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Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Personal Account

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A brilliant blog post from a woman with DID

Hello my cherished Otherbeasts! Here’s wishing you a happy week.

I’ve decided to write a personal testimony about Dissociative Identity Disorder because I feel like there aren’t enough personal truths out there to help others. This is something I have never discussed with anyone I’m not close to, but I figured if it can help someone, then it’s much better than keeping it hidden in silence and shadows.

Dissociative Identity Disorder is defined by Wikipedia as: “Dissociative identity disorder (DID), also known as multiple personality disorder, is a mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality states that alternately control a person’s behavior, and is accompanied by memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness. […] Dissociative symptoms range from common lapses in attention, becoming distracted by something else, and daydreaming, to pathological dissociative disorders.
(Source and Citation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_identity_disorder)

Now then, the story of how I came to have DID is a very lengthy one but it doesn’t involve being abused as a child (at least not by my own parents). But it does involve being abused in my early twenties; emotionally, psychologically, physically, verbally, and sexually. Long story short: First I was raped by a very trusted and close male friend (no longer my friend for obvious reasons) and second, I was unknowingly involved in a cult. Only after I managed to claw my way out with only my life did I realize it had been a cult and used every cult trick in the book. There. I said it.

The easiest way to describe having DID is that there is a fissure in my personality. There is an alternate side of me that handles the “burdens” of life or the things that are a bit too heavy for me to handle. Essentially it’s a beefed-up coping mechanism.

But first to clear up any misconceptions: no, I do not have a “split personality,” I do not have “multiple personalities,” I am not schizophrenic, I do not have borderline personality disorder or manic depressive disorder. I am aware when the alternate personality is in control, I do have lapses in memory but that could be attributed to my seizures.

Okay. That being said, you may have noticed that I mentioned that I am aware that an alternate personality is in control. Let me further define that for you and flesh it out a bit. That fissure or “crack” in my personality developed as a result of trauma. That portion of my personality that is still attached to the rest, but handles a different load, is assigned a name for an easier time of distinguishing me from that particular portion. That “crack” is referred to as “Shade.” Yes, I’m a nerd and one of my handles on the internet is ‘Cracked Mirror.’

Still fleshing out here, Shade is the one that hides in the shadows, she’s like a bodyguard: ready at a moment’s notice to take control of a situation and handle the emotional garbage that I cannot. When I said I am aware of the alter taking control it means this: I understand that I am acting differently, absorbing information differently, but it feels as if I am a passenger in a car – not actually driving or controlling the vehicle – but watching as it happens and just grasping onto the “Oh Shit Handle.”

I don’t lapse in and out of Shade’s personality and never remember it, but I will admit that I have a hard time retaining memories of events that Shade was present for. When my alter does take over, all of my emotions go on lock down, all information is processed logically, and the resulting effect is a hollow, capricious, and very callous nature – I hear things coming out of my mouth but I can’t stop myself from saying them or even checking them through a filter before they spew out – like I said, it’s like being a passenger in a moving vehicle while it’s on a collision course.

Before I knew what DID was or that I even had it, I had my own name for what would happen to me: I called it my “Kill Switch.” It was like all the humanity I had in my being would disappear or cease to function and what was left was the raw, reptilian brain, and the instinctual creature with just basic core components. A thinking zombie of sorts.

I did not choose to have DID, I don’t live in a fantasy world half of the time, it’s not something I fake to get attention; I have deeply hurt the people I love the most with vicious words and have not been able to control it or stop myself from doing it – I have felt helpless at times. To be honest, I really wish I didn’t have Dissociative Identity Disorder – it’s hell on my family and friends – and it makes my life harder. But part of me is thankful for the powerful coping mechanism because I shudder to think of might have happened to my sanity or psyche had I not developed DID.

