Mental Health Monday–Imaginary Friends AND A Giveaway!

shiftingpride_bylauradiamonddraft-coverBefore I get to the topic of today’s post, I’d like to share a giveaway. Author Brinda Berry is hosting a giveaway and if you enter, there’s a chance to win an ebook of SHIFTING PRIDE! Please enter and/or spread the word. 🙂

Here’s Brinda’s Amazon author page, so you can take a gander at her work. It’s FAB!

Brinda’s website

Brinda’s blog

 

 

 

 

 

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I feel as if my poor Mental Health Monday tradition has been ignored. Starting in November, my regular blog schedule got commandeered by release blitzs, blog tours, and holiday fun. Now that things are settling, I’d like to get back to it.

If you have a character that needs shrink-wrapping, please don’t hesitate to ask me and I’ll feature your question on Mental Health Monday.

Today, I’d like to share an oldie, but goodie post from a couple years back. It still gets hits and comments, even after all this time!

I often hear writers liken their characters to imaginary friends. Heck I do it too.

What’s interesting to me is that imaginary friends during childhood are quite normal. It’s a phase of development where the child is learning creativity and how to integrate their personality.

But what about imaginary friends in adults?

I’m not talking about our characters. I’m talking about adults who actually have imaginary friends. There’s not a lot of research on this (can you imagine getting a sample of people who’d be willing to share such information?), but the studies that are out there seem to link imaginary friends with dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality disorder). This disorder occurs when a child faces severe neglect and abuse (sexual or physical) and the only defense they have is to “fragment” their personality. Doing this compartmentalizes the trauma away as a means to protect the self.

As adults, people with DID note missing periods of time, the feeling that other people are inside them and these other people can take control, and they can hear voices (generally inside their head).

Another theory of imaginary friends in adults comes from attachment theory. Some kids (maybe single children or neglected children, for example) don’t get enough emotional nourishment and develop imaginary friends as a support system.

It’s important to remember that as long as there’s no distress or disruption of functioning (work, play, relationships, emotions, etc), then it’s NOT considered a disorder.

Interesting, huh?

Remember: These posts are for writing purposes ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

Mental Health Monday–Of Alters and Core Personalities

Lydia Kang CC’ed me on an email from a writer who is devloping a character with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Super cool! As a result, I’ve decided to repost an oldie, but goodie post on Dissociative Disorders (in green). I have further comments below, specific to HOW TO WRITE A CHARACTER WITH DISSOCIATIVE SYMPTOMS.

The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV) categories various forms of dissociation (a disruption in memory, awareness, identity, and/or perception).

  • Depersonalization disorder: period of feeling detached from one’s self; this is often seen in anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder…or if you stare at yourself in the mirror for too long. Go ahead, try it. Go on.
  • Dissociative Amnesia: a person experiences significant impairment in recall of personal information, often resulting from a serious trauma; duration varies; often spontaneously remits
  • Dissociative fugue: a person “forgets” who they are and may travel to a different city & pick up an entirely different life; this may last hours to days or longer, depending on how severe. It can spontaneously remit and is usually the result of a significant traumatic event.
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder): a very rare disorder where a person’s psyche is fractured into several (2-100) different personalities. These personalities are known as “alters,” and each has his or her own way of behaving. Depending on the severity of the situation, the person may or may not be aware of their alters. If the individual is not aware, the times when alters “take over” are experienced as black outs or “lost time.”

It is purported that DID develops as a means of self-protection. Often, those with DID have experienced significant abuse as a child and the personality fragments into several different “people.” This allows the “main personality” to compartmentalize trauma and function in the face of it.

People with dissociative disorders do not choose to become another personality. The idea is that it is out of their control. With therapy, a person becomes more aware of their alters and learns to communicate with them until they are reintegrated.

Dissociative disorders are challenging to treat because people are often reluctant to come into treatment and co-morbid conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, and substance use disorders can occur.

