Dissociating for dollars

A persistent question which has plagued many observers of the apparently burgeoning adult SRA/DID claimant population is “where are they all coming from?”

We’ve talked here about the potential for generating false or distorted memories through various means—over-zealous and relentless questioning, for example, can convince some people that certain traumatic events, no matter how bizarre or unlikely, did actually happen to them.

And we’ve looked at some of the psychiatrists and psychologists whose patients went to them looking for help with relatively common-place issues, underwent hypnosis for “memory retrieval”, and came out believing they had DID.

But recently a reader pointed us in the direction of a fascinating and potentially very dangerous trend: YouTube as a hothouse for the production and nurturing of DID.

MedCircle: ‘What it’s like to live with Dissociative Identity Disorder’

On the YouTube channel “MedCircle”, we found this professional-looking video, narrated by a person named Kyle Kittleson, who bills himself as an “Animal behaviorist, Dog trainer, and Television host”.

He’s interviewing a woman named Encina Severa, who believes she has 11 “alters”, including a three-year-old girl who conveniently makes an appearance during the interview:

The video was posted in early July 2018, and to date has accrued 1,457,626 views, along with 6,020 comments, the vast majority of them positive.

DID video 2018-09-14 1DID video 2018-09-14 2DID Video 2018-09-14 3The sense of fascinated admiration is palpable, and worrisome.

While we cannot say that each of these “DID fans” will go on to develop symptoms themselves, any more that a fan of horror films might go on to re-enact grisly murders using chainsaws, it’s clear that a door has been opened.

These people want more, more, MORE!

AlexMax Han: Instant YouTube Superstar

To fill that insatiable need for more DID-porn, a 19-year-old Asian woman has stepped in. Jess, using the channel name “AlexMax Han”, describes herself as having been diagnosed with PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and DID.

This video, the first of 13 on the channel, has had 6,800,000 views since it was posted on 11 August. When we first looked at the channel on 12 September it had 325,690 subscribers; as of 14 September, that number had leapt to ~335,000.

Heady stuff for a hitherto unknown teenager! Clearly, this stuff sells:

In a matter-of-fact tone, Jess introduces her alters by name, describes their function in her life, and describes some of the day-to-day trials of living with alters—for example, when her teen alter, Alex, puts hair gel in her hair, Jess is forced to wash her hair at the end of the day. Oh noes!

At about 8:45, Jess’s speech slows down, she looks a bit confused, a subtitle helpfully informs us “dissociating…” and then hey presto, her young alter, “Max”, greets the camera: “Hi, YouTube!”

Yes, it is just that obvious, and that cheesy.

This dissociation brought to you by…

Aside from the possibility that videos like this may be leading vulnerable individuals down a very dangerous garden path, one aspect of AlexMax Han’s channel which raised a few red flags is that it’s sponsored by a company called BetterHelp:AlexMax Han 2018-09-14 sponsorshipClicking on the “influencerlink” URL took us to this site: BetterHelp 2018-09-14 opening screen

“BetterHelp” is one of a growing number of online therapy companies. In their promotional material they emphasise that they use only licensed professional counsellors with a Master’s level degree or higher, which is certainly one step in the right direction.

According to an article last year in Fast Company,

BetterHelp is growing at a rapid clip, with membership doubling “year over year,” according to Jeff Williams, the company’s senior director of business development. BetterHelp was acquired by publicly traded Teladoc in 2015 in a $4.5 million deal, and is expected to exceed revenues of $27 million this year, according estimates provided on a recent quarterly conference call with analysts.

However, some therapists question whether clients can made real progress in a strictly online-based format. While some studies have shown promising results, Lynn Bufka, associate director for practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association, says that so far, studies have been far from definitive.

In an APA review of online therapeutic options, one therapist noted that it could be difficult to build and sustain a therapeutic relationship:

I’m such a people person, so it was tough for me to feel a real connection when I was just messaging with people….Plus a lot of people just stopped responding, and I felt like there wasn’t enough time to really build a relationship. It actually turned out to be more difficult than I imagined.

Risky situations may be difficult to manage at a distance, as well. For example, how would a therapist respond effectively to a client at risk of self-harm or suicide, when they may be unfamiliar with the person’s community resources or emergency services?

