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Dissociative Identity Disorder

About Schizophrenia

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)?

According to Cleveland Clinic

If you have dissociative identity disorder (DID), you have two or more separate personalities that control your behavior at different times. DID, a mental health condition, can cause gaps in memory and other problems. Various types of psychotherapy can help you manage your symptoms.

General Statistics

According to National Library of Medicine + The Recovery Village

  • Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a rare psychiatric disorder diagnosed in about 1.5% of the global population

  • DID was previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder until 1994

  • The average number of personalities in dissociative identity disorder 2 to 4

  • Other dissociative identity disorder facts suggest that about seven percent of the general population may have the disorder, but remain undiagnosed

Dissociative disorders - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology - Osmosis from Elsevier

What are dissociative disorders? Dissociative disorders are when an individual feels as if they're outside they're own body. Find our full video library only on Osmosis:

Articles About Schizophrenia


Dissociative identity disorder is distressing and stigmatized. It’s also a ‘brilliant adaptive coping mechanism’

By Patrick Hruby

"People with the disorder have been portrayed in movies and TV shows as sociopathic, dangerous and the punchline to many a joke. It is none of those things. As one of our experts, psychologist Adrian Fletcher, puts it: “We’re a community that’s been highly exploited and misunderstood.” What DID actually is, she says, is a “brilliant adaptive coping mechanism."



"It's frightening to find out you have 'personalities' in your head and they've been there for years, or there are alters present and you haven't known about them.

Diagnosis, in a way, was having a name for what I perceived to be something 'different' about me. It provided a reason for my behaviour and gave me something to work on. When you know what the problem is then you can work on a solution."

Conquering Each Day with Dissociative Identity Disorder

By Jane Hart

I think the hardest obstacle I have to overcome in my day-to-day life is constantly being pulled in different directions with every decision. It can be very chaotic for me. It’s like having a committee inside my head letting me know how they would handle things if they were “fronting,” or in control. In some ways, my biggest challenge is also one of my greatest strengths—the ability to see everything from multiple perspectives.

The Chemistry Behind Schizophrenia



When compared to the brains of normal controls, DID patients show smaller cortical and subcortical volumes in the hippocampusamygdala, parietal structures involved in perception and personal awareness, and frontal structures involved in movement execution and fear learning. DID patients also show larger white matter tracts that are responsible for information communication between somatosensory association areas, basal ganglia, and the precuneus. These neuroanatomical changes appear to be associated with common DID symptoms such as host dissociation, neurotic defense mechanisms, and overall brain activation/circuitry recruitment...

Specifically, depersonalization has been associated with changes in left amygdala and the left amygdala-hippocampal junction (Irle et al., 2007Vermetten et al., 2006). The majority of current research favors a loss of amygdala volume and function in DID compared to controls. Specifically, depersonalization has been associated with changes in left amygdala and the left amygdala-hippocampal junction (Chalavi et al., 2015bChalavi et al., 2015aIrle et al., 2007). The occipital cortex and insula also appear to be impacted in DID patients, though the implication of this reduction in structure size is not clear at this time."

How Does Treatment Help?


With appropriate treatment, many people are successful in addressing the major symptoms of dissociative identity disorder and improving their ability to function and live a productive, fulfilling life.

Treatment typically involves psychotherapy. Therapy can help people gain control over the dissociative process and symptoms. The goal of therapy is to help integrate the different elements of identity. Therapy may be intense and difficult as it involves remembering and coping with past traumatic experiences. Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy are two commonly used types of therapy. Hypnosis has also been found to be helpful in treatment of dissociative identity disorder.

There are no medications to directly treat the symptoms of dissociative identity disorder. However, medication may be helpful in treating related conditions or symptoms, such as using antidepressants to treat symptoms of depression.

How to Help Someone Struggling


"Try to be patient and understanding in daily life

  • If somebody you care about experiences dissociation, they may not always respond to you as you'd expect.

  • Ask them what would help. But be aware that they may not always know or be able to tell you.

  • If they want to tell you about their experience, try to listen with acceptance.

  • Touching and intimacy can be difficult for some people. It might help to ask them what's OK and talk about this together.

Think about how to deal with identity alteration

  • If they experience identity alteration you may have to communicate with different parts of their identity at different times.

  • You may need to develop different ways of managing when different parts of their identity are taking over. It may help to try and find some way of relating to each part of their identity.

  • Try to stay calm. It will help if you can be a safe and soothing presence, even if they're upset, angry or scared.

Help them to find the right support

You can:

  • Help them find an advocate and support them to meet with different therapists

  • Offer extra support and understanding before and after therapy sessions

  • Help them make a crisis plan if they think it would be helpful

There may be times when you can't offer them the support they need. Think about who's the best person to contact at these times. Have a look at our information on supporting someone to seek help.

Think about how you could help keep them safe

  • Your loved one may have triggers that bring on dissociative symptoms and flashbacks. Understanding their triggers means you can help them avoid them, or feel more prepared for dissociative symptoms when they occur.

  • You may want to offer them support with grounding activities. You could offer to help your loved one figure out what works best for them, and gently remind them to use the techniques they find helpful. 

  • If someone you love is hurting themselves or struggling with suicidal thoughts, it can feel really scary. See our pages on supporting someone who is suicidal, and on supporting someone who's self-harming for more information.

  • There might be times where your loved one needs extra help to stay safe. Talk to them about what situations they might need extra support with, and what you can do to help.

Look after yourself

It's important to make sure you look after yourself, too.

Books That Effectively Portray Dissociative Identity Disorder



Fractured Mind

By Debra Bruch



"Fractured Mind: The Healing of a Person with Dissociative Identity Disorder portrays a person's journey from violence to redemption and healing. It is a heart-wrenching story of horror, pain, acceptance, and hope. Warning: this book is for adults only due to explanations of sexual and physical violence causing dissociation at an early age. Helped by intensive EMDR psychological therapy, Debra's subconscious peels away layer-by-layer, revealing horrific trauma caused by her parents at a very young age. Her damage was so severe, the foundation of her psyche had to be remade."


Recovery is my Best Revenge

by Carolyn Spring


"What is it like to live with dissociative identity disorder? How does the brain respond to chronic, extreme trauma? Is recovery possible from such suffering? In this combined first and second volumes of her collected essays, Carolyn Spring writes candidly from a number of perspectives about her experiences of living with trauma-related dissociation, and her journey of recovery over ten years. Topics covered include such as shame, denial, child sexual abuse, the complex meanings of 'madness' and the multi-layered subjective experience of a dissociative mind."

We are not experts and do not seek to diagnose or act in place of professional psychiatric treatment. We are an organization seeking to raise awareness and shed light on different conditions. If you have concerns or questions about any of the material, please feel free to send us an email or fill out our contact form.
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