Causes and Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder

If you read this author’s article, “Many Faces within One Self: Dissociative Personality Disorder,” then you already know about the condition of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and an example of what the disorder might look like. This article will address the causes and treatments of DID.

Proposed Causes of Dissociative Identity Disorder

As far as we can tell in the mental health world, when a person is exposed to repeated and unimaginable trauma, the psyche develops an ability to “split off” and not be in the present moment experiencing the traumatic incident. Instead, the person’s mind goes elsewhere to evade the hellacious event. The mind thusly becomes splintered-compartmentalized in how specific feelings and situations are responded to (National Alliance of Mental Illness website).

An individual suffering with Dissociative Identity Disorder, DID appears to have two or more distinctly different sets of thinking, believing, and behaving within herself. She might be quite neat and behave maturely while working but at home, become messy, childlike, and sullen while at home. Sometimes people with DID are unaware they have multiple personas within them. Other times, they are aware of some or all of their “alters” or “identities.”

Movies that Feature Individuals with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder)

If you’re a movie buff, you’ve most likely seen movies like “Sybil,” “Primal Fear,” and “The Three Faces of Eve.” Watching these movies will give you at least a general idea of how difficult it can be for mental health experts to determine a person has DID. When watching these films, keep in mind that certain elements may be sensationalized or inaccurately portrayed for entertainment’s sake.

How Can People Suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder be Treated?

Individual therapy with the person who has DID is the best way to go in terms of treatment. Treatment focuses on assisting the individual in combining or synthesizing all their identities into one cohesive personality (Psychology Today website). Medication is typically not prescribed for DID unless there is another mental disorder also present that can be successfully treated with meds. Such medication must be evaluated often and the person must be closely followed for adverse reactions given the complicated diagnoses.

Although some experts believe those with DID can benefit from group therapy (Psych Central Website), other experts believe the most effective treatment to be one-to-one-therapist and client. Although it’s most likely that you don’t know someone personally who’s suffering from this very rare and debilitating condition, if you suspect it, contact a local mental health expert right away.

To read this author’s discussion of dissociative fugues, click here. See the article, “I Love You, I Hate You” to find out about borderline personality disorder. If you want to know what good mental health looks like, read this article.


National Alliance on Mental Illness website

Professional experience

Psych Central website

Psychology Today website

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