Mona is a veteran writer, educator, and coach. She is presently affiliated with Enrich Magazine and Pressenza
A Bewildering Disorder
The first book about disassociative identity disorder was about a woman named Eve, who had three people living in her. It resulted in the movie, The Three Faces of Eve. Next followed the book Sybil, about a woman who had 16 personalities living in her. More recently, there was the movie, "Split" which exaggerated DID but was quite the thriller, focusing also on a man with many people living in his body including an elderly woman and a child.
Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a mental illness where a person has two or more alters (alternative identities) living inside them. One alter may have a foreign accent, another may be a child, a third may be a different gender, and they all occupy one person's body as separate and distinct individuals.
The person with DID (we'll call them PDID) may only know some alters, but not others. If the PDID doesn't know the other alters, they may have a blackout while the alter's in control. Sometimes the PDID will find strange clothes in their closet that isn't their style. It's because the latter went shopping, or they may awaken from a blackout in the middle of the street, and they don't know how they got there.
The cause of DID
Symptoms of DID usually occur at ages five to ten. Normally, alters are created at age six. "Their purpose is to save the child. When abuse occurs, the PDID doesn't experience it, the alter does.
The alters were originally a defense system, but in adult life, they turn negative. Cruel words loop in the PDID's head, blaming the PDID for abuse, threatening them, or telling them to die.
Symptoms of DID are alcohol abuse, anxiety, delusions, depression, disorientation, drug dependence, memory loss, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.
There's no cure for DID. But medication and psychotherapy can help integrate all the alters in the PDID, who gets more control over blackouts and personality changes. Below are three people who became millionaires despite having DID.
Actor Roseanne Barr has a net worth of more than US$80 million. Her show, "Roseanne" ran from 1988 to 1997, and she won an Emmy, Golden Globe, Peabody, Kids' Choice Award, and many American Comedy Awards. Barr, a bestselling author, talks of DID in her book, My Lives.
Roseanne told an interviewer, "There are about three hundred diagnoses, which proves: Shrinks have been my only friends."
Alters and Traumas
Roseanne's alteras are Baby, Cindy, Heather, Joey, Nobody, Somebody, and Susan. In My Lives she said, "I feel like killing myself every day. I have turned tricks, had my father molest both me and my daughter, and I have lived through it."
As a child, Roseanne once walked into the kitchen and saw her mother on the floor with ketchup poured all over her, pretending to be dead. Her mother also placed things in Roseanne's private parts as a child. It took all of Roseanne's energy and courage to keep the abuse secret. This drove her to drugs, alcohol, smoking five packs of cigarettes a day, and overeating.
When Roseanne was 12, her father said his best friend was eating peanuts while riding his bike, then a car hit him, adding, "Peanuts (were) coming out of his eyes."
Another story he told was how Roseanne's baby sister and he were playing with matches, then the child caught fire and burned to death.
Roseanne thought fame would make her safe, but now she says, "There is only one way around the pain and that is through it." Addressing incest survivors, Roseanne said, "Don't stay untreated. It will kill you. My whole life has been about incest. (But) incest takes away your power, your access to your thought process, your ability to love, and even feel. Incest takes away your life."
Roseanne is a mother of five children, but she can't have them all together at the same time because some of them are children of different altars.
Herschel Walker, Childhood Trauma
Herschel walker, an NFL legend, is worth US$73 million, according to Forbes 2022. He is also Georgia's GOP Senator.
As a child, Walker was bullied for being overweight, and teachers put him down because he stuttered. He had no friends and for four years he hid in class during recess. In the eighth grade, on the last day of school, the bullies hurt Walker so badly that he cried on the bus all the way home. The other children mimicked his stutter and laughed at him.
That made Walker swear he'd never be bullied again. He did a daily exercise regimen of thousands of push-ups and sit-ups. After that, he switched from being the worst athlete in the eighth grade to one of the fastest youths in the state of Georgia. He was "assaulted" with football scholarships nationwide.
Once he had his wisdom teeth pulled without anesthesia. His alter took the pain. Another time, his shoulder was dislocated on the field. He had it popped back and continued to play which was something unusual for this type of injury. Walker now believes his alters helped him overcome obstacles, and that DID was integral to his success.
Walker felt like he didn't live in his body, and this inner disconnection prevailed throughout his life. In his book, Breaking Free: My Life With Dissociative Identity Disorder, he said DID kept him from forming meaningful bonds with friends and family, leaving him with no support system.
Instead, he developed a tough, fearless alter that was never lonely, and who acted out Walker's inner, angry side. This didn't help him with relationships, though. Salker's ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, said he had angry outbursts and once held a gun to her head.
Football helped Walker deal with mental illness for years. But without it, he lived in fear that the public may know the truth about him. He once played Russian roulette alone, pulling the trigger of his gun twice. Once in his mouth, and again to his head.
Walker's deep faith helped him become honest with himself. In 2000, he visited Psychiatrist Jerry Mugadze from Dallas, who specialized in DID. Finally, Walker had a diagnosis that helped him understand his alters. By writing a journal Walker was able to fill memory gaps and the journal formed the basis of his book.
Walker still remembers the bully who continually assaulted him in grade school. "I google him today. sometimes I go on Facebook, looking for him. I haven't found him yet," Walker said as the audience laughed.
Adam Duritz has a net worth of over US $60 million. He is best known as the frontman for Counting Crows. He's also a songwriter, and a record and film producer. He has creative control over Counting Crows' music which, in the early 90s sold 20 million records, four platinum-certified albums, and was nominated for two Grammys and an Academy Award.
Duritz said DID made the world seem unreal and calls it the epitome of loneliness and isolation. He was an outsider watching the world instead of living in it.
He said, "You're sitting in the back of your head looking out through two holes in your skull. It can often feel like the life in front of you--instead of just being a room in front of you--is a movie of the room being projected on your eyes."
His diagnosis of DID in 2008 helped him understand his childhood terror saying, "When you're a kid, you have nightmares and things that you don't know aren't real."
In his 20s the terror was crippling, debilitating, and terrifying. The world seemed unreal. Life was like watching a movie. "It's very disorienting and causes a lot of disconnection," he said.
At one time work that once seemed doable became impossible for him to do. He felt like a vegetable, absent of willpower. However, DID helped him want to push very, very hard in certain areas of his life. With professional help, Duritz managed his DID and worked at a pace that was comfortable for him.
But being a millionaire doesn't mean we can shelter ourselves from the realities in our world. Oftentimes people who are millionaires attract opportunists who are after what you have, and aren't loyal to you. This is why no matter how rich you are, you need to be treated for DID if you have it. Also, whether your have a mental disorder or not, you need to be able to recognize reality for what it is and learn how to navigate it.