Much is left to be unearthed about the mysterious changes that occur within an individual’s body when they exhibit signs and symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder. The signs of this condition are evident when individuals phase in and out of varied identities that have different temperaments, different preferences for food and drink. Sometimes, these personalities may show linguistic skills in languages and texts that the ‘host’ as we’d like to call it, can’t even speak! All of these point towards a lot of anomalies in the domain of studying this rare and fascinating condition.
So what causes Dissociative Identity Disorder? Most psychological arguments point towards the genetic and environmental influences that act upon the brain, but research in DID shows that external events experienced during childhood are often the cause of the disorder. When an individual faces a stressor that they cannot cope with in the earlier stages of their lives, they often repress them. Unearthed again later on, these stressors may give rise to the tendency to develop multiple identities in the future.
For example, an individual stressed about food and body image to a large degree might develop an alter ego who is a total glutton. Thus, the alter egos that are spawned within the mind are the ways in which the brain reacts to the stressors we experience. The alter-ego is a sort of ‘shield’ that the brain makes to try and deal with the stress, but the alternate identity is usually maladaptive in its approach to the stressor.
In cases where these identities spawned by the brain are malevolent, ‘big brother’ alter-egos may be formed that add to the muddled mix of personalities, to try and protect the host. All of the alternate personalities thus, arise from stressors that the host experiences on a day-to-day basis, and is unable to cope with.
The roots of diagnosis lie in pinpointing stressors with clarity. Intervention may not always work with complex conditions such as DID, but along with medication, the stressors can be pinpointed and sorted out from within the host’s mind. This may possibly lead to an elimination of the personalities, as the repressed memories and experiences are brought to the fore and vanquished like demons.
An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.