That’s all well and good, but how does one go about WRITING a character with DID???

The key to distinguishing each alter personality is to make sure each alter HAS THEIR OWN VOICE. It’s imperative that there’s some clue binding each alter together, especially with the core (the personality seen most) personality. For example, alters are generally aware of the core and can comment about them while they are being dominant. Furthermore, an alter may try to hurt the core (via cutting, burning) or may engage in activities the core wouldn’t ordinarily do, like going to a club, bar, having a one night stand, etc. Whoever the core encounters would be surprised by their “odd” behavior. It would be excellent fodder for a tension-filled dialogue and scene.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this post is for WRITING PURPOSES ONLY and is NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

Check out Lydia’s post on Medical Mondays and Sarah Fine’s blog, The Strangest Situation.

Mental Health Monday–Dissociation

Young Adult writer, Erin Danzer, asked me about DID–Dissociative Identity Disorder. She’s hard at work on her WIP, so why don’t you pop over to her blog, say “Hi!” and give her some encouraging words. 😉

Here’s a reprise of one of my earlier posts highlighting DID:

The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV) categories various forms of dissociation (a disruption in memory, awareness, identity, and/or perception).

  • Depersonalization disorder: period of feeling detached from one’s self; this is often seen in anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder…or if you stare at yourself in the mirror for too long. Go ahead, try it. Go on.
  • Dissociative Amnesia: a person experiences significant impairment in recall of personal information, often resulting from a serious trauma; duration varies; often spontaneously remits
  • Dissociative fugue: a person “forgets” who they are and may travel to a different city & pick up an entirely different life; this may last hours to days or longer, depending on how severe. It can spontaneously remit and is usually the result of a significant traumatic event.
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder): a very rare disorder where a person’s psyche is fractured into several (2-100) different personalities. These personalities are known as “alters,” and each has his or her own way of behaving. Depending on the severity of the situation, the person may or may not be aware of their alters. If the individual is not aware, the times when alters “take over” are experienced as black outs or “lost time.”

It is purported that DID develops as a means of self-protection. Often, those with DID have experienced significant abuse as a child and the personality fragments into several different “people.” This allows the “main personality” to compartmentalize trauma and function in the face of it.

People with dissociative disorders do not choose to become another personality. The idea is that it is out of their control. With therapy, a person becomes more aware of their alters and learns to communicate with them until they are reintegrated.

Dissociative disorders are challenging to treat because people are often reluctant to come into treatment and co-morbid conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, and substance use disorders can occur.

Several well known movies and books about individuals with DID exist. Three Faces of Eve, Sybil, and the United States of Tara are more entertaining views into this tragic disorder. There are several textbooks discussing the identification and treatment. Click here for a link to an Amazon search page for DID.

Psychiatrist Richard Baer documented treating a woman (Karen) with 17 personalities in Switching Time. Here’s an excerpt as presented by ABC News. A linkto a video with Karen by Good Morning America.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this post is for WRITING PURPOSES ONLY and is NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

Mental Health Monday–Life After Abuse

Cate Peace (writer and blogger) asks: I have a female character who has suffered from years of all types of abuse by a trusted female motherly archetype. What would be her response—physical and emotional—to men and women, especially a male her age when he expresses romantic interest in her?

Abuse (whatever form it takes) is a tough thing to go through. Children are especially vulnerable to it, particularly when their caregivers—the very people who are supposed to protect them—are the perpetrators.

A girl experiencing various types of abuse from a motherly figure would be very confused about the world, to say the very least. As a result, the girl would likely develop abnormal attachments to people and would approach relationships in a pathological way. This could range from being incredibly passive and accepting of anything her significant other does to being quite violent and provoking.

