In the Dissociative Identity Conference 2019, Dr. Oriella Cattapan, a clinical and forensic psychologist and family therapist, dug deep into dissociative identity disorder (DID) and introduced a case study of a 40-year-old woman named Kate. She shared her knowledge about the disorder and how her understanding of it shaped her way of treating her clients.
Understanding people with mental disorders can be quite tricky. It requires the development of an inclusive perspective of a patient’s circumstances and past, just like how she discussed the emergence of DID in the case study of Kate.
Here are two key points you can learn from Dr. Cattapan about DID:
DID Requires Unfolding Past Life Events
It may not be the initial concern and diagnosis of a person who comes for psychological treatment.
In the case study of Kate, she was initially diagnosed to have depression due to bullying. It took about two years of treatment before it was fully revealed to Dr. Cattapan that certain behaviors manifest in Kate due to a long history of traumatic life events growing up.
People with DID may be completely unaware of their condition. Instead of being aware, people who suffer from DID find coping mechanisms to shut off traumatic or painful experiences from the past. This may lead them to display certain behaviors or identities unconsciously.
DID Requires Psychological Treatment
Psychotherapy brings about an open but structured conversation about possible traumatic experiences.
Psychological treatment could help in unearthing painful emotions and memories in a respectful and structured manner. As mentioned, psychological treatment for Kate aided in unwrapping her past, filled with overwhelming experiences and emotions. It provided a clearer picture as to why her mental well-being is affected.
Talking about life experiences through individual psychotherapy can form closure and provide healthy intervention in altering mental processes and outlooks about life and their past.
It takes patience and great understanding to fully grasp mental conditions or human behaviors that may be viewed as “unpleasant.” What is important is to continually provide a healthy space that allows people to see through their thoughts and emotions clearly and to gain a better connection with oneself.