Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

(Multiple Personality Disorder)

What is DID?

Dissociative identity disorder (DID), also known as multiple personality disorder (MPD), is a mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct  identities or dissociated personality states that control a person's behavior, and is accompanied by memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness. DID is one of the most controversial psychiatric disorders with no clear consensus regarding its diagnosis or treatment. Research on treatment effectiveness still focuses mainly on clinical approaches and case studies.

What are the causes and risks of DID?

While there is no proven specific cause of DID, the theory about how the condition develops is as a reaction to childhood trauma. It is thought that one way that some individuals respond to being severely traumatized as a young child is to wall off, in other words to dissociate, those memories. When that reaction becomes extreme, DID may be the result. As with other mental disorders, having a family member with DID may be a risk factor, in that it indicates a potential vulnerability to developing the disorder but does not mean the condition is literally hereditary.

What are the signs of DID?

Signs and symptoms of dissociative identity disorder include

- lapses in memory (dissociation), particularly of significant life events, like birthdays, weddings, or birth of a child;

- experiencing blackouts in time, resulting in finding oneself in places but not recalling how they got there;

- being frequently accused of lying when they do not believe they are lying (for example, being told of things they did but do not recall, unrelated to the influence of any drug or medical condition);

- finding items in one's possession but not recalling how they got them;

- finding items they have clearly written but are in handwriting other than their own;

- hearing voices inside their head that are not their own;

- not recognizing themselves in the mirror;feeling unreal (derealization);

- feeling like they are watching themselves move through life rather than living their own life;

- feeling like more than one person.

How can you prevent DID?

As stated above, the cause of DID is not really exact. However, it is most likely that it comes from some sort of childhood trauma, such as being physically, emotionally or sexually abused. If a child has gone through a traumatic event, doctors encourage the parents or guardians to take the child to seek medical health so he or she can learn healthy coping mechanisms.

What is the treatment for DID?

There are a couple different ways to help treat DID, such as:

-psychotherapy: this helps DID individuals improve their relationships with others

-hypnosis: this helps them to learn more about their personality states in hopes of gaining better control over those states

-medication: this helps to manage the emotional symptoms of DID

Society on DID

DID has been a popular topic in many books, TV shows and movies.

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