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  • 1. Interidentity Memory Transfer in Dissociative Identity Disorder
    • Megan Whitmore
    • Marissa Long
    • Jordan McNeely
  • 2. Dissociative Identity Disorder
    • -A mental process which produces a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity.
    • -Characterized by the presence of two or more split identities or personality states that continually have power over a person’s behavior (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
    • The identities are separable person-like states with idiosyncratic memories, personal history, and personality traits (4th ed., text rev.; DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) and include the inability to recall key personal information that is too far reaching to be explained as forgetfulness, termed interidentity amnesia
    • -Considered the most severe dissociative disorder
    • -Usually thought to stem from prior trauma
    • -Thought to be a coping mechanism, where the person literally dissociates himself from a situation or experience that’s too violent, traumatic, or painful to assimilate with his conscious self
    • -The highly distinct memory variations fluctuate with the person’s split personalities
  • 3. The Study
    • As stated by the researchers of this study, identities are not conceptualized as truly distinct identities with clear-cut disruptions in consciousness and memory, but rather as a metaphor used by the individual for explaining subjective experiences.
    • According to this hypothesis, amnesia between identities should unfold via normal mnemonic processes such as self-distraction or strategies aimed at prohibiting recall, and this study attempted to validate that hypothesis.
    •  the cross-modal manipulation in this study ensured that findings of memory transfer would be attributed to explicit memory rather than implicit effects.
    •  it examined the extent of explicit memory transfer between identities in an exclusion paradigm whereby amnesia is difficult to simulate. In addition, a cross-modal manipulation was employed to mitigate any possible implicit effects.
  • 4. Method
    • Participants
    • Participants had to meet DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for DID, have interidentity amnesia, and have the ability to switch between specified identities at will
    • Originally 8 DID participants but only 7 completed the study, of these 6 were female
    • 34 control participants, 4-6 matched to each DID participant based on gender, age, and education
  • 5. Method Cont.
    • Procedure for DID Participants
    • First session
      • DID patients were given two separate interviews to validate their condition
      • They also completed a vocabulary test
    • Second session
      • The researchers presented Identity A with list A audibly via computer and then reviewed the words by using them in stories and then having them listed again
      • After researchers confirmed the switch to Identity B, they confirmed the supposed interidentity amnesia.
      • Then Identity B was presented with list B in the same fashion as list A
      • Identity B was given a forced choice exam regarding the memory stories that
      • had been told to Identity A, no one remembered anything significant
      • Identity B was then visually presented with words from list A list B and a third list termed distracter words, identity was continually checked during this time to guard against rapid switching
  • 6. Method Cont.
    • Procedure for Control
    • The controls were educated on DID and then asked to simulate an intricate alternative personality
    • Afterwards they completed the second session tests that the DID participants had completed
  • 7. Results
    • Both the control and DID participants were significantly more likely to say “yes” to list A words than distracter words when attempting to identify list B words
    • The DID participants did not perform significantly different form the control participants in aspect
  • 8. Discussion
    • Both the control group and the DID participants claimed to have no subjective memory for previous events after switching to their amnesic identity
    • However, both groups showed signs of memory transfer on the cross-modal exclusion task
    • If interidentity amnesia was present among DID patients, the results should have produced equal ability to reject both List A and distractor words. However, they were able to reject distractor words but not List A words.
    • Amnesic barriers between identities may not be as impermeable as perceived by patients.
  • 9. Discussion Cont.
    • The findings do not address the role of trauma in people with DID and cannot say whether or not trauma can produce DID
    • Neuropsychological Tests- all patients showed the same patterns.
    • The 3 patients that had the lowest Dissociative Experience Scale had been diagnosed with DID for the longest length of time. This shows possibility that living with DID over time resulted in more adjustment and acceptance of DID as part of their daily life.
  • 10. Conclusion
    • The results may not apply to all DID participants; a larger sample would increase the generalizability of the results
    • The study only tested one possible pairing of identities within the patients. Which leaves the possibility that other identities would have demonstrated better compartmentalization.
    • Posttraumatic perspective might predict that amnesic barriers would be more distinct in identities responsible for dealing with traumatic memories. Traumatic memories have been found between trauma-related identities. This may suggest that these identities may have different levels of memory compartmentalization.
  • 11. Conclusion Cont.
    • Overall, there were no significant differences in patterns of exclusion performance between DID group and the control group.
    • Also, implicit tests are not necessary to demonstrate interidentity memory transfer. However, explicit memory tests that are designed to be objective and difficult to fake can reveal memory transfer between subjectively amnesic identities.