Actress Shares Her Multiple Personality Disorder Diagnosis

dissociative identity disorder

 

“You’ll see me just show up with a black wig and a new personality. I was this tough little baddy, and then I’d be the Bohemian flower child.” That’s how actress AnnaLynne McCord, perhaps best known for her work on Nip/Tuck and 90210, described her history with multiple personality disorder in a session with Daniel Amen, MD, a psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and founder of Amen Clinics.

 

In an effort to destigmatize mental health problems, AnnaLynne agreed to let her session with Dr. Amen be filmed and talked candidly about having a split personality, which is currently referred to as dissociative identity disorder.

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER (DID)

In her session with Dr. Amen, AnnaLynne openly talked about her experiences with multiple personalities, including gaps in her memory, which is one of the most common dissociative identity disorder symptoms.

In general, common symptoms of dissociative identity disorder include:

  • Gaps in autobiographical memory (everyday events and past traumatic events)
  • Inability to recall certain personal information
  • The existence of two or more distinct identities (know as “splits,” “alters,” or “personality states”)
  • Headaches
  • Loss of time
  • Trances
  • Out-of-body experiences

The distinct identities may have different names, temperaments, and self-image. These distressing symptoms tend to cause problems in other areas of life, including in relationships and at work or school.

AnnaLynne had been diagnosed with DID prior to her visit to Amen Clinics. She thinks that being an actress played a role in her ability to split. “All of my roles were splits, but I didn’t even realize I was doing it at all until I did a project 90210,” she says of the show she was on for 5 years. For that role, she played a popular high schooler.

During a hiatus from the series, she acted in an independent film call Excision, where she played a very different character. “I played a very cerebral, disturbed, strange little girl that was very close to who I feel I am on the inside. It was very exposing, very confronting, probably a bit retraumatizing without realizing it,” she says. “The crazy thing about it was that I wrapped that film at 2 AM on a Tuesday and had to be happy, crazy Beverly Hills blonde bombshell on Wednesday at noon. I couldn’t find her, she was not accessible. I was dark, I was very deep into this character Pauline and I couldn’t get [out].”

For many people who struggle with dissociative identity disorder, they remain unaware of their alters or splits. Not so for AnnaLynne. She recalls times when she was “co-conscious” of her true self and the split she was at age 13 that she calls “little Anna.” “She was a balls to the wall, middle fingers to the sky, anarchist from hell who will stab you with the spike ring that she wears, and you’ll like it. Then she’ll make you lick the blood from it,” she says. “She was a nasty little creature, but I have so much gratitude to her because she got me out of the hell that I was in.”

That hell was childhood sexual trauma.

WHAT CAUSES DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER?

Prolonged childhood trauma—physical, emotional, or sexual abuse—is believed to be the primary cause of dissociative identity disorder. Childhood sexual abuse is commonly seen in people with a dissociative identity disorder. In a Canadian study on 102 cases of multiple personality disorder, researchers found that 90% of the individuals had been sexually abused as children, 84% had been physically abused, and 95% had been subjected to one or both forms of abuse. Over half of those abused said their initial sexual or physical trauma started prior to the age of 5.

Prolonged childhood trauma—physical, emotional, or sexual abuse—is believed to be the primary cause of dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality disorder). Click To Tweet

AnnaLynne has said publicly that being raped at age 18 triggered memories of child sexual abuse. “I don’t have anything until around 5. Then from 5 to 11, I recount incidents throughout,” she says. “Then when I was 13, I have a singled-out memory that was one thing, but I don’t have the sense of anything else at that time.”

MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES AND THE BRAIN

According to Dr. Amen, the brain is the key to the development of dissociative identity disorder. Low blood flow to the front part of the brain, which AnnaLynne’s brain SPECT scan revealed, is involved. The frontal lobes are the brain’s brake. When activity is low in this region and you’ve had intense childhood sexual trauma, people may split as a way to manage it.

Head trauma can also be a contributing factor. AnnaLynne experienced a couple of car accidents that caused whiplash. As Dr. Amen has explained to tens of thousands of patients at Amen Clinics, head trauma is one of the primary causes of mental illness, but few people know it because traditional psychiatry doesn’t look at the brain. Functional brain SPECT imaging changes that.

AnnaLynne’s SPECT scan showed low activity in the back of her brain too, which is commonly seen in people who have experienced whiplash. Healing the brain with natural therapies, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), nutraceuticals, and a brain healthy diet can help.

OVERCOMING STIGMA RELATED TO MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER

There are many myths about multiple personality disorders, which increase stigma and prevent people with this misunderstood mental health issue from seeking treatment. AnnaLynne is determined to change that.

