Dissociative Identity Disorder and Abuse Essay

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Dissociative Identity Disorder and Abuse

The condition once known as multiple personality disorder (MPD) is a very real psychological phenomenon that until recently was mis-understood and often mis-diagnosed. Dissociative identity disorder, DID, as we now call it, is a mental illness where a person's thoughts, feelings, and memories are scattered throughout two or more separate personalities within the victims mind (Appelbaum 107). In 1973 perhaps the world's most famous psychiatric patient ever, Sybil brought attention to what was until then a rare diagnoses. Sybil was ritually abused as a child and was later found to possess sixteen separate personalities, including women with English accents and even two little boys
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Since 1973 numerous investigators have confirmed the high incidence of physical and sexual abuse in multiple personality. In 100 cases Putnam found an 83% incidence of sexual abuse, 75% incidence of physical abuse, 61% incidence of extreme neglect or abandonment and an overall 97% incidence of any type of trauma
(Putnam 53). It wasn't until the 1900s that these events were linked to DID
(Appelbaum 110). A fictional novel, presented as a documentary, The Three
Faces of Eve (1956) described a woman who was believed to have three personalities. This was the first multiple personality book to catch the attention of the public. It was later made into a movie which various sources date as being released in 1956 or 1957. The movie had a profound effect on the public, convincing many that multiple personalities were both possible and common. A second book, also presented as a documentary, described a woman who was believed to be possessed by 16 personalities. This was Sybil
(1973), which also came out as a made for TV movie in 1976 (Schreiber 49). Those therapists who accept DID as a valid, common diagnosis believe that it is induced by extreme, repeated, physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse during early childhood. DID has been diagnosed for over a century, often amid great controversy, but it wasn't until 1980 that there was clear
definition.
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