Inspirational Quotes

"I have learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

--Maya Angelou

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Dissociative Identity Disorder

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a rare disorder that is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • 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 self).

  • At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently take control of the person's behavior.

  • The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., blackouts or chaotic behavior during Alcohol Intoxication) or a general medical condition (e.g., complex partial seizures). Note: In children, the symptoms are not attributable to imaginary playmates or other fantasy play.

    Dissociative Identity Disorder is diagnosed three to nine times more frequently in adult females than in adult males; in childhood, the female-to-male ratio. Females tend to have more identities than do males, averaging 15 or more, whereas males average approximately 8 identities.

    Usually there is a primary identity that carries the individual's given name and is passive, dependent, guilty, and depressed. The alternate identities frequently have different names and characteristics that contrast with the primary identity (e.g., are hostile, controlling, and self-destructive).

    Individuals with this disorder experience frequent gaps in memory for personal history, both remote and recent.

      Associated Features

      Individuals with Dissociative Identity Disorder frequently report having experienced severe physical and sexual abuse, especially during childhood.

      Individuals with Dissociative Identity Disorder may manifest posttraumatic symptoms (e.g., nightmares, flashbacks, and startle responses) or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Self-mutilation and suicidal and aggressive behavior may occur. Some individuals may have a repetitive pattern of relationships involving physical and sexual abuse.

      Individuals with Dissociative Fugue may have a Mood Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or a Substance-Related Disorder.

      Individuals with this disorder may also have symptoms that meet criteria for Mood, Substance-Related, Sexual, Eating, or Sleep Disorders. Self-mutilative behavior, impulsivity, and sudden and intense changes in relationships may warrant a concurrent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.


        Dissociative Identity Disorder appears to have a fluctuating clinical course that tends to be chronic and recurrent. The average time period from first symptom presentation to diagnosis is 67 years. Episodic and continuous courses have both been described. The disorder may become less manifest as individuals age beyond their late 40s, but may reemerge during episodes of stress or trauma or with Substance Abuse.

          Diagnostic criteria summarized from:

          American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

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