“I am absolutely uninterested in shame,” she says. “There is nothing about my journey that I invite shame into anymore, and that’s how we get to the point where we can articulate the nature of these pervasive traumas and stuff, as horrible as they are.”

By sharing her session with Dr. Amen, she is hoping to increase awareness about dissociative disorder and childhood sexual trauma so other people don’t need to suffer in silence.

Dissociative identity disorder, childhood sexual trauma, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

12 Comments »

  1. Working with business leaders for the past 35 years, I cannot understand why we don’t better explore the mysteries and potential of our own brains. It is a paradox or curious corner we have painted ourselves into.

    Comment by Dennis Alimena — April 7, 2021 @ 3:40 AM

  2. If you do not have insurance, what are the fees for getting your head scanned by Dr. Ayman I have been following you for over a year and a half and would love to have this done but we have no insurance and I would be interested in knowing what the fees would be to get checked

    Comment by Colleen — April 7, 2021 @ 7:23 AM

  3. Neurotherapy is also a way to heal traumatic brain injury. All these combined with psychotherapy is a great start to a healing journey! Thank you for this, please continue to speak without shame for something you did not cause!

    Comment by Gail — April 7, 2021 @ 7:50 AM

  4. Hi I’ve been in several car a accidents with whiplash head an knock injuries!! Also tramatic childhood verbal abuse emotional abuse physical abuse abandonment!! My Father was a full blown Alcoholic mean raging hitting verbal disdainment!! And I left home at 18 when I moved in with a boyfriend and he was a drinker an smoked pot did crank behind my back as he worked out of town alot!! He is a Milignant Nassacist phychopath I always knew he was Nassacitic but not to the degree he was he hit me verbally assaulted me sexually assaulted me controlled me an had no empathy for me he thought he owned me!! Divorced him twice tried to run by joining the Airforce due to medical issue didnt work out!! 2020 the Covid tragedy he went off his rocker and cheated again no remorse and just dumped me like a piece of common garbage!! So her I sit depressed anxious tremble triggered unsettled feel paralyzed at times like I cant move Iam in trauma therapy but advancing has open up a can off whoopsass of the trauma to the point it becomes debilitating at times an the rage an anger I feel scared me at times!! I feel like a walking dead person at times like a zombie!! Like Iam here but not really here in the now!! Knowing the details off the abuse makes sense but does not change the internal feelings emotions an distress I feel like right now I feel the height or flight overwhelming me just typing this!! Iam on Lexapro 20mg which feels like a boost but not real saratonen dopamine firing but overwhelming feeling of dread!! I can be very impulsive shopping cleaning critical off my body Iam fat I am ugly Iam burned 85% of my body wrinkles hair falling out dry skin stomach an bowel issues an my emotions are all over the place!! Cognitively I have bad self talk cant like or Love myself feel empty an why am I here!! 59 yrs old trying to put the pieces off my shattered life back together!! My Question is how do I heal ???? How do I regain my life sense of purpose??? Sense of self??? It’s been a hard journey no frills and he my ex did a number on me!! Including trying to make me crazy an even tried to shoot me twice!! So I also live in fear off him he is diabolical Milignant Narrsasist phychopath!! No help from law!! It’s as if hes stolen my sole an I cant get it back!! Where do I find HELP???? He gas even turned my children against me!! Thank you Dr. AMEN!!!???

    Comment by Dawn McGill — April 7, 2021 @ 10:39 AM

  5. She is exactly like me. Sexual abuse from memory at age 5

    Comment by Nanvi Carter Stewart — April 7, 2021 @ 10:42 AM

  6. I have been involved with two women, years apart. They constantly had me on eggshells, and it was dangerous. The personality you fall in love with eventually gets replaced by the ones who are set up as their protectors who see everything as a threat.

    Comment by Luke — April 7, 2021 @ 11:50 AM

  7. If you are going to try and decrease stigma, PLEASE stop calling it split personality or Multiple personality disorder. That is not what it is. If you must , state “formerly known as” but do NOT PERPETUATE inaccurate verbage because it only serves to perpetuate inaccurate associations. I am disappointed in the Amen clinic for this article for this reason. It’s about as accurate as United States of Tara. What needs to be highlighted is that it is a trauma response and that these are alternate states of consciousness. Using old terminology reinforces the idea this is axis II, not axis I, and that people with this condition are dangerous. I understand you want attention grabbing headline. What about, what does a brain with severe childhood abuse and severe dissociation look like? Or something like that? You can do better, Amen Clinic. Do better. Be better.

    Comment by Ann Alton — April 7, 2021 @ 7:50 PM

  8. Treating Multiples as a neurochemical imbalance due to trauma… Misses the Point.

    Someone with DiD, if they have Alters that are variations on their own Younger Selves is one thing. But with true Multiples, you can’t ‘explain’ their ‘condition’ as a behavioral pattern, or an anomaly. They are distinct and discrete, and are not mere ‘personalities’ as defined as ‘illusions’ or ‘made up’ attempts at getting attention. They are Separate Individuals. And I have had way too much experience with Both kinds of DiD ‘individuals.’ And yes, the trigger to the knowing of the Others Inside, can often come late in life, although the ‘signs’ are obvious to the experienced ‘observer.’

    Comment by Robin — April 7, 2021 @ 9:46 PM

  9. The comment above from “Luke” unfortunately further perpetuates the stigma and the misinformation about DID. The experience he had in prior relationships with women with DID does NOT represent ALL relationships with ALL people with this condition. The personalities HE fell in love with were replaced by personalities who were “Protectors” and “dangerous” . Most of us with DID are not “dangerous” to others at all, and in fact are much more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators. I have DID . I also have enjoyed a very successful career, raised two amazing children, have many close and satisfying relationships, and have had close and healthy romantic relationships as well. No one in my personal life has any clue that I have DID. They may notice that some days I am more upbeat and outgoing, and other days I am more quiet and reserved. Sometimes I may seem a little “spacy” and might forget something we just talked about two days ago….but a lot of people have memory glitches when they are busy or stressed, right? In other words, to most observers, I look like everyone else. Good days and bad days. Happy moods and somber moods. Sometimes playful, sometimes serious. Just like everyone else. It is not fair, helpful or accurate to ascribe certain negative characteristics to all people with DID any more than it is fair or accurate to say all people from certain ethnic groups are bad drivers, or all people with red hair have bad tempers. We are just people- a little more complex on the inside than others, but in many ways not so different from all the other humans on the planet.

    Comment by Lucy — April 8, 2021 @ 11:12 AM

  10. I found out through counseling that I was conceived in violence. My father was drunk, he came home to a very sick wife (fever, flu) wanted to engage sexuallly, she did not because was unwell. He forced himself on her and I was conceived. From what Holy Spirit told me, my birth was traumatic, confirmed by my sister who learned about it from my mother. Then at 4, my father came in drunk from the outside, came into my room went on top of me and raped me. Somehow my sister who shared the room was unaware of this (?) Apparently I told my mother, she freaked out when I told her and left the room in haste. My mother told me I was so much like her mother (with shom she did not get along) that she chose not to get along with me until the last year of her life when we finally had a positive, friendly conversation. When I was around 6-8, I would leave my brother’s room which was up steep stairs and lose my footing and tumble downstairs after that a number of times. My ability to learn was non-existent. My ability to read was seriously impaired. When I was in my early 20’s someone gave me a New Testament. Next day, I looked up to the sky and said, whoever you are, you wrote this so you can help me comprehend what I read; otherwise it will be black letters on a white page. As I read the words, meaning began to be experienced, I continued to read and I began to picture what I was reading. God revealed Himself to me while I read. I shook for three days because the Creator made contact with me. The word of God has become an instrument of healing for me. I cannot read more than a few chapters of a book in a setting, my brain becomes too tired, but I enjoy reading now! As a child, we moved 6 weeks into the school year into a very unfriendly school. No one befriended me. In my loneliness I decided to create friends in my mind, this lasted into my 20’s when Holy Spirit requested me to surrender my friends to Him so He could occupy those places and become my closest friend (which He has done). (I’m now in my 70’s) God has been my healer and the restorer of my soul in many ways for which I am deeply grateful. He enables me to get through whatever difficulty (seemingly unbearable) with His help and reliable companionship (invaluable).

    Comment by Judith Grominger — April 8, 2021 @ 2:27 PM

  11. My son N G Griffith had a brain scan 11/8/2016. In the California clinic
    We did not know he had DID at that time and was later diagnosed by his therapist, but he had been diagnosed as bipolar. He became a serious drug addict but we never got the help I think we should have at that time. He has had serious sexual trauma as a child and later in teens and is now again in a state hospital and his doctor does not know what to do for him and had never seen anyone like him.

    Comment by Linda Griffith — April 8, 2021 @ 5:36 PM

  12. Hello Linda, thank you for reaching out and sharing this with us. If you’re interested in a follow-up consultation or evaluation for your son, we’d be happy to discuss options with you. Our Care Coordinators can be reached here: https://www.amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — April 9, 2021 @ 1:34 PM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Have a Question?