Maybe memories are stored in some partitioned database, and one of the partitions is always stuff relating to "my identity", and somehow this partition can get unlinked and temporarily re-linked to a blank one, which is discarded after a few hours.
Hmm, maybe this is actually a feature, not a bug. In ancient times people often had to deal with being abused, enslaved, etc. Maybe being able to blank out really unpleasant experiences helped young slaves tolerate their abuse without becoming totally insane or going the route of suicide or rebellion (assuming the latter's success rate was negligible, rebellion would basically be the same as suicide from the standpoint of evolutionary pressures). Which ultimately helped them survive and reproduce.
Then once the mechanism exists, it can still get triggered naturally in modern humans if they're abused, or artificially by drugs.
One thing to keep in mind is that the brain is not an OS, it is more of a FPGA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field-programmable_gate_array) that is programmed by experience and life. Memory is very much dissociated all over the brain and in non-intuitive ways. For example the motor cortex deals with voluntary (non-reflexive) movement and is in the cortex near the top of your brain. However, given enough time and practice, these movements become controlled by the cerebellum, that little wrinkly thing hanging onto the back and bottom of your brainstem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebellum#Learning).
Abuse has a much longer history than just the social ones the we humans experience. Though your description of the mechanisms that may underlie this and the reasoning behind it is cloudy, I would assume that the evolutionary pressure to disassociate mentally is a preserved one throughout evolution. We can see this most memorably with dogs that learn to roll over or become head-shy, this may be a form of the behavior that has been with mammals and manifests itself similarly though not in the same way for each species. Also, our view of slavery is distorted and brutal, Roman slave laws were permissive in the later years of the empire (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_ancient_Rome#Treatm...) and even allowed legal redress of the slave to the master. If we evolved in this system, then most humans had to be slaves from the point of view of genes. This is possible, though not probable.
But don't get me wrong, empathy won't always lead to better treatment. Science will. And we should ask these questions. Although you're comment "that's how problems like this get solved" is too optimistic. HN is not a forum for neurologists. I doubt a bunch of programmers on a comment section are going to to make a breakthrough in understanding this disease.
I think that while empathy and support are incredibly important with regard to topics like this, it can also be productive to consider new outlooks or avenues of discussion that may contribute to the greater understanding of the problem.
I think a "hacker" centric discussion forum is an appropriate place to consider possibly novel ways of approaching these sorts of issues precisely because it exists as a place to address problems analytically.
I wouldn't find it appropriate or in good taste to start such a discussion in a DID support group or with a family member who suffered from that disorder but that's the whole point of more "academic" discussion forums. They're a place to talk about things that might be seen as gross or improper in polite conversation but that nevertheless may be useful in tackling the underlying issue.
And here I was thinking that this was one of the most interesting replies to the article, what a pity.
You're equivocating between the colloquial use of "dissociate" (as in "marathon runners practice dissociation and association") and the clinical term as it is used in this context for a disturbing disorder which has nothing to do with driving a memorized route on "auto pilot".
And, by the way, you'd still hit the brakes if a kid jumped out onto the road chasing a ball. It's just multitasking.
Simliarly, a piano player isn't "dissociating" just because he or she isn't thinking about which finger goes to which key at all times.
Comparing zoning out with DID is like comparing a hill to a mountain. However, I understand where you're coming from. I don't know how to explain it briefly. The mind works in parallel, way more than we think. So it can focus on two things at once, but "you" may not be part of both at all times. You'd have to let go of the idea that "you" (the person that typed that message) control or are even aware of everything that goes on in your mind. You're just an inhabitant (part) of your mind, and you don't control your mind. (This probably doesn't make much sense; sorry.)
Much of what you say is correct on the first pass, and is better than that of the typical citizen, however, some important details are missing. It seems like you are actually interested in the subject and would benefit from learning in depth about the subjects.
The mind does indeed work in parallel, but you cannot focus on 2 things at once. I think you are referring to reflexes, which are subtlety different than cerebellar functioning and 'automatic' movements. You are very much in control of your own mind, how else would you define what a mind is? However, you are correct in thinking that certain neural processes are outside of our control and that our mind is conditioned by experience to perceive things in a schema.
