Trigger Warning: Content on this website and in the podcasts is assumed to be trauma and/or dissociative related due to the nature of what is being shared here in general. Content descriptors are generally given in each episode. Please use appropriate self-care and your own safety plan while exploring this website and during your listening experience. Natural pauses due to dissociation have not been edited out of the podcast, and have been left for authenticity. While some professional material may be referenced for educational purposes, Emma and her system are not your therapist nor offering professional advice. Any informational material shared or referenced is simply part of our own learning process, and not guaranteed to be the latest research or best method for you. Please contact your therapist or nearest emergency room in case of any emergency. This website does not provide any medical, mental health, or social support services.
(Scroll to bottom for first episode, then scroll up to listen to episodes in chronological order)
Dr. E introduces the polyvagal theory, research from Stephen Porges. His proposes a theory that connects the neurobiological processes of the brain with emotional experience, attachment, and communication. There are some pictures and video links on the blog that may be helpful while listening to this podcast. Dr. E explains why it is still only a "theory", how the vegus nerves work, and what that has to do with trauma and dissociation.
Dr. E presents the keynote address for the 2019 Plural Positivity World Conference. She was invited to speak about the history of DID, as well as a treatment history. Dr. E walks us through the past, from the first self-reported case in 1584 to the development of the DSM and the ISSTD. She shares some of the latest research reports, specifically about fMRI's. She issues a call for renewal, to bridge the gap between the clinical and survivor community. This episode has some historical case studies given with a variety of abuse scenarios referenced, but none discussed in depth. References to difficult therapy or therapy culture struggles may also be triggering, but is discussed in the context of acknowledging systemic wounds and seeking healing.
Dr. E interviews Peter Barach, PhD, past president of ISSTD. Dr. Barach is the one who linked disordered attachment to DID, and he also was on the committee that produced the treatment guidelines for DID. He opens by sharing his own story of learning about DID. He explains about hypnosis, as well as EMDR, and why this is helpful with trauma and dissociation. They discuss the impact on survivors of managed care, the changes in graduate schools education, and the False Memory Syndrome. They talk about the Plural Positivity World Conference, and why it matters in bridging the gap between clinicians and survivors to bring healing to the systemic wound caused by those issues. It's a positive discussion even from differing perspectives, and a beautiful place for beginning conversation as a united community. He explains how he defines trauma and dissociation, and what is important in treating it. They discuss the phenomenon of time seeming to speed up or slow down around trauma. He shares about connecting with clients through shared moments of communication, being present in his own body and sensorimotor responses, and helping his clients do so as well. Dr. E reviews some context of our diagnosis, which has been shared already in previous episodes, including the deaths of our parents and the impact of DID diagnosis on her clinical practice. They discuss self-care as well and what good therapy looks like and what you can talk about in therapy, and that it's critical to change therapists if you feel it isn't safe or helpful. Dr. E links this to ACE's and repeated traumas as survivors re-enact traumas with bad therapists, not just domestic violence situations. Dr. E also shares about working with adolescent sex offenders early in her career, and they process the triggers of that experience in the context of (S)RA survivors who were forced to act out abuse as part of their own abuse. They close with a discussion about integration and why functional multiplicity is part of the process - and what the risks are for stopping therapy at that point rather than continuing. He shares some case study stories in this episode: a veteran with phantom leg pain, a woman in a psychiatric hospital due criminal charges, and an outpatient client who presented with a little girl. There may be some aspects of these stories that are triggering, due to the trauma related to causing DID, but those aspects are not focused on or discussed in depth.
Sasha opens a box from Julie after a really hard therapy appointment. She shared the emotions she is sensing as JohnMark is realizing he was supposed to protect the girls but wasn't able to prevent abuse. They try to cheer up the system by reading mail and feeling the love after recent hard weeks.
Sasha calls Julie after a hard therapy session, and Julie vents about softball coaching and dealing with parents. Sasha describes how therapy seems to shift in a different experience now that we are communicating more internally, and she struggles to ground herself. Julie reminds Sasha to use grounding skills. They process the experience of a difficult podcast interview and how they handled those triggers. Julie discloses her traumatic experience of finding out her neighbor was arrested for inappropriate behavior with a minor, and what about watching that happen was triggering for her. Sasha then shares her first hate mail! They decide unboxing fan mail is way more fun than hate mail. Julie then shares a story about her "Patchwork Quilt" experience, when an emotional abuser cut up her baby blanket. When she shares her story, Sasha wants to know how Julie is able to put all the pieces of that memory together - including what triggered the memory in the first place. When Sasha opens some hair pins in a package, she opens up about why that is extra meaningful and shares a little about our experience with cancer and chemo and head injuries that left scars on the skull, which were revealed when chemo made our hair fall out. Sasha introduces what we are learning about ACEs and autoimmune disorders. Then she shares about the inside kids playing with the outside kids. She and Julie relax then, grounding through happy mail and friendship, learning about social support together. Because this episode is about triggers and some examples are given, this may be a very triggering episode. Please use caution when listening and good self care during and after listening.
