History of Dissociation

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History of Dissociation

Dissociative Disorder

Dissociation has long been somewhat of an intrigue to clinicians and the general public. In the United States, as far back as 1860 (i.e., the case of Mary Reynolds), cases have been reported in which clients experienced state specific dissociative disorders. It was in the mid 1970's however, that clinicians began recognizing considerable numbers of clients with symptoms of dissociation that resembled Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder.) At that time it was estimated that the prevalence of the disorder was about one in a thousand.

In the mid-eighties, the number of clients with Dissociative Identity Disorder in treatment began to increase. There has been a great deal of speculation offered as explanation. One thought is that as clinicians become more aware of the disorder and its symptoms, the more able they are to detect and treat it. Others believe that DID has been over diagnosed, especially with those clients who are highly suggestible. Dissociative Identity Disorder is diagnosed up to nine times more often in females than in males. It wasn't until the 1970's, when the women's movement began to bring child abuse issues to public awareness that clinicians became open to the idea of a trauma induced disorder. DID has been shown to have a strong link to severe trauma, especially sexual and physical childhood abuse.

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