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The Differences Between Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder

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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    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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      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.

      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

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      Elise Bauer

      Freelance Writer, Lawyer & Blogger

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      Last Updated on June 6, 2019

      Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

      Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

      In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

      Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

      Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

      Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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         A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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        The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

        “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

        In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

        The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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          A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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          Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

          “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

          When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

          The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

          As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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          “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

          Silence relieves stress and tension.

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            It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

            A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

            “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

            Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

            Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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              The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

              Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

              But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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              Summation

              Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

              Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

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