Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DID 104 - Dissociative Identity Disorder Symptoms

**This is part 4 of an educational blog series I am writing about DID.  It is based on scientific research, my experience, and the experiences of others with DID. To view all posts in the series, click on the tag “educational” on the sidebar.**


This section is not intended to diagnose.  My motivation is to provide a detailed overview of symptoms of DID, which I will break down into smaller, more specific sections.  Everyone experiences DID/DDNOS in their own way.  For this reason, I have found that very detailed lists of symptoms are more beneficial than vague ones.  I have attempted to cover the majority of symptoms in each topic.  Let me know if you think any should be added. 

General Child Abuse Symptoms

These symptoms may be present during adulthood, childhood or both. 
  • Inability to trust
  • Feeling "worthless", "bad", "defective", or "damaged" 
  • Difficulty controlling or regulating emotions
  • Extremely compliant or extremely aggressive behavior (sometimes alternating between both) 
  • Fear, anxiety, withdrawal 
  • Lack of attachment to caregiver
  • Regressive behavior - acts younger than biological age 
  • Unusually adult behavior - acts with maturity or responsibility beyond what is typical for biological age
  • Frequent flinching, jumpiness
  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behavior 
  • Layered clothing, fear of being seen naked
  • Urinary tract or yeast infections (in children) 
  • Imagining or reenacting (with toys or own body) abuse scenarios
  • Stomach aches, nausea, illnesses without a known cause
  • Suicide attempts, suicidal ideation
  • Feeling that you want to die
  • Toilet problems or accidents
  • Self harm
  • Depression
  • Fear of the dark
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Attraction to movies, books, media about abuse
  • Sleep and eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Flashbacks
Ritual Abuse Symptoms

Many individuals with DID were ritually abused.  These symptoms are common, but not entirely exclusive to ritual abuse.  Note that ritual abuse also includes extreme abuse and torture, which can occur outside of a cult or religion. 
  • Extreme distrust
  • Feeling "evil" 
  • Believing that you cause people to be "bad" or hurt you
  • Believing there is something foreign or evil inside of your body
  • Feeling that something terrible happened to you as a child, but you have no memory of the experience
  • Images, concepts, flashes, or dreams of sexual or physical violence or torture 
  • Disposition towards violent thought without the desire to act on it
  • Daydreaming or imagining traumatic situations 
  • Chunks of missing childhood memory or complete lack of childhood memory
  • Feeling that loved ones will be tortured, kidnapped, or killed
  • Fear that you will be suddenly taken away
  • Asking others to hurt or injure you 
  • Self harming, especially bizarre self harming 
  • Rectal bleeding 
  • Scars on body without memory of cause 
  • Fear or fixation on/of: knives, Halloween, blood, insects, medical procedures, ritual behavior, religious ceremonies, dolls, death, coffins, electricity, needles, baths or showers, extreme fear of mundane objects
  • Extreme reaction to dead animals
  • Fear in groups, avoidance of groups
  • Fear of being removed from bed at night
  • Head banging
  • Fear of using the bathroom or refusing to use the bathroom
  • Lack of emotional expression 
  • Intense shyness, inability to communicate with or relate to peers
  • Obsessed or addicted to escape techniques: drugs, alcohol, constant reading or watching movies, daydreaming
  • Joint pain, frequent limb dislocation or popping, cracking, etc in joints 
Dissociative Identity Disorder Symptoms

