The Crowded Room starring Leonardo de Caprio looks set to focus the spotlight on Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). It is based on the story of Billy Milligan, a murderer rapist who was later diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
An excellent article by Kirstin Fawcett of US News was published this week and should help improve understanding of Dissociative Identity Disorder by addressing several key misconceptions.
The Crowded Room: Dissociative Identity Disorder. Did you know…
With DID patients, if they feel hostility or aggression they take it out on themselves with self-harm… They’re self-destructive and repeatedly suicidal, more so than any other psychological disorder. So that’s what’s typical – not this wild aggression, or stalking women [or robbery].
– Dr Bethany Brand, psychologist
What is Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)?
Another misconception is that “alter” states in DID are as defined and separate as, say, Toni Collette’s in “The U.S. of Tara.” Although a small subset of patients experience what clinicians call a “florid presentation,” a majority of people with DID experience much more subtle transitions between their various identity states.
– Kirstin Fawcett, US News
“When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes so they get stuck in people’s heads,”
said lead researcher Jillian Peterson, PhD.
“The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, not criminal and not dangerous.”
Crime and Mental Illness – End the Stigma
The researchers also found that two-thirds of the offenders who had committed crimes directly related to their mental illness symptoms also had committed unrelated crimes for other reasons, such as poverty, unemployment, homelessness and substance abuse.
The researchers studied over 400 offenders with serious mental disorders (defined as Axis-I disorders in the DSM-IV psychiatric manual), and were unable to find a subgroup of offenders who committed offences only or mostly related to symptoms of their mental illness. Surprisingly, the mental illness most likely to be linked to crime was bipolar – one of the most common mental illnesses in the general population.
Source: Peterson, J. K., Skeem, J., Kennealy, P., Bray, B., & Zvonkovic, A. (2014). How often and how consistently do symptoms directly precede criminal behavior among offenders with mental illness? download
Traumatic bonding is shown when abused children cling tenaciously to the parents who hurt them, and victims of domestic violence repeatedly return to their abusive partner. (Herman, 1992) Perpetrators of sexual abuse may manipulate trauma bonds further by giving their victim the only sense of specialness, or being loved, that they have ever had. (Herman, 1992)
When a person is subjected to coercive control there are profound alterations in the victim’s identity. All the structures of the self−the image of the body, the internalized images of others, and the values and ideals that lend a sense of coherence and purpose−are invaded and systematically broken down. (Herman, 1992)
Coercive Control – Stockholm Syndrome
Favaro and colleagues (2000) found that PTSD and Stockholm syndrome both reflect the severity of the hostages’ experience, with Stockholm syndrome is predicted by the number of humiliating experiences and the level of deprivation experienced and PTSD being related to the number of violent episodes experienced by the victims. (Alexander, 2010) Stockholm syndrome does not always develop since it depends on specific preconditions. (Alexander, 2010)
Child abuse survivor CW Seymore speaks on her trauma bond with her abusive father
I was just recently re-introduced to the “Coined” term The Stockholm Syndrome, for the undying loyalty and even compassion; I had toward my abuser, My Father. I had heard that term passed around quite often in the past and never really thought it applied to my life because I always associated it with the Concentration Camp Prisoners or Prisoners of war. I never really realized it is a Syndrome acquired by also being abused as a child; battered; an incest victim; in a cult or in a controlling or intimidating relationship. But after a conversation with a friend and a recent situation I was involved with, I have come to recognize that it is one of the main reasons I never talked about my abuse to friends or others in a position to help. I had this sick, undying loyalty to my father!