What is DID and dissociative disorders

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder? (DID)

What Are Dissociative Disorders and C-PTSD?

In considering, “What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?” DID or OSDD, Depersonalization, Derealization, Maladaptive Daydreaming or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the answer breaks down to the basics. For services and resources on trauma and dissociation, see our Multiplied By One Org home page.

Dissociation is a normal experience at healthy levels and essentially equates to a simple daydream or forgetting where you left your keys. There are those with limited imaginations with which to daydream, whereas most will at the least, hold capacity to picture themselves on a vacation.

While boredom can play a role in reaching to escape in a daydream, so can isolation or social rejection. Escapism is part of the minds reason to reach to dissociate, as is self-preservation. In a traumatic event, dissociation can distance a person from an emotional response, make them feel like the event did not occur to them, or their memories of the trauma may be lost.

As an example of normal to disordered levels of something that can be healthy, or disabling, consider a condition like diabetes. Everyone has a level of sugar running through them, which is a normal and needed function, though, when glucose rises to dangerous levels, serious complications and symptoms result.

In that same concept, with triggers frequently brought on by trauma, the symptoms or results of this can vary.

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID?

Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID is classed as a dissociative disorder. It is often mistaken for personality disorders, like Borderline Personality Disorder, or mistaken for Bipolar, or Schizophrenia. So, what it is? You may have heard of Multiple Personality Disorder, or Split Personalities. Everyone has a variance in personality, so it’s more like multiple identities. Someone with DID doesn’t have multiple people inside them. They are one person divided into parts, or different identities, that have become independent from each other in ways of likes, dislikes, ages, genders, or even health issues.

A person with DID is often unaware of their condition or the other parts sharing their mind. This is due to dissociative barriers that keep them separate. Most may notice the signs, but brush them off as quirks or normal and need to be informed. The average age of diagnosis for Dissociative Identity Disorder is 30.

When dissociative barriers break down and communication is possible, this is referred to as integration. This allows for memories, thoughts, or words to be shared, as well as lead to a state of co-consciousness, which is when more than one state of self is aware of what the other is doing.

Fusion is when all parts become one unified individual, which requires extensive time and treatment. The choice to work toward fusion is a personal one to whom is made together with a system of parts. Fusion is not always possible, depending on the degree of fragmentation. An equally valid means of recovering is often referred to as functional multiplicity.

For more information on what DID is, what causes it, the history, or what it's like to live with DID, see What is DID

What is OSDD?

OSDD, or, Otherwise Specified Dissociative Disorder is when not all the diagnostic requirements for DID, like amnesia barriers, are present, but that there are two or more distinct identities. Those with OSDD may struggle with societal stigmas regarding their validity for not experiencing amnesia, though they are equally valid. Those with DID also often experience co-consciousness as well as amnesia, which is a common misconception that they don't. OSDD parts/alters are separate identities, while sharing awareness when both in control, while they may not fully know each other when not co-fronting.

What is Depersonalization?

Depersonalization is the distancing from oneself from the world around a person. They may feel like they do not exist or are not alive. This experience can be confusing, frightening, and can last varying degrees of time.

One may describe a sense of pointlessness in speaking, walking, interacting, because they consider these actions inconsequential if they aren't actually there.

What is Derealization?

Derealization is when perception of the world around the person shifts, or becomes distorted and feels unreal. Someone facing derealization may question if the people around them are there, or may not recognize their previously familiar surroundings.

What is Maladaptive Daydreaming?

Maladaptive Daydreaming is when the simple daydream is taken to a high spectrum where the person no longer knows how to stop and may spend hours or days at a time immersed in vivid storylines. They may lead a different life in their imagination, have different personal characteristics and meet anyone they wish, or go anywhere they want.

A person's relationship with their fantasies can be both positive and negative, in that they feel drawn to slip into the story, but may feel overwhelm at an inability to stop when needed. This becomes an interference to life's day-to-day activities and a source of fear that anyone would know and think negatively of them.

Unlike psychosis, a person who experiences Maladaptive Daydreaming knows the difference between fantasy and reality. They are aware that their stories exist only in imagination and this is not confused with actual happenings.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the aftereffect of at least one traumatic experience. Examples of such events are the impact of a soldier following a war, or it can be a devastating car accident, an assault, being threatened or witnessing acts of violence.

Symptoms of PTSD include avoiding the memories or place of the trauma, or intrusive thoughts of the event, which may involve vivid images or reliving in recall, such as flashbacks. Changes in mood are common, such as angry outbursts or crying fits. Loss of recall of the trauma can occur. Following a traumatic event, a survivor may feel guilt and/or shame, as though they held responsibility.

What is C-PTSD and how does it differ from PTSD?

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder holds similarities to PTSD in that it is initiated by trauma. Key differences are that C-PTSD starts in childhood where the traumatic events are repeated, and often committed by a person in authority.