Dissociative Identity Disorder or Multiple Personality Disorder is a disorder where a person forms two or more distinctive personalities. Many people who suffer from this have described the change in personalities as a loss of time and when they return to their original state it is clear that another person had borrowed their body and mind leaving behind a trail of their other personalities being present. And individual’s other personalities, known as alters, can leave behind evidence like a whole new set of friends, allergic reactions that one normally doesn’t have reactions to and the individual may find items like books that don’t interest them, just to name a few.
Famous People who have Dissociative Identity Disorder
Roseanne Barr (Actress), Herschel Walker (Former professional football player) and Adam Duritz (Counting Crows lead singer) are just a few famous individuals who claim to suffer from this disorder. This disorder has also been the subject of movies such as Sybil and The Three Faces of Eve as well as The United of States of Tara which is a series featured on Showtime. Some in the mental health community have questioned if it really exists or if this is yet another excuse for negative behaviors.
DSM IV – Dissociative Disorders Category
Dissociative Identity Disorder, which has also been split personality disorder, is categorized under dissociative disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-IV.)
Based on the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV, the patient must experience two or more separate personality states, at least two of the personalities “recurrently take control of the person’s behavior”, the person is not able to remember mass amounts of information about themselves that cannot be “explained by ordinary forgetfulness,” and “the disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., blackouts or chaotic behavior during Alcohol Intoxication) or a general medical condition (e.g., complex partial seizures)… In children, the symptoms are not attributable to imaginary playmates or other fantasy play.” (Dissociative Identity Disorder, 2010)
Possessed by Demons?
Dissociative Identity Disorder has been around for hundreds of years, but instead of a medical diagnosis, it was thought that people exhibiting multiple personalities were actually possessed by demons.
In 1646, Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim — also known as Paracelsus, who was regarded as the father of toxicology (Paracelsus, 2010) — had reported one of the first known cases of DID which occurred in a woman who claimed that during episodes of amnesia another personality stole her money (A History of Dissociative Identity Disorder, 2009).
As noted in the Handbook for assessment of dissociation: a clinical guide, between the years of 1789 to 1791, Eberhardt Gmelin, a German doctor, coined the term “exchanged personality” to describe a German woman who had an alter which was able to speak perfect French even though the patient had no prior studies of the French language (Steinberg, 1995).
The First Published Case Study
In 1816, Dr. Samuel Latham Mitchel published an article in the Medical Repository describing the first person in America who apparently suffered from DID at nineteen years old. Mary Reynolds was described as very shy and dedicated to her religious studies.
When Mary was 19, she became blind and deaf for approximately five to six weeks and within three months she fell into a deep sleep lasting for approximately 18 hours and when she gained consciousness appeared to be a new person who took “interest in the company of others, loved nature and became witty.”
After holding this personality for about five weeks, she slipped into another long sleep and awoke with her original personality. These change of personalities that she suffered occurred for about thirty one years (History of Dissociative Identity Disorder, 2009).
Dissociative Identity Disorder 2010
History of Dissociative Identity Disorder
Steinberg, M. (1995). Handbook for assessment of dissociation: a clinical guide. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.