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Dissociative Identity Disorder

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Biology 202
1998 Second Web Reports
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Dissociative Identity Disorder

Rachel Kaplan

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is considered by the American Psychiatric Association to be one of 4 main kinds of dissociative disorders (DSM-IV): "The essential feature of dissociative disorders is a disturbance or alteration in the normally integrative functions of identity, memory, or consciousness" (8). If identity is the main function affected, the person is said to have DID.

Most non-DID people have one identity comprised of many parts that work harmoniously together. They have only one I-function which consists of a conglomeration of thoughts and feelings formed from connections between many different brain areas. People with MPD, however, have a decentralized, internal network of 2 or more I- functions or "alters," each with its own physiology, behavior, and cognitions.

Dissociation often enables victims to maintain a relatively healthy level of functioning because traumatic memories are disconnected from other information in their minds. A multiple presents her view of DID: "We do not SUFFER FROM MPD. We SURVIVE because of MPD" (6). Living with this disorder is often an extremely lonely, confusing experience. Luckily, there has been much success in treating this disorder thanks to the extensive research conducted into DID etiology.

The etiology may be explained by the diathesis-stress model. There appears to be a biological component given the fact that most people with DID have a family history of the disorder. It has also been found that people who are easily hypnotized are more susceptible to DID (5). The stress is known to come from severe physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse at a developmentally sensitive stage in childhood (3).

When a person experiences extreme stress "endogenous, stress-responsive neurohormones, such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine (NE), vasopressin, oxytocin and endogenous opioids" are released (10). These substances induce glucose release and activate the immune system, enabling the organism to effectively deal with the stress. Chronic stress, however, such as repeated sexual abuse, decreases the effectiveness of this system. It has been hypothesized that when the system is bombarded with chronic stress, there is a malfunction in the negative feedback loop which goes from the neurohormones back to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. As a result, the system begins operating in positive feedback mode; increased cortisol release, for example, leads to increased cortisol production. The desensitization of the system causes the person to have an intense stress reaction in the presence of even the smallest trigger. Abnormalities in the limbic system have also been implicated in this condition.

This desensitized state exacerbates the dissociative process. In order to survive extreme stress, many children psychologically separate "thoughts, feelings, memories, and perceptions of traumatic experiences" (2). This coping method becomes increasingly ingrained the more frequent the abuse. The resulting highly conditioned, hypersensitive survival technique leads to impaired functioning. A person with a young child as one of his alters might bring out that child whenever there is even the slightest threat of an anxiety-provoking situation. In this way, if a traumatic event occurs, the pain gets isolated to one faction, a storage space, of the overall personality.

Memories from traumatic experiences are encoded in a unique way. Pierre Janet has suggested that the emotional impact of the trauma prevents the victim from translating the experience into the words and symbols which would be stored in the semantic memory. Instead, the experience gets stored in a "somatosensory or iconic level" form which makes for vivid and accurate recall (10). For example, 4-5 months after witnessing a murder, subjects showed excellent recall for details about the event (Cutshall 1989) (11). Neuroimaging studies have shown that during the stimulation of traumatic memories, there is decreased activity in Broca's area, the part of the brain most concerned with the translation of experience into words, and increased activity in the right hemisphere areas, parts which are involved in the processing of emotional and visual information. (Rauch et al., 1995) (11). A person with DID has stored these emotional and visual representations of traumatic incidents in a whole identity that is as stunted as the memories themselves.

Storage in semantic memory is easier on the ego because experiences are tempered through their translation. Also, because semantic memory integrates input into existing mental schemata, the information is subject to learning effects (10). When recalled, these memories are subject to distortion because of their emergence in a new context. There is debate, however, about whether traumatic memories can ever be changed. It has been found that with time sensorimotor and iconic memories tend to become restored as words and symbols which can be processed in connection with existing mental schemes (10). LeDoux, on the other hand, has postulated that "once formed, the subcortical traces of the conditioned fear response are indelible, and that 'emotional memory may be forever'" (10). LeDoux's theory does not bode well for the ability of trauma victims to unload their burdensome memories. There is definitive evidence, at least, that memories may be recovered.

Research has shown that memory retrieval is "state dependent (10): "physiological arousal in general can trigger trauma-related memories, while, conversely, trauma-related memories precipitate generalized physiological arousal (10). This phenomenon might explain why the presence of a trigger for a traumatic memory may induce a "switching" of alters. The memory may induce a stress reaction which would ultimately produce a different physiological state. It seems possible, given that alters have been shown to have different physiologies, that a specific physiological state might correspond with a specific alter. The concept of corollary discharge may be used to explain why the actions of one alter may affect the mind-set of others despite the psychological separation of these entities.

People with DID are reluctant to integrate their separate identities because they use them to cope; however, patients' quality of life has been shown to increase following treatment. Therapy should involve a nursing, medical, and primary therapist component. Therapists may direct patients to increase the strength of the entire system through increased internal communication and cooperation, the build up of ego strength, and the increased taking of responsibility for internal actions (7). It is very important that the patient gain a sense of control over his current cognitions and past memories. The multiple may gain control by recognizing the abused child's thoughts and feelings and by altering negative self-images (8). It is also vital that both the therapist and the patient show equal respect to all the alters.

Hypnotherapy and nonverbal therapy are commonly used in the treatment of DID. Hypnotherapy is commonly used in treating DID because of its facilitation of memory retrieval, "calming, soothing, containment, and ego strengthening" qualities (4). It can be used to increase communication between the alters and between the alters and the therapist. This method may also help in "fusion rituals (when previous psychotherapeutic work has cause a particular separateness to no longer serve a meaningful function for the patient's intrapsychic and environmental adaptation and when the patient is no longer narcissistically invested in maintaining the particular separateness)" (4). This is interesting because it indicates that a patient's pride might serve as an obstacle to his convalescence. The danger to hypnotherapy is that it may cause a patient to believe in a fantasy which he creates while under hypnosis.

