The Neurobiology of Dissociative Identity Disorder

This is an excerpt from a documentary about a woman with seven personalities. I found the detailed description of the biology of DID interesting and necessary. I hope you find it interesting too…

From here: Multiple Personality Disorder: The Woman with 7 Personalities

10 thoughts on “The Neurobiology of Dissociative Identity Disorder

  1. Very informative. I will never forget how strong and simultaneously fragile the human body and mind are. The body maintains homeostasis so that we can survive in a relatively stable environment. Our temp and other vitals maintain a constant state but are tbrown off due to extreme changes in external factors. The same with our mind. Glutamate, seratonin, GABA and ketamine and other factors are essential for mental wellness…I’m sure I’m missing many. This isn’t my forte. When they are in balance all is well. Otherwise mental problems arise. That is what I gathered. It was technical.

    The other link was heartbreaking. I’m going to admit being disturbed becaise I’ve never seen anything like it in real life. It has always been with mainly poorly acted out shows. Helen confirms that real life is totally different. I was moved to tears by her Adam and William alters. The film didn’t share the others in depth but I was craving more.

    One thing that stood out in both films was that the alters would SI the body. This is somewhat confusing and I was hoping you could explain. I have MDD, PTSD, and anxiety. When “the crush” happens I SI by different means. I can’t imagine switching and reading about the scars on my arms. I would feel cheated not to remember doing something like tbat. I mnow that is so f*cked up. Have you experienced that?
    Off topic, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the classical music. Didn’t want to necro comment.

    Thank you for the education.


    1. Do you mean ‘Self Inflict’ when you say SI?…I have heard that trauma expresses itself differently in men. But I don’t precisely know how. Men tend to have fewer alters, and are not as likely to self mutilate. ‘Cutting’ is aggression turned against the self. In this culture men are encouraged to externalize their aggressive impulses so men, especially young ones, act out their violence…when I was much younger I had a an alternate that liked to get into fights. But I’ve never cut myself.

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      1. Self inflict or self injury. It’s a means to release. I’ve done it for most of my life. Burning, freezing, puking, drinking and even cutting…in a way it is a middle finger to those who try to hurt me but my aggressive actions turn to me. So who is getting the middle finger, really? I’m female, btw.

        It makes Karl a bit more perplexing. Helen has an armful of cut via Karl. I wonder what the intent is. is he cutting what he sees as a body? Or is he internalizing? Maybe I should stop asking questions. It’s the bane of my existence.


      2. Questions are important and I’m glad you feel comfortable to ask them. I don’t have any answers but those answers are out there for you. What little I do know about cutting is that it is that some people use it as a way to reduce anxiety. The body doesn’t care how it gets injured. It always releases endorphin to kill pain when it is wounded.

        I don’t know why you cut…I do know that in DID there is sometimes a sadistic alternate that becomes punishing when the system is threatened and therapy is always threatening to the dissociative system. If your abuser was male it’s possible that the cutting is a re-enactment of the abuse. The re-enactment doesn’t have to point by point. It can be symbolic; it is possible that Karl cuts Helen because he is the internal asbuser…but only a qualified therapist can tell you with any certainty.

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      3. Yes. I SI to release the tension. In the past two years I haven’t much. Now with recent events I’m trying not to cope via that method.

        Your second paragraph makes sense regarding why an alter would cut.

        Thank you.


      4. I’m glad that my comment was relevant for you.

        Survivors of abuse are often para-suicidal in their behaviors.

        Part of the reason is that parents give their children permission to live by ‘wanting’ them.

        Abused children who survive into adulthood often don’t know what they are supposed to do, or why they are alive — or even if they are supposed to be.
        This can lead to substance abuse, unhealthy eating habits, psychosomatic illness and para-suicidal cutting.


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