Great big thanks to ~oboe-wan and *PlayinTheDead for the mountain of help they gave me on this.
Big ups also to =TheSkaBoss for helping me out with some of the finer points of DID/DA.
EDIT: 20/7/13 I want to give a special thank you to ^NicSwaner, for the DD and for understanding how important this piece is to me/in general.
I found this very helpful, not just for writing but for understanding people in general. I know a couple people who have illnesses covered in this guide. It's good to have something like this to refer to (for myself, not for them). Thank you so much for writing this! It's truly invaluable.
I hope that it is helpful, not just for writing. The funny thing is Repression is totally something everyone does. Conflict resolution classes and therapy sessions are basically lessons in how not to repress and cultivate fear around an emotion, so I thought it was something that might be useful for everyone!
Thank you so very much for this resource and list! Wonderful overview and discussion, will definatley be helpful to me in my projects.
Update: I've had to rethink and rehaul a good deal of one of my original character's mannerisms with all this new information, I've got some amount of leeway in that fantasy elements come into play, but I'd like not to handwave the seriousness of these problems and portray them as realisticly as possible.
My character was involved in a life-threatening explosion and ended up in a coma, but woke up with a bit of a different personality. I've noticed this might contradict a few things as that's not really how most of these listed illnesses really work.
Would you happen to have any resources relating directly to Dissacociative Identity Disorder? It's sort of controversial in fiction since it gets abused a lot to let a character get away with things or misrepresented by those who haven't done their research or just think it would be cool (Which leads to really awful conclusions and assumptions about people that actually may have or do suffer from something like DID) and I'd really like to avoid that. (In fact, the character in question's personality change effects another character moreso than themself.) So if you have any tips or places I can look for more info on things that would involve personality, that would be mucho appreciated~!
Thank you again for this wonderful write up!
to understand this and get it right. I really respect that. Big high
First thing´s first, with something like Dissociative Amensia, it is possible that this person could wake up missing vital pieces of information or just be ´duller´than before, but as *bloodawni points out, a one time trauma like an explosion for someone in their 20s is far, far less likely to produce DID. If you do want information on DID, I would recommend contacting =TheSkaBoss - they know way more than I do about it.
But second, the other question I have is what happened during said explosion that your character wound up in a coma? Because these disorders are mental but not produced by a physical injury. Amnesia can also be produced by head trauma or prolonged coma, but I know less about that. I could absolutely dig up a few articles if you´d like, but, my main point is that a physical injury could be a game changer.
Here is the basic rundown on what DID is (and again, this was clarified by =TheSkaBoss so they are a good bet for answering questions): You have a person, they experience a trauma. They are scared and do not want to confront the trauma again. So, there is a piece of them, we will call it EP, that remembers the trauma and relives it, whether it be in dreams, flashbacks, etc. But that part is locked away. Part of this person´s character is locked away there too, so the person is just emptier than they were. But, they function. On the outside, they perform their normal tasks, think, love, dream, whatever, just less than before. What you see on the outside, we will call AP.
Now, the AP is still the core of this person. It is a personality. The EP is just some memories and traits strongly associated with those memories that are locked in a little vault. There can be multiple EPs, multiple traumas, multiple forgotten things. But there is only one AP. That´s Dissociative Amnesia. When there is more than one AP - meaning, the trauma was so strong that the real person, the main AP, doesn´t have the skills or traits necessary to handle the situation so it forms a new one, that is DID. There are also probably a mess of EPs attached to both of these APs. But you can see why it would normally take a prolonged situation to produce something like a second AP, because a need for constant coping exists. Thus, as *bloodawni pointed out, it´s more frequently found in children, because they are still developing.
Phew. I know this is all really complicated, and not like it´s something easily accessible, so I hope this helps in some way! I think I can probably point you at some good info to help you out once we hash out if there is physical injury involved, and how much memory or personality loss you are looking at. Can you give me a snapshot of your initial idea for it?
From what I know, DID rarely appears as a response to trauma post (youngish) childhood, probably because at that age, your mind and personality is less 'set' and thus more easily manipulated? (I'm not entirely sure on the reasons behind that) That would knock it way out of likelihood for your late 20s character; but I don't really know anything else that would show up in the way you've previously described.
Sorry I couldn't be more help, but I wish you lots of luck!
And it just so happens that a few of the sources I used were recent studies on psych problems in WWI, so if you're interested, particularly the articles by Van der Hart I found really good.
And congrats on the very much needed DD!
Some of this I was familiar with already, and some of it is new to me. And then, some of the 'tropes' you mentioned actually surprised me (for example I find it baffling that people might think a trauma and related mental illnesses will 'turn off' after the initial cause, like a war, is over). Other tropes I am familiar with and I'm glad to see you addressing them as incorrect (it has always bugged me, regardless of the media, how trauma and trauma symptoms are treated conveniently, only happen when the plot demands it, and mysteriously vanish when no longer needed).
So thanks for all of this, this is a great piece of work!
Thanks so much for the kind and thoughtful feedback!