What is it like to be suffering from something that isn’t adequately recognized?

Today I stumbled across an excellent article by UK psychotherapist Valerie Sinason about Dissociative Identity Disorder and the difficulties in both diagnosis and treatment which exist within the very traditional British public health care system.

Sinason writes:

Without early specialist training on the consequences of abuse, professionals are attacking each other’s contradictory diagnoses without realising the aptness of Walt Whitman’s words “I am large. I contain multitudes”.


truth hidden attachment John Bowlby

We cannot see what we cannot bear – John Bowlby, psychoanalyst

Compared with Freud’s ability to recognise the traumatic aetiology of hysteria one hundred years ago (Freud, 1896), contemporary clinicians have found it extremely hard to bear the horrors of patients’ objective lives. Sometimes (Hale & Sinason 1994) psychotherapists’focus on the internal narrative is a defence against the historic external reality.

However, as de Zulueta (1995) comments: “a refusal on the part of psychiatrists and therapists to validate the horrors of their patients’ tortured past implies a refusal to take seriously the unconscious psychological mechanisms that individuals need to use to protect themselves from the unspeakable.

Both quotes come from the revised edition of Attachment, Trauma and Multiplicity by Valerie Sinason (Editor), which contains contributions by both survivors of trauma with Dissociative Identity Disorder and professionals working with psychological trauma.

Does the NHS have (undiagnosed) Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Recently I heard a therapist who does a great deal of trauma work in the UK refer humourusly to the British NHS health care as having a so many separate states that do not communicate with each other, and typically have different and opposing ideas, that it felt as if the NHS system itself was in fact suffering from dissociative identity disorder… Sinason writes about “Fragmentation within professional teams” as well as between them:

“the psychiatrist who meets a frozen DID patient who shows only one state (as a result of correctly assessing their psychiatrist’s inability to deal with the subject) then attacks the other psychiatrist/social worker/psychologist/psychotherapist who points out the fragmentation into states. We are then witnessing the trauma-organised systems… that systemically mirror the DID experience.”

Read more (Details may trigger.)



4 thoughts on “What is it like to be suffering from something that isn’t adequately recognized?

  1. This is something we struggled with, and thanks so much for posting about it. Valerie Sinason makes some very interesting points. Here is a link to a[one of the many] post we wrote about it a while back, if its of interest http://brokebutbeingrepaired.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/weme-do-not-exist-in-the-eyes-of-many/ . When diagnosed with D.I.D, it after years of being in the “severe and continuing mental health problems” area of the MH services who told us repeatedly that they didn’t know what to do with us and labelled us with various diagnoses. I also had a Consultant Pyschiatrist tell me that she didn’t “believe in dissociation”. I assume that was inclusive of the various diagnoses which include dissociative symptoms (not limited to dissociative disorders).
    Now, we are very fortunate to have therapists who are helping us learn to live within D.I.D, after it being assessed and diagnosed in the private sector last year, which was very expensive, but surely now we are correctly diagnosed and getting the right support, we can have some hope of a future instead of floundering at the bottom of the “services” which served up even more trauma.

    Sorry for ranting if I have and thanks again for this post.


    • Good to hear your perseverance led to you getting better treatment. Dissociation is an element of such a huge range of diagnoses, including PTSD, schizophrenia/psychosis and borderline personality disorder (to name just a few) as well as present in a lesser degree in everyday life so the consultation psychiatrist’s comment is truly odd. It’s always good to hear of a successful outcome, I think your words will give hope to others struggling for treatment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Being male and a survivor | Trauma and Dissociation Project

  3. Pingback: Depersonalization Disorder – a personal experience of treatment | Trauma and Dissociation Project

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