What is dissociative identity disorder? How is it treated?

Patients have two or more distinct personalities or identities. The average number of people varies between 5-10. Each of these can dominate a person’s attitudes, behavior, and self-view as if the others were not. The transition from one personality to another tends to be sudden. While in a personality state, patients are amnestic (can’t remember) to other states and events when this personality is dominant. Some personalities may be aware of the existence of others, each personality may have its own set of memories and relationships, and each has its own name or description. Different personalities may have different physiological characteristics (different glasses) and respond differently to psychometric tests (different IQ scores). Time distortions, shifts, and gaps are reported in patients. Periods of behavior not described by the patient are reported to the patient by others. Patients are known by people they do not remember or are called by other names by people. The patient’s personal belongings include writings, drawings, or other objects that the patient does not recognize or own. There are voices that come from within the person and do not seem separate from the person. Headache is common. It is more common in women. There is severe emotional or physical trauma experienced as a child. Severe psychological and physical abuse leads to a deep need to distance the self from fear and pain. Each personality expresses some necessary emotions and states (anger, sexuality, rivalry, ostentatiousness) that the original personality is afraid to express. In treatment, antidepressant and antianxiety drugs can be used alongside psychotherapy.

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