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Previously known as multiple personality disorder or simply split personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder is a very serious and unpleasant form of dissociation. It is based on the lack of connection, or rather a discontinuity in thought, action, feeling, memory or even a misplaced sense of identity. It is usually considered to be a result of severe traumatic experiences in early childhood, varying from extremely physical to repeated emotional or sexual abuse. It is thought to be a self-defense mechanism where the person dissociates himself from any such experience or situation that would deem to be harmful to his or her conscious self. It is, however, not to be confused with schizophrenia.
There are innumerable indicators that point towards dissociative identity disorder. Some of them include:
- Severe depression
- Sleeping problems such as insomnia or sleep apnea
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Anxiety attacks and phobias
- Suicidal tendencies
- Abnormal rituals and compulsions
- Visual or auditory hallucinations
- Self-persecution and self-sabotage tendencies
- Time-loss and amnesia
- Mood swings
- Headaches and migraines
- Inability to remember important personal information
- 'Switching' of identities
The main causes of split personality disorder are unfortunately still unclear and vague, although 99% of persons who suffer from this disorder have a severe traumatic history or background. The causes need not be physical or sexual abuse. It could also stem from emotional abuse like insistent neglect. Studies have also showed that children may become dissociative, if their parents are either too strict or unpredictable.