Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): An Overview
Dissociative identity disorder (DID), also known as multiple personality disorder (MPD), affects between .01% to 1% of the general population. However, it is believed that up to 7% percent of the population has slipped under the radar by going undiagnosed.
Four times as many women are diagnosed with DID than men and the average person diagnosed with DID spends 7 years in the mental health system before being rightly diagnosed. Misdiagnosis occurs too often, especially in people struggling with anxiety or depression. Most people with a Dissociative Disorder also have PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
DID is the most debilitating and chronic of the four dissociative disorders listed by the DSM-IV that cause multiple personalities. The other three dissociative disorders are dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, and depersonalization disorder. Of the 297 mental disorders listed by the DSM-IV-TR, DID is one of the most intriguing and controversial disorders known. Click here to watch a man named Tony with 53 different documented personalities.
DID derives its name, in part, from the word dissociation. In the realm of identity disorder, to “dissociate” means to detach oneself from reality to varying degrees or to disconnect or fail to integrate key parts of the self such as a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity.
All of us have “dissociated” to some degree
All of us have “dissociated” to some degree when we day dream or space out. In less severe forms we are “dissociating”, for example, when we avoid the pain from a boring lecture by escaping through fantasizing about other things. “Dissociating” is a defensive coping mechanism of not having to deal with a painful reality. The consequences of day dreaming or zoning out, a mild form of dissociation, are temporary memory loss (i.e. can’t remember what the teacher was lecturing on or wondering how you got from point A to point B while driving).
DID usually results from some kind of trauma that takes place in children younger than nine years of age. Between 97-98% of adults with DID have reported being victims of childhood abuse. DID is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct or split personalities. There have been instances of cases where individuals have manifested more than 100 personalities. On average there are two to four personalities present when the patient is first treated. Later, an average of 13 to 15 personalities can show up over the course of treatment.
The “original person” is known as the “host”, whereas the other personalities are known as “alters”. With dissociative identity disorder, there can be an inability to recall personal information later for the host while the other “alters” are acting out.
The “alters” can take on their own age, sex, race or even appear as an animal. When one personality takes over another personality it is called “switching.” Switching can take seconds to minutes to days.
Purpose of the “alters” or different personalities
Many clinicians theorize that that various personalities “split off” to serve diverse roles in helping the individual survive the traumas they have experienced. I had a counselor tell me that if it wasn’t for a victim’s capacity to dissociate they would die from the mental pain. Dissociating helps a victim survive.
The goal in treating someone with DID is to reintegrate the “alters” back into the original self or into one personality. However, integration of personalities is not always possible. In these situations, the goal is to achieve a harmonious interaction among the personalities that allows more normal functioning.
SRA AND DID
DID is often caused from a specific type of abuse called Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). Satanic abuse is more prevalent than the general population realizes and is highly secretive. In this highly sophisticated and secretive network of members, children are often impregnated through incestuous relationships (often through their father) and forced to sacrifice their child once it is born. There are many documented cases that are too graphic and horrific for the average reader to be able to stomach.
SRA stories first surfaced in the early 1980’s with a book called Michelle Remembers. There is much controversy surrounding the book as to whether the accounts can be verified. However, regardless of the veracity of the book, SRA is real. Thousands of children each year are tortured, locked in cages, sexually assaulted, forced to take part in various satanic rituals, witness animal and baby sacrifices, and are rubbed with the blood and body parts of various murdered babies and even adults.
It is easy for one to understand though how exposure to SRA would mess with a person’s head to the point of developing a separate personality.
Help for DID can be found at www.therapist4me.