Individuals with DID will have some or all of the following symptoms.  
  • Amnesia/memory loss - any or all of the following: very little or no memory of childhood, gaps in childhood memory (not remembering school, home life, your parents, a particular family member, etc), losing periods of time in adulthood (not knowing where you were or what you were doing for minutes, hours, or days). 
  • Evidence of having done things you can't remember doing - finding writing or drawings you don't remember producing, items you don't remember buying, the dishes clean without remembering having done them, or being told you said something you can't remember saying. 
  • Derealization and depersonalization (will explain in next section) 
  • Feeling that you have self states or other personalities with partial, full, or no amnesia of what they do and say.
  • Having identifiably different sets of mannerisms, attitudes, beliefs, vocal styles or inflections, or feelings of age. 
  • Symptoms of abuse without memories of abuse 
  • Difficulty maintaining interest in a hobby, project, or job for more than a few days or weeks at a time
  • Absentmindedness, frequently forgetting what you are doing, dropping projects without even realizing you started them.
  • Frequent headaches and migraines 
  • Sudden experiences of intense emotion (especially anger, fear, and sadness) without a cause
  • Auditory hallucinations - hearing voices of alters or voices of abusers 
  • Periods where you feel, think, act, and talk like a child 
  • Jerks, spasms, or unexplainable seizures 
  • Unexplainable body pain
  • Feeling like you have two thought processes or that there are two or more people controlling your body or thoughts.
  • "Coming to" in conversations you did not know you were having or finding yourself doing things you didn't know you were doing
Derealization and Depersonalization Symptoms 

Derealization and depersonalization are on the dissociative spectrum.  Most people with DID and many people without experience some or many of these symptoms.  All dissociative disorders are caused by severe trauma, almost always during childhood. 
  • Feeling empty, soulless, non-human 
  • Feeling intoxicated, high, or in an altered state without the use of drugs or alcohol 
  • Feeling that your life will be cut short, sense of impending doom
  • Extreme fear and worry almost all the time
  • Dead eyes or a mile long stare
  • Full or partial loss of one or more senses (feeling physically numb, difficulty seeing, etc) 
  • Overstimulation - everything is too loud, irritating, painful, etc. 
  • Feeling as if you are walking on an uneven plane, each step feels lower or higher than the one before 
  • Poor concentration, feeling like you have ADD
  • Feeling as if you are going to have a heart attack, seizure, or stroke without having one
  • Shaking, hot flashes, difficulty breathing
  • Overanalyzing or over observing yourself 
  • Feeling as if you are seeing things from too far behind your eyes
  • Things appear foggy, blurry, flat, or two dimensional 
  • Feeling like you are in a movie or dream
  • Feeling or believing that you are invisible 
  • Inability to feel joy, excitement, or love 
  • Fearing that you will wake up in another reality, that your life is not your true life
  • Remembering things in third person
  • Disconnection from your body, not feeling like your body is a part of you
  • Believing you will feel disconnect forever, despite periods where you are not dissociative
  • Feeling paralyzed, unable to move or speak 
  • Feeling like someone is speaking for you or that your voice is not yours
  • Difficulty balancing, vertigo, dizziness, 
  • Feeling as if your physical orientation could suddenly change, gravity could suddenly switch, etc. 
  • Nothing feels as if it is yours, your belongings, bedroom, house, etc. feel unreal, foreign, or as if you don't own them
  • Feeling like you are running on auto-pilot 
  • Having moments of clarity where you suddenly feel more alive or turned on 
  • Feeling as if you don't exist when you're alone 

Please leave a comment or email me (elliem.mail@gmail.com) with any questions or comments. 


  1. thank you for presenting this material. the subject is challenging to get introduced to as a survivor of trauma but so necessary. the way you present this information with an authenticity and clarity makes it not just approachable but gives me the reader the sense of sharing rather than being alone. i commend you on doing this research and framing for yourself and in such a way others can make sense of the matter too. it is such a relief if also a jolt to read a list of exactly how i felt all through my childhood, a series of feelings and experiences that terrified me because they seemed to have no locus outside of myself and so i assumed they were a figment of my own inherent mental problem. it has been a long slow journey finding information about how my early childhood trauma explains so much of what i battled alone for over 2 decades. reading blogs like this makes me feel like an exhausted vigilant look out inside me can finally take a much needed rest. thank you again.
    all my best to you,

  2. Thank you for posting this,very helpful as I come to terms with my history and diagnosis of DID.

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  5. wow! I stumbled upon you blog.. I also have DID due to child hood trauma. I was looking through you r art work and i love your use of words describing them.. I have found a great outlet drawing for the parts that can't speak and don't have words. I have decided to open an instagram account and posting them. While I don't always connect with what I draw and many times I don't have words it been a great way for my sad parts to have an outlet..I'm in love with your words, they are words I can't find but you describe them exactly what I wish I could say. I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog.