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Dissociative identity disorder: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis

Brad Foote, MD
Section Editor
David Spiegel, MD
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD


Dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder, is a complex, chronic condition characterized by disruption in autobiographical memory and in the sense of having a unified identity. The disorder has been most commonly conceptualized as originating in the context of severe trauma during the patient’s childhood.

The prevalence of DID has been estimated at approximately one percent in community based studies. High rates of co-occurring psychiatric disorders have been reported, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, depression, and somatoform disorder.

The epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, and diagnosis of DID are presented here. The epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of PTSD with dissociative features are discussed separately. (See "Dissociative aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, assessment, and diagnosis".)


Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is one of several dissociative disorders. Dissociation has been defined as a disruption of and/or discontinuity in the normal integration of consciousness, memory, identity, emotion, perception, body representation, motor control, and behavior [1]. When one or more of these functions are disrupted, characteristic impairments can be seen in these functions:

Consciousness — Impaired consciousness is characterized by decreased responsiveness to external stimuli.


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