Q. I was diagnosed with Major Depression, PTSD, and Complex PTSD w/Borderline Features. One thing that has been worrying me is the fact that I feel like I have a separate, child part inside of me. Intellectually, I know that it is still a part of “me,” but it feels so different from my usual adult self. The child part of me literally feels like a scared child that is afraid of being left alone in a big, scary world. I first became aware of this child part after suffering a fairly serious clinical depression. Before that, I was not aware of it. However, since then (about 6 years), I have been very aware of it. I have no awareness of any other “parts.” I carry on my daily life as an adult, and no one but my closest friends or family would even guess I had a mental problem. But when I get under extreme stress or something triggers my abandonment issues, the child part seems to get activated. At these times, I totally lose my composure, and the adult rational part of myself to disappear. Also, I will experience great fear and crying, and my husband says it seems that I am not really present and that it’s hard to reach me. However, I believe I still retain some measure of connection. These episodes usually last only a few minutes, but afterwards I am completely exhuasted for the rest of the day. So far, the only people who have witnessed this is my husband, my in-laws, and my therapist. I have alot of problems with forgetting things, and misplace things easily. When under alot of stress, I sometimes have brief feelings that I am going crazy or not in reality. However, I don’t experience myself as being outside of my body. I’ve also never “come to” in a place I don’t recognize, nor have I been accused of carrying on certain behaviors that I don’t remember doing. I know it would be good if I could think of the two parts of myself merely as different facets of my personality, but I experience them as so separate! I try not to let anyone know about the child part of me, because it sounds so crazy. My t has had me talk to and address that child part of myself in therapy, and we have been working on imagining an inner, nurturing part of me to care for that innerchild part. I believe what we are doing is called Ego State Therapy. The more I recognize this inner child part, the more I start to worry that I might actuallyhave DID. Do you think it’s possible? I’ve tried to figure it out by the DSM-IV criteria, but I am not sure I have enough dissociation to warrant a DID diagnosis. In any case, I am scared. Is feeling like you have a child part very common in people who “don’t” have the DID diagnosis? Do you think it is possible that I have DID?
A. I am familiar with a case of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) where a child personality presented itself while the adult personality slept. This is not uncommon. I see this as something milder than what was traditionally called multiple personality disorder (MPD) (now called dissociative identity disorder (DID). It’s good that you are working on this, and if you are making good progress, kudos to the therapist and yourself. If you are not making good progress, try another therapist. Some therapists are very good in some areas and unskilled in other areas. One should expect to make reasonable progress with any therapist. Good luck.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Apr 2005
Randle, K. (2005). DID Features in Borderline Personality. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 28, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2005/04/11/did-features-in-borderline-personality/