Also Known as Multiple Personality Disorder

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a diagnosis characterized by having two or more distinct people, each with his or her own identity and personality, that alternately take control over a person. More commonly known by its older name, multiple personality disorder. It is thought that this disorder may be caused by trauma from a person’s childhood, such as ongoing physical abuse, sexual assault, and/or emotional abuse.

The person also experiences severe memory loss that cannot be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.

Thought to be a coping mechanism, dissociation helps a person leave the traumatic situation. While all people do that when they daydream, this disorder takes it to another level entirely where the dissociations become real and the person begins to mold themselves into another identity entirely.

Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by the following symptoms, which can be diagnosed by a mental health professional:

  • Disruption of a person’s identity. This disruption can be seen by the presence of two or more distinct personality states. In some cultures, these different personality states may be called “possession” or label the person as being “possessed.” The disruption involves marked discontinuity in sense of self and sense of agency, accompanied by related alterations in affect, behavior, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition, and/or sensory-motor functioning.
  • Recurring gaps in the recall of everyday events, important personal information, and/or traumatic events are are inconsistent with ordinary forgetting
  • These symptoms cause significant distress and/or impairment in the the person’s everyday functioning with friends, family, at work or school, or in other important areas of their life.
  • These symptoms are not a part of a broadly accepted cultural or religious practice. In children, they should not be confused with imaginary play, role playing, or fantasy play.
  • The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., blackouts or chaotic behavior during alcohol intoxication) or a general medical condition (e.g., complex partial seizures).

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