Disorder or Injury?
Over a year ago, I began writing here, and trying to come to terms with, what dissociative identity disorder means, see related posts below. I have talked about the reality of dissociative identities. I have also talked about survivors being careful not to think it only means specialness, about there being a time and a place for using the dissociative language, and about personal responsibility.
In Dissociative Identities and Healing, I wrote that holding onto dual views of dissociation, both being an ingenious coping strategy as a child and a disorder as an adult, is a necessary step in healing. My case was simple: that one will not be motivated to change unless he or she sees that what has helped in the past is hurting in the present. I still stand by that basic stance.
However, I would like to shed some new light on that view. Sure, one can say that dissociative identity disorder (or any of the dissociative disorders) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are indeed disorders, a term that is used synonymously with mental illness and disease.
But, I offer a few different views, which have helped me, and which you may appreciate.
The first is that the term disorder is not as bad as one may think. Creativity is most often associated with being able to "think outside the box." The proverbial box is all about order. This one helps me a lot. But there is a big caveat. As long as you do not think this means dissociation is only helpful in the present, you can be okay with this. I am just pointing out that not all disorder is bad and putting disorder in context.
If that does not make you feel more comfortable, then consider the thermodynamic quantity of entropy, which is crudely thought of as a measure of disorder in a physical system. All physical systems have a measure of physical disorder and zero entropy can only be achieved at absolute zero, which can only theoretically be achieved. This one helps me a lot, but you may not like science as much as I do.
One arrives at perhaps the "trump card" view by accepting that dissociative coping as children is a common reaction to a physical, emotional or sexual assault. In that sense, all manifestations of dissociative coping and post-trauma stress could be easily viewed as an injury. In sexual abuse lawsuits or criminal suits, the language is all about injury. Injury is often defined as damage done to the structure or function of the body by an outside force. For me, this could not be more valid and this is the view I hold onto most often.
Hold onto any view of dissociation or post-traumatic stress that feels right to you. But it is important to make sure you do not use a more palatable view that serves to provide a reason to put a stop to your healing journey. Whether you call what you live with a disorder or an injury, we must all call upon ourselves to heal. To find peace. To find wellness.