BetterHelp’s FAQ makes it clear that their service is not intended for people with “severe mental illness”, and states that it “is not capable of substituting for traditional face-to-face therapy in every case.”

Odd, then, that they would be advertising on the YouTube channel of a person who claims to have dissociative identity disorder—surely a “severe” mental illness whether one takes it at face value or assumes that it is some variant of a factitious disorder (a mental disorder in which a person acts as if he or she has a physical or mental illness when, in fact, he or she has consciously created the symptoms).

Dissociating for dollars?

Aside from clinical and safety considerations, though, it’s concerning to us that BetterHelp seems to be aggressively promoting itself to the YouTube DID and broader mental health community, offering sponsorships and free trial services in exchange for the opportunity to harvest clicks on their site.

This YouTuber describes her “terrible experience”:

Certainly, one bad apple doesn’t mean the entire company is spoilt, but we’re interested that BetterHelp is promoting itself via sites like AlexMax Han, who’s been attracting massive numbers of viewers, at least some of whom could turn out to be the next Becki Percy or Fiona Barnett. 149985956_2dd81a02d0_b

38 thoughts on “Dissociating for dollars

  1. I love some of neelu’s brilliant supporters ideas….

    from

    “Jenny Meade: Spread some romiurs about dry rot etc on auction house site”

    Yay, great idea, depress the sale price so it gets even less…
    At best she might get some cash back after the sale (if her shenanigans haven’t eaten all that up already- that security must have cost a small fortune already), but if the sale of the house doesn’t cover all the costs she has run up, do her and her monobraincellic supporters think that the bank and everyone else who has a claim will just go ‘oh well that’s it then’ and wander off???

    Depressing the sale price even further just means that she will have to pay back even MORE if the sale price doesn’t cover all the costs…

    Apparently this little aspect of their’ cunning plan’ seems to have escaped them…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes I think REMEDY is a long way off for Neelu. And poor old Edward Ellis, Equity Lawyer wasn’t allowed to give evidence to the jury. Did she say he was escorted from the court?

      Liked by 2 people

    • Finally, Neelu tells the truth in a video: “My brain doesn’t work very well.”

      No listing in Kingston CC Court 4 for Adama Koroma on Monday, so the case is probably over. Of note is that Edward Ellis appears to have tried to present himself as a witness, had a hearing before the judge, as a result refused permission to give testimony, and then was kicked out of the building and told not to return.

      Being a case linked to family matters, I don’t expect there to be any local reporting, but Neelu doesn’t appear to have sent invites to the party she was planning to hold yet.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “…Jess introduces her alters by name, describes their function in her life…”
    Note the pervasiveness of this idea among DID claimants; that these ‘alternate states’ all have a function & purpose in the person’s life. Why should they? They can’t simply “be”?
    This shows the widespread influence of the “Internal Family Systems Model”, in this field.

    There can actually be a therapeutic benefit to ‘externalizing’ your moods or other characteristics/traits, so that you gain enough emotional ‘distance’ from them to examine them more objectively. But, that’s just a metaphoric model! Anthropomorphizing them with names, ages, genders, is beyond ridiculous – assigning them all a personalized function on top of that verges on actual craaazyyy. Losing that perspective: this is a metaphor, this is just a model, could be quite dangerous really.
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/internal-family-systems-therapy

    Liked by 2 people

    • A relative who does very stupid things when drunk & is reminded of them the following day always says, “that was the other me”. No DID involved, just pure mind alternating alcohol. No violence btw.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have another ‘me’ who ignores the diet and chooses cake and chocolate over real food. The day after the real me is full of guilt. I’m going to call the cake eater ‘Fatso’. And yes, my two selves are ‘co-conscious’.

        Liked by 2 people

        • What a fabulous idea MC! 👍

          I am atm tucking into two fresh cobs, fresh cut ham of the bone & mayo. I think I will call my other me “greedy biatch”.

          Liked by 1 person

          • These comments remind me of how much concepts of alters, the inner child, and “parts therapies” have influenced identity politics including debates, narratives and the policing of language with regards to transgender issues and even race and the ridiculous concept of privileged people identifying as “transracial”.

