Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) “involves problems with memory, identity, emotion, perception, behavior, and sense of self. Dissociation is when there is [an involuntary and unwanted] disconnection between a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions or sense of who he or she is” (cite source). This is a condition where a person has two or more alter states to escape their reality of traumatic experiences or abuse; these alter states each has their own identity, their own personality, and possibly their own voice because each state may feel differently (cite source). There are many factors that contribute to DID, like natural disasters or war, because it is a way the body or person responds to the traumatic event; however, childhood trauma, such as emotional, psychical, or sexaul abuse, over a long period of time is the leading factor of DID.
Around 99 percent of people who develop DID had a traumatic event that happened usually before the age of the nine, which is said to be a “sensitive developmental stage of childhood” (cite sources). According to Kinship United, “[a] child experiencing trauma affects them more seriously than an adult would be impacted because of the brain development that is taking place in children” (cite source). The brain of an adult is not as impressionable as it would be in the brain of a child; due to the repetition of traumatic experiences, this impressionable brain can cause a long term effect on their life. The repetition of traumatic experiences, such as abuse, creates a “fight or flight” response that will kick in over and over again. During the fight or flight response, the body releases adrenaline that increases the heart rate, while cortisol increases the blood pressure and helps regulate the body’s immune response.
The constant need for the production of those two hormones negatively affects the body due to the constant stress; this leads to damages in the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus, which are associated with thoughts, memories, and emotions. “The constant stress on a child and the damage done to their brain development have a major influence on their behavior and how they approach the world” (cite source). Children often rely on dissociation as a way to cope with the traumatic experiences, and if the abuses is repetitive “dissociation becomes reinforced and conditioned” (cite source). Due to the dissociation being reinforced and conditions, it causes the child to turn into a dissociative state during stress related events, even if it has nothing to do with abuse. Some people who have experienced severe trauma do not develop DID because there’s another critical factor involved: the absence of a normal, healthy attachment to an adult. In the field of developmental psychology, ‘attachment’ has a specific meaning: it’s a bond that forms between an infant and a caregiver who supports and looks after that child, emotionally and practically, while also helping that child to learn about and manage his or her responses. Without that bond – prevented by bereavement, neglect or abuse – a child undergoing a trauma is left to fend for itself (Young, 2017, para. 11).
If DID in children is caught at a young age, the treatment can be successful leading them to a normal life; while there is no cure for adult to have DID, they can still live a normal life that hold a high functional job, some may not even notice that they suffer with DID. Adults with severe DID have trouble with normal daily activities; most people who have DID often lose their job and have a difficult time trying to communicate with others. “People with the condition typically have a number of other problems. These include depression, self-harm, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and increased susceptibility to physical illness” (cite source).