Today's guest is Kyle from Chloe's system, who run the DissociaDID channel on YouTube. They talk about connecting with audiences, learning who is safe and who isn't, and boundaries. They talk about self-care, friendship, and the need for supporting each other as a DID community. They share what it's like to have a partner system, and what it means to learn to love and be cared for in return. Kyle shares what they have learned as a system since starting their channel a year ago. No specific abuse memories are discussed in this episode.
In this episode, we Interview Tory Despres about his role as the drummer in the film Five Piece, which is about a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Tory shares how he got the role in the film, and how he developed his character. He shares his experiences of learning more about DID after only being exposed to the dramatized portrayals in pop culture. He points out that besides commercialized media, individuals also have a personal and social responsibility to discern reality from the drama portrayed. He explores what he learned about DID that he didn’t know before, and asks a few questions of his own.
We interview Matthew Roth, writer and director of Five Piece, which has already won Best Picture at several film festivals. Five Piece is a new film about a man and his band. The man, a character named Brandon, has Dissociative Identity Disorder. The trailer for the film is played. Matthew explains how he learned about DID and what he did to prepare for the film. We discuss the stigma and sensationalism of mainstream media, and why he wanted this film to be different. They discuss the subtleties of switching, and the intensity of emotion in the film. Five Piece is a dark and intense film, provides a very male experience of DID, and strives to accurately portray the subtle presentation but vulnerable experience of DID. The story moves slowly, accurately portraying the experience of time stretching in dissociation. Trigger warnings for the film itself include an opening scene where the camera pans past the main character's girlfriend, who is naked and laying on her stomach (not fully exposed, and in the context of a positive relationship - she in no way appears distressed, nor is there any touching of her body at all in the scene). There is a lot of intense emotional expression in the film, a great deal of verbal aggression, and a scene where one of the band members destroys a guitar. The ending of the film is intentionally ambiguous, so as to leave the viewer pondering the film and the relationships of the band members.
Sasha starts to process what she learned from Lynne Harris about functional and maladaptive dissociation, but she has a small flashback (not described in detail) and it throws her off track. She shares about missing the therapist, and how the system is coping over spring break without her. She explains about the upcoming Counter Conference, and Dr. E’s keynote and session presentations. Then she vents about us getting signed up into two group therapies. She shares about us starting the “Coping with Trauma Related Dissociation” workbook, and what that’s been like, as well as Dr. E reading “The Body Keeps Score”. Sasha snoops in the notebook, reading a note Dr. E wrote about our first time in foster care. She then reads a letter Molly wrote to Em regarding feeling crazy and regarding our experience of time (trigger warning for mention of God, family, marriage, and motherhood). Sasha shares about changes in the system as Emma becomes more present. She shares some of what she is learning from the group workbook, including how dissociation is not pathology. She explains how the book presents integration, and that it doesn’t mean one moment of one person in some kind of finality. She clarifies the difference between depersonalization and derealization, and explains what anchors have to do with grounding. No specific memories are discussed in depth in this episode.
Emma shares an update that she is sleeping more, and not having as many nightmares. She also tells examples of being more present and more aware of her life. She gives an example of a simple mistake where she was able to deal with it instead of panicking or switching. She gives another example of being able to stay present on a run on a trail through the woods when some of the Littles wanted to play (some animals, including a snake, sited and referenced). She shares about being more aware of the others, too, and some of the times she has noticed them. She reflects on re-orienting to her physical body a decade later and post-cancer, and what that adjustment has been like recently. She shares how a simple walk outside is a big deal for her, and why it means therapy is working. No abuse memories are discussed or disclosed in this episode.
Dr. E interviews Lynne Harris, LPC, about her perspective on treating trauma and dissociative disorders. They open with a discussion about being invoked in treating human trafficking, but no case studies are discussed in detail. Lynne shares how she explains dissociation to survivors, and how she normalizes it with them. She explains the difference between functional dissociation and maladaptive association. She explains how dissociation works in the brain, and the impact of this on the body itself. She explains the three stage model of treatment: safety and stabilization, metabolizing memories, and coming to terms with your post-traumatic self. Finally, she shares about sensorimotor skills as support for grounding and connection to the present moment in now time. No details of any trauma memory work are discussed in this episode.
