Lesson 6) A Version of Pain

The woman standing at the front of the class doesn’t look quite like Professor Baine. Her normally red hair is now pitch black and curly. Her eyes have become a darker green, and the smile that Professor Baine often has is gone.

“Come in, sit down, and get ready to work.” The voice was stern and left no room for arguments or hesitations. “There will be no nonsense in my classroom today. You are no longer dealing with Professor Baine. My name is Donia Giles and I am instructing class today. Is that understood?” She doesn’t wait for an answer from the students, stepping over to the board as she waves her wand to shut the door.

She doesn’t move to open it when she heas a student knocking at the door. “Do not be late. If you cannot be bothered to arrive on time, I cannot be bothered to teach you. For those who have decided to grace this classroom with your presence, let us begin.”

***

Take notes, do not speak, and keep your questions until the end. Rather, follow along, understand, and do not have questions. The material is not that difficult, if you have stuck with my counterpart this long I assume you are competent.

We will begin by discussing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. Trauma is a situation in which a person undergoes a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. This definition is not concrete because trauma is not concrete. Just because something is not traumatic to you does not mean that it would not be extremely traumatic to the student sitting right beside you. It is never, let me repeat, never acceptable to invalidate someone’s trauma. If I or my counterpart Allison ever find you doing such, you will be given a detention faster than you can find a vial to bottle a potion.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disorder that affects approximately 3% of the population in the UK. It presents in some people that experience traumatic experiences. It’s divided into two types: acute and chronic. The difference in the two is the length of which the symptoms continue. Acute PTSD symptoms don’t persist past three months. PTSD transitions into chronic once the symptoms have not dissipated after three months time.

To be diagnosed with PTSD, there are three symptoms that you must meet for at least a one month period: one re-experiencing symptom, one avoidance symptom, and one arousal symptom.

Re-experiencing symptoms include things that would involve reliving the experience, such as intrusive thoughts, waking flashbacks, and chronic or recurring nightmares. Avoidance symptoms include doing things to avoid anything that would remind you of the event, such as being careful of where you go, what you watch, and who you speak to. Arousal symptoms include things making you feel constantly alert, such as difficulty sleeping, outbursts of anger, and difficulty concentrating.

One symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and nearly any type of trauma is dissociation. There are two types of dissociation: depersonalization and derealization. Dissociation is highly present in a variety of disorders, especially those involving trauma. It is one of the mind’s way of protecting itself. The mind has many ways of protecting itself, another being Dissociative Identity Disorder, which we will discuss next. Dissociation causes a disconnect between the mind and the reality around you.

Depersonalization is a sensation in which you experience the feeling of being disconnected from your body. This can present itself in multiple ways: feeling as though you are watching your body from the outside, being disconnected from your actions, or feeling as if you have no control of your body. Picture this situation. You are walking to class, you know this is what you are doing, yet you do not feel attached to your body. You are blank, empty, and perhaps even seeing the situation from the third person where you can see yourself moving through the day yet it feels as you are someone else. You feel no more attached to your own body than you do to the person walking beside you. When you think back on the situation later, you may not even remember what you did or the moment at all. You are no longer yourself. You are no longer a person.

Derealization is sensation that the things around you are not real. The bed you sit on, the soda you’re drinking, it all begins to feel like something you have made up. Isobel, another alter within this system (we will get into system and alters shortly, do not ask questions, be patient and wait) once convinced herself that her boyfriend was simply another alter and did not exist in the real world in a fit of derealization. The things you know to be true no longer become true, the world around you becomes nothing more than a fake, an alternate dimension, a figment of your imagination.

I am sure you can imagine why this can be frightening for someone. While this is often the mind’s way of protecting itself from things going on, it can also lead to more distress. Often times this is less than what the mind would be dealing with if it did not dissociate. One situation in which this can occur is if someone is in a high anxiety situation. They may experience dissociation in order to distance themselves from the situation, to feel removed from it so that they do not have to deal with that anxiety.

