Multiple personality disorder is a condition in which two or more distinct identities or personalities alternately take control in the same person.
The symptoms of multiple personality disorder can be sudden, gradual, fleeting, or chronic. Each personality has full range of mental functions. Certain identities may emerge in certain circumstances. The personalities often have different names and characteristics. These personalities may be quite different from the primary one.
The following symptoms may indicate multiple personality disorder: Two or more distinct personalities exist within one person.Each personality has its own way of thinking about things and relating to others.At least two of the identities take control of the person's behavior at different times.The person is unable to recall important personal information.
The cause of multiple personality disorder is thought to be psychological trauma, such as chronic physical abuse or sexual abuse, in childhood. The disorder is more common in females than males.
If trauma occurs, especially in childhood, the healthcare professional should be consulted. Psychotherapy may be helpful to the child, to minimize risk of future problems such as multiple personality disorder.
The symptoms of multiple personality disorder usually begin in childhood. However, they may not become noticeable to others until many years later. The diagnosis should be made only after complete medical, psychological, and psychiatric assessments are done. Usually, psychological testing is done to confirm the presence of two or more distinct personalities.
A multiple personality disorder is usually chronic, and the person's ability to function can be severely impaired.
Aggressive or hostile identities in a person with multiple personality disorder may place others at risk for violence.
Treatment of a multiple personality diorder usually involves long-term therapy or counseling. Individual psychotherapy is most often the treatment of choice. Therapy focuses on helping the person to: learn how to organize the day to avoid long periods of unstructured activityunderstand the illnesslearn how to manage the symptomsincrease social skillsimprove communication skillshelp to integrate or merge the personalities
Antidepressant medications may be used to control moods or symptoms.
Side effects depend on the medications used, but may include drowsiness or allergic reactions.
The rate of relapse for a person with multiple personality disorder is realtively high. It is more likely when the person is under stress, or when an incident triggers childhood memories.
Multiple personality disorder is monitored by the person and his or her family. If the episodes become more frequent or more intense, the healthcare professional should be consulted.
Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Nursing, Stuart and Sundeen, 1991
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV, 1994