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One Person, Multiple Identities: What is DID?

By Jadey Chen

Highlights

  • Dissociative Identity Disorder is a disorder when one person has two or more personality states.

  • People normally develop DID after going through a trauma and try to escape reality through their different personalities.

  • DID is a rare disorder that occurs in 1.5% of the population.

Introduction


As the name suggests, Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as DID, is a condition where an individual has two or more personality states and identities. These identities can have their own name and characteristics; they are distinct from each other. Someone diagnosed with DID can take on different identities at different times and even have gaps in their memories because of it. DID can affect people of all ages and is considered a very rare disorder considering about 1.5 percent of the population are affected by it. With the identity switches also comes dissociative amnesia where they can’t recall personal information and things from a traumatic time period.


Causes


The main reason one develops DID is because they want to detach themselves from reality. Dissociative Identity Disorder is typically the result of some sort of abuse or trauma the patient went through in their childhood so their different personalities are meant to distance them from whatever trauma they faced. Research on the disorder indicates that 99% of those with DID went through some sort of trauma in their developmental years and the children become dissociative. The trauma sometimes means physical and sexual abuse, and other times it can also be emotional abuse and neglect from their parents most of the time.


Symptoms


Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder have two or more identities; some people with the disorder can have up to one hundred alters. Their identities are very distinct from each other whether that be their names, age, sex, posture, gestures, basically all of the things that make an individual unique. Each personality can take control of a person’s mind for varying times, some take over for days at a time, while others can last for mere seconds. The different identities are the main identifying point for DID but there are other symptoms that one with DID can have such as: amnesia, headaches, time loss, out of body experiences where they feel they watch themselves going through their day but don’t have control over their bodies, depression, and suicidal thoughts.


Treatment


Although there is no way to fully cure DID, and many patients who are diagnosed with it manage it for life, treatments can help reduce symptoms and so patients with it are still able to live their lives. So far, there are no prescribed medications to help DID specifically, but some can aid the symptoms that come with it like depression as well as anxiety. The following methods are the main ones used to help those with DID: psychotherapy and hypnotherapy.


Psychotherapy


Psychotherapy is the main, most effective treatment for people diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. The therapy aims to discover what triggers the DID and works to fuse the different personalities into just one.


Hypnotherapy


Hypnotherapy is often used with psychotherapy which is hypnosis to help the patient find suppressed memories and also works to control the behaviors and personalities that come with DID.


Conclusion


Dissociative Identity Disorder is one of several dissociative disorders which is defined as a “Multiple-Identity Disorder,” named after the multiple identities that one diagnosed with it gain. Those identities are unique to each individual and form their own characteristics; most people with DID have, on average, around ten identities since some have one or two while others can have one hundred. Someone diagnosed with DID should seek medical attention to help aid the symptoms and also to attend therapy to contain their behavior and try and merge their personalities into one and gain more control over their body.


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