Gaslighting and Self-Doubt in Dissociative Identity Disorder
Life with dissociative identity disorder (DID) is often filled with self-doubt. People with DID doubt their memories and doubt themselves. It is especially difficult in the beginning of a DID diagnosis, when the urge to engage in denial is often the strongest. But the tendency towards self-doubt doesn't stop there; it can continue for years. One cause of consistent self-doubt is related to a type of psychological abuse experienced by many with DID: gaslighting.
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a type of psychological and emotional abuse that occurs when an abuser purposefully manipulates a victim into believing things that aren't true, and doubting things that are true (Gaslighting: Designed to Destroy Your Sanity). Abusers can use gaslighting as a way of covering up other types of abuse. When confronted, abusers deny the reality, and instead turn it on victims, convincing them that they are wrong and crazy (Gaslighting: Defined by Types of Gaslighters). Gaslighting causes a tremendous amount of confusion, questioning, and self-doubt in the victim, and the effects can last long after the abusive relationship has ended.
The Connection between Gaslighting and Self-Doubt in Dissociative Identity Disorder
It's not uncommon for those with DID to have been victims of psychological abuse, including gaslighting. People with DID doubt their memories and accounts of past events because their abusers tricked them into believing that no such abuse occurred. This can complicate the healing process when working through traum
atic memories. Instead of believing the memory, the person resorts to doubt and denial, as if it were in automatic response. Sometimes, people with DID will even doubt their diagnosis, believing that no abuse occurred and that they must just be making it up.
The effects of gaslighting in DID are further complicated when other parts, or alters, have also experienced that type of abuse. Younger parts can be more susceptible to manipulation, and their ability to understand can differ significantly from that of the host and older alters. The confusion and doubt have to be worked through with each alter, in age-appropriate ways, just as if he or she were any other person.
Counteracting Self-Doubt in Dissociative Identity Disorder
It is not easy to reverse the effects of years of psychological abuse, but it is possible. Remind yourself that you are not crazy (a common term used against victims in gaslighting). My abuser spent over a decade telling everyone in my life that I was crazy and delusional. It took just as long to realize that it wasn't true. It was just her way of isolating me and making me doubt myself.
Tell yourself your experiences, your memories, and you as a person are all valid. Instead of trying to find ways to disprove your reality, look for things that validate your experiences. When I struggle with doubts about my diagnosis, I look at the pictures my alters have colored, pictures that are nothing like what I would ever color. When I struggle with doubts about my abuse, I remind myself of the proof that it occurred; the scars, the body memories, and the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) would not have appeared for no reason. I counteract the tendency to invalidate by saying, "Well, what if it did?" Most of the time, the evidence is there, and I can't deny it.
I've also learned that doubting my diagnosis and doubting my memories and experiences makes it difficult to work with my system. When I doubt my experiences, I am also doubting theirs, and denying their reality. I wouldn't want someone doubting me.
It can be difficult to acknowledge when psychological abuse like gaslighting has occurred, but when you do, healing from it is possible, even when you have DID.
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Matulewicz, C. (2016, September 28). Gaslighting and Self-Doubt in Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2016/09/gaslighting-and-self-doubt-in-dissociative-identity-disorder
Author: Crystalie Matulewicz
How can i tell the difference between gaslighting myself and not? Just for some personal info, im only 16. I have GAD, SAD, MDD, and ADHD. Though i get treatment for these things, im still struggling extremely with most aspects of life. I feel like something is missing, and no one understands me (which ik is “common” for a teenager but it doesn’t usually make them feel like they need to be in a mental hospital). For a while, I was in a toxic relationship and I identified greatly with bpd symptoms. Now that i have therapy and a better partner, i feel like I’ve been going crazy. Im no longer in “panic mode” but im constantly trying to figure out what is happening bc no one else will. I didn’t intentionally seek it, but I stumbled upon DID and became interested. The more I research (genuine hours worth of research, not just random stuff), the more i feel like I “connect dots” and come to realizations. My problem is, I REFUSE to self diagnose. I know im no physiologist, i KNOW it’s extremely hard to understand DID and most mental conditions. But my brain feels uncontrollable, these thoughts and research are like almost daze episodes in which i spend hours attempting to recall my life and figure out what i “have” that is causing me to destroy my social life, mental state, relationships, school, etc. Ive expressed these concerns to my mother (not particularly DID, just the “trying to figure things out” stuff) , but theres not much either of us feel we can do. Neither of us are psychologist, and im already in therapy and have a psychologist. The problem is, i don’t always think like this (i think?). I just know as soon as I’m in their office every concern that makes me think “im crazy” leaves my mind. And i dont realize until later. Sometimes i even slightly remember but suddenly it seems unimportant and like im making things up. And, possibly due to my younger age, whenever i have expressed similar concerns in the past ive been told im to polite, self aware, sweet, smart, intelligent, etc to have a mental condition. The problem is sometimes i tell them IM NOT ALWAYS LIKE THAT and they never ever listen. I feel trapped. And i think its causing me to reserve my suspensions to seem like less of a hypochondriac. But the whole reason i want someone to take me seriously is so i DONT assume and convince myself im going through experiences that im not. But i cant tell myself. So, do u know any tips to either help this or figure out if im gaslighting myself into thinking I might have DID. I just desperately dont want to assume, and I know im young which effects things, but im so tired of watching myself destroy everything around me including myself too. It’s exhausting. Anyway sorry for the rant :). Oopsy
I have been a victim of gaslighting psychological and emotional abuse for years and didn’t realize it. A co-worker started telling me that I was being setup and that I would be shocked when I found out who was behind it, in 2012 a bible study friend would tell me that someone was saying really bad things about me, that there were lots of people involved and later she would come back and tell me that I was a victim of “gaslighting” . In 2013 my husband convinced me that I needed to quit my job as a Sr Business Applications Analysts IT Project Manager and in 2016 we were in a car accident he walked away unscathed and I was hospitalized for 12 days and Am having subsequent surgery’s to date as part of the healing process. The gaslighting is ongoing and with my skill set I haven’t been able to obtain a professional position. The gaslighting and abuse has impacted ever area of my life, my children stop speaking to me, Friends and family, organizations that I have membership in no longer wanted me to be a member or they would not allow me to participate or attend functions, this was reflected in family & friend gatherings as well. They rumored that I was a whore, involved with drugs, human trafficking and the list goes on.
Thank you so much for this, this article was a lifesaver for me!