25 Important Things To Know About Multiple Personality Disorder

Posted by , Updated on February 2, 2017

There’s a lot of sensationalism around mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Sociopathy, Depression, and Split or Multiple Personality Disorder. There’s also a lot of bad assumptions and just bad information. The fact that the media and Hollywood latch onto any tragedy related to someone having a mental illness doesn’t do much to shape public opinion in a positive way either. So on today’s list, we are going to specifically explore the mental illness known as Dissociative Identity Disorder or Multiple Personality Disorder in order to help dispel some of the fog of fear surrounding this particular illness. So get ready, because these are 25 Important Things To Know About Multiple Personality Disorder.

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The correct medical term for Split Personality Disorder or Multiple Personality Disorder is Dissociative Identity Disorder. It is a chronic condition and can last for years or be lifelong.

Dr_Jekyll_and_Mr_Hyde_poster_edit2Source: http://www.healthyplace.com/

Some terms related to DID include The Core (the original personality one is born with) and Alters (personalities beyond the core); Alter States, Selves or Parts are also used for additional personalities. Switching or To Switch is to go from one personality to another,

AltersSource:http://www.healthyplace.com/ Image Source: pixabay.com (public domain)

The first studied case of DID was studied by Frenchman Pierre Janet, and the patient was a 45-year-old French woman in 1883 with three separate and distinct personalities. Her first personality was not aware of the others, but her second and third personalities were both aware of the first; they didn't care for her

Edouard_Manet_A_Bar_at_the_FoliesSource: http://www.legiontheory.com/ Image Source: en.wikipedia.org (public domain: author's life + 100 yrs)

DID can happen in any race, nationality, or age, but it's most common in American children.

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Nearly everyone experiences what's called mild dissociation, such a daydreaming, getting lost in a moment, or your mind wandering. DID is a significantly more severe form of dissociation that the person can not "snap out of."

Alice_in_wonderland_1951Source: http://www.webmd.com/ Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org (public domain: published between 1923 & 1977)


When it comes to the sexes, there's actually significant differences between men and women. Women frequently present with more acute DID symptoms and are more likely to experience amnesia or other non-violent symptoms, yet men are more likely to have more violent behavior and deny symptoms or a history of abuse.

manandwomanSource: https://www.nami.org/ Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org (public domain via author)

Often caused by trauma or abuse occurring at less than nine years of age, 97% of DID patients have reported abuse, including extreme neglect and emotional abuse, as well as physical and sexual abuse. Which is a nice way of saying that often multiple personalities are a result of innocent children living with monsters in human skin.

neglectSource:http://www.healthyplace.com/ Image Source: pixabay.com (public domain)

The age at which abuse starts in a person's life can predict how severe their DID may become. Generally, the earlier abuse starts in someone's life, the greater the degree of disassociation.

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Patients with Disassociative Identity Disorder have often reported chronic suicidal feelings and attempts, with different personalities sometimes reporting different numbers of attempts. (If you, or someone you know, or someone else who is a roommate in your head ever feels suicidal, please call the national suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255, and if picking up a phone seems too much, you can visit crisischat.org to chat with someone online.)

LifelinelogoSource: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov Image Source: en.wikipedia.org (public domain)

Suicide is no joke. Many people suffer with thoughts about killing themselves. For more info on the topic, check out our list of 25 Sad Reasons We Should All Be More Informed About Suicide.


Despite DID patients experiencing decreased libido and inability to uh..enjoy adult relations to their fullest, sexual promiscuity is frequent among patients with DID, which makes sense when you think about it because everyone has needs, even when a few people are sharing the same body. It's kind of nice of them to take turns if all the personalities don't have the same preferences.

besafekidsSource: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov Image Source: pixabay.com (public domain)

There is no cure or medication for disassociative identity disorder; however, therapy can prove helpful over time. Other symptoms or disorders that often occur with DID can be treated, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

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Therapies that may prove helpful for those with DID include: Hypnotherapy, Talk Therapy, and other therapies such as Art or Movement. Usually each personality is treated, rather than subsequent personalities being seen as roadblocks or something to overcome. Everyone gets invited to the party, or no one gets invited to the party. Part of therapy is treating the person and their personalities as a whole being.

art-therapySource: http://www.webmd.com/ Image Source: pixabay.com (public domain)

It can take a long time to properly diagnose people who have dissociative identity disorder. Some estimates say that people with dissociative disorders spend seven years or more in mental health care before an accurate diagnosis. SEVEN YEARS after someone is brave enough to take steps to get help, before a diagnosis.

