What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

I was discussing this with Consultant ‘Ed’ at Southfields Hospital on Tuesday. I think but am not really certain whether he was genuinely interested. I think that he was certainly trying to suss me out, see what makes me tick. I didn’t give him the best explanation because he had shouted at me unnecessarily minutes earlier.

It’s worth pointing out to start with that the knowledge domain of medicine is so vast that practitioners specialise in specialist areas. So Ed would probably have been a cardiologist, possibly also a Heart Surgeon. Madeleine McCann’s father was a Heart Surgeon (but I also suspect that he had other relationships with her). So Ed asked me about Dissociative Identity Disorder and then almost immediately moved onto Multiple Personality Disorder.

The American Psychological Society defines and classifies mental illnesses in it’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual(s). Multiple Personality Disorder is the older name for Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) in the DSMs and the change is significant. DID is no longer considered a personality disorder and the emphasis now is about different aspects of one’s identity not being integrated well. It’s also a single identity not plural identities.

There are two main sources of mental illnesses – childhood trauma or battles in warfare. So we’re concerned with childhood trauma here and warfare would typically cause PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Imagine that you’re a child or even an infant in an intolerable situation. My earliest memory is when I was aged 2 and I’ve had psychologists tell me that it can’t be because you can’t remember that early. It must have affected me so much then to cause me to remember years before anyone is able to.

So if you find yourself in an intolerable situation you employ what is known as a coping mechanism. The coping mechanism in DID is to change yourself so that you’re able to tolerate the otherwise intolerable situation. Then when the next intolerable situation presents itself, you change yourself again. This results in a disjointed, interrupted individual where the pieces are not well joined continuously to each other. There’s your Dissociative Identity Disorder.

ed: This is the brief explanation. I don’t go as far as “… the presence of other identities, each with their own names, voices, personal histories and mannerisms” and that seems to be more like the older meaning. I find that I am sometimes not able to whistle.

12/11/22 8.25am One aspect that I’ve noticed and never seen documented is that I present physical illnesses atypically, as if the normal rules don’t apply. Hope that will be the case since Myocardial infarction is usually quite serious.

13/11/22 I wasn’t thinking straight last week because I was in pain, now I’m on my sixth day of stopping smoking …

Do I experience uncontrollable switches in mood or thinking? Yes, I think far less now that I have insight. Think that I’ve lost at least one job over it.

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