Dissociative Identity Disorder and Amnesia

“The goal of therapy is to first help you accept what is, all the ways you experience dissociative amnesia, so that you can then work together within yourself to lessen it. It is also important to acknowledge the protective function of amnesia: as a child you needed to not know things, to separate yourself and your experiences, in order to survive. As an adult, with the help of your inner system and a therapist with expertise in treating DID, you can develop different coping skills and capacities. You can help each other learn to face the past and thrive!”

Dr. Kathleen Young: Treating Trauma in Tucson

Dissociative AmnesiaI am continuing the conversation about dissociative identity disorder (DID) and characteristics that make up the diagnosis. I want to address amnesia,  what it looks like in DID, and the function it serves. Of course,  not everyone with amnesia has dissociative identity disorder. Remember, the first two criteria, different self states and amnesia, must exist together for a DID diagnosis to be made.

According to the DSM-5, there are three primary ways amnesia present in people with dissociative identity disorder:

1) gaps in remote memory of personal life events (e.g., periods of childhood or adolescence; some important life events, such as the death of a grandparent, getting married, giving birth); 2) lapses in dependable memory (e.g., of what happened today, of well-learned skills such as how to do their job, use a computer, read, drive); and 3) discovery of evidence of their everyday actions and tasks that they do…

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