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There's No Cure for Dissociative Identity Disorder

March 30, 2018 Crystalie Matulewicz

There's no cure for dissociative identity disorder (DID) to date. But do we need a cure for DID? Learn why medications and therapy help, but it's not enough to cure DID at HealthyPlace.

There is no cure for dissociative identity disorder (DID). It is a complex disorder that can be treated, but that doesn't necessarily mean it can be cured. There are several methods of treatment, from medications to therapy. It can take years, but successful treatment for DID is possible. Does that mean there is a cure for DID?

Why Is There No Cure for DID?

Dissociative Identity Disorder Is Not a Chemical Imbalance

Some mental illnesses, like major depression, can be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Medications can be used to correct the chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, allowing some people to recover, and essentially be cured, of depression. Though that isn't the case for everyone, a cure is possible.

Dissociative identity disorder, on the other hand, isn't a chemical imbalance. Medications, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antianxiety medications are commonly prescribed to people with DID. Yet, these medications are used to treat secondary DID symptoms and comorbid conditions, not the DID itself. Dissociative identity disorder cannot be corrected by any medication.

Therapy Options for DID Are Not a Cure

There are several treatment options for DID within the scope of therapy, including trauma therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). The recommended minimal time in therapy is five to seven years, but many people with DID find themselves in therapy for the remainder of their lives.

While therapy can help people cope with symptoms, manage day-to-day life, and process past trauma, it is not a cure for DID. No matter which methods of treatment a person decides to use, no method is a cure.

Decades ago, psychologists believed the integration of alters was a cure for DID. Years later, many realized that forced integration was actually making people worse. It wasn't a cure; it was a poorly executed treatment method. Although practices have changed and integration is still an option, it is not a cure.

There's No Cure for My Dissociative Identity Disorder and It's Okay

I had a recent interaction with my therapist in which he stated that there was a cure for my dissociative identity disorder. It wasn't the first time I had heard about a cure for DID, but it was the first time a therapist had told me, personally, that I could be cured.

I realize there are still people out there who think the integration of alters is a cure for DID, but it's not. You can process all of your trauma, and integrate all of your parts, but that doesn't make you cured. Even in recovery, there will always be risk. Your brain will be wired to respond with dissociation. You will still be at increased risk for creating alters if more trauma occurs.

Don't think that integration is the magic cure. Don't follow a treatment just because someone thinks it is the best choice. Be realistic. Do what is best for you. There are many roads that can be taken, but none of them will lead you to a cure.

I know my DID cannot be cured, and I'm okay with that. I'm learning how to be a functional multiple. I'll always have DID, but with therapy and time, it will be easier to manage.

APA Reference
Matulewicz, C. (2018, March 30). There's No Cure for Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2018/03/dissociative-identity-disorder-cannot-be-cured



Author: Crystalie Matulewicz

Crystalie is the founder of PAFPAC, is a published author and the writer of Life Without Hurt. She has a BA in psychology and will soon have an MS in Experimental Psychology, with a focus on trauma. Crystalie manages life with PTSD, DID, major depression, and an eating disorder. You can find Crystalie on FacebookGoogle+, and Twitter.

Matt
September, 25 2019 at 5:06 pm

This is a somewhat misleading article.
Saying DID can't be cured is like saying a person can't change. I had DID and am "cured." All I've done is recover all my memories and consolidate them into one whole and then strip them of the feeling and emotions that accompanied them. I learnt to understand why I previously behaved the way I did and resolved not to do it anymore. It doesn't happen overnight, but that's all it takes.
Most of the therapies used to treat this do more harm than good. The whole concept of "alters" is reinforced or even created by the therapists and then you are expected to integrate them! It's impossible.
DID is a problem with the way memories are processed and stored and also an issue with your consciousness and awareness. The term "alter" is completely misleading. It simply means altered state of consciousness. That's all it is, you are not 2 or more different people.
You just behave differently in certain circumstances, around different people as a coping mechanism. People with DID are essentially chameleons, who change their colour when something triggers it. It's all based on our insecurities and how we think we should behave in any given situation.
The conventional treatment for this condition is equally as ineffective as the treatment for most mental health conditions. All these labels do nothing to help. Instead of giving people these ridiculous labels and telling them they are "ill" the correct approach is to treat every person as an individual with a unique way of behaving based on their own unique life experiences.
Unfortunately, conventional medicine doesn't work like that. I would even suggest that none of these "mental illnesses" actually exist in reality. I didn't have DID - that's just the label I was given. In reality, I am an abused child who had a dreadful upbringing that left with a stack of issues and insecurities and that was reflected in my personality. I spent a lot of time on my own, began talking to myself and it stemmed from there.

