maybe. Nervous system - yeah, okay. Yeah, definitely. But it's not a conscious thing. And to give people this idea that, like, we're choosing this, that this is a choice we have, is really harmful, actually. You know, it's like, well, you know, "Why does Joe in your system have diabetes? Couldn't he just turn it off with his thoughts?" Like, no. (Laugh.) But the truth behind that is yes, we can have physiological differences between our, our residents that we don't have conscious control over. So differences in corrective lenses is documented, like for sure. And there's differences in the response to medications between residents, like somebody may actually have, let's say, bipolar and need meds, but others in their system do not have it and don't need the meds. And this can be troubling and somewhat... for some, it can be something difficult to work on. Or allergies, is another one. Some... Some systems have some residents who have an allergy and somebody else doesn't, and that can be messy.

And myth number eleven! It's a lot of myths, right? 'Residents never know about each other. Complete amnesia between residents is a diagnostic criteria of DID.' I think this one isn't from the movies. I think I saw this one, or it was implied, if I remember correctly, on the talk page on Wikipedia. Like if you go, there's a little tab at the top and you click on the top thing. Somebody railing about who knows what saying, you know, "These people can't possibly be DID because they, they wouldn't even know about each other", or something like that. I don't know where it was, but maybe it was there. We like arguing with Wikipedia. So this one's false. DID criteria requires memory problems - time loss, partial or full amnesia is loss of sensory memories, like all the audio is missing out of a scene. But complete amnesia between residents is not actually the specific requirement. So some plural folk rarely lose time and have high communication. And whether or not the people in their system know about each other is not a diagnostic criteria. So somebody can remember everything and switch and every switch they have like within the last 24 hours, but then it slowly fades away, so by the time like it's a week ago, they can hardly remember anything. And then a month ago, they can't remember anything. It's just whatever the memory problems are, they're not consistent with normal memory issues that your average Joe would have. And probably not age related.

So myth number twelve. 'Merging or full integration is the only way for a plural system to become healthy.' And that's been a problematic issue ever since they started handing out that type of a therapeutic plan, to the assumption that because somebody is different, they have to change to become more like you - the average person in society - is a problem. And so—I don't know exactly when they started that kind of therapy,. Probably in the 70s, maybe the 60s. But when they started doing that kind of therapy, trying to merge people into each other. You know, eventually, like I don't know, take the whole 10 years to usually get anywhere with it and and finish doing it in 8-10, something like that. So, so what happens is—that means it takes a long time, somebody writes all their studies on it and stuff like that, but the time they get it published, you know, so now we're like, quite a ways out from when the therapy was actually happening. So—so let's say that somebody spends their eight to 10 years in therapy, and that merge is achieved. And it seems stable. So like, a couple years, you know. And then a new trauma or a really bad distressing happens—situation happens. And it's bigger than the glue that's holding everybody together. Whatever it is, is bigger than, than all those coping mechanisms they've worked on to take its place. Then they just resort to their usual teamwork strategies that become individualized again, they handle adversity. I mean, we're all about survival. So they do what's necessary to survive whatever's going on. And their strategies may be negative or positive. And they frustrate the heck out of their therapist and they knock on the door and say "We're back." (Laugh) And so then they they have additional attempts to merge which may go faster, but it still, it, it ends up becoming this like 'regression' into the 'undesired behavior' of dissociation So we advocate for another option. And it's gaining popularity. It's gaining popularity among, among knowledgeable and empathic therapists. And it's called functional multiplicity, which is getting along and remaining a group entity for the remainder of your life. It's also gaining momentum within the plural community, by way of self advocacy and communicating their preferences to their therapist. So if you look back at the psychiatric survivor movement, the recovery movement, disabled and mental health activism. The whole idea is that we should be the ones who determine what our outcomes are. We should be the ones who say "This is what we want, now let's work towards it" to our therapist. We're the ones doing the hiring - the therapist is there to help us. So. So regardless, I mean, even though we advocate for people living together for the rest of their lives, we still think that everybody should have those two very amazing and attractive options. Either get along, you know, get along together as a team and work towards shared goals for the rest of their life, or get together as a team and decide whether or not to give merging a try. So to us, the most important thing is that it's an agreement and that there's teamwork. So no, there's no 'this is the one and only therapy for multiples'.

