#2 Developing My Options

I have three possible topics of interest to pursue. The first being: something related to the environment and climate change. Whether that manifests itself as a documentary on problems within the renewable energy movement or on how consumer culture is one of the leading causes I cannot say yet. Since environmental issues seem like a popular topic among What’s the Story members I might just wait and see the ideas other people pitch at the first retreat and see if I find a topic that way.

The second possible research topic I’ve been considering relates to the meat industry and how factory farms and slaughterhouses affect workers and communities. Over the summer I read several books and articles that contained descriptions and interviews of working conditions within this industry and it became clear to me that these working environments are human rights violations. While activists discuss animal cruelty, environmental impacts, and consumer health when arguing points about the meat industry, I feel the state of the workers is chronically overlooked. The minimal training, dangerous conditions, as well as the psychological consequences of routinized killing, have severe negative impacts on both the well-being of the animals and the workers.

The final topic captured my attention this summer and it surrounds those who are affected by DID (dissociative Identity disorder aka multiple personality disorder). I knew multiple personality disorder was a thing–I had seen references in some movies and shows–but the idea still held a quality of fantasy to me; I couldn’t wrap my head around how it was possible or what it could be like. That changed when my friend from Arizona came to visit. As we were catching up she mentioned one of her online friends who suffers from DID. I became immediately interested and asked a lot of questions. I learned that DID wasn’t just an extreme form of bipolar disorder, that frequently the different personalities or ‘alters’ have distinct memories from each other as well as likes, dislikes, hopes, and aspirations. We discussed the circumstances of this friend more and the stressful and abusive situations that prompted the splitting of consciousness. I knew that this was a topic I wanted to learn more about and I also knew that the lack of general knowledge surrounding DID was making it harder for those who it affects to seek resources and accommodations.

I decided to interview the friend that introduced me to this issue to have her explain her perspective:

I believe education about mental health, particularly that which has long-term or lifelong effects on people, is always important.
DID is severely under-researched in the field, despite affecting many people’s day to day lives, including youth.
Currently, most people’s knowledge of it extends to horror movies. Particularly for a disorder that forms during childhood, that cannot do. I believe that the widespread understanding of DID can help people affected by it in both their personal lives and the workplace, by granting them ways to explain their disability with less fear of facing ridicule or disbelief or being denied accommodation.

DID may also offer insight to the public on the lasting effects of child abuse. Since it’s been linked frequently to trauma, guardians, teachers, and Good Samaritans may be able to better understand the kinds of things that can happen to a child that is neglected or mistreated, and may also be more aware of the signs when a child is showing symptoms of trauma-related disassociation.

I believe in the severity of the issue and the need for more information, yet I am still conflicted. While this is a topic of social action I am not certain that What’s the Story is the ideal venue to approach the issue. I am still unaware of the incidence rate of DID in Vermont and what the services in place might be. DID is also very personal and can be a difficult subject for those affected by it.

So far my plan is to continue to research and accumulate resources that could help me determine if this is an area where I could create a feasible positive change.

Kati Tolgyesi

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