Really though, the book I linked is great for you, as it seems you have an interest in the subject and want to learn more.
Immediately after I read this I tried to think about it. After only a few seconds I closed my eyes in the fashion we close our eyes when thinking about a concept "hurts" (I am very tired, been on the front of the laptop screen pretty much the whole day). Which led me to consider "tiredness": I can define what it is but I can definitely not control it - it happens or it doesn't. Care to elaborate a bit more on your thought?
The mind body problem is not really a problem, we are our bodies and minds at the same time. Any patient with an aphasia or neural defect will tell you they just cannot think in a way that they used to. Stoke victims are the same, or people that grew up mute and deaf and now use sign language. The mind is so very complicated, quite the understatement.
In the end, you are your mind, there can be not other definition, you are the person in it, who it is. Therefore, you are in control, or you lack the control to use it, you are the driver of the car and the car itself.
Clinical use of disassociation is somthing involving this process and its important to understand it as part of a continuum.
In the former case, you don't remember the events because you were neglecting to commit them to memory. In the latter case, you have the memory, but it is temporarily inaccessible --- and comes back.
Memories that you did not form because you were tuned out never come back because they don't exist. For example, you will never recall the words of the bore whom you tuned out at last night's party. You nodded your head but were completely occupied with thinking about something else.
That process leads to somewhat fractured long-term memory. Basically your brain starts to use short-term memory for something like l2 cach and starts writing stuff that would have gone first into short-term memory and then archived elswhere with a "bibliography" note, directly into deep memory at 1:1 without any simple summary of the memory.
This is how you get people with intensely detailed memory "stacks" without a fully operational "card-catalog" of what is actually in the libary.
The key point is these steps are somewhat plastic.
It isn't multi-tasking, that's just our autonomic nervous system learning to drive a car and goes further than hitting brakes - driving a car becomes all automatic, with gestures that include switching gears, stopping at red lights and so on. It's the same system that's responsible for breathing - you don't need to remember to breath, right? And it's what we call reflex.
Humans are actually bad at multi-tasking. It's cooperative multitasking at best, requiring expensive context switches, which is really the reason for why many of us can't do software development while talking on the phone or while having other distractions around us. For some reason women seem to be better at multitasking, not sure how that works.
Also, as a funny personal experience ... I'm fully on auto-pilot when I drive, which is why I've found myself several times driving to work on the weekend and my work place wasn't my destination :-)
The piano player example is apples to oranges with driving on auto-pilot example. In the auto-pilot example, you are responding to external stimulus (even without a kid jumping into the road), in the piano player example, he/she is using "muscle memory."
Also, the piano player doesn't get to the end of the piece and forget ever playing the piece.
i've also done this with kata in my martial arts class, and while playing tetris.
I do think being able to blank things out (including times of immense pain) is a feature that increases survival rather than a bug. If you are excessively afraid, your ability to pass on your genes goes down.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, early part of Medical academics is all about studying how a healthy body body works. So that when they start studying the diseases they can learn to distinguish between a disease and a expected behaviour.
So to know if something is an abnormal psychology, you need to first know what is normal.
However, making evolutionary arguments for psychological traits is tricky business and while I'm not a professional evolutionary psychologist myself, I think the explanation you gave violates a fundamental principle of evolutionary arguments.
Imagine gene A confers a fitness advantage because it allows a person to better cope with a selection pressure X, and gene B confers an additional fitness advantage against X, but only if gene A is present, and does nothing otherwise. In this (common) case, gene B will not be selected for unless gene A is already universal in the population. Following the same rules, imagine we then get gene C which is dependent on B, then a variant of gene A called A* which is dependent on B and C, and so on. Eventually, if even one gene is removed (either by sexual reproduction with someone who doesn't have it or by mutation), the whole tower falls down and the entire piece of complex biological machinery is broken.
Basically, there's no way for selection pressure X on a significant chunk but not all of the population to produce a piece of complex machinery (read: involving 2+ interdependent genes) in the first place, and it would be broken beyond all repair in all offspring who didn't have both parents with the full genetic instructions. So the idea that "many humans were abused, enslaved, etc." only works if the selection pressure was on everyone and the adaptation is universal in the human population, unless it's attributed to a single mutation.
