What do you really know about Dissociative Identity Disorders?
I could probably take a few guesses. You likely think that it is a mental disorder that causes an individual to have more than one personality, much like Cybil (the movie) or James McAvoy in the movie Split. Whose famous personality was “Patricia”. That could play into it.
Often people associate dissociative identity disorder (DID) with bipolar disorder. Many assume they are one and the same. Let me fill you in on something, they are NOT. There is a big difference between the two, there are also many facets to each one of these disorders. DID is a psychological disorder, whereas bipolar is a mood disorder.
In this blog, I want to deep-dive into the variances of dissociative identity disorder. I hope this information can help STOP the stigma surrounding “split personalities”, being lumped into one category and even joked about.
I know hundreds upon thousands, laugh about this issue, let me tell you, it is not a laughing matter.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is a mental health disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder, however, based on the different factors and stages, one who suffers from DID, may never actually develop another personality.
Disassociation happens when a person shuts off from a situation or even themselves. This is almost always caused by trauma. DID is psychological and can be from environmental or emotional stressors. Often it is developed in childhood.
Disconnecting between feelings, memories, thoughts, senses, actions, or who he/ she maybe is a disassociation. Everyone has experienced episodes of such at one time or another in their lifetime. There are various forms, from daydreaming, getting lost (often while driving), to losing touch with reality, and even losing touch with surroundings. Typically, these are mild forms of DID.
In situations where actions are unbearable, (examples: crimes, rape, trauma, disasters), having the ability to disassociate helps the individual to cope during a time which otherwise may be unbearable. This is a numbness, so to speak, pretending as though the situation did not happen, one may forget the feelings of it, the memories, or even certain facts of the events surrounding the situation.
Within the realm of DID, there are levels. These levels are depersonalization, dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, and personality disorders (having more than one personality).
There are also 4 subtypes to Personality Disorders/ DID
Dependent Personality Disorder
Impulsive Borderline Personality Disorder
Petulant Borderline Personality Disorder
Self-Destructive Borderline Personality Disorder
In the case of dissociative amnesia, the symptoms could involve both derealization and depersonalization. Both being acute stress disorders (PTSD included).
Dissociative amnesia is not being able to recall information about oneself; this is completely different than forgetting. Related to a stressful event or trauma, it could be generalized (a complete loss of one’s identity), localized (unable to remember memories or specific events), or selective (the inability to recall specific events during a certain period).
Emotional neglect and abuse from childhood trauma are associated with dissociative amnesia. Memory loss or awareness of events may not be realized or recognized until much later in life. Often feeling that there are “missing pieces” and “timeframes”.
Someone suffering from significant recurring or ongoing depersonalization/derealization disorder may experience feelings of detachment from their mind, their body, r themselves altogether. They feel a sense of unreality. This is the “depersonalization”. Experiencing a disconnect or detachment from the surroundings is derealization. These both are altered mindsets. During these occurrences, the world may not feel real, people may not feel real, the individual may even feel that they are in another world. Reality is distorted; however, they are aware enough to recognize that this is an unusual experience and unlikely to be true. They become unemotional and lack reaction. This is a very stressful period.
Dissociative Fugue is where one loses their sense of self. They tend to wander or travel outside of their normal places. This is an uncontrolled and sudden unplanned trip away from home. They may end up in different cities, etc. They may even take on different identities or forget who they are and how they ended up there.
The most advanced DID is personality identity disorder. This is where a person is so detached that they become more than one individual/ personality. They assume different characteristics, facial expressions, actions, thought patterns, body language, some may even have different names at times. They may act like a child, they may not know where they are, they take on an entirely different persona.
Some similarities shared with other mental disorders, that patients with DID have are:
- Changing levels of functioning, from highly effective to disturbed/disabled
- Severe headaches or pain in other parts of the body
- Depersonalization (feeling disconnected from one’s own thoughts, feelings, and body)
- Derealization (feeling that the surrounding environment is foreign, odd, or unreal)
- Depression and/or mood swings
- Eating and sleeping disturbances
- Problems with functioning sexuality
- Substance abuse
- Amnesia (memory loss or feeling a time distortion)
- Hallucinations (false perceptions or sensory experiences, such as hearing voices)
- Self-injurious behaviors such as “cutting”
- Suicide risk — 70% of people with DID have attempted suicide
Treatment is available for DID. It includes psychiatric and psychological, hypnosis, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, and antidepressants. There are cases where individuals are hospitalized, unfortunately, and do not respond to treatment.
If you believe that you are suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder or know someone who is, please seek help by contacting the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-6264 or email email@example.com for support.
I am NO an expert in the matter, although passionate and with experience, I wish to raise awareness and break the stigma.
If you have a story related to this blog/ article, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to further discuss or even have you as a guest!