A-Z List

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Journal Articles


Descriptive Information


Herman, F. (1985). Music therapy for the young child with cerebral palsy who uses Blissymbolics. Music Therapy, 5, 28-36.

This article described children whose communication difficulties are such that they cannot properly express themselves either through speech, facial expressions, or hand movements. The group was made up of six children with cerebral palsy who are confined to wheelchairs, have little or no hand control, and are non-speaking due to involved speech musculature. Blissymbolics is their mode of communication. They have a weekly music therapy session and attend a wheelchair dance program designed for children with lower functioning ability. In the music therapy sessions, they begin with the children telling the therapist (by Blissymbolics) how they feel and they improvise it into a song. Each child then tells their "news of the day" and at the end they create a song with everyone's news included. The children then get to tell a story while music is played. The final minutes of the session were used for the children to reflect on their feelings about what they have experienced. Listening and responding in a group is a shared experience and can help the children discover their common bond of feeling with each other and the people they know. These sessions helped these children to communicate this awareness and bring them out of the isolation created due to the handicapping condition.

Birdenshaw-Fleming, L. (1993). Music for All. Toronto: Gordon V. Thompson.
UWEC Call #: ML3920.B52 1993

Cerebral palsy is an irreversible, non-progressive condition caused by damage to the brain at birth. Depending on the area of the brain that is damaged, the person with cerebral palsy has varying degrees of control over trunk, limb, and head movement. The challenge is to find alternate means of communication for each person. Blissymbolics is one method of communication. It is a method based on common words, letters, and certain ideas represented by symbols. Blissymbolics can be used to sing a song or in discussing lyrics.

Effects of DID


Treating the traumatic memories of patients with Dissociative Identity Disorder American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 153, 103.

This article says patients must deal with the reason why they have DID. Usually the patient becomes overwhelmed with their memories, but remembering is the only way to heal them because the conscious mind doesn’t know what the alters (alternate personalities) are hiding. The alters are there to protect the conscious mind. The therapist must gain trust with all the patient’s alters to administer different therapeutic techniques. Playing music from the past when their alters emerged is one way to trigger memories. Using hypnosis in these types of sessions should be used cautiously. The therapist and others dealing with the patient should maintain high standards: choosing the best involvement for the patient, being well educated in topic at hand, becoming familiar with the patient’s history and problems, and informing the patient of information for his or her own benefit.

Ortiz, John. Necessary angels: music and healing in psychotherapy, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 38, 101

The therapists in this article understood the importance of music after examining the importance of it in their lives, and how it could help others. They did not try to force music therapy on their patients because they realized each individual is different, but they did encourage their patients to bring in music or lyrics they chose to their therapy sessions. Writing down lyrics to a personal song may help express inner emotions harder to speak about in real life. Music may also help one avoid anger by making one think twice about a situation through analyzing the lyrics of a favorite song or may serve as an outlet to temporarily escape out of a dangerous situation. Another benefit of therapy including music is bringing back the memories of good times with music of one’s personal past. These experiences may help to bring an alter back into "reality".

Music is good medicine: whether you’ve had heart surgery or a bad day at the office, some soothing sounds may help, Newsweek, Vol. 132, 103

The authors of this article found that the benefits of music therapy cover a wide range of possibilities. Children with disabilities can discover a whole new world when given music in their therapy sessions. Banging a drum to their therapist’s beat may strengthen the patient’s ability to communicate. People with physical limitations are learning to receive power through listening to their favorite songs for ambition, getting less depressed, and being more stable. All people can use music to help create better connections of nerve cells to increase memory and to relax after a hard day’s work. The growing popularity of music therapy is getting out to the world, but the medical world hasn’t yet taken advantage of its powers. Music therapy sessions reimbursed by most health plans are usually given case-by-case consideration. Because of the stresses that multiple personalities place on somone, these sessions often have an amazing calming and relaxing effect on those with DID.

Goldman, Jonathan. The sounds of healing: every culture in the world has used sound and music to heal; finally, we’re catching up, Vegetarian Times, 68.

