Dissociative identity disorder and the psychodynamic view and treatment Dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, is when a person develops two or more distinct personalities. These distinct personalities are called subpersonalities or alternate personalities. There is usually one subpersonality that appears more often than the others, called the primary or host personality (Comer, 2016, p. 170). Cases of this disorder were first reported almost three centuries ago. While this disorder is usually diagnosed in early childhood or late adolescence, there may be symptoms of it after trauma or abuse in early childhood. Women receive this diagnosis at least three times as often as men, and it is estimated that as much as 1 percent of the population in America and the Western world appear to have this disorder (Comer, 2016, p. 171, 172).
Originally it was thought that there were only two or three alternate personalities. Studies now suggest that the average number of subpersonalities is about 15 for women and 8 for men. These subpersonalities often emerge in groups of two or three at a time. Every case of dissociative identity disorder is unique, and there generally are three kinds of relationship options between the individual’s subpersonalities (Comer, 2016, p. 171). One relationship is called mutually amnesic. In this relationship, the subpersonalities aren’t aware of each other. Conversely, in a relationship that is mutually