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.

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Mental Health Monday–Telepsychiatry

You’ve perhaps heard of surgeons using robotics to perform surgery on someone in another city, state, or even country?

Well, psychiatrists can also evaluate and treat patients remotely. Called telepsychiatry, it’s a relatively new method of connecting providers with clients when distance is a limiting factor.

I’ve never done telepsychiatry, but know colleagues who have. I’d imagine it could be challenging, considering we use all our senses (including smell) to evaluate clients. On the other hand, a client usually has a therpist or case worker present with them, while the psychiatrist communicates via camera/TV.

So, writers, if you have a character in an isolated location and they need a therapist/psychiatrist, make sure they have access to the interwebz and maybe even Skype. 😉

Let me know if you have any writerly mental health questions, and I’d be happy to answer them here on Mental Health Monday. Check out Lydia’s Medical Mondays as well and Sarah Fine’s blog, The Strangest Situation for more psych related topics.

Remember, these posts are for WRITING PURPOSES ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

Mental Health Monday–Length of Stay for Teens

I was SO stoked when Georgia McBride of YALITCHAT.ORG and Month9Books fame asked me to answer some writerly psych questions.

One question was (paraphrased):

How long would a 16 year old with “hallucinations” be hospitalized on an inpatient psych unit? 


Inpatient hospitalizations for children vary from a few days to 30 days (sometimes more, depending on the severity of symptoms). Reasons for hospitalizing a child include: out of control behavior, self-injurious behavior, suicidal ideation/gestures, and aggressive/assaultive behavior toward others. 

If the child has severe and chronic symptoms that don’t significantly improve with extended hospitalization, the child may be discharged to a long-term facility to live and go to school. If the child has broken the law, they may be sent to a juvenile detention center (those stays can be months to years).

It’s important to remember that once the child becomes stable, they would need to be discharged with outpatient treatment set up for them. Without it, they’d be at risk of relapsing (having recurrence of symptoms). 

Remember, these posts are for writing purposes ONLY and are NOT to be construed as treatment or advice. 

Check out Lydia’s Medical Monday and Sarah’s The Strangest Situation for more medical and psych related topics!

Writer Wednesday–Being A Worthy Beta

So I’m beta reading a project from a new writer friend I met through the interwebz. I offered to read her novel because I’d read other work by her and was really curious to see more. (Kind of self-serving, eh?) Anyway, I read the first sentence and was BLOWN AWAY. Then the second sentence was just as FAB. And the third, fourth, fifth, EVERY SENTENCE was GREAT! Strong verbs, powerful descriptors, clear actions, crisp dialogue, dynamic characters–it was ALL there!

“Geez, I’m not a worthy beta,” I thought. “How can I possibly give a helpful critique when I’m so impressed with the writing that I don’t think anything needs changing???”

OK, every writer DREAMS of a beta saying: “I LOVE IT DON”T CHANGE A WORD!!!” But really, is that realistic? I mean, shouldn’t there be something I could point out that may need work?

*sigh*

(Truthfully, I’m developing some thoughts for the writer to consider, but really, changes are not necessary. At. All. I pretty much have only stylistic comments rather than critical ones.)

What do you do when you’re so impressed with a beta project that you’re at a loss as to what to offer for a critique?

(Photo credit)

(Photo credit)

Check out Lydia’s response to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog response to if non-writers have found/commented on her blog!

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–Who Else Is Watching You?

This month, Lydia asks:

Outside of your writing friends, do other people (work, family, friends) know you blog? What do they think of it? Have you ever been hit with a, “Hey! I read your blog today!” from someone you never expected to read it?

FANTASTIC question, Lydia!

When I first started writing (over 3 1/2 years ago now!), I didn’t tell anybody. Back then, I wasn’t sure where my writing was going. I had dreams, of course, but really it was a way to destress, do something creative, and it was FUN!!!!

Then I joined QueryTracker’s forum and met a bunch of fantastic people! With time, I became comfortable enough to start this blog. It was slow going at first, but as the months passed it developed into what you see today.

My blog posts are connected to Twitter and Facebook and since I’ve friended some co-workers, friends, and family there, they’ve seen the links. Much to my surprise and delight, my blog has spread from writer friends to people in my “real life” circle.

It’s been nice to see them “like” a post and even comment on them!

What’s more, they whole-heartedly support my endeavors. They send “*hugs* and chocolate” when I get a rejection and they send “CONGRATULATIONS! and SQUEEEs!!!” when I announce accomplishments.

Even better, it’s hard for me to go a day to two without someone asking me about my book and my short story!

SO. COOL!

How about you? Any non-writerly peeps find your blog?

Mental Health Monday–Zombies ARE Real

Photo Credit

All the buzz about Zombies has me freaked out. Like for real. I can handle vamps, werewolves, even ghosts. But zombies? No. Way.

And here’s why!

Zombies. Are. Real.

Named after Jules Cotard (a French neurologist who first described the condition in 1880), Cotard Syndrome is a delusion where the sufferer believes they are dead, or are putrefying, or have lost their blood or internal organs. Sometimes (rarely), it includes delusions of immortality (so in that regard, vampires are real too!)

Related to Capgras Syndrome, Cotard Syndrome can occur in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. It can also be a (rare) side effect of Acyclovir (an anti-viral medication).

Treatment includes pharmacotherapy (medication) with anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers. ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) has also been used.

Has anybody encountered any literature including a character who believed they were dead, decaying, or that their organs were gone?

Be sure to check out Lydia’s Medical Monday and Sarah’s The Strangest Situation.

Remember, these posts are for writing purposts ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical advice or treamtent.

Let me know if you have a writerly mental health question and I can address it here on Mental Health Monday! 😉

 

Writer Wednesday–How Do You Review?

So, I’ve been watching my writer friend, Kendall Gray, on her journey of self-publishing. I’ve been lucky enough to read an ARC of INHALE, the first novel in her JUST BREATHE trilogy and, man, I just want to shout it out to the world how AWESOME Kendall’s writing is.

If you don’t believe me, check out the book trailer HERE.

Awesome, right? Seriously, you need to pre-order the entire series NOW. *waits while you go to Amazon*

*squints at screen to make sure you’re at Amazon’s website*

Okay. Glad you’re back.

What makes me love INHALE so much?

The characters are clear. They are goal-directed (sorry, that’s a psych term, but you’d be surprised how many characters are just wandering around their novels like post-lobotomy schizophrenics). They have faults. There’s great smexy scenes. There’s a TON of action and conflict.

All those things keep me reading on. It keeps me thinking about the characters when I’m not reading. I even picture myself hanging out with the main characters, Gavin and Zoe. In Australia. On the beach. Yeah. And heck, if I can picture myself hanging out with the characters, that means their writer has made it into my inner circle of favorite authors.

(Pssst, that includes YOU, KENDALL!!!!!!)

We know books sell based on word of mouth (yes, there are other things, but go with me on this one). So, I wanted to review INHALE. I wanted to support Kendall.

I wanted to really capture how I felt and why it was important for me to recommend INHALE to other people.

…And then I realized I kind of suck at writing reviews.

Why?

I worry about writing spoilers. I worry about sounding trite or saccharine. I worry about rambling aimlessly (sort of like what I’m doing now). I worry about not conveying the essence of my reaction.

So, I wrote about what I liked (as I just did above) and left it at that. Better to be short and sweet, than ambling and confusing, no?

Still, I feel like my review fell short.

*sigh*

Now I open the forum to you.

How do you review? Is there a certain template you follow? Do you only write positive reviews? Or do you “tell it like it is?”

Check out Lydia’s response to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog topic of the uses (or misuses) of Prologues!