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Dissociative identity disorder
Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology
Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology, 2nd ed. Gale Group, 2001.
Also referred to as multiple personality disorder, a condition in which a person's identity dissociates, or fragments, creating additional, distinct identities that exist independently of each other within the same person.
Two famous cases
The stories of two women with multiple personality disorders have been told both in books and films. A woman with 22 personalities was recounted in 1957 in a major motion picture staring Joanne Woodward and in a book by Corbett Thigpen, both titled The Three Faces of Eve. Twenty years later, in 1977, Caroline Sizemore, the 22nd personality to emerge in "Eve," described her experiences in a book titled I'm Eve. Although the woman known as "Eve" developed a total of 22 personalities, only three could exist at any one time-for a new one to emerge, an existing personality would "die."
The story of Sybil (a pseudonym) was published in 1973 by Flora Rheta Schreiber, who worked closely for a decade with Sybil and her New York psychiatrist Dr. Cornelia B. Wilbur. Sybil's sixteen distinct personalities emerged over a period of 40 years.
Both stories reveal fascinating insights -- and raise thought-provoking questions-about the unconscious mind, the interrelationship between remembering and forgetting, and the meaning of personality development. The separate and distinct personalities manifested in these two cases feature unique physical traits and vocational interests. In the study of this disorder, scientists have been able to monitor unique patterns of brainwave activity for the unique multiple personalities.
Persons suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID) adopt one or more distinct identities which co-exist within one individual. Each personality is distinct from the other in specific ways. For instance, tone of voice and mannerisms will be distinct, as well as posture, vocabulary, and everything else we normally think of as marking a personality. There are cases in which a person will have as many as 100 or more identities, while some people only exhibit the presence of one or two. In either case, the criteria for diagnosis are the same. This disorder was, until the publication of DSM-IV, referred to as multiple personality disorder. This name was abandoned for a variety of reasons, one having to do with psychiatric explicitness (it was thought that the name should reflect the dissociative aspect of the disorder).
The DSM-IV lists four criteria for diagnosing someone with dissociative identity disorder. The first being the presence of two or more distinct "identities or personality states." At least two personalities must take
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