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Definition:

Disorders resulting from the splitting off of some psychological function—such as identity or memory—from the rest of the conscious mind.

Symptoms:

  • 4 different types (dissociative amnesia, identity disorder, fugue and depersonalization)
  • memory loss
  • switching personalities
  • creating physical distance from your real personality
  • a sudden sense of being outside yourself

Causes:

  • develops as a way to cope with trauma
  • children subjected to chronic physical, sexual or emotional abuse or less frequently, a home environment that is otherwise frightening or unpredictable
  • unlikely, but adults may develop it in response to severe traumas

Treatment:

  • psychotherapy is the primary treatment
  • hypnosis
  • creative art therapy
  • cognitive therapy
  • medication (antidepressants or tranquilizers)
  • treatment is often very effective although long and painful
  • involves talking about your disorder, understanding the cause and finding new ways of coping with stress

Anecdote:

"I was sexually abused from the age of 3 until I was 11. This caused my personality to split into at least 6 different other people. Most people do not believe I have multiple personalities, and sometimes I don't believe it myself. My other personalities are all female except for one that is named Greg. We call ourselves "The Camp" and have learned how to exist together peacefully. Therapy has been a lifesaver teaching us new skills on how to function and schedule our time. I can't speak to two of the others, but they speak in therapy and to the others in The Camp. I spent most of my life thinking I was crazy and wanting to die. Now I understand, and I most of the time I even feel blessed. There are times when sharing a body with 6 other people is almost painful and at those times I feel lucky to have such a great therapist.
-- G.L. (25 yrs old)
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Sources:

angelfire.com (stories)
mayoclinic.com (facts)
allpsych.com (statistics)

Recommended Best Source:

mayoclinic.com

Editors:
Abigail Kelly
Nicole Hill