Lynn Schirmer



In 2010, I created a fictional public persona to stand in opposition to the sensationalized caricature of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder, popularized by Hollywood through shows like The United States of Tara. DIDiva has served me well as organizing principle for two exhibits of work exploring the features of my own dissociation and its sources.

She also holds forth at, an informational website about DID.

DIDiva & The Mad Machines

The mad machines refers to medical devices and procedures that were co-opted for nefarious uses in Cold War era drug and interrogation experimentation programs.

DIDiva & The Mirror Looks

A collection of psychological self portraits presented at the Center on Contemporary Art in February, 2011.

DID is a splitting or fragmentation of memory, ability, and sense of self and is a direct result of extreme and ongoing trauma in childhood. You may know it by its former name, Multiple Personality Disorder. It is a greatly misunderstood condition.  Unlike the characters you see on television, DID is largely an internal experience. In most cases, it is not detectable in outward behavior. It is not rare either, affecting between one to three percent of the population. The prominent media-created misconceptions serve a purpose however. The stigma of DID has as much to do with its etiology in trauma as it does with Hollywood movie tropes. If DID is rare and bizarre, then so too is the extreme abuse of children. This is how our culture shields itself from unpleasant self-awareness, and how communities and institutions relieve themselves of the responsibility to intervene. The destructive cultural process of rendering victims of crime into sideshow freaks, making a caricature out of the very symptoms created by the trauma of the crime, is what I hope to challenge by creating this body of work.

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