Search on YouTube for “Switch Caught on Camera” and your result will be flooded with young adults who claim by happenstance, while recording a video, they captured an example of dissociative switching.
I have a problem with these videos. Well, let me rephrase that. As a DID system, I have concerns about these videos and the consequences they bring.
Let me back up. YouTube videos? What am I talking about?
There is a trend which has been evolving over the last two years on YouTube of those with DID creating channels to educate the masses on the disorder. Is there a need for this? Absolutely. It’s a well-known fact that even amongst mental health professionals, the disorder is misunderstood. The misconceptions professionals erroneously believe to be facts cause them to provide inadequate treatment and peer consultation.
DID Systems who have YouTube Channels, I consider even more brave than myself because they are shedding their anonymity and putting themselves at the mercy of the internet to reach people.
DID is a disorder people discount, do not understand, find theatrical, or entertaining. When educating the internet, we are speaking to people who have all sorts of preconceived perceptions. It’s not just “one type” of person we are speaking too. We are speaking to people who believe in the disorder and want information. We are speaking to newly diagnosed individuals who are scared. We are speaking to psychology students who want to understand what a DID patient presents like. We are speaking to people who are mystified by the disorder because all they know is what they have seen in movies. We are speaking to perpetrators looking for an easy target. We are speaking to trolls. And the list goes on.
With such a variety, this information needs to be presented in a way that seems credible. Let’s look at how this information is being presented.
Here are some video titles:
FORCED PERSONALITY SWITCH CAUGHT ON CAMERA
SWITCHING Caught on Camera 9 TIMES?!
Switch caught on camera
MULTIPLE SWITCHES CAUGHT ON CAMERA
My Alters SWITCH (Caught on Camera) LIVE FOOTAGE!
C’mon guys, clickbait, really? And what’s with the ALL CAPS?
I watched some of the videos, and some of the dissociative switching seemed spot on to me. Other times, they seemed melodramatic, theatrical, and forced. A lot of people seem to blink their eyes purposely or cross their eyes when they switch.
I’m not saying there is a wrong way to switch. I, myself, have had moments where a part has come forward and had to blink a few times in order to see clearly. I’ve also had some very, very deep parts in my subsystems that may roll their eyes around when they switch (it’s a programming thing). I’m not sure if they go cross-eyed, but it’s similar.
These are not average switches in our system. The way some of these folks were carrying on, it was like they were trying to emulate a possession. The reality of DID is it is rooted in trauma. The abuse we suffered was kept a secret from public view, thus DID, too, is a secretive disorder.
Switching can be so subtle and covert, that to the average person, they wouldn’t even notice anything unusual had happened.
Overt and obvious switching does happen. It’s just not common. It’s not something that would likely be “caught on camera” by chance…over and over. In our system, obvious switching like this happens when someone (externally) enacts specific programming or we touch on said programming in therapy.
So to see these systems switching so dramatically makes me think one thing. And no, it’s not that they are faking. It’s that these systems are struggling. Hard. And lacking in major DID symptom management.
Alright so let’s line up my concerns:
- Clickbait titles. OVERUSE OF ALL CAPS.
This can give off several different impressions to the variety of people watching these videos. My biggest concern is to students of psychology and mental health professionals who are trying to expand their understanding of DID. If this is their first impression of the DID patient, the clickbaity, exaggerating title will set a tone of immaturity and they may watch the video with that bad first impression coloring their analysis of the rest of the video. First impressions are important. Very important.
- Overwhelming the channel with more rare/extreme symptoms like obvious switching.
My concern here is to the newly diagnosed patient, or the person seeking a consultation for a diagnosis. They may wonder why they don’t have the same experience with switching and think they are faking. This can do significant damage to people in a vulnerable moment.
These very brave DID folks are not doing well and need help.
What can we do about this? It’s the golden rule. Treat people the way you want to be treated. I’m a survivor. I always wanted people to believe me and show me compassion. As a child, I told about my horrific abuse. I told and told and told until CYS got involved. But a child’s anecdotal evidence was not enough and the case was closed unfounded.
Because of this, it is imperative to me to treat these YouTubers with compassion and belief. Keep that idea close to your heart if you watch these videos or follow their social media.
One other thing thing we can do is remember the only person I can control is myself.
What I am going to do is continue to participate in the online DID community (my hangout of choice, of course, is the forum I help moderate at /r/DID). It is important to me to give and receive support while living with this disorder. We do not recover alone.
Here are some other reminders if you are struggling right now:
- Not sure what DID recovery looks like? Read Phase One and Symptom Management
- Read our /r/DID weekly posts on Symptom Management for some ideas to build up your coping toolbox.
- Join a support group, like the DID phone meeting of the SIA Coming Home Phone Line.
- Need to talk to someone? Anxious about the Coronavirus? Dealing with painful emotions? Text HOME to 741741 to speak to a counselor.
- Call 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support for dealing with distress or considering suicide.
Indeed, right on. With such drama going on in that community at the moment it’s just adding to the negative effects of some of these videos.