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Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is a dissociative disorder. Dissociation is the separation of an idea or thought process from the individual s ongoing consciousness or awareness (Merit Students 576). MPD is the most extreme type of dissociative disorder. It is defined as existence within a person of two or more separate and distinct personalities, each having it s own behavior patterns, social relationships, and life history. The personality that is dominant at a particular time determines the person s behavior.
MPD has many symptoms. Some are: depression, insomnia, sleepwalking, nightmares, flashbacks, auditory and visual hallucinations, eating disorders, trances, headaches, out of body experiences, alcohol and drug abuse, compulsions, violence both self-inflicted and directed outward. People experience changes in their behavior and mannerism, changes in right and left handedness, they may show differences in their handwriting, responses to medication , allergic reactions, and eyeglass prescriptions. The Changes depend upon which personality is dominant.
No one actually knows what causes DID(MPD), but doctors and scientists have come up with possible causes for the disorder. Some of these are severe emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. However being abused is not enough to cause DID(MPD), the person Must also have an inborn capacity to dissociate (Merit Students 577). A severe trauma such as emotional stress or an injury may cause a person to lose part of their memory in order to erase the painful experience from their mind. As incidents of abuse keep happening over time and are interchanged with incidents of love and nurturing, these memories become linked together and form the basis that allows DID(MPD) to develop in a person. It is thought to develop in a person s childhood, but the symptoms normally do not show up or are not recognized and treated until later in a person s life.
The estimates for the number of people with DID(MPD) varies widely. But one group of researchers say that one per cent of the general population and as many as five to twenty per cent of people in psychiatric hospitals may have DID(MPD), and ninety-eight to ninety-nine per cent of them have histories of trauma that was repetitive, overwhelming, and/or life threatening. Also, this trauma generally happened at a sensitive age which is normally before age nine.
DID(MPD) is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to those of psychiatric disorders. People with DID(MPD) go through periods where they do not associate and the disorder may be missed in a clinical examination. On average, people with DID(MPD) spend seven years in treatment before an accurate diagnosis is made (Multiple Personality, internet). They go from one therapist to another, medication to medication with treatment only for symptoms but no progress is made toward curing the disorder. Many people with DID(MPD) do not know they have alters and because it has occurred for so long, they think that time loss is normal.
The symptoms for childhood DID(MPD) are similar to those that adults have. Some are subtle, alternating personality changes like a shy child having depresses, angry seductive, and /or regressive episodes. These children have a history of abuse, and they develop amnesia that makes them forget abuse and/or other recent events such as their schoolwork, angry outbursts, and regressive behavior. They also experience differences in their ability to do things like school work, play games and listen to music. They may go into trance-like states, hear hallucinating voices, experience intermittent depression, or have denied behaviors, causing them to be called liars
In childhood DID(MPD) the number of personalities are fewer. The average age for adults with DID(MPD) is thirteen, but for children the average age is four (Coons, internet). Another difference between adult and childhood DID(MPD) is that the therapy for children is usually short, sometimes it may only last a few months; adult therapy may last from two to ten years. It is thought that the difference is because the children have only had the disorder for a relatively shorter period of time and only a small amount of their life was invested in having separate personalities. On the other hand the adults with DID(MPD) have much more of their life invested into having alters.
People with DID(MPD) are not all single, some are married and have children. Many are responsible, loving parents who may come to neglect their children at times and may not be able to maintain responsible adult behavior. Often, the young children have taken on the parental role, taking care of any other children and also the DID(MPD) parent. For the children of DID(MPD) parents, the changing of alters may be a problem. Many parents have alters that are nurturing to the children, but a small number have alters that can be hurtful and abusive. The children may be hurt if the parent sees them as someone else or if an alter becomes hostile. It is possible for the child to act as a trigger , causing the parent to remember his/her own abusive childhood which can cause the parent to become non-nurturing. The parent may leave their children for periods of time, and fail to protect them,or model bad behavior.
DID(MPD) has a history that can be considered both long and short. It is long because it can be linked to demon possession back in New Testament, and it is short because it was not discovered until the end of the 1700’s. There has not been a lot of research done on this topic because it was thought that no one was interested until DID(MPD) was covered by the popular media. The lack of research has left large gaps in our understanding of this disorder. We do know some things about this topic, like the symptoms, for example depression, amnesia, hallucinations. We know some possible causes, the major one being child abuse. It is known that it can be treated and cured, meaning that the alters become united into one personality. We also know that people with DID(MPD) can be good, nurturing parents even though they may have periods of non-nurturing behavior. Their children can have psychoeducation to help them deal with their parents disorder. DID (MPD) is associated with the incidences of physical, and or/sexual abuse during the person s childhood. The abuse is usually severe, prolonged, and done by a member of the person s family. There is a childhood form of DID(MPD) also, and it is easier to treat and cure than the adult form of DID(MPD). So in order to cut down on the number of cases of adult DID(MPD) and the amount of time spent in therapy, DID(MPD) needs to be diagnosed as early as possible.
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