The rarity of this condition isn't consistent with it being a feature. Seems like a bug to me.
Hope this was helpful!
Maybe that applies here and so only the emergent behavior was disrupted instead of actually a "piece" of the system?
One of their points was that if consciousness is just a representation it should be possible for your brain to alternate between representations, much like as happens in multi-stable perception , which would explain DID.
There is a long history of this in Neuropsychology. It's referred to as Double Dissociation . Arguably, this is more about the hardware, but the hardware affects the software ("Brain is the seat of the Mind").
Like a fault attack to reveal the inners of human. Brilliant :)
And I want to say yes! I've read about it somewhere: a region of the brain was damaged on some persons, and they would function normally most of the time, except they couldn't understand metaphors. I can't remember where I read this though...
2) People are being abused at this very moment, it's not something that has only occurred in 'ancient times'.
Eventually, with luck, you can get them to remember who you are reasonably quickly, and things get a lot less complicated - having the intelligence to call her ex as a substitute was a brilliant move on the author's part.
Wife: (looking at me suspiciously)
Me: "Are you confused?"
Wife: (nods yes)
Me: "Do you know who I am?"
Wife: (shakes head no)
Me: "I am your husband"
Wife: (looks at me, wide-eyed, more suspicious)
Me: "Do you have a headache?"
Me: "It's going to be okay. This happens when you get bad headaches. I can give you some medicine. Once your headache gets better you will remember everything"
At that point she will usually trust me and the situation becomes much more manageable. In her case, she suffered abuse as a child, and her absentee incidents are always associated with bad migraines. Once we break the migraine, she improves quickly.
Grounding is a common method of dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues. The idea of finding your place, finding familiarity, centring yourself. Something you are very used to doing normally and when safe is important, as is having that also associated very strongly with being safe.
For some people, photos will work well for this - they might capture moments with strong association with safety and happiness. Some people may be able to instead use an object, a talisman of sorts.
For others, or for when the disassociation is worse, a single grounding method may not be enough. It's about building the complete story - getting home and watching something familiar. The grounding only happens from weight of evidence.
Finally, there's something you don't hear talked about much. Coming back around from disassociating can be utterly terrifying in it's own right. Both as one tries to return, and after coming back. Having multiple entirely different means to ground helps with this.
What's hard for me to imagine is how this disorder works physically, at least with the primitive model I have on how the brain works. The synaptical connection are still there, otherwise the person would have a permanent memory loss, right? So my guess is it has to do with brain chemistry? If that's the case, couldn't it be medicated?
You can use drugs to help with the symptoms, but you can't "fix" it with drugs. There's nothing physically wrong with a DID patient (although they do tend to suffer from various "side effects" that are linked with the disorder).
As far as how it works physically, we don't know for sure. Yes, the memories are stored and can later be accessed. Part of the problem is that these memories are stored without being processed or are "stored" with a part that is unable to make sense of what happened. So instead of dealing with what happened the patient relives the trauma over and over again. What's interesting is that one part can "share" a memory with another part. When this happens it's like "remembering" something you've never experienced.
My wife has these episodes. Evidence-based and logic-based approaches are very ineffective. If I can convince her to go for a ride in the car, and we drive around the city she has lived in her entire life, and drive by the house she grew up in, schools she went to, and get some food from a drive through she's been to hundreds of times, it will reduce her time-to-return by 24-48 hours usually. We can look through several thick photo albums, and at the end she just shrugs and says, "I don't know who any of these people are".
Depends who they are and how and what they forget.
I still don't understand why he didn't have her look for HIM in her phone. Like dude, you know me, look in your phone I'm so-and-so. Look at texts between us. There should be a picture of him too. And why TF was there a picture of her ex in her appartment, but not this guy? This aspect of the story made it seem fake to me, but OK maybe it was very stressful to him and he honestly figured the ex would be more familiar than himself. IDK.
edit: though I don't cut them off because that would be obnoxious.
This was probably the most painful part of that whole story. Naturally, I was thinking of my wife and myself as the main characters throughout the whole story, and while it would be incredibly difficult to go through this, it would be harder if she woke up the next morning and didn't want to acknowledge or know about what had happened the night before.
