Previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personality states that sometimes have power over the person's behavior, thinking, or feeling. With dissociative identity disorder, there's is an inability to recall key personal information that is too far-reaching to be explained as mere forgetfulness. There are also highly distinct memory variations, which change with each specific personality.
The "alters" or different identities may have their own age, sex, or race. Each may have his or her own postures, gestures, and distinct way of talking. Sometimes the alters are thought of as people. As each personality takes control of the individuals' behavior and thoughts, a ‘switch’ is occurring. Switching can take seconds, minutes, or days.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is often misdiagnosed, because it is misunderstood by many medical and mental health professionals. When that happens, the most common misdiagnosis includes one or more of the following: Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, or Schizophrenia. Having the wrong diagnosis can lead to years of medication administration for the patient without any understanding of the true nature of the problem.