For those of you that watch Dexter on Showtime, when he refers to his “Dark Passenger” it’s actually a very fitting description of what it’s like to have DID:
“Within all of our minds, there lies a place we rarely come in contact with. A dormant entity lurks throughout our thoughts and emotions quietly unnoticed – however, there are those of us who perceive this Passenger and learn to accept it as a part of ourselves. Dexter Morgan is one of these perceivers. He has come to accept the fact that he shares his mind with another. Over the years Dexter has come to call this unknown entity his Dark Passenger. As in all things active, a hunger dwells within the Passenger. A hunger that drives its host to the near brink. It is only through the deeds of Dexter Morgan that this longing can be calmed, yet never filled. When the need to feed is at its extremes, the Passenger takes over. Heightened senses, a quick step, and a will to succeed are all traits that come when the Passenger takes control. Though we all have this darkness within, many of us will never stumble across it.”
(Source and Citation: http://dexterwiki.wetpaint.com/page/The+Dark+Passenger)

Or maybe this works too:

“I just know there’s something dark in me and I hide it. I certainly don’t talk about it, but it’s there always, this Dark Passenger. And when he’s driving, I feel alive, half sick with the thrill of complete wrongness. I don’t fight him, I don’t want to. He’s all I’ve got. Nothing else could love me, not even… especially not me. Or is that just a lie the Dark Passenger tells me? Because lately there are these moments when I feel connected to something else… someone. It’s like the mask is slipping and things… people… who never mattered before are suddenly starting to matter. It scares the hell out of me.” – Dexter Morgan
(Source and Citation: http://www.extratv.com/2010/09/26/20-favorite-dexter-quotes/#dark_passenger)

Now don’t you go and get the wrong idea, Dexter’s a vigilante serial killer and while he has some good explanations, I’m not a sociopath or a psychopath. I don’t murder people in cold blood, I won’t even kill an insect – unless it’s a spider, arachnids are just asking for it – and I am not crazy (my mother had me tested). Heck, when Dexter first came out on Showtime I wasn’t even aware of the show until 2009 and when I started watching it, I went, “Hey! That sounds familiar! He has DID.” Which, if you know anything about the show, (spoiler alert) he had a highly traumatic event occur early in his life that created a fissure in his personality. I am not Dexter Morgan (he’s an extreme character based in fiction and adapted for the television screen: it has to be dramatic and entertaining or else no one would watch it).

I’m perfectly normal aside of the DID; I have an IQ of 154, my parents never divorced (they’re still together 37 years later), I function quite well in society (though awkward at times), and I have a wide circle of friends. Shoot, I even have a boyfriend that I would take down the stars for – how and why he loves me is beyond my comprehension, but I am more than thankful to have him in my life. All in all I am pretty normal. Aside of having an autism spectrum disorder (Asperger’s) at least I can pass for ‘normal’ in this crazy world.

Symptoms and Applicable Information:
Some more Wikipedia info on Dissociative Identity Disorder from previously cited link:
-“Others have suggested dissociation can be separated into two distinct forms, detachment and compartmentalization, the latter of which, involving a failure to control normally controllable processes or actions, is most evident in DID.”

-“DID includes “the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states” that alternate control of the individual’s behavior, accompanied by the inability to recall personal information beyond what is expected through normal forgetfulness […]

– “The level of functioning can change from severely impaired to adequate. […]”

– “Identities may be unaware of each other and compartmentalize knowledge and memories, resulting in chaotic personal lives.Individuals with DID may be reluctant to discuss symptoms due to associations with abuse, shame and fear. […]”

– “The primary identity, which often has the patient’s given name, tends to be “passive, dependent, guilty and depressed” with other personalities or “alters” being more active, aggressive or hostile, and often containing more complete memories. Most identities are of ordinary people, though fictional, mythical, celebrity and animal alters have also been reported.”

– “What may be expressed as post traumatic stress disorder in adults may become DID when occurring in children, possibly due to their greater use of imagination as a form of coping. Possibly due to developmental changes and a more coherent sense of self past the age of six, the experience of extreme trauma may result in different, though also complex dissociative symptoms and identity disturbances.”

– “DID must be distinguished from, or determined if comorbid with, a variety of disorders including mood disorders,psychosis, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, cognitive disorders, neurological disorders,epilepsy, somatoform disorder, factitious disorder, malingering, other dissociative disorders and trance states. Individuals faking or mimicking DID due to factitious disorder will exaggerate symptoms (particularly when observed), lie, blame bad behavior on symptoms and often show little distress regarding their apparent diagnosis. In contrast, genuine DID patients exhibit confusion, distress and shame regarding their symptoms and history.”

