Remember the state? - Role of memory in individuals with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Remember the state? - Role of memory in individuals with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Remember the state? - Role of memory in individuals with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Dissociative identity disorder can be mentioned as one of the severe as well as an interesting psychiatric disorder to look onto the study. It is chronic as well as it has severe psychopathologies in it. Most of the cases claim to have no direct awareness of other personalities and don’t remember other personalities consciously, where they would not remember the experiences of other personalities. DID can also be referred to as a state change disorder that does not have a transition or switch during the state from one state to another. And mostly, it becomes more self-regulated and smoother with the development and maturation of motor organization. In normal individuals, there can be overlaps between states. And the interpretation of the events does not change.
In studying dissociative identity disorder, it is seen that the alternative states differ from each other in many aspects, including memory, consciousness, identity, and behavior. DID is claimed to be one of the results of the self-protecting process during childhood abuse and causes of other traumatic conditions the individuals faced in childhood, Most of the patients reported that they had experienced sexual, psychological, and physical abuse during their childhood.
Framing with one of the major theories of Structural Dissociation of the Personality, we could find that the term dissociation refers to as a personality fragmentation where each identity has its own perspectives, like who the person is and the relationship towards the outside world around the individual.According to this theory, the induvial suffering from DID has two sates of dissociative identity which is classified as the “Neutral Identity State (NIS) which referred to as apparently normal parts of the personality and the Trauma-related Identity Disorder (TIS), which is referred to as the “emotional parts of the personality.
During this state of neutral identity state (NIS), the individuals are not able to identify or recall their traumatic memories, wherein they can hide their pathology and can then adapt to their daily life. Also, it makes changes in the emotional modulation with the change in the memory process. And we could say that NIS as a protective mechanism against the painful memories which makes the induvial feels that they have not experienced the traumatic events. And during the TIS state, the individuals might feel the traumatic memories as their experiences and might display emotional responses and defensive actions.
As previously mentioned, induvial, who is having DID has an effect on the process of memory. Where it was found that the neural mechanisms of the DID disorder affect the cognitive mechanism where the memory process of the patient/ individual is being affected. And due to that, most of the patients are being diagnosed as having significant memory impairment. Those patients who have memory impairment show fluctuation in their basic skills and problem in recalling their knowledge, which is a part of memory dysfunction. In some of the cases, it was found that the individuals who are identified as having DID have experienced blank periods where they could not remember other things, and the state could last from seconds to even years. Some of the individuals who have been diagnosed with DID after their different stages have claimed that they were in different places, and they are called different names. Amnesia is one of the major problems related to memory that is observed in the sample of DID patients and have two different types of amnesia where, in one condition, one of the identities does not have amnesia for each other’s memory, and in another condition, both identities are found to have amnesia for each other’s memory. 

We could also see that due to the activation of the posterior association areas and Parahippocampal gyri, the NIS inhibits the access to the unwanted memories as this area is known for the suppression of trauma-related information and factual memories. And later, it was through researches found that in TIS condition, the activation of the dorsal striatum is responsible for sustaining the stability of the dissociative state and regulating memory access.

The dissociation of memory in DID patients is different from the process of repression where the traumatic and distressing memories are excluded from the individual’s consciousness of the brain to the unconscious where the individuals would not get the rapid memory of the instants for the consciousness. And also, the memories which are seemed to be lost are being seen in different aspects of the memories which are being remembered in different states.  And the individuals can be seen as those who are more inclined to an over-generalized style of memory as they think back to events that occur for a longer timespan or occurs frequently. DID most likely shows the symptoms of dissociative amnesia through episodic memory deficits, which is associated with symptoms of depersonalization and derealization. And the patients or the individuals need to experience the events perceived by one’s own body, which requires long term memory which is being inhibited due to problems of encoding. Those experiences are being interrupted, and the encoding and integration of environmental details are being made to episodic memory. Recent researches also show that dissociation may contribute to a deficit in social cognition within individuals having PTSD and schizophrenia.There are mainly three different types of working memory that functions in DID compared to other clinical and non-clinical groups. Neutral stimuli provide a baseline picture of the functioning of working memory in non-stressful conditions and which helps in activities of living. Individuals with DID show significantly more interference than people suffering from psychosis.
DID is always a debatable concept until now. DID patients frequently gives us ideas on the problems relating to memory where interpersonal amnesia is being mentioned to be more than simply a matter of deliberate response which is being suppressed. We could figure out that, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is one of the most severe as well as a psychological phenomenon in which the patients consider having different identities with different consciousness, memories, and behaviors.
And the reason for this disorder was observed to be the unconscious attempt to build a self- protection, which helps in acting as repression towards the childhood abuse and severe traumatic conditions, he/she has faced at an early age, which results in the different states in individuality. And with the NIS and TIS conditions in the individuals, it was observed that areas such as Para hippocampal gyri and the related part that associated with the memory and limbic system are related with the emotions regulations and memory process such as hindering some of the traumatic memories and regulating memories to be accessed. It is seen that the patients who suffer from DID experience problem with recalling other identities, which shows interpersonal amnesia. And researches suggest that accessibility of memory and information within identities is dependent on different factors of the nature of the material, which is susceptible to the personality.

About the Author

Joel Mathew Jose
Student.

I am author of the article Remember the state? Role of memory in individual with dissociative identity disorder.

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