Why did they change the name of Multiple Personality Disorder? (now called DID)

In this blog, we will discuss the name change of multiple personality disorder, why the name was changed to DID, what is DID, symptoms of DID, causes of DID, treatment, and also answer frequently asked questions.

Why did they change the name of Multiple Personality Disorder? (now called DID)

Multiple personality disorder was renamed as dissociative identity disorder (DID) because DID implies the splintering, fragmentation, and dissociation in one’s identity whereas multiple personality disorder had a connotation to it that reflected a growth of different personalities in a person.

DID is defined by the fragmentation of a person’s identity into two or more separate identities of a person. People who suffer from this illness are frequently subjected to severe torture.

Multiple personality disorder was the earlier name for dissociative identity disorder and the name was changed because scientific studies and continuous research in the condition gave better insights into the condition and DID seems to be a more appropriate name for the condition. 

Let’s go through the history and look at the several versions of the DSM over the years to see how things developed and changed over the course of time.

History of name change


The term Hysterical Neurosis, Dissociative Type was used in the DSM-II. It listed symptoms such as “amnesia, somnambulism, fugue, and multiple personalities,” as well as the possibility of shifts in the patient’s state of awareness or identity.


The term “multiple personality disorder” was coined by the DSM-III to group the diagnosis with the other four primary dissociative disorders.


The DSM-IV renamed DID and made more alterations to it than any other dissociative illness.

The name was changed for two reasons :

  • The revision emphasizes that rather than a plethora of personalities. the major issue is a lack of a single, cohesive identity and a focus on “identities as centers of information processing,”
  • The term “personality” refers to “characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, moods, and behaviors of the whole individual,” whereas the personality of a patient with DID refers to the transitions between identities and behavior patterns.

What Is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a severe form of dissociation, a mental process in which a person’s ideas, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity are disconnected. 

Dissociative identity disorder is assumed to be caused by a combination of factors, including the trauma that the individual with the illness has undergone. 

The person disconnects or dissociates from a situation or experience that is too harsh, painful, or unpleasant for their conscious self to absorb.

Symptoms of dissociative identity disorder

The following criteria must be completed for a person to be diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, according to the DSM-5:

  • Two or more unique identities or personality states are experienced by the individual (each with its own enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self). This is referred to as a possession experience in some cultures.
  • Identity disruption causes changes in behaviour, awareness, memory, perception, cognition, and motor function, as well as a shift in one’s sense of self and agency.
  • Individuals’ memories of personal history, including persons, places, and events, for both the distant and recent past, frequently show gaps. These recurring gaps do not appear to be the result of ordinary forgetfulness.
  • Clinically severe distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other crucial areas of functioning is caused by the symptoms.
  • In certain circumstances, specific identities may arise. Emotional stress frequently triggers the transition from one identity to another. Alternate identities are visible to individuals around the sufferer in the possession form of dissociative identity disorder. Most people do not outwardly express their shift in identity for long periods of time in non-possession-form circumstances.

People with DID may feel as if they have suddenly become detached spectators of their own words and actions. They may hear voices (a child’s voice or the voice of spiritual power), and the voices may be accompanied by many streams of thought over which the individual has no control. 

The person may also have uncontrollable urges or intense emotions over which they have no control or ownership. People may also remark that their bodies feel different (as if they were a small child or someone enormous and muscular) or that their attitudes or personal preferences shift unexpectedly before recovering. 

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

Causes of dissociative identity disorder 

It’s unclear why some people acquire dissociative identity disorder, but they typically describe having been subjected to severe physical and sexual abuse as children.

At any age, the condition may appear for the first time. Post-traumatic symptoms (nightmares, flashbacks, or startle responses) or post-traumatic stress disorder may be present in people with DID. 

DID appears to be more common among close biological relatives of people who also have the condition than in the general population, according to several studies.

The diagnosis, which was once a rare occurrence, has become more common—and contentious. 

Some specialists believe that because DID patients are very suggestible, their symptoms are iatrogenic, which is caused by their therapists’ probing. However, identity shifts have been confirmed by brain imaging investigations.

Risk factors associated with DID or multiple personalities disorder

DID is thought to be caused by a psychological reaction to interpersonal and environmental pressures, particularly during early childhood, when emotional neglect or abuse can disrupt personality development. 

Many people who develop dissociative disorders have experienced chronic, overpowering, and even life-threatening disturbances or traumas at a vital developmental stage of childhood (usually before age 6).

It is not necessary for dissociation to occur because of physical or sexual abuse. Dissociation can also be caused due to persistent neglect or emotional abuse. 

