Curious About Amnesia Part of DID

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I am curious about the amnesia part of DID. I seem to have different people who live inside me. Unlike what I know about DID, though, we all know about each other. We don’t always but occasionally we do talk to each other. I might comfort the child that is sad or the watchful one might tell me their impression of someone. We don’t forget what’s going on when one of the others is controlling the body. For instance, when I feel threatened or insulted a stronger person will stand in. I don’t disappear or anything I just seem to switch awareness into someone that has a different way of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

I don’t know exactly what losing time means. I don’t wake up in strange places or find clothes I’ve never purchased. The most I can say I’ve experienced is doing something and it feels like 15 minutes have passed but when I look at the clock 3 hours have gone by. This does happen a lot. I also sometimes forget where I put something and when I find it I don’t remember moving it.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD. I have no memory of my life from before the age of about 15 but after that age I know I was being severly abused and neglected and assume it had been going on for quite a while. While I know this affects my life in a serious way the PTSD diagnosis just doesn’t make a lot of sense with everything else because I don’t have flashbacks and I don’t have nightmares. I do avoid any in depth discussion about it though. I also wonder if the identity problems are more of a BPD kind of thing.

I would really like to know what is going on with me and any information you might be able to give would be GREATLY appreciated.

A. From such a short letter it is difficult to determine if PTSD is the correct diagnosis. It very well may be but dissociative identity disorder (DID) is also a realistic possibility. It is not uncommon for individuals to have both DID and PTSD. In fact, some studies have shown that among individuals diagnosed with DID, the majority have a secondary diagnosis of PTSD.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) for mental health disorders the diagnostic criteria for a DID diagnosis includes:(1) the presence of two or more identities; (2) at least two of these identities recurrently take control of the person’s behavior; and (3) having an inability to recall personal information. Your specific symptoms include having no memory of your childhood; a history of severe abuse; a recognition of other possible personalities (often referred to as identity alteration); and time loss experiences. Generally speaking, your symptoms are in line with a DID diagnosis.

I would strongly encourage you to be evaluated by someone who has experience treating dissociative disorders or trauma. One of the main difficulties with DID, and dissociative disorders in general, is that individuals may be experiencing symptoms they are not fully aware of. This is why it is important to seek outside assistance from trained mental health professionals. It would also be beneficial to educate yourself about DID. A quick Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble search could help you to identify helpful resources.

While I cannot offer a reliable diagnosis over the Internet, I do believe that dissociative disorder is a possibility. A psychiatric evaluation is the quickest strategy for determining an accurate diagnosis and more importantly to guide you to effective treatments. I wish you the best of luck. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Curious About Amnesia Part of DID. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/25/curious-about-amnesia-part-of-did/