Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder was first classified in 1980 as a Disorder in the DSM-III. However, previously in 1968 this disorder was known as "hysterical neurosis". Since then, there have been many ways to prove that this disorder is real from case studies, statistics, and the complexity. So why are there so many controversies against this disorder and how does the media contribute to the myths? In the process of my research I came across all sorts of opinions, from how this is over dramatized and not a real disorder, then towards the facts and stories of survivors with this disorder that make living proof. DID is not something fake or acted, it is aa real illness and undergoes certain criteria.
To add to the controversies, DID is a complex disease. This illness is rare, but legitimate.
The recent DSM 5 expresses the criteria for DID when claimed in Tracy Natasha's article, "Dissociative Identity- Disorder (DID) DSM- 5 Criteria", "personality states may be seen as an "experience of possession." These states "involve(s) a marked discontinuity in sense of self and sense of agency, accompanied by related alterations in affect, behavior, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition, and/or sensory-motor functioning. These signs and symptoms may be observed by others or reported by the individual" (Tracy, Natasha, Paragraph 3).
This illness requires a medical diagnosis; however, it cannot be cured but can be treated. What a lot of doctor's struggle and debate about is whether the patients are telling the truth. What many people fail to understand or accept is that there are all sorts of proof that backs up DID.
DID is a classified illness in the DSM, yet there are still many myths and misconceptions on this disease. Also, surprisingly enough, many people confuse this illness with Schizophrenia; even though they are completely different this shows the lack of knowledge society has about this disorder.
In an article called, "DID Myths and Misconceptions", by Beauty after Bruises, the website discusses a common myth, "DID isn't real. It's a condition created by therapists / exaggerated BPD / attention-seeking / actually HPD and compulsive lying / etc" (Myth one, BeautyafterBruises).
Yet following my research the DSM proves this disorder is real, being "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM). Another misconception is that the people experiencing DID are dangerous, which is profoundly wrong. The only danger that is followed from this disorder according to Mayo clinic are themselves as rehab , defines the different risk factors. DID patients can experience suicide, self-mutilation, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders etc. Yet unfortunately cannot recollect the memories experiencing or performing any of these acts due to being in an altered state. Fascinating yet unfortunate, the result of the development of this disorder is because the patient pushes the traumatic memories so far back and in order to cope or process, they dissociate from one selves and form alters. The myths about the disorder are from the lack of knowledge. Many people have many different types of misconceptions from lack of understanding than leading to the belief that the disorder is not real.
Despite the many controversies, there are many survivors that can defend their stories, and if you will, there alters can as well. Encina Severa from Arizona being one of the many DID survivors in America. In a video on Medcircle channel, published in July 8th, 2018, Encina is interviewed and she describes her illness thoroughly. She describes her DID personally how it is claiming,
"Think of your body as a car, okay, you're driving your car. You're in the front seat and you're doing your thing. So, I'm driving my body; you know? Imagine someone takes you out and throws you in the backseat. Now they're driving; you're in the backseat though. You can fight for control of the car, or the body. You might not always win that fight. You can see what's happening. Just like you are sitting in the car, sitting in the backseat. You can hear what's happening, or what's being said. So that's kind of like if Minnie (one of her alters) came out, but she was holding my hand. So, I can still see, I'm Co Conscience" (Encina Severa's interview in, "What it's like to Live with Dissociative Identity Disorder",
Published July 8th, 2018, 35:30, youtube). Survivors validate this illness; however, people will still choose what to believe. Even when there is clear evidence, like Encina Severa right in front of them. Some characteristics of this disorder is experiencing amnesia, just as Encina Severa described in her Medcircle interview, you can be Co conscience, slightly, or have no sense of consciousness at all. Undergoing your alters is a matter of dissociation and takes place typically when under a threatening situation.
DID needs to be taught more and brought more interest. There is no reason why so many victims of this illness should go untreated. Whether people may disagree with the illness it is still a class medical condition in the DSM. There are some misconceptions that the patients are just attention seeking, but these people went through traumatic experiences that led them to develop this illness. In an article on Beauty after Bruises, the site makes a valid point stating,
"As for the idea of it being "just attention-seeking": It should be observed that ALL disorders, even physical illnesses, have groups of individuals who will pretend to have them. DID, however, has no higher rates of this than other conditions, and there is even a specific set of criteria that clinicians can use to confidently determine if someone is faking the condition" ("DID Myths and Misconceptions", BeautyafterBruises).
This is a valid claim because DID is not one special disorder that is more likely to be faked, compared to any other disorder. DID is a real illness that people suffer from.
