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Dissociative Identity Disorder - TWO FAMOUS CASES

adolescence personality personalities eve alters

Also referred to as multiple personality disorder, a condition in which a person's identity dissociates, or fragments, creating additional, distinct identities that exist independently of each other within the same person.

Persons suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID) adopt one or more distinct identities which co-exist within one individual. Each personality is distinct from the other in specific ways. For instance, tone of voice and mannerisms will be distinct, as well as posture, vocabulary, and everything else we normally think of as marking a personality. There are cases in which a person will have as many as 100 or more identities, while some people only exhibit the presence of one or two. In either case, the criteria for diagnosis are the same. This disorder was, until the publication of DSMIV, referred to as multiple personality disorder. This name was abandoned for a variety of reasons, one having to do with psychiatric explicitness (it was thought that the name should reflect the dissociative aspect of the disorder).

The DSM-IV lists four criteria for diagnosing someone with dissociative identity disorder. The first being the presence of two or more distinct "identities or personality states." At least two personalities must take control of the person's identity regularly. The person must exhibit aspects of amnesia—that is, he or she forgets routine personal information. And, finally, the condition must not have been caused by "direct physiological effects," such as drug abuse or head trauma.

Persons suffering from DID usually have a main personality that psychiatrists refer to as the "host." This is generally not the person's original personality, but is rather developed along the way. It is usually this personality that seeks psychiatric help. Psychiatrists refer to the other personalities as "alters" and the phase of transition between alters as the "switch." The number of alters in any given case can vary widely and can even vary across gender. That is, men can have female alters and women can have male alters. The physical changes that occur in a switch between alters is one of the most baffling aspects of dissociative identity disorder. People assume whole new physical postures and voices and vocabularies. One study conducted in 1986 found that in 37 percent of patients, alters even demonstrated different handedness from the host.

Statistically, sufferers of DID have an average of 15 identities. The disorder is far more common among females than males (as high as 9-to-1), and the usual age of onset is in early childhood, generally by the age of four. Once established, the disorder will last a lifetime if not treated. New identities can accumulate over time as the person faces new types of situations. For instance, as a sufferer confronts sexuality in adolescence, an identity may emerge that deals exclusively with this aspect of life. There are no reliable figures as to the prevalence of this disorder, although it has begun to be reported with increased frequency over the last several years. People with DID tend to have other severe disorders as well, such as depression, substance abuse, borderline personality disorder and eating disorders, among others.

In nearly every case of DID, horrific instances of physical or sexual child abuse—even torture—was present (one study of 100 DID patients found that 97 had suffered child abuse). It is believed that young children, faced with a routine of torture and neglect, create a fantasy world in order to escape the brutality. In this way, DID is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, and recent thinking in psychiatry has suggested that the two disorders may be linked; some are even beginning to view DID as a severe subtype of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Treatment of dissociative identity disorder is a long and difficult process, and success (the complete integration of identity) is rare. A 1990 study found that of 20 patients studied, only five were successfully treated. Current treatment method involves having DID patients recall the memories of their childhoods. Because these childhood memories are often subconscious, treatment often includes hypnosis to help the patient remember. There is a danger here, however, as sometimes the recovered memories are so traumatic for the patient that they cause more harm.


TWO FAMOUS CASES


The stories of two women with multiple personality disorders have been told both in books and films. A woman with 22 personalities was recounted in 1957 in a major motion picture staring Joanne Woodward and in a book by Corbett Thigpen, both titled the Three Faces of Eve. Twenty years later, in 1977, Caroline Sizemore, the 22nd personality to emerge in "Eve," described her experiences in a book titled I'm Eve. Although the woman known as "Eve" developed a total of 22 personalities, only three could exist at any one time—for a new one to emerge, an existing personality would "die."

The story of Sybil (a pseudonym) was published in 1973 by Flora Rheta Schreiber, who worked closely for a decade with Sybil and her New York psychiatrist Dr. Cornelia B. Wilbur. Sybil's sixteen distinct personalities emerged over a period of 40 years.