Nonverbal treatment methods such as art and play therapy have also been proven useful in treating DID. Art therapy seems to be a freer expression of thoughts and feelings than verbal methods. The right side of the brain is more involved with creativity and the imagination; whereas, the left side is more concerned with language. Stimulating the right hemisphere might bring up "sensorimotor and iconic" memories more readily than if the person needed to filter input through the left hemisphere (10).

In general, most people respond fairly well to treatment depending on their baseline comorbidity (9). It has been shown that 60% of patients who undergo treatment maintain stable integration, which is defined by Kluft as "3 stable months of continuity of contemporary memory, with the absence of behaviorally evident separate identities (9).

DID research raises a lot of questions about the nature of the I-function. What are the implications of its being able to be fragmented? Perhaps the other I-functions, or separate identities, are merely different centers of connections with some of the same and some of their own links to other brain areas. Maybe the mechanism of the "fusion rituals" during hypnosis involves the solidification of links between the most dominant I-function and the alters such that when one is activated, the whole system becomes activated. Another possibility is that everyone possesses different centers of connections and somehow after repeated dissociation episodes, some people's links become severed.

Findings from DID research may be helpful for DID and non-DID sufferers alike. Research into this area has shed a lot of light into what kinds of cognitions lead to healthy functioning, among the most important of which are the need for a sense of control and self-love and respect. The research also highlights the interconnectedness of the mind and body: the fact that the psychological has a very real affect on the physiological and vice versa.


Works Cited

1) Re: Multiple Personality Disorders "NOSSCR Online"

2) The Effects of DID on Children of Trauma Survivors "Sidran"

3) Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder) "Sidran"

4) Guidelines for Treatment "ISSD"

5) About Multiple Personality Disorder and Dissociation

6) Shelters From the Storm

7) Clinical Case Study #2: "Hardscrabble Communications"

8) An Overview of Diagnosis and Treatment

9) Two-Year Follow-Up of Inpatients With Dissociative Identity Disorder

10) The Body Keeps the Score: Memory and the evolving psychobiology of post traumatic stress

11) Dissociation and the Fragmentary Nature of Traumatic memories: Overview and Exploratory Study



Continuing conversation
(to contribute your own observations/thoughts, write Serendip)

11/28/2005, from a Reader on the Web

Excellent resource about the topic.

Additional comments made prior to 2007
Hey, I am doing a paper on Multiple Personality Disorder a.k.a (DID) and I had a few questions to ask.

1) What are some of the day-to-day concerns or issues people with the disorder face or people they live with face.

2) also, what are the percentage of cases in the U.S. of the people who have this disorder ... Evan Norrgard, 8 May 2006



I was diagnosed with DID. I see alot of pictures and visuals in my mind. I take these and work with what I see. If I see a house that has has a storm come throught I talk to myself and the alters about the storm. I also talk to THe Holy Spirit and see his help. I will ask the parts if they want to come an be integrated into me. They ususally do after some talk. I always feel relieve after such a talk.


I function well and work and enjoy a full life now, But I know there is more for me and I want travel the world and experience more goodness in life.


A hard part of this is that my mother and sisters do not except that anything traumatic ever happened to me and talk as though nothing ever happened. It is really strange.


Thank you for you imput. I wish I could come for some treatment, however I do not think that your prices are within my price range ... Lena, 3 December 2006



I suffer with DID and now after years of therapy, I seem to be going backward instead opf forward. There are so many stressors in my life right now I cant cope...any suggestions to help? ... Sam, 28 April 2007


Caitlin's picture

Help with research paper

I'm currently writing a research paper for my Com 101 class. I'm arguing for the existence of DID but i need sources that discredit it too. I'm having a very difficult time finding credible sources for the other side of my argument and was wondering if anyone knew of any? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Sherri's picture

Sorry I haven't come across

Sorry I haven't come across sources to discredit DID, probably because I've never looked for one. I think someone wrote a book discrediting the book Sybil. Maybe the author included sources??? Good luck on your paper.

NemoLeana's picture

Needing a friend

I was diagnosed with D.I.D 3 years ago. I am a 21 year old female. I have been trying to find a sort of "buddy"... I know that sounds weird... that I can relate to. Someone who has D.I.D.

I would like to maybe exchange stories. I know that living with D.I.D can feel lonely... the irony. I am just the only person around me who understand what I am going through and it would be great if that could change. My email is

Serendip Visitor's picture

anyone interested in did aka

anyone interested in did aka mpd can find alot of info on our site dedicated to finding a cure at

Serendip Visitor's picture


Hi, im currently completing a diploma in mental health and i have an assignment on DID.
This site was helpful and i was wondering if you could answer some questions about DID.

How does the disorder affect all aspects of the individuals life
Common coping mechanisms that people with this disorder adopt
How the disorder affects the individuals family, carers and support network
The stigma and social barriers these individuals might experience
Treatment options for these individuals


Chasityann's picture


hi, i am an 8th grader and me and a friend are doing a project on Dissociative Identity Disorder, this website really helped us and i was wondering if we could possibly get peoples account of what they went through with this disorder, and what happened, feelings they had, and stuff like that, but it would really help and we are really curious about what the people going through it feel, and what things they deal dont have to but it would really help us, so please consider it, it would really mean a lot. if your interested or can please email me at thank you

Timothy's picture

Hey. I woul like to help. I'm

Hey. I woul like to help. I'm a sixth grader with DID. If u wanna talk or something, my email is don't give it to anyone though that'd mean a lot. Lol srry. Paranoia. Side effect of DID

Serendip Visitor's picture

DID is an interesting disorder

DID is an interesting disorder, i mean the intereting part about it is a person can have more than one Alter, and that just amazes me!!! Your stories about yourselves with DID and people who don't have it, but have seen it, amaze me. Kyler i hop you find a therapy to help, same for you Sam, your stories are very interesting, Reply if you agree, I hope we find a cure for DID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kyler's picture


I feel too young to be able to have DID. I feel like sixteen years old is too young.

