Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.


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Sunday, August 23, 2020

"I Don't Have a Self:" Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)

"Marlene," a 38 year old married woman with one grown daughter, was seated in my waiting room with her long blonde hair drawn across her face to form a curtain so that other people could not see her, although she could see out well enough to navigate her way into my office. As soon as she had entered, she brushed her hair back into a normal position with her hand.

Her mother had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder before Marlene was born,  but she consistently refused to take medication or go to therapy.  Both her mother and the man she lived with were confirmed sadists "George," her mother's live-in boyfriend,, was also a chronic alcoholic who would frequently quarrel with her mother and storm out of the house, only to return a few days later as if nothing had happened. 

One of the things the two "caregivers" quarreled about was how hard to hit Marlene
In order to "punish*  her. George used a multi-tailed whip which is commonly available at most S&M vendors, while her mother insisted upon using the palm of her hand because, she believed, that way she could more easily tell how hard to hit her her. "I didn't know I was being abused," Marlene told me. "I thought every kid was treated that way."

When Marlene was a toddler, her mother would keep her  awake for extended periods, in order to have somebody to talk to while she was in a manic phase. When she was groggy from lack of sleep and her mother's mania was at his highest, her usual method of keeping her daughter awake was by molesting her.

With this "training" from infancy, when Marlene was old enough to play with the other neighborhood preschool children, spanking games and sex play in which she played the the starring role quickly became the neighborhood sport. She did develop a close bond with one of her playmates, an effemimite boy who was constantly beaten by his father in order to "make a man out of him " One day, when the abuse had become intolerable and both of his parents were away, the lad took his father's loaded shotgun, put the barel in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. Some neighbor women heard the shot, and rushed to call the authorities and to swab the bloodstains off the walls and ceiling before his parents returned. The bucket that they used for cleaning up the bloodstains belonged to Marlene's mother, and was  stored beneath the sink in Marlene's bathroom. She would later have to wash her hair in the sink directly above this bucket, which her mother refused to replace because, "Buckets cost money."

When Marlene was in high school, her first boyfriend used to take her out in a car with a few other boys and time them with his watch while the others took turns having sex with her.

In college, Marlene eventually came to room with  a sadistic student who introduced her to usung marijuana, and she quickly became dependent upon it. 

She first began therapy when she was in in her late twenties.  Her "therapist" was one of those warped individuals who had taken up his profession in order to prey upon vulnerable people  Almost immediately, he began to blur the boundaries between client and patient. The therapy hour was often devoted to her showing him various yoga positions, and to the two of them practicing these positions together. Thoroughly aware of her need for abuse, the therapist went to great lengths to be highly critical of anything she did to improve herself or to express her strong artistic inclinations 

Given her masochistic tendencies, this kind of "therapy" produced the intended result, and the two soon began a twisted sexual relationship. Marlene was required to wear a skirt with no hose or underwear every time she came to the office, regardless of how cold it was, but they were actually intimate only when it suited him. Whenever she would try to kiss the therapist on the mouth, he would draw back, because he was "Saving it for his wife."

Their relationship was 
discovered four years later, when her therapist's wife found some home-baked marijuana brownies in a desk drawer and confronted her husband about it, whereupon he confessed. The last year of Marlene's "therapy" consisted entirely of her begging him not to abandon her, and his insisting that she seek out another therapist, which culminated in her appearance at my office just before his wife was ready to put her foot down and institute divorce proceedings. 

Marlene remained steadfastly unwilling to give me the necessary permission to report her previous therapist to the State licensing board.  Perhaps sensing that I would be hot on his trail, her former therapist closed his practice and moved to another State. 

I eventually realized that each time that she arrived for be an appointment,  Marlene was in a state of cannabis intoxication and when questioned, she admitted as much.  l told her that I could not make house calls for obvious reasons; and neither could I accept responsibility for allowing her to drive to my office through city traffic in a high state of marijuana intoxication. She was not willing to seek therapy for her cannabis dependence. I reluctantly informed her that unless she could assure me each time that she came to my office that she was not "high," I would no longer be able to see her. 
 Since she was not able to make a commitment of this type, and she would not make a similar commitment in a referral to another therapist, I had no choice but to discontinue treatment and close the case. 

Needless to say, Marlene had chosen a sadist for her husband. Beset by numerous fears, she is now too fearful to venture out, and her husband is all too willing to indulge her cannabis dependence in his home-built "dungeon."