Both stories reveal fascinating insights—and raise thought-provoking questions—about the unconscious mind, the interrelationship between remembering and forgetting, and the meaning of personality development. The separate and distinct personalities manifested in these two cases feature unique physical traits and vocational interests. In the study of this disorder, scientists have been able to monitor unique patterns of brainwave activity for the unique multiple personalities.


There is considerable controversy about the nature, and even the existence, of dissociative identity disorder. One cause for the skepticism is the alarming increase in reports of the disorder over the last several decades. Eugene Levitt, a psychologist at the Indiana University School of Medicine, noted in an article published in Insight on the News (1993) that "In 1952 there was no listing for [DID] in the DSM, and there were only a handful of cases in the country. In 1980, the disorder [then known as multiple personality disorder] got its official listing in the DSM, and suddenly thousands of cases are springing up everywhere." Another area of contention is in the whole notion of suppressed memories, a crucial component in DID. Many experts dealing with memory say that it is nearly impossible for anyone to remember things that happened before the age three, the age when much of the abuse supposedly occurred to DID sufferers.

Regardless of the controversy, people diagnosed with this disorder are clearly suffering from some profound disorder. As Helen Friedman, a clinical psychologist in St. Louis told Insight on the News, "When you see it, it's just not fake."

Further Reading

Arbetter, Sandra. "Multiple Personality Disorder: Someone Else Lives Inside of Me." Current Health (2 November 1992): 17.

Mesic, Penelope. "Presence of Minds." Chicago (September 1992): 100.

Sileo, Chi Chi. "Multiple Personalities: The Experts Are Split." Insight on the News (25 October 1993): 18. Sizemore, Chris Costner. I'm Eve. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977.

Sybil [video recording].

Thigpen, Corbett H. The Three Faces of Eve. New York: Popular Library, 1957.

The Three Faces of Eve [videorecording]. Beverly Hills, CA: Fox Video, 1993. Produced and directed from his screenplay by Nunnally Johnson. Originally released as motion picture in 1957.

"When the Body Remembers." Psychology Today (April 1994): 9.

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over 1 year ago

My grandmothers bestfriend had DID, MPD, whatever you prefer to call it. I was a skeptic myself before reading a letter written by this woman and watching the handwriting and style change drastically before my eyes as she switched from one personality to the next within a matter of minutes. Throughout her life this woman had, and I am not exaggerating in any way, at the very least 100 different personalities. She was abused in so many unspeakable ways when she was young she developed one personality after another. Not all of the personalities were friendly, and a few even tried to kill the woman so that they could live on their own. Of course they did not succeed, but it took years of therapy to convince these personalities that they couldn't kill the host without killing themselves. What was so amazing to me was that some of the personalities were actually AWARE of the fact that they were just another personality in one body. One moment you were talking to a grown woman, and the next you were speaking to a five year old boy. Some days she would change personalities so rapidly she would have 6 or 7 cups on the table in front of her because each personality liked to drink something different. Each personality had different talents(one was an artist, another a musician), different clothing styles, even different vocal styles. The woman now, after years of counseling and therapy, has managed to control her disorder and merge the personalities so she now only lives with 4 or 5 within her. As unbelievable as this sounds it was all very real, my grandmother lived with her for years.

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about 3 years ago

I live with someone I love more than the world itself and the sun that shines upon it . DID is a real illness and I am one who works with 28 different personalities on a daily basis . I am however , happy to say that all of them are happy with me and feel safe . I am however at a loss when it comes to really understanding how or why that this mental illness is not more recognized by more DR's . I know for a fact that it is real . I just wish that there were more believers out there .

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over 3 years ago

I personally believe that MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) actually exist. I've read many true life stories and I plan to go to college to be a psychiatrist so I can look into this more, once I graduate from I school. There's no way this can be fake.
Some people have MPD because of something that happened in their past that they really don't remember. Like abuse, trauma, molestation, and rape. It's just like with sex addiction... the reason people have that addiction is because someone raped them, molested them, or they saw the extremely wrong things happen to someone dear to them(Coming from my experience in life). I am blessed not to have MPD because, possibly, I could miss a whole 2yrs of my life while another personality takes over. Not knowing who you married. How'd you have children. Anything like that.
MPD exists and I'm gonna see for myself.

