Sunday, May 15, 2005

postal scrotum: is Z a dissociative?

Julie, my resident medical professional (check out her blog), writes with reference to my post on Z:


Kevin, i think you've got a dissociative on your hands.

Your Z is a mess. The delayed reactions may simply be that it takes her that long to get from her interior world "inside" to your world "outside." Ditto the table thing - any perceived threat of embarrassment or humiliation, and your little wingnut would zip back into her shell, turtlelike.

Makes sense on the assignment, too. She forgot to do it, or she lost the time. She lied about being in the library because, just perhaps, she had no idea where she'd been. The hangup may have been a hell of a startle reflex brought on by the fact that she had no clue she was supposed to be in class, or was so embarrassed by your calling her on her perceived failure that she couldn't deal with the situation and pulled a cell-phone tarantula.

Dissociatives, generally, are very bright. She may be perfectly functional at home with Mom - one thing I have learned about being dissociative is that you're as functional as you have to be. She isn't really being held accountable, or being told that she needs to be completely present for class. The other thing is the defense mechanisms are there for a reason. Any time there are Mommy issues, there's quite a tangle, synaptically speaking. Weird stuff fires off at weird times.

Twisted genius may be right, but she may be dissociative - and many dissociatives do have elements of Asperger's Syndrome or autism. So it kind of makes sense. Fight or flight.. your girl chooses flight in social situations - but she probably fights every day to stay sane.

I'm dissociative with a side of Asperger's myself. I'm just not wired like other people. I spent some time in therapy figuring out my stuff so i could fix it, and that helped, but drugs don't. Arnie calls me "Data" because I'm never sure how I'm supposed to react to a given situation or whether what I'm feeling is the appropriate emotion for the stimulus. My therapist called me "emotionally retarded," and we literally worked for years on how to make time more constant, how to be more aware of what's going on around me, how to fit into society. I'm a fair actress, so I was lucky that I learned by high school what to do - but sometimes, i laughed too soon instead of too late, by overcompensation.

I suspect that your Z feels very strongly, very deeply, and has no idea what to do with emotion. It feels scary and dangerous to her, and people are a mystery. That she comes to class at all is probably due to some effort on her part. You're not seeing Z, you're seeing whatever bits of facade she pulls together to send to class. That's why, when she does write, it's unusually strong - she feels the same things other people feel, but lacks the veil of social decorum. One wonders what happened to her.


As I told Julie privately, I'm slapping this letter up to compensate for the overall lack of compassion I'd shown Z in my own posts about her.


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