Although DID unfortunately can't be cured, patients can still go through therapy. There is no way to perform lab work in discovery of the illness, but there is a certain process of diagnosis. Natasha Tracy describes the criteria in her article, "Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) Statistics and Facts", stating,
"The classic treatment approach as described by the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) Treatment Guidelines, is called phase-oriented trauma therapy and consists of three phases: 1) stabilization, 2) trauma-work and 3) integration"
(Tracy, Natasha, "Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) Statistics and Facts", healthyplace". Tracy is one of many resources that undergo the validation. DID is its own individual illness. It is not borderline Personality disorder, or Schizophrenia. DID has its own symptoms and way of showing that makes it its own, just as any other illness would. Suffering from DID is no pleasure, there is no reason to fake it. Also, because you wouldn't gain anything from faking.
The medias portrayal on DID has no favor for the illness. Like Encina Severa claimed in her Medcircle interview claiming that there is a whole community she has found that has DID. Yet survivors choose to stay hidden because of the stigma that follows this mental illness. The way that media portrays DID is exaggerated and false. Their portrayal contributes to the knowledge they have on the illness. Leading to common misconceptions and reasoning to why many people think that this is a fake illness. Stigma behind mental illness has no favor for survivors and some may experience it worse than others. Leading to isolation. Tanya Pelsey expresses the wrongs on the stigma claiming,
"Research undertaken by the University of Melbourne found that 'pervasive negative portrayals can have harmful effects, perpetuating the stigma associated with mental illness and reducing the likelihood that those with mental illness will seek help" (Pelsey, Tanya, "Busting the myths about dissociative identity disorder", The Sane Blog, sane.org).
Because few survivors will seek help it will also be more difficult to discover treatments and possibly a cure. Another article on sane.org claims,
"Stigma makes recovery from mental illness harder. Mental wellbeing has a lot to do with staying active and engaged, living a contributing life, and feeling accepted by others as part of the community. For a person with a mental illness, stigma can erode their self-confidence and make them shy away from engaging with others, fearing misunderstanding and ridicule." ("Reducing Stigma", sane.org).
With fewer survivors coming out they have less of a chance to live a normal life.
Very few people know what Dissociative Identity Disorder is, and when they do it's usually based off the media. Robert T. Muller, a doctor in Psychology claims,
"In a world that worships the silver screen, it may be difficult separating fact from fiction. This may be particularly challenging in the case of DID because the disorder itself is, in reality, rather fascinating and dramatic" (Muller, T. Robert Ph.D., "The Media and Dissociative Identity Disorder", Examining the facts and fictions of media portrayals of DID, PsychologyToday).
Muller expresses the way the media has a way of overdramatizing, however for DID, it is already a fascinating illness, unfortunate but fascinating so over dramatizing the disorder is more likely. An example of an over dramatized media display on DID would be the movie "Split" by M. Night Shyamalan. The movie Split is about a patient with DID but he undergoes many alters, one being called "The Beast" who kills people. With that name already, a general idea an audience may pertain from this movie is that people with DID are dangerous. When survivors of DID saw this film or heard of it, they more than likely felt humiliated because the way that M. Night Shyamalan portrays DID is nothing like the disorder. It is a lot more complex and patients are not dangerous like "The Beast" in the psychological horror. The stigma of DID works in no one's favor. DID is real and facts and statistics can prove that. There needs to be more knowledge and more investigation towards DID. If everyone believed what the media portrayed than there would never be a way to fix the problem with lack of knowledge.
DID is complex and more people need to know about the disorder for a better tomorrow. Knowledge is power. When more people know about this illness there will be less stigma around DID. DID needs to be taught more and brought more interest. There is no reason why so many victims of this illness should go untreated. Whether people may disagree with the illness it is still a class medical condition in the DSM.Works Cited Page
Tracy, Natasha, "Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) Statistics and Facts", 2015, May 13th
Beauty after Bruises blog, "DID Myths and Misconceptions", Education, Resources, DID Awareness, Published 2017
All American Addiction Center Resource, "Dissociative Disorder Types, Risk Factors and Therapies"
Med Circle, "What It's Like To Live With Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)", Published 2018, July 8th
Pelsey, Tanya, "Busting the myths about dissociative identity disorder", Published 2017, January 10th ,
Muller, Robert T. Ph. D., "The Media and Dissociative Identity Disorder", Examining the facts and fictions of media portrayals of DID, Posted 2013, January 19th , In print Trauma and the Avoidant Client: Attachment-Based Strategies for Healing (Norton Professional Books (Hardcover)),