A Petition Filed Against Dissociative Identity Disorder Being Included in the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Update, 02-24-14.

The diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder, commonly known as multiple personalities, remains a controversial mental malady as many researchers and practitioners in the mental health field continue to argue that it is nothing more than a culturally constructed illness usually created between therapist and client.

As the Internet continues to swell, many soon-to-be-clients search for information on multiple personalities and find confirmation and support from people already being treated for Dissociative Identity Disorder. Easy access to information about this malady increases the likelihood that clients come to treatment already armed with a self-diagnosis that is similar to preconceived symptoms of the disorder.

The diagnostic tool in psychiatry, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), outlines symptomology of Dissociative Identity Disorder and was updated last year. Since the authors of the DSM-5 included this diagnosis while disregarding objections from opponents, this article remains pertinent as an historical account of this controversial diagnosis.


The Petition

J.F. Kihlstrom

DID is an extremely controversial diagnosis, and while I do not agree with it, the petition makes an extremely strong case against the diagnosis.  In the service of promoting better understanding of the debate, which has at least three sides, I quote from the petition below (those who originally wrote the document asked recipients to circulate it freely).

My wife reading in bed. And it wasn't because ...

My wife reading in bed. And it wasn’t because she was trying to get to sleep. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The evidence supporting this diagnosis as a distinct mental disorder is modest whereas much suggests it to be a behavioral artifact equivalent in nature to pseudo-epilepsy generated by suggestion in vulnerable people. Its identification as a special, separate diagnostic entity in DSM has harmed the practice of psychiatry and undermined its scientific credibility. Although it is important for us to provide evidence to support these statements, we wish to avoid excessive detail, given that such evidence has been documented widely in the published literature.


The notion of dual personalities was founded upon cases of bipolar illness (1) and was followed by the idea of extra personalities.  This expansion first occurred with the hypnotically-induced introduction of a second personality and the deliberate naming of those personalities as if they were separate entities (1).



Taylor and Martin (2) recognized a total of 76 cases occurring between 1816 and 1944�slightly more than one every two years; they thought a similar number might be unreported. In 1954 Thigpen and Cleckley (3) reported their case, which was published as �The Three Faces of Eve� in 1957. After a film was made of this case, the numbers of reported cases increased steadily; there was a further dramatic leap after the film of �Sybil�. By 1990 thousands of cases were being diagnosed; some authors identified more cases in their personal practices than had been described in the literature over an entire century.


Twentieth Century Suggestion

As is well known, Sybil, a patient of Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, was fully aware that her therapist wanted her to create extra personalities (4).  In 1973, Dr. Wilbur gave tape recordings of Sybil�s interviews to Schreiber [the journalist who reported Sybil as a case of multiple personality disorder (5)]. Schreiber made the recordings available to Ronald Rieber, a professor of psychology, who amassed evidence showing that at least some of the personalities were artifacts overtly created in treatment (6).


Dissociative Identity Disorder is often alleged to result from repressing an experience of childhood sexual abuse. This claim has not received adequate scientific validation. For example, Piper and Merskey (7) reviewed all the studies that claimed to corroborate DID patients� abuse recollections. These authors concluded that �no evidence supports the claim that DID patients as a group have actually experienced the traumas asserted by the disorder�s proponents� (7).

Proponents of the DID diagnosis assert that horrific, repeated childhood physical and sexual abuse is the primary cause of DID.  Victims supposedly develop their multiple personalities as repositories for traumatic memories that the �host� personality is unable to tolerate consciously. The DID diagnosis thus relies on the concept of traumatic Dissociative Amnesia (DA or �repression�): the notion that the mind protects itself by banishing terrifying memories from awareness, rendering them inaccessible until the person feels psychologically safe to recall them, often years later.  There is no convincing evidence that victims can become incapable of recalling genuinely traumatic experiences, as the trauma theory of DID requires (8). Indeed, an extensive survey of the historical literature, including both fictional and non-fictional written works in multiple languages, found no written example of �dissociative amnesia� prior to 1786 (9).  Thus the notion of �repressing� a memory itself, like DID, appears to represent a recent culture-bound phenomenon, rather than a naturally occurring human psychological process.

In a comprehensive analysis of studies of people with documented trauma histories, not a single mention of spontaneous amnesia for the traumatic event was found�unless the forgetting was attributable to either organic amnesia or childhood amnesia (10).  Finally, an examination of Freud�s original work gives reason to think that the evidence from psychoanalysis for repression is also very unsatisfactory (11, 12).


Harmful Effects

Due to the assumption that trauma is a primary etiological factor, the DID diagnosis has resulted in wrongful accusations of sexual abuse on the basis of recovered memories, not only in North America but throughout the developed world (references). DID has caused mockery of psychiatry, and, for patients, has led to misdiagnosis (13), mismanagement (14) and inadequate treatment of depression (15).


Lack of Consensus

Canadian and American psychiatrists show little consensus regarding the diagnostic status and scientific validity of DID. In surveys of board-certified psychiatrists in the United States (16) and Canada (17) fewer than one-third of Canadian psychiatrists and 35% of American psychiatrists replied that DA & DID should be included without reservations in the DSM-IV; fewer than 1 in 7 Canadian psychiatrists and only 21-23% of American psychiatrists replied that there was �strong evidence of validity� for these disorders.  French- and English-speaking Canadians had similar opinions.



There are overwhelming reasons to question the validity of Dissociative Identity Disorder. We respectfully urge you as members of the Work Group and the Task Force to drop the category of dissociative disorders from the upcoming DSM-V: it is harmful to patients and their families, scientifically unjustified, and undermining the credibility of psychiatry.

Retrieved 05/27/12. Full Petition & References link below:


Leave a comment


  1. caleb

     /  07/28/2012

    i agree i get that thank you


  2. caleb

     /  07/27/2012

    Ya i am hurt angry and upset not at you nor anyone on here for sharing there feelings on it and i too suck at computers because when i said your calling me and everyone a liar i did not mean you in particular i meant the people on here saying its the power of persuasion and were just listning to what we want too. I thank you for being kind and actually taking the time to actually explain yourself most people i talk to wont and just say i am making it up and it bothers me i cant find any doctors around here in oklahoma that will even take me because of the fact i hear things and switch because they get freaked out honestly im not made at you or anything i just get so frustrated when i cant get help because of what im going through its hard and yes i havent read your stuff not because i choose not to but mainly because i have to take care of my kid who has down syndrome all the time its hard being a single dad living with this stuff and no one wants to help and i think the only reason i got so upset is because i felt honestly that the people on here were the ones making it hard for me to get help because no one wants to believe in the stuff that im going through because no one wants to believe its real honestly i dont care about the name i just care about getting better not for me but for my kid because i dont want him to know what im going through because he does not deserve to have to deal with that along with having down syndrome again i thank you for being kind to me even when its hard to when you believe in things so passionatly but since what you wrote i came to understand your not a bad person nor are your accusations false i just really need help and it just bothers me when i see things that can put a stop to me getting help not saying you nor anyone else is trying to its just hard to deal and live with this givin my situation and it gets frustrating ….i will try to read your stuff to get to know you and your experinces because your right to truly make talk the way i have been talking i need to get to know the whole story and for that i apologize ….but thank you i do need a hug and some cookies ha no watermelons though 🙂


    • Hello caleb

      I am not a doctor or a mental health care professional. I just want to make that clear to you.

      May people wrongly think that commenters on this blog think people who believe they have multiple personalities are lying. I don’t believe that is true.

      Research indicates that people who have beliefs in multiple selves show a high score on hypnosis scales. It is also shown that therapies that focus on remembering events in the past that are currently not known use suggestive techniques (knowingly or not) to dig for information.

      Words such as persuasion, suggestion, repressed memories, false memories, often have negative definitions to some people. If you can get behind negative association you might have with some words and phrases, you may find a different perspective on issues discussed here.

      Have you had a physical exam and tests? It seems that you have self-diagnosed yourself with MPD/DID as you are offering us symptoms associated with it and defending the concepts. I think that someone who was experiencing symptoms like yours would not choose to come to a blog that disagrees with their perceptions. I could be wrong.

      People who comment here are offering information and experiences not consistent with the belief in multiple personalities. There is much criticism of therapies that have injured patients, as well as therapies that fall outside mainstream psychiatry and psychology often referred to as pseudo-science and/or pop psychology.

      I cannot speak for the motivations of anyone who comes to this blog & cannot, and will not, take responsibility for their opinions or perceived advise

      I am interested in safe and affordable mental health care. If you really want help and want to feel better – get active and find medical help. Hanging on Internet blogs is a waste of your precious time that could be spent in a doctor’s office.

      Best to you.


  3. caleb

     /  07/25/2012

    Ok so I might not be a psychologist or a therepist or anything that involves diagnosing anyone or anything,but, I have been diagnosed with DID and I was not told what to say I was not hyptnotized or anything but I know I have it mainly because I’ve seen what happens to me. I had never read anything about this disorder before I didnt even know it existed but yet i still switched I still had voices in my head and I had no idea what or who it was. So the power of persuasion in this case is out the window. they just put a name to what had none. So how could all these same symptoms happen with me if i knew nothing about it? the people that give all these “scientific diagnosis” on here about how its all power of persuasion or Its a bunch of people feeding into lies well honestly why talk about something you think you know about but in all reality you still no nothing about it you can give all the explanations in the world about why your right and people like me are wrong but the truth is you wont truly know anything about it until you experience it yourself and the truth is you wont, and Im glad because its not something i wish upon anyone no matter how stubborn and simple minded they are. I mean people have been saying gods not real for ever and giving all these scientific explanations of why he doesnt exist but still he has his own book and a billion followers power of persuasion? maybe, but do you worship god? do you believe he is the creator? maybe maybe not ..what Im saying is you can give all these explanations to why its not real or blah blah blah all day but it is real it is there and its people like the ones on here saying how there so smart because of all this studying and reserch they have done on it and the truth of the matter is it is real and this is why its people like you who make me strive every day to keep on studying in psychology so I can prove all of you wrong and show you that just because you think something is right does not make it right unless you have experienced it first hand so to all the people on here that are sticking up for people like me and many others thank you we really do appreciate it! To the people who just keep on being ignorant about it, theres really nothing much left to say except you have to ask yourself do i believe in god because of the power of persuasion? just like your saying people with DID are believing in it, and if thats the case you might as well just stop believing in him as well because apparently according to all your research its all just the power of persuasion since you’ve never seen it first hand….some people….


    • Caleb. I know multiple personalities inside and out. Please educate yourself on my background, maybe read a few of my publications or maybe a post or two on this blog. Your statements are false, inaccurate, misleading, and misrepresenting me and my experiences.

      Once you have facts behind you, you are welcome to come on back and try again.


      • caleb

         /  07/26/2012

        I know not of what i speak? who best to know then the person going through it? how is anything i said misleading? i thought i was pretty straight forward in every aspect of what i talked about.. look just because you did research just because you have blogs just because you have read about it inside and out doesnt mean you know about it you dont truly know until you yourself have it? if no nothing about this then what is going on with me? if you know much more then me please tell me because i would like to know the scientific explanation of why i switch why i hear them why they all have there own age why they have there own personalities why they each have there own names trust me if i could get rid of this i would but its not that easy and its not because of what i read or heard I am not trying to bash you or anything i think each person is intitled to there own opinion and my opinion is its real just because you cant explain something does not make it real. I truly wish i could go back before i had these alters but i cant and just because you have dealt with things like this doesnt mean you truly know either.honestly nobody i think will truly know what is going on with people like me but what is wrong with putting a name to it? you cant truly fix the problem until you establish what it is. i am not trying to tell you that you know nothing because obviously you do but not enough to say every one with this is a liar you dont know me or anyone else out there that has this. yes i understand it sounds weird but what about schitzophrenic people they see things that arnt there and talk to themselves do you believe thats false as well im not trying to be misleading but until you put yourself in someone elses shoes who are you to call us liars basically it hurts when you hear people on here say all this stuff about how were all liars i wish it was that easy i wish i was but i am not i have no intention nor any right to lie about stuff like this like i said i might not be as educated as everyone on here and can 100 percent say this is all a hoax but i do know one thing and that is i am not making this up i am not a liar and the things i have experienced are real maybe if you got to know people like me maybe you could understand that this is the last thing we want for ourselves is to be diagnosed with something that makes us look crazy do you think this is what we want do you think we like telling people we are so everyone says “crazy” no we dont but we know the only way to truly get better is to figure out what it is and work on that please please please realize i am not doubting your knowledge or your opinion but dont start telling everyone that the things we go through is all a lie made up by other psychologists because if thats what we truly and honestly believe who are you nor anyone else to say we are all liars? just put yourself in other peoples shoes first instead of making acusations like you say i am doing


        • Hi caleb, thank you for returning. (sorry, I truly suck at computer stuff and this is my 3rd try at posting a response. But here goes.

          I can tell from your response that I was not clear about a few things.

          When I said you know not of what you speak I was Not referring to you …. I was talking about me. How’s that for miscommunication 😉

          OK. Let me try again. We are strangers. The original post you left was full of mistakes and interpretations of my life and my experiences. I meant to suggest that you read some of my publications so you could get to know me a little and in so doing, you would find out why I hold the opinions that multiple personalities don’t exist.

