Multiple Personality Disorder is now referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The new terminology reflects research showing that those with DID do not actually have multiple personalities. Rather, they have two or more personality states with different ways of relating, perceiving, thinking, and remembering. Identity, memory, and consciousness are not integrated into a single multidimensional self.
What is Multiple Personality Disorder?
Multiple Personality Disorder, or Dissociative Identity Disorder, is a dissociative personality disorder. It is often the result of extreme childhood trauma, usually repetitive physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. About 90 percent of DID cases involve a history of abuse. Accidents, natural disasters, and war can also create the severe trauma that is a risk factor for DID. The person dissociates from the traumatic experience as a coping mechanism.
Beyond having different personality states, symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder include nightmares, flashbacks, hearing voices, and experiencing memory gaps. The frequency of Dissociative Identity Disorder is about 1 to 3 percent of the general population, similar to the number of people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Treatment for Dissociative Identity Disorder focuses on reuniting the fragmented personalities within the psyche through long-term psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and creative therapy modalities have been found to be useful for those with DID. Research shows that treatment can help people with DID live functional and fulfilling lives.
Sources: Psych Central, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Psychology Today