The major symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder experienced by DID patients are amnesia, depersonalization, derealization, and identity disturbances.
What are the symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder?
People with Dissociative Identity Disorder often describe an array of symptoms that can resemble those of other mental health disorders as well as many physical disorders. Some symptoms are an indication that another disorder is indeed present, but some symptoms may reflect the intrusions of past experiences into the present. For example, sadness may indicate coexisting depression, or it may be that one of the personalities is reliving emotions associated with past misfortunes.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is chronic and potentially disabling or fatal, although many with the disorder function very well and lead creative and productive lives. People with this disorder are prone to injuring themselves. They may engage in self-mutilation (self-injury). Many attempt suicide.
In DID, some of a person's personalities are aware of important personal information, whereas other personalities are unaware. Some personalities appear to know and interact with one another in an elaborate inner world. For example, personality A may be aware of personality B and know what B does, as if observing B's behavior; personality B may or may not be aware of personality A. Other personalities may or may not be aware of personality B, and personality B may or may not be aware of them.
The switching of personalities and the lack of awareness of one's behavior in the other personalities often makes life chaotic for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Because the personalities often interact with each other, people with DID report hearing inner conversations and the voices of other personalities commenting on their behavior or addressing them. They experience distortion of time, with time lapses and amnesia. They have feelings of detachment from one's self (depersonalization) and feelings that one's surroundings are unreal (derealization). They often have concern with issues of control, both self-control and the control of others. In addition, people with Dissociative Identity Disorder tend to develop severe headaches or other bodily pain and may experience sexual dysfunction. Different clusters of symptoms occur at different times.
People with Dissociative Identity Disorder may not be able to recall things they have done or account for changes in their behavior (amnesia). Often they refer to themselves as "we," "he," or "she." While most people cannot recall much about the first 3 to 5 years of life, people with Dissociative Identity Disorder may have considerable amnesia for the period between the ages of 6 and 11 as well.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV)
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