Hearing Voices in Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) includes the experience of hearing voices, medically referred to as auditory hallucinations. This is also a common symptom in several other mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder. The experience of hearing voices in DID is quite different from the experience of hearing voices in other disorders, however, and the causes and treatments are not the same.
Hearing Voices in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Psychosis
There are several mental illnesses that have auditory hallucinations as a symptom. These include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder with psychotic features. In these disorders, the auditory hallucinations are related to psychosis, which involves a loss of contact with reality.
The exact cause of psychosis in these disorders is still debated. There is some connection to an imbalance of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Antipsychotic medications, which alter the action of dopamine in the brain, are the most commonly prescribed and effective form of treatment for auditory hallucinations in these disorders.
Hearing Voices in Dissociative Identity Disorder: Not a Symptom of Psychosis
Unlike in other disorders, hearing voices in DID is not connected to psychosis. In DID, the voices one hears come from within the person. In other disorders, like schizophrenia, the voices come from outside of the person. This is one of the key differences in telling DID apart from psychotic disorders.
In DID, the voices are not a result of a break with reality. The voices are, in essence, real. They are the voices of the alters, or parts, existing within the core person. The voices aren't caused by a chemical imbalance, so medications cannot get rid of them. Many with DID spend their entire lives hearing these voices.
What It's Like to Hear Voices in Dissociative Identity Disorder
There is an an assumption that when a person hears voices, the voices are negative, telling the person to do something bad. This assumption is wrong, as most people, even those without DID, do not experience those types of voices (Schizoaffective Disorder and What It’s Like to Hear Voices).
Many people with DID report hearing voices starting early in their childhoods, while others first started hearing voices in adolescence or adulthood. Sometimes the voices are talking directly to the core person, while other times the voices are just talking among themselves. The voices can be very different: young or old, male or female, high-pitched or low-pitched. Sometimes, the voices all sound the same. Each person's experience of hearing voices in DID is different.
My Experience with Hearing Voices: I'm Not Crazy
I first started hearing voices when I was a teenager. At first I just assumed I was hearing my own inner thoughts. But then I realized the voices were not at all like my own, and quite distinct. I didn't tell anyone about my experiences. I was afraid of being labelled crazy or being locked away in an institution, so I kept the voices a secret for over a decade. It wasn't until my therapist assured me that I wasn't crazy, that I felt comfortable being honest about the voices I had been hearing for so long.
I still hear voices nearly every day. Most of the voices I hear are that of my younger parts. Sometimes, my parts talk to me directly. Other times, it's just random conversations going on inside. I try to keep the lines of communication open. I let my parts have their voices, because they deserve to be heard.
Many people hear voices just like me, and you would never know it. It's just a part of living with DID.
Matulewicz, C. (2016, June 22). Hearing Voices in Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 11 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2016/06/hearing-voices-in-dissociative-identity-disorder
Author: Crystalie Matulewicz
Hi, I'm an author who began writing a fiction novel about my own experiences with schizophrenia, depression, etc., but became fascinated with DID and stopped writing about myself. I'm now attempting to write a novel about a main character who has DID. It's a thriller, but I want to make it as accurate as possible. Chapters include meetings with psychiatrists and communication between alters. I would like to know more about how alters communicate with each other. I have a million questions actually, but focussing on that, there was a period where one of the voices that tormented me as an auditory hallucination became a voice in my head as opposed to through my ears. The experience was utterly bizarre, and I was terrified. I thought my hallucination had taken over my thoughts. In any event, I can't imagine how difficult it is for people with DID to live with it. I want my book to raise awareness and not shed a negative light on the disorder. A couple specific questions I have are: 1) When the primary alter (excuse me if my terminology is off) or the identity who is controlling the body speaks with an alter in their head, do any images come along with the voices? I read in a book by a medical professional that alters sometimes visualized the alter they were speaking with. Has anyone had that experience? If so, could you please describe it, 2) When alters are talking to each other, does the primary alter always hear it or can they talk without causing voices in head of whoever is controlling the body, and 3) If anyone would like to share their experience with fusion or integration with me, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much and I wish everyone the best of health!
My core personality (who I am day to day) hears the voices inside my head like a movie commentary. (It is how I got so good at writing movie scripts as a hobby) my alters include a sophisticated middle aged caucasian woman... think Bree Van De Kamp in desperate housewives..) another alter is a russian man who is some what of a dare devil.. he is the one who comes out when I drink mostly.. anothet alter that I hear alot is a mexican man, he is my protector. He comes out whenever I feel scared, or whenever I feel I'm being lied to.
Alot of times my alters will bicker amongst themselves and I can hear it in my head. At first before I was diagnosed, I just thought I "talked to myself" alot but just not outloud. It took along time before my therapist and I found out what was going on.
From what I have learned, my alters have always talked to eachother. It wasnt until I knew what I was looking for that I could hear them. 99% of the time it is inside my head, but my loved ones have heard me talking in different accents before "to myself". My base alter was unaware it was happening but all my other alters were aware of each other.
It usually happens in VERY high stress situations. And when those situations happen it is usually my other alters trying to calm down my protector.
I hope this answered some questions!
I am one of the “few” people? Living with DID. I would love to talk to you about this, I can answer your questions, from my own experience. I’m not sure if everyone who has DID has the same experience with it that I’ve had. But I’d like to talk to you about it.
For your first question, I am the primary person, my name is Shannon & I’m the person who is currently writing this. Yes! For me, I can see & have pretty much always been able to “see” the other parts in my mind. Most of them look quite different from each other. Some of the little ones (all of my little ones are female), have blonde hair and blue eyes. Some have brown hair and blue eyes. Some have brown eyes with either one of those hair colors. One of them is a very pretty strawberry blonde little girl.
As for the teens and adults, the females age anywhere from 13 years old, up to 87 years old. Kaylena, she’s 87, is a gray haired female who’s very kind and gentle. KD (pronounced Kady), is around 40 years old. She used to have jet black hair and blue eyes but that was when she was known as, The Dark One. She was my biggest protective alter, who was up close to the front of my mind. There are other, stronger male alters, but they are difficult to reach & communicate with. I have been able to communicate with them a lot more in the past two years, though. KD is right here with me, pretty much every day. She is the one who took it upon herself to protect us. She will do almost anything necessary to keep us safe. She will gladly swing her fists, bite, pull hair or scratch anyone who pushes us too far. It normally takes her a long time to become that angry, but once she gets there, you don’t want to mess with her. She’s calmed down a lot in the past three years but she’s still a fighter. She’s learning how to control her anger and not let herself become quite so physical with those who she feels is a threat to us. That’s one reason her name changed, she’s trying to get back to the person she was when she was first formed in my mind. One thing about KD, is, once you prove you can’t be trusted with any of us. Or you push her too far, she’s not going to let you down easy. She’ll be watching you while you’re sleeping, she’ll be taking mental notes as well as writing them down. So she can always remember how much you hurt us. She’s not very forgiving of others and because of that, it’s best to keep her on your good side. Lol
I’m not going to tell you about every alter I have, but I thought I’d give you a bit of an idea of what it’s like for me. I can tell you that one of my favorite alters to talk to, in my own head. Is also one of my alters whom my husband would rather not have to talk to, ever again, if he had his choice. She’s a 16 year old teenager who loves life and loves to make people happy. She also loves to talk, & I guess that’s what my husband doesn’t like about her. I think she’s one of the most fun personalities that I have, though. I’m sure she would love to talk to you about DID.
I’ve made drawings of every one of my alters. My therapist has the majority of them. But I’m sure he would let me take pictures of them to send to you. If you’re interested in seeing what I see inside my mind, when I’m looking at the others.
For your second question. That’s sort of a two part question, at least in my experience it would be.
Does the primary person always hear the others talking? For me the answer is, no! I don’t always hear everything they say. Actually, from my understanding, DID purposely makes the voices “quiet”, from time to time. The individual parts were created by the brain to help the main person, deal with something or several things, that happened to them, usually at a young age.
So for any of the other parts to be able to communicate with each other. Without upsetting or even making the primary person aware of a traumatic event. Would be contrary to the reason for creating the individual parts in the first place.
This isn’t something that most people understand about DID, so I hope I didn’t offend you by saying that.
I feel that there’s a second part to your second question, here. Which is the part where you referred to the “primary” person. As well as referring to “whoever is in control of the body”. From my experience & from what I’ve read and been told about DID. Those two things can and often are, two or more different “people”.
An example would be, “ My given name is Shannon, when I was born, my parents gave me this name. At that point in time, I was only one person. No one else was living in my head until I was about three years old.”
So, until one of the first of the traumatic events that happened to me, happened. Which was the beginning of my mind needing to create the other parts & consequently, giving me DID. I was just one person, like anyone who doesn’t have DID.
Shannon may be, or may not be, in control of my body, at any point in time. So, the answer to, what I would consider being the second half, of your question, in question number two. Would be this...
Shannon doesn’t always hear everything that all of the other parts say. Shannon can hear each part speak, but only if she’s supposed to hear it.
However, Shannon is not always the one in control of the body. If Jeremiah needs or wants to come out & he controls the body for a time. Shannon may or may not hear any of the other parts speaking. It could be that only Jeremiah hears them. Or possibly, Jeremiah only hears one other part talking. While the others are way back in the deepest part of our mind, talking to each other.
At the same time, Jeremiah may only speak to Shannon, & that can happen when either of them is in control of our body.
Does that make sense? Id be happy to explain it in more detail later, if youd like me to.
For your third question. I can’t say that I’ve fully experienced integrating yet. Honestly, I’m not sure that I want to do that, either. I’ve lived with my other parts for so many years, the majority of my life. That I honestly don’t think I want to interstate. At least, I don’t think I would want to fully do that.
It may sound funny to someone who has never experienced living with DID, but for me. Having the inner support system that was created when I needed it most. Is something I don’t think I’d like to live without.
I had a very short time when everyone inside was quiet and I couldn’t get them to talk. Most of them, I couldn’t even find. I knew they were still here, but they weren’t communicating with me, or anyone else. They hid in the darkest parts of my mind and I was terribly lonely.
Upon hearing from one of them, they had all chosen to be still. To sit in the darkness and to only be a memory in my life and my family’s lives. It was because they felt betrayed by my family and mostly, by my husband.
It lasted about four months and I hated it. I didn’t have the emotional support I was used to having. I’m sure it sounds totally nuts, but it’s true. Still, today, none of them are the way they were before a year and a half ago. Most of them don’t come out to talk, if anyone in my family is around. My family made them believe that if they all worked together to make me more “normal”. That my family would be there for us. They made so many promises & almost all of them were broken. So, although my protective parts want to come do something extremely mean, the kind parts don’t want to come deal with my family right now. I’m positive that will change at some point, but because I’ve experienced the quiet of the “normal” mind. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to have a normal mind. I think I like the others whom share my mind, body and life with me.
I would like to talk to someone who has been able to integrate. I’m curious if it’s as wonderful as we all think it’s supposed to be. Or if it’s actually more fun to have alters in your mind. ?
Fascinating. I would love to make a film about this and share someone's experiences. Please get in touch if interested
Hi did you manage to do your film? I could give you some information about my crazy like. I didn't really know if this illness was true or not until I experienced it for 6 year and I didn't know I had it until I came out of it. I have 3 different personalities. I got this because of a very strong medication I was put on. I spoke to the company in America who make this medication yesterday and asked what they had done to me and they explained this. I think it's because I had borderline personality disorder before I started them and because this medication enhances all your emotions they done this. Ever since I stopped them I'm back to myself and don't hear voices anymore. I don't know who I've been for 6 years ha
I’m not sure when you wrote your comment here about making a film about DID. I hope I’m not too late getting back to you, but I just stumbled across this article.
I’ve been living with DID since I was about three years old. Like the author of this article, I thought hearing voices in my head, was normal. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I began to realize that it’s not normal for everyone to hear voices like I do.
I have several alters. They are all of different ages and there are female (my body is also female and I consider myself a female). But some of my alters are male. They are the protective type, so are several of the female alters, but all of the male alters are protective.
I was diagnosed with MPD, or Multiple Personally Disorder, when I was 24 years old. That was 21 years ago, it wasn’t until about four years ago, that I found out they’d changed the name to Dissociative Identity Disorder.
I began seeing a therapist when I was first diagnosed, 21 years ago. I had to stop seeing her, after we moved out of the state we were living in at the time.
About four years ago, I started seeing another therapist and he’s who told me about the name change. Since working with him, I have learned so much more about DID. I’ve also learned a lot more about myself and my personal experience with DID. I’ve been thinking about writing a book about my story and living with DID, but I’m very busy with my family and haven’t had time to sit down and do that. I’m not even sure where to go or how to get it published, if I did have time to write it.
I’m very interested in sharing my story with you. If you’re still looking for people with DID to help make a film their experiences. I’d love to talk to you about it. Please email me at...
If you don’t mind letting me know, in the “Subject” field, why you’re emailing me. I’d appreciate it, that way I don’t miss seeing your email come through.
plz contact me i have no interest in money i just want to share my story.