The health issue I would like to discuss today is known as dissociative identity disorder (DID). This issue is important because as I was previously, not many people are aware of the severe mental disorder. Those who are aware may accuse the disorder of being fake and blame patients of intentionally forgetting things to fake their illness. I picked this issue because I thought it was very interesting and wanted to further investigate as I clarify my understanding of the overall disorder. DID does not affect my family and I currently as no member of my family have been diagnosed with it. However, I may encounter a patient of DID in the future or/and as my family grows, a family member may be possibly diagnosed with DID. Before researching upon the issue, I lacked great understanding, yet apprehended that patients obtain several distinct personalities. From watching the movie Split, I used to think that people with DID has to be feared because of their violent acts. In fact, the movie portrays the most extreme aspects of the disorder and distributes the message that society needs to alarm themselves against DID patients. People with DID are rarely dangerous. In fact, research has shown that patients are more of a threat to themselves than others. This connects to the current unit of respect, as fearing a certain population due to a specific characteristic lacks tolerance. The delusional understanding of the disorder maintained by the movie has reduced respect and appreciation toward DID patients and their exceptional abilities, accomplishments and qualities. This issue affects teenagers with and without DID. Teenagers with DID who experience amnesia may not remember their entire childhood, and is left a major mystery to inquire on their own. However, teenagers who do remember may still be suffering from their childhood experiences. Teenagers experiencing depersonalization likely feel extremely baffled of their identity. This is important because teenage years are when most individuals strive to learn and define who they are as an individual. Teenagers without the disorder has the potential to to create delusions and false understanding of the disorder itself, as I did previously.
Dissociative identity disorder, formerly referred as multiple personality disorder, is a severe mental illnesses wherein a person’s identity is split into two or more distinct personality states. They create alters, or different personality states, of different gender, age, possibly accents, memories, functions, names and other traits, as if they were a new identity. Number of alter depends on the person, but at least two is needed (host and alter) to be diagnosed with DID. Some alters help the individual deal with trauma, while others dissociate, or escape, from reality. Over the years, professionals have noticed common alters that occur among patients. Alters are endless, but common ones includes:
- Host: alter that has executive control over the body. The host may or may not be the individual’s original personality.
- Child and adolescent alters: young alters that often acts as if they were a child. This alter is one of the most common alter and is often identified in therapy.
- Protector: alters of any age, created to tolerate the individual’s intolerable situations. These alters are often braver or tougher than the original personality
- Persecutor alters: alter modeled after the abuser. The alter often compose negative messages that blame the patient for its past abuse and declares that they need to die to pay for it. This is often the alter that attempts suicide or self harm to the host.
- Disabled alters: the alter who are disabled when the body is physically capable. A blind or mute alter may be created in response to an abuser’s instructions such as “don’t talk”, or “you didn’t see that”. These alters can regain their sight or hearing, after they work through the memories of what caused their disabilities.
This picture perfectly demonstrates the differences in each alter. Each alter consists of varying gender, age, preference, and more.
I was able to learn that the main cause for DID is severe trauma during early childhood. These are often physical, sexual or emotional abuses, and are commonly extreme and/or repetitive. Symptoms of DID resemble other illnesses such as bipolar and schizophrenia, making the disorder difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include depersonalization (feeling as if you are being detached from yourself), amnesia (loss of memory) of certain time period, event or people, depression, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD; when a victim is triggered by a traumatic event and the event continues to stay with the individual by replaying the event long after it has occurred).
Some interesting facts about this issue are:
- Approximately 0.01%-1% of the population is diagnosed with DID but 7% of the world’s population has some sort of undiagnosed form of DID
- DID diagnoses occur 9 times more often in females than male
- Most diagnoses occur at the age of 30 (most diagnoses occur 5-10 years after the onset of symptoms)
While there are no effective cures at the moment, patients may receive successful long term treatments if they stay committed. therapy, medications, hypnotherapy, and adjunctive therapies such as art or movement therapy are all different types of effective treatment. Because symptoms are extremely similar to other disorders such as anxiety and depression, patients may be treated using the same drugs prescribed for those disorders. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medicine is an example of a drug prescribed to the patient for beneficial results.
I believe that it is important to acknowledge and understand that DID is not a harm to you. Patients are more of a harm to themselves than yourself. You should also be willing to accept them for who they are and restrict yourself against discriminating them for their mental illnesses. To help solve this problem, you should never abuse children (or anyone else, for that matter). If you see anyone committing this act, you should strive to protect the child and prevent the abuser from repeatedly abusing the child again. Personally, I plan in doing so in future situation when needed.