What Is Dissociation? Definition, Symptoms, Treatment
Dissociation can be defined as disruptions in aspects of consciousness, identity, memory, physical actions and/or the environment. When a person experiences severe dissociation symptoms, they may be diagnosed with a dissociative disorder. The specific signs and symptoms of dissociation for any given person vary depending on the type of dissociative disorder they experience (list of dissociative disorders). When dissociation symptoms become severe, they can disrupt daily life.
Causes of Dissociation
The causes of dissociation typically include trauma, often prolonged trauma, such as sexual or physical abuse, in childhood. The stress of war or natural disasters may also cause dissociation. Dissociation is more common in children, which is why this particular behavior is often developed in childhood. Dissociation is a coping skill used to separate the person from the traumatic event(s) and memories of the traumatic event(s). Children find it particularly easy to “step out of themselves” as their identity is still forming. Dissociation may be worsened during times of stress, even in adulthood, in those who have learned this coping skill.
Symptoms of Dissociation
Symptoms of dissociation are different depending on the type of dissociation the person experiences. Some of the symptoms of dissociation as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) are:
- A major inability to remember personally-relevant events in a way that can’t be accounted for by regular forgetfulness or a medical condition (amnesia)
- Confused and dazed wandering (known as a dissociative fugue)
- Two or more identities or personality traits within a single person
- Transfer of behavioral control to each identity
- Feelings that objects in the external world are changing in shape and size
- Feeling that people are automated and inhuman
When a person experiences a dissociative disorder, these symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in important areas of functioning such as at school or interpersonally.
Signs of Dissociation
There are signs of dissociation in addition to the above symptoms of dissociation. Signs of dissociation include:
- Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and actions
- A sense of detachment from oneself; seeing one’s life as if it is a movie
- An unclear sense of identity
- Significant stress or problems in relationships, work or other important areas of your life
- A presence of multiple people talking or living in your head, or a feeling of possession by another identity
Signs and symptoms of dissociation can happen for moments or last for years.
The primary treatment for dissociation involves psychotherapy (sometimes called “talk” therapy). During psychotherapy, your experiences of dissociation will be discussed and new coping techniques will be taught. Once new coping techniques have been learned and are effective, the initial trauma that caused the start of the dissociation symptoms will likely be discussed in an attempt to deal with it and move past it.
There are no Food and Drug Administration approved medications for dissociation but doctors will prescribe medications to help deal with some of the dissociation symptoms. Medications that may be prescribed are:
Split Personality Disorder, more formally known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) and currently referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), is a mental disorder wherein one person hosts at least two or more noticeably dissociated/ separate identities, personalities, or alter egos that dictate or control that person’s actions, behavior, and even memories. These split personalities can often be starkly different from the personality of the host and are theorized to have been created or “born” from the host as defense mechanisms, protecting the original personality from whatever traumatic experience he or she has or might endure.
It is important to note that everyone experiences some form of “disassociation” at some point in our lives. It can be as common as daydreaming or “zoning out” in the middle of doing menial and tedious jobs in which we do not think about or realize what we are doing. However, the dissociation becomes a disorder when there is a distinct and severe disconnect from the collection of a person’s identity, behavior, memories, actions, and thoughts.
Those with Split Personality Disorder tend to have fragments of their memories kept from them by their separate personalities and are often unable to fully remember details, facts, and other important information. As such, the person will unlikely be able to recall whatever he or she might have done while under the control and influence of one of the personalities, unaware of the fact that they might be acting in ways that they, the original personality, would never do.
Symptoms of Split Personality Disorder
Split Personality Disorder does not usually manifest itself on its own but with other accompanying mental and psychological disorders. Due to its high comorbidity (being paired up with other diseases), Split Personality Disorder provides a myriad of possible side effects and symptoms.
