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Dissociative Identity Disorder 1

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Findings Report

Ji Young Song
English 202A, Section 012
Dr. J. Pirrone
April 4, 2016

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Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Identity Disorder, is not rare even
though most people assume that DID is not a common disorder. Speaking of the 12-month
prevalence of DID among adults, it was 1.5 percent in the United States (Johnson et al. as cited
in American Psychiatric Association, 2008). However, there is not enough information about the
disorder, and even reported cases. I want people to have accurate information about DID, since it
needs special care and attention like other disorders. That is why I chose it as the topic of my
study. Again, my purpose of the study is providing facts, and knowledge of DID. In order to
achieve the purpose, I formed three research questions which were whether DID is real or not,
the process of DID, and the treatment of DID. But, after a review of the literature I edited some
of the questions. Since I found several reported cases of DID, I concluded that DID is the real
disorder, and removed the first question which was whether DID is real or not. In addition, I
added the question about the cause of DID. Therefore, my first question is what is the cause of
DID? The second one is what is the process of the switching between personalities? And the last
question is what is the treatment of DID?

I chose an interview as a research method to conduct my study. Since my topic is
Dissociative Identity Disorder, it was hard to find the real sample around us. Even though the
patients with DID are not a small number, it is not easy to meet them. This is because most
patients suffering from DID do not want to reveal their disorder, and they do not even go to see a
doctor. Therefore, I did not chose the patients, but chose the experts of that field as my
interviewees. Firstly, I searched the possible interviewees who have enough knowledge of DID.

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Because my major is psychology, I tried to contact the psychology professors who I studied with
at Penn State. Other possible interviewees were the experts of DID field. I found two experts by
searching, and visited their web site. I thought that they would be the great interviewees, because
they not only have a lot of information about the disorder, but also provide the treatments for the
patients with DID. I wrote formal mails to them in order to gain their consents for the interview. I
explained my research topic and purposes, and the reason why the person was suitable for the
interview. However, the problem was that the professors and the experts were too busy to
progress the interview. Even if I wrote a few mails, I got two responses from them. The first one
was from the experts of DID field, however she did not answer to an interview agreement
question, but sent some useful websites, and recommended to visit them. It was not easy to have
a consent for the interview. At that time, I got another mail from a psychology professor at Penn
State. The professor, Brian Kenneth Crosby, is teaching PSYCH 270 and PSYCH 470 which are
abnormal psychology. Thus, he has a lot of knowledge of mental disorder, and he also deals with
DID in class. Fortunately, he expressed interest in my research, and we arranged the date and
time for the interview. I re-checked my interview questions, and practiced the mock interview
with my friend.

Before I asked my interview question, the professor emphasized that training for the
experts of Dissociative Identity Disorder field is needed. Since the symptoms of DID are hard to
diagnose, and the patients might tell a lie, experts should distinguish a fact from a lie. Professor
Brian concerned about over-diagnosis of DID for Not guilty by Reason of Insanity. According
to, not guilty by reason of insanity is a plea by a criminal defendant who admits the

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criminal act, but claims he or she was so mentally disturbed at the time of the crime that he or
she lacked the mental capacity necessary to commit a crime. In other words, a person who
committed the crime might tell a lie that he or she suffered from DID in order to make an excuse
for the act. That was the interesting part that I have not thought before I had the interview with
Another interesting part was the cause of DID. Because I read a few articles and journals
about reported cases of DID, I assumed that the traumatic or stressful events are the cause of
DID. Professor Brian agreed that the traumatic events that the person could not handle would
cause DID. At that time, the question why not all people who have the traumatic events develop
DID popped into my head. The professor explained it by the genetic factors. Since I have not
thought that genetic factors might cause DID, it was totally new idea to me. Most people know if
someones family member suffers from depression, then the person would have a high possibility
of developing depression. He said that DID might be similar to the family history of depression.
He also gave the specific example. Suppose there is a cup which is 10cm deep. For instance, if
the person has the family history of DID, the cup would start with 3cm filled with water.
However, another person who does not have any family issue has the cup empty. Even though
both person experienced the same stressful events which fills 8cm of the cup in that case, the
persons cup with the family history overflow, while the persons cup with no family issue is
filled with right amount of water. His example shows that the genetic factors could affect the
development of DID. Even if there are the same traumatic events, the person with family issue is
more vulnerable owing to the environmental factors from the family member suffering from

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The part I really wanted to know was the treatment of DID. When I searched to do a
review of the literature, I did not find a specific treatment for the patients with DID. Even, some
journals or websites mention that there is no appropriate treatment for the patients. However, the
professor said that there could be a useful treatment for them. The obvious goal of the treatment
is combining multiple personalities in a single one. In order to achieve the goal, it is significant
to have a treatment at the appropriate time. Professor Brian said that the treatment of DID would
be similar to the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is a disorder that develops in
some people who have seen or lived through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event according to
National Institute of Mental Health. The key treatment of PTSD is talk therapy with the
counselor. Most patient who had the traumatic events do not want to talk about the event, and
even remember the memory. However, it is important to recall the events, and explore the
stressful events. The main role of counselor is leading people to address the trauma. Likewise,
that could be a helpful treatment for the patients with DID, since it is also caused by the
traumatic events.
Lastly, before I finished the interview I asked one more question that just popped into
my head during the interview. I realized that DID is pretty similar to schizophrenia. Specifically,
some symptoms of them are overlapped. However, Professor Brian clearly distinguished them by
the symptoms. He said that schizophrenia is a disorder break from reality that involves a lot of
distortions such as hallucination. And the patients suffering from schizophrenia do not
experience memory or identity distortion, while the patients with DID have them. The professor
also emphasized that it is really important to figure out the core feature of the disorder.

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Having interview with Professor Brian was a great experience and opportunity for me.
During the interview I learned a lot, and the interview helps me to answer my research questions
of Dissociative Identity Disorder.
I found that the traumatic events are the major factors of DID, and some genetic factors
would develop DID. Speaking of the switching process of personalities, even though the patients
have different triggers and patterns, when the patients recall the events, or experience the similar
situation to the traumatic events, the switching usually occurs. Lastly, there is a helpful treatment
for patients with DID. Talk therapy could be great treatment for them, and expressing their
emotions which are repressed is essential. Although the treatment might be a long process, it
could certainly be improved.

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Dissociative Disorders : Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (n.d.).
Retrieved from
NIMH Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity Law & Legal Definition. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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Appendix A
Interview Questions include:
1. Does the traumatic event cause Dissociative Identity Disorder?
(Follow-up question If not, what could be the cause of DID?)
2. When the switching of personalities occur?
3. Do the patients personalities recognize each other?
4. Is there a helpful treatment?
5. Can Dissociative Identity Disorder be cured?

Appendix B

Professor Brian Crosby

March 17, 9:45, 524 Moore

1) Introduce myself (Major)

2) Introduce the project (ENGL202)
3) Interview Questions include:
1. Does the traumatic event cause Dissociative Identity Disorder?
It is real. Concern about over-diagnosis. Training is needed.
Conduct criminal acts, then.
The cause Yes. Cannot handle
But not all people who have trauma have DID. Stressful events.
Family history of depression. Similar. Genetic factors. Could be a cup + example.
Environmental effects.
(Follow-up question If not, what could be the cause of DID?)
2. When the switching of personalities occur?
People have different trigger. Conditions.
Certain things happen. Different pattern.

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3. Do the patients personalities recognize each other?
Host personality better sense of the different personalities than others.
4. Is there a helpful treatment?
Goal make a single personality. Address the traumatic events + explore the traumatic
Would be similar to PTSD.
5. Can Dissociative Identity Disorder be cured?
It is a long process. Promptly. Certainly improve.
+ DID vs. Schizophrenia break from reality that involves a lot of distortions.
No memory, identity distortion.
DID distortion about identity and memory. Core factors.
4) Thank you
5) Further explanation