But I know I'm not crazy.

I don’t remember anything from before my 11th year alive. I think I’m the host though; that this is my body, because I’m the one mostly in control. But my childhood never existed to me. I remember songs that I connect, but only because my alters’ thoughts run amuck with my own. But my childhood never existed.

I know I was bullied. I still am.

But something was too bad that it created them.

And I was scared of my first alter in the beginning.

She is rude and mean and she abused me from a young age. I don’t know why though.

The other is really quiet and shy and apologetic.

I only have them two. Only those two.

But my first alter is the most apparent. She said she lived my childhood, until I moved. She said that my other one took over then and when I was 11, I was finally allowed to enter the world as my own.

I could speak and read. Sometimes Mak, who was my first alter, would let me sit beside her and we would… well, she taught me how to read.

I would watch my body move and even now, if I’m not careful when they’re awake, they take over.

I was so scared; so terrified; my therapist told me that she wants to get me observed for it.

The worst part though is that whenever Mak gets mad enough, she takes over part of my body, while I still own it, and she makes me write things that I’d never write.

I’m a trans* man who is abused by his mother for being pansexual and trans*. And I know that’s what brought them back. I know it is. I know it is.

I just don’t want to be officially diagnosed. Because I know that as soon it happens: everything will break loose and I’ll lose control.

I’m scared. I’m sixteen and I’m so scared.

Timothy's picture

I know how you feel

I don't know if I have DID. Whenever I run into certain situations or people, it's like one part shuts down and another part takes over, and *boom* I'm a completely different person. It scares me, because sometimes, really little things set me off, and I go in this crazy rage thing where I'm really sadistic and I hurt people and myself. I don't want that, because I'm Christian, and I try really hard to be nice and kind. A lot of people think I'm gay and I'm a wimp because I walk away from fights, and my parents were always very strict. I'm only twelve, and I've been bullied as long as I can remember. It's gotten better, but I'm still bullied, and I'm terrified of what will happen when I get I'm high school. I'm too scared to tell my parents, and even if I do, they'll probably tell me to shake it off and refuse to send me to a therapist. Sometimes I go into long periods of depression or act like a robot, with no thinking, just doing. I have a severe case of memory loss. I can't remember anything, especially when they occurred in my other personalities. Again, I haven't seen a therapist, so idk if I officially have it. Your situation, though, sounds much worse. I'll keep you in my prayers. I really hope you get better, Kyler

Tylas Raine's picture

What a Great Article!

This is so detailed. I loved everything about it!

CL's picture


I am an 18 year old female. Today, my sister got extremely mad at me for "hitting her and telling her to leave me alone" when I would usually never do that and don't remember doing it. Then, when we were playing cards later, I was shuffling and my sister was like "What are you talking about?" and when I asked her what she meant, she said I asked her what her name was at least 5 times. There were other people who saw me do these things too, so she wasn't making it up. I have been extremely moody lately and under alot of stress. Could these things be early signs of DID or just a result of stress?

renon's picture

Mind Control

À lot of psychiatrists like Colin Ross think that DID is caused by the CIA for mind control purposes. Others think it can only be caused by satanic ritual abuse (like Valerie Sinason in England).

Are there any DID sufferers out there who think they are under mind control and are being manipulated into doing things whilst their alters are in control? It it essential that you were a satanic ritual abuse victim to have developed DID? Some posters describe moments of huge stress, like losing a relative. Is that a valid reason when so many books are clear in saying it can only be caused by ritual abuse or the CIA? Or have these kind of books just overblown the satanic/CIA stuff and DID can be caused by events that can happen to anyone at anytime?

(Not a DID sufferer but in college had a friend who reckoned she was satanically-abused by her family but her other sisters and brothers I met said it all the stories were made up by a therapist).

Cal Durham's picture

mind control

I have DID and was obviously sexually abused as a small child. I'm split personality. I'm a homophobic heteralsexual guy that has an alter named Suzann within. She was created by sex and seems to only exist for sex. I've gone from 'normal guy' to horny she male all of my life, even at 9 years old. I've attracted the intrest of many people but definately not their approval. I have had many signs of hypnosis induction the past 2 years. I KNOW my mind is being controled by some other source besides me or Suzann. By no means totally controlled. This happens while sober and especially during my occaisonal meth use. The sychosis of meth makes it feel much more real for Suzann - she resides in a masculine body. For the first time in my life I've had blackouts and it seems very suspicous when I come back around. I still wonder exactly what I did during these blackouts. Could it be a freak show for somebodies websight? I've even suspected the people I get the dope from are lacing it with something. By the way, I used meth for 28 years and know the high very well and kicked addiction 20 years ago. It makes Suzi purr like a kitten! Oops, the subject was mind control and I very much believe it is happening to me.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I had a bad therapist that

I had a bad therapist that tried the same stuff.
DID can be caused by any traumatic experience.
Imagine witnessing your father or mother brutally murdered in front of you.
I had a traumatic experience that was not CIA or Satanic.
I may have DID. Way to long a story to tell here but I promise you
there are much more traumatic experiences in the world than just CIA
& Satanists. I have read about that stuff so I can figure myself out.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Wants to help...

Hello, first of all I would just like to say well done for being ablle to talk about all this, I hope you get some relief from it.

I have a friend with DID, and often on stayovers (we both volunnteer as 'experts by experience' for a mental health charity) she switches. I'm just wondering what you think the best way for me to help her through those switches is?

So far the alters I have witnessed have been willing to hold a covnersation with me, or at least communicate with me through some form. Should I simply be there for my friend and her alters? Or is there something more I should do?