October, 1 2019 at 3:39 pm

Thank you, Matt, for being part of our online community and providing feedback. I am glad you have been cured and wish you continued success. It is good to hear you no longer suffer. However, everyone's experience is different and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. We all have to find our own journey to wellness. Best wishes to you.

Matt
October, 8 2019 at 4:14 pm

Your last point is a valid one, which underlines the point I was making, yet this blog tells a very different story and the reality of the mental health system does not fit with your sentiment that people are treated differently.
No one given the "DID" label will never be cured all the time articles like this peddle the myth that it can't be cured. No one is "hardwired" to dissociate. The reality is that abused children remain more suggestible than most and to reinforce the idea that a person has "alters" is incredibly unhelpful. The reason so many people remain in therapy for years and years is largely because of the therapeutic approaches used, which are not only counterproductive, but also dangerous. I would suggest that most people given the DID label will deteriorate as a result of the therapy currently being used by most therapists. The fact their therapy is seemingly never-ending is evidence of that. The correct term is altered state of consciousness. People don't have "alters" or "alternate personalities" - they experience an altered state of consciousness triggered by various circumstances. The fact that so many "DID" sufferers are childhood abuse victims also means they are, at heart, still children who didn't get to make a natural transition from child to adult and are emotionally immature.
A dysfunctional life leads to dysfunctional thinking. In short, that's what DID is. It is not an "illness" and can be reversed with a change of circumstance, stability and the right therapy that doesn't involve "alter maps" and other unhelpful techniques that simply reinforce the idea in the patient's mind that they literally have numerous personalities. DID is just another of these labels mental heath professionals insist on using.
In fact, the entire spectrum of "mental illnesses" is very unhelpful and new labels are created by the mental health profession with increasing regularity. They all blend into one with incredibly similar symptoms. It's little more than a signs-of-the-zodiac approach and is equally as nonsensical as suggesting that all Geminis exhibit the same personality traits and lead the same lives, yet by suggestion alone, that is exactly what can happen. By all means use terms such as psychosis, depression/depressed mood or paranoia to describe clinical symptoms, but to actually create a list of "personality disorders" is not only unhelpful, but also offensive and dangerous given how suggestible many human beings remain throughout their lives. These labels make matters worse, create additional stress and a sense of hopelessness - particularly when accompanied with the chemical imbalance myth. It's a label that says you have an incurable illness that you can't recover from and it defines you.
There are often physical causes of "mental illnesses." Parasitic infections have been found in postmortem brain samples of people suffering from everything from schizophrenia - to Lewy Body Dementia - to Alzheimer's and MS. In many cases there is a very treatable physical cause of cognitive decline that is frequently missed. Even toxicity from living in a damp environment causes cognitive problems, as can Lyme disease, which is another frequently missed infection that affects the entire body and CNS. The mental health system is the worst offender when it comes to attempting to treat symptoms with some very high risk medication rather than addressing underlying causes. How many anti-psychotics and anti-depressants list "psychosis" or "suicidal thoughts" as one of their many side-effects?
I was cured when I left mainstream medicine behind and sought help from a private therapist who doesn't use labels or medications. I took responsibility for my own treatment and worked with a therapist who worked with ME and not DID or any of the other labels I was misdiagnosed with during the ten year period I spent being pumped full of medication that turned me into a psychotic, suicidal and overweight zombie.
Until mental health professionals start treating people as individuals and provide a bespoke service free of labels and one-size-fits-all treatment plans, barely anyone will recover from any kind of emotional or behavioural problems. In the UK, the biggest cause of death in men between 20 and 45-years-old is suicide. That is a catastrophic failing, but one that doesn't surprise me at all.

