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The differences between schizophrenia, bipolarity and dissociative personality

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In psychology it is very easy to get confused concepts, since many times the categories used to classify mental phenomena have fuzzy limits. In addition, if you do not have much training in this field of science, it is easy to be left with doubts about what a definition refers to patterns of behavior, something abstract.

In this article we will see what they are the differences between bipolarity, schizophrenia and dissociative personality (or dissociative personality disorder), words that do not mean the same thing although they refer to a kind of division between the psychological elements of a person.

  • Related article: "What is schizophrenia? Symptoms and Treatments"

Definition of each psychological concept

To understand how we can distinguish between these concepts used in clinical psychology and psychiatry, we must first have a definition (albeit a basic one) about these terms. Let's get to it.

What is bipolarity and bipolar disorder?

Bipolarity is a broad and unofficial concept that refers to bipolar disorder

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, a diagnostic label that is official as it appears in the main mental health diagnostic manuals.

In summary, we can say that bipolar disorder is a mood disorder in the that without the person intending or being able to control it, stages of depression occur, on the one hand, and stages of mania in which the mood rises very high and becomes expansive.

Although there are different types of bipolar disorder, the most "pure" concept of this refers to what happens to a person who for several days in a row you are deeply unmotivated, very sad, and even unable to feel pleasure, and then suddenly you become several days in a row feeling a kind of very intense euphoria and beliefs that any goal can be achieved (almost literally, and with all the dangers that this implies).

Bipolar disorder is a serious impairment of mental health in which there is a high risk of suicide attempts or being exposed to very dangerous situations, and also many times the changes Drastic moods can appear along with distortions in the perception of things, such as delusions and even hallucinations

  • You may be interested: "Bipolar Disorder: 10 characteristics and curiosities that you did not know"

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a clinical concept linked to serious disturbances of the most basic mental processes, and is related to psychotic symptoms characterized by a serious alteration of the perception and the performance of anomalous conducts and that many times suppose to be exposed to dangers.

The ways in which schizophrenia expresses itself are so varied that even it has been debated whether it is really a single clinical entity or several with little relation to each other as for its causes.

For example, in some cases delusions and hallucinations appear together with an inability to communicate in an organized way, other times the psychotic symptoms of perception are combined with catatonic stupor and loss of consciousness, and in many cases all this is combined with a strange way of expressing emotions (sometimes it seems that you do not have emotions, sometimes emotions do not correspond to what you are going).

  • You may be interested: "Delusions: what are they, types and differences with hallucinations"

What is dissociative personality?

Dissociative personality refers to what is known as dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder.

It is a diagnostic category that is highly controversial because there are very few documented cases of it and therefore it has not been able to be studied very much, and furthermore its symptoms have not been described in a very consistent.

In general terms, dissociative identity disorder is associated with symptoms such as inability to recall certain experiences at certain times but not at others, the sensation of decomposition of one's own personality and the flow of time.

In addition, dissociative identity disorder usually appears in people who have had traumatic experiences, which has fueled the idea that it is part of a way of dealing with memories that cannot be accepted or experienced without suffering a great stress. But this is just a hypothesis.

Differences between schizophrenia, bipolarity and dissociative personality

With what we have seen so far, we can begin to understand what the differences are between dissociative personality, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

1. Bipolar disorder is based on emotions

Although bipolar disorder can go hand in hand with hallucinations and delusions, what characterizes it are the alternations between very extreme moods, and that is why it falls under the category of mood disorders.

On the other hand, in most cases people with bipolar disorder have no problem communicating consistently (Although sometimes they may choose not to speak due to the lack of motivation and energy of the depressive stage).

2. In dissociative identity the key is memory

In the definitions of dissociative identity disorder, disturbances in the experience of memories are the central element.

This means that in most cases an inability to remember events is described, and sometimes even reference is made to a "compartmentalized" memory, as if in the same body there were several people capable of accessing memories that no one else can access.

Of course, in reality this absolute division between remembered content does not exist as such, and is only apparent.

3. Schizophrenia is not limited to emotions or memory

Another difference between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and dissociative identity disorder is that the former has a much larger variety of symptom types that go beyond emotional and memory locks.

4. In each case the "division" in the psychological processes is different

In these after concepts appears the idea that there is a division between psychological processes.

In bipolar disorder, this division occurs with the qualitative change from one emotional state to another.

In dissociative identity, changes occur when some memories become blocked and when others become accessible.

And in schizophrenia, it seems that it is the psychological processes themselves that are separated from each other, and not their contents: the emotional part sometimes does not correspond to the processes of perception of the environment, the latter do not correspond to the functioning of the senses, etc.

On the other hand, it is not typical of schizophrenia to go through stages in which symptoms appear together for several days followed and then move on to another phase in which another group of totally different symptoms appear, as happens with the disorder bipolar.

Bibliographic references:

  • Ali, A. (2016). Schizophrenia, Symptoms, Types, Causes, and Treatment. OnHealth
  • Lilienfeld, S. O., and Lynn, S. J. (2014). Dissociative identity disorder: a contemporary scientific perspective. Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology, 2nd Ed., Eds S. OR. Lilienfeld, S. J. Lynn, and J. M. Lohr. New York: Guilford Press).
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