Depersonalization WILL NOT give you Multiple Personality Disorder
The symptoms that accompany Depersonalization --
... feelings of unreality, of being separated from your body, not recognizing your own voice etc etc -- can understandably seem like they’re moving towards something worse: What if the anxiety and DP gets so bad that you just can’t take it anymore and a ‘split’ in personality happens?
It can seem like a perfectly legitimate fear, and it’s one that I had on many occasions during my two years of suffering with chronic Depersonalization.
But here's the good news:
That’s not how Depersonalization works,
and it’s certainly not how Multiple Personality Disorder works.
Firstly, and most importantly, there is not a point where the DP will get so bad that it ever becomes something worse. That’s like saying that your flu symptoms might get so bad that you’ll suddenly develop bronchitis. The conditions aren’t entirely unrelated, but one certainly does not lead to the other.
I have personally dealt with literally thousands of people with Depersonalization disorder and I have never once come across one -- not one! -- that worsened into Multiple Personality Disorder.
DPD and DID are both technically dissociative disorders but their respective circumstances and effects could not be more different.
So, why do Depersonalization sufferers have this thought in the first place? Because with DP, there's a strong tendency - with any train of thought - to jump to the worst conclusion.
“I’m feeling kind of hungry...
Is it weird that I’m feeling hungry?
What even is the feeling of hunger?
Is it separate from the hunger itself?
Is the thought something that exists on its own?
Wait… Can I hear that thought?
If I hear the thought, is that a voice in my head...?
If I have a voice in my head, does that mean I have Multiple Personality Disorder as well as Depersonalization??”
... and so on. Does that panicky thought process sound familiar? I bet it does!
Now -- I’m not disputing that these thoughts can be frightening. But worrying doesn’t change
the fact that the conditions are vastly different.
With DPD, there are ongoing and distressing feelings of detachment, unreality etc. DID, on the other hand, is very different. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the main criteria for diagnosis are:
- Two or more distinct identities or personality states are present, each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self.
- Amnesia must occur, defined as gaps in the recall of everyday events, important personal information, and/or traumatic events. -- Other symptoms can include referring to yourself as ‘We’, writing in different handwriting etc.
These are obvious and distinct symptoms that don’t relate at all to DPD.
With Depersonalization Disorder, it can certainly become frightening -- but there is never anything remotely close to a split in personality occurring. Because of the anxiety it can sometimes become difficult to concentrate and recall things, but there is never any actual loss of memory.
The other vital point to remember is that Multiple Personality Disorder (or DID) is typically an ongoing response to severe childhood trauma. That is to say that people who have it, have almost always had it since a very young age, usually five years or younger.
DPD on the other hand can be set off at any age (but usually in your teens or twenties) by something as innocuous as a bad experience with weed, the death of a loved one, or even one lone panic attack. It’s a huge, sudden change and very distressing. But in terms of how it comes about and is experienced, it could not be more different from DID.
The bottom line is that Depersonalization WILL NOT give you Multiple Personality Disorder. For people with chronic Depersonalization, MPD / DID falls into that big group of disorders and illnesses that they worry they might get -- a fear that is so common with DPD, it’s virtually a symptom of the condition.
But the simple fact is that if you don’t already have DID,
you won’t develop it as a result of having Depersonalization Disorder.