How to Live with Someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Опубликовал Admin
30-09-2016, 10:00
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Expert Reviewed Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), also known as multiple personality disorder, is a condition in which a person has more than two identities, each demonstrating different behaviors, moods, and emotions. Someone with DID may feel other people living within them or may hear voices. Sometimes, however, a person can be completely unaware that they have more than one personality. In addition, these different personalities can manifest themselves in very different behaviors or the changes can be very subtle and difficult for others to detect. If you have a loved one that is experiencing DID, there are a number of things that you can do make living together easier.

Creating a Safe Environment for Your Loved One

  1. Understand the disorder. To understand DID, you need to be aware of the symptoms, the underlying causes, and how you can help alleviate symptoms or reduce their impact in the home. To thoroughly understand the disorder, it is important to talk to a professional who can walk you through DID. Some basics of DID include:
    • When a person has multiple personalities that take over his original personality. Each personality has a different memory, so if your loved one does something while being controlled by an alter (which is another personality) he or she will most likely not remember it.
    • The usual cause of the disorder is some childhood abuse, trauma, insecurity or torture.
    • The symptoms of DID include auditory hallucinations, amnesia (memory loss), fugue episodes in which the person travels in search of something without knowing what or why, depression and anxiety.
  2. Stay composed when faced with an episode or alter. That is, although it may be somewhat upsetting for you to be faced with an alter, do your best to avoid panicking. To stay calm, keep in mind that you are dealing with a (while somewhat mysterious) well documented disorder. As you learn about DID, get used to the idea that your loved one may have several personalities, or alters, within him and all of those alters might be completely different, in age, personality, maybe even gender. Remember that, while under the influence of an alter, your loved one is somewhat of a different person. It is possible that some of his alters may not recognize or even know about you. In addition, the person might suddenly switch to another alter even if in the middle of something like work, conversation or activity.
    • Whether or not you acknowledge the alter or pretend that you do not know the person is under the influence of an alter will depend on the specific situation you are in (e.g., if you are around strangers for just a moment it may be better to avoid the subject or an unwanted and long conversation may ensue) and the specific alter (e.g., whether it is an alter that gets upset about those kinds of discussions) who is present.
  3. Be patient. Your loved one is dealing with an extremely challenging situation. While you might find yourself at times frustrated or hurt by something she has done, it is important to remember that your loved one (i.e., the personality you most identify with as being his) does not necessarily know what she is saying. He has no control over when an alter takes over, so try to remain patient, even if an alter says or does something that frustrates you.
    • If it gets too overwhelming and you are losing patience, try to excuse yourself from the conversation and take a break.
    • Although it can be difficult to shorten a dissociative episode, one form of treatment is to intervene immediately following a traumatic event. So, if you can help the person overcome their trauma that might reduce symptoms of DID and speed up the process. That said, this generally needs to be done under the supervision of a qualified mental health professional.
  4. Show your loved one empathy. Along with having patience, you must also have empathy. Your loved one is experiencing a very scary situation. He will need as much love and support as you can possibly give him. Say kind things to him, listen to him when he wants to talk about his situation, and show him that you care.
  5. Avoid conflict and other stressful situations. Stress is one of the largest factors in triggering a personality switch. Do your best to relieve any stress that your loved one may be experiencing. It is also important to avoid causing stress through conflict or argument. If your loved one does something that makes you mad, take a moment to yourself to breathe and control your anger. You can then talk with them about what made you mad and the ways that they can avoid doing that in the future.
    • If you disagree with something that your loved one said or is doing, use the “Yes, but…” technique. When he asserts something that you do not agree with, say “yes, but…” so that you avoid directly conflicting with him.
  6. Keep your loved one engaged in activity. While some people with DID can manage their own time and schedule activities for themselves, other people will not be able to manage their time as well due to memory loss and different personalities pulling their goal-directed behaviors in different directions. If your loved one has a hard time keeping track of what he is supposed to be doing, help him along by reminding him of the activities he has planned.
    • You might try creating a chart that you keep in a specific place he can easily see it. On the chart, right down important things he should be doing, as well as suggestions for other fun things to do.

