Everything About Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Dissociative identity disorder is a true disorder that isn’t as uncommon as you would think.
You may experience transitions between at least two independent identity states, or personalities if you have dissociative identity disorder (DID).

dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a mental health condition. DID is characterized by the presence of multiple personas. At different times, different identities dictate a person’s conduct. Memory loss, delusions, and sadness are all possible symptoms of the illness.

Many individuals are familiar with the disease as multiple personality disorder. DID, on the other hand, is a dissociative disorder rather than a personality disorder.

Many myths and misconceptions regarding DID have arisen as a result of sensationalized media representations and a general lack of awareness of what the disorder entails.

Some of these misconceptions include:

  • DID does not exist.
  • DID is an uncommon disorder, and many individuals pretend to have it.
  • At least one of the alternative identities is a thug.
  • Borderline personality disorder is a severe type of DID.
  • The illness is difficult to identify and cure.
  • These misunderstandings, as well as the stigma they create, might make it difficult to get treatment if you see signs in yourself or a loved one.

Because DID may improve with expert guidance, we have the facts to dispel these beliefs and help you better understand symptoms and treatment choices.

What is dissociative identity disorder?

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a severe type of dissociation, a mental process in which a person’s ideas, memories, feelings, behaviors, or sense of identity are disconnected. Dissociative identity disorder is assumed to be caused by a variety of causes, including the trauma that the individual with the illness has undergone. The individual actually turns off or dissociates themselves from a circumstance or experience that is too harsh, traumatic, or unpleasant to absorb with their conscious self, according to the dissociative element.

Dissociative disorders, which are frequently caused by trauma, can include:

  • disturbances in memory, identity, and perception processes
  • emotional alienation and disconnection
  • a sense of separation from reality and the environment

Why does dissociation happen?

People may dissociate as a coping technique for truly upsetting or overpowering circumstances, such as abuse or neglect, according to experts.

In simple terms, facing and acknowledging what’s going on is so painful that your brain devises a defense mechanism to keep you safe. To emotionally and psychologically remove yourself from the memories and events is one of these methods.

Perhaps your mind goes blank or you zone out — or, in a sense, you take on a new persona.

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Who Is At Risk for DID?

DID is thought to be caused by a psychological reaction to interpersonal and environmental pressures, particularly during early infancy, when emotional neglect or abuse can disrupt personality development. Many people who acquire dissociative disorders have personal histories of frequent, overwhelming, and even life-threatening disturbances or traumas during a critical developmental stage of infancy.

Even if there has been no overt physical or sexual abuse, dissociation can occur as a result of continuous neglect or emotional abuse. Children may develop dissociative in households where their parents are terrifying and unpredictable, according to the findings. According to studies, DID affects roughly 1% of the population.

Symptoms of dissociative identity disorder

While the existence of different identities, or personality states, is the most common sign of DID, it often includes additional symptoms.

DID, like other mental illnesses, does not affect everyone in the same way or with the same degree.

Other common symptoms of DID include:

  • Dissociative amnesia is a condition in which you have problems recalling personal details or facts about your life.
  • Dissociative fugue states are travel or wandering experiences in which you have no remembrance of what transpired.
  • Memory lapses, such as the inability to recall significant events from your childhood or adult life.
  • abrupt losses in recent memories (such as yesterday’s activities) or skills (from writing to making coffee).
  • a feeling of depersonalization, as if you’re looking in on yourself from the outside.
  • a sensation that your body is changing sizes or forms
  • hazy, dreamy recollections of events
  • Feel as if your body, thoughts, or feelings aren’t your own and that you don’t have control over them.
  • Changes in speech, conduct, and personal preferences are all obvious.

Not everyone with DID notices indicators in themselves, and you may not even be aware that you have several identities.

Others, on the other hand, may express what they consider perplexing behavior, such as a fluctuating accent in your speech or a new habit you have.

DID may also have the following indicators in addition to these symptoms:

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Fears or phobias that ‘come and go’

You’re sitting on the sofa with your lover when they comment, “I had no idea you were so frightened of dogs.” “I assumed you enjoyed them.”

You respond, perplexed, “I do.”

“When we went out today, it didn’t seem like it!” I still can’t believe you didn’t stop shaking until we crossed the street and turned the corner. Also, that dog appeared to be really friendly.”

You’re speechless and can’t think of anything to say. You’ve never been scared of dogs before. In fact, you like them quite a bit. Furthermore, you have no recollection of being out with your partner previously.

Behaviors that are unusual or novel.

You suddenly realize you’re dressed in clothing you despise. To find out why you go back to the morning and notice your mind is absolutely blank: you have no idea what you’ve been doing all day.
When you look about your house, you find it’s a lot cleaner than it was the night before. You live alone and are the only one who could have carried out the cleaning frenzy, yet you have no recollection of it.

Changing your eating habits.

You offer your order to the waiter during dinner with your companion. “Oh, but there are no tomatoes,” your spouse adds. You’re perplexed when you gaze at them.
“Why did you tell them I didn’t want tomatoes?” you inquire after the waiter has walked away. I’m not bothered by them.”

