Childhood Trauma and Dissociative Identity Disorde

272 views 7 pages ~ 1700 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Every person, at some point in their lives, wishes they had numerous personalities to help them forget a bad experience. There are characters who might do this, but it is not done on purpose. These personalities are oblivious to the fact that whenever they are confronted with specific scenarios in their thinking, another person takes their place. Furthermore, once this occurs, such characters are unable to recollect any incidence. This is the psychological condition known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.By definition, dissociative identity disorder is the condition of one having two or more divergent personalities which are able to alternate within the person's conscious awareness. This condition is linked to childhood trauma. However, there are other risk factors for this disorder. Thus, this paper seeks to articulate whether dissociative disorder should best be understood as a product of childhood trauma.

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Dissociative Identity Disorder was initially denoted to as the multiple personality disorder that described the condition in which an individual's identity is fragmented into two or more distinct personality statuses (Boysen and VanBergen, 2013). This rare condition is mainly linked to severe abuse. According to Dorahy, Brand, Şar, Krüger, Stavropoulos, Martínez-Taboas and Middleton (2014), the distinct identities present in persons with this disorder present themselves and alternatively takes control of that individual. Dissociative identity disorder reflects an individual's inability to integrate various aspects of identity, consciousness, memory into a single multidimensional self. Piper and Merskey (2004) discussed the dissociative identity disorder as a case where a person has multiple personalities. They added that with this type of disorder, the victim lacks a distinct unitary sense of self but perceive them to be multiple.

The dissociative identity disorder manifests in several ways with the first being a person experiencing two or more distinctive personalities with each having its continuing pattern of distinguishing, relating or thinking about the environment. According to Itzkowitz, Chefetz, Hainer, Hopenwasser and Howell (2015), persons with the disorder tend to have disrupted identity that involves changes in self, behavior, sense of agency, cognition, perception, memory and functioning. According to Slack (2014), dissociative identity disorder victims often have gaps in remembering their personal history, including places, people, and events. Slack (2014) explained that the gaps in the recall, in this case, do not consist with the ordinary forgetting.

Some people with this disorder at some point may experience mysterious events and lack the ability to recall for example one may find him/herself somewhere without remembering how they got to that place. Slack (2014) cited another symptom that victims with the disorder may feel disconnected or detached from their bodies or thought. Slake added that they may make suicidal attempts or self-injury. In class, the students with dissociative identity disorder can find themselves having different handwriting from time to time.

Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma is defined as the distressful experiences that occur to a child between ages 0 to 6yeras. Infants and young children react differently to a stressful experience unlike the older children since they cannot verbally express or react threatening occasions. Andersen et al. (2012) defined childhood trauma as the occurrences that create emotional pain hat overwhelm an individual's ability to cope. Some of the common examples include physical or sexual assault, neglect, emotional torture and natural disaster accidents and loss of parent or guardian.

Childhood Trauma as the Lead Cause of Dissociative Identity Disorder

Childhood abusive experiences are causes damaging effects on growth and development that are linked to mental health problems in later life. According to Boysen and VanBergen (2013), a history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse during childhood is more common among adults who are diagnosed with mental illness. Boysen and VanBergen (2013) supported their claim the explanation that children faced with or exposed to severe physical or sexual abuse or neglect lack an effective means of fighting or avoiding the perpetrator of the abuse. For these children to escape such ordeal, the only instrument availed to them during the time they are abused is dissociation. According to Boysen and VanBergen (2013), the separation of mind from physical experience provides the abused child with a sense of protection.

The psychological impact of child abuse depends on the type of abuse, the relationship the child and the abuser have, the severity of the abuse, the relationship between the child and the parents, the family environment from which the child comes from and previous experience of abuse. The other factor includes the history of care and love. According to the establishments by Itzkowitz, Chefetz, Hainer, Hopenwasser, and Howell (2015), a history of trauma is one of the key features of dissociative identity disorder. From the exploration by Itzkowitz et al. (2015), 90% of cases of DID reported traces back to some history of childhood abuse. According to Slack (2014), abuses on an individual during his/her adulthood are not likely to cause dissociative identity disorder nut only the abuses during childhood can.

Dissociation is a survival mechanism that an individual uses to disconnect from traumatic situations or cases that are stressful. The other reason for dissociation is to help the individual to separate distressing memories from normal consciousness. Slack (2014) argued that it helps a person break the link with the external sphere, and create distance from sentience with what's happening. Slack (2014) added that dissociation is important in creating a defense mechanism against the emotional and physical pain of a stressful circumstance. Childhood trauma that causes dissociative identity disorder is so common when the abuse if by a trusted person like parents. When a child is physically abused by the parents or a member of the family, then the child gets to a dilemma where the mind is divided between the family member who is to provide care and security and this member who is inflicting injury, pain, and humiliation. In such a case, the child has to maintain two completely opposing views of the same person; this consequently creates tension in the brain.

