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Dissociative Identity Disorder Causes

(Also Known As: DID Causes, Personality Disorder Causes, Multiple Personalities Causes, Identity Disorder Causes)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Causes Dissociative Identity Disorder?

The exact cause of dissociative identity disorder is not yet determined, and there is still no explanation on how the personality disorder develops. However, it is believed that DID is brought about by the interaction of three major forces: severe stress, minimal or absence of support and comfort in reaction to the traumatic experiences experienced as a child, and an innate capacity to dissociate. 1

In 85 percent of adults and 95 percent of children, abuse was the principal cause that triggered the mental illness. However, the identity disorder was not only triggered by the traumatic experiences, but also resulted from losing a parent or loved one, a serious health condition, or survival through stressful experiences.

According to those who proposed that DID result from extraordinary childhood trauma, the child survives the abuse by employing a couple of defense mechanisms. First, they learn how to dissociate. Second, through repression this allows the child to forget the condition. However, when these defense mechanisms are abused, the child begins to have “dissociated internal structures” which would result in multiple personalities.

Another theory that attempts to explain the causes of dissociative identity disorder is the developmental model. According to this theory, a child is not born with a central identity which evolves in time due to the various childhood experiences. At this point in time, developing a strong sense of self is crucial. Thus, the care and nurturance of the parents plays a vital role in the development of the self.

When violence pervades in the environment of the child, the sense of self disappears and is replaced by traits such as danger, vulnerability, self-blame, and guilt. As a result, the identity of the child will be fragmented which paves the way for the formation of multiple personalities.

Living in a violent environment would likewise have detrimental effects on the child as they would be unable to develop the ability to control their emotions and cope with stress. When they find themselves encountering traumatic situations, the child will not have the ability to handle the situation and consequently respond by detaching themselves from reality.

Could You Have Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Dissociative Identity Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Borderline Personality Disorder – Personality Disorder, Mood Changes, Dissociation, Splitting Personality
Depersonalization Disorder – Recurrent De-Realization, Feeling of Disconnection from the Body and Mind, Out of the Body Experience
Dissociative Amnesia – Functional Amnesia, Abnormal Memory Functioning Without Brain Damage, Retrograde Amnesia
Schizophrenia – Mental Disorder, Paranoia, Hallucination, Delusion, Disorganized Speech and Thinking
Somatization Disorder – Hysteria, Variable Physical Symptoms with no Identifiable Physical Origins