April 23, 2023

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a complex psychiatric condition characterized by the fragmentation of a person’s identity into two or more distinct personalities or identities. […]

By Annie Wright|Trauma
Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a complex psychiatric condition characterized by the fragmentation of a person’s identity into two or more distinct personalities or identities. Individuals with DID often experience memory lapses, feel disconnected from themselves and the world around them, and may experience hearing voices or seeing things that others do not. 

Other common symptoms of DID may include:

  • Frequent dissociation or feeling detached from reality
  • Significant memory lapses or gaps, including gaps in recall of significant personal events, people, and places
  • Feeling as though there are different people within oneself, each with their own thoughts, feelings, and personalities
  • Having little to no control over these identity switches
  • Feeling as though one is watching oneself from the outside, or having an out-of-body experience

What causes Dissociative Identity Disorder?

The condition is often associated with early childhood trauma, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, and can be comorbid with other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Coons et al., 2020).

While the causes of DID are not well understood, it is believed to develop as a coping mechanism for individuals who have experienced severe abuse or neglect, allowing them to dissociate from the trauma and create separate personalities to handle it (Brand et al., 2016).

How do you treat Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Effective treatment options for DID include psychotherapy approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. EMDR therapy aims to reprocess traumatic memories and reduce negative emotions and beliefs associated with them, using bilateral stimulation such as eye movements or tapping to promote processing of the memory (Lanius et al., 2010).

Studies have shown promising results for the use of EMDR therapy in the treatment of DID. In a case study of a woman with DID, EMDR therapy was found to be effective in reducing the severity of dissociative symptoms, improving mood, and increasing overall functioning (Sachs & Peterson, 2016). Another study found that EMDR therapy was effective in treating dissociative symptoms, PTSD symptoms, and depression in individuals with DID (Kaplan, 2019).

It is essential to seek professional help if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of DID. With proper treatment and support, individuals with DID can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. While further research is necessary, the available evidence suggests that EMDR therapy can be an effective treatment option for individuals struggling with this condition (Brand et al., 2016).

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of DID, it’s important to seek professional help. With effective treatment, individuals with DID can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. At Evergreen Counseling, our experienced therapists can help you or your loved one learn strategies to manage DID symptoms and improve relationships. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Sources:

  • Brand, B. L., Myrick, A. C., Loewenstein, R. J., Classen, C. C., Lanius, R., McNary, S. W., … & Spiegel, D. (2016). A survey of practices and recommended treatment interventions among expert therapists treating patients with dissociative identity disorder and dissociative disorder not otherwise specified. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 8(1), 23.
  • Coons, P. M., Landsverk, J. A., Milstein, V., & Raskin, M. (2020). Trauma and dissociation in the context of the family: A case study of adolescent DID with comorbid PTSD. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 21(3), 332-347.
  • Kaplan, M. (2019). Treatment of dissociative identity disorder with EMDR therapy. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 13(1), 5-16.
  • Lanius, R. A., Paulsen, S. L., & Corrigan, F. M. (2010). Neurobiology and treatment of traumatic dissociation: Toward an embodied self. Springer Science & Business Media.
  • Sachs, A., & Peterson, T. (2016). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy as a primary treatment for long-term effects of psychological trauma. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 10(3), 133-140.

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