Destiney's picture


Though I am clearly not a therapist I am almost sure that my little brother Jesse has DID. Because I have never really dealt with a situation like this before I am not extremly sure what to do about it. I have done loads and loads of research about DID but still I am unsure of the best solution for my little brother. He clearly needs help but I dont want him shipped off to the phyc ward either. He has cut himself, attempted to hurt me and others, and switches back and forth between his real self and his alter "Six". His alter is very abusive, threatening, self-destructuve, and unlike the real Jesse. Please give me advice on what I should do!

Johnny/Jack's picture

gratitude for "Six"

I have DID. Although it may seem completely counterintuitive, I think someone, perhaps you, needs to show some gratitude to Six for trying in the only way he knows how to protect the body he inhabits. Talk to Six and ask him to hold off hurting Jesse while you try your best to help Six. Ask him what he'd like to see happen or change. Ask him what behaviors in Jesse he'd like to see change. Remember that if your brother has DID, it seems likely that Six suffered some horrific abuse, while Jesse may not have. Both the personalities are your brother, although Six may not see it that way and there's no use pressing that point now. Show concern for this angry, hurt alter, and don't overtly favor Jesse over him. I once had an alter that seemed destructive but was in fact justifiably angry with me for being so oblivious of an abusing father that I would constantly allow myself to be alone with my father, leading to my angry alter's repeated abuse.

Emily/ Ebony's picture


Hi. my name(s) is/are Emilie and Ebony.
depending on how older your brother is, what i find helps is writing. i want to be a novelist and i have created DID in myself by writing in first person of an alternate me.
i made her a different world that suited her actions and rationalized them.
she is self-destructive as well.
maybe, encourage Jesse to create an alternate world for Six.
hope i helped.

Lia's picture

Journalist interested in hearing your story

Hi there,

I'm an independent journalist and I'm currently working on a story for a mainstream magazine about DID. I'm in the process of compiling the personal stories of individuals with DID.

I'm interested in the ways in which people came to be diagnosed, their treatment (if chosen) and the results of that treatment, as well as the effects of DID on everyday life and living. If anyone posting to this site would be interested in sharing their story with me, I would be honored to listen.

I am particularly interested in hearing from people in Canada, but would be grateful to hear from people in U.S. or overseas as well.

I can be reached at

Thank you,

L. Grainger

Leah's picture


I am 42 yrs old and recently dignosed with DID. I have started treatment and it seems that all hell has broke loose in my life since. I dare not go into the details of it all but to say the least I would not wish this on my worst enemy. I have lost more than I have gained and even my realtionships are on the verge of collapsing. I find I feel more and more alone in this quest to mental wholeness.
I have dissociative amnisea when my alters appear and they seem to get me into quite abit of trouble. Not all of them but some. So far in total there are 18 and who knows who will come out next.
There is no one in my area that has this, no support groups to lean on so I find myself isolating more and more each day. This is the biggest battle of my life as I have 3 harmful alters that cause many problems and trips to the local mental health hospital. I recently was approved for disabilty which at this point is a good thing as I could not imagin having to work under my current condition.
I am suppose to start school in the fall and it scares me to death wondering how I am going to pull it off and keep my grades up.

I wish there was someone real to talk to.


friend's picture

hang in there i had someone

hang in there

i had someone try to diagnose me at age 26, but none of us were ready or willing to deal with it...but affter age 30 it happened and like you say "all hell broke lose"...its like awakening the wish you never started the process of healing...for me , when pandoras box opened, for about 3 months it was like sheer panic and terror every minute of everday...i went to the hospital ER a few times and had to be medicated...i was lucky i had people around me that could handle me freaking out and having panic attacks because i had about 3-6 a day...the pain and confusion is like nothing you can ever imagine....u really feel like you are going insane...but guess what you aren't

its actually a good sign that you're experiencing this///it means you're ready to start healing....

i actually cried out to God for help and found this website and there is even a support group you can join///the website alone helped me so much...i still have many bad days...but i am healing and getting stronger and things are getting better///they will for you too!!!

you CAN HAVE peace, peace like you've never known

tk care

Lia's picture

Would like to hear your story

Hi Leah,

It sounds like you are going through a very challenging time right now. I'm an independent health and medical journalist and am currently writing about DID. I'm currently in the process of collecting stories of diagnosis, treatment, and the ways in which those with DID manage their everyday lives. I would be honored if you would be willing to share your story with me. Please feel free to contact me at

Thank you in advance for sharing as much as you already have.


Serendip Visitor's picture

Hi Leah, I understand. I'm

Hi Leah,
I understand. I'm looking for a forum where we can exchange thoughts and ideas as a group. This spot doesn't seem to get that much traffic. I'll let you know what I find.

 Elaine's picture


It is not unusual for someone to feel more out of control after diagnosis. There is so many changes in feeling and awareness at that time. Using Blogs like this one is a good way to find support. May I also suggest you check out Faith You may also find it listed on the internet under "Blooming Lotus." There is lots of support and information there.

I don't know what area you live in, but it is likely you can find some kind of support. The blogs are really good, but having people you can related to one-on-one is important too. You may not find a group for DID, but you can possibly benefit from group work on other related symptoms- i.e. depression, anxiety, etc. Of course I know group work can feel very intimidating to people with DID because of potentially switching while in group, and knowing that other people don't understand. Since you say you are in treatment, I assume you have found a therapist. Make sure it is a therapist who really understands how to work with this. Your therapist can probably also refer you to more resources in your area. MOST OF ALL, know that you are OK. You found a very creative way to survive some hard things in your life. The alters are parts of you that have all served a purpose to help you survive and manage what might otherwise have killed you. They are your protectors in any number of ways. The problem is that some of their modes of protection may have become outdated, and they are sort of "stuck" in another time. Plus now that you have been diagnosed, it like their "cover has been blown." That is alarming for them too. Everyone is adjusting. If you are just starting this journey then it probably will be a long one, but trying not to be afraid of the other parts of you so that you can find ways to work together. I realize I am saying too much when I don't know the specifics of your situation, but I just want to say that you can find your way to being functional again, so as much as possible, don't panic. Make sure you have a therapist who understands these issues, and get connected to people you can talk with. Again, I highly suggest Faith Allen's blogsite. People from all over the world with DID participate, and she herself is in her own healing process.