Removing oneself from a situation is often a coping mechanism of trauma. There are many ways to do that, one of which being Dissociative Identity Disorder. You all may have heard of this by the former name, Multiple Personality Disorder. This name is no longer in use either within the Muggle or wizarding communities so I expect not to see it referred to as such.

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a disorder in which the mind splits as a result of trauma. The initial trauma must happen before the age of seven in order to acquire a diagnosis of DID. There are other personality disorders that result in the existence of a system that do not require this particular stipulation. We will not be discussing this today, though you are free to contact me for more information if you wish. The trauma can be anything from that of assault to a car wreck to almost drowning. The person finds themselves unable to deal with this trauma, and thus the mind splits into a different personality so that they do not have to deal with it. This collection of alters is referred to as a system.  

We will begin by discussing a vocabulary that you will need to understand for the following lecture.

The core personality is the personality that existed initially, the one that existed prior to any split and development of alters.

The host personality is the personality that is fronting (a term which here means the presenting personality, the one in charge of the body at the current time) most of the time. This is the “main” personality, if you will. The core personality and host personality are not always the same. They can be and in many systems are, but this is not a hard and fast rule.

The inner world is a place within the mind that alters go when they are not fronting. It is this place the alters live. Some even have jobs and lives within this world. This can be anything. A specific town, a setting from within a novel, or even a single house. For instance, in our system (your professor’s system), the inner world consists of the Halliwell Manor from the television show Charmed. Inner world settings can change through someones life. Not every system has an inner world. In those that do, the core personality is not always able to have access to the inner world.

Alters can have a variety of purposes. Some alters are what are referred to as littles. These are alters that are very young in age. Often times (but not always) they are the first or one of the first alters to develop. They hold the innocence. They can also hold the memories of the initial trauma so that the core personality (or original) does not have these memories to contend with.

Back to our discussion about types of alters. There is also what is identified as the internal self-help alter. This alter is in charge of taking care of people within the system in the inner world. They are a non-fronting alter, which means they never take control of the body.

There are fictives or alters who are characters from fiction. These are often someone that the core personality to be heroic, someone that they can look up to and idolize, at the time of the trauma. For instance, someone that is very fond of the Hunger Games series may develop an alter of Katniss Everdeen. It is important to note that these fictives are not perfect canon representations of their characters, but rather the interpretation of the core personality. This alter type can also be referred to as introjects, though this category tends to also include real life people.

Fragments are alters that are fragments of a full personality. This alter type often exists for a specific purpose. They may hold a single traumatic memory, they may only exhibit one emotion. If an alter has it’s own personality, its own set of likes or dislikes, and a full range of emotions but only has a single memory, it would still be considered a fragment.

Gatekeepers are alters that are in charge of preventing traumatized alters from fronting. They are there to protect the system and keep them functional in day to day life. They are often able to control which alters can take control of the body and when.

There are many other types of alters, some more or less common than those we have discussed above. If you wish to know more, I encourage you to do your own research on the topic. It is an expansive one, and we simply do not have the time to go more in depth today.

Each alter, with the except of fragments, often have their own life. They have a history, memories unrelated to the core personality, their own likes and dislikes. They can even have their own medical conditions. Take a disorder we have already discussed this year, Bipolar Disorder. It is completely possible for the core personality to not have this disorder, but for another alter to suffer from the ailment. It is also possible for alters to have their own food allergies or even disabilities. Take, for instance, Elenore, a member of our own system. She is deaf. This can often come from being told specific things in relation to abuse, such as “You didn’t see anything” or “You didn’t hear anything”. It is possible for these disabled alters to regain things by working through their memories that caused the disability.

The core personality can go through a process called integration in order to combine these splits in personality back into one. While some systems choose to go through this, others do not. Some systems do not want to integrate. They have found a way to cope and go about life normally as a system, and do not wish to give up their support system. Integration should never be forced upon a system. It is not a “cure”.

Systems can also learn to do what is called co-fronting. This is when more than one alter is in control of the body at a time. While this can get confusing for these alters, it can also be a useful coping mechanism when the two alters together can handle the situation better than one alone. There is also co-consciousness when more than one alter is present in the mind of the fronting alter, but only one is actually in control of the body.

