The new name of Multiple Personality Disorder
. Probably the most misrepresented
and least understood
of all mental disorders
, there is currently debate
circles as to whether this is even a real disease
Dissociative Identity Disorder occurs when a person appears to have several distinct, independant personalities, each with its own behaviors and emotions. These personalities may or may not be aware of each others existance.
IT IS NOT SCHIZOPHRENIA.
Although the nature and treatment of DID are highly contentious, it is generally agreed that the disorder is an aftereffect of severe, constant childhood trauma and sexual assault before the age of 9, which has been repressed through dissociation. Dissociation is the process of severing connections between ones thoughts. By dissociating away horrible memories connected to, say, a cheese grater, an abuse victim may be able to live a (more) normal life, and even make trips into a kitchen without recalling painful trauma. Too much dissociation can create gaps in memory, and too many gaps in memory can cause a human's personality to change. If the traumas of everyday life are too great for a child to bear, the child may dissociate completely for a while, as a survival mechanism.
Later on in life, when faced with stress or anguish, an adult that frequently dissociated as a child may dissociate again as a reflex, resulting in a different mental state. If the dissociation occurs often enough, the new mental state may develop a personality of its own. This is usually where the critics start to say "Bullshit".
Aside from the obvious, symptoms of DID include:
- mood swings
- suicide attempts
- sleep disorders
- panic attacks
- alcohol and drug abuse
- eating disorders
DID is cured through various therapies and medications. The idea of the therapy is to get the patient to remember and face their past abuse, as a way of reclaiming the abandoned parts of their psyche. This may include hypnotherapy. The meds are to keep the patient from committing suicide during the process.
Therapists tend to believe that DID is woefully underdiagnosed, and that cases can account for as much as 1% of the general population. Psychiatrists tend to believe that DID is woefully overdiagnosed, and that there are maybe a few real cases in existance, but definitely not more than a hundred or two. They believe that therapists unintentionally project symptoms onto a patient, and sometimes even implant false memories during hypnotherapy. There is even the view of certain fundamentalists, who hold that DID is actually demonic possession. And don't even get me started on the mind control cults.
I suppose the message is this: if you have dissociative identity disorder, trust no one, not even yourself.
Thanks to http://www.religioustolerance.org/mpd_did.htm for a remarkably balanced overview of opinions, http://www.sidran.org/didbr.html for the pro-therapy view, and http://www.psycom.net/mchugh.html for the critical view.