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Dissociative Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder

About 0.1 to 1% of population all over the world suffers from Dissociative Personality Disorder. Statistics also reveal that about 7% of general population suffer from undiagnosed dissociative disorders.

What Is It?

Dissociative personality disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a mental illness in which a person experiences two identities or personality states. It is a sort of alienation from one’s own body. This mental process produces a lack of connection not only in thoughts but also in memories, feelings, actions and sometimes even sense of identity.


This disorder is characterized by spilt personalities which govern the person’s behaviour. The person fails to recognize himself in mirror and loses the ability to recall key personal information. Other signs and symptoms include:

  1. Experiencing blackouts in which a person is unable to recall how he/she travelled to a place
  2. Forgetting events like birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
  3. Inability to recognize one’s own possessions
  4. Hearing voices inside their heads
  5. Derealisation
  6. Mood swings
  7. Drug and alcohol abuse
  8. Sleep disorders like insomnia
  9. Suicidal tendencies

Types Of Dissociative Disorders

Mental health professionals in America have categorised dissociative disorders in four categories.

Dissociative amnesia or psychogenic amnesia is characterized by loss of personal information. And this is not attributed to any organic disorder. But the key aspect of this type of amnesia is that the individual is aware of the memory loss and this loss is reversible.

Dissociative fugue - It is the inability to recall one’s past while travelling away from home or work place.

Depersonalization disorder – In this type of disorder the person gets the feeling of being watched from outside.

Dissociative identity disorder – It is the most severe form in which a person experiences multiple personalities. However, the personality is just a fragment of a person’s personality. In this type too the person is unable to recall even the basic personal information.


There is no particular test of diagnosing this disorder. Thus, mental health interview is taken by a psychologist or a psychiatrist is the sure and shortest way in which the signs and symptoms, already discussed, are looked for. Questions about the patient’s childhood often prove fruitful in diagnosis. Many people with dissociative disorders also have secondary diagnoses of anxiety and depression


Psychotherapy is the main component of treatment of this disorder. In order to ensure the safety of the individual the treatment focuses on relieving the stressful traits. Medications are suggested for comorbid disorders. However, particular cautions need to be taken while resorting to medication because any effect may cause the individual to feel as if they are being traumatized. Hypnosis is yet another treatment. It increases the control of an individual over his split personality especially during transition stages. In cases where psychotherapy and medications fail, Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used.


Owing to variation of symptoms, dissociative personality disorder does not resolve spontaneously. Patients with primarily dissociative symptoms recover with the help of treatment whereas those with mood swings and eating disorders face a prolonged recovery. Individuals who suffer from loss of memory, somnambulism and changes in identity often commit suicide.

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Dissociative Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder - Dependant Personality Disorder – marked by extensive anxious behaviour, helplessness and the need to be taken care of -

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