Sam
December, 25 2019 at 10:23 pm

You are very wrong.
It almost sounds like you are trying to disprove DID all together, to be honest..
Almost like you think it's completely iatrogenic.

Sam
May, 20 2019 at 11:39 am

How do you know that you have DID? How does it manifest in your daily routine? Can you know you have it without being officially diagnosed? Many thanks.

Jenna
January, 31 2019 at 5:34 pm

DID CAN be cured regardless of what this article says.Be careful what you read and what you choose to believe,not everything you read online is truth.
Many people have been cured.Nothing in this article is true at all.I know this because I have been cured.

Firat
April, 25 2019 at 5:58 am

How long did it take you get better and how have you been cured which method was effective on you.. thank you

Aaron
September, 21 2019 at 9:12 pm

I don’t have any symptoms after years of therapy. It takes a while, but it’s possible to be cured in some cases.

October, 1 2019 at 3:11 pm

Thank you, Aaron, for your comment. What fantastic news to hear that you are symptom-free! However, it is important to note that not every person has the same experience and many people are only able to manage their DID.

Sheila
January, 22 2019 at 10:48 pm

Jesus can heal DID

Zane Scott
December, 9 2018 at 11:13 pm

I believe that I have two personalities one being normal and myself but the other seems more selfish and angry like i wanna hurt someone but it only is triggered when I'm at home when someone makes me feel hurt but the other me always hate myself after I blow up on my parents. I don;t feel in control. Is this DiD? Can I fix this?

Shirley J. Davis
September, 11 2018 at 1:25 pm

I needed to weigh in here.
Dissociative identity disorder is a developmental mental health disorder. What that means is the brains of we who live with the disorder have developmental issues. Our amygdalae and hippocampi are smaller than normal and we have problems with our pituitary glands. All of that means memory, emotional, and stability problems. Our brains were structurally changed in childhood from the fight or flight hormones that continually flooded our small bodies and never went back to baseline. There is a lot of research to back this up.
Also, we missed a very important milestone in childhood when it comes to personality consolidation (association). Before the age of 5 children have very pliable and dissociated personalities. You need only to listen to a young child playing alone to hear the disconnectedness. They will speak of themselves in the plural and so on.
Around the age of 5 children this all changes. They consolidate (associate) their personality and pull all their ego states into one cohesive self.
We with DID missed that milestone. We were much too busy surviving and being ready to flee or fight. So we never associated our ego states (our personality). We remained dissociated.
It is absolutely impossible for us to go back and consolidate into a single person. We are forever dissociated.
However, like was said in this article, that does not mean we need to remain in chaos forever. We can learn to move together as one unit and live fairly normal lives. Being a person with DID is not a death sentence nor does it mean no life.
It takes time, devotion and a good therapist to go through the integration stage and work together for the common good of the DID system.
Living with DID is difficult sometimes, but it is my normal. I don't worry about being "like everybody else" nor do I think I'm special. I do not ask for special treatment, and I do not expect it. What I do want is for people to learn more about my disorder and for movie producers to end the intolerable use of DID in their horrid movie plots so that the stigma against folks like me will end.
This was a very insightful and truthful article. I understand there is a lot of fear involved when speaking about integration and a "cure" but there doesn't need to be. Thanks.

Adelle
September, 12 2018 at 2:52 am

I’m sorry if I come off as rude but articles like these are very triggering exactly because they influence people in a way you just described. It is just sad to see some people being convinced that they can’t/shouldn’t integrate because of someone once saying it is bad idea or it is not possible. You live your way, same like the author, which is of course absolutely fine, I just can’t comprehend why anyone would not only choose to basically “stay sick”, when they can heal but would also support others in that. And I know there was used “cure”, which I think looked like I had problem with. My point was that this is simply playing with words which could hurt someone in fatal sense. I am glad you are feeling inspired here of course, that is absolutely great, I’m just saying some individuals could definitely have serious issues because of all these people boycoting integration. Everyone should really do what they feel is best for them, I just feel like when the integration is only natural and possible in many cases, there shouldn’t be people saying that it’s simply nonexistant, because for some the integrating is the way. I hope I didn’t offend your perspective, that is not my intention, it just makes upset in general, especially after seeing my husband’s reacting knowing what he went through and how much of good support system he had and then seeing something like this where all hope is lost and it’s “fine”, that is just worrying to me. I hope you can understand where I’m coming from as well now. Thank you for your time reacting, I really do appreciate it.