            The concept of the individual self is being eroded and subtly being replaced by the concept of multiple selves, possibly with different genders, ages and even races.

            I very much enjoyed this satirical clip

            I’m a wealthy person trapped in a poor person’s body 😦

            Like

  3. I don’t really study these trends or have much knowledge of psychology beyond an a level but i do detect some conditions are fashionable. Tourettes and asbergers are firm favourites of low rent documentaries and tv dramas / comedy. Schitzophrenia remains the dark horse with most people actually believe it literally means split personality. psychopathy rules the roost in hollywood where it’s usually only portrayed by british actors who hold up sky scrapers or eat census takers with fauve beans and chiante. it’s almost becoming a parlour game to attempt to diagnose people. with some of the usual gang of Knobheads it’s actually a game i play myself, though i don’t so much give a diagnosis as a summary of their behaviours and motivation. sounds like we have a whole generation of bandwagon jumping wannabees desperate for attention and finding an appreciative audience sucking away at the latest fad. the internet itself is a major factor in both enabling people to find an audience and compelling them to keep it.

    Like

      • When I was growing up window lickers was a term of abuse for people with intellectual disabilities

        😦

        I must say, it isn’t much fun having a ‘fashionable’ disorder that is all of a sudden on the telly box everywhere if you have it 24/7, It isn’t nice when people’s understanding comes from shallow and highly edited reality TV or human interest documentaries.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Disturbing. private health care like this has no function but to make money with the smallest expense possible. looks like an unhealthy corporate exercise advertising like that directly on small channels. so much of this just screams of a disaster waiting to happen. not good.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great write up EC 🙂

    Of course the really scary thing is, just who the hell are BetterHelp?

    Also, if their sponsored mentally unwell people are generating such a frenzied and purest interest in DID, are they really a company that places the welfare of vulnerable people before profits, or before some other sinister, DID promoting agenda?

    The rise of online counselling and therapy services is something that, given what I know about the prevalence of quackery, cults and criminals in the psychotherapy and mental health fields generally, is cause for extreme concern.

    How reliable, confidential and secure are their services? How easy is it for BetterHelp or some similar organisation, to harvest data from youtube accounts subscribing to their sponsored people? If youtube accounts subscribe to AlexMax Han and leave comments praising her for her bravery and buy into the whole DID lie then they could be targeted for Pizagate, Hampstead Hoax, etc. or other conspiracy theories.

    What is YouTube doing to ensure its subscribers and their data are safe from sinister organisations? Rhetorical question. We all know the answer to this.

    Also, the creation of DID mascots and people claiming to have alters and to have suffered abuse seems to be undergoing a re-branding exercise.

    In days of yore such individuals were portrayed as incredibly troubled and disturbed, often claiming to have participated in baby eating and murder.

    Now they seem to be very young and cutesy. Eg.g the BBC recently gave another Jess who claimed to have DID a lot of coverage.


    Jess introduces her “alters”

    Jess was on ITV This Morning in 2013

    BBC shorter version (high quality)

    BBC longer version (low quality)

    Jess is now a youtube superstar, although her rise to internet stardom was not as rapid as AlexMax Han’s.

    What is going on?

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right about the rebranding of what it means to “be a DID”. I’ve been observing that process taking place, through online ‘self-help’ communities, since 1995. Yes, prior to the internet age, MPD-DID was perceived to be a debilitating psychiatric disorder,more of a torturous disability than a treatable medical ‘condition’ – and ‘sufferers’ expressed a self-perception that they were ‘broken’ people who had endured great emotional suffering, doomed to go on suffering.

      I think the switch started with mpd-did patients being encouraged to perceive themselves as “special” people, and dissociation as a ‘gift. Then it became trendy for them to see their dissociative disorder” as a supra-human ability, and their alters as assets.
      Its certainly better, for anyone & everyone, to have a positive self-perception rather than a hopelessly negative one. But if these ‘multiples’ are still being taught that their dissociative gift and community of alter-assets are a result of BEING ABUSE in childhood – if they believe this and profess it themselves – that’s a totally false and very dangerous concept.

      We’ve discussed this before, that sexual/ physical/ emotional abuse inflicted on a very young child CANNOT be a factor in the development of hyper-functional traits. It can only be a factor in developing dysfunctional traits. Encouraging people to believe that child abuse leads to supra-human abilities could provide child-abusing parents/guardians a very twisted rationalization for indulging their abusive behaviour – rather than striving to control it. Hey! The kid’s going to BENEFIT from this…

      In any case, this Jess person is clearly NOT a classic MPD-DID at all – regardless of her self-identity. She’s simply a person with a complex and articulate “parts” model of her personality. Her understanding of the basic DID mythology is way off. “Alters” are not “altered states of consciousness” – they are alternative personalities. Very different concepts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had a look at the wiki page for DID today. I notice that it seems to have changed over time, certainly since the last time I looked, and even addresses some of the points you raise. I found particularly interesting the assertion that people DID and symptoms are not really found in children and people pre therapy, and that there is a core of therapists treating the bulk of DID patients. Also cultural differences between symptoms which just happen to follow media portrayals.

        There are cultural differences in how people explain and experience mental anguish. But this is something different.

        I have a sneaking suspicion that DID won’t be in the DSM forever but related dissociative disorders will stay.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have experienced dissociation and I understand dissociation to be a commonly experienced response to overwhelming trauma. Dissociation can feel like not inhabiting one’s own body and can lead to post traumatic experiences including but not limited to: a feeling of unreality, a feeling of living in a film, a feeling of detachment from the world, feelings of forgetfulness.

          Dissociating can actually be helpful in certain situations. For example, a soldier in a combat situation who is witnessing horrifying things needs to dissociate to carry on fighting. Any human being in a catastrophic or extremely terrifying situation can benefit in the short term from dissociating. Dissociating is a thing that can help a person survive a horrifying situation by compartmentalising the experience while struggling to escape / survive without succumbing to overwhelming emotions.

          Dissociation is fairly common and can happen just a little bit in some situations. For example an elderly person who loses their lifelong spouse can sometimes carry on being relatively happy but may become devastated when a pet subsequently dies. In such an example the bereaved person dissociates from the distressing event in order to survive and cary on, but later on, perhaps when in a safer and more supported place, is impacted significantly by the grief they were unable to bear when their spouse died.

          Dissociation is one thing but dissociative identity disorder is an iatrogenic condition in my opinion, that is to say a condition completely generated by bad therapy or by people reading books such as Sybil or watching youtube videos and getting excited about whether they might have it too.

          Redemption narratives feature very prominently in the discourses of the people I have encountered who claim to have DID. Very often whey have committed shameful or even criminal acts in the past. I can completely understand how it is much easier and less narcissistically wounding to attribute one’s past shameful behaviour to an alter or a fire breathing demon than it is to examine oneself critically and honestly.

          One of the worst aspects of the promotion of the iatrogenic condition of DID as a real, genuine mental illness is that many extremely traumatised people who do have a problem with dissociating are likely to be encouraged to perceive themselves as having alters and to blame alters for bad choices and actions that it would be beneficial and therapeutic to reflect upon and learn from.

          Liked by 2 people

          • “I have experienced dissociation and I understand dissociation to be a commonly experienced response to overwhelming trauma.”

            Probably one of the reason why “Multiple Personality Disorder” was rebranded as “Dissociative Identity Disorder”. That particular circle of credentialed grifters knew that the old name was collecting baggage, so they came up with a new name that coopted an actual phenomenon. Making it harder to skeptics to criticise them, without sounding like they were denying the existence of dissociation per se.

            Liked by 1 person

          • @ Smut Clyde

            Absolutely

            Also the grifters faced challenges to their revenue streams when loss adjusters from various insurance companies worked out that the multi-million $ insurance claims for MPD were from dubious specialist MH organisations linked to the notorious ISSTD and that the patients who were being subjected to intensive, residential, expensive treatment plans had one thing in common – namely generous insurance policies re mental illnesses.


            The entire documentary is excellent and worth watching but the section starting at 41.30 is highly relevant to the issue of rebranding MPD into DID

            FWIW another term use these days is “complex trauma”.

