Multiple personality disorder (MPD)


Multiple personality disorder is now more usually termed dissociated identity disorder. It is one of the more misunderstood types of mental illness, frequently capturing the interest of writers and filmmakers, who tend to portray it in its most exaggerated form. What is most important to understand is the multiple personality disorder is not schizophrenia. The two are often confused. However, in very rare cases, a personality, or alter, as it is sometimes termed, suffers from schizophrenia.
Multiple personality disorder is almost always caused by persistent trauma, or past trauma such as early childhood sexual or physical abuse. When trauma occurs over a long period of time, the affected person may begin to cope by completely disassociating from the events that cause the trauma. This can lead to “alters,” separate personalities within the same person who either are aware of, or are unaware of the abuse. Alters can be childlike, strong, male, or female, and often emerge as a coping device.
Psychiatrists make the distinction between a person having several personalities, and believing they have several personalities. In general, multiple personality disorder is the belief on the part of the patient that several personalities seem to exist within the self.
One of the main characteristics of multiple personality disorder is that people seem to “lose” time. They seem unaware that time has passed; yet someone observing them may see them acting in many different ways. The afflicted however, tends to have no idea what has occurred. This generally central personality seems most likely to dissociate if the person is exposed to situations which can evoke earlier traumas, or if the person is still enmeshed in a traumatic situation.

Signs and symptoms

Individuals diagnosed with MPD demonstrate a variety of symptoms with wide fluctuations across time; functioning can vary from severe impairment in daily functioning to normal or high abilities. Symptoms can include:----
Patients may experience an extremely broad array of other symptoms that resemble epilepsy, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, and eating disorders.


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