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over 3 years ago

We have the condition DID. This article is farely accurate. We will say though that not all DID's are alike, and it does depend on the amount of trauma and the kind of trauma that a person sufers as to what kind of alters you have and also how many. We have have 33 seperate personalities in our system, some very functional, some not so functional. ranging from ages 2-72 ( the father's age when he died) It is a very hard thing to live with and also very scary. Please do not think that we are scary people. Most of us just fight to stay alive and deal with ourselves and other people. I do know that had it not been for MPD/DID in our life that we would not have survived. It is not a curse, but a blessing. Good consistant, long term counseling is needed, and finding a counselor that will work with this is not easy because it is very time consuming and difficult for them also. Thanks for listening to us.

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4 months ago

I am an 13 year and going methamphetamine abuser, and stumbled upon this DID upon my own inquiries into a presence and or other bodies inside of myself. For sake of ruling out hallucinations and "tripping" the majority of what I type here and the facts I state are noticed and observed thru a sober me. I first introduced a character to myself roughly 5 years ago..calling him J.T. short for Junky Todd. And at first this was strictly used in reference to my addiction when talking with others. Ex: (J.T. cant be trusted with money or Junky is strong, J.T. is really strong.) However as time and my usage progressed as did the livelihood of J.T. I began answering my own questions (whether voiced or said quietly to myself) with J.T. and his own unique voice and gifted speaking mannerisms. . Fast forward to today ..J.T. is asmuch a part of me as I am. J.T. speaks with a high pitched voice, extremely inteintelligent and entertaining. He can freestyle rap better then Lil Wayne and Eminem .. (seriously) He is more capable then I at acrobatic stunts , can climb 150 ft tall trees in a flash and runs uphill & downhills on all fours.(feet and hands) Is argumentative and when challenged or pissed off reminds me alot of a 5 year old. When I am clean..30,60 even 90 days he still pipes in to remind me that we have a habit and are kinda hungry for a shot of methamphetamine. Point is , I admit I entertained the idea of an alter at first with J.T. even encouraged it during high moments. But did I create an alter or simply resurrect the boy I once was taking abuse every which way it can be given. Emotional, physical, sexual. Note:J.t. was spawned during meth psychosis not before hand. He lives...do I suffer with DID or just a meth retard streak?

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over 3 years ago

People who have DID generally speak the language they have known since they learned to speak, but alters can learn a new language without more than one alter learning it at the same time.

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over 3 years ago

This reminds me of this one manga called Othello about a girl with 2 personalities. She also in the beginning had memory loss whenever she is "possesed" but the as the story starts to end her case drifts off the normal symptoms (like she came talk to her other self and switch on command) but this story really is quite similar. I ,myself, find DID mindblowingly creepy (like how big the universe is) but so intruging at the same time.

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5 months ago

This is a very real disorder, I developed 2 alternate personalities (that I know of) due to things that happened in my child hood. It is insulting for people to say that it can't be true, it is not something you could possibly understand unless you experience it for yourself.

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over 3 years ago

Does any one have a case study I can use for my high school project?

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over 3 years ago

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about 3 years ago

The reason why there is "controversy" surrounding DID is because DID is way more common than most people think. Pedophiles/scientists/gov't/elite have been using mind control on unsuspecting people; usually starting around the age of 2 years old. The child is severely abused/raped by their "loving" father/uncle etc...they know that children - especially those that come from a long line of incest/child abuse,have the ability to dissociate. From there the "handler" can program the child with another personality. This also ensures that amnesiac walls are in place to forget the momory. Pedophiles know this and are able to get away with their crimes. The government, military, NASA - you name it -have bases where children are taken to have programming done on them. They are raped, assaulted, electoshocked, deprived of food, water, sleep etc...in order to program them to be used in sex traid, prostitution, drug/arms smuggling, etc...these mind controlled slaves have many personalities that have been created by their handlers. It is no coincidence that most people suffering from DID have reported severe child abuse. The abuse itself is what is used in order to get the child to dissociate and "go over the rainbow to that wonderful place" in order to escape their horrific realities. A famous model named Karen Mulder went on national tv and told the audience that she was repeatedly raped by Prince Albert and the higher ups for Elite Modelling and French politicians. The show never aired it and even went so far as to erase the tapes and swear the audience to secrecy. Karen was placed in a mental facility for 5 months and came out saying she has "connected with her inner child" and said she needed to see the therapist every so often "for a tuneup." She also retracked what she had said about the rapings. Then 2 months later she tried to kill herself by trying to O.D on sleeping pills. Many times people are "reprogrammed" in these institutions. Obviously her memories were leaking out and her internal structure/system was breaking down-thus the programming. So when she said she felt like a child again, it was one of her alters that was currently present. This goes deeper down the rabbit whole if you're willing to look. Look up "Thanks for the Memories" by Brice Taylor. the book is about "the memories of Bob Hope's and Henry Kissinger's mind controlled slave, used as a presidential sex toy and personal file." There is also "Trance Formation of America." Check it out.

