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Dissociative Identity Disorder Diagnosis

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

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How Is Dissociative Identity Disorder Diagnosed?

The DSM-IV laid down five criteria in diagnosing and determining whether or not an individual is suffering from dissociative identity disorder. The criteria is likewise used in differentiating DID from other similar personality disorders. 2

  1. The patient has experienced a traumatic event that involved real or life-threatening injury or a grave physical threat to them. As they experience the trauma, the individual showed great fear, helplessness, or horror. Intentional stressors caused by human beings are more traumatic compared to accidents or natural disasters.
  2. There are more than two identities or personalities that reside in the individual. The separate personalities must exhibit its own thoughts, perceptions, feelings, relationship, and interaction with the environment and self.
  3. Two of the personalities must take control of the behavior of the individual, alternately and recurring.
  4. The loss of memory should be for an extended period of time for it not to be considered as normal forgetfulness.
  5. The diagnosis of the symptoms should not be caused by drugs, alcohol, or other substances, or a general medical illness. In children, fantasy play or imaginary friends should be ruled out in order for the condition to be considered an identity disorder.

Determining an accurate diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder is quite complicated because some of its symptoms overlap with those of other mental illnesses. This includes depression, borderline personality disorder, panic disorder, schizophrenia, and somatization disorder.

The severe dissociative encounters associated with this mental illness can be terrifying, so that people suffering from this disorder usually proceed to emergency rooms or clinics because they are afraid to become insane.

In coming up with their diagnosis of DID, a doctor will first eliminate physical symptoms that result in amnesia, derealization, or depersonalization. Among these conditions include head injuries, brain conditions, substance abuse, and others. Electeoencephalograph (EEG) can be administered to eliminate epilepsy and other seizure conditions. Malingering is another condition that should be eliminated prior to treatment.

If the patient seems to be normal, the doctor will eliminate the aspect of psychotic disturbances. It is common for patients with identity disorders to be misdiagnosed for schizophrenia because they hear their other identities talking inside their heads. If the doctor feels that the patient has DID, they may administer the Dissociative Experience Scale (DES) test.

If the result for the test is high, further evaluation can be conducted using the Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule (DDIS) or Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D).

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