Serendip Visitor's picture


Thanks for this, I found it quite helpful :)- Blooming Lotus that is :D

Serendip Visitor's picture

Awesome website! Thank you so

Awesome website! Thank you so much

marisa's picture


Hello, my name is Marisa. I am a 28 year old woman in Iowa. I am a psychology student in college. I am most interested in working with those who have DID when I finish school. I would like to make friends with persons with DID, so if you have DID or symptoms, please email me with your stories. thank you so much

NemoLeana's picture

Still interested in making friends?

If you are still interested in making friends with someone who had this disorder I would be interested in helping you.
I am 21 years old and I have D.I.D.

ruth's picture


i generally dont like talking w ppl. i doubt i,d b useful. i am in beginning of my 4th yr w my therapist. im not the host. maybe sharing w u, a stranger not in person, it could help me. if ur still interested, let me knpw.will this b private

Serendip Visitor's picture

I think I have DID

I am a 15 year old girl, and I think that I have DID.
I've been trying for nearly a year now to find out why I'm constantly depressed and extremely Bi-polar.
It started in the middle of my eighth grade year, which was last year. I would have extreme mood swings and I wouldn't be able to control my emotions. My mother thought it was Hypoglycemic. So, I tried a diet suited for that kind of issue, and it helped for a while. I was still pretty certain that I was bi-polar. Then, at the end of the eighth grade year, my older brother died. He was my only sibling, and he was seven years older than me. So, after he died, I had to take care of my parents. I pretty much adopted a way of living that wouldn't let me breakdown. I only cried that night and at the funeral. That way of living stayed around for three months, and during those three months I was just trying to be strong for my parents. Also in those months I found a guy that I really liked. At first, it was fun and exciting, but near the end of the summer all he wanted was my body, and that's definitely not what I wanted. So, in my mind, what he did was practically rape. At the end of the three months and the end of our 'relationship' I broke down completely and I couldn't sleep, I wouldn't eat and I became severely depressed, though I didn't tell anyone, especially my parents.
Now, I'm starting to realize that I'm not just depressed or bi-polar. I've found that I can't remember things, that my mind if just making up stuff to fill my memory. It's scary.
I have cut, I've deprived myself of food, I've found that I can't even remember the conversations that I had one minute ago, because the conversation had changed moods and I'd let another personality take the place of the previous one. I haven't felt in control of my self for months, so I've just learned to live with that. I constantly change mood(personalities), depending on the situation and the people, and the personalities never let me be who I would really like to be. When I wake up in the morning to go to school, it's like I didn't live the day before. It's like it was just a story read to me, something that I hadn't really lived through. When I switch, my body acts differently. I can get colder or warmer, I can have headaches or I can feel sick and frustrated.
I want to know if I have this, so that I can hurry up and just tell my parents that I'm like this. I want help. But then again, most of the time, I don't really want help.
- K.G.

Serendip Visitor's picture


Hi KG,
Your story sounds very familiar. I'm not a professional, but it sounds like DID to me. I am a soft DID ... which in a nut shell means I don't have separate clothes for different alters. I have memory losses, changes in body temperature when I switch, an inability to stay focused, and yes, thoughts of hurting myself and others on occasion. It can be difficult at times.
But I am proud of who I am. My alters have taken good care of me through the years. They have protected me from creepy people, given me the confidence to do new things, and the courage to get assistance when I need it.
I think we, the DID community, are different, a unique class of individuals, who have found a way to survive some of the toughest consequences imaginable. And being different is not a bad thing.
My advice is to find an older experienced therapist, one who is in it for the love of the work and not the paycheck. Don't dilute your life experiences with drugs and alcohol... they cause way more problems. Confide only in trustworthy persons. And try not to be scared. Think of it as exploring new friendships. These alters are your best friends. They know you and love you unconditionally. Trust that!

Serendip Visitor's picture


Hi KC,
Im 23yrs old, female, and only a second year nursing student all the way from little New Zealand. Im currently doing an essay on a movie where the main character also has DID. I was only browsing through this website for some info when I came across your story. I cant tell you how deeply moved I am by your journey, and how touched I am about your situation. Darling, I truly think that you should go to your GP for some advice and request an assessment.You must be feeling very confused and although I myself do not have DID, I find that some of your 'features' are definitely ones that I have come across in my reading, and it does make me feel that you could very possibly have this disorder. I know that we have never met, but my heart broke when I read your post, and I just want to tell you that there are alot of nice people in this (sometimes) very cruel world, and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have worked a little bit in mental health, and although it does seem a very dark and scary area of health, you will find that there are many other people out there just like you, who are able to live normal lives.I hope that you will seek advice from your doctor, and request that assessment. That may give your heart some rest. Keep the faith and never give up sweetie.

Warm regards all the way from New Zealand...

 Therapist (Elaine)'s picture


What you are saying sounds like it could be any number of things, but most likely related to the trauma you have dealt with. Changes in moods and the way you present yourself (personalities) doesn't not in itself say it is DID. If I were your therapist there are a lot of other questions that I would be asking to help determine that. I hope you are getting help in dealing with all the stresses and losses you are dealing with. Whether it is DID or not, the importance is in addressing the trauma. That seems like a good place to start.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Thanks. Yeah, at this point

Yeah, at this point I'm just trying to find a way to go about my day and find happiness. It'd be nice to know of a way to get there.
I live in a rather small town, and there would be no one I'd like to go to here for that sort of problem. Depending on if the situation gets any worse, I'll seek help. Until then. . . well, I suppose I can live with what I am.
So, here's hoping.