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People who have DID often have issues trusting others and issues surrounding rejection. When you think about the fact that most DID is the result of a history of abuse, and the weird stigma society has around mental illness, this makes sense and is very sad. It can also make it difficult for patients to seek treatment or find a therapist they trust.

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Personality switches tend to happen when a person with DID feels there is a threat of some kind, usually emotional or psychological or social, allowing a personality better equipped to handle the situation or threat to emerge.

switchesSource: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov Image Source: pixabay.com (public domain)

In order for a diagnosis of DID, a patient must have two or more separate identities/personalities and some form of Amnesia that includes gaps in every day events. The disorder must cause distress and trouble functioning in one or more major areas of life; this disturbance or difficulty must not be cultural or religious, and symptoms cannot be due to direct effects of a substance such as alcohol or recreational drugs or a general medical condition.

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In 1990, a man name Mark Peterson had (consensual) sex with a woman in his car after a date. (bad idea #1. Your car, really? A lady deserves better.) He knew she had multiple personalities as she had started showing him some of her 21 personalities during dinner. A few days after the date, the man was arrested because not all of the woman's personalities - including one claiming to be a six year old girl - had consented to the sexual encounter. 19 of her personalities had consented and two had not. He was arrested because of a law stating it is illegal to knowingly have sex with someone who is mentally ill and can't give consent; however, the verdict was overturned a month later. The woman's personalities had increased from 21 to 46 by the time the verdict was overturned.

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If someone you know confides in you they have multiple personalities, be supportive. Don't make them feel ashamed, be there if they need you. Ask questions if they're comfortable with it. If possible (or requested), help them avoid things that trigger switching. If a personality that doesn't know you, or that you don't know presents, be polite and introduce yourself.

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Patients with DID often have gaps in memory of personal information, memory of everyday things like running errands, as well as past traumas that led to their condition.

people-vintage-photo-memoriesSource: https://www.nami.org/ Image Source: www.pexels.com (public domain)

A woman in London named Kim Nobel lives with at least 100 different personalities, including some men and children. Yet she takes care of her teenage daughter and dogs, and well maintains her apartment and life. She has written an autobiography titled, "All of Me: How I Learned to Live with the Many Personalities Sharing My Body" that was published in 2012.

all of meSource: https://www.theguardian.com

Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Disassociative Identity Disorder are sometimes confused or used interchangeably, but they're very different Mental Illnesses. Schizophrenia's main and most well known symptoms are hallucinations and delusions. Bipolar Disorder is also known as Manic Depression and is characterized by intense mood swings and other symptoms of depression. People with Schizophrenia and Bipolar don't have multiple personalities.

Cloth_embroidered_by_a_schizophrenia_suffererSource: http://www.webmd.com/

People who live with Dissociative Disorders often have to take special precautions just to live and function normally in life because they have to take care of several people at once. Things like having toys available if they have a child alter so they have something to play with, or keeping a GPS in the car in case of switching so that there's a reminder of where they are and where they're going, keeping journals of medications and what they're doing to help orient themselves after switching or a bout of amnesia. It's a lot of WORK to have a Dissociative Disorder and function. If you know someone who has DID, and they need a hug or some help, give it, gladly, and feel honored that they trust you and deem you dependable enough to ask for help.

journal and penSource: https://servngu.wordpress.com/ Image Source: www.pexels.com (public domain)

Rosanne Barr, American Emmy awarding winning actress, comedian, and one time presidential candidate, claims to have seven difference personalities, and that they all have different signatures.

Roseanne_barrSource: http://reprints.longform.org/the-multitudes-of-roseanne-barr

There's a stigma - often supported by Hollywood and horror movies, as well as an ill-informed society - that people with Multiple Personalities are dangerous. Like myths surrounding many mental illnesses, this isn't necessarily true. Look, a dozen people sharing one body doesn't mean any of them are going to be a murderer or rapist. Is it possible? Sure, but having Multiple Personalities doesn't automatically mean you're evil. In fact, people with DID are far more likely to hurt themselves than others.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder is about as common as BiPolar Disorder and Schizophrenia (meaning 1% to 3% of people), making it more common than most people realize. It's also, often, far more subtle and not always obvious when someone had DID. Despite what Hollywood and the media tell us, it can be subtle and look like other problems that go along with DID - substance abuse, depression, eating disorders, etc.

crowdSource: https://psychcentral.com Image Source: www.pexels.com (public domain)

SEE ALSO: 25 Normal Things The Bible Forbids But We Still Do »

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