Common Myths About Dissociative Identity Disorder Debunked

Often depicted in movies as split personalities, dissociative identity disorder (DID) has gained popularity in the past years but has remained highly misunderstood. It is difficult for a lot of people to wrap their heads around the concept of such fragmented personalities which come as “alters” or different versions of the self.

DID is a condition wherein patients exhibit drastic changes in their behavior, consciousness, emotions, and memory to almost depict a different person or persons altogether. The frightening part is that it happens almost instantaneously and unexpectedly, stripping the patient off of control over themselves.

Here are five myths about dissociative identity disorder, alongside the corresponding facts of each matter:

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DID Is Simply A Fantasy

There are groups of people who believe that DID is a function of the patient’s tendency to fantasize, thereby perpetuating the stigma against DID patients. The truth of the matter is that DID is a product of traumatic and violent actual experiences. As the patient enters into a defensive state of mind, the dissociations serve as coping mechanisms to escape the stress brought about by merely remembering the tragic memories.

DID Is Also Schizophrenia

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While both of them are mental health disorders, schizophrenia is focused on the patient’s difficulty of distinguishing correctly between reality and imagination. It is characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia instead of alternate personalities—which are characteristic of DID. DID patients do not enter into a delusional state as the chemical make-up of their brains is different for people with schizophrenia.

People With DID Are Demon-Possessed

Those who encounter DID for the first time often confuse it with some form of possession by the devil because it seems like an entirely different soul or person takes over the body of the patient. In reality, dissociation involves a detachment from only certain aspects of the patient’s personality which is too painful or difficult to deal with. The “alters,” though different, complement each other into one overall being.

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People With DID Do Not Know Their Alters

While dissociative amnesia and certain memory lapses are symptoms of DID, it is not true that DID patients are completely unaware of their “alters.” Most patients could even talk about their dissociations and identify the differences in their characteristics. Actually, with proper diagnosis and treatment, patients can also develop internal communication between dissociations—a gradual process that would help in the eventual recovery of a person suffering from DID. 

People With DID Live Abnormally

Movies may portray DID to look darker, more challenging to deal with, and even more violent than it actually is because people with DID do live their lives normally. Their days are filled with doing regular jobs, household chores, and family time. Various patients with DID successfully go through and finish their studies, as well as get stable careers after that. People with DID can maintain sustainable relationships with other people too.

Two in every ten people do experience dissociative identity disorder in their lifetimes, and while it may not be as commonly talked about like depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, it is nevertheless an existing reality that affects thousands of people across the globe. It’s time that we stop the stigma and create a safe space for people to overcome their mental challenges.

DID: The Downside Of Being Unique

Source: nationalgeographic.com

 

Dissociative Identity Disorder

 

Most people know dissociative identity disorder more for its older name, multiple personality disorder. However, most people who have heard of it do not believe that it actually exists and that it’s not a true illness. Some even probably think that the stories about DID are so unreal that they think they’re all made up.

 

Unfortunately, there isn’t much research about DID but it is not considered a rare disease. It is as common as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but only that there is little information and studies done about it. DID is real. It is active and it is increasing in number. Though it may not be obvious when someone has a dissociative disorder, they can be diagnosed with their symptoms. They may have accompanying panic attacks, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse. Ultimately, the hallmark of this debilitating illness is the state of dissociation experienced by the individual.

 

Indeed, dissociative disorder is quite a unique disease – unique mainly because of the alters and the web of symptoms and illnesses that overlap within an individual with this condition. And although being unique and different is a good thing, this trait is not at all considered a positive one for a person with DID.

 

What Makes DID Different From Other Illnesses?

 

Source: healthyplace.com

 

  • It is the only disorder that involves having multiple identities formed within an individual with DID. The key point here is dissociation or the individual feeling detached from his own body, a defense mechanism used by the individual to forget the trauma that he or she has suffered in the past. The many fragments of identities have very diverse characteristics, and this causes the main person to feel that he doesn’t know who he really is, and he loses his sense of himself.

 

Some DID individuals are pushed to committing suicide because they become frantic and confused about the ‘voices’ that they hear in their head, the “alters” fighting over each other, attempting to influence their main man to do what they want to do.

 

Reports have shown that a person can have up to 44 different identities!

 

  • People with DID often forget that they did something – not because there is an abnormality in their memory like in the case of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but because they are being forced to not remember the undesirable things that happened to them.

 

A woman with DID describes her experience as terrifying. She was lying on her bed and feeling afraid again because she was imagining the man who abused her when she was a child. She saw the man right in front of her, just at the foot of her bed. She closed her eyes, wished so much that she could escape through her window and out to the backyard. Suddenly, her wish was granted. She was right there, her feet stepping on the wet grass, outside of her house, and she didn’t know how she got there.

 

  • These other identities or alters that the individual has formed are his ‘defenses’ or his go-to helpers who shield him from the pain and anxiety that he would feel whenever he would recall the trauma that he had gone through. He thinks that these identities are what keep him from facing the reality, which is also one reason why these identities become stronger than him. While other people with mental illnesses seek friends for comfort, people with DID find protection through their alters.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Source: goodtherapy.org

 

Among the myths developed by people about dissociative identity disorder, the most false of all is that DID is worsened with treatment. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation stresses that with long-term psychotherapy and other creative approaches, people with DID do recover, and their panic attacks, anxiety, depression and other dissociative symptoms can be resolved. There is hope for improvement and success in their lives, despite their unique downsides.

 

How Does Multiple Personality Present?

types of depression

Should online therapy be used to help someone with multiple personality disorder? It’s often difficult to know how to treat multiple personality as everyone reacts very differently. However, it can often be hard to know when you’re suffering from this condition and it can be hard to spot at times too. More often than not, multiple personality is dismissed and yet it can be life-changing. So, how can you spot the signs of multiple personality?

Continue reading “How Does Multiple Personality Present?” »