– “[DID] was changed [from “multiple personality disorder”] for two reasons. First, to emphasize the main problem was not a multitude of personalities, but rather a lack of a single, unified identity and an emphasis on “the identies as centers of information processing”. Second, the term “personality” is used to refer to “characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviors of the whole individual”, while for a patient with DID, the switches between identities and behavior patterns is the personality. It is for this reason the DSM-IV-TR referred to “distinct identities or personality states” instead of personalities. The diagnostic criteria also changed to indicate that while the patient may name and personalize alters, they lack an independent, objective existence.”

So, in conclusion, having DID is both a blessing and a curse (for more info read above paragraphs) but I’m doing better about controlling the “switches” and the “triggers.” While I feel it is still too taboo and would make me extremely vulnerable to go into the gritty details of what caused my DID, I can share what I do know about it and what it’s like to have it in order to help others and let them know that they aren’t alone and that they aren’t “crazy.” Society likes to label people with disorders as outcasts or derelicts, which simply isn’t nice.

As far as ‘Dissociative’ as it applies to me personally, I tend to disassociate from my emotions most often, the two most catalytic emotions being sadness and anger. Now, this isn’t just a severe form where I “turn off” at the first sign of the emotion, no, I manage sadness and anger pretty well most of the time. If anger and sadness were rated on a scale as 1 being the least sad/angry and 10 being the most, I can only handle up to a 7 or an 8 – then, and only then, does my alter take control and I seemingly “shut down.”

I’m not dead set that on the idea that I have DID, in fact, I’d rather I didn’t have it, and because of that I’m open to other possibilities such as Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Poor Emotional Self-Regulation: Emotional Suppression, or Depersonalization Disorder. However, DID seems to be what it is and I can only pray that it improves or goes away. I hope that this helps you or someone you know, provokes you to research possibilities, or even seek help… shoot even talking to someone about it may help. You’re not alone.

The Truth About How I Came To Have Dissociative Identity Disorder (Click.)

Until Next Time,
❤ Shade

P.S. Below is a poem I wrote describing how it feels to live with Dissociative Identity Disorder and

Evasion With the Stone Mason

Evasion is the easiest thing to do,
It allows me not to think
Of all the times I’ve been hurt
And with evasion I can just sink

Into my own world of protection
That hardened outer shell
Enveloping the soft inner core
And shielding it from the hell

Of this world’s cruelty
The chaos and the misery
That will bind and find
Every last soul and mind

Into a miasmatic atmosphere
Of pluralistic ignorance
Of pleonastic fools and fakers
Engaging in brute malevolence

From all this I seek blind refuge
Solitary recourse behind a dark mask
Valiant attempts at self deception
Leading me with Amontillado’s Cask

Into the dark hollow alcove
Where I can hide and obfuscate
While my stone mason will toil
With building a thick wall to sate

The anguish and the despondency
That rips and claws at my heart
My caliginous architect at the parapet
Refusing to move or take it apart

Guarding with hollow stares
And a crepuscular expression
As I safely nestle in the retreat
Gazing up at the last impression

Of one last notch left in the wall
Light pouring through in a lone beam
My last aperture to the exterior
An insurmountable task it would seem

To possibly overcome and be released
Would require my own tears and hard work
To take down that impenetrable impediment
Brick by brick to expose soft skin

That would be at risk of ripping again
Vulnerability makes me apprehensive
Frightens me and unnerves me to the core
It’s death hold and vice make me defensive

Until I can summon the courage and the will
That iron mason stands strong and sure
Allowing me to practice tactical evasion
Path of the least resistance will endure.
(c) Stacey L. Staudt

Protected: Shut up and let me go

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Can trauma have genetic effects across generations?

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 The Truth and Reconciliation committee has shed light on the horrors of residential schools in Canada. Dr. Amy Bombay explains the effects that trauma can have over multiple generations in relation to Canada’s First Nations people.

Can trauma have genetic effects across generations? – Home | Day 6 | CBC Radio.

A woman wipes a tear during the closing ceremony of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

A woman wipes a tear during the closing ceremony of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

http://www.cbc.ca

June 5, 2015

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on residential schools in Canada laid out the neglect and abuse aboriginal children and youth were put through. Studies have shown that trauma might have an affect not only the person experiencing the trauma, but also subsequent generationsvia their DNA. Brent speaks with Amy Bombay, assistant professor of psychiatry at Dalhousie University, on the possible implications of the field of epigenetics for First Nations people.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How exactly could a traumatic experience change a person’s DNA? 