(Unless I'm totally misreading that sentence, and the author is saying something different.)
It's not that bad. Once you go through the exercise a few times, you have strategies that work, and it's about on par with having a sick child, where you might be slightly frustrated that you have to take a day off of work or make other arrangements, but you know the steps to take and get on with the day.
Use dissociatives responsibly, be in a familiar environment etc.
Primarily it is an empathogenic drug, not a hallucinogen.
Or so I have heard.
The serotonergic effects are a completely different matter.
Someone has misinformed you. Please do your own research. There is absolutely no mention of anything remotely like what you are describing in the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MDMA
Unless the usual method of taking LSD is via pill form.
But I hear MDMA does not induce hours of hallucinations either, so perhaps LSD does come in pill form with logos on it.
"Schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder are often confused, but they are very different.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness involving chronic (or recurrent) psychosis, characterized mainly by hearing or seeing things that aren't real (hallucinations) and thinking or believing things with no basis in reality (delusions). Contrary to popular misconceptions, people with schizophrenia do not have multiple personalities. Delusions are the most common psychotic symptom in schizophrenia; hallucinations, particularly hearing voices, are apparent in about half of people with the illness." (http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-dis...)
DID: Alice is talking to Bob. At some point in the conversation Bob "dissociates" and is replaced by Charlie. Charlie is in the exact same place as Bob and sees all the things Bob was seeing, but Charlie wasn't here before so no idea where here is, how he got there, or who is talking to him. Alice doesn't know anything's wrong at first but Bob (now Charlie) seems uncomfortable and doesn't know things Bob does, like where they are, how they got there, or who she is. Sometime later the dissociative episode ends and Bob comes back in place of Charlie. Bob has no idea what transpired during the episode because Charlie was there instead, but recognizes Alice and remembers things they had done together.
In this case there is no difference in Bob's or Charlie's ability to perceive the world, nor are either of them perceiving something which Alice could not (barring other conditions). There are no hallucinations or delusions; Bob and Charlie appear to "know" different things, as if they were different people. Of note, Bob and Charlie identify differently but its debatable whether they are (or should be treated as) different persons, hence the change of name.
Schizophrenia: Alice is talking to Bob. Bob is talking to Charlie. Charlie isn't really there, but Bob is either unaware or doesn't mind. Bob's conversation with Charlie may be benign or it may involve plots to take over the world, in either case from Alice's perspective Bob experiencing something which isn't real.
This of course is just a possible scenario for schizophrenia, and if Bob is being treated for schizophrenia he may be better able to control or cope with Charlie. In schizophrenia cases Charlie does not exist to any third party observation; Bob is not identifying as Charlie nor is Charlie an alternate persona. Bob believes he is himself and that Charlie is communicating with him.
So that's why my ex didn't remember things. I read about it, but I could never quite put my finger on what the dissociation stuff was.
I know 3-4 people with schizophrenia, and none of them displayed the kind of wild delusions you're describing (though I am not discounting them! Don't get me wrong). In my experience schizophrenia manifests itself more like a worse form of anxiety, paranoia and depression mixed together (all my friends are under treatment and medicated).
Paranoid schizophrenia is most well-known, and is associated with delusions (such as GP comment outlined).
Schizophrenia in general is associated with severe anxiety and depression, explaining your friends' experiences.
Note that I'm not even close to the remotest possible thing to a doctor, and have no special insight - most of my 'knowledge' about schizophrenia should be treated with caution at best.
I had a friend who I thought was borderline, and later suspected to have DID. She sometimes said delusional things like she thought she was an alien, or that Jesus was inside her, or that she was a reincarnated dolphin, etc. Other people told me she would get weird in conversations, a lot like the "react oddly in conversations, not respond, or talk to themselves" description in the Wikipedia article. Stuff that schizophrenic people do.
When I asked about it, she said she realized that it didn't make sense that she was a reincarnated dolphin and that she didn't know why she believed those things. Schizophrenic people don't really have that kind of self-awareness.
Not sure about the aliens, but the other two are promoted by (different) major world religions.
