Character Sketch: A Man of Parts

by Debi

Observing Dissociative Identity Disorder from the outside is a lesson in contradictions.  One day mousy, the next moment roaring, like a beast.

It’s unknown—even to the man—when the Beast became the protector of the Mouse.  Some people would call the mouse part of the man a Child alter.  Or a Little.  But there’s something truly mouse-like about this alter’s presentation. A mouse nervously sniffs the air, prepared to run at any moment, just as this Mousy Little is fearful, always on alert, ever ready to dive beneath the protective covering of the Beast at the first sign of danger.

The Beast—some would call it the Protector alter—rises up in an intimidating angry stance to fend off any perceived threats.  The Mouse runs off into hiding, essentially sleeping.  Unaware of what’s happening while the Beast roars its threats, bares its teeth, shows its claws, threatens and abuses. The Beast is always ferocious and fierce.  The Beast is ever-present, there to protect the Mouse, to step in and be the Beast.

The Beast is usually quiet, but always attentive, watching the Mouse from afar. The Beast and Mouse never speak, at least not to each other. The Beast knows and is fully aware the Mouse is part of himself.  The Mouse, however, is usually unaware of the Beast. Now and then, someone will describe the Beast’s actions. The anger.  The rage.  The abuse.  But then the Mouse feels nothing but confusion.  How could a mouse be frightening or threatening?  How could a mouse hurt or abuse?  On very rare occasions, the Mouse watches the Beast.  But then remembers it dimly and describes it like watching a movie.

The two parts have worked out a system where one dominates during distress and the other rules the quiet and peace of every day. When both parts feel trapped and threatened—unable to run or to rage—the man shuts down entirely. Still conscious but fully dissociated and unresponsive. The Doctor calls it a Brown Out.  It usually doesn’t last long.

Such is the life of a man of parts.

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