Dissociative Identity Disorder By Ashton Ball and Jenna McGraw

What is it?

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a disorder in which a person has two or more personalities. Each personality is able to take control of the conscious, mostly acting as a coping mechanism under stressful situations. Identity is therefore fragmented and memory loss can result from the constant change of personality. Brain functions commonly have irregularities. The brain's volume with DID is often lesser than a healthy brain, especially affecting the hippocampus, where memories are formed (poor memories are often a cause of the disorder and a loss in memory is an effect).



Common symptoms of DID always include having two or more personality states. Other things that become noticeable include frequent behavioral changes, changes in motor function, memory gaps or periods of amnesia, impairment of social functions, and hearing voices. Often, certain identities emerge under different states of stress, used as a coping mechanism against specific circumstances. Those with DID also feel as though they are losing their personal identities and often carry other mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.



One of the most common causes of dissociative disorder is childhood abuse. This can include mental, physical, and sexual abuse. This abuse can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder amongst other mental issues that can use varying personas to cope with poor situations and memories. DID is more common in close relatives than in the general population. Cultural beliefs can even have an effect in stemming the disorder. Oppression, religion, and region are a few factors that may influence DID.


Controversy in Causes

Some people feel that dissociative disorder can be prompted by therapy. Therapists often try to bring out the different personalities, and because the disorder has been questioned on its viability, they are blamed for stemming new personalities in the patient.


There is no absolute cure for dissociative disorder, but long-term psychotherapy is used to attempt to take apart or unite the different personalities. Prescription drugs such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and even tranquilizers are sometimes used to subdue the identities.


Other interesting facts

  • DID occurs in .01% to 1% of the general population.
  • The popular movie "Split" recently released, depicting a man with dissociative disorder kidnapping girls for his newly emerging personality.
  • One of the most famous cases of this disorder is that of Billy Milligan, who kidnapped and raped three women near Ohio State University in 1977. He went to trial and was found not guilty by reason of insanity for DID. He was the first person to be acquitted for this reason.

Works cited

"Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 24 Feb. 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

"Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

Manton, Sean. "Boston University Arts & Sciences Writing Program." Disorganized Attachment and the Orbitofrontal Cortex as the Basis for the Development of Dissociative Identity Disorder » Writing Program » Boston University. Boston University Arts and Sciences, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

"NAMI." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

Tracy, Natasha. "Dissociative Identity Disorder." HealthyPlace. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.


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