In addition to seeing my Grandmother completely forget who I was from one minute to the next, more bizarrely she would time warp and believe she was 16 years old and seemingly remember everything/everyone at that time of her life very accurately. Not until now, granted I was very young then, did I ever realize that at times she may have not known who she was, but sitting here now I am sure she would have experienced that as well.
 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/01452134939... was cited by a
I wonder if the DID experience is the same as "ego death" as described after ingesting large amounts of psychedelics?
Even some of the most fast-acting drugs still have a ramp-up. I'm thinking, IV propofol, if you've experienced it before (and even if it's your first time), you can tell that something is happening.
The most infuriating thing about having a family member with a personality disorder, my own dive into ab-psych, is that they can turn it on and off in certain contexts, they can be triggered and they can avoid being triggered, but not in a context where you need them to, where you beg them to. It is a way in which they are acting, an unhealthy coping mechanism and pattern of thinking that colors all their thoughts - but it is not something that they can't control or observe at all, only something that they don't usually control or observe well enough to avoid causing problems. There is no clear line between their disorder and their voluntary behavior and their personality, it is one unified whole.
Do we hate them for that? What's the use? Who does that help?
Before we started medicalizing these things, we relied on public shaming and ostracism to control them until the person's behavior got so out of control they became a danger. While it's a cruel way of doing things that we have wholeheartedly rejected, it was surely at least somewhat effective, because of this voluntary component, because telling yourself "Keep it together" is not a 0% effective treatment technique. The country did not suffer from a 26% mental illness rate in times past, and I think it's foolish to assume this represents pure underreporting. Mental illness at least partially conforms to the outlines of the society which defines it - immigrants to the US find themselves substantially healthier than the US on arrival, but develop statistically average rates of US mental illness over time; Symptoms shift from whatever is recognized in their home country to symptoms more in line with US-recognized disorders.
We have decided, rightly or wrongly, that classifying these things according to an insurance-industry handbook, and doling out pills like candy, and pretending these people have no control whatsoever over their disorder in order to relieve them of social responsibility for it, is the correct approach. While the truth is more complex, I tend to find this more humane than some other national attitudes towards the topic, and I have no better approach to offer.
Edit: The problem is, when you acknowledge that these things are maladaptive and problematic behaviors that someone presently does not control well, rather than some kind of seizure that completely robs one of consciousness... you get people popping up who want to go back to the boolean definition again and deny there's any problem whatsoever, claim that they're doing this for attention and faking it and horrible hoaxers who are sucking the precious fluids from our society... There may be too many douchebags out there for a nuanced view to prevail. I see this post already has one, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9147386 . The problem is the boolean: A 100% controlled premeditated affectation must represent a malicious manipulator, the theory goes, while a 0% controlled mental illness strikes a victim, all victims, like a bus hitting an innocent pedestrian. But the mind isn't so simple, and the onus of personal responsibility is not a cure-all.
This is so very true. The member of my family with a clear personality disorder would likely be a criminal if she wasn't able to turn it off or otherwise limit it in various public contexts.
> it was surely at least somewhat effective, because of this voluntary component
No, it was a cruel and inhumane way to treat people. Personality Disorder used to be a diagnosis of exclusion in England - people with PD would be turned away by mental health services because they were seen as untreatable. That left them at the mercy of criminal justice systems.
We don't think Mental Health hospitals are the place for people with PDs. It's clear that prisons are even worse.
Here's just one example, but there are hundreds, thousands, of others. And this is England where we have free mental health care.
For anyone interested in the treatment of personality disorder: The current NICE guidelines are a bit old and are currently being re-worked. "Meeting the Challenge, Making a Difference" is an excellent short document detailing what PD is, how it affects people, what best current practice for treatment should be, and a list of recommended psychological therapies.
People who suffer brain trauma often end up with it affecting their personality. It is quite possible that many personality disorders have a physiological basis, one that is not as simple as someone "just stopping their behavior".
The physiological and the psychological and the sociological interact to produce psychiatric problems in the forms and rates we see. The fact that we've diagnosed a person with a disorder means that the person is failing to control their condition as well as we desire; It's wishful just-world thinking to believe they have no control whatsoever on the one hand, but on the other hand condemning them for failing to control their condition is needlessly cruel. Some of it is in our head, because the place we exist is in our head. There is still a person living in that head, and they deserve our empathy regardless of why they're behaving the way they're behaving... no matter how much our normal interpersonal script demands culpability of them at times.
