10 DID misconceptions

I have dissociative identity disorder (DID). I prefer to write about it than create videos on it, but I’m still privy to the criticism about the DID community on social platforms.

Mostly the misconceptions about DID — viewpoints accepted as facts, but actually false.

DID is a mystery diagnosis no one really knows about unless they have it themselves. Like autism, non-DID systems (singlets) perceive the diagnosis as problematically as they’re going to from their single-minded identities.

They’ll also find that an insult, which it isn’t — it’s true: Singlets are single-minded identities. So how could they ever fully encompass the complexities of a disorder such as DID without fully unlearning everything they’ve ever learned about identity?

Myth #1: DID is extremely rare.

Any “rare” diagnosis is perceived as one that only a few people should have. “Extremely rare” is even worse.

DID is not that rare. An estimated 1.5% of the global population in 2021 have DID — that’s about 112.5 million people estimated to have DID, or the entire country of Tonga in 2023 and then some.

Golden blood is rare. DID? Not so much. Do only an estimated 112.5 million out of 7.5 billion have it? Yes — but imagine the undiagnosed number.

To use a diagnosis’s supposed rarity as reason to dismiss someone for having it is to ignore not only the maths, but the logic and science itself.

Historically, the psychiatric community knows so little about what it knows of.

Previously, the LGBTQ+ community was perceived as mentally ill.

Diagnostic statistics are based solely on what is known about the community, ignorant of what people don’t know.

You might think, “Why is DID so popular?” Or wonder if there’s an epidemic because more people are being diagnosed “nilly willy”.

In reality, trauma statistics are high and mighty — and more diagnoses means people finally getting the answers (and help) they need.

Myth #2: People with DID are just faking it.


I love asking this question when someone says another must be “faking” their autism or ADHD.

Like, do you even hear yourself?

Did you really type out that whole sentence and think, “Yeah, this is what I want to comment.”

Like, what severe insecurity do you have about yourself that you would communicate something so distasteful, even brussel sprouts smell good?

Assuming someone is faking a disorder or diagnosis tells everyone a few things about you:

  1. You lack personal boundaries.
  2. You’re an armchair psychiatrist.
  3. Your mind is made up/you’ll be combative.
  4. Your behavior is toxic (see above).

Why waste energy arguing with you? No wonder you got blocked. No wonder they went no-contact.

You know what good doctors don’t do?

  • Diagnose/treat people who aren’t their patients
  • Guess what people they’ve never met or seen professionally have
  • Diagnose someone without ever meeting them
  • Diagnose someone outside their specialty

“But my therapist/psychiatrist said they have—” No.

If invisible illnesses were visual illnesses, you would all be ashamed.

Dissociative identity disorder causes depersonalization and/or derealization, which may cause feelings of doubt and wondering if you’re unconsciously faking DID.

Feeling like you’re faking DID is already an insidious spiral. Life would be much, much easier if we were faking our DID. Unfortunately, we’re not.

DID continues to exist even if you forcibly stuff it into the back of the headspace and barricade the door to the front.

Myth #3: People with DID don’t know they have it.

True…unless they DO know they have it. Then, this is false.

Explaining the nuances of the headspace and access to information is more than I am able to articulate at this time.

I don’t know how singlet minds work, but DID is like…your brain knows something, but YOU are not privy to that intel.

With singlets, you are your brain and your brain is you.

In a DID system, you are a part of your brain, while your brain is currently you. Your brain only lets you in on some things.

Sometimes, that is that you are a system. But this doesn’t mean you won’t spend eternity wondering if you’re faking it.

Myth #4: People with DID are dangerous and should be institutionalized.

You wanna say something about DID is rare? Here it is: DID is rarely a valid defense against committing crime.

DID systems are more likely to harm themselves than they are other people.

Abusive behaviors people with DID engage in are, more or less, them repeating what they’ve learned — which is no different from singlets repeating cycles of abuse as well. 🤷‍♀️

Billy Milligan was the first DID system found not guilty of serious crimes, but DID as a defense doesn’t work as well in modern times because people with DID are not inherently dangerous.