Sasha’s friend Meghan chats with us about her experience getting diagnosed with DID. She also shares how she told her husband, and how they shared the diagnosis with their children. Meghan explains “co-consciousness” to Sasha with a car metaphor, and they both share what those experiences have been like. They discuss insights from therapy, and ways that help them retain that progress between sessions. They share about what it’s like to have been through such hard experiences, but end up with really good husbands! They also share about what it’s like to finally be with good therapists, and they give some examples of how their therapists support them during disclosures and switching. They also discuss the disorienting experience of dissociation, and how that’s impacted by co-consciousness. Meghan also shares her experience with EMDR, and they discuss the benefits of imagery. They explore the impact of friendship with others who understand, and spew the sap before wrapping things up. No abuse memories or disclosures are made this episode, other than one short reference to a bad therapist experience (therapist preferred some alters over others).
Em opens up again, this time with her struggle to understand the system - including things like boy alters and littles. She shares about seeing the therapist, learning to communicate with the others inside, fighting to stay present with the children, and what she has learned about triggers. There is a trigger warning again for emotional content and for medical trauma as she shares some of the current experiences with our daughter, but no abuse memories are disclosed or referenced beyond identifying triggers in now time. Em shares about meeting a new therapist for group, to get support with other parents of medically fragile children, and how it’s difficult to work on past issues when current issues are already so difficult.
Sasha learns how difficult it can be to try and do a podcast with others close by. After two weeks of traveling with the outside kids, including a week in the hospital with the youngest, Emma’s System is worn out and overstimulated and struggling. That said, they are also able for the first time to recognize they did a hard thing well. They also start to realize some of them are getting closer to being more co-conscious than in the past. Sasha then shares emails from listeners, including answering some of their questions. No memories or abuse disclosures are shared in this episode, but they do talk about sharing salsa! Also, doing this podcast was way better than freaking out about therapy cut short today because of outside kids just when we are about to miss two weeks because of Spring Break.
Today we have a big surprise, as we introduce you to our outside kids! It’s DID Awareness Day, and one of the most common questions is how someone with DID can parent. But parenting is actually really important to us, and keeping our children safe is very important to us. The outside children introduce themselves by age, and share what they like (and don’t like) about our family. They talk about life before adoption, and each shares one hard memory as an example of how life was different (so please consider that as a trigger warning). They sing “Journey to the Past” (from the “Anastasia”) movie, talk about big feelings, and sing one of the songs The Husband wrote them to help process big feelings. The older kids can’t talk about big feelings without also talking about puberty, and there’s a song for that, too! The kids cover all kinds of issues, from foster care to friendship, from online safety to why sharing our family story is important to us, and how we do it safely. They also have a really good discussion about why it’s important to talk about hard things with safe people, and how it impacts us if we don’t have safe people. It’s a conversation starter for the dissociation explanation, even if foundational rather than explicit. The children focus at first on their own experiences, then Emma’s, but then process using the story of a boy at our hotel - whom we are pretty sure stole our wallet. That leads to a discussion of safety issues - and some of their issues are pretty big and direct because of previous experiences they have been through prior to adoption. It’s a fairly frank and direct discussion of the issues, and about why we need each other, and how we are learning together. It’s an intense discussion that very much reflects everyday of our life! Parenting well and intentionally takes time and energy, but is worth every precious moment.
Dr. E shares what she learned in a conference session with Kathy Steele about dissociation and shame. She explains Steele’s perspective on DID and parts, why Steele doesn’t recognize parts as individuals, and gown Steele refers to ANP’s as DL’s and EP’s as TF’s and what these terms mean. She explains how Steele describes shame, the connections to DeYoung’s theory, and the variety of ways shame presents. In an example, she discloses an experience with poverty and how that impacted us as a system. She then calls on both the clinical and the DID communities to become more sensitive to shame issues being acted out against and amongst each other, when we should be empowering and supporting each other. Continuing this, she talks about how not addressing shame continues to distress and disrupt a system. She tells how Steele explained shame as part of the dominance/submission dynamic in the animal kingdom, and how this is played out with abusers. She then shares how shame is sometimes more familiar than it even safer than other emotional responses. She connects, then, the Plural Positivity movement to a way of facing shame, and Pride Day as a way of working through it as a community. She discusses the experience of living with chronic shame. She also explains how hyperarousal and hypoarousal impact even just trying to talk in therapy. Dr. E then discussed what she agrees and disagrees with regarding the DL/TF model. Dr. E explains what shame teaches us about why it’s important to find a compassionate and connected therapist. In the end, Dr. E shares how Kathy Steele provides a definition of integration as close to Functional Multiplicty as yet described by the clinical community. No abuse memories or specific disclosures are given in this episode.
