Inter-identity amnesia in dissociative identity disorder resolved: A behavioural and neurobiological study

Lora I. Dimitrova, Andrew J. Lawrence, Eline M. Vissia, Sima Chalavi, Andreana F. Kakouris, Dick J. Veltman, Antje A. T. S. Reinders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is characterised by, among others, subjectively reported inter-identity amnesia, reflecting compromised information transfer between dissociative identity states. Studies have found conflicting results regarding memory transfer between dissociative identity states. Here, we investigated inter-identity amnesia in individuals with DID using self-relevant, subject specific stimuli, and behavioural and neural measures. Methods: Data of 46 matched participants were included; 14 individuals with DID in a trauma-avoidant state, 16 trauma-avoiding DID simulators, and 16 healthy controls. Reaction times and neural activation patterns related to three types of subject specific words were acquired and statistically analysed, namely non-self-relevant trauma-related words (NSt), self-relevant trauma-related words from a trauma-avoidant identity state (St), and trauma-related words from a trauma-related identity state (XSt). Results: We found no differences in reaction times between XSt and St words and faster reaction times for XSt over NSt. Reaction times of the diagnosed DID group were the longest. Increased brain activation to XSt words was found in the frontal and parietal regions, while decreased brain activity was found in the anterior cingulate cortex in the diagnosed DID group. Discussion: The current study reproduces and amalgamates previous behavioural reports as well as brain activation patterns. Our finding of increased cognitive control over self-relevant trauma-related knowledge processing has important clinical implications and calls for the redefinition of “inter-identity amnesia” to “inter-identity avoidance”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-229
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2024


  • Dissociation
  • Memory
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Simulation

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