The Real Reason Why The Disorder Known As ‘Split Personality’ Is More Common In Women

Dissociative Identity Disorder, (or DID, earlier called Multiple Personality Disorder) is more common in women, as it is often a result of childhood sexual abuse that almost 20% of girls face.

Meet 3 women

Tiara performed in front of two hundred people. There were accolades everywhere. She was a trained classical dancer and no one could beat her steps. She even got the first prize.

Jeena hit a man right in the middle of the road. He was eating at a roadside eatery where Jeena too wanted to grab something for lunch. The fact that the man was served before Jeena did not go down well with her. She failed to realize that she had ordered masala dosa and that man was eating idli which had already been prepared in the morning. When she hit him, the man tried to fight her off but he couldn’t. With her immense strength, she knocked him down.




Things were bad for Violet when she was in school. Though she studied in an all-girls convent, she failed to adjust herself with her peers. It got worse in college and she dropped out.

I have narrated experiences from the lives of three women. But do you know they are all one person? One single person who had three personalities. Do I need to give her a name? Does that matter anymore? No need. Perhaps you’ve already guessed—I am talking about Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID.

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Previously known as Multiple Personality Disorders, this is also a psychiatric problem where an individual has multiple personalities; two, three, four, even more.  Sometimes the afflicted person may have a ‘main’ personality but that may be dormant, controlled or depressed. The alternative personalities take turns being in control and are often exhibited depending on moods, age, and gender. The danger is when one personality takes control, and it completely overpowers the others. Like in the case of Violet, where the individual cannot relate one incident with the other.

Studies have revealed that DID stems in early childhood where the child had been a victim to emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Even a neglected child can develop the disorder. It worsens as the child grows up, and if not treated, it can be dangerous to themselves and even to others.

What are the symptoms?

Some of the symptoms are:

Confusion,
Forgetfulness,
Depression
Mood Swings
Obsessive Compulsive rituals
Insomnia
Suicidal tendencies
Psychotic symptoms like hallucinations

According to WebMd, other symptoms include headache, amnesia, losing sense of time, trances, and “out of body experiences”. Some people with dissociative disorders have a tendency toward self-victimization, self-sabotage, and even violence (both self-inflicted and outwardly directed).

As an example, a person with DID may find themselves doing things they wouldn’t normally do — such as speeding, reckless driving, or stealing money from their employer or friend — yet they feel compelled to do it. Some describe this feeling as being a ‘passenger’ in their body rather than the driver. In other words, they truly believe they have no choice.

What are the causes? What helps?

Childhood sexual abuse is the root cause of this disorder. This is the grim truth.

According to research by a Washington-based group, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are a victim of child sexual abuse. Hence the sad fact remains that women are more prone to this disorder.

Thus, when a girl child grows up with this disorder, she is also at the receiving end of Intimate Partner Violence. And our misogynistic society increases the trauma of a woman by blaming her instead of treating her with empathy and also providing medical intervention.

Though there is no specific medication to treat this ailment, psychotherapy (talking process) can help make the person aware of their condition. The aim of this treatment is not to eliminate all the personalities in one shot but to stop the increase in the number of personalities.

Going back the real life case I began with

It was found that the girl, during her growing years, suffered tremendous physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Having lost her mother at birth, she was under the care of her rich alcoholic father who sexually abused her, making her emotionally vulnerable. As a child she was also neglected.

Initially, she suffered from depression and struggled through college. She was treated by a local psychiatrist who sent her home after diagnosing her with clinical depression. Over the next several years, she reported hearing several voices in her head urging her to self harm. She even tried committing suicide but managed to pull through. Being trained in classical dance she almost managed to get a job in the local music college but could not make it because of the voices in her head. They would each turn into a personality which she couldn’t control.

It was the cops who ultimately saved her after a failed suicide attempt when they took her to the hospital therapist. She has been under treatment for two decades and it was found she had developed 35 different personalities.

The good news is that she responded to therapy under her counselor, and is still under counseling. She understands that she suffers from DID. Today, she is a strong advocate of this disorder. Being a classical dancer she has opened her own dance school and also provides help to people suffering from this disorder.

Published here earlier.

Image source: pixabay

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Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of

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