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United States of Tara


Bluerose
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United States of Tara is a television series created by Diablo Cody. Broadcast in the United States on the premium channel Showtime, the series follows the life of a suburban housewife with dissociative identity disorder. The series' first season aired in 2009; its second season is scheduled to air in early 2010.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_of_Tara

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How do you feel about it yourself Rose?

When television portrays something that is close to you, it can be difficult.

Do they deal with DID sensitively ? or is it all just for laughs?

I see you are in the UK, do you see it on satellite television, how do you access it?

Take care

p.s. just seen on your link that it is shown here in Ireland ~ will check it out.

Goose

Edited by goose
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It looks like it’s going to be quite popular. I feel a little uncomfortable watching it but I do want to see it. Is that weird? I also find it a little over the top but then I don’t suppose any two people experience the disorder the same way. I assume Tara is going through recovery and part of that recovery is to be more open and allow her alters to be more open almost as a way of eventually ‘exorcising’ or integrating them.

I wanted to get other members views on the program and maybe put some of my own thoughts about it into perspective. I think I’m just a little concerned that other people might think that is how dissociates behave all the time.

Edited by Bluerose
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Hi Goose,

It was brought to my attention by someone on another board and then a friend downloaded it for me. Some of it hits home quite hard especially when I think about what my family put up with and this was before we knew for definite what was going on. I worked consciously to protect my kids but I don’t think I managed that a hundred percent. I love how Tara’s kids just fall in with everything. How much easier our lives would have been if we had known what was going on. It makes me feel sad.

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I've seen the entire first season of it, and I love it! It actually does a pretty good portrayal of DID, for alters that make themselves obvious - which is rare, from what I understand. I think the show is entertaining .. but also gives a more "modern" view of what DID is. It's not like Sybil, when everyone thought that DID meant you were crazy. This is a woman who functions daily. Yeah, she has her trials, but she still manages to make it through the day, be a wife, mother, and professional. I haven't seen it in a while ... I'm gonna have to find it online to catch up on it!

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I can't give you a reason for being here - you have to do that yourself. However, I have seen every episode of the show so far and would be happy to talk with you about it as I have time. What aspect of the show do you want to talk about?

I think you misunderstood my post, Mark. I’m not looking for a reason to be here on this board. If you go read it again you’ll see it says “Given my reason for being here, I thought it might be interesting to know what others think of the show.” Or words to that effect. :)

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amberlyn,

I think you might have hit it on the head. It is a show and it is entertaining. And I suppose if we get right down to it, at least it is finally being recognised as a disorder and not necessarily a mental disorder where the people are thought to be crazy. I suppose that's progress of a kind. I'm going to watch it again see if I feel less uncomfortable this time. I was reading some reviews. It's amazing how popular it is.

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You're right - I misread. Happens a fair amount. Sorry!

I had done an essay about "Tara" when it premiered which you might want to read:

http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=24421

Personally, I liked it, although they are obviously exaggerating for effect. But I thought they got a fair amount right. I'm looking forward to the new season if it is renewed.

Mark

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Mark,

I read your essay on the US of Tara. Very interesting, and I agree with most of it. I, too, had to do some pausing while watching it. I watched it with my best friend (who has DID) and we discussed how he felt about certain scenes, if things were depicted as he perceived them, if how they showed the switching of the alters was how it looked when he switched, etc.

I do have a couple of things that I wanted to comment on though. First, you are the first that I have heard from that says there is no "original," that everyone is an alter. From my understanding & readings, there is always an original - usually an infant, the one who was born and experienced little, if any, trauma. The person that lives the day-to-day life, the current "host," is hardly ever the original. This original is typically hidden until reached through therapy, usually whenever integration is trying to be reached. I'm curious how you can say that there cannot be an original... are you saying that someone is born with DID?

Second, I don't think that the show was trying to say that the DID was completely controlled by medication. (Perhaps it was though, and I'm just reading more into it.) I saw it more as Tara was using medication to control her stress and anxiety. The decreased anxiety caused less dissociation, thus less switching so it "seemed" more in control. I hope that makes sense.

