Dissociate Identity Disorder Trauma Model

Trauma Model of Dissociate Identity Disorder

Trauma, we know, can do many things. It can interrupt sleep. It can cause us to be hypervigilant. It can disrupt our moods and ability to handle the tasks placed upon us. Yet trauma also places us at risk of something most of us know little about – multiple personality disorder, more recently known as dissociate identity disorder (DID).

Thought to affect approximately one percent of the general population – similar to levels reported for schizophrenia – DID often presents only after having had several earlier misdiagnoses, including schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Unlike schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, DID is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct ‘identities’ or ‘personality states’ – each with their own perception of the environment and themselves.

And while some experts argue that DID is linked to trauma, such as chronic emotional neglect and/or emotional, physical, or sexual abuse from early childhood, and others contend that it is related to fantasy proneness, suggestibility, simulation or enactment, a study done by researchers at King’s College in London provides support for the trauma model of DID and challenges the core hypothesis of the fantasy model.

Comparing a sample comprised of a total of 65 women, some with a genuine diagnosis of DID, some female actors who were asked to simulate DID, some with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and some healthy controls, on a variety of questionnaires which measured traumatic experiences, suggestibility, fantasy proneness and malingering of psychiatric symptoms, the researchers found that patients with DID were not more fantasy prone or suggestible and did not generate more false memories compared to patients with PTSD, DID simulating controls (Vissia et al., 2016).

Moreover, the researchers found a continuum of trauma-related symptom severity across the groups, with highest scores in patients with DID, followed by patients with PTSD, and the lowest scores for healthy controls (Vissia et al., 2016).

These results support the theory that there is an association between severity of trauma-related psychopathology and the age at onset, severity and intensity of traumatization.

Dr. Simone Reinders from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, explained, “Our findings correspond with research in other areas of psychology and psychiatry, which increasingly implicate trauma with mental health disorders such as psychosis, depression, and now, dissociative identity disorder” (Reinders, 2016).

The hope of Reinders and her team is that insight into the causes and nature of DID will inform, among others, clinicians and forensic experts regarding differences between simulated and genuine DID – which will ultimately lead to faster diagnosis and treatment for patients and greater recognition of DID as a mental health disorder.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

A Dissociative Identity Disorder CasebookA Dissociative Identity Disorder Casebook is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE) course that details the diagnosis, treatment, and case management of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), more recently known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

These clients are severely under-diagnosed, misdiagnosed, ignored, and even ridiculed by their own family and many in the mental health profession. Therapists who deal with these clients may be ridiculed and attacked by other mental health professionals and the MPD/DID clients. The prognosis for treatment of MPD/DID is still tragically poor.

This course will include in-depth discussions of the confusion and controversies surrounding this relatively rare disorder, rule-outs and co-morbid conditions to be considered, and the numerous clinical challenges encountered in treating individuals with multiple personalities. All sections are richly illustrated with case examples from the professional and popular literature, as well as the extensive clinical experiences of the author. Course #40-14 | 2018 (updated) | 58 pages | 30 posttest questions

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