Send Your Replies to Sandy about Dissociative Disorders unrelated to Sexual Abuse

Dear Sandy,
I wanted to say more after re-reading your sharing. I am 58 and have been without transportation to get to therapy and I really relate to feeling isolated. I live alone. I have military Insurance and these doctors don’t acknowledge my MPD. Only my bi-polar part. My only MPD support is this web site here which I’m so thankful for. And of course all the books I have on it which I find really validating. When my sense of isolation gets really bad or memories are overwhelming me I usually cuddle up in bed with my recovery books and hot sweet tea to remind myself I am not alone and I am not crazy. Only healing . For me my Courage to Heal book is one of my best friends which I had to refer to again just today. (It’s very validating concerning abuse that isn’t sexual and talks about how we can be just as traumatized w/o sexual abuse, and how the symptoms are the same.) It’s a comfort to hear from someone closer to my age as it seems most MP’s are younger. Having MPD has cost me my family and several long term friends . I’ve been dealing with my abuse in my teen years for 3 years now where I wasn’t molested. I suffer from a lot of amnesia concerning most my childhood and some adult life. You are not alone and your pain is just as valid and real and damaging. Your friend, Judy


Dear Sandy,

I was molested till 12 years old and I went to foster care where I got every abuse but sexual. Indeed, rage toward my foster mother was one of my hardest trials to forgive. Mental, emotional abuse is the most damaging and you don’t need sex abuse to become dissociative.

I had my greatest Rage towards my foster mom these years for her spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical abuse. I wanted to kidnap her and torture her slowly for a year before I killed her only she was already dead and I wonder if I could even face that pain and rage before her death. I still hoped she was alive somewhere and I could find her anyway!

No, you don’t need to be molested to become dissociative.. Don’t feel alone hon. Your pain is more than valid and very real.God bless you on your road to recovery.

Judy H.


Dear Sandy,

I am fully integrated, but was, for most of my life, a complex multiple. From my integrated perspective, I see many things differently than I used to--for instance, I used to feel that "somehow, this early childhood sexual abuse must have happened to me, too." I have moved past that question to living my life--in the process, I have attended what caused pain for me, specifically, and caused me to cope by dissociating, in as much as I am able to attend to and face those traumas.

Each person is unique--and has had unique experiences. If someone tells me that they were sexually abused, ritually abused--I respect that. Yes, I believe that happens. Sadly, all the time. But knowing one's own, unique life story is important. It is important to know who you are in as much as you can--authentically. If sexual abuse is not a part of your history, or IF you do not know one way or the other for certain, do not despair. You are not alone. There are valid reasons that you dissociated and those can be attended to. Pain is pain. If one emphasizes sexual abuse as "the worst," then one also minimizes psychological torture, for instance. If you can, read Judith Herman's book Trauma & Recovery on PTSD. I think you will find it helpful. She looks at PTSD and dissociation within one model.

I think it is a damaging idea for professionals to teach society and clients that, in order to have DID, one "must have been sexually abused in early childhood." Not only does the DID client go searching, but caring others begin to panic as well. What happened? Who was it? One doesn't see this "expectation" with a diagnosis of depression, for instance, or even PTSD. No one says, "Oh no. This must be your history." I see DID as on the spectrum of PTSD--a complex, severe end of the spectrum. Therefore, I think that it is valid to say that any overwhelming trauma that does not have the opportunity to heal may, in certain individuals, predispose them to the development of continued dissociation. I think dissociation is much more common than professionals have realized, and not as mysterious. There is much that we still have to learn. Many clients who are dissociative have experienced sexual horrors--others have lived in a hell of emotional pain.