          In the second post, it appears that you still have either not read about my life experiences, or are choosing not to. I don’t know. What happened as a result, is that you seem to be reaching wrong conclusions that may be making you upset. I’m thinking that if you knew me a little better, perhaps your emotions could settle a little. You are not my enemy. I’m just a person with a different opinion – nothing more – nothing less.

          Yes, you were straightforward, just wrong. Being clear in thinking and writing doesn’t help if the facts are wrong. I’m telling you that what you think about me, and only me, is wrong.

          Caleb, I don’t know what is going on with you as you asked. I don’t know you. I know nothing about your life or what type of trauma or personal violations you may have endured. Plus, I’m not a doctor or therapist or surgeon for that matter.

          If you would like to understand other people’s opinions about what may be going on with you, try looking at my reading list. There are books and articles written by people who study all types of subjects. Maybe one of them will help you figure out why you have the experiences you do.

          You sound totally miserable, angry, hurt and vulnerable. If you were sitting next to me right now, I’d want to give you a hug and hope it would make you feel better. Maybe I’d offer you some cookies or cool watermelon. The pain and hurt you show through your writing is making my heart race. You are that good at explaining yourself and getting your point across.

          I agree, your opinions and your feelings and your experiences are real to you – just as mine are to me. I too, wish you could rewind your life’s tape and go back to a time before you had the alters. Maybe you can? I don’t know.

          There is nothing wrong with putting a name on your emotional and psychological state. It’s necessary so we can try to have discussions. Again, I think I wasn’t clear enough – We were discussing putting names on emotional states like sad, mad, hurt – that type of thing. I can see why that would be confusing and appreciate you bringing it to my attention.

          Sorry this is getting long.

          I have never said that anyone having the experiences you share are lying. I do not think you are lying and am very insistent that no one say that I do. If indeed I said that somewhere, please bring it to my attention. I will retract and correct it immediately. You are not lying, not for one moment in my opinion.

          You mention schizophrenia. Your question is on target. I worked with children and young adults diagnosed with schizophrenia and/or other psychotic illnesses. I often wondered if there really were purple elephants in the sky and it was Me who couldn’t see them. That one will remain a mystery.

          I hope this post helps, caleb. It helped me alot. thanks.


  4. Hi Jeanette,

    Yes still responding..Apologies about my D and S key they seem to be jammed and at times.I am clicking s getting d vica verca..I may have to shake the Laptop some.o.O

    Regarding FMSF I will continue reading looking at those on the Board now instead of continuing to look back at the Founding members. Roger Underway is gone so I will read more objectively and see what commonalities we have..Agreed always we all agree some do not have “alters” or groups due to Trauma, and some never forget, repress or dissociate. For Mosaics many here question this too, I think it all depends on support available and what is considered normal to a child and not..Also that child’s individual learning and self coping..so No it was not a dig at all..

    Yes,I do I realize Paul McHugh is a John Hopkins Dr and heavy weight in the Field of Psychiatry. I do not believe he is the best or most objective person to reason with though regarding not only Multiplicity but many conditions his colleagues have produced evidence of .And really I am not one to prefer a label or condition for all behaviors because most times it is stigmatizing and often a excuse for sickness, yet some conditions the colleagues Paul McHugh differs with have brought understanding to behaviors and quality to life with that understanding..

    I will read on as I do always,

    Peace to you I am happy your family is reconciled..

    My family is..I have no ill feelings towards anyone, only my own regrets for staying in Therapy so long..for not trusting our own strengths ad a group, for thinking US disordered..we never were, we make sense together.. And yes Therapy had not been about Multiplicity a long while-in fact my dr sees no reason to list MPD/ or DID as problematic any longer ,we have discussed PTSD and not so sure that is even needed, suffice to say grief with all the stages from the stigma and closure with support is where were at.:)

    Peace to you
    Maria and Mosaics.


  5. Hi Jeanette, Thank you for responding, continuing talking..

    I will split up my posts to topic also.
    Thank you for your well wishes for my family and I

    I do know full well what it is like to be in a frightening ad the child, to a parent ” the mom” to both parents suppose to be looking after me. I not only took care of my Parents emotionally but physically…at a very young age and then everyone I met later..Constantly I tried as a child to fix my Parents to make them happy so the home was safer, to day the right words, to look the right way, to do the right thing..it was exhausting and I worried always-never wanted that for my kids.

    Having said that..I never allowed my children to be “Parentized” In fact I encouraged them to have voice to all feelings..and I then tended to those feelings.I should mention the incident of” cutting” that gt the most attention(was slight not even requiring a stitch and, took place when the children were out of the home, leading to the one time I was admitted to the Mental Health Unit of Hospital, leading to the MP being t changed to MPD a “disorder”..

