Dissociative Identity Disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV-TR), is “characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states that recurrently take control of the individual’s behavior accompanied by an inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. It is a disorder characterized by identity fragmentation rather than a proliferation of separate personalities.”
To qualify as dissociative identity disorder, also known as D.I.D., at least two personalities must routinely take alternate control of the individual's behavior, and there must be a loss of memory that goes beyond normal forgetfulness. This memory loss is often referred to as "losing time". These symptoms must occur independently of substance abuse or a general medical condition. “Dissociative identity disorder is a rare diagnosis, although people currently with a diagnosis of psychosis may in fact be experiencing what is associated with the disorder. Because of the rarity of the diagnosis, there is much misunderstanding and ignorance among people and mental health professionals. Special attention is given to the reality of coping with the difficulties that dissociative identity disorder creates.”
D.I.D. has been mistaken quite frequently for schizophrenia (also called dementia praecox). Other misdiagnoses include borderline personality disorder, somatization disorder, and panic disorder, and can take 6-7 years, on average, from the first sign to the diagnosis. D.I.D. patients are often frightened by their dissociative experiences and may go to emergency rooms or clinics because they fear they are going insane.
D.I.D. is very rare, it may be because the correct number of people have yet to be diagnosed. Even though it starts from an early age, it generally affects more women than men, with it being diagnosed three to nine times more. A probable cause for this is there are more sexually abused females than there are males.
As specified by (DSM-IV-TR), “Individuals with Dissociative Identity Disorder frequently report having experienced severe physical and sexual abuse, especially during childhood. The disorder may become less manifest as individuals age beyond their late 40’s, but may reemerge during episodes of stress or trauma or with substance abuse.” Some people never realize their children have it because they assume that the child has an imaginary playmate and are unaware of any physical or sexual abuse in the child’s life.
The symptoms of D.I.D., according to (Haines, MD,, 2005), “Changing levels of functioning, from highly effective to nearly disabled, severe headaches or pain in other parts of the body, depersonalization (episodes of feeling disconnected or detached from one's body and thoughts), derealization (perceiving the external environment as unreal), depression or mood swings, unexplained...