Myth number 13. 'The character Kevin and company in the second Eastrail 177 trilogy movie is realistic'. Okay, I'll read that again. 'The character Kevin and company in the second Eastrail 177 movie real is realistic.' Not that we've seen. So we did review the movie, we wrote a huge review, and then followed it up with spoilers and pointed out all the problems in the movie and we gave three out of five. And we still wonder like, were we, you know, were we too like enamored with the acting? But we applauded the acting. We we thought the acting was pretty good. But in thinking about it when making our notes for this presentation, we actually realized that there's some severe lacks in the character that actually make it less realistic. So, so far in the series, not having seen the third movie. So far in the series, the youngest child we've seen is nine. And there's actually a moment where somebody, uh, David Dunn - David Dunn, which is Bruce Willis's character in the first movie - bumps into Kevin's mother, while she has Kevin in hand, in the stadium. In the hallway of the stadium. In the old movie, like way back when, you know, in 2000, there's actually a scene. So I would say he's probably about six years old, in that scene. And so I'm wondering whether or not there should be other kids stuck in Kevin's system if that's when he's being abused. Shouldn't there be a six year old? Shouldn't there? Maybe there even be a two year old? So why is the youngest one we've seen nine? That makes it unrealistic to me. It, it's possible there are other children that remains to be seen, but it's definitely something that would make it stand out as not realistic. And if everybody else we've seen is pretty adult-seeming, pretty aged-up adulting kind of personalities, then it leaves the Beast to be the baby in the monster suit. This is something that happens sometimes in plural systems where there's somebody who's scary, for whatever reason, but you know, kind of like they're wearing a costume or something. You know, if you poke at it enough, you find out that it wasn't what you really thought it was. It's a couple of kids stacked on top of each other, trying to look scary to protect themselves. So, you know, it's like, well, is that you know, made us wonder is the Beast the baby in the, you know, the monster costume. Like, I don't know. But while people in their system have quirks, they seem to be missing the anxiety. There's a little bit of anxiety - you've got like obsessive compulsive disorder, which is an anxiety disorder. But nobody really seems extremely traumatized yet. Maybe that'll change. Maybe? But if they're all—like, another clip we saw, you know, it's like, "Oh, I'm Teen Ward", you know, and stuff like that. And it's like, okay? But like they're all adults. So I haven't seen any evidence with anybody else yet. Adults, maybe teenagers.

The other thing is like, they don't seem to be really hobbled by their fears, or uncomfortable in their skin, or afraid of loud noises. They may not have like control over their switching all the time, but that power that Hedwig has, like, to make people front. That's plausible. But it's only just plausible, because like manager personalities like that, usually don't front as much, as far as I've seen. They're usually not front, they're usually in the back, like orchestrating things from the background. So I don't know. It's like, we're left with this shallow representation of a director's cut of a person with DID. It's like shallow and not as deep as they want to make it seem. And let's see, there was one other point we wanted to make on this. Oh, right. So the cast of characters we've seen so far seems like it's almost like somebody rolled up random characters in D&D, or something, or, you know, just wanted to figure out a bunch of interesting people to stick together in a body. But they have to make sense in the context of the trauma that happened to them. And we haven't seen any evidence of that either. So the residents of a plural system aren't random. To, to build an accurate plural character, you kind of have to start with the backstory, and the roots of the trauma, and then have a really good imagination on top of that. Like a startlingly good imagination. And work in metaphors and all kinds of weird things in order to figure out like, okay, so, you know, they were three, and this happened, who would that become? You know, and try and follow that—the randomness that would have come out of that. Because it's just not direct and straightforward, but it's always with a good reason. So it's, it's like they started with a random grab-bag of different characters and stuck them all in one body, and then tried to back-create the story that goes with it. And it's difficult to do that.

So that is all of our myths. And that's a lot of myths. That was like 15 and a half, right? No 13 - 13 and a half, that's a good number to end on. 13 and a half myths, and we're out of time and energy, and we've kept you guys way too long. So we want to thank you for your time. Time is everyone's one finite commodity. And we have one announcement. Please keep your eyes peeled on social media on March 5th, which is Dissociative Disorder Awareness Day. And people on social media will be tagging and signal boosting posts to help raise awareness of DID and related issues. So your participation in sharing and liking what we post means more people will start to realize that what's in the movies is not an accurate representation of what's going on in our lives. And with luck, and a good quality recording of this presentation, it will be available shortly at - if you want to grab a pencil. I'll repeat it again when I'm done with my little announcements. But is at 605-475-4981. That will be the phone number you can get the recording. 605-475-4981. Or keep an eye on our events page at and we'll put the number and a link to the recording. And if anybody has questions or comments, you can send them to us through our email forum on liberatedlife or to @revcriss, revcriss, on Twitter. R-E-V-C-R-I-S-S. If you suspect you or a loved one may be plural -when you didn't know that already - please see for resources. The homepage gives links to some of the more helpful and popular highlights on the website and starting points to start exploring. And please just love and respect each other. People with DID have been through so much and fearing them pushes them away and scares them. Be patient, be kind and b observant. Make sure your own boundaries are healthy, because a person with DID is probably unable to fix and maintain their own boundaries without help or instruction. So again, that recording number is 605-475-4981. And thank you all for your time. Thank you, thank you.