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:
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
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.
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.
We all had a moment when we had to make a choice, but most of the time, we already know what we want. However, which one is worse? Is it when we need to discern or is it when we have to deal with the extremes? Dealing with the extreme could be the most challenging thing. It is like being trapped in too much love and hate, grand dreams and huge fears, and they’re all happening in your head all at the same time.
It is like in a relationship, for instance, marriage. You love that person so much, but then, you have also learned to hate him throughout the time you were together. It’s like living with the person you love and hate the most, and your thoughts are bouncing back and forth on whether you are sticking with the positive or negative emotions you are feeling.
Sadly, you can lose yourself along the way, and one of the most unfortunate things that could happen to a person is to grieve for oneself because it is also like giving up and allowing yourself to die in a situation.
3 Ways You Can Lose Yourself In A Relationship:
- Sometimes, fear swallows us whole. We fail to recognize that we only have one life and that holding on to something that poisons our existence is a waste of time. For instance, why do you stay in a toxic relationship? Is it because of the time and emotion you have invested, or is it because you are afraid to hurt the other person that you are willing to sacrifice the risk of losing yourself?
- When you are in an uncertain position, you tend to hope for the best, that things will get better. Sure, it will, but the question is when. You get stuck in uncertainty, and you die inside while waiting. When you are in a bad situation, you owe it to yourself to make it better instead of waiting. You are wasting your time. It’s like choosing between happiness and misery. You know which one to pick, all you need to do is have the courage to decide what you think is best for you.
- When you think and hope that the other person loves you, your desire to be with him blinds you that you don’t mind if he sincerely loves you. It is not enough that someone agrees to be with you. He should be committed, and he should know that there are responsibilities that come with being in a relationship, and a few of those is not to letyou get hurt and to help you grow.
It is a tragic thing to let yourself die emotionally and silently grieve while hoping that one day you will be resurrected. Time is something we cannot take back once lost, so dying while in a relationship is something you do to yourself. Instead of living in misery and blaming your partner for it, get out of the relationship and spare yourself of grieving alive.
To dissociate is to separate – that is what it means according to the dictionary. That is, dissociating is disconnecting from something or someone. In individuals with dissociative disorders, this is their forte. Because they are too hurt to recall the trauma that they have experienced, they separate themselves from the reality and from their own identity. This is a coping mechanism that will later lead to a distorted sense of identity and the feeling of not knowing oneself, or having different selves for that matter.
Meet Anne, the playful. She loves going out when I’m asleep. She has many friends (I don’t actually know most of them) and she loves drinking and going to parties with them. She’s the reason why I can’t go to work on time, because she comes home at 4 in the morning and work starts at 9. But she’s okay. She doesn’t hurt me or anyone I love.
Meet John, the suicidal one. He’s the introvert. He’s just too shy to show himself, even to me. When he’s out, he watches television or listens to music. He’s responsible for the cuts on my wrist. I want to help him but he’s too elusive. I sometimes wake up in the morning finding his knife behind my pillow, and I wonder if there was anything I could do if he decided to end his life – my life.
Meet Alex, the lesbian. She knows I hate loose shirts but she keeps buying them when she goes out to shop. Her girlfriend thinks she’s crazy because she comes and goes anytime she wants, and sometimes she disappears for two weeks! She often brings her girls in the house and I hate it when I wake up and see them in the living room, eating my cereal and drinking my coffee!
And how can I forget George, my protector. He’s my father figure, because I never had one growing up. He’s always warm and very welcoming to friends and family. He loves to cook and take care of the cleaning in the house, so I love it when he shows. Everything smells good! I think he’s the only sane alter I know (relatively speaking).
Lisa the Host
I’m Lisa and I have multiple personality disorder. It’s a type of dissociative identity disorder where a person – like me – forms alters or other personalities to cope with the bad things and memories that she experienced.
I feel that these personalities have been helping me deal with my past, but on the other hand, they also destroy it, by being not me and doing the things that I don’t usually do. Some of them, like John, don’t want to go to work so he tends to make me lazy in the morning. Anne reinforces him by staying up very late when she goes to her friend’s parties.
I have been going to therapy for the past months. My mom says I should because I do need help dealing with my alters – the voices inside me. I also find other ways to help myself. I’m thinking of joining an anonymous chat service that I read from an online therapy community, BetterHelp. They say that sometimes it’s good to vent to a stranger because you can be honest about anything and everything. I think that’s true (but George disagrees).
There are days when I don’t feel like talking to my therapist, simply because I don’t want to. Perhaps that’s how I am. That’s how I can be. I actually have about ten personalities, but I just introduced you to four because the others I can’t really describe. I can tell you – it is difficult keeping up with all of them, but somehow I’ve managed.
I am a living example of someone who is mentally ill but still hopeful for what is called a future. I’m taking medications and it’s been helping me manage my symptoms too. “What kind of future do I have,” I sometimes ask. I don’t really know. I’m just thankful every day that I’m alive and have a family that loves me for what I am (Anne says she loves me too).
Yes, dissociative identity disorder can be cured, but it’s tough. Dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder (MPD), is a condition involving an individual having two or more distinct personalities, which may alter at an unknown time. The two or more different characters have their separate names, preferences, and temperament. Dissociative identity disorder is believed to be caused by severe and continued childhood trauma such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Reports of mass shootings are becoming much common these pasts few years. No matter how gruesome and heartbreaking these shootings are, no definite measures are in place to prevent such occurrence from repeating itself. Extreme pressure on gun control legislation and the call for mental health awareness and on the accessibility of treatments are seen by the general public as a solution to these heinous and senseless crimes. However, experts believe that these tragedies are influenced by complex factors; many of these are still poorly understood. It is considered a myth that mental illness such schizophrenia will lead to mass shootings.
One of the most challenging mental health conditions is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder. To date, there is no medication to treat DID since it is not an organic disorder or a chemical imbalance. Psychiatrists would be prescribing medications to manage mood disorders that accompany DID. This article will provide information on the four most common drugs prescribed for DID and their corresponding medical implications.
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?
- 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.
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.
Dissociative disorders often times resulted from an early trauma that was already repressed in the unconscious mind. When the person experiences severe stress or anxiety later in life, dissociation symptoms appear either as a form of evading the situation or manifesting as effects of trauma from previous years.
Dissociative disorders have a good prognosis when treatment is started early and expert treatment plan is in place. Once diagnosed with the mental health state, there are several treatments that can be utilized. This article will discuss three types of treatment pertinent to dissociative disorders.