There's No Cure for Dissociative Identity Disorder

Friday, 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.

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.

View all posts by Crystalie Matulewicz.

There's No Cure for Dissociative Identity Disorder

Mary Donnally
says:
April, 28 2018 at 10:33 am

I’d love to talk with you more about DID

Robert Flaig
says:
June, 11 2018 at 12:01 pm

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

Crystalie
says:
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.

Barbara Pryor-Smith
says:
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.

Gwen
says:
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
says:
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
says:
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.

Titus
says:
July, 17 2018 at 1:29 am

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

Thomas Ling
says:
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

Parker K. Ashurst
says:
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
says:
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.

Adelle
says:
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
says:
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.

Shirley J. Davis
says:
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
says:
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.

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