Can a Person with Dissociative Identity Disorder Live a Normal Life? DID Prognosis and Treatment
When someone is living with dissociative identity disorder, treatment can begin to reshape their whole life—and their concept of what normal really is. With a treatment team, they can design a plan to start building important connections for the life they really want.
Life is hard. Life with dissociative identity disorder is harder. But it’s not impossible. Someone with DID may have just a few alters (alternate personalities), or up to as many as 100—sometimes more. Regardless of how many, those alters are all real and important parts of the person. If they can learn to work together and constructively integrate their dissociations, life can be manageable and even fulfilling.
When someone has DID—like many other severe mental disorders—the journey of recovery is a lifelong process. But that doesn’t mean they can’t live a whole, purposeful life. In fact, with the right therapeutic attention, they can design a treatment plan suited to the life they really want.
So, can a person with dissociative identity disorder live a normal life? Considering that we are all unique—as are our personal versions of normal—the answer is yes.
Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder Before Diagnosis and Treatment Versus After
There are two sides to the dissociation coin. On one side, symptoms of dissociative identity disorder can be extremely confusing and leave someone feeling helpless to navigate their daily life. On the other side of the coin, dissociation was the internal mechanism that allowed them to cope with intense trauma at one or more points in their life. This coping mechanism can bring immense challenges, but it did show up for a reason, and it has helped them get to where they are now.
Let’s look at some of the challenges of dissociative identity disorder and the differences that treatment can make:
|Before Diagnosis and Treatment:|
|After Treatment Begins:|
The hardest way to solve a problem is when someone isn’t even fully aware of what the problem is. DID hides problems under complex layers of disordered thoughts, feelings, memory lapses, and stunted understanding. Again, these diversions are the coping mechanism. Up until this point, the trauma has been too much for this person to bear. But treatment is a turning point because they finally have the tools:
- To process the trauma that has previously been so debilitating.
- To integrate the multiple layers of self that have otherwise been fractured.
- To cope with the trauma and distress still to come in life.
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Can a Person with Dissociative Identity Disorder Really Live a Normal Life?
Living a normal life with dissociative identity disorder does not mean curing the illness, necessarily. But there are ways for someone to gain more clarity around what they are experiencing, who the various parts of themselves are, how their parts can cooperate and support them in their daily life and larger goals. In other words, there are real ways for someone with dissociative identity disorder to become empowered.
So, who or what can guide someone with DID toward an empowered life? Experienced clinicians are able to see the disorder as an accessible challenge. They are ready to share strategies for gaining clarity and helping all the parts of someone to work together. Just as typical psychotherapy would help someone to identify their strengths to work through challenges, psychotherapy for dissociative identity disorder helps someone to identify the strengths of their diverse alters. In a way, they have an even greater range of strengths and advantages to help navigate their greater share of challenges.
In other words, treatment is a way to redefine normal. After all, striving for the life they want means taking into consideration what all of their parts want. For much of their life, someone with dissociative identity disorder has perhaps felt pulled in too many different directions to feel grounded. But, with dedicated work in therapy, they can begin to see the value of those different points of view. They can begin to understand that those different parts all want to help; the alters just have different opinions and methods for offering help.
Treatment for dissociative identity disorder is designed to continue for a long period of time because the challenges and solutions are complex. Underlying the challenges of everyday life are traumatic memories and injuries that continue to provoke the dissociative symptoms. But, now, someone with the disorder is not without help, hope, and direction. They can embrace their unique kind of power to live a life filled with supportive and satisfying connections.
BrightQuest offers long-term residential treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance use disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.