Friday, April 23, 2010

the DES

So, I don't know how many of you out there have heard of or taken the DES (Dissociative Experiences Scale). I've taken it several times in my life. I took it again this past week as a follow-up and final part of a research study I've been participating in over the past 2 years. I found the results rather interesting and they also got me thinking. I think the DES is a valid instrument, but I'm currently wondering why it matters so much to so many professionals and why it is used a tool to determine one's ability to treat a potential client?

So, yeah, I was diagnosed DID about 10 years ago. I know I am DID. I know I dissociate. I also know I've made tons of progress and am actually functioning in this world rather fantastically (most of the time). I do not feel my dissociation keeps me from doing anything a "normal" person would do. I work; I'm finishing up my 2nd graduate degree; I'm getting married in 37 days, so I'm doing everything that entails; I have healthy relationships; I enjoy a lot about life these days. I really couldn't ask for things to be much better. Sure some rough stuff still comes up in therapy and I am not totally free from my past. I am still triggered from time to time and am continually still learning to trust myself, my emotions, and others.

What was surprising to me is that according to the way I scored on the DES, I should still be a wreck. According to that thing I am still crazy dissociative and looking at the results you wouldn't think I'd be able to function at all. On the other hand, I think some of the items on the DES are items that people without dissociative disorders experience. My mom can so get lost in a book and forget the world around her exists. She can be driving and end up where she wants to be but have no idea how she got there. My dad can compartmentalize anything. They don't have traumatic histories. They're about as normal as I'd say anyone ever gets. I wonder if I gave them the DES if they would score towards the end of having a disorder or not? Probably not, but I can guarantee you it would show they have some strong dissociative tendenices.

This makes me wonder if most everyone on this planet does? And if so, then how can the DES be used as an effective tool to determine whether someone is treatable or not?

Let me back up, I think the DES is a great tool to determine at what level and to what extent someone dissociates. I just don't think it should be used as diagnostically as a lot of people/clinicians use it.

You may disagree with me. This is just my two cents based on recent experiences. I will admit if I ever have a client who shows dissociative symptoms, I will probably give them the DES, but only as a means to help me figure out how best to help them in treatment - NEVER as a diagnostic tool.

1 comment:

  1. I've taken that test, along with others, a few times in the last few years. I always score in the high forties, somewhere. I think part of the reason why no progress seems to show up on the test is the wording. It says sometimes... so if it ever happens I guess I am to answer according to that, even if it has not happened in the last six months.
    I think the test should start off with the wording: In the last six months or In the last year.

    I don't object to it being used to see where I am or have been, as a sort of jumping off point. It certainly isn't the entire story.