April 2nd. 2014
We all have encountered dissociation in some form or the other in our daily lives. “The essential feature of dissociation is a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity and perception.” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Dissociation occurs in a mild degree when we daydream, drive back home without having any recollection of the journey or lose track of the events taking place around us. However, it becomes a disorder when it becomes habitual and deep-rooted. When this occurs, the affected individual is unable to recall information that is usually in the forefront of consciousness. Although, the Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is the most dramatic, rare and controversial of dissociative disorders in the field of psychopathology, most researchers and practitioners alike associate the cause and development to be the same – post traumatic escapism from one’s personal identity. In this research, the causes, symptoms, treatments and challenges of DID will be elaborated along with answering whether DID can be considered as a genuine disorder or not.
According to the DSM – IV – TR, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, “is a dramatic dissociative disorder in which a patient manifests two or more distinct identities that alternate in some way in taking control of behaviour. There is also an inability to recall important personal information that cannot be explained by ordinary forgetting.” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). DID is a disorder in which normally integrated aspects of memory, identity and consciousness are no longer integrated. (Carson, Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2008)
Each of these identities may have different names, characteristics and background. In majority of the cases, the identity that the individual most likely identifies with as “me” and the one that carries the person’s real name is known as the host identity. It may or may not be the original identity of the individual. The alter identities may be drastically different from each other in terms of age, gender, languages spoken, postures, and even their sexual orientation. The common alters are of a child, a violent person and a person from the opposite gender. These alters can be varied in number ranging from two to a hundred.
The behavior displayed by the alter identity is usually the result of the inhibited needs and behaviour of the host identity. The alter identities usually get displayed at different points in time. The switching of identities takes place extremely rapidly in most cases. These often lead to gaps in memories for the things that have taken place with the other identities in the individuals affected with DID. Switching creates confusion. One client said her experience of the other alters created such noise and confusion in her head that it felt like “popcorn going off in the...