What is Multiple Personality Disorder?

At its essence, multiple personality disorder, or “MPD”, is a coping mechanism. An individual who is embarrassed or uncomfortable with some element of his being might dissociate that element into a box or pocket that remains separate from the rest of his life. Sex addicts, for example, frequently distinguish their predilections from their regular day-to-day existences in order to rationalize their regular lives without feeling shame or guilt over their pursuits of taboo activities. Placing those activities on the shoulders of a separate personality allows that addict to cope with his problem.

Individuals with advanced MPD can experience blackouts in which the separations of their personalities are so extreme that one personality has no familiarity with events that are experienced by the other personality. A substance abuser who wants to feel normal without thinking about his addictions may shift addictive habits into a separate personality. His primary personality can then deny any involvement with drugs or alcohol. This allows an addict to deny his problems and to cope with the stress of the problem by isolating it somewhere apart from himself.

Traumatic experiences can be the source of a drug problem. Many drug abusers turn to banned substances as a means of escaping an abusive upbringing or excessive stress in their lives. Like MPD, addiction in these circumstances is a coping mechanism. Given that MPD and addiction are responses to the same stimuli, it is not uncommon for addicts to exhibit MPD symptoms along with their addictions. Counselors who conduct initial assessments of addicts as they enter drug treatment programs need to remain aware of the prospect of simultaneous diagnoses of addiction and MPD. Treating addiction alone without addressing the MPD problem will likely impeded chances of a successful recovery.

Counselors who treat addiction and MPD will first strive to connect the separate personality aspects of an addict into a single identity. This will require an addict to face the unpleasant memories and traumatic experiences that catalyzed the MPD diagnosis. Facing and owning up to unpleasant memories can be a challenge for every addict, but the successful end result will be an individual who has developed healthy coping mechanisms that do not include drugs or alcohol. Ultimately, a recovered addict who emerges from this therapy will be better able to function normally in his or her own world and to develop productive relationships with friends and family.


Smarmore Castle Private Clinic employs the Castle Craig model, proven to be successful in creating long-term abstinence from drug and alcohol addiction. Real change is possible. Call us today for information on our residential treatment programmes: +353 41 214 5111

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