Multiple personality disorder, which is now more commonly referred to as dissociative identity disorder, is a psychological condition that is caused by a number of factors. It can manifest in teens and is caused by severe trauma during childhood. The biggest triggers of the condition include physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
What is Teen Multiple Personality Disorder?
Generally, everyone has experienced some form of mild dissociation, such as daydreaming. Dissociative identity disorder (as it is clinically known), however, is a severe form that can completely change a person’s sense of identity. Teens are especially prone to this condition when they have experienced severe trauma as a result of physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a young age.
Dissociative identity disorder is believed to be a means for teenagers to cope after experiencing such horrific trauma. During a severely traumatic experience, the child literally dissociates from their true self as a way to escape their reality. According to the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, the condition is marked by the presence of two or more distinct personalities that take over a person at various times. When a teen is affected by the condition and another personality takes over, they are unable to recall certain vital information. Each personality has its own name, identity, age, past, and other characteristics.
Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorders in Teens
Overall, the most common characteristic of dissociative identity disorders in teens is the presence of two or more identities or personalities. However, there are other symptoms that can be present, including the following:
- Dissociative amnesia: Dissociative amnesia is a type of memory loss that goes beyond mere forgetfulness. It is a typical symptom of dissociative identity disorder in teens and adults alike.
- Dissociative fugue: This is a type of amnesia that sees a teen not having a memory of specific personal information and can include emotional detachment or wandering.
- Blurred identity: Blurred identity is a phenomenon that involves the feeling of two or more people living inside a teen’s head or talking in their head. It can make them feel as though they are possessed by multiple people.
The alternative personalities that teens have with the condition have their own distinct races, genders, and ages. They each have specific gestures, postures, and ways of speaking. In some cases, the alters may even be animals. Switching occurs from one personality to another in dissociative identity disorder and can take anywhere from a few seconds to minutes to as long as days.
Other Psychiatric Problems That May Accompany Dissociative Identity Disorder
In addition to the multiple personalities your teen may exhibit, there are a number of other psychiatric problems that may accompany dissociative identity disorder. They include the following:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Anxiety, phobias or panic attacks that come as a result of certain triggers
- Compulsive and ritualistic behaviors
- Eating disorders
- Mood swings
- Psychotic symptoms, such as visual and auditory hallucinations
- Sleep disorders like insomnia, sleepwalking or night terrors
- Suicidal tendencies
Facts about Dissociative Identity Disorder
If your teen suffers from dissociative identity disorder, there are certain facts you should know. They include the following:
- The condition is nine times more common in females than males.
- The length of time the condition remains in a person depends on the diagnosis, symptoms exhibited and the best way to assess it.
- The condition is believed to be directly associated with a history of severe abuse.
- Other symptoms of the condition include blackouts, lapses in memory, finding odd items in one’s possession, being accused of lying and feeling like more than one person.
- Suffering from additional mental illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder and others.
How Does Dissociative Identity Disorder Affect a Teen’s Life?
There are numerous ways dissociative identity disorder can affect your teen’s life. They may experience the following:
- Depersonalization: A feeling of being detached from the body, similar to an out-of-body experience
- Derealization: The feeling as though the world is not real
- Amnesia: An inability to remember significant personal information that goes far beyond simple forgetfulness
- Identity confusion or alteration: Difficulty in defining various interests or values in life, such as sexual orientation, religious or political believes, social values and more
Dissociative identity disorder is a very real psychological condition that affects many teens who have experienced severe trauma. If your teen suffers from the condition, you can get them help by bringing them to Centered Health, a treatment facility that specializes in treating teens for mental health, behavioral and addiction problems.