“Crazy” thoughts and feelings – Dissociative Identity Disorder and Psychotic spectrum symptoms

Can someone have both Schizophrenia & Dissociative Identity Disorder?
Yes, this is possible, or another psychotic or schizophrenia spectrum condition can exist with DID. It isn’t a particularly common combination (compared to, for example, Borderline Personality Disorder or an Anxiety Disorder existing alongside DID).

What are the key differences between Dissociative Identity Disorder and Schizophrenia?

Some people with DID find their symptoms are never confused with the psychotic symptoms found in Schizophrenia – but others may be misdiagnosed with Schizophrenia, or diagnosed only with Schizophrenia when DID is also present. Experiences like ‘hearing voices’, ‘seeing things which aren’t there’ (pseudo-hallincinations caused by flashbacks) can cause a lot of confusion.
The DSM-5 (full version, p297) gives some limited guidance on differences:

  • Individuals with dissociative identity disorder experience these [psychotic-like] symptoms as caused by alternate identities, do not have delusional explanations for the phenomena, and often describe the symptoms in a personified way (e.g., “I feel like someone else wants to cry with my eyes”).
  • Persecutory and derogatory internal voices in dissociative identity disorder associated with depressive symptoms may be misdiagnosed as major depression with psychotic features.
  • Chaotic identity change and acute intrusions that disrupt thought processes may be distinguished from brief psychotic disorder by the predominance of dissociative symptoms and amnesia for the episode, and diagnostic evaluation after cessation of the crisis can help confirm the diagnosis.

Dissociative Identity Disorder is also a dissociative disorder, meaning that symptoms are primarily dissociative in nature – even when it was known by the name Multiple Personality Disorder, DID was classified as a Dissociative Disorder; Schizophrenia is classified as a psychotic disorder, meaning in involves one or more of: delusions, hallucinations, disor­ganized thinking (speech), grossly disorganized or abnormal motor behavior (including catatonia), and negative symptoms (flat emotions or severe lack of will).

Survivors of organized or ritual abuse may have some highly unusual beliefs which are not caused by any kind of delusions or psychosis, but result from the highly unusual abuse they have survived – including abuse designed to discredit survivors who tell.

Elizabeth Howell explains:

Kluft reported that patients with DID endorse 8 of the first-rank Schneiderian symptoms (Schneider, 1959, as cited in Kluft, 1987a) that are considered pathognomonic of schizophrenia.
These symptoms are voices arguing, voices commenting on one’s action, influences playing on the body, thought withdrawal, thought insertion, made impulses, made feelings, and made volitional acts.
In DID, rather than as indications of schizophrenia, the hallucinated voices and the made actions are understood as due to the activities of a dissociative identity. The psychotic person is more likely to attach a delusional explanation, such as “The CIA has implanted a chip in my brain.” In contrast, the person with DID, although probably unaware of the source, often knows that these experiences are not normal and does not seek to explain them in a delusional way (Dell, 2009c). In addition, the person with DID—as opposed to someone who is psychotic—often has the ability to be in two states of mind at once: While the person experiences the self as having the “crazy” thought, the person is able to hold the tension and know that it is just that, a crazy thought.
Of course, this knowledge that one is having thoughts that others would consider crazy only tends to contribute to the highly dissociative person’s fear or belief that he or she is crazy!

DID IS CONFUSING TO EVERYONE

The phenomena of full and partial dissociation are highly confusing to the person with DID as well as to those who notice them. Unlike someone who suffers primarily from depression or anxiety and who can label the problem, the person with DID generally suffers from amnesia about the very symptoms experienced and often cannot specfically identify the problem…
Understanding and Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder, Elizabeth Howell (2011)

CIA, Dissociative Identity Disorder and Ritual Abuse Survivors
While high profile organizations like the C.I.A. are often referred to by people who are experiencing psychotic symptoms (e.g., delusions of persecution), many people are unaware that the CIA has historically been involved in child abuse, including child abuse with the purpose of creating dissociative identity disorder. The involvement of the CIA in these human rights abuses is not a ‘conspiracy theory’ but is well documented, with hearings in the U.S. Senate held in the 1970s to investigate this, and other related abuse.
Karl Douglas Lehman and Ellen Lacter have produced guidelines to help clinicans differentiate between Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder which may be helpful, see Ritual Abuse in the Twenty-First Century (2008) – chapter 4.

