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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

DIDn't Happen

In 1995, my friend 1/2 Ton and I would cruise to The Click’s album Game Related. My friend’s favorite track was “Out My Body,” referencing the effects of alcohol, as the hook states:

I don’t really know why niggas made me go way out my body, way out my body. I don’t really care if the po-pos stop and stare. I’m way out my body, way out my body.

During that time in my life, I didn’t need substances to experience an out of body ordeal, nor have I since then. Undiagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in high school afforded me an opportunity to be excitable to the point by which I was often beside myself with anxiousness.

Many years later, when dating a social work student I met in graduate school (“Marisela”), I discussed my experience with ADHD that was later diagnosed during my military service. Regarding my admission, she replied something to the effect of, “I don’t believe that’s a real diagnosis.”

Providing justification for her claim, Marisela explained that she believed symptoms comprising the diagnosis were naturally-occurring and had been pathologized by people responsible for composing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Though Marisela couldn’t adequately explain why I could drink two 24-ounce energy drinks and fall asleep, I agreed to disagree with my girlfriend about whether or not I’d been diagnosed with a non-existent disorder. One may wonder how I could overlook Marisela’s cynicism.

Having studied Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) in graduate school for counseling, I knew it wasn’t what my girlfriend said that resulted in my internal reaction. Rather, what I believed about her statement had the potential to cause self-disturbance.

Instead of being hurt over her disbelief, I unconditionally accepted Marisela as someone who didn’t view the world as I did. After all, I was also skeptical of a condition listed in the DSM-V.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are three types of dissociative disorders:

· Dissociative identity disorder (DID)

· Dissociative amnesia

· Depersonalization/derealization disorder

At the time I was with Marisela, the criteria for (DID)—formerly known as multiple personality disorder—were:

1. Two or more distinct identities or personality states are present, each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to and thinking about the environment and self.

2. Amnesia must occur, defined as gaps in the recall of everyday events, important personal information and/or traumatic events.

3. The person must be distressed by the disorder or have trouble functioning in one or more major life areas because of the disorder.

4. The disturbance is not part of normal cultural or religious practices. 5. The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (such as blackouts or chaotic behavior during alcohol intoxication) or a general medical condition (such as complex partial seizures).

I remain doubtful of DID, much as Marisela didn’t believe in ADHD. This isn’t to assert that DID is absolutely a bogus condition, though to express that I question its validity.

Apparently, I’m not the only behavioral health practitioner who remains unconvinced by the evidence related to DID. According to one source:

The literature shows that 1) there is no proof for the claim that DID results from childhood trauma; 2) the condition cannot be reliably diagnosed; 3) contrary to theory, DID cases in children are almost never reported; and 4) consistent evidence of blatant iatrogenesis appears in the practices of some of the disorder’s proponents.

Per a seperate source, treatment for DID is associated with Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, hypnosis, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). In 2020, I received official training in regards to the latter.

During the EMDR training process, a content presenter whose entire practice appeared to be built around treatment of DID expressed dismay with those trainees who were doubtful of DID. We were assured that when someone is way out the body, per The Click, and another personality takes hold it’s a very serious condition.

Rather than unconditionally accepting that there were practitioners who remained unconvinced, the presenter’s reaction actually reinforced my skepticism. The possibility of one being too closely wed to a set of ideas and remaining unwilling to entertain challenge to these assumptions may suggest unwavering bias.

One wonders if such a person may be open to considering what a discovered source claims when stating:

Dissociative identity disorder (DID), once considered rare, was frequently diagnosed during the 1980s and 1990s, after which interest declined. This is the trajectory of a medical fad. DID was based on poorly conceived theories and used potentially damaging treatment methods.

To be clear, I don’t question whether or not a person can dissociate. As The Click stated, I, too, have gone “way out my body” at times. Of this phenomenon, I appreciate what one source states:

The main point of contention is that while we’re all familiar with dissociation—the idea that we can have out of body experiences in the face of trauma like sexual assault or can zone out, seemingly unconscious of our surroundings while driving on the freeway—it’s more difficult to fathom the kind of extreme dissociation that’s a defining feature of DID.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to me if a behavioral health practitioner treats DID as an actual condition or if a client is diagnosed with the disorder that is clearly listed in the DSM-V-TR (text revision). Apart from DID, I remain skeptical of gender dysphoria and order conditions listed in the Manual.

If person X is gone way out the body, I’m unconcerned if it DIDn’t happen. Whether or not waving hands in front of person X’s face will actually address a touchstone memory from the past and resolve the matter? I remain agnostic.

Conclusively, I’m glad that people are able to seek and receive help for conditions—real, imagined, or otherwise. For those who wish to know more about REBT and how I dispute unhelpful beliefs which lead to unpleasant consequences, maybe I can help you with your issue(s).

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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