The main symptom of Split Personality Disorder is, as already stated, the multiple personalities that inhabit a person, each of which acts and behaves according to a specific personality and causes lapses or alterations in memory to such a degree that cannot simply be attributed to “forgetfulness” by the person. These alternate personalities will have their own unique biography (age, race, and even gender), temperament, abilities, gestures and mannerisms, such as the way they stand, talk, and perform tasks. Some identities might be better at doing regular, everyday tasks while other identities specialize in more specific situations. Some identities might even be animals. The dissociated identities can either be aware or unaware of each other and can also act as if they are the “original” identity of the person. Split Personality Disorder often also leads to identity confusion, wherein the person begins to have trouble determining whom he really is (as opposed to how the multiple personalities are starting to change and affect his way of living).
(whether it is an inability to fall asleep or to stay awake)
- tendencies towards violence to their own person and to others
- suicidal thoughts and tendencies
Causes of Split Personality Disorder
In general, Split Personality Disorder is very difficult to properly diagnose due to the lack of consistency and conclusiveness of case studies and experiments, and due to overlapping with other mental disorders. As such, identifying a definitive, absolute root or cause for Split Personality Disorder (or even just identifying whether or not someone has Split Personality Disorder in the first place) has not yet been achieved though there are multiple possible explanations.
A number of patients suffering from Split Personality Disorder commonly report instances of childhood trauma, such as intense physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Unfortunately, these accounts of child abuse are not exempt from inaccuracy and alteration by the patient.
Another theory is that Split Personality Disorder is actually induced by therapists in their patients. These therapists use methods (such as hypnotism) to access “repressed” memories and identities. Whether these identities and personalities are genuinely a result of severe dissociation or whether or not the therapist’s power of suggestion merely planted the idea of it in the patient’s head remains unclear.
Treatment for Split Personality Disorder
Yet again, due to the inconclusiveness in determining the actual causes of Split Personality Disorder and because of its high comorbidity, there is no consensus regarding treatment for the disorder. Medication is often recommended to merely deal with the symptoms that are brought about by comorbid disorders while treating Split Personality Disorder itself can prove to be more complicated. Usually, a mix of different types of therapy, from cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy to hypnotherapy among others, is employed in various phases to help address the problem of Split Personality Disorder. report this ad
This article was co-authored by Noel Hunter, Psy.D. Dr. Noel Hunter is a Clinical Psychologist based in New York City. She is the director and founder of MindClear Integrative Psychotherapy. She specializes in using a trauma-informed, humanistic approach for treating and advocating for people diagnosed with mental disorders. Dr. Hunter holds a BA in Psychology from the University of South Florida, an MA in Psychology from New York University, and a doctorate in Psychology (Psy.D) from Long Island University. She has been featured in National Geographic, BBC News, CNN, TalkSpace, and Parents magazine. She is also the author of the book Trauma and Madness in Mental Health Services.
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Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder, can be a debilitating and frightening illness for both the person with DID and others in that person’s life. DID is a disruption of identity characterized by the development of two or more distinct personality states. It is a controversial disorder, so people with DID may suffer extreme stigma. Treat a person with DID with compassion to promote wellness.
Living with dissociative identity disorder can be isolating. Media portrayals of the condition are often stigmatizing, making the people who have it seem dangerous or unpredictable. This stigma, combined with the fact that only 2 percent of the population lives with a dissociative identity disorder, can leave many people living with the condition hesitant to seek professional help or open up to loved ones.
When you find out that you have a friend with dissociative identity disorder , your first instinct may be to feel frightened or to question if they’re the person you thought they were. However, these doubts and fears are unfounded. Dissociative identity disorder is a mental health condition with its roots in trauma. The people who have it aren’t inherently threatening and they’re just as deserving and capable of love and compassion as everyone else.
Learning more about this condition can help you understand what your loved one is going through and teach you how to support someone with dissociative identity disorder . Taking the time to educate yourself can help you avoid adding to the trauma that your friend is likely already coping with and increase the likelihood that they will seek professional therapy.
