A mental health condition, people with dissociative identity disorder (DID) have two or more separate personalities. These identities control a person’s behavior at different times. DID can cause gaps in memory and other problems. Various types of psychotherapy can help people manage the symptoms of DID.
What is dissociative identity disorder (DID)?
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a mental health condition. People with DID have two or more separate identities. These personalities control their behavior at different times. Each identity has its own personal history, traits, likes and dislikes. DID can lead to gaps in memory and hallucinations (believing something is real when it isn’t).
Dissociative identity disorder used to be called multiple personality disorder or split personality disorder.
DID is one of several dissociative disorders. These disorders affect a person’s ability to connect with reality. Other dissociative disorders include:
Depersonalized or derealization disorder, causes a feeling of detachment from your actions.
Dissociative amnesia, or problems remembering information about yourself.
How common is DID?
DID is very rare. The disorder affects between 0.01 and 1% of the population. It can occur at any age. Women are more likely than men to have DID.
What are the signs and symptoms of DID?
A person with DID has two or more distinct identities. The “core” identity is the person’s usual personality. “Alters” are the person’s alternate personalities. Some people with DID have up to 100 alters.
Alters tend to be very different from one another. The identities might have different genders, ethnicities, interests and ways of interacting with their environments.
Other common signs and symptoms of DID can include:
- Drug or alcohol abuse.
- Memory loss.
- Suicidal thoughts or self-harm.
Is there a test for DID?
There isn’t a single test that can diagnose DID. A healthcare provider will review your symptoms and your personal health history. They may perform tests to rule out underlying physical causes for your symptoms, such as head injuries or brain tumours.
Symptoms of DID often show up in childhood, between the ages of 5 and 10. But parents, teachers or healthcare providers may miss the signs. DID might be confused with other behavioural or learning problems common in children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For this reason, DID usually isn’t diagnosed until adulthood.