Myth #5: It’s obvious to tell if someone has DID.

Is it? 🤔

Selfie with grey cat, making like a turtle/surprised/shocked face, wearing tie dye. I think the chair is green, but my cousins say it's brown.

Back to the armchair psychiatrists: Have you noticed they’re always know-it-alls, ignorant of what they don’t know?

It’s ironic. Intelligence is knowing a lot of things and being aware of what you don’t know.

Unintelligence is behaving like you know everything, denying things you don’t know, and gaslighting people when they know something you don’t.

Yet, here we have someone who thinks they’d know in a heartbeat whether someone had X. Why didn’t you become a doctor, then? Become the real-life Gregory House, M.D?

In my experience, these statements come from people who work in medical billing or are not full psychiatrists. They don’t diagnose people; they just chat with the ones who do.

They also may come from people who don’t want to accept that you are X, because — for some reason — singlets get mighty mad if you don’t meet their idealized perception of you.

Myth #6: DID and multiple personality disorder are the same.

Multiple personality disorder doesn’t exist; it’s an old diagnosis for what is now known to be dissociative identity disorder, which is now understood to be about dissociation and varying identities — not personalities.

DID is a dissociative disorder, not a personality disorder. That distinction matters, because identity and personality are not interchangeable.

Isn’t medical evolution amazing?

Myth #7: Switching is obvious, dramatic mood changes.

If switching alternate identity states was obvious, I don’t think I’d have struggled so much because people would have realized early on.

DID is not a mood disorder, so “obvious, dramatic mood changes” is not a symptom. The entire purpose of DID is to be as covert as possible, so switches are more likely to be subtle.

Myth #8: You can develop DID in adulthood.

No. You cannot develop DID at any age. You can only develop it before the age of 8.

Can you be diagnosed at any age? Yes. But you cannot develop it at any time.

I don’t care if Medical News Today published otherwise. That entire article is written by a singlet who didn’t even get the DID terminology right. 😬

It’s also the only source that claims this. 🙄

Myth #9: DID is basically just schizophrenia.

Nope — but DID systems may be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, or schizoaffective mood disorder, before being properly diagnosed with DID.

People with DID are frequently misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, because dissociative alters are mistaken for hallucinations or delusions, rather than alternate identity states.

I was diagnosed with schizoaffective mood disorder before being diagnosed with DID. Considering the stigma around DID, life when I thought I had a mood disorder was much easier to manage.

People seem more accepting of personality and mood disorders than they do dissociative ones. 🤷‍♀️ It’s so weird.

Myth #10: With proper treatment, DID can be cured.

Doctors previously thought that the best treatment for DID was turning a multiplicity into a singlet, but that’s not the case anymore.

Now, they know there is no cure for DID.

Forcing alters to merge/fuse/integrate into one is not the best treatment for DID and can be damaging to the system and body’s health overall. Some DID systems do want to become singlets, and that’s valid.

However, research from the last 20 years finds that functional multiplicity is the better path for DID systems. Instead of becoming one identity, the system lives and functions as a collective.

Overt, or “out” DID systems, may also prefer to embrace each alter’s individuality and live somewhat separate lives.

Functional multiplicity best works for my brain and system, meaning we live as a collective and somewhat covertly.

Acknowledging the different parts on a regular basis causes more dissociation, which makes for a foggy/cloudy mind and causes balance issues.

“Proper treatment” for DID these days involves trauma therapy, a good support system, and not forcing singlet-mindedness.

Few therapists and psychiatrists want to “touch” DID, i.e. work with patients who have DID, because they don’t understand it.

I prefer open-minded therapists who don’t know much about DID, but then I’ve never met a therapist who knew enough about it that I didn’t have to explain DID terminology. 🤷‍♀️

What misconceptions about DID have you heard, seen or been hit with?

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