Dissociative Identity Disorder produces different identities, or alters, that control the person's behavior. Read more about what Dissociative Identity Disorder is and isn't.
Once considered rare and mysterious psychiatric curiosities, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder-MPD) and other Dissociative Disorders are now understood to be fairly common effects of severe trauma in early childhood, most typically extreme, repeated physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse.
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994), Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) was changed to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), reflecting changes in professional understanding of the disorder resulting from significant empirical research.
According to the Merck Manual, DID can be found in 3 to 4% of people hospitalized for other mental health disorders and in a sizable minority of people in drug abuse treatment facilities. However, some authorities believe that many cases of this disorder reflect the influence of therapists on suggestible people.
What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a dissociative disorder involving a disturbance of identity in which two or more separate and distinct personality states (or identities) control the individual's behavior at different times. When under the control of one identity, the person is usually unable to remember some of the events that occurred while other personalities were in control. The different identities, referred to as alters, may exhibit differences in speech, mannerisms, attitudes, thoughts, and gender orientation. The alters may even differ in "physical" properties such as allergies, right-or-left handedness, or the need for eyeglass prescriptions. These differences between alters are often quite striking.
The person with DID may have as few as two alters, or as many as 100. The average number of alters is about 10. Often alters are stable over time, continuing to play specific roles in the person's life for years. Some alters may harbor aggressive tendencies, directed toward individuals in the person's environment, or toward other alters within the person.
DSM IV definition of Dissociative Identity Disorder
The presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states (each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self).
At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently take control of the person's behavior. Inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., blackouts or chaotic behavior during Alcohol Intoxication) or a general medical condition (e.g., complex partial seizures). Note: In children, the symptoms are not attributable to imaginary playmates or other fantasy play.
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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV)