I really wanted to stop, and think hard before writing this. This challenges the very core of may peoples challenges, including our own. Before we go into the depths of hell which is being the IP, lets identify and define what the “IP” means.
Identified patient, or “IP“, is a term used in a clinical setting to describe the person in a dysfunctional family who has been unconsciously selected to act out the family’s inner conflicts as a diversion. This person, often a child, is “the split-off carrier of a breakdown in the entire family system,” which may be a transgenerational disturbance or trauma.Peter L. Rudnytsky, Reading Psychoanalysis (2002) p. 44)
now, what does that mean to the of us that happen to be an IP? That changes from system to system, person to person, family to family. However, there are some central themes. in most cases the IP is merely the convenient conduit for the family unit or the internal system to defer blame and misery when another persona, wants to reduce the attention on themselves. The IP becomes the Patsy.
Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder, has given us a front row seat to the IP dilemma. For many years we have experienced the prejudices, ridicule, disbelief, and social shunning that comes with many forms of mental anguish. People fear what they do not understand, and to make themselves feel better, they mock and slander these things. Most people then can feel as of they could never be afflicted, or effected by such a condition as they were better than that. Mental issues just do not happen to them. That was for crazy people, retards, all those crazy bipolar people on television.
When we become identified as the IP, its not a ceremony, or an official letter or even a discussion at the psychiatrists office. You will know. You will fell completely at fault for most things in your system and family. You will feel fear for the safety of yourself, as it is your fault, and you will get into trouble. You will plan to run, as you don’t want to be where your going to tear everyone apart, where all the bad things that happen are blamed on you. Where you are punished for things you are really not responsible for, cannot remember, or do not understand how you even were involved. These things issues, fights, money problems, etc, are all your fault, always. But here you are, and I do not mean the childhood trauma, this is every day life as an adult.
We as trauma survivors can perceive things in a most skewed way, when in comparison to the rest of the people out there. We can go from the sky is blue to the sky is falling in two seconds or less. There is nothing anyone can do to prevent this. These can be trivial things, something is misplaced, or other simple item. The fact is this can turn into a major crisis, invoking fears, anger, shame and rage all at once. The unaffected people on the room are wondering why you just broke down in tears and ran out of the room. Again, adults here. Welcome to being the IP.
When you are blamed, beat, tortures, intimidated, and punished for everything by the ones that love you, you KNOW it HAS to be YOU! There is no way they would do this off we weren’t bad. We must be really bad as we caused mom to shoot at dad, or dad to beat mom. You get the idea. This behavior becomes hard wired, just like beating a puppy when its young, it will fear everything. If you begin beating them later in life they get mean and bite back, The IP cannot ever learn to fight back, Why would they, they are always in the wrong. Punish us, get it over with so we can forget it.
The tragedy herein lies the adult IP. THE child who managed to grow up, always feeling he is bad, or wrong, or responsible for everyone else misfortunes around them. They lose their sense of respect. The very sense that they will ever be good enough for anyone, Will anyone ever live them, without hurting them. When they reach out for the love they never felt, they find a whole new abuser to feed on their vulnerability all over again. Re-victimizing the victim, perpetuating the damage and securing the victim that all of their worst fears were always true and realized with every failed social interaction they have. Healthy relationships cannot exist for the child at this point. He cannot see past the piles of failures he stacks around him like a wall of silence.
Being the identified patient sucks. Our families see ft to throw every drama bomb that enters their life on your scorecard. Just as soon as you think your getting to par they dump a bogie on you when your not looking, always lightening their own cards. Learning to own your shortcomings is an important part of recovery and therapy. The real healing begins when you can learn that you only have to own YOUR faults. Everyone else has their own bag to tote their crap, and they can feel free to use it. We take on ourselves, I believe out of a desire to please others, and therefore make them love us. If I, as the Ip can make them happier, or less angry, maybe we can get them to love us. Maybe they will just hate us less, if that makes sense.
I would like to say that my own family and system both are guilty to different degrees in using us as a scapegoat. Even though we hope and long for true equality and acceptance in the outside world, this is only a dream. I fear that well past my lifetime the IP, no matter what the diagnosis, will find the same feelings and prejudices we have found for the preceding centuries. What hop is there then? Why do we continue to trudge on? There is hope. When “we” as a group learn to communicate, channel and manage our collective skill sets, and use healthy boundaries to OUR advantage, we become what others fear. Secure, confident, and very multiple. After all, how does a singular person explain how a completely batcrap crazy person can have their stuff together better than them?? Easy. We have a team and we were forced to see it. Most out there, live in denial so deep coming up for air is a dream.