Split Personality Disorder Symptoms: Recognizing and Understanding the Signs

Dissociative identity disorder, once known as split personality disorder, is a complex mental health condition that occurs when there are two or more distinct identities or personality states in one person. Each identity views and interacts with the world differently. You need to be able to recognize the split personality disorder symptoms early. This will […]

Dissociative identity disorder, once known as split personality disorder, is a complex mental health condition that occurs when there are two or more distinct identities or personality states in one person. Each identity views and interacts with the world differently. You need to be able to recognize the split personality disorder symptoms early. This will help an effective treatment and management, as this disorder greatly impacts a person’s daily life and well-being.

What Is Split Personality Disorder?

When somebody has two or more different identities or personality states, and each of them has its own way of viewing the world, they are diagnosed with split personality disorder. This mental health condition is also known as dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder.

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What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by the presence of multiple identities or “alters”. Each alter has unique memories, behaviors, and interactions. People with DID switch between these identities, sometimes due to stress or in unpredictable situations.

Other personality disorders generally involve more fixed behavior patterns and interactions. DID is different because it involves distinct identity fragments taking control at different times. Other personality disorders, like borderline personality disorder, involve a more consistent sense of self but with varying moods and behaviors.

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Clarification of the Terms

Let’s make the terms clear:

  • Split personality disorder: An older term often used to describe what we now know as DID.
  • Dissociative identity disorder: Professionals use this term. It means that the normal integration of consciousness, memory, identity, and emotions is disrupted.
  • Multiple personality disorder: A former term similar to split personality but updated to reflect a better understanding of the condition’s nature as more about dissociation than multiple personalities.
A person with signs and symptoms of split personality disorder thinking
Memory lapses are among common split personality disorder symptoms.

Core Split Personality Disorder Symptoms

What are the symptoms of split personality disorder? There are many. They can impact your daily life. These split personality disorder symptoms are:

  • Gaps in memory concerning everyday events and personal information: You might not remember parts of your day, conversations you had, decisions you made, or commitments you agreed to.
  • Memory lapses and amnesia: This is more severe than just forgetting where you left your keys. You might forget major life events, past experiences, or critical personal information. These memory issues are often related to switches between different identities.
  • Presence of two or more distinct personalities or identities: People with DID have two or more distinct personality states. They have their own preferences and mannerisms and interact with the world differently. These identities may have different names, ages, genders, or even different voices and postures.

How DID Symptoms Manifest and Affect Daily Life

Dissociative identity disorder affects 1.5% of the population. The impact of split personality disorder symptoms can be profound. Switching between identities can strain your relationships. Friends and family may feel they are interacting with a completely different person.

Your work might suffer as well. You might have performance issues as memory gaps and identity switches can interfere with job responsibilities.

In some cases, certain identities may not be aware of others’ actions or may engage in risky behavior. This puts the person’s safety at risk.

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Signs of DID

It is not easy to identify DID. Split personality disorder symptoms often overlap with other mental health issues. However, there are some specific dissociative identity disorder signs:

  • Changes in behavior that are out of character: This might include sudden shifts in mood that are hard to explain and changes in preferences, such as suddenly disliking a previously favorite food. Also, using different speech patterns or languages that the person does not normally use.
  • Fluctuations in skills and knowledge: For instance, being able to play a musical instrument one day but not the next or showing proficiency in a sport or activity they are not usually skilled in.
  • Altered sense of self-awareness and perception: They might report feeling as though they are watching themselves from the outside, as if they are another person. Also, they may feel disconnected from their thoughts, feelings, and actions, a phenomenon known as depersonalization.
A person experiencing split personality disorder symptoms looking out the window
Split personality disorder symptoms overlap with other mental health conditions.

Common Misdiagnoses and Why DID Might Be Overlooked

Here are the conditions with symptoms that overlap with DID:

  • Bipolar disorder: Mood swings and erratic behaviors.
  • Schizophrenia: Hallucinations and delusions.
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD): Unstable relationships, identity disturbance, and emotional dysregulation.

Dissociative identity disorder symptoms are unique, like distinct identities. They are often misdiagnosed because they can be misunderstood or overlooked by professionals who aren’t experts in dissociative disorders and signs and symptoms of split personality.