In my own experience, much (not all) of my trauma was psychological and the distortion of reality. I am a sensitive, intuitive person, and as a child was extremely aware of the dynamics around me. I believe that some less sensitive, more resilient children might have experienced what I did and been okay. I was far from okay. So, some was the result of "who" I was--and still am. A sensitive. I also have an amazing memory. So, for me, being unable to "forget" much of what happened, I had to "carry it," and really didn't know how to accomodate so much in my mind. I do believe some things happened to me which I may not ever remember, and that's okay. I think that early sexual abuse theory caused me more damage than good in the long run--and I didn't need it to integrate. Much trauma from 12 on, I never forgot. I've remembered enough. I will also say that one's perception of events at the time of trauma is most important. For me, too, genetics seems to be a factor. I know that this is not a commonly discussed aspect of DID, but I am from a family of brilliant creatives--depression and dissociation are not uncommon on various levels. I was dissociative very early (2), though looking back from my integrated perspective, it was more like living in a dream state. A state bordering psychosis, perhaps. It was my protection from pain, to state it plainly. And, in some way, I think I had difficulty integrating to begin with--"piecing it all together" in solid form. I just think it unfortunate that a client who doesn't have "memories" feels alone. What does that say about how treatment is approached, how society is taught about dissociation?

Please don't underestimate the impact of psychological abuse, for instance. Coercion, manipulation, distortion, emotional and psychological battering--whatever your experience, these are very severe for the developing child, and for adults. I think, unfortunately, that there is an idea in our culture that to create DID, somehow that early childhood sexual abuse "must have happened" at the hands of a parent. Unfortunately, this sends many people delving into the depths to try and "find" events that happened rather than facing what is known, the damage of psychological or other trauma. If one "goes into treatment" thinking that one must find this "experience," that is damaging. Because one is already moving away from the authentic toward what someone else says you "must have experienced."

I am very cautious of professionals who have unmet needs, or codependency on some level, unconsciously making things worse for the DID client. One way that a professional can unintentionally make things worse is to imagine what might have gone wrong in the client's life, and project those imaginings and expectations onto the client. Treatment is a fine balance, and this is one area in which much caution is essential. Only the client knows her history. And, if and when she trusts herself, she will know what is true for her.

If trauma happened to you, it will surface in one way or another, asking to be healed. It will surface in painting, drawing, dreams, and so on. Attend to the pain, listen to it. Our minds and bodies are amazing in this way--our natural state is one of moving toward healing. So, be gentle with yourself. Listen to yourself and to who you truly are--to all the parts of who you are. Listen to your own voice--tell your story. Be well.



Dear Sandy,

I've dissociated several times in my life but do not have D.I.D., so i'm not sure if it's ok for me to write in to you . But my best friend has D.I.D. and I've studied the many books I've found on the subject, so that I can better understand. One of the books is called Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Disorder, by Herschel Walker. He was not sexually molested but has/had D.I.D. (and yes, he's a famous football player). You may be interested in checking out this book.

Love & blessings,


Hi Sandy,
Though I had already developed the ability to dissociate at 4, I have had many experiences when I have created more in order to cope. For instance, I have a personality who copes with funerals and death, others who handle religion and Christianity and still others who handle it when I am or was under the hands of my aunts who were very much into physical punishment and were very mean. Being shut in closets or locked in my room to read the Bible and pray until I could come down and be a "good girl."

I know other's who have had problems with fire, if they were in or witnessed a fire. Something tramatic happened to them, like a traffic accident.

Your DID is there for a reason and you may not ever remember it all. Some people have the instinctive ability to dissociate in many types of situations. For instance, take riding or driving to a place you go to all the time. You arrive there and you do not know how you got there. That's a form of dissociativeness and almost everyone has had that experience.

I'll be reading this site to see what others have to say. Sorry not much response yet for you. Hope this helps a bit.



Dear Sandy,

I am certain there are other people who developed Dissociative Disorder who did not experience sexual abuse. There are even a few people who developed DID who (apparently) had no real "abuse" at all....such as people who were impacted by repairs for birth defects when very young. I think you will find some help by reaching out this way. I certainly hope MV readers respond with their stories.

Best regards,

Lynn W., Editor