Identity confusion

You may not experience totally different shifts or separations of identity, according to reports from people living with DID.
Instead, you may feel as if you have a muddled identity or many identities at the same time.
Because of your muddled identities, you may not be able to hear solely your own internal voice. You may also hear the voices of people with a variety of personalities, genders, likes and dislikes, and suggestions on what to do.

Inside your brain, these voices may all be conversing at the same time, debating the best course of action in a given scenario. It may appear as if these personas are fighting for control within you. This may be rather intimidating and perplexing.

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Other signs of DID you might notice

There is a slew of additional indicators that show the presence of many identities or alters:

  • Even though you’ve never worn glasses, you keep discovering a pair in your luggage.
  • “I heard you talking on the phone in your room the other day,” your roommate says. Isn’t it Italian? A handful of the words were familiar to me. “I had no notion you could communicate in Italian.” (However, you don’t.) You only know German as a foreign language.)
  • You open your refrigerator one morning to find it stuffed with food you don’t recall buying – food you don’t typically buy.
  • You discover your beloved shoes are scuffed and filthy on your way out the door, despite the fact that they were spotless the last time you put them away.

Diagnostic criteria for dissociative identity disorder

There is no DID exam or quiz that can be used to diagnose the condition’s symptoms.

An appropriate diagnosis can only be made by a competent mental health expert. In general, they will adhere to the DSM-5 criteria, which are as follows:

  • At least two distinct personality states reflect shifts or disturbances in identity or sense of self. Changes in behavior, attitude, or voice may help others recognize these identities.
  • Amnesia, huge gaps in memory, or difficulty recalling personal information, life events, or how to complete certain activities are all symptoms of amnesia. There is a lot of emotional discomfort associated with these symptoms.

DID can affect both children and adults. Before identifying the disorder in youngsters, mental health specialists will rule out imaginary companions and other age-appropriate imagination play.

DID symptoms can make daily living difficult and create a great deal of emotional pain.

Most, but not all, persons who match the criteria for DID have other mental health issues or trauma and distress symptoms, such as:

DID is not recognized by all mental health specialists, and some have questioned its existence. This implies that many persons with DID go undiagnosed for years before getting a proper diagnosis.

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Is dissociative identity disorder the same as multiple personalities?

Dr. Morton Prince, one of the early researchers into what we now call “dissociative identity disorder,” is often credited with coining the term “multiple personality disorder.”

The DSM-IV, released in 1994, termed the disease “dissociative identity disorder” to reflect what doctors had learned: DID isn’t truly about having many personalities, but rather unique identities that have broken off from your core self.

Your personality is an important aspect of your identity, but it is not the same as your identity. As a result, while you can attempt to improve specific aspects of your personality, you are still the same person.

The DID-related alternate identities, on the other hand, have completely distinct names, attributes, physical features, and life histories.

What causes dissociative identity disorder?

DID is thought to develop in reaction to trauma, according to most specialists.

The following are examples of trauma:

  • physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • mistreatment or neglect
  • childhood medical trauma, such as a frightening or painful hospital experience
  • war or terrorism

Trauma, on the other hand, is a personal and distinct experience. What you find distressing may not be so for someone else. The trauma is caused by the impact of the encounter on you.

If you’ve been sexually or physically abused, you’re more likely to acquire DID.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, approximately 90% of those diagnosed with this illness as children in the United States, Canada, or Europe were abused or neglected.

The DSM-5 also mentions a number of variables that might exacerbate your symptoms, including:

  • co-occurring mental health conditions
  • serious physical illness
  • repeated or ongoing abuse
  • retraumatization
  • lack of treatment

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Is dissociative identity disorder the same as schizophrenia?

Auditory hallucinations, sometimes known as “hearing voices,” are a typical symptom of schizophrenia.

Some mental health specialists may mistakenly believe that a person who describes the internal voices of their several identities is hallucinating. This might lead to a diagnosis of schizophrenia rather than DID.

However, schizophrenia includes a wide range of symptoms that aren’t often connected with DID, such as:

  • delusions
  • disorganized speech and thoughts
  • difficulty expressing emotions
  • isolation and withdrawal

Although it is not impossible for someone with DID to simultaneously have schizophrenia, these are two distinct illnesses with quite different therapies.

Misdiagnosis generally results in antipsychotic medication, which does not relieve DID symptoms.

Is dissociative identity disorder different from depersonalization-derealization disorder?

Depersonalization-derealization condition is characterized by recurring bouts of:

  • Depersonalization is the experience of being disconnected from your body, activities, ideas, or sense of self.
  • Derealization is the state of feeling separated from one’s immediate surroundings and from the world in general.

Similar bouts of separation from reality can occur in people with DID.

Depersonalization-derealization condition, unlike DID, does not entail amnesia or different personality states. You may lose contact with your sense of self, but you do not acquire a distinct identity.

Is dissociative identity disorder curable?

DID has yet to be cured, according to experts.
Having said that, the notion that DID is untreatable is a misconception.
Treatment can help you reclaim control of your life and your sense of self while also relieving your symptoms.
A competent therapist who tries to understand, talk with, and support all of your identities can assist you in beginning to manage discomfort without changing your identity states.
Other DID therapy goals might include:

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  • identifying and exploring sources of past trauma
  • recognizing and reframing cognitive distortions
  • treating co-occurring mental health symptoms
  • integrating alternate identities

Recommended therapy approaches might include: