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How to Know If You Have DID Or Dissociative Personality Disorder

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is a disruption of identity where the person has at least two distinct personality states.[1] DID often arises as a result of severe childhood abuse. This can cause both the sufferer and the people around them discomfort and confusion. If you are worried you might have DID, you can successfully find out by getting evaluated by a professional, identifying your symptoms and warning signs, understanding the basics of DID, and dispelling common misconceptions about DID.


EditIdentifying the Symptoms

  1. Analyze your sense of self. Sufferers of DID have several distinct personality states.[2] These states are aspects of themselves which are always present, but which manifest individually and during which the sufferer might not have any memory recall. The different personality states may create disarray in your sense of self. [3]
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 1 Version 3.jpg
    • Look for "switches" in personality. A "switch" is the term used for changing between personalities/states. A person with DID will undergo switches on a relatively regular or consistent basis. The switch between personality states will take anywhere from a few seconds to several hours, and the time spent in an alternate personality or state will vary from person to person. Outsiders can sometimes determine when a switch has occurred based on the presence of:[4]
      • A change in the sound/timbre of voice.
      • Rapid blinking, as if adjusting to light.
      • A general change in demeanor or physical state.
      • Changes in facial features or expression.
      • Change in train of thought or conversation, without any warning or reason.
    • In children, having imaginary playmates or other fantasy play is not indicative of having multiple personality states or DID.[5]
  2. Notice extreme changes in affect and behavior. Individuals who suffer from DID often experience drastic changes in affect (observable emotion), behavior, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition (thoughts), and sensory-motor functioning.[6]
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 2 Version 3.jpg
    • Individuals with DID may sometimes display dramatic changes in topic of conversation or line of thought. Or they may also show a generalized inability to concentrate for long periods of time going "in and out" of conversation.[7]
  3. Identify memory issues. Individuals with DID experience significant memory issues, including difficulty recalling everyday events, important personal information, or traumatic events.[8]
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 3 Version 3.jpg
    • The types of memory issues associated with DID are not consistent with normal, everyday forgetfulness. Losing your keys or forgetting where you parked your car are not extreme enough. People with DID will have significant gaps in their memory such as not remembering an entire situation that occurred recently.
  4. Monitor your distress levels. DID is only diagnosed when the symptoms cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of daily functioning. [9]
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 4 Version 2.jpg
    • Do your symptoms (different states, memory issues) cause you a lot of pain and suffering?
    • Are you having substantial issues with school, work, or home-life because of your symptoms?
    • Do your symptoms cause you to have difficulty in friendships and relationships with others?

EditGetting an Evaluation

  1. Consult with a psychologist. The only surefire way to find out if you have DID is to get a psychological evaluation. People with Dissociative Identity Disorder do not always remember when they experience a certain personality state.[10] Due to this, people with DID may not be aware of their multiple states so self-diagnosing can be particularly challenging.
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    • Don't try to self-diagnose. You must see a professional to determine whether or not you have DID. Only trained psychologists or psychiatrists are qualified to diagnose the illness.
    • Find a psychologist or therapist who specializes in assessing and treating the disorder.[11]
    • If you have been diagnosed with DID, you can consider whether you want to take medication for it.[12] Ask your psychologist for a referral to a psychiatrist.
  2. Rule out medical issues. Sometimes people with DID experience memory issues and agitation, which can also be caused by certain medical conditions. It is important that you are also evaluated by your doctor (primary general practitioner) to eliminate any of the possibilities.
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 6 Version 2.jpg
    • Also, rule out any substance use issues.[13] DID is not caused by blackouts due to alcohol consumption or other substance intoxication.
    • If you experience seizures of any kind, consult with your doctor immediately. This is a medical condition and not directly associated with DID.
  3. Be patient when seeking professional help. Know that it can take time to diagnose DID. People with DID are sometimes misdiagnosed. The primary reason for this is that many sufferers of DID also have other mental health diagnoses such as: depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorder, sleep disorder, panic disorder, or a substance abuse disorder. The combination of these illnesses present themselves in a way that the symptoms of DID overlap with the other disorders. As a result, the doctor may need some time to get to know the patient before making a clear diagnosis.
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 7 Version 2.jpg
    • Don’t expect an immediate diagnosis on the first day you meet with a mental health professional. These assessments can take several sessions.
    • Make sure you tell the mental health professional that you are worried you might have DID. This can make it much easier to diagnose because this will help the doctor (Psychologist or Psychiatrist) ask you the correct questions and observe your behaviors appropriately.
    • Be honest about your experiences. The more information the doctor has, the more accurate the diagnosis.

