Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:
Multiple personality disorder (MPD), now called dissociative identity disorder (DID), is a condition in which two or more distinct identities or personality states exist within the mind and take control of one individual. Once a rare condition, DID has become more common and controversial.
There are many movies, some fictional and others based on true stories, about this fascinating mental condition that makes DID seem more common than it is. In fact, it’s only been diagnosed in only 1.5% of the entire global population.
In 1994, multiple personality disorder was renamed dissociative identity disorder (DID) to reflect a better understanding of the nuances of the condition, namely the fragmentation or splintering of the person’s identity.
The disorder reflects a failure to integrate various aspects of identity, memory and consciousness into a single, multidimensional self. The primary identity carries the individual’s given name and is a passive, dependent and depressed personality.
When each identity is in control, the alter ego or “alters” experience a distinct history and life, characteristically different from the primary identity’s name, age, gender, vocabulary, general knowledge and mood.
Specific stressors will cause particular alters to emerge. Various identities may deny knowledge of, be critical of, or be in open conflict with one another.
DID is believed to develop in childhood, with more severe symptoms occurring over time. It’s like a safety net for the brain to shield a person from facing trauma. Kids who learn to dissociate to endure a traumatic event may continue to use this coping mechanism into adulthood.
The disorder is not caused directly by psychological effects from a substance abuse period, medications or any pre-existing medical conditions. However, some drugs can cause a dissociative-like state, but this is temporary and resolves upon sobriety. For those with dissociative disorders, the feeling is significant and isn’t caused by drugs or alcohol.
Additionally, co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress syndrome commonly appear alongside DID.
People of any ethnicity, gender or social background can develop DID. Children who have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse are at an increased risk of developing DID.
Dissociation is a way of protecting the primary personality from a painful past experience or memory.
Since personal identity is still forming throughout childhood, kids can “step outside” themselves more easily than adults and see trauma as if it’s happening to another person. Because of this, it’s unlikely that DID can develop later in life.
Persons with DID have distinct personality presentations that, when combined and experienced repeatedly, are clear evidence of something that should be looked into by an experienced professional for diagnosis.
Symptoms in children include:
Symptoms of DID in adults include:
A person with DID also experiences a loss of memory that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.
DID is often misdiagnosed and requires multiple assessments before a psychiatrist can arrive at the correct conclusion. This may take some time, which requires patience and diligence.
To be correctly diagnosed with DID, a person must:
The social stigma around DID leads many to feel guilt, shame or depression. This leads to an increased risk of self-harm or suicide. Diagnosis and treatment are essential and can be life-saving.
Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by identity fragmentation rather than entirely separate personalities. People with dissociative identity disorder may feel like they lose time or are left in the dark when another identity “takes over.”
Sometimes they hear the voices of their alternate personalities talking to them even when they are their dominant selves.
When in an altered state, people with DID may practice completely contradictory choices, such as smoking, or contradictory ideas, such as conflicting opinions on the job. Sometimes they may speak with different accents or claim to have other birthdays.
A person with DID often has a “main personality,” which tends to be passive, dependent and depressed. Alternative personalities or “alters” may have completely different ages or genders and present different moods and preferences. Fortunately, it’s rare that one of these fragmented personalities is inherently violent.
Shifts between some personalities may not be significant enough to appear noticeable to others.
The impact DID symptoms have on a person varies depending on the number of their alters, living situation, family dynamics, career and whether they have any other health conditions.
Living with DID can be scary and isolating. Since many people go undiagnosed until adulthood, meaning they could experience years of alarming symptoms. A person’s alternate personalities may not always get along. When an alter takes control, a person could find themself in an unfamiliar location with zero memory of how they got there or what may have happened since their last memory.
This will greatly impact whether a person with DID can successfully remain integrated with society, keep a job and maintain healthy romantic, family or personal relationships. It can cause severe depressive disorder and anxiety or cause a person to seek out dangerous coping mechanisms that can severely degrade a once-normal life.
Avalon Malibu’s experienced staff and therapists practice non-judgmental behavior toward all clients with DID. We always listen to the needs of individuals and develop carefully specialized treatment plans and therapies specifically geared toward healing DID.
People with DID have often been through terrible traumatic incidents in their lives and have trouble trusting others, including therapists. They tend to be very fearful, but our professional therapists are specifically trained to speak to each identity in a way that each different personality can handle. For example, in the case of a child, crayons or paints can be introduced to help the client communicate.
Therapists might suggest that if an alter ego accomplishes a task, a note can be left to communicate with the primary identity. Integration therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and psychodynamic therapy are all used for this condition.
Our staff is committed to helping clients feel safe and cared for throughout their treatment. We impart empathy to ensure clients can trust their therapist and recover from MPD.
With our caring treatment, people with DID show substantial improvements in their quality of life and experience an absolute reduction in other mental health issues.
Avalon Malibu’s Grand House is our primary residence for clients with personality disorders. We’ve incorporated a therapeutic way to refresh and rejuvenate each person as each alter ego transitions into different identities.
Because external hardships can create uncomfortable transitional impacts for clients with personality disorders, we strive to maintain calm external surroundings that support healing inner turmoil. With the tranquil and luxurious features at the Grand House, each client experiences a more calming and less anxious situation.