What It’s Like to Live With Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by the presence of one or more personalities in the same person, typically referred to as “alters.” These alters are all part of a greater system that makes up the individual. While some of these alters may be aware of each other, others may have no concept of the different personalities and may have completely different sets of beliefs, ideas and maturity levels. In many cases, people have difficulty remembering events that happened while different alters were present. Certain circumstances and feelings may trigger alters to come out.
Alters are thought to be created by a mental process that disconnects a person from their memories, thoughts and sense of identity known as dissociation. Often, the mind experiences dissociation in an attempt to cope with and protect a person from severe physical, sexual or emotional trauma. In many cases of dissociative identity disorder, people experience this trauma in childhood.
Supporting a Friend with Dissociative Identity Disorder
While it can be challenging to know the best way to help someone with dissociative identity disorder, making an effort to understand your friend’s experiences and seek out advice is a great first step.
There are a few key ways you can help someone with dissociative identity disorder:
1. Stay Calm During Switches
In many cases, switching between alters happens very subtly. However, sometimes the change can be more dramatic and disorienting. One moment you’re talking to your friend and in the next moment, it’s as if an entirely different person is inhabiting their body. While this situation may be stressful and surprising, remaining levelheaded and meeting your friend where they are mentally can be enormously helpful. As confusing as witnessing a switch can be for an outsider, it’s often even more upsetting for the person experiencing it directly, especially if they are met with hostility or fear.
2. Learn How to Recognize and Avoid Triggers
For people with dissociative identity disorder, personality shifts are brought on by “triggers,” or external stimuli that cause them to switch between alters. Individuals with this condition may be triggered by anything that elicits a strong emotional response, including certain places, smells, sounds, senses of touch, times of the year or large groups of people. These triggers are highly individual and can vary dramatically depending on the specific trauma that caused a person to develop dissociative identity disorder. Your job is to find out what triggers your friend — either by asking them directly or observing their behavior — and help them avoid those triggers when possible.
3. Take Care of Yourself, Too
Being close to someone with dissociative identity disorder can be emotionally taxing. It can be difficult to stay vigilant of triggers and different alters. Often, people with this condition have been through intensely traumatic experiences, usually in childhood, and hearing about these experiences can be difficult. The best way you can serve your friend is to make sure that you’re tending to your own physical and mental well-being.
Multiple personality disorder, also known as dissociative personality disorder, is a serious but high-profile mental illness. The primary symptom of multiple personality disorder include the development in one person of more than one distinct personality. The personality or personalities can have significant control over the behavior of a person who is living with this condition. Secondary symptoms can include depression, psychosis, and hallucinations. Sleep disorders and mood swings may also accompany the disorder.
Mental health experts are not entirely sure what causes multiple personality disorder, but many believe that the condition has its origins in childhood trauma. A child who experiences particularly traumatic or long-term abuse, or who witnesses extreme violence, may attempt to forget or compartmentalize the experience as a defense mechanism. While many survivors of childhood abuse or trauma never develop multiple personalities, some disassociate so thoroughly that this disorder may develop.
It is important to note that the personalities, also known as alters, can have significant depth. An alternate personality isn’t just a change in mood or attitude. For example, some people with multiple personality disorder cannot remember important life events in one or more of the alters, and this does not appear to be intentional or faked. The alters may have different handwriting, different tastes and preferences, and more seriously, may engage in risky, dangerous, or even criminal behaviors of which the other, primary personality would not approve. These symptoms can make it very difficult for those with the disorder to hold a job or maintain healthy relationships.
For many people, the symptoms of multiple personality disorder can be the cause of significant stress. Someone with the condition may not recognize herself in a mirror or may wonder why others are calling her by a name that she does not recognize as her own. In some cases, sufferers may experience blackouts after their personalities switch from one to another and may suddenly find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings with no idea of how they got there.