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almost 4 years ago

do people with split personality start speaking languages which they havnt even heard before?? -saedie

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6 months ago

Scientific information & treatment guidelines exist on the International Society for Trauma and Dissociation website.

saedie asked about an alter speaking another language, this has been documented a number of time including in one of the oldest cases, as described in a detailed history here
http://dissociative-identity-disorder.net/wiki/History_of_DID

Those claiming DID is some kind of modern, therapist or society-created concept cannot explain the lack of suggestion of this historically, or the long history of severe and repeated child abuse involved, nor can they explain why so many do not improve at all without the dissociative symptoms being tackled. There are no biographies about "I cured DID without help" or "How to heal from DID in 6 months" because that degree of trauma history can't be dealt with so quickly, and medication does little for trauma.

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over 1 year ago

its well-written but it could have been better if the case study would have been mentioned with a little more details.

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over 1 year ago

exillent.............

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about 2 years ago

This article is text book with what my wife has ben diagnost with. It is extremely difficult for her. But I am at a loss as to how to help her. Need some great resources. Any help will be appreciated.

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about 2 years ago

I have enjoyed your site and will be back for more. Ediwn

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almost 3 years ago

I have an 11 year old daughter with this disorder and would love any feedback that an adult with this disorder can give me. Also in an answer to the question about abuse, my daughter was born under the influence of Meth. I got her from the hospital at three days old and adopted her. She has never been abused in any way... They are finding that inutero meth exposure can also cause this disorder.

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almost 3 years ago

thnkxxxxxx...... i hv collectd alt of infoz.. this site is very helpful....

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almost 3 years ago

i have did result of hypnotism (electroshoke)can anyone tell me its treatment

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about 3 years ago

pool

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about 3 years ago

There is another book called "When Rabbit Howls" by the Troops for Trudi Chase. It is an amazing book about a woman who survived horrific abuse but ended up with 96 distinct known personalities. This is something that we need to know more about. Is it also possibly in our genes to develop MPD or does the trauma you suffer have to be so severe that you slip away? Is it only caused by trauma? Why do some people who have had similar experiences don't develop MPD, but yet others do? This is just the way my mind works. Thank you for your site.

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about 3 years ago

is this concept true? i mean that,the patient may be knowing the changes in him no?

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over 3 years ago

I Am Looking Up Information On This,( Dissociative Identity Disorder,) And I Need More Information, If You Could Help Me, Email Me At katieloveyhu4@yahoo.com .. Thank You, && Sorry If There Is Any Inconvenece .

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over 3 years ago

do people that have not experinced trauma or any kind of abuse have did. Can it just develop.

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over 3 years ago

I love and like this. I understood well. thank you

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over 3 years ago

I LIKED THIS ARTICLE VERY MUCH

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over 3 years ago

Its both mysterious and interestig to know that what is completely unimaginable is actually real in almost every corner of the world. Also it provokes in us a feeling of strangeness of the human brain!! the interaction of concious mind wid the unconcious one straightens my goosebumps! i believe it is truly a miracle! YET SCARY!!!!- AISHWARYA B.

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almost 4 years ago

It is so fascinating how people with this disorder create a person to deal with every facet of their life. Further more it is also interesting how they may be scared of one "personality" because they hold the memories, but that "person" is vital to them just the same.