Dissociative identity disorder: Is DID real?


DID or Dissociative identity disorder was formerly called ‘Multiple personality disorder.’ More than two distinct identities characterize the disease. People often tend to confuse DID with Schizophrenia-split in reality. But, DID is split in personality. It involves disruptions and breakdowns of memory. DID instances are infrequent. It can attack an individual at any age, but females are more prone to the disorder than males.

Clinicians suggest that an individual can develop Dissociative identity mainly due to trauma, which includes recurring events of severe abuse. The trauma can also include the loss of a loved one. It may develop gradually or suddenly. At the time of the abuse, the brain is trying to cope with the stress of trauma, separating the individual from reality. It causes dissociation. This dissociation is protective; it helps somebody to deal with these terrible traumatic events. However, later in life, these dissociative identities can cause emotional distress as an adult tries to contend with these different states.

Dissociations are familiar to people. It may range from feeling sad in a moment and relieved the next moment. But, separation in DID is much more severe. However, a significant symptom of DID is ‘isolation.’ Individuals prefer solitude. They tend to socialize very less.

Why was Multiple Personality Disorder renamed as Dissociative identity disorder?

These dissociations are ‘alters.’ The idea behind multiple personality disorder is that there is additional information with these alters. These alterations grow and develop within these individuals. However, with DID, the idea is that these alterations are fragments of the original personality. In reality, there is no new information. Instead, each alters represents as a part of that personality.

Symptoms of the dissociative identity disorder

  • Memory loss
  • Out of body experience
  • Detached emotions
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucination and delusions
  • Lack of self-identity
  • Other mental conditions like anxiety, depression, etc. can also be a reason

What it’s like to live with DID?

The experiences are as though the reality is hazy and in a dream. They feel as if they are outside their body and notice events happening to them. It is similar to watching themselves when someone else has control over their body and behavior. People who suffer from DID experience their dissociations interfering with their daily chores. They think that their body is different and is not under their control. It is a consequence of the lack of connection to a person’s memory, thoughts, feelings, and personal sense of life.

There are events of hallucinations and delusions where the individual can listen to an unknown voice. They also claim that these voices make them do things. These voices are usually within themselves, but they tend to confuse internal stimuli with external.

Can we cure DID?

There is no known cure for DID as of now, but unique treatments work well. The treatments include a combination of talk therapy and medication. Talk therapy focuses on re-unifying the fractured identity, and drugs gradually reduce the symptoms. Childhood or events of severe traumatic abuse disturbs the real identity of the individual. The dissociation feels like it’s happening to someone else.

Is dissociative personality real?

Yes, dissociative identity disorder is real and is a mental illness included in ICD and DSM. To answer this question, let’s consider three distinct categories.

The first category: Clinicians believe that DID is real, and its diagnosis is genuine.

The second category: This is the mixed category. Clinicians believe that DID is real. But also find that because of mental health clinicians’ interest in this disorder, clients may exhibit more symptoms as it is suggested by clinicians, not directly but indirectly. Or the clinicians were maybe looking for these symptoms because they like unusual cases. In most fields, this type of exceptional circumstance is more attractive.

The third category: The third category denies DID. Instead, believe that the better explanation is borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia.

Dissociative identity disorder is real and should have a separate diagnosis. But it is over-diagnosed. The condition may perhaps be schizophrenia, dissociative amnesia, or depersonalization – derealization disorder.

What is borderline personality disorder?

Difficulties regulating emotions is a specific condition of BPD. It means that BPD individuals experience intense emotions for extended periods. It is harder for them to regain stability after an emotionally triggering event. People with BPD experience mood swings feel a great sense of insecurity and instability. The causes of BPD are not fully understood, but scientists agree that it is the result of a combination of factors, including genetics, environmental factors, and brain function.

What is dissociative amnesia?

The main symptom is memory loss, though there is no reasonable medical explanation. It is difficult to recall information and can be specific to events at a particular time—for instance, travel or wandering away from life. An episode of amnesia lasts for several minutes to hours.

What is depersonalization – derealization disorder?

This disorder involves an ongoing or episodic sense of detachment or being outside the body. Depersonalization is observing feelings, actions, or self from a distance as though watching a movie. In the derealization, the world seems unreal. It lasts only for a few moments and may come and go through many years.

There is a myth that it’s just a movie, and people say that it’s just fictional. Movies and TV rarely provide an accurate portrayal. The symptoms are frequently exaggerated or plain wrong. Movies and TV shows misrepresent DID spread inaccurate information about a real illness and stigmatize the people living with it.

People with DID are violent-this is a myth. They are no more likely to be intense than anyone else. The idea of an ‘evil alter’ is not valid.

Related: Congenital insensitivity to pain (CIPA) – The Painless World

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