Multiple Personality Disorder: Causes and Treatment

Multiple personality disorder is simply understood as having many personalities living in the same body, causing these people to change their personalities, emotions, and thoughts continuously. Even the patient himself may not be aware that multiple personalities co-exist leading to uncontrollable sub-personality behaviors.

What is multiple personality disorder?

If you are a “movie nerd”, you must have at least heard and watched famous multi-personality movies like “Kill Me Heal Me” of Korea; American “Split”; “Black Swan” of the UK or most recently “Mouse” of Korea. Through these films, viewers have partly described the disease of multiple personality disorder as well as the potential dangers from patients with this disease.

Multiple personality disorder

Multiple personality disorder causes many personalities to appear in one body with different looks, personalities, characteristics, and cultures without the main personality being aware of it.

Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is also known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). These people often have gaps in their memory that they can’t remember, can’t explain. However, this is not the normal state of “forgetting” but in fact a detachment from reality, in which the patient is still active but has a different personality that the self (main personality) cannot. who knows and can control.

The formation of these personalities is often related to disruptions in a person’s perception, consciousness, and memory from past traumatic events. According to experts, MPD is associated with a combination of diseases related to trauma such as traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder (ASD) …

At least 2 personalities exist in an individual, including

  • Normal personality: host personality, expressing thoughts, ideas, and personality from birth to the stage of encountering events that disrupt cognition. This personality often has emotions, behaviors, and thoughts that are in accordance with moral standards, conform to social standards and also take up the most time.
  • Pathological personality: is the personality that emerges after the trauma, often with characters, thoughts and behaviors that are contrary to the main personality. These personalities initially appear only for a short time, but gradually they can take over the normal personality, dominating all activities and daily thoughts of that person.

Personality disorders can occur at any age, any subject. Especially according to experts, the detection and treatment of this disease is also very difficult. A person can have both a good personality and a bad personality. The acts performed while the sub-personalities appear even though the patient himself is not aware, but still have to be responsible if it is related to the law.

Some cases of patients with multiple personalities are world-famous such as Truddi Chase – a person who was abused and abused by her stepfather, leading to psychological damage and appeared to 92 personalities in her. Or Karen Overhill, whose childhood was abused by her father and grandfather, led to 17 different personalities.

Types of Multiple Personality Disorder

According to experts, multiple personality disorder is manifested in two main forms: possessive and non-possessive. These two forms also represent the tendency of personalities to appear in a person, reflecting the duration of the activity of these personalities. It should be clearly understood that the main personality hardly knows or even does not control the secondary personality.

Multiple personality disorder

Sub-personalities appear that may be possessive or non-possessive, but they all have a great impact on the thinking and behavior of each patient.

Some documents suggest that there is a “communication” between the sub-personalities, but there will be almost no “communication” between the secondary personality and the main personality, unless treated. At the same time, in the sub-personalities, there is often a possessive personality that will “rule”, controlling the other personalities in terms of time of operation or even the work to be done when appearing.

  • Possession

The possessive pattern in multiple personality disorder is demonstrated by the fact that these sub-personalities are often quite prominent, always tending to control the patient’s body, even other sub-personalities. This personality is completely different from the main personality, “they” may think of themselves as external agents (such as supernatural spirits, other people) to control the “owner’s” body.

Possessive personality traits are often assertive, aggressive, and even highly intelligent. They can even be the “people” who plan and allocate time for other personalities to act or commit misdeeds. As a result, the patient himself can clearly sense his or her abnormal behavior but cannot remember anything clearly.

These personalities are completely different, may differ in religion, culture or even come from different countries. The possessive state of these sub-personalities can inadvertently cause suffering for the main personality as well. At the same time, due to this tendency to dominate, the “owner” also gets into a lot of trouble when these personalities appear and operate.

  • Do not possess

In stark contrast to possessiveness, non-possessive group-dependent personalities tend to be less visible, less overt, or appear but do not show too much, do not have too great an impact on behaviors and activities. of the “owner” body. Therefore, the patient hardly notices the abnormality of himself, but he can feel as if he is detached from the body to observe himself from the outside or always feel like someone is watching and watching. control their bodies invisibly.

