Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is not just the stuff of movies. Once considered a highly controversial diagnosis it is now widely accepted and has been diagnosed in thousands of cases throughout the US and Canada. Dissociative Identity Disorder is a psychiatric condition whereby and individual develops two or more distinct personalities.
The diagnosis of Dissociate Identity Disorder requires that the following four criteria be met.
1. The presence of two or more distinct personalities,
2. At least two of these personalities must recurrently take control of the individual’s behavior,
3. The inability of one personality to recall important personal information that cannot be explained by
4. The condition must not be attributable to the use of any substance, traumatic brain injury, or other medical condition.
It was once believed that a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder most often presented with two to three sub-personalities. However recent studies indicate that the average woman with DID has 15 sub-personalities and the average male has 8. There have been rare cases where as many as 100 personalities have been observed.
Normally one personality, called the primary or host, appears more often than the others. The transition from one personality to another is called “switching” and can be sudden and dramatic. There are generally three ways in which sub-personalities will relate to one another. In “mutually amnesiac relationships” personalities have no awareness of one another. In “mutually cognizant” each personality is well aware of the others presence . In the most common relationship, “one-way amnesiac” some personalities are aware of others but awareness is not mutual. Those that are aware , called “co-conscious sub-personalities” are quiet observers who watch the actions and thoughts of the other personalities but do not interact with them.
It is generally believed that dissociative identity disorder is brought on by overwhelming repetitive abuse suffered during childhood. Often this abuse is sexual in nature and is suffered at the hand of a primary caregiver. It is believed that some children have the ability to dissociate or “cut off” this experience where it then becomes buried in the subconscious and later manifests as a unique personality.
Once a diagnose of Dissociative Identity Disorder has been made a psychiatrist will attempt to use psychotherapy along with hypnotherapy in an attempt to bond the primary personality with each of the sub-personalities. The goal of therapy is to merge the personalities into a single integrated identity. FUSION is the final merging of all personalities. Many therapists actually introduce personalities to one another and often have patients view videotapes of their other personalities.