Well this is something that we really only uncovered in the past ten to fifteen years through the study of epigenetics, which is basically the study of how environmental factors and experience can alter how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence.

So it’s not the DNA code itself that’s being affected, it’s something else? 

That’s right. We’re all born with our with our DNA and we used to think that wasn’t changeable and it’s not. But what we know now is that experience can make certain kinds of these DNA “tags”, which is the unscientific way to talk about it, that can tag onto our DNA. Those little tags can basically turn the gene on or off. And so while the same gene is still there, it could be not functioning or functioning differently and therefore the functional aspects and roles of that DNA are different.

So why would your body do this? What’s the evolutionary advantage?

I think it really depends on the situation. Just to give you an example, the research on the long term effects of the Holocaust might help explain this. We know those who experienced chronic stress, they tend to show lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which helps our body return to normal after trauma. Those who have things like post-traumatic stress disorder, they have these low levels of cortisol and so it’s not completely clear why this is the case in survivors. But Rachel Yehuda’s team recently found that these survivors seem to be making lower levels of an enzyme that breaks down this cortisol. So this could be considered to be an adaptation to keep more free cortisol in the bodies of these people who are being starved, which would allow their livers and kidneys to maximize their stores of glucose and all of these other things that would actually help them in response to prolonged starvation and other types of stress. But that same response is not going to be adaptive for the next generation who are trying to recover in a normal environment.

Continue reading:

Can trauma have genetic effects across generations? – Home | Day 6 | CBC Radio.

Psychopath vs. Sociopath

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Psychopath vs. Sociopath

Psychopathy and sociopathy are anti-social personality disorders. While both these disorders are the result of an interaction between genetic predispositions and environmental factors, psychopathy is used when the underlying cause leans towards the hereditary. Sociopath is the term used when the antisocial behavior is a result of a brain injury or belief system and upbringing. In recent years, the term psychopath has acquired a specific meaning and the condition is now more widely understood.

Psychopaths are born with temperamental differences such as impulsiveness, cortical under-arousal, and fearlessness that lead them to risk-seeking behavior and an inability to internalize social norms. On the other hand, sociopaths have relatively normal temperaments; their personality disorder being more an effect of negative sociological factors like parental neglect, delinquent peers, poverty, and extremely low or extremely high intelligence.

Anti-social personality disorder results in extremely violent acts. Though psychiatrists often consider and treat sociopaths and psychopaths as the same, criminologists treat them as different because of the difference in their outward behavior.

Comparison chart

Psychopath

Sociopath

Suffers from Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD); lack of empathy or conscience, delusional. Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).
Origin of illness Psychologists generally use the term psychopathy to imply an innate condition of the individual. It’s derived from the nature part of the nature vs. nurture debate. The term sociopathy generally implies that environmental factors, such as upbringing, have played a role in the development of the ASPD.
Predisposition to Violence High Varied
Impulsivity Varies; generally low High
Behavior Controlled Erratic
Criminal behavior Tendency to participate in schemes and take calculated risks to minimize evidence or exposure. Tendency to leave clues and act on impulse.
Criminal Predispositions Tendency for premeditated crimes with controllable risks, criminal opportunism, fraud, calculated or opportunistic violence. Tendency for impulsive or opportunistic criminal behavior, excessive risk taking, impulsive or opportunistic violence.
Social relationships Unable to maintain normal relationships. Values relationships that benefit themselves. May hurt family and friends without feeling guilty. Tendency to appear superficially normal in social relationships, often social predators. Can empathize with close friends or family; will feel guilty if they hurt people close to them.

Differences in Outward Behavior of a Psychopath and a Sociopath

Social Relationships

Both sociopaths and psychopaths are capable of forming relationships. The neurology of psychopaths makes it hard for them to feel empathy. They value relationships that benefit them but do not feel guilty about taking advantage of close friends and family. Both psychopaths and sociopaths can be extremely charming but sociopaths are generally capable of empathy and guilt. To that extent, their relationships — at least with people they end up getting close to — can be “normal”.

psychopathy

Psychopath vs Sociopath,

Psychopaths can be very manipulative and pernicious in their abuse of the people around them. Unlike sociopaths, they can be almost obsessively organized and give the appearance of normal in their social relationships, often forming symbiotic or parasitic relations.