Valerie's picture


It's cool that you are talking about this stuff... the best thing to do would be to find a counselor or something somewhere to get all of this out. Whether or not you really want help, it is good to have someone on your side. When I was 15, I kept it all in and was one tough cookie. I don't go it alone anymore though; I don't have to be tough. There are definitely cool people out there who will understand you and lead you in the right direction. Be careful with labelling yourself too quickly. Maybe just some really crappy things happened and you have been dealing with them the best you can and you just now are getting ready to get those events cleared and get new ways to cope with stuff.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Isn't this

Isn't this schizophrenia-like? Both have a strong difference in personality and behavior right? I may haven't read the full comments but how come the therapy became traumatizing to whomever women you guys are talking about?

Is L's case a case of DID? I know for some people these can be like horror movies or like Paranormal Activity. But apparently, people do exhibit different personalities; Some extreme. What's good about this understanding is that we know that it isn't caused by anything paranormal

Serendip Visitor's picture


Not particularly, as Schizophrenia is hallucinating, delusions, and paranoia. Not a change in personality, because paranoia is more like a mood that causes your reactions.

Rain's picture

Yes, this is a very bad

Yes, this is a very bad illness. I think it is difficult for a person to live with it in the first turn. Here is an interesting video of it: . I've read the book Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins and he gave two successful examples. In the first case he cured the man with the help of NLP and in the second example it was told about a woman who managed to take control over this illness.

Serendip Visitor's picture


I was worndering if an alter will ever lie. I was very sure that I had been sexually abused and having many physiological responses whenever my therapist and I approached the subject. However, I had an alter tell me the other night that it in fact did not happen. This was an adult alter telling me that what another alter felt was untrue.

Serendip Visitor's picture


Yes, they can lie. My partners youngest often does about eating candy, and his most abstract swore he only had 12 personalities, he has currently 15. I think your alter might just be avoiding conversation, it would be hard to talk about.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Thank you very much. The odd

Thank you very much. The odd thing is I do feel much better about the whole subject like the fear and panic are gone. I did have a traumatic, violent childhood so maybe I have been able to push it back into the recesses of my mind again. Thank you again for your input. It was very insightful.

Elaine's picture


I will tread carefully with my response here because I do not have DID, but I am a therapist who has worked extensively with clients with DID. Having said that, "yes" alters will lie. But remember it is not as simple as a lie all the time. Different alters know different things, they have experienced different things. Some may not have experienced the abuse, so they really may not know.
More commonly thought I have experienced that alters not only represent all different peices of the person, but are also internalizations of others they have known in their external world- that includes their abusers. Abusers will say all kind of things to convince a child that either it is their fault, or nothing really happened, and to generally cause the child to doubt themselves. This can keep up even as an adult with DID because even though the actual abusers may be long gone, because they have internalized a part of that old dialogue, or even have an alter that continues to carry on the work of the abuser.
The main thing I heard in your posting was that element of self-doubt based on what an alter said. I would be really careful about buying into self-doubt. Trust your gut (your triggers and your reactions). Plus if you have alters, SOMETHING happened. People don't develop alters without a reason.

Betty 's picture

I can relate

Hi I am 32 years old and I too have DID. I have been going to therapy for years, since I was 13 and I have never been diagnosed as DID until thais year.It took me a little while to get use to it and I still am. I go back and forth between I am and I am not witch isvery confusing for all of us. I go through bouts of depression and joy hate and fear. So far I have 15 different parts and they all have their own ways of doing things and it gets a little intimadating. I really most of the time do not know who I am. I have time lose and body memory. Sometimes I wake up and it feels like I have been run over by a big truck and my whole body hurts. I cry on a whim and just as easily as I started I stop. I love and I hate. I get angry and I want to really hurt people and the best part about it all that I really can't take any meds because they mess everything up on the inside. I have also had a very extensive drug problem,I have 4 years clean though and I don't plan on doing anymore of that lie style. I will write more later someone is waiting to get on the computer.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Impact of having DID

Hi, I am doing a presentation on DID. I was wondering if you could help me understand what impact(s) someone with DID must go through? I am also looking into differential diagnosis, such as schizophrenia...are there others?

L.'s picture

Confused and scared... how do you know you have DID?

Hi. I'm a 25 year old girl. (And norwegian, so sorry about the bad spelling.)
I'm in general very confused. I've been in and out of hospital since I was 15 with various problems. Depression, suicide attempts, anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, self-harm etc. I am diagnosed with PTSD because I get flashbacks and was raped when I was 14. I didn't remember this before I was 18, and have never talked about it, just been writing. When the topic comes up I in general am not "there". Some claim I have said something about it, or fragments, but I can't remember talking about it ever. I mean, out loud. Maybe I have. Don't remember.

When I think I think in sencentes. Like, I see the sentences in my head. Kind of like on paper, but without the paper. Flying by, with black background. Not always in the same font or handwriting. Sometimes its handwriting, sometimes not. I have been doing this for years. I can speak about feelings, but I never feel them when I talk... not entierly true, sometimes I do, but... god, don't know how to explain. I can write the feelings down. Often when I feel things its like I'm 12 years old and unsafe, scared and no one notices me, cares for me or know I exist. I am just so sad, unhappy and alone.

Some periods of my life I have heard noise in my head, whispering. Often when I shower or have to deal with my body in any way. The world is colorless or foggy, unreal, sounds around me is like hearing it from the outside of a room where there's a party. Sometimes I fade out into "nothing".
I have recently been shopping a lot, but don't remember doing it. (Like finding I had used my Mastercard to buy a jacket for 800 $...) I also go fram A to B not remembering the in between. I get scary images of being raped, but I don't feel like its me being it. But I se myself. This is not when I'm asleep. I shop food, binge and purge, but don't remember until the next day - the bin, diches and no food left tells me I have. I forget appointments, phonecalls, texts I have sent, e-mails... I'm always late. I feel so unreal and strange. Everything around me is strange. I don't feel like I anymore.
I suddenly forget how to boil potatoes, and I don't like poatoes anyway, so why should I boil them when its only for me?

