Dissociative Identity Disorder / Multiple Personality Disorder
General Description of Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), also known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), is a hotly debated mental illness. As such, its definition and diagnosis is shifting more rapidly over time than many other mental illnesses. Some debate whether it is even real, or perhaps that it may be a variant of other emotional and dissociative conditions such as Borderline Personality Disorder. This is because dissociation behaviors are present in many Borderlines and others subjected to extreme emotional stress and trauma, conditions that are commonly believed to contribute to the development of BPD. A few psychologists even suggest that DID is induced in some patients as a side effect of psychotherapy.
DID’s main feature is that the patient appears to behave as if he or she has more than one distinct personality and that the patient switches between them. This can be accompanied by having distinct sets of memories associated with each personality. The personalities may or may not be aware of each other.
The diagnostic criteria in DSM-IV Dissociative disorders section 300.14 require:
The presence of two or more distinct identity or personality states, each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self.
At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently take control of the person’s behavior.
Inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.
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. A patient history, x-rays, blood tests, and other procedures can be used to eliminate the possibility that symptoms are due to traumatic brain injury, medication, sleep deprivation, or intoxicants, all of which can mimic symptoms of DID.
Diagnosis should be performed by a psychiatrist or psychologist who may use specially designed interviews (such as the SCID-D) and personality assessment tools to evaluate a person for dissociative disorder.