Career

Psychopaths often have successful careers and try to make others like and trust them. This is because they understand human social emotions quite well but are unable to experience them. This allows them to be master manipulators of human emotions.

Sociopaths often find it hard to maintain a steady job and home.

Violent tendencies

Even though psychopathy is characterized by impulsiveness, psychopaths are usually very meticulous in planning their crimes. Their crimes can go undetected for a long time. Violent crimes are rare; most psychopaths either take advantage of those around them without doing anything illegal, or engage in white collar crime such as fraud.

A sociopath’s outbreaks of violence tend to be erratic and unplanned. They also tend to leave more clues.

Both sociopaths and psychopaths commit crime because they are motivated by greed or revenge. But psychopaths feel no remorse after their crimes because they lack the ability to empathize.

Similarities between Psychopaths and Sociopaths

Sociopaths and psychopaths both face medical disorders that can be treated or alleviated if properly diagnosed. Treatment involves therapies and may involve proper medication. In fact, psychiatrists often don’t distinguish between the two based on behavior; instead, they label a person with ASPD a sociopath if their mental condition is a result of mainly social conditions like abuse during childhood and a psychopath if the condition is mainly congenital.

The symptoms in both cases begin to establish and surface at approximately fifteen years of age. The initial symptom can be excessive cruelty to animals followed by lack of conscience, remorse or guilt for hurtful actions to others at a later stage. There may be an intellectual understanding of appropriate social behavior but no emotional response to the actions of others. Psychopaths may also face an inability to form genuine relationships, and may show inappropriate or out of proportion reaction to perceived negligence.

WoRk

Treatment and Support

Antisocial Personality Disorder is a mental illness that can be managed with drugs and therapy.

The Mayo Clinic also has information on the illness and resources for support.

Psychopath vs Psychotic

It should be noted that psychopaths are not “insane” or mentally disabled. A psychotic person suffers a break from reality, characterized by delusions and hallucinations. This usually renders the individual unable to function normally. But psychopaths are not mentally disabled and do not lose contact with reality.

References

P for psychopath

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I have always loved words and language. Today, I participated in a “word-game” on Facebook. You get a letter, and must answer questions with that letter. Mine was P. The annoying thing is that my brain won`t stop, It still works with Producing P-words, in Norwegian, German and English. Instead of letting those P`s scream for attention, I thought I`d give them a task.
images-17
Dear Psychopath

Your playboy personality drew me in. Your pothole brain predated on mine. Palavering on my pain, pleased you. You planned your performance with no pity. I was your prey, and you the player. You paralyzed me. Your penchant for being a person everyone praised, was always present. Picking me apart, was what you did as a part-time job. Poking holes, prodding my weak points while plotting your plan. Protesting when I tried to pin down what was wrong. You never learned from the past, and proclaimed this with pride. Perfect people let the past go. Pulling away and letting go, was how you preached. You provided nothing, just your own perfection. Pleasing you was all I should do, participating in your priceless pandemoniums. I was your private party-planner. The picture you could mold and proudly present. I played along, until I almost passed out. But I promise you: I will never perform on your playing field anymore or provide my love. Predator, become my past.

Your Princess. images-16

THE SOCIOPATH AND THE CYCLE, RINSE, SPIN, REPEAT PATTERN

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Reblogged from ‘dating a sociopath’

her blog
A baby can be transfixed by watching a washing machine go round and round. The clothes spinning in the machine can be fascinating to watch.

An adult wouldn’t choose to watch a washing machine cycle over and over again. It isn’t soothing and calming, in fact the noise from the spin, can be quite irritating.

This is how it feels to date a sociopath. The same repeated pattern over and over again. What is very bizarre is that if you speak to other victims, they have all experienced the same patterns of behaviour. Identical, as if they were dating the same person.

Each time the sociopath makes empty, false promises to be a ‘good’ ‘productive’ person and to do all that they promised to do in the first place, you are hopeful that things will change and you will have a ‘normal’ relationship. This is especially true if you still love the sociopath, or if you have invested so much in terms of time, energy, emotions, love. To finally hear that they are going to be the person that they pretended to be, or that they will fulfil empty promises, makes you want to stay there, after all you don’t want to be wrong, you don’t want to have invested all of that time and energy for nothing.

