What is split personality?


Split personality is a term that is not used in the psychiatric field. The correct term is "dissociative personality disorder." DID, like other types of dissociative disorders, includes symptoms that interfere with a person's mental functioning.

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What is dissociative personality disorder (DID)?

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a condition characterized by the presence of two or more different personality states in a person. Each of these personality states can have a unique name and characteristics, including a different voice, gender, and a variety of gestures.

This mental health condition, formerly called multiple personality disorder, is one of the dissociative disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Using the correct term

Multiple personality disorder is not a term used in the psychiatric field. Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is the correct term.


The main symptom of DID is the presence of two or more different identities or personality states, sometimes known as "alters." Personality change occurs involuntarily and is described as undesirable, causing severe suffering or impairment in a person with DID.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Feelings of detachment or detachment.
  • Feeling outside of your own body
  • Inability to remember certain events, people or moments.
  • Inability to recall childhood memories or personal history.
  • Thoughts of self harm or suicide


As with other mental disorders, the doctor makes a diagnosis of DID according to the criteria defined in the latest edition of the DSM.

To assess the patient's symptoms, a detailed history is taken and the symptoms are compared to criteria that must be present to support a specific diagnosis of DID. These criteria include:

  • An identity violation occurs that involves two or more different personality states. The signs and symptoms of the disorder can be seen by other people or reported by a person with symptoms.
  • Memory gaps constantly arise due to forgetting personal information, everyday events and / or traumatic events from the past.
  • The person experiences severe stress or performance problems, for example at work or in the community, as a result of symptoms such as memory loss.
  • The symptoms are not part of cultural, spiritual or religious practices associated with altered states of consciousness.
  • Symptoms are not the result of substance use or health conditions.

Wrong diagnosis

The symptoms of DID can be mistaken for delusions or hallucinations and mistaken for a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.


Although a history of experiencing a traumatic event is not required as part of the DSM-5 criteria for a diagnosis of DID, trauma is almost always associated with the disorder.

In fact, some studies report that around 90% of DID cases are associated with a history of trauma. Trauma can include:

  • Serious emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Natural disaster (such as a tornado or earthquake)
  • Wars
  • Significant loss early in life (such as the loss of a parent)
  • Long periods of isolation at an early age (eg, social isolation that occurs during a prolonged illness)

DRI is often the result of child abuse.

Watch out

While there is no specific type of medication to treat DID, medications can be helpful in controlling mood, anxiety, and other co-occurring symptoms.

The main treatment of DID involves the use of several therapeutic approaches. Some of the ways or techniques that have been shown to be effective include:

  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can help people with DID process their emotions and control their symptoms. The goal of psychotherapy is to combine the individual states of the individual in a more holistic sense of self.
  • Behavioral therapy: Two methods of behavior therapy that have proven successful for people with DID are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These techniques focus on a person's thoughts and behavior, as well as managing anxious and overwhelming affects (feelings, emotions, or mood).
  • Hypnosis: Instead of detecting repressed memories in people with DID (as hypnosis is historically known), hypnosis can be used to alleviate symptoms such as memories of PTSD or PTSD.

Risk factor's

Due to the high suicide rate among people with DID, monitoring for signs and symptoms of an increased risk of suicide is part of an effective treatment plan. More than 70% of people diagnosed with DID who received outpatient treatment attempted suicide.

Front facing

Many non-medical coping strategies have been reported to help people with DID. This includes:

  • Work to overcome guilt – Remember that any trauma in the past is not your fault. Also, having a mental health diagnosis is not the result of what you have done to deserve the condition. Psychotherapy and support groups can help you deal with undeserved feelings of guilt.
  • Do your research. Gaining information about your disorder can help you make treatment decisions, such as whether to try hypnosis, whether you will benefit more from group or individual therapy, or both, and much more.
  • Learning techniques to calm yourself – This will help you deal with bothersome thoughts and other symptoms on your own. Take advantage of the many therapies (such as CBT and DPT) that teach these practical and effective tools to alleviate symptoms.
  • Create a Calm Environment – Work to clean up clutter in your home, office, or other areas by practicing tools to improve interpersonal relationships with friends, colleagues, and family members.
  • Plan Ahead and Stay Organized: With a condition like DID, it's vital to keep track of things like when to take your medications and plan for an unforeseen period of amnesia.
  • Build a support network: having a good support system is essential to cope with mental illnesses such as DID; It is best to have a wide variety of people in your network that you feel comfortable with, such as family members, close friends, and healthcare providers.

Find support

If you are a family member of someone with DID and do not have a support group, you can visit the NAMI National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Family Support Group page . Click on a state name in the drop-down menu to find personal support groups in or near your area.

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