            Anyway, after the above documentary was aired MPD was rebranded into DID and the revenue streams are gushing once more.

            Ker-ching! Ker-ching! Ker-ching! and jollies all round! *cheers*

            Liked by 1 person

      • I do think that some people who were abused in childhood can, over time, develop enhanced sensitivity to detecting child sexual abuse, but this is a very tricky area.

        In my early adult life I was extremely untrusting of men and perceived CSA everywhere. I think this is not unusual for people who have endured CSA/CSE.

        There is a weird dichotomy re CSA/CSE where society seems to either ignore it and just not see it even when it is obvious (I speak from bitter personal experience) and to a state of paranoid hyper-vigilance typically demonstrated in hoaxes like the Hampstead hoax, Pizzagate and the Blood Libel.

        What is so very concerning to anyone who cares genuinely about protecting children from abuse and exploitation is that the manic denial and the paranoid hyper-vigilance both prevent proper understanding and perception of real child abuse and thus make children more likely to be abused.

        This is one of the reasons why I spend so much time posting here. It is crucially important for law enforcement, social workers, mental health professionals and the judiciary to develop finely honed skills not only in understanding the abuse and exploitation of children, but also to develop skills and understanding of hoaxes and collective panics regarding child abuse and exploitation. Until such time that such professionals are properly educated about such issues innocent people will continue to be jailed for crimes they did not commit and children and vulnerable adults will continue to be abused and exploited.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Fuck. don’t validate their illness through reward and positive reinforcement. what next ? pro celebrity mencap ? when i was a pup we had joey deacon and john’s not mad and that was it. now it looks like we’re going to get a massive wave of people famous for their disablities and conditions like some accursed return to the days of carnival freak shows. quack therapists i can understand selling this Crap but the BBC ? actually not that surprising, they’ve been going down the pan since they axed ideal with johnny vegas. Only good show they made in the last decade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that link Shillelagh

      This is exactly the issue I was so concerned about.

      Personal data is worth $$$$ and harvesting data personal data is an art these days.

      In days of yore scammers would phone people up and ask if they had time to complete a brief questionnaire as a front for collecting data that would then be sold to various boiler rooms and other scammers.

      In the days of the internet apps, online petitions, social networking websites, online “survivor” and other groups and various special interest websites and internet forums can be used to harvest compromising data.

      Supermarket loyalty cards are routinely used to create profiles of individual shoppers. By monitoring women’s purchases of feminine hygiene products marketers are able to identify women’s monthly cycles and to target them with advertising for luxury goods and chocolates at the exact time when women are most likely to succumb to impulse, irrational purchases. Marketers are even able to identify whether consumers who are married or in a LTR are having an affair via their purchases.

      The potential for a business like BetterHelp to harvest and sell data of the most delicate and sensitive kind is significant and extremely worrying. The really scary thing is that BetterHelp is just one of many businesses offering similar services. When I lived in a big city a couple of years ago my local NHS mental health trust was funding a similar business to BetterHelp.

      In days of austerity when money is scarce people understand when funding is cut from NHS services. Many NHS mental health services are not fit for purpose IMO and people understand this, are unhappy and outraged by it but believe that it is a sad consequence of austerity. This is not the full picture however.

      The truly shocking thing is that while many NHS mental health trusts are making savage cuts into essential services they are, at the same time, funding businesses offering online and telephone counselling / therapy where the potential for confidentiality breaches and data harvesting is significant.

      The other problem is NHS MH trusts funding various “community organisations” that are meant to “enhance resilience” but that are operated by what would commonly be referred to as “cults”. Yoga cults, mindfulness and meditation cults, energy therapy cults, lots of feel good new age charlatans indulging in quackery and snake oil peddling.

      It seems to me that the channelling of immense financial revenue streams to cults and other dubious businesses while essential services are depleted is just one part of the creation of a parallel power structure, where people believe they are making use of an official, state sanctioned, safe, confidential service but are instead being placed at very high risk of exploitation by criminals.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am gratified to notice that the whole BetterHelp controversy has now gone viral and critical videos are appearing all over youtube. BetterHelp are definitely on the back foot. This is getting interesting

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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