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Dissociative parents?

Postby Exploring » Tue Dec 25, 2018 12:14 pm

While reading through some old threads I saw someone mention that family members of people with DID are more likely to be dissociative themselves. I don't remember where exactly I read it. Could anyone elaborate or does anyone know more about this?
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Re: Dissociative parents?

Postby Johnny-Jack » Tue Dec 25, 2018 11:50 pm

One of the most useful works that focuses on this is Childhood Antecedents of Multiple Personality, edited by Richard Kluft. It was published in 1985 so uses the previous "multiple personality disorder" instead of "dissociative identity disorder." Otherwise, it doesn't read very out of date to me, probably because Rick Kluft was working with and writing about multiples decades ago and knew it was not rare and in facts states that.

The following chapters and authors are pertinent:
Chapter 6. The Transgenerational Incidence of Dissociation and Multiple Personality Disorder: A Preliminary Report, Bennett G. Braun
Chapter 7. Children of Parents With Multiple Personality Disorder, Philip M. Coons

Braun and Coons used data from 18 and 20 DID individuals, respectively, and produce useful charts with data.

Both my parents had DID though neither were diagnosed. Soon after I realized I had DID, I was certain my mother had it as well. This was initially based on memories shared by several littles, who had names for different alters, such as pretty mommy, singing mommy, the animal. There was confirmation from several outside people. Finally it was all confirmed during a final visit to my mother before she died. I know the names of some of her alters because she told me many times, always with amusement, that her father called her by specific other names because "he couldn't remember my name."

I knew my father had some dissociative disorder but it took more alters' memories to confirm it was DID beyond a reasonable doubt for me. Based on reports, I'm sure a cousin has DID and her father, my uncle, abused me so...yeah. There are indications my mother's parents were dissociative too, based on my own memories of them and things my mother and others told me about unusual behavior patterns. My siblings seem dissociative to some extent. In other words, dissociation appears to be an issue is 10 or more relatives on both sides of my family of origin.
Dx=DID John, Johnny, Ryder hosts. Sphinx. Ulric, Gwendolyn 50s. Marc-Dominic, Aaron, Gaul 40s. Jonathan 33. Neville 20. Quato 19. Kyle 16. Calvin, Daniel 15. Faolán 14. Mick/Mxyzptlk, Gordon, Pehr, Hoyt, Flynn, Cam, Cully, Tuck, Abel, Eberly, Will 13. Nigel 12. Orval, Jack 11. Abraham, Zane, Ty, Randy 10. Brody 9. Sky, Yanni, Vince, Luke, Hank, Xavi 8. Chase, Matt, Cole 7. Andre, Godwin, Greg, Carter, Estes, Seamus 6. Michael, Caleb, Inky, Kent 5. Bartholomew, Raisin Annie, Scott, Casper, Hansel & Johann, Wats 4. Pip, Max, Little John 3. Erik, Sheldon, Alvin, Ashár, Henry 2. Edward, Clark, Zeb 1. Adam <1
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Re: Dissociative parents?

Postby KawaiiKitty » Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:17 am

My mother has DID as well
It's obviously not genetic - I don't really see how the chances of forming DID would be increased if a parent has DID

She had a traumatic childhood and as did I

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Re: Dissociative parents?

Postby Johnny-Jack » Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:36 am

I think there's evidence that the tendency to dissociate in the face of childhood trauma is inherited. But I know I don't have DID simply because my parents had it. I am multiple because in addition to their having DID, they were abusers, that is, they happened to have alters -- more than one each -- who were abusive to us when we were very small.

It's possible that experiencing multiplicity in the parents was a factor, but I really don't think our DID had anything to do with their being different people at different times, some kind and caretaking, others neutral towards us, still others abusive. We have DID because of the abuse. It shouldn't have to be pointed out but many -- and I hope most -- of us with DID are not abusers.
Dx=DID John, Johnny, Ryder hosts. Sphinx. Ulric, Gwendolyn 50s. Marc-Dominic, Aaron, Gaul 40s. Jonathan 33. Neville 20. Quato 19. Kyle 16. Calvin, Daniel 15. Faolán 14. Mick/Mxyzptlk, Gordon, Pehr, Hoyt, Flynn, Cam, Cully, Tuck, Abel, Eberly, Will 13. Nigel 12. Orval, Jack 11. Abraham, Zane, Ty, Randy 10. Brody 9. Sky, Yanni, Vince, Luke, Hank, Xavi 8. Chase, Matt, Cole 7. Andre, Godwin, Greg, Carter, Estes, Seamus 6. Michael, Caleb, Inky, Kent 5. Bartholomew, Raisin Annie, Scott, Casper, Hansel & Johann, Wats 4. Pip, Max, Little John 3. Erik, Sheldon, Alvin, Ashár, Henry 2. Edward, Clark, Zeb 1. Adam <1
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Re: Dissociative parents?

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:04 am

Johnny-Jack wrote:It's possible that experiencing multiplicity in the parents was a factor, but I really don't think our DID had anything to do with their being different people at different times, some kind and caretaking, others neutral towards us, still others abusive. We have DID because of the abuse.


Actually, I disagree with that. It's abuse/neglect experienced by someone with disorganized attachment that is felt to cause DID--with the attachment issues being the foundation. A primary caregiver with DID who behaves in unpredictable and frightening ways (which of course is true if they have abusive alters), is not going to be a secure attachment figure capable of providing emotional regulation.

If you were abused by someone else in early childhood, but had a secure attachment and therefore someone to help you process it, then you wouldn't be likely to develop DID. At least that's my understanding of the current theory.

