Understanding Dissociative Identity Disorder


Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID is one of the mental illnesses that is included in the DSM-IV, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which contains all psychological disorders. It is also known as the Multiple Personality Disorder and sometimes Multiple Personality Syndrome. Diagnosed cases of this illness are not that many; in fact, sufferers of this illness comprise less than 0.5% of the population, according to Hawskworth & Schwarz.

DID is characterized by having multiple “persons” residing in an individual. More often, these “persons” have different personalities and behaviors, and they come out as an individual goes through various experiences. The numbers of personalities an individual can form are highly varied: while some could form only two or three, some can have as much as 20 different personalities. A person having DID normally does not know the existence of these personalities, and normally undergoes a period of unconsciousness before shifting to another personality.

A celebrated case of DID involves a man with three personalities. This patient is normally loquacious and sociable. His other personality, with a different name, is more quiet and brooding. Another personality still, having an entirely different name, is more violent and aggressive. He says that his personalities often come out, as he needs them; for example, his aggressive personality comes to defend him.

DID is said to have been caused by traumatic experiences, such as violence, battering, or rape. A person who eventually develops DID is said to turn to these personalities in order to defend oneself from harm. Multiple personalities are said to become a person’s adaptations in order to survive.

A person diagnosed with multiple personalities is very hard to treat. Often, treatment centers on integrating these multiple personalities to form a unified concept of self. An individual is made to realize that shifting to other personalities is unnecessary if one has a more adaptive set of behaviors to deal with life events and stressors. Eventually, it is hoped that these therapies would be able to unify all of these diverse personalities and bring an individual back to normalcy.

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