What do we know about the multiple personality disorder? Many of us are familiar with the condition as it has been popularized in fiction, most often in works with murder mysteries and thrillers. Although there are only a few media franchises in the Philippines that have showed this psychological disorder, it left enough mark to tingle the imagination of the people. But here’s the thing: it’s a real disorder found in the real world, not just in fiction.
What is Multiple Personality Disorder?
Officially known as the dissociative identity disorder, the MPD is thought to be a complex psychological condition that is caused by many factors such as severe trauma during early childhood, like repetitive physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
Most people have experience a slight or mild dissociation, which is like daydreaming or getting carried away while working on a project. However, dissociative identity disorder is an extreme form of dissociation, a mental process which produces little connection in an individual’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions or sense of identity. The dissociative aspect is thought to be some sort of a coping mechanism where the person literally separates himself from a situation or experience that is too traumatic, violent, or painful to face with his conscious self.
Symptoms of Multiple Personality Disorder
The multiple personality disorder is characterized by the presence of two or more personality states that have power over the person’s behavior. There is also an inability to recall key personal information that is too far-fetched to be mere forgetfulness. There are also highly distinct memory variations, which change with a person’s corresponding personality. More common symptoms are:
- Dissociative amnesia, which includes gaps in the recall of important personal information and everyday events.
- Severe distress and impairment in functioning because of the disorder
- The disturbance is not part of the normal practices in culture
- No one can explain the disturbance except for substance use or a medical condition
Although the list of DID symptoms are short, the signs of said disorder are numerous. MPD is divided into two categories: detachment and compartmentalization. Detachment is when a person experiences a voluntary or involuntary feeling or emotion that comes with a sense of separation from normal associations or environment. On the other hand, compartmentalization is the splitting off part of a personality of mind with lack of communication and consistency among the parts.
Those who are diagnosed with MPD also experience borderline personality disorder characteristics, major depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder and may attempt suicide on a few occasions. Some signs are:
- Personalities are often the opposite of each other
- Each personality has its own memories, behavioral patterns and social relationships
- Transition from one personality to another is often sudden, with stress as the main cause most of the time
- The person referring to him or herself as “we”
- The person being told that they did certain things that they don’t remember. He or she may also find unfamiliar objects or strange handwriting
- Auditory hallucinations
- Unexplained phobias
How to Handle Someone with Multiple Personality Disorder
Although MPD can be a frightening disorder, there are ways how to approach someone who is diagnosed with it. The first thing to do is to understand what Multiple Personality Disorder really is. It is very helpful to know its symptoms and the people who are involved with someone with MPD must have infinite patience to the alter egos. One must suspend his or her judgment, which can cause a person to refuse to seek medical help no thanks to the stigma associated with mental disorders. It is advised to stop contributing to the shame and embarrassment a person with MPD is currently feeling.
It is encouraged to show support to a person with MPD. Shaming and stereotyping often lead people with mental disorders to feel isolated. If possible, talking to him or her and spending quality time together without discussing the disorder will help him or her in feel “normal”. When in doubt, simply stay calm during stressful situations and respect the person for who he or she is.