When non-possessive personalities appear, the patient may fall into a state of depersonalization (feelings of separation from the physical, mental, away from the body, feelings of unreality). Patients with multiple personality can now appear hallucinating sounds, or sudden streams of thoughts and actions that appear completely contrary to their usual personality.

Non-possessive personalities tend to be shy, indecisive, and easily manipulated by “possessive” personalities.

Manifestations of multiple personality disorder

Manifestations of multiple personality disorder are extremely diverse, depending on the personality that appears. Patients themselves often find it difficult to recognize these changes in their personality or are often extremely vague and unconfirmed. Some people are discovered by others or only when suspicious and monitoring cameras can detect other personalities appearing.

Multiple personality disorder

Patients are often in a state of confusion, emptiness, loss of memory but do not understand why

Some typical manifestations are common in people with multiple personality disorder (shown in the main personality)

  • Always feeling vague, appearing gaps in memory that can’t be identified. Personality can appear cyclically but also appear suddenly. For example, when a secondary personality appears, the main personality will almost be in a “sleep” state, unable to remember what he did or said the night before. They may appear unusual marks on the body but often think that they have bumped into something, sometimes also have vague emotions but can not remember.
  • Dissociative forgetting, maybe even forgetting past events, or childhood at the main personality. Memories are like indistinctly scratched movies that are extremely frustrating for the patient.
  • Aggressive, violent, and active personalities tend to be more impressionable than the main personality, while the feeling for the sub-personalities is rather ambiguous.
  • Always have an indescribable feeling of emptiness, difficult to identify oneself, sometimes have uncontrollable strange behaviors and words, which are not like this normal personality but don’t understand why they are like this.
  • Always feel tired, reduced energy, lack of vitality, lack of sleep due to instability in daily life. For example, if there is a personality that appears at night, this personality will act like normal people, but definitely do not sleep. Therefore, the next morning, when the main personality wakes up, he will feel extremely tired even though he went to bed very early yesterday.
  • Often confused events, time, space, for example, feeling a place is very familiar but they certainly have never visited. This familiarity may be due to the sub-personality’s own move here
  • The appearance of phantom sounds due to other personalities “claiming” to appear
  • There is even a change in smell and taste due to the influence of sub-personalities if it works and takes up too much time.
  • Experiencing psychological problems such as depression, anxiety disorders make patients also tend to fall into negativity, easily agitated, low in energy.. Even some people have behaviors that do not work. self-harm, even suicide committed by the sub-personalities themselves.
  • Some other manifestations of multiple personality disorder are the frequent appearance of strange objects in the house because each personality tends to have different styles, makeup, and clothes. Sometimes there are also some people who think they have met the patient but in a different state, a different style, a different voice, but the patient cannot remember.
  • People with multiple personality disorder also tend to use stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco to relieve their own frustrations. However, the appearance of strange personalities, with abnormal behaviors is completely unrelated to substance abuse. On the other hand, frequent stress or use of stimulants creates conditions for sub-personalities to appear.

It should be noted that each personality, although living in the same body, has different activities, thoughts, emotions or even life skills. For example, there is a personality that is a great genius, a master of all matters, but has a personality that is extremely stupid, miscalculating even simple calculations. Or have a personality that knows how to drive, but when they change to another personality, they are afraid of driving.

Causes of multiple personality disorder

The reason why a person co-exists with multiple active personalities has not been determined exactly. In fact, we often know that in each person’s ego, there are often “angels” and “devils”, depending on the environment and education, which personality is superior and survives. Therefore, it can be clearly seen that environmental factors can be related to MPD.

Multiple personality disorder

Traumatic events from the past are strongly linked to the cause of multiple personality disorder

Most of all, multiple personality disorder is mostly formed during adolescence, especially in the group of children under 10-12 years old. This is the beginning of personality formation, so external influences have a great influence on this process.

In addition, studies have shown that the personalities that exist in patients are related to someone in real life that they themselves have come into contact with. Thus, traumatic, traumatic, or seriously traumatic events are also associated with the cause of multiple personality disorder.

