How many people have a dissociative identity disorder?

The incidence of dissociative disorders

Depression, anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses are discussed relatively frequently in the media. On the other hand, one reads and hears relatively little about dissociative disorders. One could therefore assume that dissociative disorders are rare mental illnesses.

That would be a fallacy, however, because dissociative disorders are very common and much more common than is commonly assumed. Numerous studies have examined the frequency of dissociative disorders. In the following I would like to give you an overview of how common dissociative disorders are.

Dissociative disorders - an estimated 4 million people are affected in Germany

There are a number of studies examining the incidence of dissociative disorders in the general population (e.g. Vanderlinden et al., Ross et al., Johnson et al. And Seedat et al). Most of these studies come from the USA, Canada and the Netherlands. According to the studies, the average frequency of dissociative disorders in the general population is around 5 percent, which means that around one in twenty is affected by a dissociative disorder.

Although none of the studies investigated the frequency of dissociative disorders in Germany, the results of the studies from the USA, Canada and the Netherlands should - at least roughly - be transferable to Germany.

If the study results are transferred to the German population, an estimated 4 million people in Germany would be affected by dissociative disorders.

For the three largest German cities, the number of people affected would then be as follows:

  • Berlin: around 170,000 people affected
  • Hamburg: approx. 85,000 people affected
  • Munich: approx. 70,000 people affected

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DIS) affects around 1 million people in Germany

Dissociative identity disorder (also known as multiple personality disorder) is the dissociative disorder with the most pronounced dissociative symptoms. Affected persons have at least two split off (dissociated) personality parts. As a rule, there are 8-10 different personality components, in some cases even over 100. In Germany, around 1 million people are affected by dissociative identity disorder.

Frequency in patients in inpatient psychiatric treatment

The incidence of dissociative disorders is even higher in patients in inpatient psychiatric treatment than in the general population. Dissociative disorders occur in around 10 percent of patients. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is found in approximately 5 percent of patients.