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6 Interesting Facts and Cases of Dissociative Identity Disorder

6 Interesting Facts and Cases of Dissociative Identity Disorder

A person having multiple identities within themselves is a common narrative.

Even though movies and novels can sometimes sensationalize the way such characters act, it is, in fact, possible for a person living with this disorder to be unaware of their other identities.

Today, we will be discussing 6 interesting facts about dissociative identity disorder and some of its most famous cases.

Dissociative identity disorder, previously known as “multiple personality disorder”,is a complex psychological condition, characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identities in an individual.

Each identity has a unique name, personal history and behavior.

The alternative personalities at times can appear hostile and possibly be mistaken as a case of demonic possession.

As we mentioned, this is what is usually depicted in movies.

Real life cases are kind of different.

Here are some of the most interesting facts and cases of dissociative personality disorder.

1.      D I D is a coping mechanism.

Even though most of us at times can feel a blackout from reality, dissociative identity disorder is a severe form of dissociation.

Patients with this disorder often have a history with violent and traumatic experiences.

In cases of physical abuse and death, a patient can subconsciously develop a dissociation to escape the stress.

Therefore, when something triggering happens, a patient can start acting differently, hence showing a dissociative identity.

In his book titled “Breaking Free”, former NFL running back Herschel Walker wrote about developing identity disorder in order to cope.

As an overweight child with a speech impediment, Herschel developed a personality-driven by physical fitness and football skills.

He didn't even remember winning the famous Heisman Trophy.

Hard to believe, right?

2.      It can feel like a dreamland.

Even though developing amazing sport skills might sound like a dream come true, this disorder might not be the dream you would like to live with.

Being a coping mechanism, it can make a patient feel separated from themselves, therefore giving a mechanic experience of a dream.

Chris Costner Sizemore, an American woman diagnosed with 22 distinct personalities once

said that she had a dream where her personalities joined hands in a Greek arena and walked behind a giant screen.

Do you remember your dreams, by the way?

If not, that brings us to our next interesting fact.

3.      In the case of this disorder, it’s common to have a memory lapse.

Most patients suffering from this disorder experience a brief loss of memory.

They can forget key information but end up remembering something scary that happened a day before.

It is like remembering what you shouldn't and forgetting what you should.

Without a doubt, this can make a person’s personal and professional lives extremely difficult.

In a 1979 case, Juanita Maxwell, a maid at a Florida motel, was accused of beating and

murdering a 73 year-old woman with a lamp.

Juanita had no memory of the incident during the trail.

Wanda Weston, however, remembered everything distinctly.

The interesting part of the case was that both Wanda and Juanita occupied the same person.

Does this remind you of another disorder?

If so, let us clarify.

4.      It is different from schizophrenia.

Due to a few shared symptoms, these disorders are often confused with each other.

Dissociative identity disorder is a condition with more than 2 fully formed personalities co-existing and shifting within a person.

Schizophrenia, on the other hand, is a psychotic disorder characterized by extreme delusions and hallucinations.

While mental disorders have similar symptoms, most of them have characteristics which separate
them from the rest.

In the case of Kim Nobel, an award-winning comedian and artist, the disorder went undiagnosed for years.

She suffered repeated overdoses, death threats, an acid attack, and even having her bed lit on fire with her in it.

Initially diagnosed with schizophrenia, in 1995, she was finally diagnosed with an identity disorder with a dominant personality named Patricia.

As we saw, diagnosis can take a lifetime and so can this disorder.

Which gives us fact number five.

5.      Identity disorder can last for a lifetime.

There can be medication given to help the patient with associated symptoms but none to treat the disorder as such.

In certain cases, psychotherapy and talk therapy can help.

In the case of Karen Overhill, a 29 years old woman with 17 personalities, hypnosis and visualization were used as a part of the treatment.

Dr. Richard Baer wrote about treating Overhill for over 20 years, in her book "Switching time: A doctor's harrowing story of treating a woman with 17 personalities”.

You might feel by now that it must be an incredibly rare disorder.

If so, let us clear the air with the last one.

6.      It isn't as rare as we think it is.

According to experts, about 2 percent of the population meets the criteria set for disorder diagnosis.In a Harvard study, diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder was found to be as high as 6 per cent in highly traumatized patients.

If you or someone you know may be dealing with the associated symptoms, we urge you to seek help from a therapist.

Your mental health and well-being is extremely important.

Do you have something to share or want to tell us about other cases you studied?

Comment down below and keep the conversation going!