Understanding Dissociative Identity Disorder

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Dissociative identity disorder is when an individual develops alternate personalities that function with or without the awareness of the person’s usual self. In this video, we explain and dive into what dissociative identity disorder is and some of the potential causes.

This video was made by McMaster students Xiang Xiang Fang and Kirti Harish, in collaboration with the McMaster Demystifying Medicine Program.

Subscribe to the McMaster Demystifying Medicine YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/DemystifyingMedicine

This video is provided for general and educational information only. Please consult your health care provider for Information about your health.

Copyright McMaster University 2021

#DemystifyingMedicine, #MentalHealth


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Dissociation debates: Everything you know is wrong. (2018). Controversies in Psychiatry Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 20(3), 229-242. doi:10.31887/dcns.2018.20.3/rloewenstein

Dissociative Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Dissociative-Disorders
Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder): Signs, Symptoms, Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder

Gillig P. M. (2009). Dissociative identity disorder: a controversial diagnosis. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), 6(3), 24–29.

Krause-Utz, A., Frost, R., Winter, D., & Elzinga, B. M. (2017). Dissociation and Alterations in Brain Function and Structure: Implications for Borderline Personality Disorder. Current psychiatry reports, 19(1), 6. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-017-0757-y

Multiple Personality Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9792-dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder


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  1. Humanity is going down if people think it's a real disorder. People are bored with their life that they have to make up disorders, lord help us all.

  2. I don’t get why this is called a disorder, the brain literally saves the human by generating a personality or more to provide support where none was coming in.

  3. Dissociation : a way to forget how awful you felt/feel for a while. Writing helps a lot. Write a shopping list, anything. it will help you discover you can handle anything if you write stuff down. it need not be about the traumatic things. sometimes is best to write encouraging things to yourself. past is gone. you are here. focus on what you like/ what uplifts you, when you can. tell yourself truth – it is not a disorder – it's a coping strategy for emotional pain.

  4. it's rough conditions with the loved ones. genetic shmenetic. parents just people. damage kids. nothing perfect. Disdociation is strategy of your mind to protect your emotions.

  5. Hi. My friend has DID but I see that other people have very good relationships with their alters but my friend doesn't. They almost never interact with each other and they only do if something terrible hapoens. His alter is named Axel and I'm concerned he might hurt my friend or his loved ones. Axel is always mad and he often tells my friend to isolate and push everyone away and has said some hurtful things to me, but I know is not my friend who's saying all those things so I don't let it get to me. I don't know if I should advice him to try and have a better relationship with Axel oranything else. I don't know what to do. If any one could help me, I would be very greatful!

  6. I always was thinking why I I got so much personalities, like sometime Im completely different person to my friends and other day Im back as I were. I never knew this dissorder existed and I might have it.

  7. I have photos taken by others from periods of time when I wasnt there. Those with DID will understand what that means and how disconcerting it is

  8. Thank you to all those with did who posted to this thread. I feel less alone now. Our stories are so similar and our diagnosis has never been depicted correctly in the media. We arent scary. Weve been severely abused but are "fine" unless we arent and we are good at hiding that even when we wont remember those periods if time. It's horrible and disconcerting to be an adult and have enormous memory gaps …and to continue having them. In my case I also leave…which can mean walking off and found a few miles away or, twice so far, getting on a bus and ending up thousands of miles away and losing months of time. Its terrifying to have to protect oneself from whatever might cause disassociation in order to avoid something you will never remember.

  9. I have this diagnosis. I've lost friends when I've told them because they fear it not because of experiences with me. I was horribly abused and tortured from infancy to toddlerhood and sexually. emotionally, and physically abused until I was 15 and chose to live on the streets. I have massive gaps in memory…in my adult life I've ended up states away from home twice. Medication has helped immensely in just keeping me from disassociating…I'm still always afraid of it. It could happen any time im in a situation of trauma. It hasnt for 5 years so far but I'm still on edge because I've lived with it for 4 decades. It's not like Sybil, the disassociation doesnt have a name…I'm not aware of it…I just cease to exist. Its fing scary

  10. I enjoy being dissociative if I merged my identities who would talk to? Would I even cuddle my bear at night? I am getting a counselor to talk to but I'm not fixing my beautiful mind any time soon

  11. I have a mental illness i don't know what you call it.when there is a football world cup i become the greatest player in my thoughts and enjoy my stardom . it happens with me from a small age .if there is tennis tournament i become the best tennis player and in my mind and thoughts i enjoy being that person actually I don't like my reality and I enjoy everything in my thoughts.similarly be it any sporting event i become the best player in my thoughts and enjoy the stardom,i feel happy and I don't even know i m doing this.if i like a car i think that i have already bought the car and i m enjoying the ride of it.i don't know what it is .. I don't like being myself.i remember when i was a teen like 15 i became a prophet of God in my thoughts and i enjoyed it because prophet is a powerful personality.that time i thought of myself as a prophet of God in my subconscious mind.i m sad now and i have no Life plans no social interaction no sex drive no children no future goals ..just this delusional thoughts that pop out of nowhere..i have depression and anxiety..heart beat paltipitations etc😞😭😭😭

  12. Hi please could you make a video explaining the differences of DID, CPTSD and BPD. Regarding Dissociation symptoms, PTSD symptoms, emotional regulation. As these diagnosis have great amounts of over lap between the 3 while also being completely separate diagnosis in how the brain with each separate dissorder will be connected.

  13. I feel like this isn't me, yet through out my days I feel like I'm constantly putting a mask on and changing it through it multiple times a day. Like I see the crap that's going on or being said yet I can't really stop it until its to late…

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