While many people with this disorder find it distressing, many also find it a comfort. It is a built in support system. There are always people there to help you through any situation you may find yourself in. They never feel truly alone.

Living with DID is often easier for those within the magical community, mostly for the lives of the alter. This is because, thanks to the joys of magic, they are able to change the outwards appearance more easily.  For instance, as you noticed when you walked in, today my eyes and hair are a different color. This is because I do not look the same as Allison Baine, and have taken measures to look more myself in order to feel more comfortable and at home in this body. Think back to the beauty potions you learned about…

The woman trails off, her expression going blank for a moment. She shakes her head, a confused look appearing on her face as she glances out at the students. Realization suddenly dawns as she reaches up and touches her hair, a smile forming on her face. “Oh, dear! It appears you all have met Donia. I hope she wasn’t too much of a handful! Would anyone care to tell me where we were in the lecture?”

“You-- I mean, she… I mean, you… were telling us about beauty potions and alters changing their appearance to be more like themselves, Professor.” A student speaks up.

“Right, right! Let’s jump back in then.”

As my counterpart was telling you, alters will often use beauty potions and transfigurative spells to help them feel and look more like themselves when they’re fronting! If you all want to get a more personal testimony of someone with DID other than myself, feel free to watch this!

Why don’t we move on to talk about the potion we’re discussing this lesson? It is important to note that this potion cures neither PTSD or DID, but it does help to treat the dissociative systems that accompany both disorders.

Dissociative Diminishing Tincture

Estimated Brew Time:

Pewter Cauldron: 20 minutes

Brass Cauldron: 18 minutes

Copper Cauldron 16 minutes

Ingredients:

50 mL Water

2 sprigs asphodel

4 dandelion root

3 raspberry leaves

1 citrine stone

2 tablespoons flobberworm mucus

Instructions:

Part 1:

  1. Add 50mL water to cauldron
  2. Cut dandelion root finely and add to your cauldron
  3. Bring to 383 Kelvin (120°C/248°F) for 10 minutes. (This will brew for 9 minutes in a Brass cauldron and for 8 in a Copper cauldron).

At this point, your potion should be a muddy brown color, should be giving off a smoke with a red hue, and smell like fresh mulch.

Part 2:

  1. Add citrine stone and let simmer another 10 minutes. (This will brew for 9 minutes in a Brass cauldron and for 8 in a Copper cauldron).

At this point, your potion should begin to take an orange tint to it. The smoke should be darker red, and it should smell like lemon peel. If the potion turns green, you’ve let it brew too long. If it produces a yellow smoke, you’ve had it turned up at too high a temperature.

Part 3:

  1. Grind raspberry leaf and asphodel together in a mortar
  2. Add to cauldron and stir counterclockwise four times with your wand.
  3. Reduce to 343 Kelvin (70°C/158°F)
  4. Add flobberworm mucus and stir until the consistency pudding.
  5. Bottle into a vial

When you are finished, the tincture should have a light lavender color. The smoke should be a blue color and it should smell of fresh linen.

To Store:

This potion is light sensitive, so please make sure to use either a charmed vial or a dark colored vial to protect it from sunlight. Make sure that it’s stored in a dark place when not in use. It stores for six months.

To Use:

When administering this potion, administer five mL to anyone under the age of eleven, and ten to anyone over. This should be done every four hours until the symptoms no longer return.

Your assignment is to successfully brew this potion. You have the time left in class to do it! Please come up and place it upon my desk when you’re done. Please mMake sure to put your initials, the date brewed, and the date it will expire, along with the title of the potion on the vial when you label it! For your homework, I want an analysis of the ingredients and an explanation of why you believe they are used for this potion. Begin.

**As a note, no, I am not impersonating DID. I as a real life person have Dissociative Identity Disorder and Donia is based strongly off one of my own alters, as are the references to our system. I strongly discourage impersonating or appropriating mental illnesses.

Welcome to Fifth Year Potions! This year we will be discussing and exploring potions relating to Psychology and the mind. I look forward to seeing you in the dungeons! Enroll