Dissociative identity disorder-Some facts

called Multiple Personality Disorder

Given a diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980.

Characterized by the existence of two or more distinct personality
states that have the capacity to take control of the body and the inability to
recall personal information too great to be explained by ordinary
forgetfulness. The condition cannot be due to the effect of substances or a
medical condition.

There may be accompanying symptoms such as depression,
anxiety, obsessive/compulsive behavior, eating disorders, substance abuse, etc.

Arises from continued and repeated sexual and/or physical abuse
beginning in early childhood.

DID is a defensive mechanism that protects the child from the physical
and emotional pain associated with abuse by separating a part of the child’s
mind or consciousness to deal with the trauma of the abuse. Over time and
repeated abuse, these separate parts establish identities of their own.

People with DID have been shown to be highly susceptible to dissociation
(an alteration in consciousness wherein the individual and some aspect of his
or her self or environment become disconnected or disengaged from one another),
of above average intelligence, and highly creative. DID is generally diagnosed
in adulthood, triggered by some factor that compels or allows the alters to

Systems of alter personalities differ from individual to individual, but
there are generally host personalities who appear most often, opposite gender
personalities, self-helper personalities, persecutory personalities who may
harm themselves or others, and child personalities.

Switching is the process of shifting from one alter to another.

Co-consciousness refers to the level of shared awareness of existence
and behavior between the host personality and the alters. Levels of
co-consciousness vary from person to person from total lack of knowledge of
others in the system to complete co-consciousness where every alter knows to
some degree what each alter and the host personality are doing or thinking.

The object of therapy is to stabilize the person, lessen the degree of
dissociation, increase cooperation and co-consciousness within the system, and
often ultimately merge the alters into one personality, a process called

Although no controlled study has been conducted in the United States, an
estimate of the prevalence of DID in the U.S. population is from 1 in 500 to 1
in 5,000, or between 250,000 and 2,500,000 people.

Four times as many women are diagnosed as men.

The average person diagnosed with DID spends 7 years in the mental
health system before being properly diagnosed, due to misdiagnosis and lack of
training on the part of therapists to spot the disorder.


1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA  |  December 8, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! Very informative and helpful. Question for you: What about “imaginary friends”? Are they in any way related to DID?


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