Multiple personality disorder, addicts and addiction
Do Some Addicts Have Multiple Personality Disorder?
The short answer is: Yes, some addicts can be diagnosed with psychiatric disorders such as Multiple Personality Disorder (M.P.D).
Is it common to have 5-25 Personalities?
Multiple Personality Disorder (M.P.D), renamed Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.), is a very complex and controversial diagnosis to attach to someone. The likes of ‘Sybil’ come to mind when people think of M.P.D. A much milder version is more often the norm, than the crazy, out of control patient often depicted by Hollywood.
The official Psychiatric diagnostic criteria for D.I.D., according to the DSM IV –TR include; the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states, at least two of these identities recurrently take control of the person’s behavior, and the inability to recall important personal information that is to extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.
Family and friends of a D.I.D. may report the patient has frequent gaps in memory (personal), both past and recent, reports of finding items of clothing at home that the individual cannot remember having, and not remembering a whole segment of the day, as to where they were or what they were doing. Misplacing keys, wallets, purses, & cars in parking lots is common.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde : Identity and Dissociative Identity Disorder
Quite often, the D.I.D. patient will be described as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, meaning one moment the person may seem very passive and submissive, and then suddenly an impatient, controlling and/or self-destructive person emerges. It is very common that a person with D.I.D. will be misdiagnosed for six to seven years before the dissociative identifies are correctly identified. Usually the misdiagnosis given is Bi-Polar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder.
Each personality state may be experienced as if it has a distinct personal history, self-image, and identity, including different names. I have had clients where one personality will write left handed with beautiful handwriting, while another personality will insist he/she can only use the right hand to write. To be talking to an adult one minute and a young, rebellious adolescent another is fairly common.
Causes of DID: Real or Perceived Mental, Physical, or Sexual Abuse
My experience with multiple personalities that use alcohol or drugs often have only one personality who uses. Sometimes the host personality may be aware that he/she drinks, but no clue about getting stoned. In discussing the addictive behavior, quite often the emerging personality years prior chose to use an addictive path to distract the host personality from some form of abuse (mental, physical, or sexual). Or even still, chose to be sexually promiscuous as a survival mode on the streets.
Why Use Drugs or Alcohol?
This is really a simple one to explain. Just like Bi-polar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Hyper-Attention Deficit Disorder, and just about any type of disorder can crossover into addictions because people strive to feel normal. So, yes I have many clients who are addicts that do have Multiple Personality Disorder. With alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, and any kind of addiction, there are those who will do anything to feel normal. Whether to not feel the pain of shame or to settle the chaos inside, people choose everyday to medicate in an effort to distract, avoid, or to deny their life struggles.
Problems for an Addict with Dissociative Identity Disorder
There is no doubt that D.I.D. is a mysterious disorder. One that needs attention and extensive counseling to resolve. Having one of many personalities that is an addict creates enormous problems in overcoming addictions because until that addicted personality is integrated (becomes whole) to the host he/she will always have the alternative to escape real or perceived danger with drugs and/or alcohol.
If you would like to read more about MPD write comments and questions below or contact Dr. Steve.
Photo credit: Cecilia Fletcher