Teen Multiple Personality Disorder Treatment
Teen Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is a serious mental health condition where patients develop two or more distinct personality states. Some teens may be consciously aware of these other identities, often referred to as “alters,” while others lack awareness.
DID/MPD occurs on a spectrum; each teen’s experience is unique, as is each individual personality state. Identities often have their own unique characteristics, gender, sexual orientation, mannerisms, and in some cases, even language.
What Does Teen Multiple Personality Disorder Look Like?
- Teens with MPD may feel intensely confused and helpless as alters “switch” in and out of control. They may be completely unable to control the behavior of other identities even if the core personality disagrees with it.
- A sense of detachment and dissociation from everyday life and the real world is common. This is both a product of the dissociation associated with MPD and the fact that identities aren’t aware of each other, and thus, won’t individually remember experiences unless they are in control.
MPD/DID often come with severe memory loss; this can include everything from the individual’s name to their favorite foods, daily schedule, and home address. It is this memory loss or “fugue” state that causes teens with MPD to feel as if they have “lost time.”
- Multiple Personality Disorder is rarely diagnosed as a standalone condition. Instead, it is much more common for the disorder to be discovered or identified during treatment for another condition, like Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, or Eating Disorders.
- Self-harm is a common component of Multiple Personality Disorder, and may be aggravated by the fact that some identities are self-injurious, while others are not. It is common for teens with MPD to have one self-destructive alter and another protective altar, causing internal conflict.
Symptoms of Teen Multiple Personality Disorder
Delusions or hallucinations that seem intensely real
Self-destructive behaviors, including self-harm
Nonepileptic seizures (AKA psychogenic seizures)
Suicidal ideation, thoughts, and attempts
Sexual dysfunction as a result of trauma
Causes of Teen Multiple Personality Disorder
Researchers believe Multiple Personality Disorder develops in early childhood. Young children lack a sense of unified self; instead, their personalities remain flexible, adapting to their experiences well into late childhood. If they experience trauma before the core personality becomes solidified, the mind may splinter off portions of their core identity in an effort to protect the mind from emotional harm.
Trauma - “Trauma” is defined as “deeply distressing or disturbing experiences.” These experiences cause the forming personality to become fragmented.
Family history - A family history of Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, or DID/MPD may raise the risk for children to develop MPD after trauma.
Childhood abuse – Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse early in childhood is a significantly common precursor for Multiple Personality Disorder. The more severe the trauma, the greater the risk MPD will occur.
of Americans have experienced Dissociative Disorders.
of Americans have experienced depersonalization/dissociation.
of Multiple Personality Disorder patients have symptoms before 20.
How Can I Help My Teen with Multiple Personality Disorder?
Encourage therapy – Psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for this and all other personality disorders. However, it is important to use the right type of therapy and to partner with the right therapist. Therapeutic approaches like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are particularly helpful, as is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and art therapy.
Get educated – As a parent, friend, or loved one of a teen with Multiple Personality Disorder, you play an important role in their healing. MPD is notoriously complex, and the way it manifests patient-to-patient can be very individual. Getting to know MPD, including the science behind it and how your teen experiences it, will help you to identify their symptoms and be more understanding when they occur.
What Types of Teen Multiple Personality Disorder Treatment Are Available?
Treating Multiple Personality Disorder in teens is rarely as simple as just prescribing a pill or having a few therapy sessions. Instead, treatment is long-term, involving a multitude of approaches that address the whole person. This often includes finding ways to treat comorbid mental health issues, such as Depression or Anxiety.
The number one goal of psychotherapy (the most common approach) is to not only identify, but also draw out and get to know each of your teen’s identities. Therapists treat alters as individual people, recognizing their challenges and their strengths, and often develop therapeutic working relationships with each facet. This includes helping alters achieve self-confidence, working through trauma related to abuse, and empowering them to self-soothe and heal at home.
While this approach may seem counterintuitive, it works. It is only by acknowledging the alters and giving them the space to share that full integration can occur.
Multiple Personality Disorder cannot be treated with medication, but medication can certainly be helpful for some patients who struggle with other mental health symptoms, such as Depression or Anxiety. Psychiatrists may prescribe medications temporarily to help teens reach a place where their symptoms don’t preclude them from addressing their problems, but medication protocols are rarely long-term.
Psychotherapy is the number one treatment for Multiple Personality Disorder, and usually comes in the form of therapeutic approaches to address reintegration and past trauma. The main goal is to slowly reintegrate each fragment of the core personality, which can take months, years, or even decades depending on the severity of the disorder. Therapy also serves as a “safe space” for alters.
Teen Multiple Personality Disorder Treatment at Paradigm San Francisco
At Paradigm San Francisco, teens with Multiple Personality Disorder can truly be themselves, even if and when they struggle to control their behavior or experience frequent switching between alters. Staff and therapists have the experience to help them work through these scenarios without feeling ashamed, guilty, or helpless about the future. Teens who stay at Paradigm San Francisco stay among their peers, including other teens with MPD, who not only understand them, but can relate to their struggles. Paradigm is the ideal environment for teens to focus on true healing.
More Than Treatment
Treatment at Paradigm San Francisco doesn’t end when teens graduate out of residential treatment. Instead, Paradigm helps parents and teens develop coping skills and network with resources that serve as a solid foundation for success long after graduation. This may include medication, therapy, supportive care, holistic care, or even long-term access to EMDR, family therapy, art therapy, and group therapy.
“ After identifying a few options on the internet, I started calling programs to find one that could help us. Then we visited our top three options and decided upon Paradigm Malibu. We, including our son, are truly satisfied with our experience and the support and learning that we received. The people here are compassionate, professional, and transparent. The facility is comfortable and you get what you see on their website. The location, a stroll to the beach, allowed our son to experience surfing and hiking, things he really wasn't interested in, but now we see him being more physically active. Overall, he is more social, more confident, and happier. He has had a couple of tough days, being back home, around old friends, but it is a reassurance to know that he and we can call Paradigm anytime and they are there for continued support. They helped us find a therapist in our area, who has been great, and they offered support in working with our family doctor. Their aftercare has been outstanding. Thank you for all you have done for us. “
Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Multiple Personality Disorder
Why did I develop Multiple Personality Disorder?
Researchers don’t fully understand why Multiple Personality Disorder occurs in some patients, but not others. However, nearly all experts agree that childhood trauma is by far the most common reason. Patients who dissociate do so because the brain is no longer able to cope with negative input; by “splitting off” parts of the core identity, and storing memories within them, the main self is more easily able to feel “well.”
Does having MPD mean I have multiple personalities?
No – not in the sense that most people think of a personality, anyway. In effect, MPD is a fracturing of a single personality or identity rather than multiple personalities within the same body. However, the way MPD manifests and the fact that each alter has its own personal identity can, in fact, make the disorder feel that way. The technical term for this phenomenon is “disruption of identity, and it occurs on a spectrum – meaning you might experience anything from slight fragmentation with just one alter or complete fragmentation of 10 or more alters. What is most important is the fact that DID/MPD may be impairing, but is very treatable.