I self-harm, but rarely remember. If I remember its like I'm telling myself I deserve it. Other times its because I feel so unreal, my doesn't exist, I'm numb or just not there. It freaks me out, so I cut myself under my feet to feel pain all the time. Or put pins in my arm and walk around with them. Sometimes I wake up with cuts and I can't remember doing. So I don't tell anyone.

When I was 18 and startet remembering that one incident I also started seeing a man in my room or other places. He sometimes spoke to me, but never when he was visible. Only like in my head or how I should explain it, saying things like "You are useless. Fucking whore" etc. I have "whore" carved in on the inside of my thighs.. I can't remember doing it. I still don't remember being raped at 14 as a full story, but the man I have been seeing and who has talked to me is not the same as the one raping me. I'm not able to talk about it either, just write. I never say "rape" out loud.

Often I think I remember things, like things in my past, harmless or not. But then its like I have only adapted the story into being what "most likely happened", putting two and two together based on what others tell me about it, and then adopt the story in a way. So I don't seem so forgetfull.

I have found notes I can't remember writing. And its written by someone who is left-handed. I'm not... At first I freaked out, then I tried to think about it as someone else had placed it there.

I have told some therapists about some of these things. At 18 one said that it was a psychotic breakout because of stress, it did pass, but I was scared and thought it was real. When I was hospitalized at 15 and 17 I also meantioned the man in the room or in my head, but the doctors told me to stop imagining things and seek for attention.

It has recently been more of a topic about me dissociating. This has never really been talked about before. Or noticed really. Its so many therapy sessions I can't remember. I have been telling the hospital to send me my records because "I want to understand how I function or as a way to understand myself", but its more like an overwhelming need to feel in control of "myself" because I don't remember how I am or what I do or don't do. I read them and put the pieces together that way also. Then I can carry out a conversation about happenings previous in life.

Sometimes I feel like I'm 50 years old or something. Wanting to have place in order. Annoyed by others naivity, how they don't think rationally, why they are so helpless and in general immature. I feel the need to do everything myself. Change the tires on my car, putting a stereosystem in it, doing laundry or making like "old fashioned" food etc.

I see a therapist now that I really like. In adittion to that I am in group therapy for eating disorders. Lately I can't remember being there much, but its like its completely ok to be there... but at my therapist I am confused, scared and don't understand myself and being out of control.

I have never been diagnosed with any form of psychosis (except for the previous meantioned episode that therapist after her has said probably was a normal stress thing and not a psychosis in that sense. I understand that it isn't real, but sometimes its like its real or familiar anyway.

Now a days I switch between don't remembering anything, like hours when I do the shopping or self-harm. I wake up because I have set the alarm on several times at night, but can't remember ever doing so. Its like waking up and not being me. I always sleep with the tv, computer or radio on.(Been doing it since I was a child.) At times I shower in the dark because I don't feel my body and don't want to get it confirmed. I have vivid dreams about being raped by several men and get very scared. I have weird pain in my body and at times almost like being incontinent, but not being so... this is embarrasing, but still. I know I have to go, but I don't feel it...

It feels like someone is watching me from somewhere. I cry and feel so small, then suddenly I'm not. And often I can't remember hours or things I've done right after I have been feeling alone and sad. I don't get this.
I have told my therapist _some_ of these things, but not the craziest ones. I have told her, in writing I'm scared of being mad or psychotic. And that "new stuff" has come up, but its probably just my imagination. She tells me I'm not crazy og psychotic. And now want to take more tests to understand the dissociation more.

I don't know what to think. I feel like over half the time during a day is gone. I go to school, I do pretty well, but then I feel overwhelmed and sad. I am cheery at school, in the group, but not at my therapist or alone. I keep falling out all the time, not remembering the sessions or only parts of it. Mostly parts where I can remember feeling something, or feeling alone.

I don't know. A part of me is telling me I have DID, but the other is like: "No way". I do so many things I don't want to do. Suddenly talking in therapy about things I don't want to say. Not remember saying it or only parts of it. I feel very alone. I am scared of being alone or around people. I am scared because I feel I'm not in control of my own body, of the self-harm, my drinking habits... like someone else is doing it, and I am not a part of it. I have nothing to say. The blanks and memory loss freaks me out since I buy things, I have no idea if I have talked to someone during the time...
I'm not DID... I don't want to be. Or whoever I am. Maybe "I" and "Me" isn't the same? It feels good to think that in a way. So that "I" is more like the real me. And "Me" is more of the "I" that do the wrong, destructive, stupid things. It doesn't make sense.

Sorry about all of this. I must have come here for a reason... so... What do you think? Its unlikely that I have it since nothing harmful happened to me as a child. My father died when I was 12 (and got bullied after that), but when I think back I have had the same patterns in some areas from before that. But I'm probably just imagining it.

Can one get the diagnosis even if they didn't have something happening to them until after a certain age? Or what about: is it possible to remember things that has happened in the past after many many years? And many years of treatment where I would have the opportunity to tell someone..? If the things I see, feel and experience now is real, then there's a lot of scary things that has happened to me... but its not like its "I" who has gone through it.... And is it possible to be "I" and "ME" at the same time, like now: I'm worried about what the other parts of "I" is doing.. but there is no "other parts".
God, this is a mess.
I'm very scared.


Serendip Visitor -shay's picture


Hey i've been going throughn allmost the same exact thing, i can help you with your situation even though i am not a therapist, i understand it. Here.. email me at and i will help you with it.