Adelle
September, 10 2018 at 3:10 am

I feel really sad for you and I’m worried for everyone believing your ignorant opinions. Instead of looking at biochemical changes in brain, you just state there is no changes and there is no cure, with no valid resources. You are overlooking pretty much all the important aspects of what happens in brain in what stages of traumatic experiences and creation of personalities and why. I understand you may be afraid to integrate yourself, or you are feeling like some other people, who think that DID makes them “special”, but taking hope from everyone by this dumb article is just ridiculous. I’ve let my husband to read this, who has integrated before and is getting better and better in all aspects of his life now and asked him how he would feel if he read this before the integration and he said “I’d probably kill myself”. You need better therapist and psychiatrist if you are at this delusional point and I genuiely hope you can find those instead of pretending publicly that it is normal to stay disordered with DID while it is totally possible to “get rid off” it if you put energy and will into it, rather than into writing dumb articles or books (how could anyone let you put that out!?) . I wish everyone here with DID well and hope you stay strong. Don’t believe everything online, believe yourself and your therapist and psychiatrist. They most likely know what they are doing.

Crystalie
September, 22 2018 at 10:05 pm

Don’t feel sad for me. And please don’t call me ignorant. I’m well-educated and have experience on both sides of mental health. I don’t appreciate you calling my work dumb and questioning my ability to write. My writing has helped more people than I can count right now.
I’ve studied neuroscience. I know what happens in the brain, which is why I know the changes that happen early in childhood that result in DID can never been changed back to the way the brain should have developed. Even with neuroplasticity, a person with DID will never have a neurotrophic always brain. Even integrated, a person with DID will always be at risk of dissociating as soon as another trauma is experienced. That risk never goes away.
I’m not afraid of integrating. I’ve chosen the path that works best for me in the time that I have left. I assure you, I am not delusional. And I assure you, my therapist is actually one of the best in the US regarding dissociative disorders.
Perhaps you are not aware, but the trend in the field is towards functional multiplicity, not towards integration. It’s perfectly okay and healthy to be a functional multiple. There are many successful people with DID who did not integrate. It has nothing to do with being special. It’s whatever works for the person.

Parker K. Ashurst
July, 21 2018 at 7:39 pm

John Bradshaw used to make a distinction between healing and curing. Curing makes the problem go away. Healing makes things better. There are traumas we can't cure but I don't think there are any traumas we can't heal. Turning away from fear and toward acceptance and eventually love seems to be a common path of healing. Stephen Levine remarked "It's just fear." Mindfulness has been a powerful tool for me as has yoga. Really grounding in my body has helped. Good luck to us all.

Shirley J. Davis
September, 11 2018 at 1:27 pm

Yes, Parker, I wholeheartedly agree. While history cannot be changed we can learn to accept the past as the past and move on. To be able to live well with DID one needs to learn to love themselves. That means all the parts in the system. "Turning away from fear" is exactly the correct term! Thank you.

Thomas Ling
July, 17 2018 at 7:15 am

I am very concerned about a condition / SYNDROME. My primary hospital of 18 SAYS I am Bipolar and suffer many mentally ill problems. VS. a second hospital ( mentally ill exclusively) dignosed me after 3 day in there facility I was released on a conclusion that I have CRPS STAGE ll that . To me it sounds like DID? PROBLE. NO DOCTORS KNOW ABOUT OR UNDERSTAND. CRPS