Children who suffer severe and prolonged abuse (most notably sexual abuse and neglect) could develop a fracturing of their primary identity allowing them to mentally separate themselves from the abuse as a means of self-preservation/protection. In some cases, a person can develop dozens of “alter” personalities that can “take over” and cause serious disruption in his or her life. Dissociative Identity Disorder (once called Multiple Personality Disorder) is an extremely rare disorder, but would be characterized by periods of “lost time” where the individual doesn’t remember periods of time (this is classically when the other alters have taken over). The sufferer could also experience depression, anxiety, mood swings, eating disorders, compulsions and rituals, substance use, sleep disturbance, suicidal ideations, several physical symptoms (headaches, etc), and even psychotic symptoms (hallucinations and delusions).

Another, more common, result of unhealthy attachments could be Borderline Personality Disorder. This is characterized by several features including, but not limited to: a pervasive and chronic pattern of unstable relationships, poor self-image, impulsivity, extreme efforts to avoid abandonment (whether real or imagined—abandonment is one of the most feared outcomes for someone who has this disorder), chronic feelings of emptiness, difficulty controlling anger, affective instability (meaning they go from fine to completely inconsolable in seconds and will little provocation), stress-induced and transient paranoia or dissociation, and recurrent suicidal ideations, gestures (cutting), and attempts.

To answer your question, your character could respond with any combination of the above examples. And her response to a male would be dependent on her own sexuality. For instance, does she prefer men or women? Has she slipped into promiscuity as a means to connect with other people? Is she severely puritanical and rigid around others?

Great question, Cate! I hope this helps.

For those of you who’d like to get to know Cate better, check out her blog here.

Don’t forget to check out Lydia’s post on Medical Monday!

Let me know if you have a question for Mental Health Monday! And, as always, the information contained in this blog series is for writing purposes only. It is NOT to be construed as medical treatment or advice.

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Mental Health Monday–Multiple Personalities

Kathee Jantzi requested information about multiple personalities, specifically any books about the subject as well as how someone with multiple personalities goes about getting better.

Check out her blog, Quill or Pill? She also had a short story published on RomanceFlash!

The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV) categories various forms of dissociation (a disruption in memory, awareness, identity, and/or perception).

  • Depersonalization disorder: period of feeling detached from one’s self; this is often seen in anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder…or if you stare at yourself in the mirror for too long. Go ahead, try it. Go on.
  • Dissociative Amnesia: a person experiences significant impairment in recall of personal information, often resulting from a serious trauma; duration varies; often spontaneously remits
  • Dissociative fugue: a person “forgets” who they are and may travel to a different city & pick up an entirely different life; this may last hours to days or longer, depending on how severe. It can spontaneously remit and is usually the result of a significant traumatic event.
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder): a very rare disorder where a person’s psyche is fractured into several (2-100) different personalities. These personalities are known as “alters,” and each has his or her own way of behaving. Depending on the severity of the situation, the person may or may not be aware of their alters. If the individual is not aware, the times when alters “take over” are experienced as black outs or “lost time.”

It is purported that DID develops as a means of self-protection. Often, those with DID have experienced significant abuse as a child and the personality fragments into several different “people.” This allows the “main personality” to compartmentalize trauma and function in the face of it.

People with dissociative disorders do not choose to become another personality. The idea is that it is out of their control. With therapy, a person becomes more aware of their alters and learns to communicate with them until they are reintegrated.

Dissociative disorders are challenging to treat because people are often reluctant to come into treatment and co-morbid conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, and substance use disorders can occur.

Several well known movies and books about individuals with DID exist. Three Faces of Eve, Sybil, and the United States of Tara are more entertaining views into this tragic disorder. There are several textbooks discussing the identification and treatment. Click here for a link to an Amazon search page for DID.

Psychiatrist Richard Baer documented treating a woman (Karen) with 17 personalities in Switching Time. Here’s an excerpt as presented by ABC News. A link to a video with Karen by Good Morning America.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this post is for WRITING PURPOSES ONLY and is NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

Check out Lydia’s post on Medical Mondays!