Treatment for multiple personality disorder varies depending on the needs of the patient and the severity of the condition. Patients usually participate in psychotherapy and may be treated with electroshock therapy or psychiatric medications. Some therapists also use hypnosis, in part to help uncover and work with the alternate personalities and, in some cases, to uncover repressed trauma.
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Please help me if you can. My family and I have been facing a problems for a long time since my father behaves like two different men in different times. Normally he behaves like a good, moral and decent human, but in intervals of one year or six months, his behavior starts to change. He behaves completely different. He does not not sleep in the night and tries to create a unhealthy situation. Is this a multiple personality disorder case? Please help us. We are in big trouble.
I am writing to you because I have been looking up multiple personality disorders, and I came across this website.
I am writing because I am worried about my father. He is now 62 and is not doing well at all. He has not left his house in about two months nor has even taken a shower and he seems to be getting worse. He has no desire for anything anymore. All he does is lie on the couch with a blanket over his head with no heat on, and it is extremely cold in his house.
The other day I went to try to get him to go and get him help and he refused. He can barely breathe half the time and I fear that he is slowly dying. When I was talking to him, he was acting very strange.
First when I walked in, he looked as though he was a 90 year old man, his face looked grey and his hair even looked more gray. I told him, let’s get up and go to the hospital, and he said in a very faint older voice, "I can’t," almost whispering. Then when I said, "Let’s go" again, almost in a more firm voice, suddenly his face changed and became very angry, the color came back in his face and he yelled, "No!"
I then confronted him about some things I had witnessed when I was a child, such as his addiction, which he denied, still in an angry tone, staring at me as though he wanted to hurt me. I then started to cry, asking him why he would watch it in front of me all the time, even though he didn’t know I was standing right in front of him. He then looked away, with his head down and spoke almost as if he were a young boy, shrugging his shoulders.
I said, "Look at me when I’m talking!" So then he did, with a face of disgust, just staring me down. Anyway, this went on for hours watching him almost change into different people, with different voices, and each time the personality changed, I would notice that he would look down, and every time he would look up, he was almost a different person. A few times I felt like I was actually talking to my father, but most of the time it was as if he were a different person.
I am writing because I do not know what to do. I do not know if this is even multiple personality disorder that he suffers from, but I need advice. I have been reading up on it and it seems as though he has most of if not all of the symptoms related to MPD. If you could please help me and get back to me on this, I would greatly appreciate it. subway11 March 2, 2011
GreenWeaver – They say that people with dissociative disorder symptoms also developed mood swings, panic attacks, night terrors, amnesia, and suicidal tendencies.
They are also more prone to drug or alcohol addiction which is why many psychiatrist are careful when they prescribe certain antipsychotic drugs because they tend to have a higher tendency to develop a dependency to the drug.
Some multiple personality treatment involves various forms of therapy which include art therapy and movement therapy. GreenWeaver February 28, 2011
I recently read that dissociative disorder symptoms develop in people that had severe or traumatic childhood experiences. They use the alters or the other personalities in order to mask the real pain that they endured.
The first time I had heard of this disorder was when I saw the movie Sybil and then I understood the condition.
It can take a period of five to seven years in order to treat this condition. It can be difficult to treat because therapists often have to hypnotize their patients in order to understand why they developed the condition in the first place.
People with dissociative disorder symptoms usually develop some amnesia regarding their past which is why the therapist has to use hypnosis.
They also have to understand the alter personalities and then blend the newly developed personality. Many psychiatrist also offer these patients drug therapy in order to control the frequencies of delusions.
Multiple personality disorder is a common term for a psychological disorder properly known as dissociative identity disorder (DID). There is no known cure for DID, but treatment can be successful if the patient is committed to long term therapy. Psychodynamic therapy, hypnosis, and the use of appropriate medications are types of multiple personality disorder therapy that have proven successful for DID.
