Many people living in one body!


You must have heard about the existence of many people inside the same person. In India, it is often believed to be the abode of ghosts and is resorted to by teachings like tantra-mantra. But you will be surprised to know that a person can suffer from a mental illness called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Earlier it was also called multiple personality disorder.

To learn more about DID, we interviewed Dr. Adult and Child Psychiatrist at Apollo Hospital Ahmedabad. Talked to Jinesh Shah.

Question: What is DID and why?

Answer: Dissociative identity disorder is a mental illness in which a person has two or more personalities. The problem with this is called dissociation. This means separating yourself from your mental processes such as awareness, perception and memory.

DID can have many causes, but the most common cause is trauma. It means any kind of physical or mental shock. Usually it comes from physical, mental or sexual abuse in childhood.
DID understood from 3 cases…

Case 1: Rishabh (name changed) was scolded by his father since his childhood. Due to his calm nature, he used to bear everything quietly. But at the age of 18-19 years, he did not handle this trauma. He developed a second personality. This personality used to fight with his father when he scolded him. During this time, Rishabh used to raise his hands on his father and abuse him. Even the father was surprised to see this.

Case 2: Shahnaz (name changed) is part of a very conservative Muslim family. In his house, marriage is arranged with the children of uncles and aunts in their childhood. Due to these problems Shahnaz became a second personality. Whenever she comes out, Shahnaz behaves violently. He and his family members started to feel that Jinn was coming inside him for some time. After contacting the doctor, it was found that Shahnaz has DID.

Case 3: Daniel (name changed) is from UK. He was bullied a lot in school. He can never stand in front of other children. Because of this, Daniel developed 5 personalities. One personality would protect Daniel from bullying children, while the other would teach him how to live life like an elder.

Question: Are DID portrayed correctly in movies?

Answer: Movies exaggerate this disorder because the topic is so interesting. In movies, DID patients have a personality similar to that of a monster. But it doesn’t happen in reality. The personality is only developed to handle that trauma, so it is not necessarily bad.

Similarly, it is believed that DID patients do not remember what their personality did. In fact it does not. Patients can remember everything from hazy memories.

Question: What is the status of DID patients in India?

Answer: In our country, DID patients are considered crazy. There is absolutely no awareness of this disease. Apart from this, most of the patients of DID are in rural areas, because they are suffering from some kind of trauma. Due to lack of awareness, these patients never come forward. Even mental health services do not have access to them.

Question: What is the cure for DID?

Answer: DID requires deep psychotherapy. This includes things like mental therapy, family therapy, relaxation techniques and meditation. Medicines are also used in this. The patient is trained not to be triggered by trauma. According to the US National Library of Medicine, a patient will struggle with DID for 5 to 12.5 years before treatment.

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