The truth is, that the sociopath WILL keep (no matter what they say) repeating the same behaviour over and over. Even if they have all the best intentions in the world not to do so. You would therefore only be setting yourself up for more of the same behaviour

Why?

Poor impulse control
Failure to learn from past mistakes
Opportunistic
Lack of long term plans and realistic long term goals
Low tolerance of boredom
Seeing life as a game, and others in life as players in the game
Dupers delight and the joy of conning
Finding it easier to lie, than to be honest, the ability to live behind the mask
Due to the above personality traits, the sociopath will continue to repeat the same behaviour. Even when they do not mean to. When they say that they ‘promise’ to change. Even swearing on their dying grandmothers life, or their childrens, or anyone else who they think will pull on your heartstrings, they are simply saying words.

To the sociopath, when they say the words they can convince themselves that their word is true. Sometimes they mean it (at the time), at other times, it is merely an opportunity to dupe and con some more, or to use this as an extended period of time to use you for source of supply.

Things might change, for a short period of time, but the boredom factor kicks in, and then all promises are out of the window, and things return as normal. You wonder how did you get dragged back into this yet again?

The washing machine analogy is a good one. Being in a relationship with a sociopath, you can actually feel as if you have been through the cycle of the washing machine, left with your head spinning. If you allow it, the sociopath, they will lure you back in to do the cycle all over again. Do you want this?

This is the cycle of abuse. If you are feeling confused, or like your head has been stuck in the fast spin of a washing machine, this is why. You are being programmed by the sociopath, manipulated and controlled. Even after the relationship has ended the sociopath will still play games, manipulate and control you. Either using others to do this, or by deliberate silence, or letting you know what a great time they are having now you are not in their life (after all it was all your fault). That they are happy and you are miserable (this isn’t true either).

This is just a ruse. It wasn’t your fault. There was nothing that you could have done to change things. You cannot control, or change a master manipulator. Nobody can. We are all responsible for ourselves. We can only change ourselves, nobody else.

It might hurt to remove yourself from the game. Yes, the silence can be painful. You deserve so much better. In reality, you will WIN…. you win because

You can take responsibility and charge for you and your life
Nobody else is turning your world upside down
Financially all of your money is your own. Even if you have been wiped out, you can now start to rebuild
You are FREE – to do what you want, see who you want, go where you want
It is impossible to start to rebuild your life, and to stop being in this crazy pattern of cycle, rinse, spin and then repeat…. unless you remove yourself. Stop being a player in the game.

When you stop playing the game, the sociopath can at first up the drama to engage you to play. If you refuse to engage, if you establish no contact, the sociopath will eventually get bored and move onto a new player in their crazy game of life.

You cannot really lose anything in this life. The only thing that you can really lose is YOU. Other things that you lose (such as death) is not your fault and out of your hands (and I believe that life is eternal). Finances can be rebuilt, you can find new friends, get a new job, anything can be rebuilt. But you can lose yourself, and this is the biggest loss of all.

Find yourself, love yourself, focus on you. This is all that you have control over. You.

How many of you went through this repeated cycle of behaviour, over and over? How many times, before you said ENOUGH??

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Stress Positions are Torture

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Reblogged from Ashana M. Thank you for sharing.

Stress Positions are Torture

Strappado at BuchenwaldSome days, my whole body hurts. Sometimes it’s just my legs that hurt. They hurt at the thighs most intensely, but also along the arches of my feet. I’ve described the sensation to my doctors as a burning sensation, the kind of pain you feel from muscular exhaustion.

There is no medical explanation for my pain. And yet there is.

Growing up, I was placed in what are euphemistically referred to as “stress positions”–positions in which a disproportionate amount of stress is place on a small number of muscles, at first causing discomfort and eventually leading to intense pain.

At Guantanamo, detainees are frequently subjected to stress positions during interrogation–“short-chaining” so that they are restrained in uncomfortable positions throughout the course of the interrogation. Seated detainees cannot sit up straight. Standing detainees cannot stand up. Enough of this, and you start finding yourself wanting to tell the interrogator whatever he wants to hear, just to get out of the short-chaining.

