Interidentity Memory Transfer in Dissociative Identity Disorder

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19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Controversy surrounding dissociative identity disorder (DID) has focused on conflicting findings regarding the validity and nature of interidentity amnesia, illustrating the need for objective methods of examining amnesia that can discriminate between explicit and implicit memory transfer. In the present study, the authors used a cross-modal manipulation designed to mitigate implicit memory effects. Explicit memory transfer between identities was examined in 7 DID participants and 34 matched control participants. After words were presented to one identity auditorily, the authors tested another identity for memory of those words in the visual modality using an exclusion paradigm. Despite self-reported interidentity amnesia, memory for experimental stimuli transferred between identities. DID patients showed no superior ability to compartmentalize information, as would be expected with interidentity amnesia. The cross-modal nature of the test makes it unlikely that memory transfer was implicit. These findings demonstrate that subjective reports of interidentity amnesia are not necessarily corroborated by objective tests of explicit memory transfer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-692
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Volume117
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2008

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Keywords

  • amnesia
  • dissociative identity disorder
  • memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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