Abnormal Psychology Dissociative Identity Disorder

Dissociation occurs very frequently with people, as they tend to get caught in their own little word or day dreaming throughout the day. However, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is much more severe where the person is experiencing two or more distinct personality Identities. Dissociative Identity Disorder, which was previously called Multiple Personality Disorder is usually a reaction to past trauma and could occur from a rough childhood (Edwards et al., 2018). Symptoms of this disorder include impulsivity, self-destructive behavior, mood swings, depression, flashbacks and blackouts (Fraser et al. 2014). This Disorder is very uncommon, in fact about .01% to 1% of the general population are known to have it (Edwards et al. 2018). There’s been a lot of controversy of whether this Disorder even exists and what differs it with a similar disorder called Borderline Personality Disorder. The media has used this certain disorder in movies such as Psycho which lead to the TV series Bates Motel; Me Myself and Irene, and recently in the movie Split.

Norman Bates in Psycho and Bates Motel struggled with an abusive father and an overprotective mother. After long-term exposure to these unhealthy behaviors he develops a second personality that would protect him from the dangers of the world. The defense mechanism he uses causes danger to the people around him. Charlie Baileygates in Me Myself and Irene suffered from a terrible break-up and formed an alternative personality that would stand up for him whenever he experienced conflict. Kevin from the movie Split, had an unknown past but has derived 23 personalities and has showed aspects of the disorder that was always questioned in field of psychology. Although these movies are only fiction there has been cases in which people have experienced this disorder. Dissociative Identity Disorder is a controversial topic of whether it is real or fake since it is very closely associated with borderline personality disorder, although evidence shows that they are different as well as that (DID) exists.

There has been a lot of controversy of the difference between Dissociative Identity Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, although both seem very similar there are differences regarding their symptoms and causes. The diagnosis criteria for DID described by the DSM-5 states that its the presence of two or more distinct identities or personalities, each with its own pattern of interpreting and relating to the environment (Salters-Pedneault et al 2018). It also says that amnesia must occur, limiting how much a person can remember about both traumatic events and daily occurrences. According to the DSM, Borderline Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotion, as well as marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts (Salters-Pedneault et al 2018). Symptoms of this disorders also include five of many symptoms. Some of these symptoms are Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by extremes between idealization and devaluation (splitting), identity disturbance, and impulsive behavior in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (Salters-Pedneault et al 2018).

There are similarities in the symptoms such as avoiding abandonment and splitting but in this study conducted by Stephen M, Marmer from the university of California shows certain differences between the two that most people aren’t aware of. BPD and DID are both described as using the defense of splitting, but they describe the splitting in each disorder is fundamentally different from the splitting in the other (Marmer et al. 1994). The study states that BPD uses a polarization form of splitting, whereas DID uses ego splitting or identity division (Marmer et al. 1994). Although both have a process of dissociation, the quality of dissociation in BPD has a low frequency and is spaced out type, whereas DID has a high frequency and involves long dramatic events (Marmer et al. 1994). Although both have experienced past trauma, BPD is actually known to have a larger degree of developmental deficiency (Marmer et al. 1994). BPD are also known to grow up in homes in which expressed aggression is more tolerated and more openly experienced; while DID patients grow up in homes in which aggression is kept a secret (Marmer et al. 1994). In regards to the patients defending themselves BPD patients suffer from the rigid use of too few defenses DID patients suffer from the obsolete use of too many defenses (Marmer et al. 1994). Although there are some similarities between Dissociative Identity Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, there are major differences that split the two.

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a very rare disorder so there have been controversy of whether it is in fact real. There have been cases where DID have been prominent factors in peoples daily lives. Juanita Maxwell was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder.

Juanita Maxwell worked at a motel in Fort Myers, Florida. In 1985, she was charged with the murder of an elderly woman (Myers et al. 2018). Juanita Maxwell had no memory of beating 73-year-old Inez Kelly to death with a lamp. However, Wanda Weston, her alternative personality, remembers the incident and is in fact proud of it (Myers et al. 2018). According to Wanda, Kelly had borrowed her pen, but refused to give it back. Wanda was used as her defense mechanism towards the conflict which led to the killing (Myers et al. 2018). After Maxwell’s alter was discussed during her trial, the judge ruled that she was not guilty due to insanity. Maxwell was then committed to a mental institution.

Former NFL running back Herschel Walker wrote about his struggle managing multiple personalities in his book, Breaking Free (Myers et al. 2018). Walker was an overweight child that had a speech impediment and thought that he first began developing DID as a coping mechanism to his struggles. One of his alters were able to drive his physical ability and his football career while another alter became his public image (Myers et al. 2018). He spent a majority of his life experiencing black out and doesn’t even remember receiving the Heisman Trophy. After Walker retired from football, his different personalities started to become confused and disoriented (Myers et al. 2018). He then fell into depression and at one point he ended up playing Russian Roulette with himself (Myers et al. 2018). This disorder caused him to be angry at times which led to his wife leaving him after an episode resulted in him pointing a gun to her head (Myers et al. 2018). Walker sought psychiatric help and was diagnosed with DID.

