Dissociative identity disorder is about unique identities, not fluctuating personalities.

A common argument against the existence or diagnosis of a dissociative person having dissociative identity disorder (DID) and being a DID system is that everyone acts different at work, home and around different people. It’s frustrating and annoying to have people invalidate your experience as a multiplicity because they think your disorder is about the fluidity of personalities.

Personalities are fluid, but…

It’s not just about having a work personality, home personality, parent personality, friends personality, etc. Everyone acts differently around different people. That’s not what dissociative identity disorder entails.

Dissociative identity disorder is not known as multiple personality disorder anymore because it is a dissociative disorder featuring identities.

Tan sisal rope, braided
DID alters are like sisal rope scratching posts — developing over time, yet still crucial to keeping the system from unraveling.

DID identities are literally multiple people living in the same body.

Each alternate identity is their own person. That is literally the main diagnosis criteria — two or more distinct unique identities in the same body.

The personality of a person helps make up their identity. So you have yourself — who you are, with all your beliefs, identification traits (gender, orientation, race, ethnicity, hair color, weight, etc.), name, and so on — and your personality, and all of that combined equates to your identity.

For the purpose of illustrating what an alternate identity in a DID system is like, think of a pet or loved one. Who are they? What are they like? What do they like? How does their style vary from your own? Now imagine you had to share the same body, as-is, both living in the same headspace. No one sees each of you individually because singlets rule the world — so everyone only sees the body, the binary identity associated with the body, and the societal expectations and presumptions about the identity of the body.

Two unique identities — you and your pet, or your loved one — living inside the same body. Who does the world see primarily? It’s probably not you, at least not completely.

Now imagine if you have more than two identities in your body, all unique because that’s the whole point (unless they’re fragmented).

So you see? It’s about distinct identities, not varying personalities. It’s not sudden personality changes — it’s complete identity changes. You can’t always tell — that’s a lot to unpack, but I’ll get to it eventually.

More of what dissociative identity disorder is not

Dissociative identity disorder is not borderline personality disorder. It’s not a personality disorder. It’s also not bipolar disorder or manic depression.

Dissociative identity disorder has nothing to do with having multiple personalities and everything to do with having multiple identities.

DID system members typically hold some kind of role/function within the system, adding to their identity.

It is important to remember the brain creates DID as the result of trauma occurring at a young age, though it is not the default; not every brain develops it, just the ones that opt to use it as a coping mechanism.

Personalities are situational, but none exist to play a role. DID identities are not acting; they simply exist individually within the same body.

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