Sasha accidentally gets triggered out at a conference about DID, and learns quickly it’s something she can almost control - but not quite. She describes it as feeling far away, focusing on the therapy notebook, and “zooming in” until she was out front. The same thing happened with “zooming out”, where she felt further and further away. In the process, she learns a few things about DID while at the conference. She shares about the importance of keeping what good stabilizing experiences you have in therapy, even when it’s a bad therapy experience or a mismatch with someone who didn’t know how to treat DID. She talks about what she learned about betrayal trauma, and how it impacts attachment. She talks about what she learned about eating and sleeping triggers, and why both are important to the body (trigger warning for these issues). She shares what a speaker said about “parts” being part of a whole system, and why this matters. She also shares what she learned about shame: triggers and how to face them. Finally, she shares what she learned about why the abuse isn’t your fault. No specific memories or traumas are shared in this episode.
In this episode, Sasha talks friendship. She explores the impact of trauma on trust and all kinds of relationships. She shares emails from listeners and responds to a few of their questions. Then she goes in to the post office to get a birthday package from our friend Julie. This episode contains references in passing to Christmas, Birthdays, and bad dating relationships, but no memories or details are shared in depth.
Molly answers listener questions about faith and religion in the context of DID. Due to the topic and its content, a heavy trigger warning is listed for this episode so please skip it if you do not want to hear a discussion about God. It is not preachy or about converting, but does review our own faith history and explores the impact of abuse and isolation in organizational abuse. These issues are only referenced, not discussed in detail or in depth. Molly also shares how we came to agreement for our faith tradition, and what a faith practice can look like for a system with DID. Molly closes with by sharing a talk she will be giving tomorrow at a Women’s Faith Conference, in which she publicly discloses for the first time that she was abused as a child. There is no detail or discussion with this disclosure, but she shares it to honor the truths she is learning from the Littles about what they have endured.
The boys go on a walk in the snow, and talk about all sorts of things (with a quick appearance by Sarah). They share about some past adventures and open up about some internal dynamics. They also review Now Time is Safe. He also shares what he learned in therapy about body memories. There are some specific triggers discussed, such as when he finds a switch stick and talks about the therapist reassuring them there are no more whoopings. He shares about the difference between memory time (getting hurt) and now time (the parents are dead). They also talk about palliative care for the outside child, and struggling to connect with that care team because we already have a therapist. They talk about what they learned in therapy yesterday, about babies needing good, safe parents to care for them and the children shouldn’t be punished for needing care. They share about the Girl being confined, and the therapist helping her and how children should not be hurt. They talk about the impact of returning to your abusers, and how callbacks were hard on others inside. They tell how the therapist told Kassi she was “developmentally appropriate” for working out relationships when she was young, and it’s normal that she would struggle when no one taught her how to do it safely. He talks about Kassi’s apology, and how the Littles now have to respond to her while she works on these issues with Taylor and in therapy. They also talk about birthdays, and just a little about why those are hard. He shares an update on the attic progress of improved living conditions, including being without bugs or rodents and having bathrooms and beds. He also shares about preferring not to have our picture taken. This episode has a heavy trigger warning for sensitive issues and abuse references, as they process therapy yesterday, but no explicit or detailed descriptions are given or discussed in depth. They close with a special musical surprise from JohnMark.
We host our lovely guest, Jane Hart, from the A&E docuseries “Many Sides of Jane”. In the interview, Jane shares her experience of diagnosis, finding a therapist, and learning to work together as a system. She tells the story of how an article she wrote led to the docuseries, and what filming and post-production were like for them. We find out we have some things in common, and talk about parenting with DID. She also shares her perspective about what all therapists need to know! Jane then shares a trigger warning for the upcoming episode five of her show, and about the season finale Tuesday night. Abuse is mentioned in this episode as context for trauma and DID, but no specific details or memories are discussed.