Statistics show that the vast majority of MPD patients have had childhoods of abuse, rape, abduction, poverty, or other horrific events. These psychological traumas can deepen and form new personalities in order to resist and protect themselves from those dangers. For example, a person who has been abused by his father can develop two personalities: one is a shy, fearful, and miserable personality and another is a person who dares to oppose his father to protect the other weak personality.

In addition, brain injuries or genetic factors are also believed to be involved in the cause of multiple personality disorder. Approximately 50% of patients are associated with genetic and familial factors, including other psychiatric disorders.

Is Multiple Personality Disorder Dangerous?

Multiple personality disorder is a disease that endangers not only the patient himself but also those around him. The sub-personalities can be childish, adult personality, but can also be a “killer”. All behaviors of other personalities will be responsible for the main personality, even if they are not aware of it.

Multiple personality disorder

The image of Billy Milligan – the infamous “blue-bearded lover” has 24 personalities

Many dangerous events such as assault and murder are caused by people with multiple personalities. For example, Juanita Maxwell is the murderer who beat the 73-year-old woman to death with a light bulb but did not know it. Only after a psychiatric examination was it discovered, the person responsible for this horrific murder was Wanda Weston – another personality of Juanita Maxwell.

Or the story of the world famous “blue-bearded lover” Billy Milligan because there are 24 personalities residing in a body with a rather calm appearance. However, in his 24 sub-personalities, there is also Ragen Vadascovinich – the one who holds grudges; Allen – scammer; Phil- thug… What’s more interesting is that these sub-personalities are completely interconnected, appearing alternately to design and carry out their evil plans. This real character was even made into a movie and was brilliantly portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio as   “The Crowded Room”.

Of course, it is important to understand that not all sick people have bad personalities in them, this depends on past experiences. However, often falling into a state of memory loss, not being able to control your behaviors, losing emotions, not being aware of who you are can cause countless negative problems to yourself. each patient in daily life, work and love.

On the other hand, some previous studies have shown that the fact that new personalities appear often tends to protect and ease the hurt, not to cause harm. However, many “assassins”, the villains have taken advantage of this disease as a shield for their heinous acts. This also contributes to many people’s misconceptions about this disease.

According to statistics, the actual number of people with multiple personality disorder is very rare, only about 0.01 –   1% of the population. Research and actual diagnosis of the disease have only found MPD patients in the US, Canada and the UK, other countries are very rare, even nonexistent.

Diagnosis of multiple personality disorder

The diagnosis of multiple personality disorder is still very difficult, it takes highly qualified specialists to exploit and “awaken” all the personalities in a person. In the past, the disease was often confused with schizophrenia due to some similar symptoms, but the treatment direction will be somewhat different, so it is necessary to visit reputable addresses for the most accurate examination.

Multiple personality disorder

Diagnosing multiple personality disorder is still very difficult and time consuming

Diagnostic criteria for multiple personality disorder are usually based on clinical criteria (DSM-5). The doctor will interview, talk with the patient to review behaviors and compare with these standards. At the same time, the patient may be asked to take tests or ask to share events from the past to accurately determine the condition of the disease.

According to experts, except for criminal cases that require early diagnosis results, it can take up to 7 years for a person to receive treatment and maintenance care at psycho-psychiatric facilities to get results. the most exactly. Some patients even take decades to find all the personalities. Most patients do not know they have multiple personality disorder without examination.

In the past, the disease was very easily confused with schizophrenia because patients often felt like they were hearing voices in their heads. In addition, patients with multiple personality disorder are more likely to be accompanied by depression or anxiety disorders, which also hinders the examination. Therefore, patients should seek out large, highly specialized neuropsychiatric examination units to get the most accurate results.

In some patients with multiple personality disorder, they tend to sketch personalities in their bodies that they are vaguely aware of. It is through this that the doctor can determine the personality of each character or the circumstances in which these personalities appear, thereby finding ways to “meet” with these personalities.