Mary was a quiet 30-year-old woman who had many avoidant traits. As do many, she had past trauma that included severe sexual abuse starting at the age of 20 months (Gillig P. et al. 2009). She began to tell the psychiatrist about a crying voice she heard constantly and was confused by the events that were proceeding (Gillig P. et al. 2009). The psychiatrist that diagnosed her, spoke to both alters in an individual session. During their session Mary spoke awfully about her alter, Edith. Edith then took the mantle and started to call Mary a wimp and that she deserves to die (Gillig P. et al. 2009). The psychiatrists and other studies were unsure if she has Dissociative Identity Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder. They concluded that Mary most likely has DID.

Juanita, Herschel, and Mary are few of the many that experience DID, and they all have experienced similar causes and symptoms. All three showed evidence of a dark past and symptoms of the presence of two or more distinct identities or personalities, each with its own pattern of interpreting and relating to certain stresses and situations. All three have experienced some sort of amnesia thus limiting how much a person can remember about both traumatic events and daily occurrences. After experiencing multiple episodes they eventually sought treatment.

The diagnosis criteria for DID described by the DSM-5 states that it’s the presence of two or more distinct identities or personalities, each with its own pattern of interpreting and relating to the environment. It also says that amnesia must occur, limiting how much a person can remember about both traumatic events and daily occurrences. DID is diagnosed nine times more often in females than in males (Edwards M. et al., 2018). Individuals with DID often also suffer from other mental illnesses, including posttraumatic stress disorder, since the past plays such a significant role against the disorder (Edwards M. et al., 2018). Other disorders that could also be present include borderline and other personality disorders, and conversion disorder. Along with many other abnormal disorders, people with DID may have trouble keeping a job and maintaining relationships and are at risk for engaging in drug and alcohol abuse as well as hurting themselves and others (Edwards M. et al., 2018). While interviews by a mental health practitioners can be accurate, there is no specific diagnostic test for DID (Edwards M. et al., 2018). Although there is no specific diagnostic test, there are many suitable treatments that would help an individual with DID. Psychotherapy is one of the most common treatments for DID and usually involves helping individuals improve their relationships with others, preventing crises, and to experience feelings they are not comfortable with having (Edwards M. et al., 2018). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a treatment method that integrates traumatic memories with the patient’s own resources, is being increasingly common in the treatment of people with dissociative identity disorder (Edwards M. et al., 2018). Hypnosis, which isn’t very common, is sometimes helpful with people that have DID. It helps the individual learn more about their personality states in the hope of their gaining better control of those states (Edwards M. et al., 2018). Medication is used with much caution because although it could stabilize certain occurrences it could also lead to the individual to be retraumatized. People tend not to use the sociocognitive model due to treatments that follow from the sociocognitive model could possibly be harmful because they involve ignoring the posttraumatic occurrences of a person with DID (Gleaves et al., 1996).

Everyone experiences Dissociation, whether its day dreaming or zoning out during boring events. However, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is much more severe where the person is experiencing two or more distinct personality Identities. There has been a lot of controversy of the difference between Dissociative Identity Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, although both seem very similar there are differences regarding their symptoms and causes. Differences such as intensity of the dissociation and the types of post traumatic causes. BPD are known to grow up in homes where aggression, while DID patients grow up in homes in which aggression is kept a secret (Marmer et al. 1994). Dissociative Identity Disorder is a very rare disorder so there have been controversy of whether it is in fact real. Cases of Juanita, Herschel, and Mary are few of the many that experience DID, and they all have experienced similar causes and symptoms. All three showed evidence of a dark past and symptoms of the presence of two or more distinct identities or personalities, each with its own pattern of interpreting and relating to certain stresses and situations. Treatments such as Psychotherapy, Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, hypnosis and medication are all known to be useful ways to help people with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

References

  1. Fraser, G. (2014). Book Review: Dissociative Disorder: The Diagnosis and Treatment of Dissociative Identity
  2. Disorder: A Case Study and Contemporary PerspectiveThe Diagnosis and Treatment of Dissociative Identity
  3. Disorder: A Case Study and Contemporary PerspectiveMolineRonald A. Lantham (MD): Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc; 2013. 201 p. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 59(2), pp.115-116.
  4. Gleaves, D. H. (1996). The sociocognitive model of dissociative identity disorder: A reexamination of the evidence. Psychological Bulletin,120(1), 42-59. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.120.1.42
  5. Marmer, S. and Fink, D. (1994). Rethinking the Comparison of Borderline Personality Disorder and Multiple Personality Disorder. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 17(4), pp.743-771.
  6. Myers, C. (2018). 12 Famous Historical Cases Of Dissociative Identity Disorder. [online] Ranker. Available at: https://www.ranker.com/list/famous-cases-of-dissociative-identity-disorder/christopher-myers [Accessed 18 Oct. 2018].
  7. Edwards, M. (2018). Dissociative Identity Disorder Symptoms, Treatment & Causes. [online] MedicineNet. Available at: https://www.medicinenet.com/dissociative_identity_disorder/article.htm [Accessed 18 Oct. 2018].
  8. Gillig P. M. (2009). Dissociative identity disorder: a controversial diagnosis. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), 6(3), 24-9.
  9. Salters-Pedneault, K., & Gans, S. (2018, November 25). Dissociative Identity Disorder Is a Controversial Condition. Retrieved December 6, 2018, from https://www.verywellmind.com/dissociative-identity-disorder-425423