Objective: Some claim that treatment for dissociative identity disorder (DID) is harmful. Others maintain that the available data support the view that psychotherapy is helpful. Method: We review the empirical support for both arguments. Results: Current evidence supports the conclusion that phasic treatment consistent with expert consensus guidelines is associated with improvements in a wide range of DID patients' symptoms and functioning, decreased rates of hospitalization, and reduced costs of treatment. Research indicates that poor outcome is associated with treatment that does not specifically involve direct engagement with DID self-states to repair identity fragmentation and to decrease dissociative amnesia. Conclusions: The evidence demonstrates that carefully staged trauma-focused psychotherapy for DID results in improvement, whereas dissociative symptoms persist when not specifically targeted in treatment. The claims that DID treatment is harmful are based on anecdotal cases, opinion pieces, reports of damage that are not substantiated in the scientific literature, misrepresentations of the data, and misunderstandings about DID treatment and the phenomenology of DID. Given the severe symptomatology and disability associated with DID, iatrogenic harm is far more likely to come from depriving DID patients of treatment that is consistent with expert consensus, treatment guidelines, and current research.
View details for DOI 10.1521/psyc.2014.77.2.169
View details for PubMedID 24865199