The symptoms of dissociative disorders are characterized by persistent, maladaptive disruption in the integration of memory, consciousness, or identity. A person might experience psychologically produced amnesia and travel long distances from home. A person also might have more than one personality. Dissociative disorders are controversial and disbelieved by many.

Hypnosis: Altered State or Social Role?

Hypnosis is thought by some as being a true state of dissociation. Some assert that hypnosis works mostly on highly susceptible participants or people who are merely complying with a social role.

Symptoms of Dissociative Disorders

Individuals with dissociative identity disorder (DID) display signs of depersonalization and psychogenic amnesia.

Diagnosis of Dissociative Disorders

Contemporary classification has four major subtypes:

Dissociative fugue is the sudden and unexpected travel away from home with inability to recall details about the past and confusion about identity or assumption of a new identity

Dissociative amnesia is the sudden inability to recall extensive and important personal information that exceeds normal forgetfulness.

Depersonalization disorder is when a person has feelings of being detached from oneself and feels as if they are living in a dream.

Dissociative identity disorder was formerly known as multiple personality disorder. If you have seen the moviePsycho, he had dissociative identity disorder.

However…

1. Most cases of dissociative disorders are diagnosed by a handful of ardent advocates.

2. The frequency of the diagnosis of dissociative disorders in general and DID in particular increased rapidly after release of the very popular book and movie Sybil.

3. The number of personalities claimed to exist in cases of DID has grown rapidly, from a handful to 100 or more.

4. Dissociative disorders are rarely diagnosed outside of the United States and Canada; for example, only one unequivocal case of DID has been reported in Great Britain in the last 25 years (Casey, 2001).

What Are the Causes of Dissociative Disorders?

Psychological Factors in Dissociative Disorders:

There is little controversy that dissociative amnesia and fugues can be precipitated by trauma. Trauma is “suspected” in DID, but much of the data is retrospective. The vast majority of trauma victims do not develop a dissociative disorder.

Biological Factors

Little to no evidence of biological and genetic factors.

Social Factors

Iatrogenesis is the manufacture of a disorder by its treatments.

Could therapist expectations create cases of dissociative disorders?

Treatment of Dissociative Disorders

Hypnosis and abreaction are the two main treatments of dissociative disorders.

The ultimate goal in treating DID is integration of the personalities.

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