Amnesia and timeloss #DID 101 – article 8
In the first DID101 we already had a quick look at amnesia. The DSM5 describes amnesia in DID as defined gaps in the recall of everyday events, important personal information and/or traumatic events.
Timeloss is a term often used to indicate, that someone experiences amnesia of the current day because a switch took place and and other alter took over consciousness. Some people with DID might no be aware at all that they lost time.
Amnesia and time loss can be a frightening experience. Especially if we get confronted with it in an unexpected way. For some people with DID that amnesic state is their normal. But even then it can be very scary to not know what did or did not happen.
As C. R. Stern (1984) pointed out, it is more often the case that the “host” actively denies (active nonrealization) evidence of the existence of other dissociated parts of the personality rather than dissociative parts “hiding” themselves from the host.
So we could theorize that partly it might work the same for non traumatic memories of the current day when we lose time due to a switch.
Brain imaging studies have found that people with DID have a smaller hippocampus and a smaller amygdala. A smaller hippocampus relates to having the flight and fight system activated (too) easily. It’s also associated with (long term) memory and emotion regulation. Along with emotions, the amygdala determines which memories get stored in the brain. Experts think that the type of emotional response an event causes, affects which memories get saved. Although the amygdala controls the processing of a variety of emotions, it’s often most-closely associated with fear.
Grounding is a good way to learn how to avoid timeloss. So is system communication and getting to know each other so well, that it’s not so scary anymore to share time.
We will discuss the topic of grounding here in the near future in our article on coping tools.
Another great tip is to simply set an alarm as often as you need. That way you can check and make sure you are still in the here and now.