Titus
July, 17 2018 at 1:29 am

I believe there is a cure for everything. Only the cure is not known

Gwen
June, 19 2018 at 3:04 pm

Thanks for your opinion, but this isn’t true. Once all the trauma is cleared and parts are integrated, that is a cure. I mean yes, you’ll always struggle with stuff and no, life will never be perfect (for you or anyone, DID or no DID). I guess I’m a little confused: what do you mean by “cure”? If “cure” means you’ll never have any issues or suffering ever again, and life will become a utopia, agreed there is no cure (for DID or for anything). But if “cure” means integrating parts and clearing the symptoms from the past abuse: absolutely there’s a cure. (Right now I’m doing Lifespan Integration and I’m clearing all the trauma that’s causing present day symptoms. It’s marvelous.) Maybe you should clearify what you’re talking about...

Michael Willis
June, 26 2018 at 7:10 am

Actually your talking about remission. Alot like with cancer there is no cure there is treatment in order to obtain remission if successful. This basically means that you are free of current symptoms and said issue but remission is used instead of cure so as to communicate to the patient that as of present tense it is gone while still letting it be known that whatever illness has the possibility to return and most likely would recommend caution in certain situations depending on what you have been treated for. The word cure states that it's gone, no worries and your good to go. Take life by the horns, Yolo, rock on or whatever cliche live life quote you choose. So no cure should not be used in this disorder unless you can guarantee a did patient that when triggered or stressed that they are going to have the ability to say f' it and nothing affect them but logically thats not going to happen.

Crystalie
June, 26 2018 at 7:48 am

Thanks for your comment, but your confusing a cure for treatment and remission. What I said was the truth. You can be integrated and in remission, but you will always be prone to dissociation because of the DID, more so than a person without. You’re still at risk. So no, it’s not a cure. I think I wrote very clearly.

Barbara Pryor-Smith
June, 12 2018 at 2:41 am

A very helpful read. I am in very close relationship with someone severely affected by this, living a lifetime as caregiver to a cruel parent. We are not physically together. He's in another continent. Most of his huge number of identities are incredibly sweet but he has had a handful that have occasionally shown a rather cruel side to them. Can someone severely afflicted succeed in a relationship such as marriage? Are are dangers inevitable. He is working very hard at striving to control his cruel entities, and in his soul he is simply beautiful.

Robert Flaig
June, 11 2018 at 12:01 pm

Hello, what do you mean by people getting worse by integration?

Crystalie
June, 26 2018 at 7:46 am

People have integrated before they were ready, and it actually caused further dissociation and/or fragmentation, and symptoms worsened. Integration is not anything to rush into. And years ago when we had a lot less knowledge about DID, integration was forced on clients by therapists without regard for what the system wanted to do.

PAMELA S. GUYTON
February, 6 2019 at 1:35 pm

I WAS TOLD IT WAS THE ONLY WAY TO GET BETTER.I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME.I WORKED WITH A COUNSELOR FOE 5 YEARS AT MANY TIMES SHE DIDNT CHARGE ME .WE INTERGRADED MY ALTERS.SHE MOVED UP IN THE FIELD AND GIVE ME OVER TO SOMEONE NEW THAT HAD NO IDEA OF WHO I WAS.I THEN BECAME AWARE THAT SHE DID MORE HARM THEN GOOD .I GIVE UP,I HAD AND STILL HAVE NO IDEA OF WHO I IM I CANT FEEL MUCH AND IM NOTHING OF WHAT I WAS.LIKED ME BEFORE ,IM JUST A SHELL AND CANT FIND ANYTHING TO HOLD ONTO.I WAS IN MY LATE 50S AND NOW IM 68 WHAT DO I DO NOW.THANKS FOR LISTENING

R.S
February, 17 2019 at 10:37 pm

Pamela,
you need to find someone who speciliases in DID, someone who is trustworthy and will help you deal with the harm the others have caused you! don't give up hope, you are not an empty shell...you take a look at yourself you are still somwhere inside of yourself and you will be found and brought back dont give up hope! i may be a stranger but just know that ill be praying for you and i wish you'll be able to be who you once were or at least somewhat like you were!

Mary Donnally
April, 28 2018 at 10:33 am

I’d love to talk with you more about DID

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