Posted by: ourlifewithmpd | August 21, 2013

Statistics about MPD/DID and the media

I just started watching United States of Tara on Netflix, and after two episodes I was done for now. More on that later.

But I asked my daughter (who is 22) whether I ever acted like that. She said, “I don’t know ANYONE who has EVER acted like that.”

Which was a relief.

The only really good thing about that show was that it portrayed someone with MPD/DID living on an ordinary street in an ordinary home, instead of most which show us in mental hospitals or jail cells or something.

This made me think of statistics.

From WebMD:

Statistics show the rate of dissociative identity disorder is .01% to 1% of the general population. Still, more than 1/3 of people say they feel as if they’re watching themselves in a movie at times, and 7% percent of the population may have undiagnosed dissociative disorder.

It’s been my experience (borne out by talking with a whole lot of people over the years) that people with MPD/DID do NOT want people to know they are different. There’s stigma, for one thing, and these are usually people who started life off traumatized and have a whole lot of issues surrounding personal safety.

So I think the statistics are likely to be grossly under-represented.

But just for giggles, let’s say that the rate really is 1%. That’s 3.5 million people in the US, about the number diagnosed with skin cancer every year.

That means that if you live in a neighborhood or work at a business with 100 people in it, one has MPD/DID.

There are 2-3 on the average Facebook friends list

And 6 or 7 in your average overall social network (all the people who you know, even as an acquaintance)

Your kids in high school average 30 students to a class and attend 6 classes a day, so two of their classmates have MPD/DID and probably don’t know it.

College kids are in much larger classrooms — every class they attend is likely to have someone in it with MPD/DID, who again has no idea.

And of course, how many people do you walk by every day? How many attend your church? Sporting events? How many are at the mall?

You probably come into contact with dozens of people with MPD/DID every month and don’t know it.

(This is not including those with other dissociative disorders such as amnesia, fugue, and so on. PTSD is one related illness which has thankfully gotten some respect, but it’s taken since WWI to even be seriously recognized.)

All these people with MPD/DID have families — mothers, fathers, children, spouses, cousins, siblings, and so on — who are trying their best to act normal, too, in a world that viciously cuts off anyone who is “different” or “abnormal”, where you can lose you children or be fired for appearing too “strange”, where even many psychiatrists don’t believe that what you’re going through is “real”.

So times that by, let’s be really conservative and say … five. Most people have at least five people in their close and/or extended families who genuinely care about them: spouse/partner, couple of kids, couple of siblings, a cousin or two, maybe a parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle or two who wasn’t an abuser. Nieces. Nephews. Exes. Step-whatevers.

Which means at least 5% of the population is having to deal with the consequences of MPD/DID, or about 17 million people in the US, on top of those who actually have the illness. This is about the number of people who died of heart disease worldwide in 2008, but you don’t have sensationalistic crap TV shows written about how funny it is to dramatically die of heart disease.

In the United States of Tara, I saw the mockery of millions of suffering families and the sensationalism of a wrenchingly painful illness, all in two episodes.

But at least we have a TV show written about us — right??

I’ll try not to roll my eyes out of my head now.


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