Mary came to the clinic accompanied by one of her family members after they realized she was having different mood swings and seemed much stressed. Her sister described her behavior in the past few weeks, which indicated she was suffering from a psychological disorder. One of the behaviors noted is disappearing for hours in a day and boarding a hotel under different name. Few days ago, she had gone to one of the hotels in town under a different name in the afternoon, booked in and mentioned she was there to attend a conference. The family looked for her for until they found her in the hotel. To her, they were total strangers. After convincing her for sometime, she came back to her senses. At this time, she did not know why she was there.
The sister also described how she behaved differently in several occasions, like she was a totally different person. She drunk more than her usual, and went to a night club once, something she does not do. After leaving the night club shortly after, she did not recall what went on. At home she was the usual person, but seemed depressed and hardly ate anything. She was also having mood swings especially when asked why she did something. After talking to her, she seemed unaware that she had done some of the things her sister said. Her behavior started few weeks after she got into a fight with her former boyfriend. He had accidentally pushed her and she hit the table with the side of her head.
After assessing these behaviors, I realized that Mary was suffering fro what is known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly called multiple personality disorder. This disorder is under the category of dissociative disorders. The other disorders within this category include dissociative amnesia, depersonalization disorder, dissociative fugue and derealization. She seemed to be using it as a defensive mechanism against a traumatic experience she had with her former boyfriend.
One of the symptoms of DID is presence of two or more distinct personalities in a person. These alternative personalities are capable of changing one’s behavior, and occasional inability to recall crucial personal information that defines a person’s identity such as their name, place of resident and other memories in life. The alternative personalities usually present the person with different identities including sex, race and age. Each of the alternate personality can have a different posture, way of talking and even gesture. In the case of Mary, this symptoms are displayed when she books at a hotel under a different name, with an intention of attending a conference that she was not part of. In addition, her going to a night club, a behavior she does not engage in presents another personality. To determine this as dissociative identity disorder is the fact that she does not recall any of the events that undergo during these moments. In addition, at the hotel she does not recognize her family members, which is an indication of severe mental illness.
Other symptoms of DID include occasional mood swings, eating disorders, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, suicidal thoughts, sleep disorders and anxiety. Depression and stress was among the symptoms observed in the patient. She also presented mood swings especially when asked about some of the things she had done although she could not remember most of them.
DID is believed to be caused by traumatic events and experiences such as child abuse and accidents. In this case, the sister to the patients indicated that she had been through a traumatic fight with the former boyfriend where she was hit on the side of the head. This can be one of the causes for her DID symptoms. It is also probable that the relationship with her former boyfriend could have been abusive for some time other than the final fight leading to their break up.
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