Trying to Understand Dissassociative Identity Dissorder

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Trying to Understand Dissassociative Identity Dissorder

Dissociative identity disorder, more commonly known as multiple personality disorder, is one of the most intriguing and least understood of mental disorders. The publication of Sybil in 1973 created a wave of public fascination and, more importantly, professional recognition of childhood physical and sexual abuse as precipitants of the disorder.

Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by the presence of " least two separate ego states, or alters, different modes of being and feeling and acting that exist independently of each other, coming forth and being in control at different times" (Davison and Neale 180). "Each personality is fully integrated and a complex unit with unique memories, behavior patterns, and social relationships that determine the nature of the individual's acts when that personality is dominant" (Breiner 149). While psychologists now recognize childhood abuse as a precipitant of DID, the general public is, for the most part, unaware of the strong, almost universal connection. "The vast majority (as many as 98 to 99%) of DID individuals have documented histories of repetitive, overwhelming, and often life-threatening trauma at a sensitive developmental stage of childhood" (DID (MPD) 2). The two main types of abuse that occur are sexual, involving incest, rape, molestation, and sodomy, and physical, involving beating, burning, cutting, and hanging. Neglect and verbal abuse are also contributing factors. DID is more common among women, probably because females are more frequently subjected to sexual abuse than males.

This disorder is often referred to by professionals as and "emergency defense system" (Alexander, et al. 94),...

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...k of Dissociation. Theoretical, Empirical, and Clinical Perspectives. Plenum Press, New York. 1996.

This book goes into great deal of detail of the facts, treatments, causes, etc. of all the dissociative disorders.

7. Breiner, Sander J. "Multiple Personality." Psychological Reports v76 (April 1995):


This article gives a brief review of the some of the characteristics of dissociative identity disorder.

8. Kluft, et al.. Expressive and Functional Therapies in the Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, 1993.

This book goes into great detail about all of the treatments and therapies that are used with multiple personality disorder.

9. "Dual Personality Disorder." American Family Physician v34 (July 1986): 260

This article briefly discusses a precursor to the switching of alters in DID patients.

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