Elaine (anonymous therapist)'s picture


Dear L,

I can really hear how panicked you are. I am glad you have a therapist now that you like. The quality of relationship is a big part of the healing. Most people when presented with the diagnosis of DID are very upset by it, although some people feel comforted by it because at least it explains a lot of things. If you do have DID it doesn't mean you are crazy. It means you are very intelligent and developed a very creative way to survive. You mentioned the idea of psychosis. Many people with DID are misdiagnosed with some form of psychosis. Usually if you tell someone you hear voices, or in your case whispers, the first thing that many professionals think of is some sort of psychosis. I'm wondering if you have ever taken any mild form/low dosage of an antipsychotic- perhaps something like Seroquel. You don't have to be psychotic to take it. It helps in general with anxiety and calming the mind a bit. At the very least you sound very anxious. It sounds like a big part of your anxiety is because in order to have something like DID you would have to have had significant abuse at a very young age, and as far as you know nothing like that has happened. Of course the whole thing with dissociative disorders is that you are protected from knowing about things that have happened by the fact you can't access that knowledge in your memory. In general to have developed DID you would have to have had significant abuse prior to the age of 5 years old. That is because dissociation is the primary primative coping mechanism available to very young children.
Diagnoses like this are not necessarily simple to figure out right up front. When diagnoses of anything in the mental health field are done it is based on how it looks at the time. You have to fulfill so many criteria of the diagnosis to be considered to have that diagnosis. If things look different later, the diagnosis may be changed. It is not like diagnosing medical conditions where you have the hard criteria of medical tests. These are the criteria used to diagnose DID:
1. The presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states (each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and the self.)
2. At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently take control of the person's behavior.
3. Inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordiinary forgetfulness.
4. The distrubance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance, or a general medical conditions.

Those are the criteria a professional would use to give you the diagnosis of DID. Of course that is not what you would notice because if you have parts that are dissociated out, you would not be aware of it. What you would notice would be more things like "missing time," things that seem to frequently be in your living environment that you find in different places than you left them, other people reporting to you that you are doing or saying things that you don't remember. The whispering in your head could be the beginning of finding about alter parts of you, but it could also be about something else. The finding notes is a good way for you to explore it yourself by leaving notes back and seeing if you find responses later.

The things you describe as not seeming real or you not feeling like yourself are just other types of dissociation called derealization and depersonalization. Remember, all these things are coping mechanisms that are meant to protect you in some way. If you end up being diagnosed with a dissociative disorder it just means that you have used these coping mechanism to the extent they are starting to interfere with your life functioning the way you would like it to.
There are other kinds of dissociative disorders besides DID.

I'm sort of assuming what is scaring you most is the idea that if you do find out you have DID that it means there are some things that happened in your life that you don't know about, and that means you would have to completely think of your life and personal history differently.

Just take it one step at a time though and try not to panic. Panic is only going to make it worse. If you find out your life has been more complicated than you knew, then you just start your discovery and healing process one step at a time.

L.'s picture

thank you!

Its like suddenly... out of nothing, my life has never been. I know now. I can't believe its true. I can't believe I have been living a lie all of my life. Why didn't anyone listen? Undersand? See?

Yes, I have DID. Yes, I have never had a childhoos. I'm 25 and I have to start all over again.

I have sent at least 7 e-mails to my therapist. With this and that, diary-notes from 5 years back. My computer is full of them. I can't believe its true. Its like I want it all to be imagination, but its not.

I see so many patterns. I can't even start to tell you this and that cause its so much.

I have tried Seroquel and every possible medication. But I feel sick or it doesn't work. I told that to every doctor, but they only said I was being difficult and didn't want to get well. This spring a great doctor wanted to figure this out, he sent a blood sample and did genotying. It shows I have a mutated gene in my liver that makes me not tolerate medication. At least they can't say I have been lying about that the last 10 years... So thats not an option.

The only thing I can do is sorting. I have no idea what I will think about this tomorrow. Or an hour. Suddenly I deny it all. I'm making it up. But then I find myself crying on the floor wanting someone to comfort me. Its very confusing.

Thank you so much for your reply! Truly. You don't judge, but try to understand.


Elaine (anonymous therapist)'s picture


Hello L.

It is natural for you to feel overwhelmed and to feel like you want to deny that there has been something going on in your life that you never knew anything about. Try to understand that what you don't remember and haven't known is your mind's way of protecting you from things you weren't prepared to handle. I know that trying to totally re-interpret your life's history is very scary. It is like the feeling that you don't exist, and that creates a lot of anxiety. The truth is though that you do exist, it is just that up until now you have only had part of the pieces by which to understand your history. The parts you know are real, but you will learn more peices over time to help you get a better understanding. I hope you are talking to your therapist about this. I am glad to offer you support, but it is not a substitute for having a good therapist who you trust.
The fact that you have been misunderstood so much about what is going on with you is pretty normal. What you are going through is complicated. If people only see a part of it, then will not get it right.
This is what I always tell my clients. You are the best expert on yourself. No one understands you better than you. That means that the people who will be able to help you the most will be the ones that really listen to you. The other thing I tell people is to not give their power away to anyone. What I mean by that, is that if you know that something is true for you, don't let someone take that away from you or invalidate you about it. That is the quickest way to mess up your mind is to let someone create self doubt in you. That doesn't mean you will always understand things perfectly, but it does mean that it is your right to make sense of your own life. You can ask other people to help you, but you don't let them take over and try to convince you of things that don't feel like they fit you.
I know you said that you don't have a childhood and that you have to start all over again. You do have a childhood, you may just not remember much of it. In time the peices will make more sense to you.
I would suggest that you take the things that you do know about yourself at this point- at age 25- and start defining yourself that way. Ask yourself what kinds of things you like, what kind of person are you on the inside, do you have some people in your life who care about you and believe in you. Those are the places to start- with the things that you know are real right now. Hang onto those things so you don't feel so lost.
I am glad that doctors are starting to understand that you have a reason for not being able to tolerate medications, and that you are not just being difficult. If you can't take medications to help with your feelings of being overwhelmed, you will need to work with learning some new skills to help calm your mind. Talk to your therapist about working with things like mindfulness techniques, as well as emotional regulation and self-soothing skills. You can help your own body chemicals work for you better so you don't have to feel so overwhelmed. Most of all- believe in yourself. You are here on this earth for a reason. You have a purpose. You just need to give yourself time to heal.