Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder

Dissociative Identity Disorder Overview

Dissociative Identity Disorder (originally known as Multiple personality disorder) is a complicated psychiatric illness considered to be caused by a variety of circumstances, including severe childhood trauma (usually extreme, repetitive physical, sexual, or emotional abuse).

What are Dissociative Disorders?

Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder

The term “dissociation” means a state of being cut off from people, the environment, or oneself.

The phrase “dissociative disorders” refers to a long-term mental condition characterized by sensations of disconnection from reality, being outside one’s own body, or memory loss (amnesia).

True dissociative disorders affect around 2% of the population in the United States (not just momentary feelings of dissociation). Everyone is impacted, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or financial status. Women are more likely to be diagnosed than males.

What are the Risk Factors for DID?

DID is believed to be caused by a psychological reaction to psychosocial and environmental pressures, particularly during early childhood, when emotional neglect or abuse can affect personality development. Many people who acquire dissociative disorders have personal histories of persistent, overwhelming, and even life-threatening disturbances or traumas that occurred during a critical developmental stage of infancy (usually before age 6).

Even if there has been no conspicuous physical or sexual abuse, dissociation can occur as a result of continuous neglect or emotional abuse. Children may develop dissociative in households where their parents are terrifying and unpredictable, according to the findings. According to studies, DID affects roughly 1% of the population.

What do the Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder look like?

Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is characterized by a person’s identity being split involuntarily between at least two unique personas (personality states). Other signs and symptoms might include:

  • Dissociative amnesia -It is a kind of amnesia that occurs when two or more people beyond forgetfulness, this is a type of memory loss that isn’t caused by a medical condition.
  • Fugue in separation- A dissociative fugue is an amnesia event in which you lose recall of specific personal details. It might entail drifting off or emotional detachment.
  • Identity is scrambled- This happens when you have the impression that two or more persons are conversing or living in your thoughts. You could even believe you’re being controlled by one of several other personalities.

Many societies across the world regard takeover as part of a normal spiritual rite or practice, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This isn’t a case of dissociative identity disorder.

Types of Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative disorders are divided into three categories:

  • Dissociative identity disorder (DID)
  • Depersonalization/derealization disorder
  • Dissociative amnesia

Acute stress disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are strongly connected to dissociative disorders, with memory loss, depersonalization, and derealization as common symptoms.

How are Dissociative Disorders Caused?

Dissociative disorders are frequently developed as a reaction to a traumatic incident or long-term stress, abuse, or trauma. This is particularly true if the incidents occur when the child is young. At this age, one’s capacity to completely comprehend what is going on is limited, coping mechanisms aren’t fully formed, and obtaining help and resources is contingent on the presence of loving and knowledgeable adults.

A coping method that helps one avoid suffering in the short term is mentally removing oneself from a terrible circumstance, such as an accident, natural catastrophe, military battle, becoming a crime victim, or recurrent physical, mental, or sexual abuse. It becomes a concern if it persists in the long run.

Interacting with a person who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

If you think a friend or family member has DID, you may get the feeling that you’re conversing with several different individuals as the person flips between personalities.

Each identity will usually have its name and set of features. They’ll almost always have a completely different background, with evident distinctions in age, gender, voice, and demeanor. Some may even have physical traits such as limp or impaired eyesight that necessitate the use of glasses.

Each identity’s knowledge and relationship — or lack thereof — to the other identities is frequently different.

What Treatment Options are available for DID?

Psychotherapy is the most common treatment for DID. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or psychosocial treatment, focuses on discussing your mental health with a mental health practitioner.

Psychotherapy’s purpose is to teach you how to manage your disorder and figure out what’s causing it. Some people believe that hypnosis might be helpful in the treatment of DID.

In the therapy of DID, medication is occasionally employed. Although no drugs are expressly prescribed for the treatment of dissociative disorders, your doctor may prescribe them to treat related mental health problems. There are no clear, evidence-based guidelines for treating DID at this time. Many therapies are based on case studies or are at best debatable.

While there is no “cure” for dissociative identity disorder, long-term treatment, if the patient remains dedicated, can be beneficial.

The following are some of the most regularly prescribed medications:

  • Psychotherapy – This is often known as talk therapy, and is used to address whatever started and continues to trigger DID. The idea is to “fuse” the many personality features into a single personality capable of controlling the triggers. Family members are frequently included in this therapy.
  • Hypnotherapy- Clinical hypnosis can be used in conjunction with psychotherapy to assist access repressed memories, managing some of the troublesome behaviours associated with DID, and merging the personalities into one.
  • Adjunctive therapy- It is a type of treatment that is used in conjunction with other treatments Art and dance therapy, for example, have been demonstrated to assist patients in reconnecting with regions of their minds that they have shut down in order to cope with trauma.

Treatment for co-occurring illnesses including depression and drug abuse disorders is critical to overall healing. Because the symptoms of dissociative disorders frequently coexist with other illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, medications to address those co-occurring problems are sometimes utilized in addition to psychotherapy.

What Other Psychiatric Disorders Could Be Caused By DID?

