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Dissociative Identity Disorder: Introduction

“A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure.” By Lee Segall (http://www.quotegarden.com/philosophical.html)

How can a man live with so much noise in their head, too many alternated voices that struggle to be the one? For me, the quote symbolizes what the disorder is which are too many options and too many multiple voices in one mind that disrupted one’s identity and psyche which can cause various problems. Dissociative identity disorder (DID) or formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), is one of a group of conditions called dissociative disorders or dissociation(s). This condition is consider rare in the US which the approximated number of cases of 20K to 200K per year. (www.google.com) Dissociation is a mental process, which produces a lack of connection in a person's thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity. During the period of time when a person is dissociating, certain information is not associated with other information as it normally would be.
Dissociation can be used as a defense mechanism or a coping mechanism that a person uses to disconnect from a stressful or traumatic situation or to separate traumatic memories from normal awareness. It is a way for a person to break the connection between the self and the outside world, as well as to distance oneself from the awareness of what is occurring. Dissociation can serve as a defense mechanism against the physical and emotional pain of a traumatic or stressful experience. By dissociating painful memories from everyday thought processes, a person can use dissociation to maintain a relatively healthy level of functioning, as though the trauma had not occurred.

For example, during a traumatic experience, a person may dissociate the memory of the place and circumstances of the trauma from his ongoing memory, resulting in a temporary mental escape from the fear and pain of the trauma and, in some cases, a memory gap surrounding the experience. Because this process can produce changes in memory, people who frequently dissociate often find their senses of personal history and identity are affected. (http://psychcentral.com/library/dissociation_intro.htm)
Dissociation can be described as a temporary mental escape (similar to self-hypnosis) from the fear and pain of the trauma. Even after the trauma is long past, however, the leftover pattern of dissociation to escape stressful situations continues. When dissociation is done repeatedly, as in the case of prolonged abuse, these dissociated mental states can take on separate identities of their own. (http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/neurological_institute/center-for-behavorial-health/disease-conditions/hic-dissociative-identity-disorder)
So this people with multiple personalities or DID which is consider to be the most severe type of dissociative disorder, has two or more different personality states or "alters" (short for alternate personality states) which each of whom takes control over the person’s behavior at some time. Each alter might have distinct traits, personal history, and way of thinking about and relating to his or her surroundings. An alter might be of a different gender, have his or her own name, and have distinct mannerisms or preferences. The person with DID may or may not be aware of the other personality states and might not have memories of the times when another alter is dominant. Stress or a reminder of the trauma can act as a trigger to bring about a "switch" of alters. This can create a chaotic life and cause problems in work and social situations.
Some of the symptoms are severe headaches or pain in other parts of the body, depersonalization, depression or mood swings, hallucinations and amnesia. If any of the symptoms are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical examination.

While there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose dissociative disorders, the doctor might use various diagnostic tests such as X-rays and blood tests to rule out physical illness or medication side effects as the cause of the symptoms. Certain conditions like brain diseases, head injuries, drug and alcohol intoxication, and sleep deprivation have similar symptoms to those of DID. Most people go to the doctor because of the sense of lost time that most often prompts them to seek treatment. He or she might otherwise be totally unaware of the disorder. (http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/consumer_updates/Dissociative_identity_disorder.aspx)
The condition is treatable which the solutions are to relieve symptoms, to ensure the safety of the individual, and to "reconnect" the different identities into one well-functioning identity. Treatment also aims to help the person safely express and process painful memories, develop new coping and life skills, restore functioning, and improve relationships. The best treatment approach depends on the individual and the severity of his or her symptoms. (http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/neurological_institute/center-for-behavorial-health/disease-conditions/hic-dissociative-identity-disorder)
Now, we have the basic of what DID is but there is so much more. Let’s take a journey into the mental depth of this interesting condition and further explore the history and the various treatments of this popular but misunderstood disease.

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