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The Differences Between Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder

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The Differences Between Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder

A lot of the time, people confuse two uncommon mental disorders: Schizophrenia, and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), also known as multiple personality disorder. Other than the fact that many people who have these disorders are stigmatized by society, they both have little in common.

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The Differences Between Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder

    Schizophrenia

    Schizophrenia[1] is a mental disorder characterized by hallucinations (seeing and hearing things and people that are not there), delusions, abnormal behavior, and failure to understand what is real and what is not real. It is usually diagnosed in the late teens or early to late 20’s, and has been found to occur more in men than women. Schizophrenic people often find it difficult to live normal lives and conduct normal activities, such as interacting with others or holding down a job; they can also be depressed because they hear voices they do not recognize in their head.

    Schizophrenia is difficult to treat because schizophrenic people have difficulty maintaining the treatment regimen, which usually involves medications and psychotherapy.

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    Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)

    Dissociative identity disorder (DID),[2] also known as multiple personality disorder, is characterized by two or more distinct identities or personalities that exist within a person. These identities are often formed as a coping mechanism due to traumatic experience(s). Sometimes, a person with DID will lose track of time or will be unable to account for some period of time during their day. This usually occurs when identities or personalities within the individual takes control of them.

    Contrasting the Two

    While trauma is associated with both disorders, the traditional difference is that with schizophrenia, trauma tends to be a consequence of the illness and not causative. Trauma doesn’t make someone have schizophrenia, whereas for almost everyone with DID, it has been found to be a reaction to trauma. Schizophrenia is classified as a psychological disorder, and managed mostly with drugs, whereas DID is considered a developmental disorder that is more responsive to behavioral modifications and psychotherapy.

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    The difference between the two disorders seems clear cut, but psychiatrist Brad Foote of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine warns his peers that it is possible to confuse the two conditions early in the course of treatment.

    Schizophrenic people usually have a more difficult time functioning in society, and have an even harder time with social relationships such as family, work, and friends because of the nature of the disorder. However, if they have strong family and community support, they can do well, and can lead fulfilling, happy, and healthy lives, with rewarding social and family relationships.

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    The Differences Between Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder

      People with dissociative identity disorder can also often lead successful, “normal” lives, and healthy, happy relationships with others. While, like with schizophrenia they can “hear voices” in their head, the voices are that of different identities or personalities within them. Such personalities or identities may help or allow the person function in life with only momentary disruptions. However, others with DID may have a more difficult time, because the identities continually take over parts of their life, often making them lose track of time.  The struggle of trying to cope with the disorder may cause them to become depressed.

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      While both schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder are serious and chronic mental health disorders, the differences between the two disorders are stark. People with schizophrenia hear, see and believe things that aren’t real, and have trouble distinguishing reality from hallucination; they do not have multiple identities or personalities. People with DID do not have delusions or see things that aren’t there; the only voices they hear or talk to are their other personalities or identities.

      Featured photo credit: WiseGeek via wisegeek.org

      Reference

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      Elise Bauer

      Freelance Writer, Lawyer & Blogger

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