Dissociative identity disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder, is a disorder in which an individual has the presence of one or more personality states. These personality states each have their own distinct names, attitudes, identities and self-images within an individual’s conscious awareness. At least two of the personalities take control of the affected person’s behavior. Dissociation is defined as the disruption of the normal integrative process of consciousness, perception, memory and identity, which define selfhood (Pias, 2009). Symptoms of dissociation includes amnesia, depersonalization, identity confusion, age regression, hearing internal voices, and identity alteration (). Dissociative identity disorder is believed to result from the splitting of conscious awareness and control of ones thoughts, feelings, memories and mental components as a response to traumatic experiences that was unacceptable to the individual. It indicates a broken personality with the absence of a clear and comprehensive identity (Pias, 2006).
Dissociative identity disorder has become understood as a complex and chronic posttraumatic psychopathology. Several factors including chronic stress, the inability to separate memories, abnormal psychologic development, and an inadequate protection and nurture during childhood have been identified as causes of DID, but how these factors lead to the development of DID is unclear. In most cases, DID become present in early childhood around age 2.5 to 8 years old, but the issues often arise in early adolescence. Most theories states that DID is a defense mechanism and is often a reaction of severe childhood trauma, often sexual abuse, but may also include physical, emotional abuse and neglect. It is believed that alter egos are formed because of the sense of self failed to develop due to trauma, especially if the trauma occurred before age five. More so, the self is believed to disassociate into separate and distinct personalities in a way to repress the pain associated with the traumatic event.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) the following diagnostic criteria for dissociative identity disorder are the presence of two or more identities or personality states (each reacting to their environment and self in a different way). At least two of these identities take control of the individual’s behavior. The inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness is also needed in order to be diagnosed with DID. Lastly, the disturbance is not due ti the direct physiological efforts of a substance or a general medical condition.
Psychoanalytical theory is most commonly used to understand the causes of dissociative identity disorder. The belief that there was a high level of abuse or trauma in early childhood is significant to the development of dissociative...