Hereditary Spherocytosis

April 29th, 2008

Hereditary Spherocytosis is a relatively uncommon blood disorder, occurring in 1 person out of approximately 5,000. As the name suggests, the condition is primarily an inherited one. With this condition, the blood cells are mutated, and are atypical cells with very thin walls. Because the cells are not the shape healthy red lbood cells are, they have difficulty passing through the body. However, unlike sickled cells, they do not cause pain as they pass through the body. A hallmark of the condition is that the spleen retains these cells longer because of their inability to easily pass through it, and thus become damaged by the spleen. Those with severe cases of Hereditary Spherocytosis are generally encouraged to have the spleen removed, once it is mature, after age seven… [more]

Abused Adopted Child: Symptoms of Dissociative Disorders

October 2nd, 2007

On my post, Abused Adopted Child: Other Dissociative Disorders, a reader asked the following question:

Faith, Many of us parents of traumatized children, have reported that our kiddos, sometimes talk in different voices. I think the baby voice is probably the most common. Others might have a baby voice, robot voice, an age appropriate voice, and older child voice. Do you [think] this is related to DID?

The short answer to the question is yes, this could be a symptom of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or other form of dissociative disorder. The different voices could be symptoms of various alter parts.

It is possible to have alter parts without having a diagnosis of DID. Personality fragments, which are basically one-dimensional versions of alter parts, can… [more]

How to Help Abused Adopted Child Heal from Dissociative Disorder

October 1st, 2007

My last several posts have been explaining what dissociative disorders are so that adoptive parents can understand their traumatized adopted children a little better. If you are parenting an adopted child with a dissociative disorder, you might be wondering what you can do to help the child heal. Here are my suggestions:

1. Provide your child with a safe environment.

A child cannot heal from a dissociative disorder until he is safe. The disorder developed because the child was routinely unsafe, so the child must feel safe before he can start to dismantle his self-protection. Do everything you can to keep your child safe, including standing up for him when he feels unsafe. He needs to know that you "have his back."

2. Teach your child how to love… [more]

Abused Adopted Child: Other Dissociative Disorders

September 28th, 2007

In my last two posts, Abused Adopted Child: Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and Abused Adopted Child: Alter Parts, I talked about an abused adopted child's experience with DID. In this post, I will discuss other forms of dissociative disorders.

As I shared in Abused Adopted Child: What is a Dissociative Disorder?, there is a wide range of dissociative disorders that fall between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and DID on the dissociation continuum. As a fellow abuse survivor stated, dissociative disorders are "create your own disorder" disorders, so it is hard to describe a dissociative disorder other than in relation to PTSD and DID. Therefore, I will share examples I have heard from various abuse survivors to give you an idea of the broad range… [more]

Abused Adopted Child: Alter Parts

September 27th, 2007

In my last post, Abused Adopted Child: Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), I explained what DID is. In this post, I will explain more about alter parts, which are the parts that were previously viewed as "other people" sharing a body of a person with what used to be known as multiple personality disorder. If your adopted child has alter parts, this post will help you to understand them better and be less frightened by them.

An abused child creates alter parts by dissociating from the painful emotion or traumatic event that he is experiencing. Every alter part is created to protect the inner child (also known as the original child), so every alter part is "good." Many people with DID fear parts of themselves because they… [more]

Abused Adopted Child: Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

September 26th, 2007

In my last post, Abused Adopted Child: Emotional Segmentation through Dissociation, I talked about how abused children have the ability to segment their emotions. This enables them to survive horrific abuse. Abused children who suffer ongoing and severe trauma beginning during early childhood (generally before age six) might segment their emotions to the extreme of developing Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

DID is the same disorder that used to be known as multiple personality disorder. As I stated in Abused Adopted Child: What is a Dissociative Disorder?, Hollywood has sensationalized the disorder, making it appear "freaky" when it is really a highly adaptive way of coping with extreme trauma. Several readers have asked how to identify a child who is resilient: A child with DID… [more]

Abused Adopted Child: Emotional Segmentation through Dissociation

September 25th, 2007

If you are raising an abused adopted child, understanding dissociation can help you to understand your child much better. Dissociation is a highly adaptive way of surviving abuse, and it only presents a problem once the adopted child has been removed from the abusive environment. Dissociation is an effective way for a child to survive while living in a traumatizing environment.

An abused child uses dissociation to separate himself from painful emotions and memories. He does this by telling himself "this isn't happening" or "this is happening to someone else" and splitting off, or segmenting, the painful emotions and memories. From what I have observed by talking with hundreds of abuse survivors, those who seem able to do this most effectively are those whose ongoing and severe… [more]

Abused Adopted Child: What Does Dissociation Look Like?

September 24th, 2007

Those of you who are parenting a traumatized adopted child might be wondering how you can tell if your child is dissociating. In a nutshell, your child's body might be in the room, but his "soul" is not. Dissociation is a way of "checking out of" your own body.

I was very upset one day as I hung out with a friend. I tried to pull myself together, but I was overwhelmed by my emotions. After about 30 minutes of being unable to stop crying, I chose to dissociate. My friend got a firsthand view of what this looked like, and it kind of freaked her out.

I immediately stopped crying. I appeared to be completely okay, even though only a few seconds ago, I had been crying… [more]

Abused Adopted Child: What Causes Dissociation?

September 21st, 2007

I have read numerous books to try to understand how and why dissociation happens in the first place. I have come to appreciate what an amazing gift that dissociation is to the abused adopted child. Without dissociation, an abused adopted child would have a much more difficult time surviving the trauma.

The brain stores all of our memories, and it has an elaborate filing system to enable us to retrieve our memories. For example, when I take a boat ride as an adult, that memory is "filed away" with other memories of riding on a boat as a child. The brain's "filing system" logically connects one memory to the next. A child with a "normal" childhood builds one experience on top of another, creating a "normal" memory… [more]

Abused Adopted Child: Dissociation Continuum

September 20th, 2007

In my last post, Abused Adopted Child: What is a Dissociative Disorder?, I explained what a dissociative disorder is. I also talked about the dissociation continuum. In this post, I will explain more about how a traumatized adopted child develops a dissociative disorder.

Think about the human soul as being a large pond. It is fluid, and all of the emotions intertwine to make the person who he is. As the child experiences emotional pain, he freezes over some of the pond. Most people, whether traumatized or not, do this to some degree. A "normal" person's soul probably looks like a cool pond with patches of ice on top.

As the child is repeatedly traumatized, he freezes the lake so that the entire surface is covered in… [more]