Em, previously known as “the Mother one” bravely shares her first podcast. She talks about what it’s like to be a mother who is a survivor. The Christmas holiday is mentioned in reference to timing, but not at all discussed. DHS (DCF / family services) is mentioned in reference to our experience recently, as well as foster care, but no detailed memories or experiences are discussed in depth. Em also shares her experience hearing the others, and how distressing this has been. Em does disclose some memories regarding her mother, including some references to abuse. Rape is mentioned specifically, but without any detail or description. Suicide is also mentioned in reference, but without detail or description. The deaths of parents are mentioned in reference, but without detail or description. Em also discloses that she had several miscarriages, but without graphic detail or description. She also shares that she and the husband fostered, and the hard work and grief that involved. She expresses how hard parenting is anyway, and what that’s like as a survivor with her own attachment issues, much less dissociation. Em then tells what’s it has been like to be the mother of a medically fragile child and special needs children, and how that has overwhelmed her. This episode is highly emotional and needs a heavy trigger warning for that more than its difficult content.
The husband joins the system in a therapy session - where Sasha is called out as herself. Sasha and the husband reflect on how therapy went, and what they learned about why therapy is hard and how to know the therapist is real - and staying. As they come up with what trauma means, Sasha gains insight into what others in the system have gone through - and that maybe the therapist and the husband both already know enough they would have already left if they were going to, so maybe now time really is safe. This episode includes references to the internal world, examples of trauma, and normalizing the experience of trauma even without DID - like miscarriages, medically fragile children, and fostering and adoption. No abuse details or specifics are given.
Overwhelmed by the DID conference and anxious for her return to therapy, Sasha calls her friend Julie for support. They play “ask Sasha”, which leads to Sasha sharing more about Emma’s background. She talks about our Deafness, ten years of sobriety, and Molly’s interfaith chaplaincy. There are some references to alcohol and drugs in this episode, and there is some discussion about religion (and reclaiming it through spirituality).
Sasha opens this episode planning to talk about why safety and privacy were important to Emma and her system at the recent DID conference, even though that meant missing out on socializing. However, her plans change when she finds a message from Taylor, who has good reasons to be upset about a few things and expresses these concerns directly. Sasha struggles with how to respond to Taylor, and wrestles with pacing all changes happening internally. She shares the husband’s idea, too, about how to make some of those changes happen... and concerns about whether the system is failing therapy. No memories or abuse details are shared in this episode.
Dr. E shares about the sessions she attended on day two of the Healing Together conference. She expresses frustration with the McClean Hospital outreach team not collaborating with survivors already involved in advocacy and outreach, as that borders on appropriation. She also shares information from two sessions with Susan Pease Banitt. These provided new insight regarding past experiences with bad therapists, as well as good therapists who ruptured the therapeutic alliance. Confident their current therapist is “strong enough” for Emma and her system, and skilled at repairing those ruptures from previous therapists and other trauma, Dr. E struggles to remain present as Emma’s System realizes it’s time to get back to work in therapy. There is a reference to ritual abuse as mentioned in the session, but not in detail. Besides difficult experiences with previous therapists, no other memories or trauma specific issues are discussed in this episode.
Dr. E tells about our first day at the Healing Together conference in Florida. She shares about the conference sessions she attended: Neuroscience Applications to Treating DID and Therapist-Guided Practical Skills in the Treatment is Complex Dissociation. No abuse or memory content is shared or referenced in this episode.
John goes for a walk and encounters more than he bargained for on this resting day. Trying to process and cope and help the girls feel better by getting some fresh air, he wrestles with social anxiety concerns for the afternoon before the conference starts. Opening up about this brings to light triggers that hint at some Emma’s past trauma and alludes to the sensitive timing in regards to the little girl rescued last week in therapy. While no traumas are disclosed or processed in detail in this episode, some triggers are referenced - including photography, confinement, and men.
The girls take turns struggling with triggers and overstimulation, fighting panic attacks at the airport. The boys save the day, finding their way to baggage claim, securing transportation, and getting us checked into our hotel - and exploring the grounds so we are ready for the conference tomorrow. There is a lot of background noise from airport settings in the first ten minutes of this episode. There are no memories or abuse mentioned in this episode, other than a fear of Disney characters, which makes Orlando a hard place to be.
Emma finds herself at a park after therapy - with a note about “Meeting Minutes”. She reads the notes of the system’s first internal meeting, where Dr. E and John plan how to have meetings and how to invite the others to come. Molly joins them, taking notes for Dr. E so that once things are going, she can take over so Dr. E can focus on outside work. Part of their planning includes a rescue mission for some trauma-bound littles. Later in the episode, John shares that the therapist helped them with this very rescue mission, and one of the girls has been brought up to the attic to be cared for by Molly. God is referenced in passing as far as distinguishing between one’s faith and what others say faith should be, but this is not an at-length discussion. Spinning is mentioned in passing. No specific traumas or memories are shared in this episode.
