Multiple Personality Day is an annual holiday on March 5. Currently known as Dissociative Identity Disorder, Multiple Personality Disorder is a relatively new condition that psychiatrists are still learning about. It often goes undiagnosed among the general population. For those diagnosed with it, however, it can be a terrifying experience accompanied by unreliable mood swings and self-distrust. Multiple Personality Day aims to change those fears by spreading awareness of its existence, helping patients and their families with resources and methods to cope. Some observe this day by connecting with the many sides of their personality.
History of Multiple Personality Day
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), originally called Multiple Personality Disorder, is a medical condition of suffering memory loss, out-of-body experiences, detachment from emotions, and a lack of self-identity, which may lead to suicidal ideations. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, only 2% of the American population experiencing these symptoms have been properly diagnosed.
Psychiatrists once diagnosed people with having at least two different and distinct personalities. In the 19th century, the disorder was often misdiagnosed as sleepwalking triggered by emotional trauma or even epilepsy. The first patient to be correctly diagnosed with multiple personalities was Louis Vivet in 1885, and his case brought the attention of the medical world to the condition. Clara Norton Fowler was the first diagnosed patient to be properly studied by a neurologist in 1898. Schizophrenia was discovered in 1906, and for the next several decades until the 80s, it was diagnosed for most psychological cases including DID. Dissociative Identity Disorder can include multiple personalities and a wide variety of other symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and dissociative episodes, usually caused by unresolved trauma. Research has proven the existence of the disorder, but few people are well-versed about its diagnosis or treatment. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), first published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 1952, helps maintain a level of uniformity to mental disorder identification.
Multiple Personality Day has two goals when it comes to observing it. The first is to empower those personally affected by the disorder to share their stories and find ways to love and accept themselves in a world where disorders aren’t well known or understood. The second goal is raising awareness about the disorder itself, helping others understand what it means to have Dissociative Identity Disorder and ways of managing it in daily life. The day aims to change common misconceptions and make the disorder well known throughout the world as a valid condition that should be understood by others. A multicolored awareness ribbon resembling a crazy quilt is the symbol of the day.
Multiple Personality Day timeline
Activist Dorothea Dix lobbies for better living conditions for the mentally ill.
Louis Vivet is diagnosed with having ‘multiple personalities,’ the first time the term is used.
American neurologist Morton Prince starts studying ‘Christine Beauchamp’ whose real name was Clara Norton Fowler, one of the first diagnosed DID cases.
Prince publishes a monograph of his six-year study of Fowler, considered a prototypical case of the disorder for several decades.
Outpatient treatment begins, facilitated by the development of antipsychotic drugs.
The U.S. government allocates funds to researching treatments for mental illness.
The alliance is established to provide support, education, advocacy, and research services for psychiatric illnesses.
Multiple Personality Day FAQs
Can you have multiple personalities at once?
People with dissociative identity disorder may have two or more separate personalities. These identities control their behavior at different times and can cause gaps in memory among other problems.
Do split personalities know each other?
The fragmented personalities take control of the patient’s identity for some time. They maintain their primary or host identity which is usually more passive but may be unaware of the other personalities. They may also retain their original personality and answer to their given name.
What triggers switching?
Stress and excessive alcohol or drug intake are the most common triggers of switching in a DID patient. Regular therapy, effective stress management, and avoiding intoxicants of any kind may reduce the alters’ control over the patient.
How to Observe Multiple Personality Day
Attend a seminar
Attend a seminar or read up about the disorder on Multiple Personality Day. Show support for people with the disorder by sharing your newfound understanding.
Explore your personality traits
Take a personality test to learn more about your personality. Explore the many sides of your psyche.
After attending the seminar and taking a personality test, raise awareness about Multiple Personality Day. Share resources and help those in need.
5 Facts About Dissociative Identity Disorder That Will Blow Your Mind
It's a coping mechanism
Patients have often suffered violent and traumatizing experiences in the past.
Patients may suffer throughout their life
The disorder stems from childhood trauma, which, without psychotherapy, can last a lifetime.
It usually affects women
Women are more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder.
It’s more common than we think
Up to 50% of American adults have dissociated from reality at least once in their lives.
There are three types
People may experience the disorder as dissociative amnesia, depersonalization, or dissociative identity, depending on the trigger.
Why Multiple Personality Day is Important
It teaches empathy
Multiple Personality Day teaches us to be empathetic towards people who suffer all kinds of conditions. It makes us considerate of other people’s needs.
It helps us introspect
Multiple Personality Day reveals the importance of being introspective of our personalities. We are reminded to look after our mental health and connect with our inner selves.
It creates awareness
Multiple Personality Day creates awareness about Dissociative Identity Disorder. It familiarizes the common public with verifiable information, discrediting common misconceptions about the disorder.
Multiple Personality Day dates