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AnnaLynne McCord, who appeared in Nip/Tuck and 90210, revealed that she was recently diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. In a new interview, she shared some details about what her life is like with the disorder and why she wants to reduce the stigma around it.
“I had definitive splits. In my history, you see me just show up with a black wig and a new personality,” McCord told Daniel Amen, M.D., founder of the Amen Clinics, in a video interview. “Being an actress, all of my roles were splits,” she said, but she didn’t realize what was happening until she acted in the independent horror movie Excision.
“I played a very cerebral, disturbed, strange little girl that was very close to who I feel I am on the inside,” she explained. She described the experience as exposing and confronting, but also a bit healing. “I wrapped that film at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday and had to be happy, crazy Beverly Hills blonde bombshell on Wednesday at noon,” she said. “I couldn’t find her, she was not accessible. I was dark, I was very deep into this character, Pauline, and I couldn’t get [out].”
McCord also recalled spending a good chunk of her life as “the split I was when I was 13 and on,” who was a “balls to the wall, middle fingers to the sky, anarchist from hell,” she said. ”She was a nasty little creature, but I have so much gratitude to her because she got me out of the hell that I was in.”
Dissociative identity disorder (DID), once known as multiple personality disorder, is still often misunderstood. Along with dissociative amnesia and depersonalization/derealization disorder, DID is one of three types of dissociative disorders, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) explains. Dissociative disorders may cause feelings of detachment from your body or the world around you, or like your body or surroundings aren’t real.
The defining characteristic of DID is that patients experience two or more distinct identities or personality states (what McCord calls “splits”), which each come with changes in behavior, thinking, and memory, the APA says. The changes in personality states tend to happen suddenly and involuntarily. People with DID might also experience memory gaps about their day-to-day life or traumatic events in their past.
Dissociative disorders often develop as a way for that person to deal with intense trauma, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says, such as long-term abuse. Previously, McCord told People that she was sexually assaulted as a teenager. And she told Dr. Amen that this traumatic experience brought back other memories of being sexually assaulted in childhood, but that she still has gaps in her memory from that time period. She also told Dr. Amen that she had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that she experienced waves of depression and mania. But ultimately a diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder felt right.
But the way movies and TV portray people with DID usually isn’t accurate (for one thing, they are frequently shown as violent villains). This contributes to misconceptions around the disorder and the stigma that prevents people from seeking and getting the help they need. “The way this is talked about, there’s just so much shame. And I am absolutely uninterested in shame. There is nothing about my journey that I invite shame into anymore,” McCord said in the new interview. “That’s how we get to the point where we can articulate the nature of these pervasive traumas and stuff, as horrible as they are.”