In this episode, Emma’s system answers questions from listeners, with our friend Julie’s help. We talk a little about everything: system structure, Littles, not being out as DID, therapy, and internal worlds. We even talk with Julie about why friendship is difficult for us as DID and for her on the outside of it. From serious topics to laughing until our faces hurt, this episode reveals more about what it’s like to just be us. No specific memories or abuse details are shared in this episode.
Dr. E interviews special guest Susan Pease Banitt, LCSW, author of “The Trauma Toolkit” (for survivors) and “Wisdom, Attachment, and Love in Trauma Therapy” (for clinicians). In a poignant moment before the interview even begins, Dr. E is startled by the compassion offered by her guest, and the interview that followed may be one of her favorites ever done. Susan Pease Banitt shares the history of healers, explains about holistic healing, and teaches about acknowledging our own vulnerability. Due to the nature and content of the interview, some triggering topics are referenced, such as types of abuse including ritual abuse. However, no detailed stories or examples are given in this episode.
Preparing for the An Infinite Mind “Healing Together” Conference, Emma receives a link to a research survey. When it gets too hard, Sasha helps her finish it up. The survey contains flashing images of faces and questions about abuse history and dissociative experiences. They also ask about diagnosis and treatment history. This episode is a more analytical overview of what DID looks and feels like.
In this episode, what Dr. E expected to be a delightful book review becomes a charming love story of a survivor and her husband, and their journey discovering DID. With her consent, he tells the story of growing up with her in high school and witnessing some of her family dynamics, disclosures, and medical related struggles due to abuse. He shares their story of going to college together and her ever growing memory gaps with sudden headaches. He tells the story of her breakdown-breakthrough that ultimately led to an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment for DID. Then married with three children, the couple wanted a way to talk about DID with their outside children. That’s how “The Patchwork Quilt” was born. This episode contains the above mentioned triggers, including references to child abuse, sexual abuse, and retraumatizing in hospital situations. No graphic or detailed descriptions or disclosures are shared.
In this episode, John and JohnMark talk a bit about therapy today. Specifically, they share about watching Taylor talk to the therapist for the first time and then JohnMark switching out to take his turn. John shares some specifics about applying what we learned in group the last two weeks. There are some abuse references in this episode, such a reference to being locked in a room and a reference to a photography studio, but no specific details given. The context is in effort to reach two insiders who maybe could be moved to safer places in the internal world as part of a “rescue mission”.
Dr. E interviews Warwick Middleton, past president of ISSTD and published research on trauma, dissociation, ritual abuse, and abuse ongoing into adulthood. He shares how he got into the field of studying trauma and dissociation, including his research into documenting verified cases of extreme and ongoing abuse. He shares case studies and different examples of different types of abuse. Due to the nature of the research and it’s content, a serious trigger warning is given for this episode. Different types of abuse are described, as are different types of confinement. Different weapons are mentioned. Examples of ritual abuse are given, including abuse in church settings, Satanic ritual abuse, and other types of abuse in organized settings. The “me too” movement is referenced in response to the False Memory Syndrome backlash of the 90’s, as well as discussing other types of cover-ups in effort to silence victims. In closing, Professor Middleton shares a poem song he wrote about the loss of innocence, which is very moving but also highly triggering. Please care well for your system while listening and after listening to this episode.
Sasha shares some of what she learned in four sessions of group with The Crisses System coach. Lessons include landscaping the internal world for safe places and increased communication, understanding ANP’s and EP’s, the importance of communicating with each other respectful, trauma responses in the brain, and triggers from memory time in now time. No abuse memories are shared in this episode.
Sasha follows Dr. E’s last episode by explaining her perspective of littles and age in DID. She shares about time perception, gives examples of littles adjusting to presenting through an older body, and normalizes the beyond-age awareness through neutral non-DID examples. She explains about how our system manages time out front for Littles, and some of the important things we learn from them. No abuse examples or specifics are given in this episode.
A listener wrote in asking about ages of alters and developmental stages theories. Dr. E responds by explaining a few of the many reasons some alters may remain younger or stop at different ages. She then discusses Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development, and how this is impacted both by trauma and recovery. Functional plurality is also explored. While examples of trauma impact are given, no abuse details are given in this episode.
