Dissociative Identity Disorder and Dissociative Amnesia

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Dissociative Identity Disorder and Dissociative Amnesia

Dissociative Identity Disorder has certain characteristics such as the presence of 2 or more personality states and recurrent episodes of amnesia. The disruption in identity alters affects in behaviors, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition, and/or sensory-motor functions. This person suffers from recurrent gaps in everyday events, and the symptoms causes impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of life.

Dissociative Amnesia is the inability to recall important autobiographical information about one’s self, most commonly of a traumatic or stressful nature that is not like the usual “forgetting or forgetful” things. It most often consists of localized or selective amnesia for a specific event. Symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational and personal areas of functioning in one’s life. Episodes can’t be attributed to any type of substance abuse or medical conditions and is not better explained by dissociative identity disorder posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, somatic symptom disorder, or major or mild neurocognitive disorder. These individual’s are impaired in such a way that their abilities to create and maintain satisfactory relationships are very low. Most suffer from histories of trauma, abuse, victimization, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, and other risky behaviors. They tend to show depressive symptoms mostly as a depersonalization as well as auto-hypnotic symptoms, and sexual dysfunctions.

Individuals that suffer from dissociative disorders are initially unaware of their amnesias. Awareness of amnesia occurs only when personal identity is lost according to the DSM-V. They also typically present with comorbid depression, anxiety, substance abuse, self-injury, non-epileptic seizures. They have somewhat of flashbacks which they relive a previous event as though it was occurring at that present moment and are not presently conscious of current reality.

The challenges a forensic psychologist may face with dissociative disorders can be plenty but one in particular is that there is not a root causal for the dissociative disorders. Because it affects the memory and cognitive behaviors, it can be very challenging to defending an individual that suffers from this type of disorder even if they are guilty. Because of flashbacks that may occur in these individuals from traumatic childhood experiences or traumatic events, it can become very challenging in determining what occurrences are factual and which ones are fictional.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5thed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Hooley, J. M., Butcher, J. N., Nock, M. K. & Mineka, S. (2017). Abnormal psychology(17thed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Publishing.

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