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March 5th: Dissociative Identity Disorder Day
Also known as “Multiple Personality Day”.
Many holidays in our society are about having fun, but some of them are about helping us remember people we might otherwise forget. Here is an awareness day in March that is more important for society than many people realize.
What do you think your life would be like if you stopped being you?
That may seem like a strange question, but for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder, it’s the reality they live with every day. Alternate personalities don’t just come out of nowhere, though. As explained by the Cleveland Clinic1, this disorder is most frequently caused by extreme trauma during childhood. Abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual) is the most common reason, but other traumatic events like wars and natural disasters can also cause the creation of new identities.
‘Alters’ - the preferred term for separate identities - represent a way for people to escape the suffering they’ve gone through by temporarily convincing themselves that it didn’t actually happen to them. A single individual can have literally dozens of alters, each with a unique perspective and different goals in life. Not all of them will be happy, though - people with Dissociative Identity Disorder are prone to depression and suicidal thoughts, and at least some of their altars may represent these feelings.
Now, alternate personalities aren’t the only form of dissociative identity disorder. There are quite a few variants, but as reported by Medical Daily, what it comes down to is that about three percent of Americans have some form of DID. That’s common enough to be worth paying attention to - and doing what we can to make people with these disorders feel safe and comfortable again.
1 - Cleveland Clinic ‘Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)’ 29 March 2012
2 - Human Disease and Conditions ‘Dissociative Identity Disorder’ 2014
Mark K. is a guest blogger on mindyourmind.
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