OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to describe the phenomenology of
multiple personality disorder as presented in a group of Dutch patients.
METHOD: Seventy-one patients with multiple personality disorder were
interviewed with the Dutch version of the Structured Clinical Interview for
DSM-III-R Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D); following the SCID-D, the
Structured Trauma Interview was administered. Before the interview,
patients completed the Dissociative Experiences Scale. RESULTS: The
presenting characteristics of the patients showed a striking resemblance to
those in several large North American series. Patients had spent an average
of 8.2 years in the mental health system prior to correct diagnosis.
Patients presented with many different symptoms and frequently received
other psychiatric or neurological diagnoses. A history of childhood
physical and/or sexual abuse was reported by 94.4% of the subjects, and
80.6% met criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder. CONCLUSIONS: Patients
with multiple personality disorder have a stable set of core symptoms
throughout North America as well as in Europe. To improve the detection of
patients at high risk for multiple personality disorder, standardized
instruments for inquiry about dissociative pathology should be used as part
of routine diagnostic assessment.