Without the unified sense of self that attachment and stability brings, dissociated identities can make someone’s personality appear to swing wildly. Melanie has an anorexic part, and a part that attempted suicide twice because the pain of the barriers coming down felt unbearable. Her three-year-old part is easily scared by things that remind her of past traumas – like a scent or a man’s way of walking – and in these situations she will freeze or even hide. On the other hand, the 16-year-old can be flirty.
It makes sense that Melanie will behave differently depending on ‘who’ is to the fore in her mind. She is not acting like her three-year-old self, or even remembering what it was like to be three. She is that three-year-old – until another identity comes to the fore.
Emma Young meets a woman with dissociative identity disorder and discovers what happens when you lose your sense of being an individual.