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Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): Intro to the Disorder, Its History, Symptoms, & Treatment

2 CE Credit Hours - Online Course - $19.00

Developed by Elaine Ducharme, Ph.D., APBB

Course materials: text/webpage Articles

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General Course Description

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, (MPD) is a complex and controversial disorder which is "characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states that recurrently take control of the individual's behavior, accompanied by an inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. It is a disorder that is characterized by identity fragmentation rather than a proliferation of separate personalities." (DSM-IV-TR) Over the years experienced clinicians have continued to doubt the existence of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and have argued over the best form of treatment for this cluster of symptoms.

There are descriptions of similar disorders that go back as far as religious beliefs and behaviors can be traced. However, it wasn't until 1980 that Multiple Personality was officially classified in the DSM III as a legitimate and separate diagnostic category. It was renamed Multiple Personality Disorder in the DSM-III-R In 1994, and the DSM IV changed the name to Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Understanding the dissociative phenomena provides insight into the incredible strength and determination to survive of individuals who have experienced enormous trauma. It also helps clinicians understand the impact of severe trauma during early childhood on development and consolidation of the sense of self.

This introductory level course provides background information on Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and identifies the basics of an integrated approach for diagnosis and treatment of this disorder. The reader will be guided through appropriate history taking and will be given specific red flags to watch out for that may indicate the presence of DID. A review of the structure and function of the alter personality system is provided as well as instruction on how to work effectively with the many types of alters. Specific treatment techniques that foster a safe and effective clinical environment will be discussed with an emphasis on maintaining healthy boundaries for both the patient and therapist. When appropriate, specific case history examples will be provided. Reasons for and techniques of integration will be discussed. A look at proposed changes in the DSM-5 will also be included. Finally, the course provides a short bibliography and list of resources for therapists and for clients and a list of online resources, which are critical of the diagnosis and treatment of MPD and DID.

Educational Objectives

This course will teach the participant to:

1.    Summarize the historical perspective of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

2.    Conduct assessment and diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

3.    Practice safe treatment of patients with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Course Syllabus

Introduction to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

  • Introduction
  • Definitions and Principles
  • History of DID
  • Types of Dissociative Reactions
  • Factors That Influence the Formation of Dissociative Disorders

Assessment and Diagnosis of DID

  • Symptom Profile
  • Sensory Disturbances
  • Diagnosis
  • Mental Status Examination

Alters Seen in DID

  • Development of Alters
  • Types of Alters Commonly Seen
  • Manifestations of Switching


  • 12 Principles of Treatment
  • Contraindications for Memory Work
  • Guidelines for Supportive Treatment
  • Techniques for Management of Traumatic Memories
  • Transference and Countertransference
  • Adjunctive Therapies
  • Cult Abuse
  • Models of Treatment
  • Hospitalization

Summary and Conclusion

  • Common Themes in Treatment of DID
  • Integration of the Personalities
  • Use of Medications
  • Conclusion


Resources for Therapists and Clients

Online Resources to MPD and DID in Books, Films, Movies, TV and Video Games

Online Resources Critical of MPD and DID

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