Educating Structural Dissociation

The charts of my own DID personality


The schema’s of my way of thinking
read also the summary that goes with them:

The biggest misunderstanding within talking about DID comes with the ANP parts

Some call them a hosts, some call them alters, some call them my other personality’s and some call them all ANP’s. To me-us that is pretty confusing. So we had a very long talk about the ANP’s with our clinical teacher and therapist. Sometimes I’m asking his head of he says, but each time he has the patience to work through my questions in order to make understandable for me how and why I created parts to function, why they are there, what there function is in the whole system and why they refuse or didn’t learn how to work together.

The Neuro typical clinical nerd and a traumatized autistic (Asperger) woman can bring some pretty hilarious situations, but also creative findings in way’s to understand each other. I started to make visible to my therapist the schema’s which I created in my head and which are very helpful to understand things. This made also possible that my therapist could guide me to a therapeutically process.
You could think ‘wow that is a bunch of work’ but to me it isn’t.
It’s how I think, picturing things in my brain, it’s how I function and understand the outside world.

A clinical glimpse into my own DID personality

my own three ANP/EP daily life emotion & tasks handling systems




the 3 DID houses


Copyrighted Nique

Complex Trauma Community






Neglect versus Trauma

Is it Trauma or isn’t it Trauma

(c) Nique

‘Neglect’; a lack of attention or too much suffocating attention
‘Trauma’; severe wounding, severe abuse or experiencing a very shocking event

Is neglect the same thing as emotional or psychological ‘abuse’ – you are nothing, you are a bad kid, you are a stupid kid, I don’t want you, you mess up my life, you weren’t born by my own choice, etc.) ?

                  • My answer to this question is: NO

Can neglect alone cause a PTSD or a Trauma related disorder such as SD – see small summary of SD ?

                  • My answer to that question is also: NO

Lots of people have the habit of mixing words or concepts, and explaining things more difficult than they really are. Keep it simple to the meaning of the ‘word or a concept’. Think a little autistic like me (a smile can heal so much), because we (I’m not alone in this) don’t want to out-think academic’s, researchers, Dr.’s or Ph.D.’s, etc. we only want to straighten something out in order to understand ‘the clinical concept of Trauma’

We have two concepts which causes the most confusion in whether it is or isn’t Trauma related:

  1. Severe wounding, abuse or experiencing a very shocking events, can cause a trauma related disorder (complex) PTSD
  2. Severe neglect – a lack of attention or too much suffocating attention –  can cause severe psychological and or an emotional disorder (f.e. a severe attachment e.g. personality disorder)

Lots of people mix up those two concepts and that causes confusion and misunderstanding to the meaning of suffering a clinical Trauma related disorder such as a (Complex) Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a Trauma related structural dissociation of the personality (SD a Dissociative Disorder DD).

  1. You can have experienced a Traumatic event or suffered traumatic experiences  (clinical interpretation)
  2. Or you can ‘feel’ like Traumatized  (a Personal emotional interpretation)

So I want to give you all something to think about:

Neglect isn’t a traumatic event (severe wounding, severe abuse or experiencing a very shocking event). Although people can personally experience neglect as traumatic, it can lead to a very severe attachment or personality disorder. Let me give an Example: lots of people with a personality disorder feel emotionally abused, traumatized (a personal feeling). Very often this even comes as a symptom of a personality e.g. attachment disorder.  And also the term neglect stands to a mental explanation of ‘feeling neglected’. An infant is not (yet) able to make such a mental connection and reacts only by survival instinct.

But….. there is a little but
very severe neglect during infancy can lead to suffering psychical pain or wounding such as starvation or pressure ulcers, but than you also no longer speak of neglect but of ‘child abuse’. And child abuse can lead to a trauma related disorder.

And please keep in mind, we don’t discuss the severity of a disorder!
Because every emotional or psychological disorders causes agony in life, it’s all likewise ‘severe’ to suffer a disorder!


A Dissociative Disorder (DP/DR/DD/OSDD/DID) is a clinical ‘co-morbidity’ disorder. So there are more disorders that can cause a Dissociative Disorder. And please note, the abbreviation of a Dissociative Disorder is DD and not DID. DID is a DD, but DD isn’t a DID

The main 2 causes of a Dissociative Disorder (DD):

  1. Trauma; PTSD, complex-PTSD and very complex PTSD
  2. A personality or severe attachment disorder such as a Borderline disorder or other personality disorders

So we can say: DD a Plus + Plus: co-morbidity disorder

  1. DD + (C) PTSD or a trauma related disorder such as a structural dissociation of the personality (SD)
  2. DD + (C) PTSD (SD) a development disorder such as Autism or a other clinical disorder
  3. DD + a Personality disorder or other Disorder that causes the Dissociative Disorder (no trauma)
  4. DD + a Personality disorder + (C) PTSD (SD) = a personality disorder with trauma – OSDD


Published: 28 may 2014
This topic Blog will be discussed and therefore I make adjustments if needed and also if there are other explanations which saws wood. If this line is gone, the discussion of this topic has come to an end. (C) Nique


Summary of the structural dissociation


A small summary of the structural dissociation
such as I already did explain in my own wordspic-levels

What do we have already…

SD    = Structural Dissociation
ANP  = Apparently Normal Personality
EP    = Emotional Part of the Personality
DD    = Dissociative Disorder
DID   = Dissociative Identity Disorder *

Keep in mind, every person presents only ‘one’ unique personality !

