What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?
(previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is the most severe and chronic manifestation of dissociation, characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states that recurrently take control of the individual’s behavior, accompanied by an inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. It is now recognized that these dissociated states are not fully-formed personalities, but rather represent a fragmented sense of identity. The amnesia typically associated with Dissociative Identity Disorder is asymmetrical, with different identity states remembering different aspects of autobiographical information. There is usually a host personality who identifies with the client’s real name. Typically, the host personality is not aware of the presence of other alters (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Fine, 1999; Frey, 2001; Kluft, 1999; Kluft, Steinberg & Spitzer, 1988; Maldonado et al., 2002; Spiegel & Cardeña, 1991; Steinberg et al., 1993). The different personalities may serve distinct roles in coping with problem areas. An average of 2 to 4 personalities/alters are present at diagnosis, with an average of 13 to 15 personalities emerging over the course of treatment (Coons, Bowman & Milstein, 1988; Maldonado et al., 2002). Environmental events usually trigger a sudden shifting from one personality to another (Maldonado et al., 2002).
Information from ISSTD
Now, although that’s a useful explanation of DID, it’s also a little hard to wrap your head around. Perhaps an easier way to think of it is as a bus full of people.
The bus is the body. Whoever’s ‘out’ (present, conscious) is driving. There can be multiple drivers (co-consciousness). There can be a single driver that has other passengers giving directions or making suggestions on where to go. There can be a single driver with all the other passengers passed out in the back.
Different members of our committee can be present, or not, at different times.