Alison Miller, a psychotherapist specializing in therapy for ritual abuse survivors, comments that that one lie about abuser’s power and knowledge (that children are told) is that “There is a microchip implanted in the survivor’s body that tells the abusers where s/he is and / or what s/he is thinking” Healing the Umimaginable, p122

Miller also points out that even if such as object was found, “that does not mean it is capable of collecting complex information and sending it back to abusers, or even sending them signals, for twenty or more years, as some survivors belief.” (p205)

Diagnostic and Screening Tools
A variety of different diagnostic and screening tools are available to help determine if a person has Schizophrenia or Dissociative Identity Disorder. Diagnostic interviews can give a definite diagnosis, and determine whether both or neither are present, for example the Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociative Disorders, or the Dissociative Disorder Interview Schedule, but these can only be carried out by clinicians (both involve a degree of observation).

Two screening tools which can be used to determine if a dissociative disorder is likely to be present are the SDQ-20 and the Dissociative Experiences Scale – both of which are mentioned in the Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment guidelines for adults. Both of these questionnaires give a typical score for Dissociative Identity Disorder, Schizophrenia, Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified and other conditions – but they are actually intended to highlight of a clinical diagnostic interview is likely to be helpful rather than giving a specific diagnosis. Both questionnaires result in a single score, making it impossible to rule out or confirm a diagnosis of Schizophrenia in people likely to have Dissociative Identity Disorder.

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Why do people believe the lies of child molesters?

Charles Whitfield (2011) researched the defense tactics of accused and convicted child molesters and found that of all the defenses that a child molester has at his/her disposal, the most effective is our collective desire not to know. We all so much want the abuser not to have happened that when an accused person says they didn't do it, it resonates with our own personal hopes and beliefs about the incident.

How Society Enables Child Molesters
Charles Whitfield (2001) researched the defense tactics of accused and convicted child molesters and found that of all the defenses that a child molester has at his disposal, the most effective is our collective desire not to know. We all so much want the abuse not to have happened that when an accused person says they didn’t do it, it resonates with our own personal hopes and beliefs about the incident.

Read more about this research from The Leadership Council’s post

“Society gives the image of sexual violators as weird, ugly, anti-social, alcoholics. Society gives the impression that violators kidnap children are out of their homes and take them to some wooded area and abandon them after the violation. Society gives the impression that everyone hates people who violate children. If all of these myths were true, healing would not be as challenging as it is.
Half of our healing is about the actual abuse. The other half is about how survivors fit into society in the face of the myths that people hold in order to make themselves feel safe. The truth is that 80% of childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated by family members. Yet we rarely hear the word “incest”. The word is too ugly and the truth is too scary. Think about what would happen if we ran a campaign to end incest instead of childhood sexual abuse. The number one place that children should know they are safe is in their homes. As it stands, as long as violators keep sexual abuse within the family, the chances of repercussion by anyone is pretty low. Wives won’t leave violating husbands, mothers won’t kick their violating children out of the home, and violating grandparents still get invited to holiday dinners. It is time to start cleaning house. If we stop incest first, then we will strengthen our cause against all sexual abuse.”
― Rosenna Bakari, Talking Trees facebook page

