Background. Although included in the current edition of the DSM, there does not seem to be consensus among mental health professionals regarding the diagnostic status and scientific validity of dissociative identity disorder (DID). This study was aimed at the detection of simulation of inter-identity amnesia in DID.
Method. A sample of 22 DID patients was included, together with a matched control sample of subjects instructed to simulate inter-identity amnesia, a guessor group that had no knowledge of the stimulus material and a normal control group. A multiple-choice recognition test was included. The rate of incorrect answers was determined. Moreover, the specific simulation strategy used was examined by providing subjects with a range of choices that varied in extent of disagreement with the correct answer and determining whether plausible or implausible answer alternatives were selected.
Results. On the recognition test DID patients selected incorrect answers above chance like simulators. Patients thus seem to use their knowledge of the correct answer in determining their given answer. They were not characterized by a well-thought-out simulating behaviour style, as indicated by the differences in selection of specific answer alternatives found between patients and simulators.
Conclusions. DID patients were found not to be characterized by an actual memory retrieval inability, in contrast to their subjective reports. Instead, it is suggested that DID may more accurately be considered a disorder characterized by meta-memory problems, holding incorrect beliefs about their own memory functioning.