I loved what you said about the stereotypes! That seems to be very true, especially in the case of my friend with DID. There is a sexually promiscuous 19-year-old female; a strong, protective, angry male; an older, wise, and level-headed male; and several children. (That's just a quick overview ... there are approximately 60 alters) There are some more developed personalities, several of the children in fact having disabilities. Over all, though, the stereotypes seem dominant of the "birth" of the alters.

Again, I loved the essay. Very awesome. I would enjoy discussing your knowledge of DID some more :)

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You're right - I misread. Happens a fair amount. Sorry!

I had done an essay about "Tara" when it premiered which you might want to read:

http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=24421

Personally, I liked it, although they are obviously exaggerating for effect. But I thought they got a fair amount right. I'm looking forward to the new season if it is renewed.

Mark

Apology accepted. :)

Thanks. I look forward to reading that.

I think season 2 is due to air soon.

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I haven't read it yet. I haven't even read the rest of the post. I came to a full stop and held my breath! I couldn't believe what I was reading.....

"First, you are the first that I have heard from that says there is no "original,""

I have an appointment near the end of this month and since my psych doc has been particularly helpful of late - arranging for me to have a copy of my notes - I set about writing some information for her. Thinking about the order 'they' come in etc. I struggled to 'find' ? (my real first name). I freaked out a little and thought I was losing it - again! She's not there! Or if she is, she doesn't want anything to do with this anymore. Jesus! Am I going mad?!!

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I'm going over the article and writing a bit as I go. I think I'll post it piece by piece or I'll get lost in it. So here's my first piece.

To my knowledge 'they' are all different; different ages, memories, strengths and weaknesses, and likes and dislikes - and dress sense! Not that I indulge this much. Since being in recovery, which simply means being more aware of what goes on and working to be more co-operative, I seem to be 'host' most of the time now. And I also seem to have more say about how obvious or how discrete things are. I also seem to be aware of the fact that I don't have full control because I can still experience 'zoning out' if things become too stressful.

I can only talk about what I'm aware of regards myself and maybe two others and a young one but there is still a sense of 'activity' that I'm not fully aware of. And I don't know who is aware of who. The three main ones seem to be aware of each other. And I think the young one trust one more than the others. I think a couple of us take care of the little one. Could the little one be the 'Original'? I just know I'm going to end up with a headache trying to work this out. I just don't know enough about what goes on - I thought I did but I don't.

I also hesitate to use DID terms. I think of myself as being in recovery and I feel a need not to over indulge in acknowledging 'identities'.

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I don't know about mind reading but I think there is a sharing of thoughts. Is that the same thing?

I think I'm still a little in the dark even though I feel I'm the most capable of dealing on a daily bases.

I have trouble 'seeing' Alice as an alter. She seems so far out of the age range.

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"Another comment I had was that the few alters who have been introduced feel more or less authentically superficial. I read some criticism somewhere (I can't find it now!) about the show which accused the writers of simply stringing a set of stereotypes together in place of doing actual character development work, but in my experience, many public facing alters (not all but many) really do come across as stereotypes. They are not fully developed people but instead fantasies of people as imagined by a person who needed their stereotyped attributes in order to cope at some time. They can be incredibly one-dimensional, in my experience. Sometimes they have been created to fulfill one purpose and one purpose alone, and that is all they do. There are often more well developed alters in the system as well, but plenty of stereotypes. So that part feels accurate so far."

I think I would agree with that. Somewhere at the back of the mind.... if you are being bullied by a boy at school and feel unable to take care of yourself, I think you would create a 'Buck' to deal with the bully. So yes, some are created for maybe one specific job and only emerge when that job needs done.

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She (Tara) is the facade that is presented to the world. She has little knowledge of the larger system (she knows it exists but does not have access to the thoughts of the other alters). She exists as a pleasant front behind which the other alters can rest until needed, or hide their vulnerability. She works and therefore brings in money. She is the first alter you meet and the one you think is the primary person (e.g., the original identity which happens to be plagued by these other more partial, more fantastic identities). It's important to keep in mind, however, that in cases of DID, there is no "original" or "primary" person. There is just the alter system, which can only reasonably be thought of in systems or ecological terms. Most people have a unitary experience of self, but people with DID have a true multiplicity.

