The sociocognitive model of dissociative identity disorder: a reexamination of the evidence

Psychol Bull. 1996 Jul;120(1):42-59. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.120.1.42.


According to the sociocognitive model of dissociative identity disorder (DID; formerly, multiple personality disorder), DID is not a valid psychiatric disorder of posttraumatic origin; rather, it is a creation of psychotherapy and the media. Support for the model was recently presented by N.P. Spanos (1994). In this article, the author reexamines the evidence for the model and concludes that it is based on numerous false assumptions about the psychopathology, assessment, and treatment of DID. Most recent research on the dissociative disorders does not support (and in fact disconfirms) the sociocognitive model, and many inferences drawn from previous research appear unwarranted. No reason exists to doubt the connection between DID and childhood trauma. Treatment recommendations that follow from the sociocognitive model may be harmful because they involve ignoring the posttraumatic symptomatology of persons with DID.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology*
  • Dissociative Disorders / therapy
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder / psychology*
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Development
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Environment*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy