Separating fact from fiction: an empirical examination of six myths about dissociative identity disorder

Brand, Bethany L., Sar, Vedat, Stavropoulos, Pam, Kruger, Christa, Korzekwa, Marilyn, Martinez-Taboas, Alfonso and Middleton, Warwick (2016) Separating fact from fiction: an empirical examination of six myths about dissociative identity disorder. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 24 4: 257-270. doi:10.1097/HRP.0000000000000100

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Author Brand, Bethany L.
Sar, Vedat
Stavropoulos, Pam
Kruger, Christa
Korzekwa, Marilyn
Martinez-Taboas, Alfonso
Middleton, Warwick
Title Separating fact from fiction: an empirical examination of six myths about dissociative identity disorder
Journal name Harvard Review of Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1067-3229
Publication date 2016-07
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000100
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 24
Issue 4
Start page 257
End page 270
Total pages 14
Place of publication Philadelphia, PA United States
Publisher Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Abstract Abstract: Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a complex, posttraumatic, developmental disorder for which we now, after four decades of research, have an authoritative research base, but a number of misconceptualizations and myths about the disorder remain, compromising both patient care and research. This article examines the empirical literature pertaining to recurrently expressed beliefs regarding DID: (1) belief that DID is a fad, (2) belief that DID is primarily diagnosed in North America by DID experts who overdiagnose the disorder, (3) belief that DID is rare, (4) belief that DID is an iatrogenic, rather than trauma-based, disorder, (5) belief that DID is the same entity as borderline personality disorder, and (6) belief that DID treatment is harmful to patients. The absence of research to substantiate these beliefs, as well as the existence of a body of research that refutes them, confirms their mythical status. Clinicians who accept these myths as facts are unlikely to carefully assess for dissociation. Accurate diagnoses are critical for appropriate treatment planning. If DID is not targeted in treatment, it does not appear to resolve. The myths we have highlighted may also impede research about DID. The cost of ignorance about DID is high not only for individual patients but for the whole support system in which they reside. Empirically derived knowledge about DID has replaced outdated myths. Vigorous dissemination of the knowledge base about this complex disorder is warranted.
Keyword Borderline personality disorder
Dissociative disorders
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Sub-type: Article (original research)
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