People with dissociative disorders may have a variety of mental symptoms in addition to dissociation and multiple or split identities, such as:

  • Depression
  • Swings in mood
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Tiredness (insomnia, night terrors, and sleepwalking)
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias are all symptoms of anxiety (flashbacks, reactions to stimuli or “triggers”)
  • Abuse of alcohol and other drugs
  • Rituals and compulsions
  • Eating disorders
  • Symptoms of psychosis (including auditory and visual visions)

Dissociative Identity Disorder and Its Associated Mental Disorders: How to Recognize Them?

Dissociative identity disorder is defined by the existence of two or more unique or split identities or personality states that have constant control over a person’s behaviour. There’s also an inability to recall essential personal information in dissociative identity disorder that’s too extensive to be explained by simple forgetfulness. There are also very different memory differences that may change with a dissociative identity disorder.

Each has its unique set of postures, gestures, and speech patterns. The changes are sometimes made-up persons, and other times they are animals. The process of each personality revealing itself and controlling an individual’s actions and ideas is referred to as “switching.” Switching might take anything from a few seconds to several days. Some people seek therapy through hypnosis, in which the person’s many “alters” or personalities are more receptive to the therapist’s commands. Some people describe this sensation as feeling like they are a passenger in their own body rather than the driver. To put it another way, they honestly feel they don’t have a choice.

The psychological processes of dissociative identity disorder influence the way a person sees life in numerous ways, including the following:

  • Depersonalization- This is commonly referred to as an “out-of-body” experience since it gives the sensation of being divorced from one’s body.
  • Derealization- This is the sensation of the world not being real, or that it is cloudy or far away.
  • Amnesia- This is when a person is unable to recall vital personal information that is so vast that it cannot be attributed to regular forgetfulness. Micro-amnesias occur when the topic of a conversation is lost or the substance of a relevant discourse is forgotten from one second to the next.
  • Identity confusion or identity alteration– Both of these are characterized by a sense of ambiguity regarding a person’s identity. When a person has problems describing the things that interest them in life, their political, religious or social perspectives, their sexual orientation, or their career objectives, this is an example of identity uncertainty. In addition to these obvious changes, the person may experience time, location, and circumstance distortions.

It is now widely accepted that these detached states do not reflect fully formed identities, but rather a jumbled sense of self. Various identity states recall different pieces of autobiographical information when they suffer from the amnesia associated with a dissociative identity disorder. Within the individual, there is generally a “host” personality that identifies with the person’s genuine name. Surprisingly, the host personality is frequently unaware that other personas are there.

What Is the Procedure for Diagnosing Dissociative Identity Disorder?

It takes time to diagnose dissociative identity disorder. Individuals with dissociative disorders are estimated to have spent seven years in the mental health system before receiving a correct diagnosis. This is typical because the symptoms that lead to a person seeking treatment for a dissociative disorder are quite similar to those of many other mental illnesses. Many patients with dissociative disorders also have other diagnoses such as borderline or other personality disorders, depression, or anxiety.

The following criteria are listed in the DSM-5 for diagnosing dissociative identity disorder:

  • There are two or more separate personalities or personality states present, each with its own generally stable way of experiencing, reacting to, and thinking about the world and oneself.
  • Amnesia, defined as gaps in memory of routine activities, crucial personal information, and/or catastrophic experiences, must occur.
  • The person must be bothered by the disorder and have difficulty functioning in one or more main living areas as a result of it.
  • The disruption is not associated with typical religious or cultural rituals.
  • The symptoms cannot be caused by the substance’s direct physiological effects (such as blackouts or erratic conduct while intoxicated) or a general medical condition (such as complex partial seizures).

The many personalities may play different roles in assisting the individual in coping with life’s challenges. When a patient is first diagnosed, for example, there are usually two to four personalities present. After then, there are averages of 13 to 15 personalities who emerge during treatment. An abrupt transition from one alters or personality to another is caused by environmental stimuli or life experiences.

When should you see a doctor?

If you know yourself in any of the following, you should plan an appointment with your doctor:

You’re aware — of others have noticed — that you have two or more personas or identities that interact with you and the world around you in distinctly different ways. You have large gaps in your memory for vital personal information, abilities, and events, in addition to usual forgetfulness. Your symptoms are giving you trouble or stress in essential aspects of your life, such as your personal and professional lives.


Is there a cure for dissociative identity disorder (DID)?

DID has no cure or treatment. The majority of people will have to live with the illness for the rest of their life. A combination of remedies, on the other hand, can help to relieve pain. You may improve your performance at work, at home, and in your community over time.

When should I make an appointment with my doctor and ask DID?

If you or someone you know has DID and is suffering any of the symptoms listed below, seek medical help immediately away:

  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal behaviour
  • Violent conduct

Is it possible for a DID to live a regular life?

It is possible to live a normal life despite suffering from a mental health issue such as dissociative identity disorder. People who learn how to manage dissociative illnesses in a healthy way can improve their chances of having a normal life. [Source]


Make an appointment to visit your doctor if you recognize the signs of dissociative identity disorder. You should advise your friend or loved one to get treatment if they are exhibiting the usual signs.

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