This article calls to attention the use of natural remedies of music to heal the body, mentally and physically. Some music may involve a "mind over body" approach to healing. Examples of this are humming and chanting. They can calm the body and heal ailing parts, as has been recognized in practice for tens of thousands of years. Humming can also reverse the onset of life threatening illnesses to the body. Listening to songs you like simply makes you happier and listening to music that matches your present mood (iso principle) helps you release emotions occurring from what is currently going on. In most therapy situations, music is involved. Patients of those groups are almost always pleased with the results. As Jonathan Goldman says in this article, "the possibilities are limitless."



Ellason, Joan. Two-year follow-up of inpatients with Dissociative Identity Disorder, American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 154, 832.

This article agrees that DID is a product of intense child abuse. The purpose of this research was to track patients in their progress of the integration of their identities. Kluft defines integration as "3 stable months of continuity of contemporary memory, with the absence of behaviorally evident separate identities." The results indicate that a majority of the patients maintained stable integration. If patients are given therapy, they are a lot more likely to achieve integration following their involvement in it. And if given music in that therapy, they will probably be more likely to follow the therapy on their own, because music is always there.

Murderers with DID

Lewis, Otnow. Objective documentation of child abuse and dissociation in 12 murderers with Dissociative Identity Disorder, American Journal of Psychiatry ,Vol. 154, 1703

The tie between sexual abuse and Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personalities) is evident with the 12 cases presented in this article. Twelve murderers with DID were studied. Researchers looked at signs of mental problems the murderers had as children, signs of mental problems they have as an adult, verification of others who knew of abuse, and handwriting samples. In most cases, the patient had trances, hallucinations, and communications with their alternate personalities. All twelve had memory losses during which they had different types of behavior, changes of personality, heard voices of an alternative personality (alter), and were able to present at least one alternate personality, called an alter, to the researchers. The abuse they suffered is referred to as "torture." Along with the sexual abuses, eleven experienced other abuses such as being burned or beaten. Music could be used to bring out hidden personalities to have that alter to surface to express their emotions. Usually alters are very different and will probably have distinctly different music to which they will respond.

Music Therapy Programming


Saroyan, John S. The use of music therapy on an adolescent psychiatric unit. Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Psychodrama & Sociometry. Fall90, Vol. 43 (3) 139.

This article described music therapy as a safe outlet for adolescents to use for expressing emotions. In a psychiatric unit, the patients are usually placed in groups. Most of the time they do not want to express their feelings and/or are intimidated by others in the group. Music may offer them an outlet to express their feelings nonverbally. For example, they may tap a beat on a drum with individual expression, depending on their mood. The therapist’s responsibility is to get the group or individual to work at an independent pace to work toward goals while trying to get them to strive forward in their therapy to set and achieve new goals, and to let the patients know that music therapy is a safe environment. Developing trust and improving self-esteem are the reasons for music therapy on the unit.

Music Therapy Research


Hayes, Patricia. Music therapy: Its effects on mental health and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), dinner music for demented patients: Analysis of video-recorded observations, Clinical Nursing Research, Vol.5, 262.

These researchers used six methods to find out the results of music during dinnertime for demented patients. The first project studied how to design how frequently each kind of music should be played. The second project examined the types of music. They chose soft music, music from the 1920’s and 1930’s, and popular rock of the 1980’s. The third project explored selection of the patients to observe. The fourth experiment involved recognizing which habits these patients had. The fifth project investigated where the cameras were placed and how long they ran during the videotaping. The sixth project analyzed how the patients were doing by observing certain criteria. The findings were that the five patients being observed spent more time at dinner when music was being played than they did before when music wasn’t played at all. The music calmed patients and resulted in them feeding themselves better. For example, they ate more, stopped taking other’s food, tried less to get attention, and/or made less of a mess. 

DID in Turkey


Largic, Li. Structured interview data on 35 cases of Dissociative Identity Disorder in Turkey, American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 153, 1329.

There is a myth that DID doesn’t occur in areas outside of North America. This article shows otherwise. 35 Turkish patients were compared to North American patients with standard tests. The patients in Turkey had lower rates of sexual and physical abuse, but a definite decrease in the amount of substance abuse was reported, though most of the tests results were similar when compared to North American counterparts. There was a chance of borderline personality disorder being intertwined in this study. More research in this area is still needed. The researchers wished they had more participants and more areas to compare, but this study has helped to start the pioneering stage of DID.