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Faking Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Recently a reader asked how to get over the feeling that her sister is faking Dissociative Identity Disorder. If you doubt your friend or family member’s diagnosis, I think it’s important to identify why you’re skeptical. What in particular has you questioning it? Write it down, and be specific. Now find out everything you can about each of those nagging suspicions. I’m willing to bet a healthy majority of them are based on common misconceptions about Dissociative Identity Disorder. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wrong. Sometimes people who say they have DID don’t have it at all. That could be because they’re pretending for some perceived gain, e.g. sympathy. But I believe the discrepancy is more likely due to misdiagnosis and genuine confusion.

Photo by Cesar Bojorquez
Photo by Cesar Bojorquez

Faking Dissociative Identity Disorder Online

A few years ago I was in a chat room frequented by people with Dissociative Identity Disorder when a regular visitor entered and made a dramatic announcement. She’d been driving a familiar route and arrived at her destination with no memory of the trip. She said she had DID, but was alarmed about highway hypnosis, a mild form of dissociative amnesia. Either she was newly diagnosed and still wrestling to understand herself and her life in this new context, or she didn’t have DID at all. Was she faking Dissociative Identity Disorder? I don’t know. I encountered her many times when I was visiting that chat room and got the overall impression that she – and some other regulars – didn’t really have DID. But purposeful manipulation isn’t necessarily the explanation. If she didn’t have DID, my guess is she genuinely believed she did.

Misdiagnosing Dissociative Identity Disorder

Therapists make mistakes. And unfortunately there are still clinicians who are fascinated with DID, but don’t recognize their own lack of necessary education or experience with it. Take someone with PTSD or some other dissociative disorder dsm-bookswho’s desperate for answers, send them to one of these overconfident therapists with little to no experience diagnosing and treating DID, and you might very well end up with someone who believes she has the disorder even though she doesn’t. That isn’t faking Dissociative Identity Disorder. That’s a misdiagnosis, plain and simple.

Don’t Assume Anyone Is Faking Dissociative Identity Disorder

Ask yourself how you know what you know about DID. If a movie, television show, or bestseller is one of your top three sources of information, you’re in no position to judge whether anyone has Dissociative Identity Disorder or not. Psychology Major, you say? No, you don’t know nearly enough about DID to determine the legitimacy of someone’s diagnosis. Ultimately no one but a skilled clinician with experience diagnosing and treating DID can make that call. If a friend or family member tells you they’ve been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, give their doctor the benefit of the doubt. If you have reservations, that’s understandable. Ask questions and do your own research. But don’t just assume they’re faking Dissociative Identity Disorder. You’re more likely to be wrong, I think, than right.

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34 thoughts on “Faking Dissociative Identity Disorder?”

  1. I have an online friend who claims to be diagnosed with DID and recently showed me a screenshot/scan of a paper that a doctor wrote affirming it. But, while I still hold reservations, I’m even more confused and conflicted because he also claims to have “fictives” and even “factives”, which are alters based on fictional characters and REAL PEOPLE respectively. I don’t buy it. I can’t wrap my head around it. It feels so much like a lie, because fictives just make me think of copyright abuse, and factives make me think it’s identity theft of some kind. Not to mention he claims to be “otherkin/fictionkin”… It’s scary and hard to take seriously. I can’t find any free chatroom to talk to an official clinician about this… any advice?

      1. Okay so first of all, I’m not a mental health professionnal but I’m a student in psychology and from what I know about DID, and it’s one of the disorders I’m the most aware of, the identities are not really identities as persons, but states. So every personnality is in a way part of the person whi’s suffering from DID, but much more amplified, so I don’t think it can be a someone as a hole, like Rihanna or wathever. Also, these identities are created to protect the sufferer from triggers, and I don’t see why an alter would become Rihanna to protect the sufferer if you see what I mean… So yeah, in my opinion, that’s not DID, but ot doesn’t mean he doesn’t suffer from a mental illness, he’s not necesseraly lying, or an attention seeker. Howerver, he still could be, and yes, tumblr. is really toxic, glamourizating mental illnesses… but only a true expert can say so, and even some experts are wrong…

        1. I’ve not received a degree or any sort however if a real life person or a ficticous character has influenced a young person by either helping or hurting them severely, they can become alters. I’m not saying that I’m necessarily accurate, I’m just putting it out there from what I’ve read. (When I said read I mean informative sites.)

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