    I should also mention it came after graduating, while working 2 jobs I loved,and in a awesome relationship, while preparing a dinner we looked forward too it was the healthiest time of my life and my kids life,so made no sense. All was stable so this scared me to the point I insisted to be admitted.The Drs were going to send me home with a “contract” to not harm myself.I definitely dissociated… The person or “alter” who cut was in high anxiety without me even being aware of it..so some who do not believe in Multiplicity may day “internal conflict I was in denial of..but really we , her and I needed to internally communicate about some things…

    After this there was no cutting for 2 years, when the kids went with family, she felt it her fault-it was not..but she cut in secret and grief…What I believe was the hardest for my children were physical illnesses that came all at once , one after another..in 1989 I was in the Mental Health Hospital,from the cutting..after I got out , went right back to work ad a Social worker, in 1990 I got Meningitis, landing me in Hospital 6 weeks, in wheelchair , in braces 1 year and then in 1991 2 more bouts of Meningitis, with Radicular napathy effecting my legs and bladder as well as a Hysterectomy, and I needed Visitng Nurses..There were also Home Health Aides for children before and after School,the loss of income due to sickness, weighed heavier than my past ever could at that point and was my only focus providing…

    Worry for my kids reigned.at that time dominating Therapy from home for support so not at all multiplicity but being confined to bed powerless with no finances. I was physically depleted on bed rest& medical sedation for a hemorrhage!, it was when I began to recover from the physical..my extended family stepped in offering support, after I called one member during a crisis incident having nothing to do with Multiplicity at all but it proved to be a catalyst to my oldest being able to voice her unhappiness at home as she had been doing else where..and I wanted her happy…She refused to return from a visit with her Dad(her very absent Dad)..the first visit he had initiated with her in years,which just happened to be the same year 3 of her 2 Grandparents left her life in distance,2 out of town and another in death. So she was experiencing much loss and then me as a MOM not there as much as needed and again I wanted her happy. My attentions also had to be on her Sibling more so who required medical attention..enuff to say she was unhappy..it was all used to get me better to fix the multipleness of me, it worked for the kids and us all for the better..

    I have spoken out often and taken a lot of flack for saying I do not believe Multiple Parents, self harming or even switching rapidly, especially with amnesia and with no co consciousness and Littles should Parent.!.I have explained this frightens children and of course children will want to play with a “Little” because they want to please their “Parent” and do not know what else to do..This group remained age appropriate with our bio kids.. always..save one time my daughter saw me curled up in fetal position, on couch, during a flash back, a younger person”alter” here after Therapy and that scared her a lot ..It still affected her I acknowledge this and it bothers me some Multiples do not acknowledge how the groups actions effect children.having said that there are also many, many Multiple and DID Parents that Parent responsibly with no problems with switches, because all happening continues appropriate agreed upon singular Parenting .

    ..There were plenty of professional people , those I worked with in Child protective and Adult protective in and out of my home, from the time I was diagnosed onward, who could and still would testify I was a Mom who needed support, who lost all family support at once and through illness, I was a overwhelmed Mom but I was not an “abusive Mom”.

    .Still I am most harsh on myself for that time,for being all over, insisting on believing a Duper Women Myth for being on Drs orders for physical bed rest even.Maybe I shoulda just kept going…more moxy, sucked it up one more time even though sucking it up my whole life and moxy,not pacing the physical in my endeavor to be perfect is what depleted me eh the irony..

    I regret ever listening to the therapy of the day insisting it was proper to tell the kids”Mommie is Multiple” As Survivor groups handed out age appropriate family material. and how to explain who was out when. It was not necessary to ask children to grasp this. Children need to children,free of that concern.. period!

    If you would like to exchange email, I would prefer to write some privately Thank you for understanding my situation..and my role those years child protective worker as well..I have to giggle at a fond memory..My daughter use to bring her little friends home insisting I could help them, if she witnessed their Parents yelling at them! She would say,” Mom so and so is being abused,I heard her Parents yelling at her…what she heard, was what she had never heard in our home.. a Dad, a male in authority yelling at his daughter, it was totally foreign to her, so frightened her and so, she would drag her friends home all proud to get them safe with me her Mom..more irony.. It remains perception and subjective and experience as to what is normal to a person.

    In the end.. What I know is we were a family at risk, needing help, and we did get that and did and do better for having another family enriching& blessing our lives..I will always be grateful for..this no matter the reasoning

    Peace to you
    Maria and Mosaics



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