We suspend culpability not because "It's the disease doing it, not the person" - the two are not easily separable - but only because culpability has proven not to be effective at enhancing control in the past with this person.
Like I posted previously, physiological factors with the brain can cause poor emotion and impulse control. Abuse during the developmental stages of the brain could also wire the brain in strange ways that, again, someone may not be able to actually control.
Saying society is "soft" and these people are "weak" doesn't solve anyone's problems.
I think it's foolish for you to assume you know this. As our understanding of the brain and human behavior grows it's obvious that we'll detect and diagnose previously unknown and underreported illnesses and disorders, especially with spectrum disorders like Autism and ADHD.
Life lesson: before you get in a relationship, ask about any history of mental disorder or medications being taken. Some people don't tell you about these things until they happen.
Years later, long after we had drifted apart as friends, I found out he murdered his father and tried to kill his mother and brother as well, and went to prison for life.
> A few hours after she first told me, I took some time to read up on dissociative identity disorder.
Shouldn't he have read up on DID in detail when she first told him about rather than when the episode happened? Seeing this mid-way through the event makes it seem like he didn't really do his homework beforehand.
> at its worst, she said, she would not only struggle to identify who she was, but even what she was; unable to process the concept of her own humanity.
This is a really interesting state to study; not knowing your own humanity. Are there any good references to DID that one without prior knowledge can read?
EDIT: Thanks everyone for clarifying. I'm not sure why the down votes though, it was genuine confusion.
The part about his girlfriend calling her ex at his requst was a courageous act from her current boyfriend. It must be hard knowing that your girlfriend in her dissoaciate state can forget you, but remember her ex boyfriend enough to trust him. That would be so hard for many people to handle.
A really great story. It is great to see a story hit the front-page that isn't neccesarily about programming (not in the software sense).
On the flipside, if I couldn't remember I had DID, and all of a sudden a stranger appeared in my room, and said, "Gordon, you are having an episode. Please check your wallet to remind you that we are close, and call your mother to confirm." - I'm pretty certain that as long as the person stayed calm, and physically away from me, I would adjust to this new reality pretty quickly.
Trying to physically restrain me though, as the author did in this story, would probably be a very bad approach towards de-escalating my freak out.
Reversely, when you see someone in that state rushing for the door, knowing they'd be helpless to deal with actual risks, 'de-escalating' is the least of your concerns. "I must keep her safe, with me" is the only thing in your mind.
However, knowing that you're not personally equipped to deal with these things and that the "object of your affection" might be better off without you is a certain kind of wisdom.
I can't really see how finding a flaw in a person could change my attraction to them (particularly sexually, though I know you said that wasn't exactly what you meant). Especially this flaw--it's not a moral failing. Moral failings are, indeed, distasteful.
If it's 3 hours per year, I can certainly handle that to be in love.
I cannot imagine any scenario in which involving the authorities would have improved the situation and not violated her instructions, which he implicitly if not explicitly had agreed to follow. Most specifically "not let go", and getting her back to familiar surroundings, which per the account and others' accounts is important in stabilizing these events when they go that far.
If she doesn't want the authorities to be involved, he would need at least a medical power of attorney. And even that would not not protect him from police responding to an apparent abduction. The only strategy to prevent that is to involve them from the start.
Actually, no, anyone who pays attention knows that the worst case is one or both being maimed or killed by the police. Therefore only invoke them if it's really life or death, as the situation would have been he'd disobeyed the "never let go" charge she left him with. As the police would have almost certainly forced after being called, that is, calling 911 would have almost certainly resulted in a deep betrayal of her, and should result in her side ending the relationship if/when she was back to normal.
Additional info here:
Was this moment as sweet as that when you hear the words from someone you love for the first time? The anxiety of "will she remember that she loves me" ending at "I love you" must be amazing.
I can only speak for me, and only hypothetically: It would mean much much more in that moment. Someone you love for a long time, maybe your wife, finally remembers you. Sure, its awesome to hear I love you for the first time.
