1. Exposure to overwhelming childhood stress, such as traumatic physical or sexual abuse
2. The capacity to dissociate
3. Encapsulating or walling off of experience
4. Developing different memory systems (p. 205)
The authenticity of one well-known case of DID, Sybil (mentioned earlier), has actually been questioned (Borch-Jacobsen, 1997). Herbert Spiegel, a hypnotist, worked with Sybil and used her to demonstrate hypnotic phenomena in his classes. He described her as a "Grade 5" or "hypnotic virtuoso," something found in only 5 percent of the population. Sybil told Spiegel that her psychiatrist, Cornelia Wilbur, had wanted her to be "Helen," a name given to a feeling she expressed during therapy. Spiegel later came to believe that Wilbur was using a technique in which different memories or emotions were converted into "personalities." Sybil also wrote a letter denying that she had multiple personalities and staring that the "extreme things" she told about her mother were not true. Tapes of sessions between Wilbur and Sybil indicate that Wilbur may have described personalities for Sybil (Rieber, 2006).
A number of studies using PET scans and MRIs on individuals diagnosed with DID have found variations in brain activity when comparing different personalities (Reinders et aI., 2003; Sheehan, Sewall, & Thurber, 2005; Tsai et al., 1999). Switching between personalities is associated with activation or inhibition of certain brain regions, particularly the hippocampus (Tsai et al., 1999), an area involved in memories and hypothesized to be involved in the generation of dissociative states and amnesia (Staniloiu & Markowirsch, 2010; Teicher er aI., 2002). Differences in temporal lobe activity have also been found among different personalities within an individual. This is interesting because temporal lobe seizures sometimes involve altered states of consciousness (Sheehan et al., 2005).
“Managers”: Good at anticipating problems before trouble arises. Run the everyday life of an individual. Help keep the individual safe and functional.
“Exiles”: Parts that are locked away by the managers. Typically young parts that experienced trauma and carry emotional memories of humiliation, pain, and debasement. When in control, can make the individual feel vulnerable and fragile.
“Firefighters”: Become active when the individual is distressed. They 'extinguish' the feelings of the exiles. Typical firefighter behavior includes impulsivity, and binging on drugs, alcohol, food, and sex.
“Self”: The core identity with leadership qualities. Should direct the work of the other parts.
Balhan, Krystle. “Lecture: Dissociative Disorders.” 2015.
Discovery Fit and Health Writers. “5 Myths About Dissociative Identity Disorder.” http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/mental-disorders/5-dissociative-identity-disorder-myths.htm
Sue, David et alia. Understanding Abnormal Behavior Tenth Edition. 2013.