Types of Multiple Personality Disorders
Dissociative Identity Disorder, which was previously known as the Multiple Personality Disorder and the different types of multiple personality disorders is the consequence of suffering a very severe form of trauma, be it physical, sexual or mental abuse during the vulnerable childhood. There are several types of multiple personality disorders that can affect a person. This article on ‘TypesOF.com’ focuses on highlighting the common types of multiple personality disorders, their symptoms and course of treatment. But before we get into that, its important to understand what really is Multiple Personality Disorder.
I am sure all of us have sat in a boring class and daydreamed, or lost our attention here and there during a day, even forgotten some small detail of the day. These are examples of mild dissociations which are very common and usually tend to happen when we are too tired to stay in the reality and the daydreams are a wonderful place to escape. Multiple Personality Disorder is something very similar, but exponentially magnified and severe form of this dissociation.
It is a mental process wherein, there is lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, feelings, actions, memories and sense of identity. It stems from a traumatic experience that is too disturbing to cope with. Dissociation is a coping mechanism. The subconscious literally dissociates itself with the experience that’s too painful to assimilate with the conscious mind. By dissociating painful memories from everyday thought process, a relatively healthy level of functioning is maintained by the victim. It is as if the trauma never ever occurred. It is a temporary escape from all the fear and pain. If the trauma is inflicted upon the victim continuously, as in the case of long term abuse, these dissociated states can take up their own separate identities.
A person with one of the types of Multiple Personality Disorders has two or more personalities, also called “alters”. The alters take control of the victim’s behavior time to time. Each alter might have a different personal history, different way of thinking or even distinct traits. There have also been examples of alters of different gender, having their own names, mannerisms, preferences and accents. A person suffering from this type of multiple personality disorder may or may not be aware of the other personality states and might not have any recollection of the times when another alter is dominant. The switch of the personalities can be triggered by a reminder of the trauma or stress.
Other types of multiple personality disorder include depersonalization disorder, dissociative amnesia and in some cases, also dissociative fugue.
Dissociative amnesia is a memory loss more severe than normal forgetfulness and is generally unexplainable neurologically. Here, conscious recall of traumatic periods, events or people is not present in the memory.
People suffering from dissociative fugue dissociate by putting physical distance between themselves and their identity. For example, they will abruptly leave home and travel far away and adopt a new identity in a new place. Dissociative fugue typically ends as abruptly as it begins and when it uplifts, the person will not have any recollection of why and how he landed up where he is.
Depersonalization disorder is a type of multiple personality disorder which is characterized by a sense of being a third party observer of your life. It is a sudden sense of being outside of yourself, and looking at your actions as if watching a movie. Time seems to have slowed down and everything may seem unreal.
Symptoms are generally common for all the types of multiple personality disorders and range from memory loss, depression, paranoia, anxiety, blurred sense of identity, self-injury or unexplained injury, substance abuse, hallucinations and unexplained sleeping or eating patterns.
The treatment of the various types of multiple personality disorders aims at being able to connect and integrate the different personalities into one functioning personality and to help the person process the painful memories and develop new coping mechanisms. Treatments include medication, psychotherapy and clinical hypnosis.
People suffering from any type of multiple personality disorder often spend many years with misdiagnosis as the symptoms are very similar to many other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and continue changing medicines and therapists with little or no improvement. Hence, understanding the various types of multiple personality disorders and treating the person accordingly is very important and can ensure a relatively well functioning life.