What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder? (Diagnostic criteria - DSM-5)

Dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder) is, according to DSM-5, a dissociative disorder characterized by:

the presence of two or more distinct personality states or an experience of possession and recurrent episodes of amnesia. 

The fragmentation of identity can vary depending on culture (eg, the forms possession takes) and circumstances. Thus, these subjects may have experiences of discontinuity in their identity or their memory which are not immediately obvious to others or which are masked by the attempts they make to hide their dysfunction. 

Here are the diagnostic criteria for DSM-5:

Disturbance of identity characterized by two or more distinct personality states, which can be described in some cultures as an experience of possession. Disturbance of identity implies a marked discontinuity of sense of self and agency, accompanied by alterations in relation to it of affect, behavior, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition and / or sensorimotor functioning. These signs and symptoms may be observed by others or reported by the subject himself.

Frequent lapses of memory in recalling daily events, important personal information and / or traumatic events, which cannot be ordinary forgetfulness.

The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impaired functioning in social, occupational or other important areas.

The disruption is not part of a widely accepted cultural or religious practice.

N.B .: In children, the symptoms cannot be explained by the representation of imaginary playmates or other imaginative games.

Symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (eg, memory loss or chaotic behavior during alcohol poisoning) or to another medical condition (eg, seizures). complex partial committees). 

People with dissociative identity disorder experience:

Recurring and inexplicable intrusions into their conscious functioning and sense of self (eg, dissociated voices, actions and speech, intrusive thoughts, emotions and impulses),

Alterations in the sense of self (e.g. attitudes, preferences and feelings giving the impression to the subject that his body or his actions are not his own)

Strange changes in perceptions (e.g. depersonalization or derealization, such as feeling detached from your body while cutting something),

Intermittent functional neurological symptoms .

Stress often causes a transient worsening of dissociative symptoms which makes them more evident. 


The 12-month prevalence of dissociative identity disorder in adults in a US study in a small general population was 1.5%. In this study, the prevalence was 1.6% in men and 1.4% in women. 

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