Difference Between DID and Schizophrenia

Main Difference – DID vs Schizophrenia

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and Schizophrenia are two personality disorders which are often confused by many health care professionals, due to the several common clinical features they share. However, the main difference between DID and Schizophrenia is that DID is a condition where a person’s identity is fragmented into two or more distinct personalities whereas Schizophrenia is a brain disease that may include delusions, loss of personality, confusion, agitation, social withdrawal and psychosis.

In order to get a clear understanding on how DID and Schizophrenia differentiate from one another, in this article, we are going to discuss,

1. What is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – The Characteristic Features, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Method

2. What is Schizophrenia – The Characteristic Features, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Method

3. What is the Difference Between DID and Schizophrenia


Difference Between DID and Schizophrenia - DID vs Schizophrenia Comparison Summary

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Previously known as Multiple personality disorder, DID is defined as a complex psychological condition with at least two split or distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated states of personality which are alternatively seen in an individual’s behavior, accompanied by an impairment of memory, specifically on important information but without the association of an ordinary forgetful nature.

With an incidence of 0.1% to 1% in the general population, DID is caused by various etiological factors like severe trauma during early childhood and extreme repetitive physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Individuals affected by this condition will have fragmented identities and characteristics regarding their own history, identification, and mannerism. They also have their own way of gestures, postures and behavioral patterns depending on the culture, race, and ethnicity.

The three characteristic features which distinguish DID from other personality disorders include, “alters” or different identities (age, sex, or race, etc.), “switching” where each personality will reveal itself and take control over individual behaviors and thoughts and “dissociation” which is a phenomenon, where the particular person will start feeling detached from the external environment around them. They will also have unexplainable gaps in the memory or hardships in recalling things they have done previously in life.

DID is a condition which often goes undiagnosed due to its unclear signs and symptoms , and therefore it is important to be aware of the above features in order to seek medical advice when necessary.

Even if there is no permanent cure, long-term treatment modalities including psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and adjunctive therapies are known to play major roles in managing affected patients. It is also important to treat underlying mental conditions like depression and anxiety if diagnosed.

Main Difference - DID vs Schizophrenia

What is Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe brain disorder which affects an individual’s way of thinking, emotions, and behavioral patterns. People suffering from Schizophrenia appear as if they have lost touch with the reality. Schizophrenia can also result in various disabilities in the affected individual. However, this medical condition is quite rare among the general population.

Symptoms of the condition usually appear around the age of 16-30 and patients will often experience three types of signs and symptoms known as, positive, negative and cognitive.

Positive symptoms refer to symptoms that are not seen in healthy individuals; they include hallucinations, delusions, dysfunctional thinking patterns and agitated bodily movements. People who experience this kind of symptoms will appear as if they are living in some other imaginary world.

Negative symptoms refer to disturbed emotions and behavior which can include flat effect (reduced facial expressions and tone of the voice), low mood and energy, difficulty in initiating and maintaining activities and disturbed speech. However, patients can either experience all these symptoms or just one or two.

Cognitive symptoms are very subtle features, seen in schizophrenic patients. They can cause disruptions in memory and thoughts. Commonly identified symptoms include poor executive functions (limited ability to analyze thoughts and rational thinking), difficulty in maintaining attention for a long time and issues in terms of working memory (poor ability to use information, learned immediately).

Schizophrenia cannot be cured completely since it is a lifelong condition, but the symptoms can be treated accordingly. As far as the treatment methods for Schizophrenia are concerned, many patients will respond to antipsychotics, psychosocial therapeutic sessions, and coordinated specialty care (CSC) – a newly introduced intervention which integrates drug therapy, psychosocial therapy, supportive measures, educating the family and case management. CSC mainly targets on the symptomatic improvement and enhanced quality of life.

Difference Between DID and Schizophrenia

Difference Between DID and Schizophrenia

There are several aspects which differentiate DID from Schizophrenia. These aspects include symptoms, identity confusion and disturbances, hallucinations and functional impairment.

Frequency of Signs and Symptoms

DID: DID has periodically occurring signs and symptoms which change rapidly along with mood swings and memory impairment.

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia has a continuous phase of disturbing signs, lasting for at least 6 months.

Dissociative Symptoms

DID: DID has recurrent and persistent dissociative symptoms ranging from moderate-severe in nature.

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia includes isolated symptoms taking place in the context of bizarre delusions and psychotic symptoms.

Psychotic Symptoms

DID: DID doesn’t indicate any psychotic symptoms.

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia develops confusion, catatonic behavior and chronic flat affect presenting with no or very fewer emotions.

Identity Confusion

DID: Affected individuals tend to experience consistent and recurrent changes in identity.

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenic people will experience a lack of insight and knowledge about their social identity and role in the community.


DID: DID patients are more likely to experience auditory hallucinations.

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia tends to develop more visual hallucinations.

Functional Impairment

DID: DID involves disruptions of functional ability which is usually temporary; the patients may eventually return to a full premorbid level of functioning.

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia affects one or more areas of functioning including work, interpersonal, relations or self-care which are markedly below the level achieved prior to the onset.

Image Courtesy:

“Schizofrenia – Schizophrenia” by SeleneNera (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

“dissociative identity disorder 1” by hunnnterrr (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music