Living with DID: What the media gets wrong

Dissociative Identity Disorder. You’ve probably heard of it, even if you don’t realize it. It was previously called Multiple Personality Disorder, and movies such as “The Three Faces of Eve”, “Mr. Brooks”, “Me, Myself, and Irene”, “Lizzie”, “Frankie & Alice”, “Sybil”, “Split”, and “A Tale of Two Sisters” all show multiple personalities. But are they good representations?

As a rule, no, they aren’t. A lot of these movies display DID as something harmful and dangerous. Most show people with DID as people to be locked up, either as criminals or as insane people. They also get some core facts about DID completely wrong.

DID is formed from childhood trauma, which is something a lot of people don’t realize. All children have different personalities for different emotions, but in a healthy child, these personality facets fuse together around the age of nine or ten. In a severely traumatized child, however, in order to protect the ‘main’ personality, these different facets are kept separate with amnesia barriers. All DID is, is a coping mechanism for traumatized children. It is not dangerous.

Some people with DID find it difficult to cope with life without their altered personality states, but that doesn’t make them dangerous or evil. No person is naturally evil, and people with DID are no exceptions.

There is a common misconception that people with DID are more likely to commit dangerous crimes than other people. There’s not enough data on people with DID, but it is much less likely to be accepted as an insanity plea in court than things like schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

People with DID are more likely to be gaslit and abused further, rather than be the abusers. While only 2% of the population are diagnosed with DID, that’s still 140,000,000 people, and that’s only people that are diagnosed. It’s difficult to get a diagnosis of DID, and a lot of people, even psychologists, don’t believe it exists. Getting therapy for DID is also difficult.

The media demonizes people with mental disorders and DID has it quite bad when it comes to portrayals in movies and TV shows, especially recently. Movies take DID and twist it into a horror trope, instead of what it actually is – a coping mechanism. People are scared of people with DID, and that’s primarily the fault of the media. No person with DID is inherently dangerous.

We’re just trying to survive.

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