Imagine you fuck up big. Really big. She still talks to you, but every time you do, you notice she's still pissed. Not just a bit, but very pissed, angry, and disappointed. She hasnt said "I love you" in a few days, since you fucked up. And then you hear them again. Suddenly, unexpected.
The world isnt grey anymore. Its finally coloured again.
Or is DID some kind of subset of PTSD?
She is not 'flaky' as a spoiled socialite would be, she has a mental disease. One that only seems to crop up from time to time.
'Poor relationship material'? She is still a human being in need of support. I'd say you're poor relationship material.
On the other hand, I know a guy who was about to break up with girl when she got a cancer diagnosis. He stayed with her for years, miserable, because he didn't want to be that schmuck.
Relationships are complex. It's poor form to criticize someone who stays, but also poor form to criticize someone who leaves - there's a lot more going on than just one issue, even if it is a big one.
And once children are involved, it is not just about you. Plus, you're bringing that person not only into your life but into your family.
Here is something: what if your feelings change because of this? Should you stay, just for the sake of demonstrating your humanity to the world?
Oh, right, it's okay to break up because of changing feelings, because those are human.
My life experience tells me that it's not worth meeting broken people and supporting them, fixing them and so on.
It's a good way to make yourself miserable. If you have a pattern of doing this, it says something about you. Maybe you don't think you deserve better or something, or you need to feel that someone depends on you and needs your support.
Latching on to needy people and supporting them doesn't mean that you're good relationship material in any objective sense; it's just your self-image of what you think makes you "good" is in a relationship.
I bet I can find 3 hours a year you're poor relationship material, starting with the time you spent writing this comment.
(But of course, your threshold is at the optimal sweet spot value, between "fool" and "inhuman").
Moreover, the description is entirely compatible with a disassociative episode. You have some pretty clear biases you're projecting onto the situation that are clouding your judgement.
EDIT: The original post, now flagkilled, asserted that the girlfriend in the article had faked the episode.
On the other hand, I don't see enough information to discard this hypothesis.
I'm tempted to believe the author of course, but I don't think this is not plausible as an explanation for this truly crazy story.
Now, whole bodies of academic work, and whole fields of science, would suggest that "little flip out episodes" that can be classified according to well developed criteria are significant enough to be named and described. Naming, description and classification are only means to an end. That is, they serve to help trained professionals (therapists/psychologists) help those that seek a better life. Yes, psychology is not CS with its closed form solutions, but that doesn't mean that it's bunk.
Now, I'm not saying that this is the case in this story, but having gone through school in the late 90s and early 2000s I saw plenty of what the parent comment described. It was cool to have "mental issues" in some crowds, mainly the "goth" kids(I put goth in quotes there because there's a distinct difference between the goth subculture and the typically white, middle class kids who shop at hot topic). In searching for their identity, they found a great way to provoke responses from people, particularly adults, by appearing to be disturbed in some fashion. Claiming to hear voices, drawing violent images, etc. Some would take it this far and have arbitrary "episodes", but it really was all just a show. Knowing several personally, they were just like anyone else when you got to know them, but they wanted to appear different from the larger school population. They had loving families, comfortable homes, pretty bright kids. Today they've essentially become they railed against in their younger years, jocks, preps, "conformists". I guess the "real world" has a habit of mellowing people out.
In all but the most egregious cases of sexism, it will be possible to find justifications for how the negative connotations could apply to all sexes. This is a pernicious way in which sexists recruit otherwise neutral parties to their defense -- our natural desire is to give the benefit of the doubt and particularly on HN, we love to find technicalities and loopholes. The key is that they will generally fall into existing sexist tropes, as this does, and more critically while they could apply to men, in the context provided they do not.
I agree that there are certainly behaviors, especially amongst adolescents, that are similar in outward appearance to those described in the article. My frustration comes from those that repeatedly deny that there are sometimes edge cases that represent actual psychological issues rather than just attention seeking behaviors. For those with psychological issues, seeking help isn't about giving them attention or creating unnecessary drama, it's about helping them achieve a quality of life that they want. People helping one another (medical/psychological professionals to sufferers) isn't something to be disparaged, it's something to be encouraged.
Thanks for reminding me that some people will always hold my gender against me.