Obviously these are interrelated--someone who is a dependable and secure caregiver is responsive to their child and more likely to recognize (or be told about), and then put a stop to, ongoing abuse by someone else, and then to be there to help their child through the aftermath. Disorganized attachment is one of the factors that allows prolonged abuse and/or neglect to occur.

Along those same lines, I have a toddler part, about 1.5-2 years old, who has difficulty understanding that when our T has a serious face, he's the same person as the T who smiles at us warmly. I think that one of the ways people develop the consistent "I" by the age of 2 or so is by having a caregiver who is consistently the same person toward them--I think if one has a parent or parents that have uncontrolled switching to very different alters when their kids are very young, that's got to interfere with that process of consolidating one's identity.
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Re: Dissociative parents?

Postby Una+ » Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:13 am

Can we all agree that it is not simple? Heh.

I have a disorganized attachment style. No doubt about it! My family of origin was troubled on both sides, and one side has many stories suggestive of DID. But there was child abuse on both sides.

When my children were little they did see me switching and sometimes (rarely) were frightened by me but they have not been abused nor neglected and they are not dissociative. Switching by itself is not frightening; it is frightening or frightened behavior that is frightening. I am the parent with DID but my husband is highly dissociative. Arguably he is more impaired by dissociative symptoms than I am. And that brings me to the other tendency: highly dissociative persons tend to experience each other as familiar, like family, and tend to marry each other.

I think the literature is clear: to stop causing DID we need to break the cycle of abuse. We can do that by not having children, or we can get healthy and learn how to be good enough parents.
Dx DID older woman married w kids. 0 Una, host + 3, 1, 5. 1 animal. 2 older man. 3 teen girl. 4 girl behind amnesia wall. 5 girl in love. Our thread.

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Re: Dissociative parents?

Postby MakersDozn » Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:37 pm

Our mother was an undiagnosed multiple. We knew that because of the experiences we'd had growing up, the only way that we could break at least three generations of dysfunction was to not marry or have children.

We believe that this is the best decision we've ever made. Sometimes we believe that this is the only good decision we ever made, but that's another story.

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Re: Dissociative parents?

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:07 pm

Una+ wrote:Can we all agree that it is not simple? Heh...

...Switching by itself is not frightening; it is frightening or frightened behavior that is frightening.


Definitely not simple. I think having one's parent switch isn't necessarily frightening, but it would probably depend on the quality of the relationship each part had with the child, and also HOW different the parts were--as opposed to seeming like just very different moods.

What I've realized is that even though I knew enough to let my kids have and express their feelings as much as they needed to, I didn't really understand anything about emotional regulation (having never experienced that from a caregiver). So, my kids weren't abused or neglected, and they were allowed to experience and express whatever they were feeling, and when they were little, I could calm them with my physical body, by holding and nursing, but as they grew older, I didn't know how to help them regulate their feelings with MY feelings, if that makes sense. Such as saying calming things, or helping them reframe things in positive ways.

So it has kind of depended on each kid's temperament how well they can regulate themselves. I think that one of them, who was always more sensitive to my "moods" and who has always had difficulty feeling and expressing "big" feelings, may use dissociation somewhat to cope.
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Re: Dissociative parents?

Postby SOHank » Thu Dec 27, 2018 8:04 pm

I certainly have suspicions about SF's mother being dissociative.

I also wonder about my oldest son who is almost 5. He was on a helicopter the day he was born for a heart condition. His first couple years would have been when I was working a lot of overtime and SF was in the depth of her depression. He wouldn't go to sleep for about a year unless I laid on the floor beside his bed and he has behavior issues that even for a young child start and end abruptly...

Una+ wrote:And that brings me to the other tendency: highly dissociative persons tend to experience each other as familiar, like family, and tend to marry each other.


Hmmm... Thinking back to my long term ex girlfriends, of the three, I'm pretty certain two were dissociative at one level or another and the third may have been. Then there is SF. :wink:

That sure makes me wonder about myself. No known or suspected trauma. Immediate family was good, but did feel more like a business relationship (family farm) than a nurturing family growing up. Lots of angsty poems about wearing masks in high school. SF always stared at me when I had a customer on the phone as she said I had a "phone voice". I always thought of it as relating to the other person as I drop into various accents depending on the situation (professional, chill, country drawl, etc.). Probably just Asperger's or being a hypochondriac...
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Re: Dissociative parents?

Postby birdsong87 » Thu Dec 27, 2018 8:42 pm

our family has generations of mentally damaged people...
the mother has undiagnosed DID. (a T actually told her that she is completely normal :shock: he should have asked her kids...) it's no wonder, considering her abusive mother...
last time I saw him our brother showed signs of DID as well. other siblings we are not sure about. def cPTSD and lots of denial...

adding a personal experience to the discussion

we have parts who were specifically created to match the mothers parts when she switched. Mike was not created as a caregiver for US. He originally fronted to meet the needs of the mothers parts and support them when they were overwhelmed with life. Just as Asti developed to make up for the lack of adulting in our mother when she turned young and helpless.
that could happen with any dysfunctional family member who doesn't have DID. It just is so obvious, how the mother switching caused us to switch to match her.
it leaves the question if kids are influenced that way. if they to develop certain roles to readjust attunement in the relationship. I don't know. The parts we became in response to the mother are all adult parts, as far as we know. And I am kind of glad we do have those responsible adults now.
for us, our mothers DID didn't directly cause ours, but it influenced how the system is set up.
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