A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of the number of times I’ve had to explain to people (inexperienced healthcare professionals, medical students etc.) that I’m not experiencing auditory hallucinations. I frequently explain to people (friends and healthcare professionals) that I’ve heard other parts/alters say something, or that we’ve discussed something inside.
I don’t know how others experience Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), but we do not ‘hear’ each other as someone hears birds chirping outside. Being able to hear what another part is thinking or saying is like becoming aware of someone else’s thoughts in your head.
I tried to explain it to a friend by likening our internal awareness and ability to ‘hear’ each to the angel versus devil conversation people can have when making a decision. You have a choice to make, an important one. Perhaps it involves a large amount of money, or could have a lasting impact on your or those around you.
The ‘angel’ perspective would encourage the decision and focus on all the positives whilst the ‘devil’ perspective focusses more on the negatives and may be overly cautious. You remember what that’s like, right? You’re not hearing voices, it’s all inside your head. Your thoughts. That’s what it’s like for us. We ‘hear’ each other inside our (the body’s) head. It’s just instead of one person making a decision with the angel versus a devil scenario we have multiple parts.
We ‘talk’ to each other inside as well. That doesn’t mean I sit muttering to myself. These are utterly silent conversations that others can’t hear unless we voice them.
In summary: I don’t experience auditory hallucinations. I don’t hear sounds or voices that sound real, but aren’t. I’ve experienced auditory hallucinations as a medication side effect so I am aware of what that’s like. I’m aware of the difference. Our internal conversations, our diagnosis of DID have nothing to do with psychosis or hallucinations.