For some people who experience severe trauma or abuse in childhood the only means of survival may be to develop what is sometimes known as Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder. Society has the unfortunate habit of needing to diagnose, label and add the word ‘disorder’ to things not yet fully understood. In an attempt to move away from the idea that survivors might be disordered or needing treatment, many survivors prefer the term Multiplicity. A simple definition is having two or more personalities in the one body.
Different individuals can experience multiplicity differently. Some may hear voices in their heads, feel day dreamy or have parts of themselves, which deal with different situations that arise in everyday life. They can hold responsible jobs, raise families and cope well.
Some multiples have a lot of personalities. Some can switch between the personalities while having no contact with, or awareness of, them. The personalities may be different, in constant conflict with each other or abusive to each other, or to the body.
Multiples have the same problems associated with childhood abuse as anyone else. These problems may include feelings of isolation, guilt, shame, fear, anger, betrayal and powerlessness.
Most multiples continue to cope well throughout life and are creative and successful people. It is only when problems arise that there is a need to seek help. Often it is not the multiplicity itself, which is the problem, though sometimes this is seized on and a course of intervention designed to ‘cure’ the individual and integrate them into one whole person is pursued. This may be what is wanted by some, but certainly not all. More frequently, if the problem is associated with being a multiple i.e. time and memory losses or internal conflict, there becomes a need for the multiple to understand themselves better. Whatever the problem, each person needs to be treated as the highly complex and unique individual they are.