The most common treatment for dissociative identity disorder is psychodynamic therapy, also referred to as talk therapy. The goal of this form of multiple personality disorder therapy is to overcome and deal with the repressions typical of this disease. Beginning in childhood, individuals with DID start repressing traumatic memories that often result from physical or sexual abuse. To block them from consciousness, the individual creates multiple personalities or identities — alternative modes of thinking, being, feeling and acting. Psychodynamic therapy is used to try to access the memories that led to the formation of the different personalities.
In multiple personality disorder therapy, the use of hypnosis has also been shown to be a successful treatment. This form of therapy is also used to help the patient gain access to repressed memories. The main technique involved in hypnosis therapy is called “age regression.” While under hypnosis, the patient is asked by the therapist to go back in her mind to when the traumatic events occurred in her childhood. The belief is that accessing those traumatic memories will permit the patient to understand the threats from her childhood no longer exist in her adult life.
With most cases of multiple personality disorder therapy, the patient is diagnosed with multiple psychological disorders, including other types of dissociative disorders, anxiety and depression. It is also common for patients with DID to have a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. A patient with multiple personality disorder and PTSD or depression, for example, would receive treatment for DID as well as the depression or anxiety. Treatment for these disorders is usually in the form of anti-depressant medications or anti-anxiety medications. Neither type of medication will have a direct effect on DID, but in certain cases medications have been shown to lessen the symptoms of multiple personality disorder.
How do you act around someone with dissociative identity disorder?
How to Talk to Your Friend About Treatment
- Choose a time when you’re both free and relaxed.
- Let them know that you care about them.
- Offer to help look for providers.
- Accompany them to their first appointment.
- Suggest getting started with teletherapy.
Can a partner live with dissociative identity disorder?
I have been with my husband 15 yrs he has always been a lot to handle but I always assumed he was just a bad guy and I was a mug for staying with him. 2.5yrs a go he had a breakdown and since then he has been diagnosed with DID, I still don’t fully understand alot about it but I am left with the nasty taste of all the lying and deceit over the yrs.
Which is a case study of dissociative identity disorder?
Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Case Study. For example, client’s grandmother called her “a terrible little liar.” Client is frequently interested in things that one would associate with a young child, not an 18-year-old. For example, she reported stealing money from teacher in order to buy candy, ice cream, and rollerskates.
What was the fist quote of dissociative identity?
The fist quote she wrote is, “everywhere everywhere.” When the crowns on all the checkers face your end watch out. Ones first date married , her last date was Avery a guy. My first date is Avery and she is a women. 3k old.
Is the so-called other girl an alternate identity?
The so-called other girl (11) is actually an alternate personality/identity. The presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states (each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self).
Can you be in a relationship with someone with dissociative identity disorder?
Learn as much as you can, but remember all systems are different. There is no way to be in a relationship with someone with DID and not be profoundly affected. Living with dissociative identity disorder is just plain hard. It only makes sense to educate yourself. Not for your partner’s benefit, but for yours.
Who is the founder of the clinic for dissociative identity disorder?
But the reality of Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID) is stranger than fiction itself – and a far cry from fantasy, according to leading expert and the founder of the Clinic for Dissociative Studies , Dr. Valerie Sinason.
The fist quote she wrote is, “everywhere everywhere.” When the crowns on all the checkers face your end watch out. Ones first date married , her last date was Avery a guy. My first date is Avery and she is a women. 3k old.
Who is the woman with 100 personality disorder?
Kim Noble: The woman with 100 personalities. Kim, 50, has dissociative identity disorder (DID). She is, in effect, scores of different people – the exact number is uncertain – wrapped up in one body. These personalities are all quite distinct, with their own names and ages and quirks of temperament. Some are children.
How can you help someone with dissociative identity disorder?
There are a few key ways you can help someone with dissociative identity disorder:
- Stay Calm During Switches. In many cases, switching between alters happens very subtly.
- Learn How to Recognize and Avoid Triggers.