Sasha shares a journaling experiment where we all responded to some questions about our communication, preferences, needs, fears, and what makes us feel safe. A huge undertaking for which we prepared for over a year, there are so far 23 responses and Sasha shares some of them. Handwriting samples can be seen on the blog. Due to the context of introductions, some trauma references are mentioned but no abuse details given.
Sasha shares what she is learning about internal worlds and making them safe places. She also briefly explains the terms ANP and EP. In this episode, Sasha is processing aloud as she goes for a walk, so there is some background and wind noise throughout - the wind noise is worse at the end. However, it was valuable enough to us as a system that it was worth sharing despite sound quality. While some internal landscaping references our background, including allusions and references to past abuse, no memories or examples of abuse are disclosed. Adding Christmas lights to a room and using a farm bell are examples of positive adjustments to our internal world.
In this episode, the new word is co-consciousness. After a year of therapy, the three Emmas have had some breakthroughs that help them be more present with each other and more aware of what is happening between the three of them. Emma Z’s story includes running away from family at 17 and early diagnosis in college. Emma T then found herself in another country, speaking another language, and enduring a series of volatile relationships with alcoholics. Emma S found a safe place with the husband while trying to reconcile family she didn’t remember. Here they tell their story of how putting this timeline together, working on common goals for safety, and improving communication led them a year later to this new experience of co-consciousness, which is explained using article three from Power to the Plurals. While the context of Emma’s background is mentioned in those respects, no graphic or specific memories or abuse are shared in this episode. One experience of our journals being mailed back to the parents by a bad and unlicensed counselor is told.
Sasha starts by trying to explain some background of our grief story. Issues such as deceased parents, bad relationships, and miscarriages are references but without detail. There is a switch recorded, when a new (to the podcast) alter (name not disclosed) clarifies what we mean by “forgiveness” and that this is not a religious construction or a free pass excusing the abuser. The second half of the episode is Sasha again, and then Taylor, explaining what happened when someone hotlined is to family services because of our mental health. They then discuss the internal response to this experience, and explore the impact of new traumas on a system and its disruption to the healing process. The child abuse pattern of being helpless and feeling punished without having done anything wrong is referenced, but no specific memory content or graphic material is discussed.
Dr. E interviews Matt Pappas, a survivor coach from BeyondYourPast.com. He explains the difference between therapy and coaching, and shares some of his own survivor history. He explains Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP), and some of how this helps heal the impact of trauma on the brain. They discuss how to know when you are ready for therapy or coaching, and why it’s worth doing even though it can be so daunting. They discuss what survivors need to know about finding a good therapist, and what clinicians need to know about survivors that they didn’t learn in school. While some different types of abuse and statistics about abuse are mentioned, no specific memories or details are discussed.
Taylor processes her stunned response to realizing even she is connecting with the therapist. She explores the experience of learning to trust, learning to stay put, and learning how to discern good help from those who take advantage. She shares about boundaries, and what that means in the context of dissociation and even for a system seeking support online. No abuse content is mentioned or referenced in this episode. There is background noise, as Taylor recorded while she was driving because it is one of the few times she fronts.
John braves walking through the leaves at the park. He shares what he learning from therapy and the husband, about feeling better when your needs are met. He also shares the struggle of long periods of time between sessions, especially the holiday season. The holiday season is referenced in general in the context of our therapist being off for a couple weeks, and he states that the holidays are difficult anyway besides this. He does not expound upon this, nor share any details of why it is difficult. No abuse content or memories are described in this episode.
Emma checks in, continuing to share her struggle with lost time and dissociation and learning about the DID diagnosis. She also shares an emotional story of how this can impact everyday life. This story includes a description of being afraid, experiencing anxiety, and some flashbacks, but no content or abuse memories are given. There is brief mention in passing that this holiday season is stressful and triggering, but nothing else is expanded upon in that reference.
Dr. E discusses a recent “Mad in America” article about clinical differentiation between dissociation and psychosis (link in blog). Then she invited a guest system with DID to respond to the article. The system introduces themselves, and two of them explain their own view of dissociation and multiplicity, using the social model of disability. They make a significant statement about how “coming out” empowered them to find their own voice and relieved them from so much stress and energy they had used to hide previously. They distinguishes between multiplicity and plurality, and explain why. She shares a quote about why the diagnostic label was changed from MPD to DID, as quoted from an article in the Huffington Post (link in blog). She points out when the author was talking about dissociation, the author was actually talking about the experiences of plurality.
