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depressed woman lying down

The person who seems to be ever changing, who with little notice appears to be a completely different person, who displays memory loss, delusions, personality changes, disruptive behaviors, and a change in traits, beliefs, and moods might be suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID), a difficult to diagnosis mental illness, more commonly known as multiple personality disorder. Often mistaken for other mental health conditions, or a client’s deliberate deceptions, only 1.5% of the world’s population has been formerly diagnosed with DID. Improving Lives Counseling Services’ team of licensed professional counselors and therapists diagnosis and treat symptoms associated with dissociative disorders.

While “Split”, a movie released in the United States in 2016, has been criticized for its portrayal of multiple personality disorder, the movie brought attention to the condition and its impact on those who experience it. In addition, a Public Television documentary “Busy Inside” highlighted DID featuring a therapist and three of her female clients. Many in the psychiatric community approach DID with caution, however, in 1980, “DID was defined in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as an identity disruption indicated by the presence of two or more distinct personalities.”


Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder, is a mental disorder in which a person experiences multiple distinct identities or personalities, each with their own way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Cleveland Clinic defines it as a mental health condition where people have two or more separate identities controlling a single person’s behavior at different times. They further report each identity has its own personal history, traits, likes and dislikes. Most clients, however, display one dominant (primary or host) personality whom (despite lacking control) is usually aware of the other personalities. Clients diagnosed with DID have two or more personalities.


DID is believed to develop as a coping mechanism in response to severe trauma or abuse, especially during childhood. The person dissociates or separates from their own identity in order to avoid the pain and distress of the traumatic experience. The different identities or personalities can take on different names, ages, gender identities, and even different physical characteristics to escape the traumatic act, its physical pain, mental struggles, and lingering effects.


With an acknowledged relationship to psychological trauma, symptoms of DID include memory lapses, gaps in a sense of self, feeling like one is watching oneself from outside the body, dissociative episodes, and feeling like different parts of oneself are at odds with each other. People with DID may experience other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many clients fail to perform daily activities, display drastic changes in appetite, behavior, and personality disorders, such as compulsive gambling, paranoia, schizophrenia, promiscuity, and suicidality.


The therapists of Improving Lives Counseling Services diagnosis and treat depersonalized or derealization disorder, dissociative amnesia, and dissociative identity disorder. 

Treatment typically involves psychotherapy, such as talk therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy, to help the person integrate their different identities and work through the underlying trauma. DID is a controversial and often misunderstood condition and there is still much research to be done to fully understand its causes and treatment. However, with proper care and support, people with DID can learn to manage their symptoms and live fulfilling lives.

If you, or someone you know, is displaying any symptoms, contact us immediately. Dissociative Identity Disorder can be managed. Your call could save a life.