Dissociative Identity Disorder: Call me Clark, Clark Kent

Is having Dissociative Identity Disorder something like being a superhero with a secret identity?

My daughter thinks so.  Yes, that is her in the picture, and it was at her suggestion that I am writing this post.  Does this mean she thinks that I am a superhero?  Um, no I wouldn’t take it that far, she is a teenager after all . . .

Photo credit Vienna Nelson all rights reserved
Photo credit Vienna Nelson all rights reserved

Let’s put this to the test.  Superman vs DID & Me.

SUPERMAN: alter ego in Clark Kent.  He pretends to be something he is not (bumbling, and shy) to keep people from his secret.

DID  AND Me:  I have parts of myself that “front” to hide my inner world of turmoil.  It’s a pretty powerful arrangement when you think about it.

Imagine for a moment, a woman who has been raped, and then the next day she gets up and goes to work as if nothing happened.  She doesn’t tell a soul.  Not because she was unaffected, but because she is.  There are a number of reasons that a woman might chose not to tell anyone.  I don’t recommend this; I think it is tragic, but it happens.

Now imagine a child in the same situation.  Even more tragic.  Overcoming that and becoming a functioning adult is nothing short of heroic, if I do say so myself.

SUPERMAN:  faster than a speeding bullet

DID and Me:  Hmmm, does my humor which I use as a coping mechanism count?  Hey now!  I’m more funny in real life than in writing.  Still no?  OK, then surely the way I can switch from laughing to crying in one breath during  therapy surely does.  Which reminds me–

SUPERMAN: has one weakness kryptonite

DID and Me:  My kryptonite is Triggers.  No question on this one!  A trigger can dissolve me in nano-seconds from a normal adult, to irrational, emotional and over-reacting (or so I assume it appears to others.)

SUPERMAN: able to leap tall buildings in a single bound

DID and Me: Hey, if being able to dissociate the better part of my childhood, hide pain and trauma from myself so I can function doesn’t count, I don’t know what does.

SUPERMAN: lazer-vision

DID and Me:  Hyper-vigilance.  I have recently come to understand that hyper-vigilance is so much more than being “jumpy” and easily startled.  Those things are physical, but the hyper-vigilance extends to emotions, thoughts and–sigh–relationships.

SUPERMAN: amazing strength, they call him “Man of Steel” for a reason!

DID and Me:  Sometimes I wonder if other people see me as fragile.  If they do, well that is fair.  Sometimes I am fragile.  BUT I am also quite strong.  I believe all survivors are.  To all my fellow survivors–kudos, I think you are amazing.

So what do you think?  Was my daughter right?  While you are pondering it…I want to share an amazing youtube short film on DID.    Seriously check it out, it’s artistic, not scholarly, and I love it.



  1. Leslie, I didn’t even know Dissociative Identity Disorder existed as a diagnosis until I started reading your blog. Some of the symptoms are also those of PTSD, especially the hyper-vigilance part. Having had severe PTSD, I can tell you that hyper-vigilance is ingrained throughout your life day and night. It was years before I could get any sort of “normal” night sleep. Every little noise, smell, variation in the wind blowing in through an open window, would have me wide awake instantly. Because it went on for so long it became part of my now normal-ish sleep pattern. I still waken easily. If my wife turns over in bed I usually know it. At any given point in the night I know exactly what position she is sleeping in, I can tell you where each of our four dogs are sleeping, and If one of the children has a bad dream or isn’t feeling well I’m up and taking care of them before my wife even wakes up. In my experience, what you describe as DID was just part of PTSD, and was just my normal daily life between the violent explosions of anger.

    • Todd, you are right. I don’t know if the issue is that there is overlap in the disorders, or simply that people with DID also have PTSD. I have it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Really interesting video. And evaluation. I think we all hide things, at least I know i do and everyone I speak with does. These are great skills to have in most situations. Other times they make us feel quite lonely.

    • Thanks Jodi. I agree with you. That is exactly what I am trying to illustrate about DID. It’s really not weird or freaky, it’s a case of otherwise normal behavior taken to extreme levels due to extreme circumstances. My therapist used to remind me frequently, “You are not crazy. What happened to you was crazy and the way you are dealing with it is normal.” Thanks again.

  3. Flowerofthewoods, thanks so much for pointing out my unfortunate wording. I have changed the wording in question. And removed your comment, as I explained to you in my email. I do appreciate you pointing that out.

  4. I love how honest you are on your page! I have heard of Dissociative Identity Disorder before but I do not know much about it. If you would ever feel like sharing with me a bit more about it I want you to know that the door is always open for you 🙂 I have just started taking Abnormal Psychology. It’s interesting but also a bit heavy because I deal with PTSD, depression, and anxiety from emotional childhood abuse. I swear that so many disorders stem from when people were children. It’s incredibly sad, and for many, extremely hard to relate too. I was never raped so my heart goes out to you. I believe in faith, hope, and love though. I’m also a Christian (unsure if you are?) and feel strongly that in time… things get easier for those that never give up on the idea that one day they will reach a better place in their life. I have to believe this to keep going. Some days it’s extremely hard though .

    • Yes, I am a Christian! 🙂 I agree with you that so many problems stem from childhood…It is a good thing I didn’t realize that before becoming a parent myself, it might have scared me out of having children!

      Recently, I’ve started writing a lot about DID, so feel free to come hang out! So sorry you have PTSD, depression and anxiety to deal with. I agree that emotional abuse is very damaging.

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