Split personality disorder, also sometimes referred to as multiple personality disorder or disassociative identity disorder, can be a frightening condition. Fortunately, it is relatively rare. A person who suffers from this condition may have multiple personality states or identities. Any one of these identities may be in control of the person at any given time.
It was once believed that each identity was unique, which is why the disease was known as multiple personality disorder. However, as more has been learned about the disease, it is thought to be more like a fragmented identity rather than multiple identities.
The most classic symptom of this condition occurs when a patient exhibits more than one identity. Each of these personality states or identities is unique from one another in how they react to their environment and perceive themselves and the world around them. Interestingly, each identity may have its own name and behaviors. They may even have their own history or back story.
Any or all of these identities may appear and take “control” of the person at any time. Sometimes certain identities appear during specific situations or circumstances. Depending on the patient, their identities may either know about one another or may be completely unaware of the other personalities.
Most patients who suffer from this condition experience missing time or lost memories. They may also experience other mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression. In some cases, they may even exhibit behavior that could be harmful to themselves or others, or they may refer to themselves as “we” rather than “I”.
In certain instances, people who suffer from split personality disorder may experience hallucinations. These can be visual in nature, such as seeing something that isn’t there, or auditory in nature, such as hearing sounds that don’t exist. Problems with substance abuse or with risky behavior such as prostitution are sometimes present.
Both children and adults can experience this condition. In children, it often manifests as difficulty concentrating or maintaining focus. Children with multiple personalities may also have major behavioral issues.
The exact cause of this personality disorder is not known. However, a large percentage of people who are diagnosed with it have experienced abuse at one point or another in their lives. The abuse could have been either physical or sexual in nature. However, it is almost always severe.
The condition is typically treated through psychotherapy. Certain medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication may also be prescribed. Ultimately, the goal is to break down the fragmentation and bring the personalities together into a single, cohesive personality.
If you suspect that someone you care about may be suffering from this mental illness, it is important to seek a professional evaluation. Only a doctor or qualified therapist can properly diagnose and treat the condition. Although it may be challenging to deal with, proper care often results in the personalities successfully merging into one. The best way to start working toward successful treatment is to take action and find a qualified mental health practitioner today.