Multiple Personality Disorder (Encyclopedia of Medicine)
Multiple personality disorder, or MPD, is a mental disturbance classified as one of the dissociative disorders in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). It has been renamed dissociative identity disorder (DID). MPD or DID is defined as a condition in which "two or more distinct identities or personality states" alternate in controlling the patient's consciousness and behavior. Note: "Split personality" is not an accurate term for DID and should not be used as a synonym for schizophrenia.
The precise nature of DID (MPD) as well as its relationship to other mental disorders is still a subject of debate. Some researchers think that DID may be a relatively recent development in western society. It may be a culture-specific syndrome found in western society, caused primarily by both childhood abuse and unspecified long-term societal changes. Unlike depression or anxiety disorders, which have been recognized, in some form, for centuries, the earliest cases of persons reporting DID symptoms were not recorded until the 1790s. Most were considered medical oddities or curiosities until the late 1970s, when increasing numbers of cases were reported in the United States. Psychiatrists are still debating whether DID was previously...
(The entire section is 2010 words.)
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Multiple Personality Disorder (Encyclopedia of Science)
Multiple personality disorder (MPD) is a chronic (recurring frequently) emotional illness. A person with MPD plays host to two or more personalities (called alters). Each alter has its own unique style of viewing and understanding the world and may have its own name. These distinct personalities periodically control that person's behavior as if several people were alternately sharing the same body.
MPD occurs about eight times more frequently in women than in men. Some researchers believe that because men with MPD tend to act more violently than women, they are jailed rather than hospitalized and, thus, never diagnosed. Female MPD patients often have more identities than men, averaging fifteen as opposed to eight for males.
Causes of multiple personality disorder
Most people diagnosed with MPD were either physically or sexually abused as children. Many times when a young child is severely abused, he or she becomes so detached from reality that what is happening may seem more like a movie or television show than real life. This self-hypnotic state, called disassociation, is a defense mechanism that protects the child from feeling overwhelmingly intense emotions. Disassociation blocks off these thoughts and emotions so that the child is unaware of them. In effect, they become secrets, even from the child. According to the American Psychiatric...
(The entire section is 910 words.)