According to the findings, children may become dissociative in families where their parents are intimidating and unpredictable. DID affects about 1% of the population, according to studies.

Diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder 

There is no single test that can diagnose DID. A healthcare provider will examine your symptoms and personal medical history. They may perform tests to rule out medical causes for your symptoms, such as head injuries or brain tumors.

The symptoms of DID are most common in children aged 5 to 10. Parents, schools, and healthcare practitioners, on the other hand, may miss the early indications. 

DID can be mistaken for other behavioral or academic issues that affect children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As a result, DID is rarely identified until later in life.

Treatment of multiple personality disorder (DID)


Long-term psychotherapy is the primary treatment for dissociative identity disorder, with the goal of deconstructing the various identities and unifying them into one. Cognitive and creative therapies are examples of other treatments. 


Antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, or tranquilizers may be used to assist reduce the psychological symptoms associated with this illness, even though there are no medications that explicitly treat it. Many persons with DID find that with adequate treatment, their ability to function at work and in their personal lives improves.

Coping with DID or multiple personality disorder

Living with DID can be made easier with a solid support system. Ascertain that your healthcare providers, family, and friends are aware of and understand your illness. Don’t be scared to ask for help and communicate openly and honestly with the people in your support system.

It can be perplexing and intimidating to have a loved one with DID. You might be unsure how to react to their many alters or behaviours. You may help by doing the following:

  • Understanding DID and its symptoms.
  • Offer to accompany your loved one to family counseling or support groups.
  • Maintaining a calm and helpful demeanor when unexpected behaviour changes occur.


We have discussed the name change of multiple personality disorder which is now called as dissociative identity disorder, symptoms of DID, causes and risk factors of DID, and also discussed the treatment of DID. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Why did they change the name of Multiple Personality Disorder? (now called DID)

Can people actually have “multiple personalities” or a “split personality”?

The loss of connection between a person’s sense of identity, memory, and awareness is known as dissociative identity disorder. People with this illness don’t have several personalities; instead, they have fewer than one. (The term multiple personality disorder’ has lately been replaced with ‘dissociative identity disorder.’) As a way of surviving mistreatment by people who should be caring and protecting you, this condition frequently develops in response to physical and sexual abuse as a child.

Are people with dissociative identity disorder often misdiagnosed?

Yes, because their conviction that they have several identities can be misinterpreted as a delusion, they are frequently misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia. They sometimes have audio hallucinations in which they have disconnected identities (hearing voices).

 Antipsychotic medication does not relieve their symptoms, but it does flatten their feelings. This can lead to them believing they have schizophrenia, which can lead to even more unsuccessful medication doses. Borderline personality disorder is another typical misdiagnosis. People who suffer from dissociative identity disorder are frequently depressed.

Is it possible for dissociative amnesia to be temporary? Is it common for a person to regain memories following dissociative amnesia?

Dissociative amnesia is reversible by definition and can be temporary. Memories can be retrieved and worked out under the right circumstances.

Is dissociation a coping strategy or a disorder?

Dissociation is a typical coping method for people who have experienced trauma. Many rape victims feel as if they are soaring above their bodies, feeling sorry for the person beneath them. Many of us have developed strategies for separating ourselves from painful or unpleasant events.

People, on the other hand, usually regain their normal perspective over time. Dissociative disorders cause persistent amnesia, depersonalization, derealization, or fragmentation of identity, which obstructs the usual process of processing and putting traumatic or stressful events into perspective.

What signs may a family member notice if a loved one suffers from dissociative identity disorder? When a person with dissociative identity disorder “switches,” can friends or family members tell?

You might notice a shift in your attitude or conduct. Family members may watch people with dissociative identity disorder forget or deny saying or doing things. When a person “switches,” family members can usually tell. 

Transitions can be abrupt and surprising. The person may transition from afraid, reliant, and overly apologetic to furious and domineering. He or she may claim that they can’t remember what they said or had done just a few minutes ago.

Can dissociative identity disorder (DID) be prevented?

There’s no way to stop DID from happening. However, recognising the indicators early in life and obtaining therapy might help you control your symptoms. Parents, caregivers, and instructors should be on the lookout for warning indicators in youngsters. DID may be prevented from worsening if treatment begins soon after an episode of abuse or trauma.

Treatment can also aid in the identification of triggers that lead to personality or identity shifts. Stress and substance abuse are common triggers. Managing stress and abstaining from drugs and alcohol can help you lessen the frequency of various changes in your behaviour.



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