EditSpotting the Warning Signs

  1. Pay attention to other symptoms and warning signs of DID. There is a long list of related symptoms that may occur if someone is suffering from DID. Although the other symptoms may not all be necessary for a diagnosis, they are likely to appear and are closely related to the illness.
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 8 Version 2.jpg
    • Make a list of all of the symptoms you encounter. This list will help shed light on your condition. Bring this list to your psychologist when you go for an evaluation.
  2. Take an account of your abuse history. DID typically arises as a result of years of extreme abuse.[14] Unlike movies like "Hide and Seek," which portray a sudden onset of the disorder as the result of a recent traumatic experience, DID typically occurs because of chronic abuse in a person’s life. An individual will typically experience years of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse as a child, and develop DID as a coping mechanism to deal with the abuse.[15] The abuse suffered is generally very extreme, such as being raped regularly by a parent or kidnapped and abused over a long period of time.
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • A single (or a few unrelated) abuse events will not cause DID.
    • The onset of symptoms may begin in childhood, but will not be diagnosed until a person has reached adulthood.
  3. Keep track of time loss and amnesia. The term "time loss" refers to a person suddenly becoming aware of their surroundings, and having a period of recent time (such as the previous day or that morning’s activities) completely lost from their memory. This relates closely to amnesia, in which an individual loses a specific memory or set of related memories. Both can be quite traumatic for the sufferer, as they are left confused and unaware as to their own goings-on.[16]
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 10 Version 2.jpg
    • Create a diary of memory problems. If you suddenly come to and don’t know what you’ve just been doing, write it down. Check the time and date and write an account of where you are and the last thing you remember. This can help identify patterns or triggers for dissociative episodes. Share this with your mental health professional if you feel comfortable.
  4. Spot dissociation. Dissociation is the experience of feeling detached from your own body, experiences, feelings, or memories. Everyone experiences dissociation to some degree (e.g. when you are sitting in a boring class for a long time, and suddenly come-to when the bell rings with no memory of what happened over the past hour). However, someone with DID might experience dissociation more regularly, as if they are in a "waking dream." This person may explain that they do things as if they are watching their body from the outside.[17]
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 11 Version 2.jpg

EditUnderstanding the Basics of the Disorder

  1. Learn the specific criteria for a DID diagnosis. Knowing the exact criteria to maintain a DID diagnosis may help you identify whether or not you need a psychological evaluation to confirm your suspicion. According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-5), the primary diagnostic tool used in psychology, there are five criteria that must be met for a person to be diagnosed with DID. All five must be verified before a diagnosis can be made.[18]They are:
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 12 Version 2.jpg
    • There must be two or more distinct states or personalities within a single individual, which is outside societal and cultural norms for the individual.
    • The person will have recurrent memory issues such as gaps in memory of everyday activities, forgetting personal information, or traumatic events.
    • The symptoms cause significant impairment in functioning (school, work, home, relationships).
    • The disturbance is not part of a widely recognized religious or cultural practice.
    • The symptoms are not the result of substance abuse or a medical illness.
  2. Recognize DID is a common disorder. A lot of times, DID is painted as a mental illness that shows up once or twice among an entire country of people; it is made to seem very rare. However, recent studies suggest that between one to three percent of the population actually suffer from the illness, putting it in the normal range for mental illness diagnoses.[19] Keep in mind though, that the severity of the illness does vary from person to person.
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 13 Version 2.jpg
  3. Know that DID is many times more likely to be diagnosed in women, than in men. Whether as a result of social conditioning or because of a general increased likelihood for women to suffer significant traumatic abuse as children than do men, women are three to nine times more likely to be diagnosed with DID than are men. Further, women tend to manifest more states/personalites than do men, having an average of 15+, while men have an average of eight+.
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 14 Version 2.jpg

EditDispelling Common Myths

  1. Know that Dissociative Identity Disorder is a real condition. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of debate as to the authenticity of Dissociative Identity Disorder. However, psychologists and scientists alike have come to the conclusion that the disorder is indeed real, albeit misunderstood.[20]
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    • Popular movies like "Weirdo," "Fight Club," and "Sybil" have added confusion to many people’s understanding of the illness, as they show fictionalized, extreme versions of the disorder.
    • DID doesn’t appear as suddenly and strongly as movies and television shows portray it, nor with violent or animalistic tendencies.
  2. Understand that psychologists do not induce false memories in sufferers of DID. Although there have been several cases of people who experience false memories as a result of ill-trained psychologists asking leading questions, or while under hypnosis, sufferers of DID will very rarely forget all of the abuse they experienced. Because suffers typically have to go through such traumatic abuse over an extended period of time, they may not be able repress or suppress all of the memories; they may forget some, but not all of the memories.[21]
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 16 Version 2.jpg
    • A trained psychologist will know how to question a patient without creating false memories or false testimonies on the patient’s part.
    • Therapy is a safe way to treat DID, and has shown significant improvements in sufferers.
  3. Know that DID is not the same as having an alter-ego. Many people claim to have multiple personalities, when in fact they have an alter-ego. An alter-ego is an invented/created second personality that a person uses as a way to act or behave in a way different from their normal personality. Many people with DID are not completely aware of their multiple personality states (due to the amnesia that occurs), while people with an alter-ego are not only aware of their second personality, but they worked hard to consciously create it.
    Know if You Have DID or Dissociative Personality Disorder Step 17 Version 2.jpg
    • Celebrity examples of alter-egos include Eminem/Slim Shady and Beyonce/Sasha Fierce.



  • If you experience some of the above symptoms this doesn't mean you have DID.
  • The DID system serves a person well in childhood when abuse occurs but it becomes dysfunctional when no longer needed, typically in adulthood. This is when most people seek out therapy in order to deal with a now chaotic adulthood.

EditRelated wikiHows

  • Recognize Someone With Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Identify Schizoid Personality Disorder
  • Recognize Someone With Paranoid Personality Disorder
  • Recognize Delusional Disorders

EditSources and Citations

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How to Know If You Have DID Or Dissociative Personality Disorder


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