Guidelines for the treatment of multiple personality disorder

Multiple personality disorder is not an easy disease to treat, even though it is still very difficult. Patients may be prescribed treatment in psychiatric facilities so that doctors can monitor and control abnormal behaviors if other personalities appear. Therefore, offenders diagnosed with MPD will not be punished by law but will be sent to psychiatric hospitals for treatment.

The primary goal of treating patients with multiple personality disorder is to unify identities. Medications, psychotherapy, and interventions will be used concurrently. However, the time for the patient to completely recover from the disease is extremely long, requiring perseverance and determination of both the doctor, therapist, family and especially the patient.


Psychotherapy is the main method applied to patients with multiple personality disorder. Through information from recording or imaging devices, therapists can capture the personality and nature of sub-personalities. At the same time, from talking with the main personality about childhood events, the therapist can also find the source of these personalities, thereby providing the most appropriate treatment.

Multiple personality disorder

Hypnosis merges personalities is said to be one of the most effective methods

Psychotherapy and finding out all the personalities is really a very long and not simple journey. Psychologists first need to create trust in patients because most of these people have gone through trauma, if they can’t find a sense of security, it will be difficult for them to accept.

Because patients with multiple personality disorder often have gaps in their memories, hypnosis is often used to get into the mind and see clearly the behaviors and emotions they have experienced. At the same time, evoking and “awakening” the sub-personalities that appear to talk and exchange can also be done through hypnotherapy and the therapist’s expertise.

Exposure therapy is also applied to the patient to deal with the trauma from the past, find ways to soothe the main personalities, and remove the shadows from the past. When these injuries are soothed and eliminated, the main personality can be integrated to help the patient return to a normal state and reintegrate into society.

Some integration states may spontaneously occur during treatment. The therapist may also have to conduct “negotiations” with the sub-personalities to align and unify the personalities. At the same time, the patient is also taught how to control emotions and deal with stress because this can be a factor that causes sub-personalities to persist.

Medical measures

With that said, a person with multiple personality disorder may require hospital inpatient treatment to control unusual behaviors, especially if the person has aggressive, dangerous personalities. . The doctor may also ask the patient to set up a monitoring camera or an audio recorder to monitor the activities and speech of the sub-personalities, thereby capturing the essence of these personalities.

Most patients will be prescribed sedatives, anxiolytics, antidepressants, or antipsychotics. However, these drugs certainly cannot help with the disappearance of the sub-personalities, but can only limit the time these personalities appear or ease the mind, helping the patient’s condition to be more stable. Especially because some patients often have problems such as anxiety disorders, depression or sleep deprivation, the use of these classes of drugs is very necessary.

Patients should absolutely not abuse the use of drugs because often accompanied by many side effects. Moreover, if excessive drug abuse also causes the mind to fall into a state of ambiguity, this will further facilitate the emergence of other personalities.

Some other support measures

As mentioned, the process of treating multiple personality disorder is very long and also very difficult. Not all patients can be completely cured, or it can take decades. The application of other support measures will be carried out based on thinking about the personality and the nature of other personalities in order to “encourage” these personalities to appear, negotiate the merger.

Multiple personality disorder

Music therapy can assist in opening the mind and awakening other personalities that emerge to negotiate

The patient should absolutely not let his mind be in a state of fatigue, negativity, not alertness because it will be easy to create conditions for other personalities to appear. Too much stress or trying to stay awake to control other personalities is also not a reasonable way. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle, stay away from negativity, stimulants will help the mind always in the best state.

In general, the patient himself needs to be determined to treat, not completely dependent on the doctor or psychotherapist. Meditation, yoga, practicing mindfulness can completely help the mind to stay in a stable, relaxed, gentle and stress-free state. Improving self-awareness, taking care of both physical and mental health will bring patients with multiple personality disorder a lot of benefits.

Multiple personality disorder is still a disease with many mysteries that cannot be fully solved, even for leading experts, the treatment of the disease is still very difficult. There is still a lot of controversy surrounding this disease, but taking care of a positive mental life, removing the obsessions from the past can completely help minimize the risk of this disease and other diseases. other dangerous psychological disorders.

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