Dissociative Identity Disorder

While doing some wordpress searching for new and interesting blogs, I came across a wonderful blog by Secret Shadows who explores her life as an individual with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Her blog includes thoughts, songs, poetry, letters to her therapist as well as artwork created during art therapy sessions. She also has a list of relaxing things to do on the internet, many of which include art making techniques.

I find that being reminded of what it’s like to be on the other side of the couch, or paintbrush, is a powerful and useful tool for therapists. Also, as a person who would like to learn as much as possible about trauma, its effects and techniques for enabling the healing process, this blog is invaluable. Thank you for allowing us a window into your inner life, Secret Shadows.

7 Replies to “Dissociative Identity Disorder”

  1. Thank you for such a flattering review of my blog! Art Therapy was very important to my healing at one time. Lately I do more writing that drawing. It is interesting how communication of my internal world and the trauma I have face started with pictures, progressed to written text, and is now bridging the gap towards oral expression. Actually, I did not do the art work in any art therapy session. I did all of them on my own and brought them to my therapists. None of my therapists were trained in art therapy or particularly interested in art therapy. Most showed interest in my work and honored that it was the way I could communicate volumes at the time.

    I am a teacher. I only substitute teach right now, but when I was working full time I worked with children with emotional/behavioral disorders. I did art therapy with them weekly. I had some training on art therapy while in my Master’s program. My art actually started the second year I was teaching when I decided to do some of my own assignments at home. Mostly though I just drew whatever was on my mind at the time.

    Do you do much work with Sandtray?? It is so much like art therapy, only more tactile and 3 dimensional. I used a sandtray in my classroom as well. I studied Sandtray more than I did traditional art therapy in my graduate program and attended a few play therapy conferences. I have actually given thought to going back to school at some point to get a degree in counseling and working with children and adolescents. Time will tell. I certainly have a lot of my own therapy to do first.

    I am glad that you like my blog. Come as often as you wish. It is my hope that people will understand that DID does not = crazy. Mostly, I am just like anyone else. If you knew me casually, or even if your were a good friend, you would not guess. However trained professionals pick up on it, and my husband as well. Obviously if you live with someone that has DID, you will see more. But even people who are married to someone with DID don’t acknowledge it if the switching isn’t very prominent. Lots of people expect DID to look the way they see it in the media, and for the majority of people with DID, that is just not the way it is.

    Thanks again for the compliments on my blog. What you said was a comfort and an encouragement to me.
    Secret Shadows

  2. SS-

    Thanks for clarifying about the art therapy sessions. I read one of your posts that talked about a piece you’d made and it made mention of discussions with your therapist. Somehow I assumed that these discussions were with an art therapist. How brave of you to bring in your artwork to your sessions!

    It’s actually quite common that you found it easier to communicate at first using art making, which then led to writing and oral expression. Briefly, the theory behind this phenomenon lies in the idea that memories can be stored as images (and also as tactile or auditory sensations, etc…), so it follows that one could find it difficult to translate the images into words without some way to bridge the two…which is where art making comes in.

    I don’t know much about Sandtray, but I was briefly exposed to it during an internship where I worked with children and teens in Philadelphia. From what I understand, there are many similarities between art therapy and Sandtray…and I know that Sandplay is similar as well and is based upon Jungian psychology. I’m sure at one point I’ll get some training on one of these methods…along with all the other stuff that intrigues me, like EMDR. If you’re interested in learning a little more about Sandplay, I know that Dr. David Van Nys who hosts two podcasts, 1) shrink rap radio and 2) wise counsel, has interviewed a Sandplay expert on one of his archived shows.

    You’re right, DID is not very well understood, and is still somewhat controversial. You’re blog is an eye opener. Keep up the good work, and I’ll definitely be stopping by to explore some more.

  3. Thanks for posting this and introducing Secret Shadows blog, its wonderful and informative.

    Training to be a counsellor at the moment and would love to go into Art Therapy at some point.



  4. What an interesting blog you have here! I paint for therapeutic reasons but have not been involved in art therapy per se. A different read…

  5. hello my name is marlyse and i am taking an expressive arts therapy class, I would like to work with abused children someday because of my personal experiences and those of some of the closest people in my life. Here lately i have to put together a role play for my class using art therapy as the modality and my group chose to use the diagnosis of DID because its such an intresting illness and I love to hear the stories of healing. Could you please give me some advice as to how i should go about creating the scene. I happen to be playing the role of the art therapist and I want to be as accurate as possible.Thank you sooo much and I will be blogging with you.

  6. Hey Marlyse,

    Check out these videos :) Hopefully you’ll find them useful for your project:

    (turn up the volume for this one!)

    Warm Regards,
    – Liz

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