Importance of Professional Evaluation

Diagnosing DID accurately demands a comprehensive evaluation by an experienced professional in a mental health facility. This typically involves:

  • Detailed interviews: To gather personal history, identify dissociative symptoms, and understand the level of distress and impairment.
  • Psychological assessments: Tools like the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) or the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D) are important for uncovering less obvious dissociative symptoms.

Treatment Options for DID

When you recognize signs and symptoms of split personality disorder, look for treatment options. Treating dissociative identity disorder (DID) usually involves psychotherapy, and sometimes medications help too.

Psychotherapy includes:

  • Integrative therapy: This approach helps unite different identities into one or helps them coexist peacefully. It includes techniques like narrative therapy, where patients share their stories, and cognitive-behavioral therapy to correct distorted thinking.
  • Trauma therapy: DID often links back to early trauma. This therapy focuses on working through traumatic memories. Techniques like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are effective.
  • Supportive therapy: Helps you with daily life and improving relationships. It also teaches coping methods for stress and trauma triggers, helping prevent personality switches.

While no medication directly treats DID, some drugs can help with related symptoms like depression, anxiety, or psychosis. Doctors might prescribe antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, or antipsychotics, depending on the symptoms.

The treatment goal is to merge identities and develop a stable sense of self, enhancing overall functioning. This involves recognizing and managing triggers for identity switches and aiming for a consistent identity.

Additional Resources and Tools for DID

If you are seeking to understand or manage split personality disorder symptoms, several tools and resources are available.

Dissociative Disorder Quiz

Our online dissociative disorder quiz can help you recognize potential signs and symptoms of split personality disorder and other dissociative disorders. It’s a preliminary tool that can indicate whether further evaluation by a professional might be necessary.

A person taking an online quiz to determine signs and symptoms of split personality disorder
A dissociative disorder quiz will help you recognize the signs and symptoms of split personality disorder.

Dissociative Experiences Scale

This scale is a widely used method for assessing signs and symptoms of split personality disorder. The dissociative experiences scale involves a questionnaire that measures the frequency of dissociative experiences, such as memory lapses or a sense of detachment from one’s self.

Accessing Help and Support

Reach out to mental health professionals who specialize in dissociative disorders. Look for referrals for local mental health clinics and hospitals.

Support groups, both in-person and online, can also provide guidance and community understanding for those affected by DID.

These tools and resources can be a first step towards getting appropriate help and understanding more about DID. They complement professional advice and treatment, not replace them.

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Often, DID occurs together with other psychological disorders. This can complicate symptoms and treatment, too. Border personality disorder is one of them. Both DID and BDP involve intense emotional swings, identity disturbances, and unstable relationships. When they occur together, dissociative identity disorder symptoms can become stronger. This makes diagnosis and treatment more complex.

Options for borderline personality treatment include therapies like dialectical behavior therapy. This therapy teaches coping skills. It teaches how to manage emotions, improve relationships, and reduce behaviors that are bad for you. Also, we use cognitive behavioral therapy to address negative thinking patterns.

The presence of BPD can affect the approach to treating DID. Therefore, therapists need to address the emotional instability and impulsivity of BPD before focusing on integrating identities in DID.

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Behavioral therapy is used for many psychological disorders.

Insurance for Treatment

If you have insurance, you have many benefits. Make sure to check your policy for details like coverage limits, deductibles, and co-pay amounts for mental health services. Also, verify covered services. For example, check whether your treatments are included in your Aetna mental health coverage. They might involve psychotherapy, medications, and hospital stays.

Does that feel overwhelming? Contact your insurance customer service for help.

Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Split Personality Disorder and Seek Support

Split personality disorder symptoms and signs include encountering sudden shifts in behavior or feeling like there are multiple distinct identities within yourself. They can interfere with everyday life and relationships. If you or someone you know is showing signs of DID, you must seek professional help. Getting help early makes managing the symptoms more manageable. Call our mental health hotline today to improve your or your loved one’s life.

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Mitra, P. and Jain, A. (2021). Dissociative Identity Disorder. [online] PubMed. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK568768/.