Several research works have made deliberations and education that an account of physical and sexual assault in childhood being more common among individuals who develop serious mental disorders than previously alleged as recounted by Dorahy, Brand, Krüger, Stavropoulos, Martínez-Taboas, and Middleton (2014). Dorahy et al. (2014) added that dissociative disorder equally links to childhood neglect and child abuse. There are a number of degrees of dissociative identity disorder including passive disconnection and pulling out from the active setting to the disorder of having multiple personalities and the severe dissociative disorder that is characterized by instabilities memory and identity matters. Lyons-Ruth (2015) contributed to this argument adding that the severe dissociative disorder is best explained as the adaptive, post-traumatic dissociative reaction to the worries and agony of overwhelming trauma.

Risk factors for developing the Disorder

The linking of childhood trauma to dissociative identity disorder does not fully hold that all children who experience traumas in their childhood are at the risk of developing DID. Moreover, the children with the disorder are not supposedly victims of serious childhood trauma. Andersen, Melvaer, Videbech, Lamont and Joergensen (2012) in their research established that there are three factors that arguably increase the likelihood of a person developing dissociative identity disorder. The three factors include biological factors, lack of emotional or social support and children with less mature brains. According to Andersen et al. (2012), biologically there are individuals with greater tendency to dissociate with such people having organic problems in their brain that complicate the process of integration, as opposed to dissociation of their experiences.

Children with less mature brains than adults are more susceptible to developing the dissociative identity disorder since such individuals tend to have a non-cohesive sense of self and personality. According to Lyons-Ruth (2015), such individuals have little ability to deal with and integrate traumatic experiences. Lyons-Ruth (2015) added that those who experience trauma while young are more likely to develop the dissociative disorder than adults. The third risk factor is the lack of emotional and social support to the child that exposes the child to high chances of developing the dissociative disorder. Lyons-Ruth (2015) supported this risk factor arguing that children growing up in a toxic or neglected life where they do not get the support to cope with difficult emotion and traumatic situations have high chances of using dissociation as a means of dealing with the trauma. Piper and Merskey (2004) contributed to this argument adding that children with no social support are less likely to integrate into their narrative if they do not have anybody to listen and care for them in such situation.


An overwhelming majority of adults persons diagnosed with the dissociative identity disorder report childhood traumas drawn from a number of abuses and more so from parents or family members. Several research findings agree that trauma is the single most consistent factor in people who develop dissociative identity disorder in adulthood. The common child abuses that contribute to the increasing trends of this disorder are neglect, physical assault, emotional torture and sexual abuse. This study established that the trauma that causes Dissociative Identity Disorder is not resultant of abuses in adulthood but only those that one experiences in his/her childhood. Thus, it is logical to conclude that childhood trauma is the leading cause of dissociative identity disorder.


Andersen, L. B., Melvaer, L. B., Videbech, P., Lamont, R. F., & Joergensen, J. S. (2012). Risk factors for developing post‐traumatic stress disorder following childbirth: a systematic review. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica, 91(11), 1261-1272.

Boysen, G. A., & VanBergen, A. (2013). A review of published research on adult dissociative identity disorder: 2000-2010. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 201(1), 5-11.

Dorahy, M. J., Brand, B. L., Şar, V., Krüger, C., Stavropoulos, P., Martínez-Taboas, A., & Middleton, W. (2014). Dissociative identity disorder: An empirical overview. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 48(5), 402-417.

Itzkowitz, S., Chefetz, R. A., Hainer, M., Hopenwasser, K., & Howell, E. F. (2015). Exploring dissociation and dissociative identity disorder: A roundtable discussion. Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 12(1), 39-79.

Lyons-Ruth, K. (2015). Dissociation and the parent-infant dialogue: A longitudinal perspective from attachment research. Attachment, 9(3), 253-276.

Piper, A., & Merskey, H. (2004). The persistence of folly: A critical examination of dissociative identity disorder. Part I. The excesses of an improbable concept. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 49(9), 592-600.

Slack, C. (2014). Dissociative identity disorder: improving treatment outcomes. Counselling & Psychotherapy Journal, 14(1), 43-45.

April 19, 2023

Life Health


Myself Experience Illness

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Mental Disorder
Verified writer

Nixxy is accurate and fun to cooperate with. I have never tried online services before, but Nixxy is worth it alone because she helps you to feel confident as you share your task and ask for help. Amazing service!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro