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How does schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder differ?

Mark Moronell, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder are two different mental illnesses, although many people confuse them. In social conversation, people often say that someone with multiple personality types is "schizophrenic," but this is not so. The primary symptoms of schizophrenia are dramatically different from those of multiple personality disorder. Multiple personality disorder, also called split personalities, is now called dissociative identity disorder (DID) by the medical community. The main symptoms of DID include:

- acting as at least two personalities that speak and behave in distinctly different ways
- appearing to have amnesia when stuck in one personality
- having trouble recalling memories that may have occurred while in a different personality
- feeling depressed, suicidal, or practicing self-mutilation
- seeing or hearing things that aren't real (hallucinations)

Hallucinations and suicidal behavior are the only DID symptoms that overlap with schizophrenia. Also, schizophrenia has a strong genetic component, and family members are more likely to share the disease than the general population. DID tends to develop during childhood, in people who are sexually or physically abused.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.