Dissociative identity disorder

From ArticleWorld

Dissociative identity disorder was originally called Multiple Personality Disorder. It describes the process whereby, due to extreme trauma which is suffered repetitively, dissociation from the event occurs. This means that the victim of the abuse retreats mentally as a way of coping with it and being able to function healthily otherwise. Events usually take place during childhood and include physical or sexual abuse, natural disasters and war. Suffering loss as a child, of a parent perhaps, may develop into a dissociation disorder later in life.

The disorder has often been associated with, or synonymous for, schizophrenia, but the two conditions are separate in that schizophrenics do not exhibit multiple personalities but are disorganized in their thinking and may suffer delusions or hear things. Nor should the condition be confused with a psychotic break which describes a complete break with reality. In dissociative identity disorder, or DID, there is only a partial break and it is in this way that different personalities may appear to emerge. One personality copes with one aspect of life, another with a different aspect and so on.


There is a certain amount of controversy associated with this condition in that there are some who doubt its existence. Skeptics claim the symptoms are learned and acted out in order to attract attention. Others maintain it is completely normal to experience oneself as multiple in that one applies different characteristics to different situations.

It is a very rare disorder, affecting only about 1% of the population. Symptoms similar to DID may be the result of other conditions such as head injuries, brain disorders, drug abuse or sleep deprivation and these need to be ruled out before a diagnosis can be made.


Once DID has been diagnosed, a combination of treatments can be applied. These include a number of therapies such as family and creative as well as cognitive and psychotherapy. Clinical hypnosis focuses the patient's attention on achieving an altered state of consciousness. Although the treatment process may be a long one, the condition usually responds well.