Commonly known as multiple personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder is a psychological condition in which the subject exhibits different personality sets - complete with personality specific idiosyncrasies - at different times and not sticking to any one personality for a considerable amount of time. Each of these personalities is a complete identity in itself, an alter ego in Freudian terminology - complete with a set of habits, likes, dislikes, behavior patterns, etc. Now, before we proceed towards discussing various aspects of dissociative identity disorder treatment, let's first get to know this psychological condition better by understanding what causes lead to a person getting multiple personality disorder in the first place and how to identify the physical and emotional signs of this psychological issue in a subject.
Dissociative Identity Disorder Causes
Tremendous mental or emotional stress, traumatic experiences, physical and emotional abuse - these are cited as the primary causes of dissociative identity disorder based upon intense research and clinical case studies. Most subjects who are diagnosed with this condition are those individuals who have a history of childhood trauma and abuse including abandonment issues, sexual and psychological abuse, witnessing or experiencing instances, whether isolated or repeated, of extreme trauma and violence. Also, many subjects have the ability to completely or partially disrupt the normal integration of certain memories or experiences with his/ her psychological functions an end up developing multiple characters to justify and project the presence of these memories or experiences in the conscious realm.
This type of dissociation is often a way of the subconscious mind to help the subject cope with the stress of the situation. This so-called justification is a subconscious process which is why most of the time the various multiple personalities are not aware of each other's existence. Even if they are aware, they do not realize that they are manifestations of the mind of a single individual and that they have no material existence, that they can only be projected through behavior, speech and opinions but they do not have any physical body.
Dissociative Identity Disorder Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of a psychological abnormality that subjects suffering from DID exhibit vary greatly from person to person. Also, there is tremendous fluctuation of symptoms in a single subject over a given stretch of time.
However, here is a list of indications that are exhibited by DID patients in various proportions and in different combinations:-
- Unnecessary paranoia and unexplained phobias
- Random bursts of temper
- Sudden flashes of memory pertaining to the traumatic past
- Loss or distortion of a sense of time and reality
- Presence of one or more psychological disorders at the same time
- Altered perceptions
- Frequent anxiety attacks or panic fits
- Loss of memory
- Schizophrenia like symptoms such as disorientation of thoughts and emotional unresponsiveness
- Other psychological disorders such as eating disorders, personality disorders, etc.
- Exhibition of different mannerisms and thought patterns that may even be conflicting inter se
- Hearing voices inside one's head and habitually talking to oneself
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Frequent complaints of unexplainable headaches and experiencing random black-out phases for no apparent reason
Treatment of this psychological condition involves a combination of medication, counseling and therapy. Medication is usually prescribed to control various symptoms such as panic attacks and to ease the indications of stress and depression. The main focus is on psychotherapy. The primary aim lies in dispelling the existence of separate identities by combining them with and reconnecting them to a single personality.
For this purpose, besides standard psychotherapy, help of various behavior therapies and behavioral conditioning may also be taken to supplement the treatment and guide the multiple personalities to converge into a single identity. Psychological counseling is extremely important to help the subject cope with the effects of abuse and trauma in order to be able to let the conscious mind cope with the situation rather than allow the subconscious into tricking the subject to believe that everything is fine. This just worsens the situation because the subject may go into denial to survive emotional and social pressures and banishing the traumatic memories and experiences from the conscious mind. The subconscious mind, however, copes by venting the stress out in the form of personality disorders.
The crux of dissociative identity disorder treatment lies in digging out the malevolent roots of this psychological condition which are often in the form of repressed unpleasant memories and disgusting experiences from the deep recesses of the subconscious mind. Hypnotherapy is often resorted to for such an investigative process but its efficacy is highly debated. After the cause is identified, the therapy is designed around this to be able to properly tap into the emotions surrounding this cause in order to condition the behavior and manage the disorder in the best possible way so that the subject can return to living a normal life.