Related Posts

Ritual Abuse/Mind Control survivors – Internal Keys to Safety by Alison Miller

Trigger warning
A minority of people with Dissociative Identity Disorder or Other Specified Dissociative Disorder (DDNOS) have experienced ritual abuse (also known as trauma-based mind control). The combination of both creates additional struggles in healing because typically alter personalities will have been created to actively disrupt and prevent healing.
Fighting against these alter personalities tends to lead to more problems and prevents healing – but their roles and motives can be understood in a positive way, and survivors can learn to negotiate with and educate these parts/alters in order to heal together. Often these parts/alters will have been lied to and tricked by abusers, and may have been traumatized by them as well. If they discover this they may choose to work towards – rather than against – healing.
Psychotherapist Alison Miller recognizes two areas of problems for survivors of RA/MC:

  • Emotional instability and psychiatric symptoms
  • Inability to keep physically safe from the perpetrator group

She states both are related to programming – which is “the training of child insiders (alter personalities) to do ‘jobs’ assigned by the perpetrators.”

Trigger Warning yellow triangle

Download Internal Keys to Safety by Alison Miller (survivorship.org) to learn more – could be very triggering. 

Survivors may want to review this with your therapist or support person before reading it. This presentation is not meant as therapy or treatment.



Related Links

Books on Ritual Abuse and Mind Control by the Sidran Institute

Becoming Yourself: Overcoming Mind Control and Ritual Abuse by Alison Miller (book cover) 

Life After Abuse: What No-one Tells You

It’s easy to assume that the end of an abusive relationship means the end of the problems caused by abuse. This may happen for a few people, but it’s not true for everyone!

Life After Abuse: What No-one Tells You. "Your old life doesn't just snap back into place immediately. You changed, and others changed along with you. - Thomas Fiffer, The Good Men Project

Your old life doesn’t just snap back into place immediately. You changed, and others changed along with you. – Thomas Fiffer


The lingering effects of abuse, and the extent of the damage that it is caused may only become apparent some time later. You will also find that coping with the abuse has changed your way of interacting with others, lowered your self-esteem and distanced you from those close to you (or, those who were close to you but no longer are.

If this sounds overwhelming and depressing then remember that recovering is both possible, and worthwhile. You can begin to have the good life you deserve. You might find it helpful to read the excellent article below – and to share it with those close to you, to help them understand that possible reactions after the end of the abuse – and what can be done to help.

    The Unspoken Secrets about Life After Abuse by Thomas Fiffer (The Good Men Project)

Related Links

It’s my fault, it’s always my fault: Self-Blame (traumadissociation.wordpress.com)
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (traumadissociation.com)
Denial: A psychological defense against trauma (traumadissociation.wordpress.com)
If the Abuse is Ongoing (traumadissociation.wordpress.com)
Being male and a survivor (traumadissociation.wordpress.com)
The Misconcepts of Misandry (hatred against men) (rhsroyalreport.wordpress.com)
Signs of being in a pscyhologically abusive relationship (violencehurts.wordpress.com)

Coping with Father’s Day – a difficult day for abuse survivors

Father’s Day is a diffcult day for anyone who grew up with a father who was difficult, dismissing, emotionally absent, abusive or otherwise neglectful.

Coping with Father's Day when your father was a bad Dad

Perhaps you’re one of those people who will play the charade of giving a gift, sending a card or making a phone call out of obligation or guilt. Maybe you carry deep wounds from your relationship (or lack thereof) with your father. Perhaps you’ve suffered from the disapproval, rejection, absence or abandonment of your father. Maybe you will try to drum up some positive demeanor toward your dad on Father’s Day even though you really feel nothing at all. – Jim Morris
Read more (mentions religion)

What to Do About Father’s Day? (Ideas for Estranged Adult Children or Those With Late Abusive Fathers) – mentions religion offer some great suggestions to help you get through it, whether or not you are currently in touch with your father.

Browsing some funny Father’s Day cards (for both good and bad, or just unusual dads) might interest those in need of humor and distraction.
   Thanks Dad, for showing me how NOT to raise my kids. Happy Father's Day! rotten ecard

If your father has passed away Overcoming Sexual Abuse has some reflections on this in Christina’s post The Death of My Molester Father.

Related links