Dissociative Amnesia with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Compare and Contrast Dissociative Amnesia with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Both dissociative amnesia and dissociative identity disorder fall under the category of dissociative disorders. Dissociation refers to the disruption in the normal integration of memory, consciousness, identity, behavior, motor control, and perception. The two disorders share nearly similar symptoms.


Dissociative amnesia is characterized by reported memory gaps such as inability to remember personal information, particularly of stressful or traumatic nature (Gray, 2016). This inability to recall personal information cannot be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. Similarly, dissociative identity disorder (DID) is characterized by the disruption of memory of personal events (Foote, Spiegel, & Friedman, 2022). People with DID display of a mixture of PTSD and dissociative symptoms, along with non-trauma-related symptoms.

Like patients with dissociative amnesia, patient with the DID have recurrent memory gaps for daily events, personal information, traumatic events, and skills that cannot accounted for by ordinary forgetfulness.  Both disorders are related to childhood traumatic events or overwhelming experiences. The symptoms have significant distress in work and social relationships (Foote et al. 2022). In addition, there are retrospectively ongoing memory gaps about personal information and everyday events. Assessment involves paying attention to life situations, events and circumstances. In addition, patients with dissociative amnesia and dissociative identities have significant comorbid psychiatric diagnoses (Gray, 2016).


An episode of amnesia happens suddenly and is short lived. DID is typified by switching to alternative identities. The DSM-IV diagnostic criteria list three features of dissociative amnesia: predominant disturbance in one or more episodes of inability to remember personal information; the symptoms must cause significant impairment or distress in relationships and work; and the disturbance does not occur exclusive during the course of another disorder (posttraumatic disorder, stress disorder or dissociative) (Tracy, 2022). DID is distinguished by the presence of two or more distinct identities.  Pathological alterations of personality/identity often manifest within cultures as spirit possession (Tracy, 2022). People with DID experience themselves as having separate alternative personalities which have distinct pathological autonomy from one another. These subjective personalities may seize executive control of one’s behavior, mind and body


Foote, B., Spiegel, D., & Friedman, M. (2022). Dissociative identity disorder: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis. Retrieved on January 24, 2022 from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/dissociative-identity-disorder-epidemiology-pathogenesis-clinical-manifestations-course-assessment-and-diagnosis

Gray, S. W. (2016). Psychopathology: A competency-based assessment model for social workers. Boston: Cengage Learning

Tracy, N. (2022). How Is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) Diagnosed?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on January 24, 2022 from https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/dissociative-identity-disorder/how-is-dissociative-identity-disorder-did-diagnosed

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