Many therapists believe that extreme sexual abuse is the cause of DID in children and teenagers. There may be some truth to this theory but many psychiatrists are skeptical about this claim. There is no scientific proof that sex abuse causes DID. There are no longitudinal studies on DID that could answer many questions about this profound disorder, including its causes. Reliving memories and experiencing the emotional responses, known as abreaction, doesn’t seem to heal the patient. This would suggest that sexual abuse may not be the cause since the therapeutic procedure isn’t healing the patient’s memories or history. Without a cure, it is very difficult to pinpoint the cause.
Author Judith Machree,(pictured left), herself an alleged former multiple and victim of childhood sexual abuse, claims otherwise. She cites a number of examples that alerted her to the fact that she was a multiple. These are some examples:
- After Machree married a supportive man she claims kept her on “an even keel”, she became more aware of her confusion and breaks with reality. She offers an odd example “I could park my car and go into the mall and not be able to find my car at all. I had no idea where I parked it.” If that’s a legitimate example of DID then I might have reason to worry: I forget where I have parked my car on a regular basis. I have spent up to a minute or two searching for it. I don’t see that as a sign of trauma.
- Machree cited a major depressive episode she had after her 17-year-old son left to join the military as a symptom of her DID. I doubt that claim. Many people have major depressive episodes, including when a family member leaves for an extended time period. It seems extreme, but as Machree explained, she was very close to her son and was quite dependent on him.
- Her therapist suspected she had been abused because she had several gaps in her memory about her father. I don’t know what she refers to as gaps. Does this mean she cannot remember years of interacting with her parent? Neither can most people. I have a general idea of my relationship with my parents over the years and some specific memories associated with them, but I certainly cannot recall in detail most of my interactions with them.
- As with most DID stories, Machree claims “the things that happened to me happened at such an early age.” Actually, those who believe in the phenomenon of DID claim that DID can occur at all ages in life, from early childhood to adulthood. Some people even claim that DID can be inherited. Ergo, children may be born with the disorder and it isn’t the result of childhood trauma.
Was Machree a victim of childhood sexual abuse? Who knows? Many women are, so that is entirely possible. Did she develop the extremely rare phenomenon known as dissociative identity disorder as a result? I find that hard to believe. Her story is so familiar it is practically an echo of all the published documentation of people’s experiences with DID. I have only read about one woman who claimed she was born with the condition. I have not read yet about people who developed DID in their teen years or in adulthood but this development is now identified in the DSM-5. Now that this information has been published, I expect that many people will suddenly come forward with stories of developing DID in their teens and later years. Trends often develop from suggestions about various disorders that are published in psychiatric manuals and journals.