It is referred to as an “enhanced interrogation technique,” and justified as necessary for reasons of safety and security. But stress positions are a form of torture. And it is well-documented that torture is neither humane nor effective: the desire to end the torture motivates the victim to please the perpetrator, rather than to tell the truth.

Detainees are also placed in other stress positions as well, including what is sometimes referred to as strappado which places terrible stress on the shoulders, causing unbearable pain, dislocation, and sometimes nerve and ligament damage.

The most effective stress positions in torture are those that provide the prisoner with a choice of death or pain, or a choice of two kinds of pain. This causes the prisoner to falsely feel he is in control of the pain, and he will often unwittingly blame himself.

In my case, my father suspended me by the neck from the ceiling of the garage with my feet barely touching the ground, so that as long as I stood on tip-toes I could continue to breathe. If I relaxed my legs, I would asphyxiate.

This is why my legs continue to hurt. My automatic response to stress is to create tension in my legs, as I unconsciously associate danger with a need to stand on tip-toe and to maintain tension in my legs.

There are two take-aways from this in my mind. One, the use of stress positions in American detention facilities needs to end completely. And, two, rehabilitation of torture victims must include the collaboration of medical professionals on mental health and physical issues, as they are inter-related. The torture survivor who feels physical pain is not merely reliving the pain in his own mind. He is sometimes feeling the affects of ongoing damage to nerves, joints, and tissues. At other times, he is unwittingly recreating it, by returning to positions that kept him alive.

Further reading:

Amnesty International. Torture and Accountability. http://www.amnesty.org/en/campaigns/counter-terror-with-justice/issues/torture-and-accountability

The Green Light. (2008, May) Vanity Fair. http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/guantanamo200805

Reydt, P. (2004, 25 August). Former Detainees Detail Abuses at Guantanamo Bay. World Socialist Website. http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2004/08/tipt-a25.html

Doctor Bradbury, please help me

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This month, we could read about doctor Bradbury. Shock and outrage surfaced with the news that he had molested innocent children with cancer for 22 years.

These boys were all vulnerable and gravely ill. In all my years on the bench, I have never come across such a grotesque betrayal of your Hippocratic oath.

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth

kid

The case reminds me of Jimmy Saville, who also abused so many children without getting caught before it was too late. I think about the nightmare it must have been for those who’ve trusted these men. Children, hoping for a better future, and how they probably has had their lives destroyed. I won’t even think about how and why this happened. The story is familiar: People were suspicious and thought something might be going on. In Saville’s case, people even knew that abuse happened, but they failed to speak up, dismissing the truth for several reasons. Some because they were afraid, since Saville was famous and liked. Some thought they must have misunderstood, and some plainly wouldn’t think about it.

Bradbury was described as “a man of great charm and persuasiveness” whom everybody trusted. When one victim raised concerns with his mother, she said: “He’s a doctor, it must be necessary.”

Dec 1st, 2014

Our mind is the king of denial, and reigns over conscience and fear. After the fact we are haunted by guilt and think about the signs that suddenly makes everything obvious. I remember one of the people who suspected that Saville did indeed molest children. She talked about why she didn’t report what she had suspected. Several of the reasons mentioned, were named, and it was clear that she wished she had followed her gut feeling. We can all remember occasion where we failed to do the right thing, and most of us feel guilty for a long time afterwards. What’s the cure? Simply do what’s right when you feel something might be wrong. I, like the rest of the world, shudder when we read stories like these, but what really scares me is abuse on a large scale. It’s abuse in countries where no safety nets exists. Where abuse doesn’t get investigated because of corruption or lack of laws.

Examples are girls sold to slavery and poor women in developed countries who endure secular violence on a regular basis. They have silent screams that we never hear, because they are muffled from the very beginning. This is was scares me more than anything else. In UK, the children and families who were affected by doctor Bradbury, at least get justice. In many poor countries, the perpetuates walk free after abuse and even murder. The innocent women and men have no place to turn for comfort, help or hope. They must endure another crisis, every day, while the rest of the world goes on like nothing is wrong.

What scares you the most?

Maybe, when we hear the screams, we will finally wake up enough to do something for the victims of abuse. Until then, let us all remember to speak up when we suspect something’s amiss. We might regret it otherwise.

The sound of shocking news

Dr Myles Bradbury patients’ families warned children could be abused

Protected: Narrative part 8: The sound of alpha males

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