Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder) (Symptoms)

  • The individual experiences two or more distinct identities or personality states (each with its own enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self).
  • The reported range of identities is from 2 to more than 100. Half of the reported cases include individuals with 10 or fewer.
  • At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently take control of the person's behavior. Each may exhibit its own distinct history, self-image, behaviors, and, physical characteristics, as well as possess a separate name.
  • Particular identities may emerge in specific circumstances. Alternative identities are experienced as taking control in sequence, one at the expense of the other, and may deny knowledge of one another, be critical of one another or appear to be in open conflict. Transitions from one identity to another are often triggered by psychosocial stress.
  • Frequent gaps are found in memories of personal history, including people, places, and events, for both the distant and recent past. Different alters may remember different events, but passive identities tend to have more limited memories whereas hostile, controlling or protective identities have more complete memories.
  • Symptoms of depression, anxiety, passivity, dependence and guilt may be present.
  • In childhood, problem behavior and an inability to focus in school are common.
  • Self-destructive and/or aggressive behavior may take place.
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations may occur.
  • The average time that elapses from the first symptom to diagnosis is six to seven years.
  • The disturbance is not due to the direct psychological effects of a substance or of a general medical condition.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). Last reviewed 12/31/1969
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • Handbook of Psychology, Vol. 8 (John Wiley)