(2012 research)

Patients with disassociative identity disorder do remember separate identity

An exchange of knowledge is possible between the separate identities of people with an dissociative identity disorder (DID). This is apparent from experiments by NWO researcher Rafaele Huntjens from the University of Groningen. Although the patients investigated stated that they remembered nothing of other identities, objective data revealed the contrary. The research results have important implications for the treatment and diagnosis of the disorder. The clinical psychologist published her research on 18 July in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

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Modify the treatment

Memory loss has always been the most important factor that distinguished DID from a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, this distinction is now obsolete according to Huntjens. ‘Therapists can therefore consider giving DID patients the faster and demonstrably effective treatment PTSD patients currently receive,’ she says. Future research must demonstrate whether this approach is indeed more efficient for DID patients. There are also implications for forensic research: a perpetrator with DID is therefore clearly aware of criminal actions that he or she committed in a different identity.

Rafaele Huntjens realised her research with a Veni grant from NWO. The research was carried out in collaboration with Harvard University and the University of Amsterdam.
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