Then we talk about community in the plural community, and why that matters. We also talk about other clinicians with DID, and how important it is for us to find and support each other outside the limited opportunity and oppressive oversight of treatment. She also shares about the trauma impact of having mental illness as a child. Closing, she makes a powerful statement about how dissociation actually protects us from psychosis. Dr. E then closes with discussion of Dr. Ross’s explanation of negative and positive symptoms, and why misunderstanding these causes dissociative disorders to be misdiagnosed as psychotic disorder. There is one mention of ritual abuse in passing (related issues not being believed and assumed to be psychosis), but no details given. There are no abuse memories or in depth discussions of abuse in this episode.
Sasha (with some help from Dr. E and John) talk about what we are learning about alters. They discuss terms like original, host, ANP, fronting, switching, and co-consciousness. They share what they are learning about internal worlds. They also talk about types of alters, like persecutors and protectors, child alters, memory holders, and fictives. A few examples of alter jobs are shared, but no specific abuse memories are shared specifically or in detail.
Our guest is Colin A. Ross, expert in the study of dissociation. He speaks with Dr. E about the four definitions of dissociation, horizontal and vertical splitting, and the spectrum of diagnostic labels. He shares four reasons that explain why such controversy surrounds the topic of dissociation. During this discussion, abuse is referenced without any detail. Around minute 27, pedophiles are referenced and MK Ultra is referenced. No details or in depth discussion about those topics happen otherwise. He then discusses Trauma Model Therapy, phases of treatment, and resources for clinicians and consumers. No graphic or specific memory content is shared in this episode.
After some announcements, Sasha and Dr. E interview The Husband! He shares his understanding of DID, and what it was like for him to learn about dissociation. He shares how it impacts his experience of our marriage, how he interacts differently with everyone, and his thoughts on our parenting. We explore about the good and hard parts about DID, and how a stable and safe relationship has been a different experience than in the past. There is a reference to deceased parents, cancer, and a car accident while discussing past acting out before Sasha got on board with the marriage, but no details or abuse descriptions are given.
Emma takes time to ponder therapy and what she has learned so far about the others and dissociation. She mentions hearing the Littles. She shares her experience of losing time. She considers what she would talk about in therapy if she could stay present for her own turn. She references medical trauma with her children, her deceased parents, opioid addiction, and cancer. However, no specifics are given and no abuse history or memories are shared.
Sasha tries to tell a story while John wants to take the littles to the park. The story is about the ongoing saga of trying to get to therapy, and almost hitting a deer on the way. There is a one-time reference to “The Great Spirit” in context of looking up meaning of Native American symbols. The deer experience is used to explain what a flashback is like without having to use any abuse memories to do so. The experience of almost hitting the deer is used as an analogy for the therapeutic process. No specific memories or abuse descriptions are given.
Sasha is back to update our listeners about the upcoming launch of our website and the podcast on iTunes. She gives insight into our relationship with the husband. She gets vulnerable, opening up about how it’s hard when we miss therapy sessions and why it’s hard to make new friends even when you know they are safe. She reveals we do have a runner, who has caused fugue states in the past. No abuse or memories are referenced or disclosed in this episode.
Emma herself speaks up about what her experience of DID is like, and how she writes about it in her journals. She shares about being in therapy, what it’s like to lose time, and how she struggles to understand what is going on. She opens up through her journal, talking specifically about what it’s like to have nightmares and flashbacks. This discussion is very vivid in its experience of what it is like to have nightmares and flashbacks, but no actual memory content or any specific abuse is mentioned.
John, one of our older littles, tries to do his own podcast! He shares about walking in the snow and some of his favorite snacks. He also explains NTIS, which stands for “Now Time Is Safe”. Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas tree are referenced, but there is no other or any specific holiday discussion. No abuse details given.
Dr. E explains DID in the context of shame theory. The name Dr. E is a reference to what she is called at work because of her PhD; she is not a medical doctor or giving any therapeutic advice. She explains her understanding of dissociation in the context of Patricia DeYoung’s shame theory, and explains why most “acting out” is really misattunement, and how healing comes through connection (attunement) with others. She references the “Still Face Experiment” which can be searched and found on YouTube. Some clarification between abuse and neglect is explained, but no graphic or personal examples are given.
After a few seconds of a piano opening, Sasha introduces herself and our system a bit. There are brief mentions of the parents being deceased (but no details), and some sharing of our journey through some badly matched therapists before finding a good one (no T abuse described). One dentist story is told, without graphic detail. No abuse details shared in this episode.