A Trauma related Dissociative Disorder (PTSD+DD) can occur throughout whole your life.
Trauma is Trauma.
DID is just one Trauma Type but it isn’t the only diagnose that goes with Trauma.  

A Dissociative Identity Disorder is a Dissociative Disorder (DD)
But not every Dissociative Disorder is a Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

If an ANP doesn’t suffer a personality disorder you although can suffer a type 1, 2 or 3 Trauma related Dissociative Disorder (DD)
A Dissociative Disorder (DD) is a clinical Disorder (Axis I, DSM-IV)

The three levels of a trauma related Structural dissociation of the personality (SD) a Dissociative Disorder (DD):

  1. Trauma type-I primary SD
    an apparently normal personality ANP and a traumatized emotional part of the personality EP
  2. complex Trauma type-II, Childhood Trauma, secondary SD
    an apparently normal personality that switches between different traumatized emotional personality states ANP + EP’s
  3. very complex Trauma type-III, Infant to Childhood Trauma. tertiary SD
    an personality that switches between ’emotional- and daily life task systems ‘ ANP‘s + EP‘s
    The tertiary structural dissociation is the only level that is related to a Dissociative Identity Disorder *
    I would prefer to call this a trauma related development disorder. But then again I’m not a clinical psychologist, neuropsychologist or Ph.D. to define such a thing. But I can give some explanation to the existence and on how a tertiary structural dissociation of the personality can occur

Normal integration

normal integrationNo structural dissociation of the personally

A human is not born with a unified personality, but instead infants have biological determinants that were meant to integrate through a process of experience and relationships.  To let that happen there are four autonomic emotional systems that are present at birth which include anger, pleasure, sadness and fear. Team players by nature. These systems integrate to develop into one unified task and emotional life system which ultimately shapes our own personality.

Leg of integration

trauma type-3Tertiary structural dissociation TSD
a type-III trauma

2 or more ANP’s + 2 or more elaborate and distinct EP’s

The parasympathetic nervous system and the limbic system are what actually convey feelings from the body to the brain and from the brain to the body. Without those you would never have actually had the feelings that needed to be dissociated.

In TSD an infant is traumatized prior to integration of the  autonomic emotional systems,  which then results in structural dissociation.  This is not splitting, but instead is a lack of integration.  The emotional systems stay separate and starts to develop as ANP-EP task and emotional action systems.  If there were no trauma in infancy then dissociative identity disorder would not occur.

The four autonomic emotional systems can partially integrate with each other.  For example, anger and pleasure integrate, and sadness and fear integrate resulting in two ANP – EP action systems.  Over time those systems become more dominant  eventually resulting in autonomic functioning ANP – EP action systems.  Later on in life, in TSD and very rare: if the current systems can’t handle the EP load another emotional system can split of to functioning also as an autonomic ANP-EP action system. To give an example of such a rare situation; Experiencing the emotional and physical pain during childbirth and becoming a mother can cause an EP overload. Sadness and fear – or – anger and pleasure, can still split.
Now we have more than two ANP-EP action systems.

trauma type-2Secondary structural dissociation SSD
a type-II trauma

complex PTSD (+ OSDD)
1 ANP + 2 or more semi-elaborate EP’s

This type of trauma becomes very close to a type-III trauma
SSD can result instead of TSD when there has been sufficient integration in early life of the four emotional systems. In this case structural dissociation results in only one ANP, but as with TSD there are always two or more EP, however the EP in SSD are less elaborate, emancipated and distinct than in TSD.

trauma type-1Primary structural dissociation PSD
a type-I trauma
A trauma related dissociative disorder, a PTSD.
1 ANP + 1 primitive EP

In this case the personality sufficiently integrated early in life, but later when a trauma occurs that cannot be integrated then structural dissociation occurs resulting in one ANP and one primitive EP.

This can occur as a full dissociation:
The ANP doesn’t remember a thing of the traumatizing experience (EP)

This can occur as a partial dissociation:
The ANP can remember parts of the traumatizing experience but it doesn’t feel like reality
or an own experience, the EP holds a part of the traumatizing experience.

(c) Nique, client at the Dutch TRTC trauma center Drenthe-Assen

I  explain by my own words the theory of the Structural Dissociation of the Personality such as given by:
Ph.D. E.R.S. Nijenhuis working at the Mental health care department Drenthe-Assen
Ph.D. Onno van der Hart, Psychotraumatologist
K. Steele, MN, cs

Book advise: The Haunted Self

Complex Trauma PTSDComplex Trauma Community ptsd vrij