Keeping Your Loved One on Track

  1. Help get your loved one treatment. Whether it is medication for other disorders that often co-occur with DID, such as depression or anxiety, or whether it is making sure that your loved one goes to his appointments with his therapist, you will need to help him with both of these things. Keep track of what medications he is supposed to receive everyday and make a schedule for therapy sessions and other appointments he may have.
    • If your loved one is having trouble keeping a schedule, try creating a calendar with his appointments in it. If he has a smartphone, you can add a calendar to his phone that will give reminders of his upcoming appointments.
  2. Know the warning signs of an upcoming episode. While each person is different, there are some signs that nearly everyone with DID experiences before an episode or personality switch occurs. It can help to detect these signs so that you can prepare yourself mentally to deal with this person's alter. These signs include:
    • Recurrent flashbacks to abuse or bad memories.
    • Depression or extreme sadness.
    • Frequent mood swings.
    • Memory loss.
    • Aggressive behavior.
    • Feelings of numbness.
  3. Keep track of your loved one’s possessions. When your loved one experiences a personality shift, memories from his other personalities do not necessarily carry over. This can make it very hard to keep track of important items like wallets, cell phones, etc. Create an inventory of your loved ones important items and place notes or stickies on or inside the items with your name and phone number on them. That way, anyone who finds your loved one’s item can call you to return them.
    • It is also important that you have a copy of all of your loved one’s important documents, including social security card, medical information, passwords, etc.
  4. Monitor for self-harming tendencies. People suffering from DID have almost always experienced abuse during childhood. Self-harming behaviors, such as suicide, violence, substance abuse and risk-taking, are common in people who have DID. These behaviors tend to occur in those who have suffered abuse because they are used in an attempt to end their feelings of shame, horror, and fear spurred on by past abuse.
    • If you notice that your loved one has started developing self-harming behaviors, call your therapist or the police right away.

Taking Care of Yourself

  1. Take time to do things you love. It is of the utmost importance that you take time to care for yourself, since taking care of someone with DID can be very stressful. You should take steps to maintain a healthy diet; it is also important to allow yourself some rest and relaxation time.
    • Sometimes, you will need to put your needs first in order to keep up the mental and physical strength required to support your loved one.
  2. Take breaks when you need to. Schedule alone time where you do not need to worry about anyone else’s time management. Stay connected with your friends and make sure that you go out and have fun every week. Taking a break can help you to regain your strength so that you can continue to be patient and empathetic to your loved one’s situation.
    • Join a yoga class to help you center yourself and restore inner peace. Yoga and meditation can be two great ways to help yourself relax and let go of any tensions and worries that you have.
  3. Attend family therapy. There are family therapy sessions specifically for the family members of people with DID. It is very important that you attend sessions so that you can learn about other ways to help your loved one to overcome this disorder and ways to help keep yourself strong.
    • There are also support groups you can join where you can meet other people who are also living with someone who has DID. You can talk to your therapist about support group options or run an internet search to find one near you.
  4. Remain hopeful. While some days may seem bleak, you must always keep the hope alive. With your support and the help of a therapist, your loved one can overcome this disorder and eventually integrate all of their personalities. To maintain hopefulness you can:
    • Remind yourself that you will become a stronger person in dealing with the situation you are in.
    • Think about something that you are grateful for to remember that although some aspects of your life are tough, there are good things to look forward to, also.


  • Develop your own personal way of calming yourself down--count to ten, repeat a phrase, or practice breathing exercises.
  • Remember that your loved one may not have much control over what he does and says--try not to take things personally.


  • If your loved one becomes aggressive towards himself or to you, and you feel that he may become violent, call the police.
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