15 June 2024

Introduction to Dissociative Disorders

Introduction to Dissociative Disorders: Awareness

Introduction to Dissociative Disorders

Perhaps DID raises problematic philosophical and psychological concerns about the nature of the mind itself... Ideas of a unitary ego would incline professionals to see multiplicity as a behavioural disturbance. However, if the mind is seen as a seamless collaboration between multiple selves - a kind of trade union agreement for co-existence - it is less threatening to face this subject.” ― Valerie Sinason

Individuals who were in the past diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (MPD) obscured themselves from their real identities (and unfortunately also in / by many professional and social environments).

Many were socially labelled in stigmatised categorisations as individuals with a ‘split personality’ that created various misconceptions about the disorder and subsequent treatment and subsequent treatment.

In some cases individuals were (and even lately still are) diagnosed with more than two distinct identities (also referred to as fragmented personality states) each with its own cognitive and behavioural control processes.

In 1994 the name of MPD was changed to dissociative identity disorder (DID) after the publication of the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) at the time – the DSM IV - for providing additional context towards descriptive diagnostic criteria for healthcare professionals with regard to specific symptom / category selection on the DID spectrum.

There should be no stigma attached to anyone diagnosed with this complex disorder – as it could have manifested through various chronic childhood abuse, severe and / or other single or perpetual traumatic event(s).

Dissociation may occur when someone disconnect from reality to protect associated feelings, thoughts, memory and sense of self-identity. The manifestation of various personalities are therefore not uncommon - different traumatic triggers may necessitate the presentation and characterisation of a total different alter persona - depending on real or perceived aggravational factors. Dissociation may therefore occur randomly and intermittently even years after the original event(s).

Today, with the guidance of the current DSM, DSM-IV-TR (released 2022), there are well-defined and descriptive categories of symptoms to determine the severity of this disorder. The recovery probability success rate vary and can be challenging (various accredited mental health sources) and could require prolonged psychiatric medication and / or psychotherapy (i.e. CBT / DBT) mental healthcare interventions.

DID is one of the three to five Dissociative Disorder types (depending on the Mental Health source). This is a serious and complex disorder that may take years to improve the quality of life for the person / patient involved. DID is one of the three to five Dissociative Disorder types (depending on the mental health source). This is a serious and complex disorder that may take years to improve the quality of life for the person / patient involved. DID is not (as generally perceived) a personality disorder, but a dissociative disorder.

Although Dissociative Disorders are frequently associated towards dissociative / altered behaviour characteristics from various dysfunctional and trauma environments Dr. David Spiegel from the Stanford University of Medicine published a Dissociative Disorders article in 2023 with the following broad conclusion(s): “Dissociative disorders are related to trauma and stress-related disorders (acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder). People with stress-related disorders may have dissociative symptoms, such as amnesia, flashbacks, numbing, and depersonalization/derealization. Some people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also experience depersonalization, derealization, or both, and this is classified as a dissociative subtype of PTSD.

Research in animals and humans shows that certain underlying brain structures and functions appear to be associated with dissociative disorders. Scientists do not yet understand how these abnormalities in these structures and functions cause dissociative disorders or how this knowledge could guide treatment, but they appear to be promising leads that would benefit from further research.” (Source: MSD Manual (David Spiegel, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine) – Revised May 2023, retrieved 17 June 2024 by Vernon Chalmers as a Reference URL for the Mental Health and Motivation website).

This preamble was prepared by Vernon Chalmers

Read more about Dissociative Disorders on the Mental Health and Motivation website