What is Other Specified Dissociative Disorder?
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is just one of several diagnoses listed in the dissociative disorders section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Many people live with dissociative symptoms, but don't meet all of the criteria necessary for a diagnosis of DID. When this is the case, a different diagnosis -- other specified dissociative disorder (OSDD) -- can be more fitting. These diagnoses all have dissociation in common, so what makes them different?
The 'DSM-5' Definition of Other Specified Dissociative Disorder
According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of OSDD is given when a person is experiencing symptoms of a dissociative disorder, like dissociative identity disorder (DID) or depersonalization/derealization disorder, but doesn't meet all of the criteria required for a specific dissociative disorder diagnosis. For example, a person may fit only four out of the five diagnostic criteria for DID. Since all five criteria have to be met for a DID diagnosis, the diagnosis would instead be OSDD.
Other specified dissociative disorder can present in many different ways. In some cases, the dissociative symptoms are caused by a reaction to stress and last only for a short time. In other cases, brainwashing or coercion can cause identity disturbances similar to those in DID, but without the other symptoms. In these types of cases, an OSDD diagnosis is appropriate.
What Happened to Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified?
Other specified disorders and unspecified disorders are new classifications that replaced the former not otherwise specified (NOS) designation, which was used for many mental disorders, including dissociative disorders. The change was made to give clinicians more flexibility, and has no effect on those with the disorder. If you were diagnosed prior to the switch in the DSM-5, your diagnosis was dissociative disorder NOS. If you were recently reevaluated or newly diagnosed, your diagnosis would be OSDD.
The symptoms are still the same. The treatment is still the same. The only difference is the name.
Differentiating Between Dissociative Identity Disorder and Other Specified Dissociative Disorder
Some people with OSDD have two or more distinct personality states, or alters, but don't experience any gaps in memory or amnesia, a necessary symptom for a DID diagnosis. Other people with OSDD do not have fully developed personality states. They do not have separate identities, though they often feel like they may have different parts of themselves or different ways of being. Dissociative symptoms, depersonalization, and derealization are also commonly experienced in these forms of OSDD.
It's important to note that someone with OSDD may actually have DID. It is possible that a person has experienced amnesia, but doesn't realize it because alters have kept traumatic memories hidden. It is also possible that a person does have alters, but lacks awareness of his or her system until much later on. An OSDD diagnosis isn't always final, and the diagnosis can change to DID if all the criteria are met.
Other Specified Dissociative Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder: Different Diagnoses, Same Experiences
If you have been diagnosed with OSDD (or the previous diagnosis of dissociative disorder NOS), know that your experiences are valid. Just because you don't have a DID diagnosis, does not mean you suffer any less. We all share the experience of dissociation. Many of us, those with DID and those with OSDD, have experienced trauma and abuse. We each struggle with some aspects of daily life. A diagnostic label is just a technicality.
Matulewicz, C. (2016, August 31). What is Other Specified Dissociative Disorder?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2016/08/what-is-other-specified-dissociative-disorder
Author: Crystalie Matulewicz
Thank you for making this article. I actually have a friend who has DiD so I kinda know how it works and yesterday I sort of developed my own alter but I knew it wasn't the same as it was with her and I just got confused on what to do or what was going on and even though I'm just in this situation for like 21 hours, this helped me a lot, thank you
Thank you so much for this article. I had suspected DiD or something like it for awhile but I don't have memory less. Not exactly for me it's more like being in a dream-state. Memories are fuzzy but there aren't gaps and I'm very well aware of them and they rarely cause significant issues in my life. It's very nice to know that this is an actual thing. Because if it wasn't DiD what was it? It certainly isn't nothing.
I have only flash memories of trauma and most of primary school. To me my life started at age 8 or 9. I was diagnosed with DID in my 20s but not told. I had an identity merged to co-conscious under hypnosis and loaded up with post hypnotics. I recently had a mid life breakdown and lost my identities. As I was never aware of my DID until this, I just considered them mood states.
Can I ask what it was like “losing your identities “? I think this may have happened to me around mid-life too, but I’m not exactly sure what it means. Thanks
That can mean many things, like alters going dormant (ie they stay in the inner world for long periods of time and don't come out/switch) or the alters integrating/fusing together (probably less likely because it's more apparent)
People are already struggling and they want a diagnosis. Because they want help. It's not the same as wanting DID.
I hate it when people say something like this. I hear it about my friend's health also. He already has all of the symptoms of Lupus and he is frustrated at the lack of diagnosis, not wishing he had Lupus.
I agree completely its not that you want the condition but you want a name for what is going on because once you have a name for something its easier to understand what's going on and accept.
But, but, but. There is information out there about DID. Being not quite DID leaves me in a confusing never land with no support. I was diagnosed four months ago, and am on a waiting list. If I had DID I could find knowledge and support, but as DDNOS I'm confused, doubtful and alone.
But that's absolutely not true. I am confused myself on what exactly DID was in particular. There isn't much out there. What bothers me the most is that DID HAS TO HAVE gaps in memory loss and stuff relating to a traumatic memory. Which I personally find to be a load of bullcrap. People can not feel validated anymore about having issues of other personalities in them without looking like a madman in the eyes of the psychological world (like schizophrenia commonly is). It's like you HAVE TO go to a psych word and HAVE TO have impulsive and hurtful tendencies. But I believe that many people have this disorder and aren't speaking out, especially in cases where they only have 1 other identity. Don't forget, if you end up having DDNOS it is just as valid as DID. Just think of it as the "cool kids club" because, in my eyes (and after you read this you should too) I see it as a "high functioning" form of DID. SO be proud that you are lucky enough to have DID AND be able to handle it. I mean do you really want DID? Because it's a struggle and be thankful you aren't struggling like those other people.
This is the coolest comment ever. Thanks :3
High functioning DID