- Take Care of Yourself, Too.
What is the usual goal of therapy for dissociative identity disorder?
The goals of treatment for dissociative disorders are to help the patient safely recall and process painful memories, develop coping skills, and, in the case of dissociative identity disorder, to integrate the different identities into one functional person.
What is the best therapy for dissociative identity disorder?
Psychotherapy is the primary treatment for dissociative disorders. This form of therapy, also known as talk therapy, counseling or psychosocial therapy, involves talking about your disorder and related issues with a mental health professional.
How do I become a dissociative identity disorder?
Ten steps to becoming a dissociation-friendly therapist
- ACCEPT THAT DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER IS REAL.
- YOU DON’T NEED TO BE AN ‘EXPERT’
- BELIEVE OUR SUBJECTIVE REALITY AND HOLD YOUR OBJECTIVE REALITY.
- DON’T FREAK OUT WHEN PARTS APPEAR.
- TREAT ALL PARTS EQUALLY.
- TEACH GROUNDING SKILLS FOR OUR BENEFIT, NOT JUST FOR YOURS.
- ACCEPT THAT YOU DON’T KNOW.
How do psychologists diagnose did?
Doctors diagnose dissociative disorders based on a review of symptoms and personal history. A doctor may perform tests to rule out physical conditions that can cause symptoms such as memory loss and a sense of unreality (for example, head injury, brain lesions or tumors, sleep deprivation or intoxication).
Can therapists help with dissociation?
2. Learn to Ground Yourself. Therapy can help you work through dissociative challenges with the assistance of a licensed professional, but it’s also useful to learn some techniques that enable you to deal with your symptoms when you’re alone. One of the most powerful is to learn how to ground yourself.
How can I tell if someone is dissociating?
Some common signs and symptoms of being in a dissociate state can be:
- spacing out.
- glazed, blank look/ staring.
- mind going blank.
- mind wandering.
- a sense of the world not being real.
- watching yourself from seemingly outside of your body.
- detachment from self or identity.
- out of body experience.
Can alters disappear?
✘ Myth: You can kill alters. The part may have gone into extreme hiding, been momentarily immobilized, or merged with another part of the mind, but they most assuredly did not and can not disappear entirely or “be killed”.
Who is most at risk for dissociative identity disorder?
Those who have suffered from long-term sexual, emotional or physical abuse during childhood often have the greatest risk of developing dissociative identity disorder and other dissociative disorders.
What part of the brain is affected by dissociative identity disorder?
Neuroimaging studies have identified areas of the brain, the orbitofrontal cortex in particular, that function differently in DID patients, thus providing a neurobiological basis for the disorder.
Can you talk to your alters?
Alters also vary in age. You wouldn’t talk to a child the same way you would talk to an adult. In that same way, you shouldn’t talk to a child alter in the same way you would an older alter. For younger child alters, focus on making them feel safe and secure, and try to soothe them as you would any child.
Can alters go dormant forever?
Yes! Alters actually cannot “die”, or go permanently dormant. You can think of dormancy like a comatose state.
How long do alters last?
The average number is about 10. Often alters are stable over time, continuing to play specific roles in the person’s life for years. Some alters may harbor aggressive tendencies, directed toward individuals in the person’s environment or toward other alters within the person.
What triggers switching?
Treatment soon after episodes of abuse or trauma may prevent DID from progressing. Treatment can also help identify triggers that cause personality or identity changes. Common triggers include stress or substance abuse.
Can alters fall in love with the host?
Alters are people, and though they often fill specific roles, they still will have unique personalities and interests like regular folks. It might be unusual and it might come with drawbacks, but yes, alters can love and even date each other.
Do did alters share memories?
Patients with Dissociative Identity Disorder do remember separate identities. People with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) are able to exchange information among their separate identities. People with DID cannot remember important or everyday events if they occurred while a different identity was present.
Do split personalities know each other?
These fragmented personalities take control of the person’s identity for some time. A person also maintains their primary or host identity, which is their original personality, and will answer to their given name. Their primary identity is generally more passive , and they may be unaware of the other personalities.
Why are alters so special?
Externally, alters can display different degrees of emotional expressiveness, behave in different ways, and have different skills and abilities related to sensory-motor functioning. They have different thoughts, perceptions, and memories relating to themselves and to the world around them.
Can alters date each other?
Either way, the answer is yes, absolutely they can. At least in our system(s) and the systems of a lot of multiples we know or have known.
Can did go away?
Can dissociative disorders go away without treatment? They can, but they usually do not. Typically those with dissociative identity disorder experience symptoms for six years or more before being correctly diagnosed and treated.
Dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously referred to as multiple personality disorder, is a dissociative disorder involving a disturbance of identity in which two or more separate and distinct personality states (or identities) control an individual’s behavior at different times. When under the control of one identity, a person is usually unable to remember some of the events that occurred while other personalities were in control. The different identities, referred to as alters, may exhibit differences in speech, mannerisms, attitudes, thoughts and gender orientation. The alters may even present physical differences, such as allergies, right-or-left handedness or the need for eyeglass prescriptions. These differences between alters are often quite striking.
A person living with DID may have as few as two alters or as many as 100. The average number is about 10. Often alters are stable over time, continuing to play specific roles in the person’s life for years. Some alters may harbor aggressive tendencies, directed toward individuals in the person’s environment or toward other alters within the person.
At the time a person living with DID first seeks professional help, he or she is usually not aware of their condition. A very common complaint in people affected by DID is episodes of amnesia, or time loss. These individuals may be unable to remember events in all or part of a proceeding time period. They may repeatedly encounter unfamiliar people who claim to know them, find themselves somewhere without knowing how they got there or find items that they don’t remember purchasing among their possessions.
What Are The Symptoms Of DID?
Often people living with DID are depressed or even suicidal and self-mutilation is common in this group. Approximately one-third of individuals affected complain of auditory or visual hallucinations.
While the causes are unknown, statistics show that DID occurs in 0.01 to 1 percent of the general population. DID is a serious mental illness that occurs across all ethnic groups and all income levels. It affects women nine times more than men.
In addition to experiencing separate identities, individuals living with DID may also experience many other symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- Anxiety, panic attacks.
- Alcohol and drug abuse.
- Memory problems.
- Flashbacks. .
- Personality change.
- Selective loss of memory.
What Does Treatment For DID Look Like?
Treatment for DID consists primarily of psychotherapy with hypnosis. The therapist attempts to make contact with as many alters as possible and to understand their roles and functions in an individual’s life. In particular, the therapist seeks to form an effective relationship with any personalities that are responsible for violent or self-destructive behavior and to curb this behavior. The therapist aims to establish communication among the personality states and to find ones that have memories of traumatic events in an individual’s past. The goal of the therapist is to enable the individual to achieve breakdown of the patient’s separate identities and their unification into a single identity.
Retrieving and dealing with memories of trauma is important for a person living with DID, because this disorder is believed to be triggered by physical or sexual abuse in childhood. Young children have a pronounced ability to dissociate and it is believed that those who are abused may learn to use dissociation as a defense. In effect, the child slips into a state of mind in which it seems that the abuse is not really occurring to him or her, but to somebody else. In time, such a child may begin to emotionally and cognitively split into alternate identities. Research has shown that the average age for the initial development of alters is 5.9 years old.
In individuals where dissociation is thought to be a symptom of another mental illness such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treatment of the primary cause is of upmost importance.
Children affected by DID may experience a great variety of symptoms, including depressive tendencies, anxiety, conduct problems, episodes of amnesia, difficulty paying attention in school and hallucinations. Often these children are misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia. By the time the child reaches adolescence, it is less difficult for a mental health professional to recognize the symptoms and make a diagnosis of DID.