DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER

Every person under the Sun, they have normal awareness (conscious mind) and unawareness (unconscious mind). We all have memories deeply engraved in our unconscious mind. But many unconscious memories are severe and traumatic.

In order to prevent them from emerging on the surface and disconnect from that stressful event, they create those extra personalities in their head. It's their way to maintain a relatively healthy level of functioning, as though the trauma had not occurred.

However, they do inflict pain upon themselves when some of their personalities think that it's easier to endure physical than emotional suffering. Cutting, attempts of suffocating or drowning are quite common.

A word of SENSATIONALISM

"Somebody played a trick on you.
Who?
You!"

["Frankie and Alice" DID film]

These people have been crucified due to media sensationalism for so long. More than any other Personality disorder Dissociative Identity Disorder has been associated with and stigmatized as one of the most brutal mental disorders breeding serial killers and "psychopaths".

Only 1/8 of these movies are based on real-life stories while the others are entirely fictional. Fiction being falsification which inflicted so much pain on persons diagnosed with DID. Indeed what was meant to be exciting and shocking produced collateral damage, beyond repair. Only a few of them like "Voices within" tackles many of the commons DID stereotypes and key misunderstandings such as the total amnesia stereotype of DID.

 

A word of DID PERSONS

As described by many of them their life is completely unmanageable. Persistent flashbacks make them dissociate and lose time. Oftentimes they end up in a place with no idea what had happened. Also, one or a few of their personalities bring themselves in increasingly dangerous situations.  Sometimes they try to escape problems by drifting from one alcohol or drug-provoked haze to another.  Consequently, they get fired more often than being employed.

Also, "sharing" a body with other people can be enormously painful and exhausting. It's like you live with 6 or whatever number tenants in a bachelor apartment.

On the other hand, some persons find their DID condition pretty manageable. Their altars are on pretty good terms with no need to hurt or kill one another. This is especially a case when people alter are kids. For example, several kids from 3 to 17 years old coexist peacefully with their main self. Not to mention that they are happily married or enjoy healthy relationships with their friends, family members, and coworkers.

When reading their journals they can see notes, sometimes heart-breaking ones, and signatures of all of their alters. It helps them to understand what happened during the blackout i.e. dissociative episodes.

DID CRITERIA

Although there are many DID symptoms and signs, it is still very difficult to diagnose the disorder.
According to the recent research people with a dissociative identity disorder, spend, on average, seven years in the mental health system before accurately diagnosed. This is because many of the DID symptoms are similar to those of depression, schizophrenia, or anxiety. In fact, some of these disorders may relax with a dissociative identity disorder.

But here are the basic 5 criteria for DID

To be diagnosed with Dissociative Identity disorder a person must have:

  • Two or more distinct personality states, each with its own way of thinking, feeling, and acting in response to reality. Shifts in effect, behavior, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition, and/or sensory-motor functioning.

  • Amnesia. They experience the gap in remembering daily events, significant personal information, and/or traumatic events.

  • The person must be disturbed by the disorder or have hard times functioning in one or more major life spheres.

  • The disorder is not caused by cultural or religious practices and background.

  • The symptoms are not always triggered by substance use ( alcohol or drug intoxication)

SYMPTOMS

DID  Symptoms vary depending on many factors but what initiates them is always the same. Severe episodes of dissociation displayed by multiple personalities triggered by painful, persistent periods of childhood trauma or neglect.

  • Personalities are disagreeing and often very different, but they can function well together.

  • Each personality has firmly established memories of his/her own, behavioral patterns, and social relationships that influence his/her behavior.

  • Conversion from one personality to another is often abrupt and provoked by stress.

  • The person addressing himself/herself as “we"

  • After blackouts, the person may find unfamiliar objects or strange handwriting notes

  • Sleepwalking and automatic writing

  • Auditory/ Visual hallucinations

  • Undifferentiated fear

  • Difficulty in parenting and recognizing his/her own children

  • Problems trusting others

  • Aggression and anger

  • A constant sense of  being betrayed

  • Problems with intimacy

  • Substance abuse

TREATMENT

The aim of DID treatment is:

  • to relieve symptoms

  • to develop new coping and life skills

  • to restore optimal functioning, and improve relationships with other people

  • to achieve a more peaceful coexistence of the person's multiple personalities

  • to help a person safely express and process painful memories, “reconnect” the different personalities into one integrated, well-functioning identity.

 

The best treatment approach depends on:

  • the individual,

  • history of the disorder

  • the complexion of any identifiable triggers

  • the severity of the symptoms.

 

Most likely the treatment will cover different combinations of the following methods.

Psychotherapy
Also referred to as  “talk therapy". It is the most beneficial treatment for DID. This is an umbrella term that encompasses several types of therapy.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: CBT
CBT successfully changes distorted thinking patterns, feelings, and behavior. Its goal is not to probe trauma wounds but rather to encourage DID patients by altering destructive behavioral patterns.

Family therapy: (FT)
Since most of the individuals diagnosed with DID had suffered some family trauma this therapy is oriented to the family members who weren't involved in the traumatic experience as well as closest friends and significant others. FT educates them on the disorder and on proven ways of recognizing symptoms of a recurrence.

Clinical Hypnosis
It focuses on deep relaxation, concentration, and focused attention to dive into an altered state of consciousness, allowing people to examine thoughts, feelings, and memories deeply rooted in their subconscious mind.

Medication
There is no medication to cure dissociative identity disorders. Nevertheless, people with DID often benefit from treatment with antidepressants or antipsychotics. Due to the high daily dosage of medications they are often advised to take some vitamins & supplements.

Hospitalization
If DID persons are incapacitated, highly dysfunctional), prone to suicide, and lacking any kind of support they are usually admitted to psychiatric hospitals as inpatients.

CAUSE

About 90% of the DID PATIENTS experienced some history of abuse.

  • Isolation in Childhood

  • Severe emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse.

  • Suffering from an early loss, such as the loss of a parent or close friend

  • Chronic illness.