Yes. I go along with that. We are all parts of a whole. We can't be parts along side a whole.

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In my experience, there is always a rebellious aspect to the DID alter system, which forms as a normal reaction to the difficult conditions that caused the system to come into existence in the first place.

Agreed, And it's this one that some other part of us becomes aware of first. It's the voice in our head calling us names and telling us how useless we are. Then along comes the protector, the negotiator, to defend us from the aggressor. Some semblance of peace is restored. Then along comes the helper the one who tries to get us the professional help it is beginning to realise we need before this circus drive us mad.

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I think the parts are created throughout the childhood (perhaps even based on people or teachers the child knows, people she likes and feels safe with) but these parts only begin to surface when the danger is gone. It seems they surface to fight it out for control. I feel this is where a lot of pain and conflict comes in. I don't think any one part can take full control. Perhaps once they realise this then negotiation and compromise come into play. And we are left with the feeling of 'sharing' the body.

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you are the first that I have heard from that says there is no "original," that everyone is an alter. From my understanding & readings, there is always an original - usually an infant, the one who was born and experienced little, if any, trauma. The person that lives the day-to-day life, the current "host," is hardly ever the original. This original is typically hidden until reached through therapy, usually whenever integration is trying to be reached. I'm curious how you can say that there cannot be an original... are you saying that someone is born with DID?

Not having DID myself, I cannot say what is true and what is not true. I can only report my experience trying to treat DID. The patient I have the most experience with did report there being an original, but I never got to talk to that alter, and I have to question whether the original status of the original has any real meaning once the multiplicity occurs. Just because you might have been there first doesn't mean that you are more primary than the others, at least not after a substantial period of time has elapsed. I think what makes someone "primary" is the time they spend conscious. The more a part of you is conscious, the more that part of you is who you are. That is my working impression, anyway.

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I have a few thoughts about why the writers have not presented us with this pain-containing aspect of the alter system. Possibly, they are just getting started, and it is possible that they will do so in later episodes. Alternatively, they are sensitive to the fact that the introduction of the abuse theme and the need to depict the abuse-containing alters (who might cry uncontrollably and mutely rock in the corner of the room or act in an infantile manner) would introduce a profoundly sad tone to the show's comedic energy which might turn off viewers. I hope it is the former rather than the latter.

I wouldn't be surprised if the show began to get more serious. The abuse aspect might be kept hidden for a while as it is for most of the parts anyway. It might be revealed a bit at a time through the awakening awareness of the parts as they learn more and more about each other.

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I don't know about mind reading but I think there is a sharing of thoughts. Is that the same thing?

What I observed was that some alters knew what others were doing, while others were in the dark. I thought of it as mind reading, but I don't think that is literally the case. From my point of view, there is but one mind really, and one brain it is running on. The memories are there for all to participate in, but they are dissociated, meaning that the "index" for looking them up is not available to all. I don't think it is mind reading to know your own mind. Much more like a sharing of thoughts.

Don't read too much "definitive truth" into my essay; I'm no master in this area. My observations should not be read as pronouncements. I just have some experience and respect what I saw. :cool:

Mark

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Another potential conceit is that the family household depicted in United States of Tara is fairly functional and organized. In reality, DID is a serious condition that is generally associated with a lot of behavioral chaos and a more disorganized family life. It is certainly possible that a DID family could hold itself together as well as the family depicted in the show, but it does seem more unlikely to be that way (to me) than not. Those individuals I've worked with have far more chaotic and troubled home lives than anything I've seen depicted here.

I remained married for twenty years. He was a soldier and away a lot that might explain that. I was and still am concerned about how things were for my children. When awareness hit, I almost had a breakdown at the thought of how this had effected them. They're all over thirty now and tell me I worry too much when I ask them about it. My two sons went to boarding school, their saving grace perhaps. My daughter was only 12 when we divorced and I had already come through the worst of it by then so hopefully she doesn't remember anything too strange. She is now a part of my family support system.

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