Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Dissociative Identity Disorder

In this brief guide, dissociative identity disorder will be discussed, along with the diagnostic criteria, risk and causal factors as well as the treatment of dissociative identity disorder.

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder

The dissociative identity disorder is recognized in DSM 5. Previously Dissociative identity disorder was named as multiple personality disorder. 

This disorder always remained the most mysterious and intriguing psychological condition, which is considered complex to date.

DID is caused by several factors and the most prevalent cause known is the childhood extreme abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual).

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Dissociative identity disorder is a severe type of dissociation, as the mental process is not intact, and lack the connection in a person’s thoughts, memories and feelings.

His sense of identity and self-esteem are also altered. DID originates from a number of factors and are a consequence of extreme trauma.

The dissociation is the coping mechanism and person shuts off or dissociate themselves from the situation or experience which is too stressful and traumatic to handle with intact personality.

How to recognize the Dissociative Identity Disorder?

There are multiple personalities, called split identities as well. These personality states have a ruling power over the person’s behaviour.

With the Dissociative identity disorder, there are memory variations, which fluctuates with the person’s split personality.

The alters of multiple personalities have different identities, age, sex, and race.

The posture, body language, gestures, languages, and accent are different.

These alters are sometimes imaginary, sometimes animals. 

Each alter has its own behaviour and thoughts which controls the personality and it’s called switching.

Switching takes seconds, minutes or days. Under hypnosis, a person’s different alters or identities gets responsive to the therapist.

Risk Factors of Dissociative Identity Disorder

There are different causes of dissociative identity disorder, but no cause is clearly known. It is believed that environmental trauma leads to this psychological response.

In early childhood when the child’s personality is fragile and in those years experiencing extreme abuse or stress leads to the interference in personality development.

Almost 99% of people reported that they experienced life-threatening disturbance in their childhood.

Even if there is no sexual abuse the dissociation still occurs because of the persistence of the stress or the negligence.

Parents going through psychiatric especially psychotic conditions use to be unpredictable and make the child extremely uncomfortable which leads to the dissociation.

Dissociative identity disorder is rare in the population.

Diagnostic Criteria of Dissociative Identity Disorder

Diagnostic criteria s given in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorders 5 published by the American Psychiatric Association recognize dissociative identity disorder and given a criterion to diagnose the condition.

A.     Two or more personality states, which are considered as possession. The identity disruption causes alteration in effect, behaviour, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition and sensory functioning.

B.     There are gaps in the recall of everyday life events, personal information, and traumatic event.

C.      The significant distress in impairment of social, academic, occupational, and other important areas of life.

D.     The disturbance of identity is not because of cultural or religious practice.

E.      The condition is not because of the physiological effect of a substance or medical condition.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Famous People with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Famous people with dissociative identity disorder include singer Lady Gaga, comedienne Roseanne Barr, Adam Duritz, and retired NFL star Herschel Walker.

Walker wrote a book about his efforts with DID, along with his suicide attempts, describing he had a feeling of detachment from childhood to the professional leagues.

To cope, he acquired a tough personality that didn’t feel loneliness, one that was fearless and wanted to act out the anger he always suppressed.

These “alters” could withstand the abuse he felt; other alters came to help him rise to national fame.

Treatment helped Walker realize that these alternate personalities are part of dissociative identity disorder, which he was diagnosed with in adulthood.

Other Psychiatric Illnesses Co-occur with DID

There are a number of different disorders which co-occur with the split personalities.

·        Depression

·        Mood swings

·        Suicidal Tendencies

·        Sleep Disorders

·        Anxiety

·        Panic Attacks

·        Phobias

·        Alcohol and drug use

·        Compulsive rituals

·        Psychotic Symptoms

·        Eating disorders

Treatment for Dissociative Identity Disorder

While there’s no “cure” for dissociative identity disorder, long-term treatment can be useful, if the patient stays dedicated.

Successful treatment includes:

Psychotherapy: Also called talk therapy, the therapy is intended to work through whatever triggered and triggers the DID.

The goal is to help “fuse” the separate personality traits into one consolidated personality that can control the triggers.

This therapy often includes involving family members in the therapy.

Hypnotherapy. Used in conjunction with psychotherapy, clinical hypnosis can be used to help access repressed memories, control some of the problematic behaviours which accompany DID as well as help integrate the personalities into one.

Adjunctive therapy. Therapies such as art or movement therapy have been shown to help people connect with parts of their mind that they have shut off to cope with trauma.

There are no established medication treatments for dissociative identity disorder, making psychologically-based approaches the mainstay of therapy.

Treatment of co-occurring disorders, such as depression or substance use disorders, is fundamental to overall improvement.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Because the symptoms of dissociative disorders often occur with other disorders, such as anxiety and depression, medicines to treat those co-occurring problems, if present, are sometimes used in addition to psychotherapy.

In this brief guide, the dissociative identity disorder is discussed in detail, the description of what it is, as well as the diagnostic criteria as recognized in DSM5.

The cause, famous people with DID and treatment methods available are discussed.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Frequently Asked Questions for Dissociative Personality Disorder

What causes a person to have a split personality?

The split personality is caused by many factors and a clear cause is unknown.

Researchers suggest that 99% of the time, extreme stress or persistent trauma in early childhood leads to personality dissociation.

Does a person with multiple personality disorder know they have it?

Person with the multiple personality disorder doesn’t know they are having multiple personalities.

Some ‘alters’ may know that they have multiple personality disorder.

Is schizophrenia the same as multiple personality disorder?

No schizophrenia is a psychiatric condition, while multiple personality disorder is a separate category in the DSM 5, and named as dissociative identity disorder.

Can a person with dissociative identity disorder live a normal life?

Living a normal life with dissociative identity disorder is not possible, because the switching is out of a person’s conscious control, and the different alters have a range of different characteristics.

References

WebMD

Recommended Readings

Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder: Techniques and Strategies for Stabilization 

Dissociative Identity Disorder Journal: Journal to manage DID, communicate between alters, create system rules, system maps, manage moods and track … episodes. With gratitude prompts and more! 

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma 

The Sum of My Parts: A Survivor’s Story of Dissociative Identity Disorder 

Dissociative Identity Disorder Journal: Journal to manage DID, communicate between alters, create system rules, system maps, manage moods and track … episodes. With gratitude prompts and more! 

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Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Daniela Paez

Daniela Paez is a Clinical Psychologist with an MSc. In Clinical Neuropsychology from Bangor University. She has vast experience in working with children with disabilities, adolescents and their families, in extreme conditions of poverty and vulnerability. Additionally, she owns a private practice where she provides neuropsychological evaluation for children and adults, and treatment for mood disorders, anxiety, couple therapy, among other conditions.