Difference between Bipolar and Multiple Personality Disorder
By Theydiffer - November 17, 2015

Bipolar disorder and multiple personality disorder are sometimes confused with each other, even though they have almost nothing in common from the medical point of view. We will explore the differences between the two disorders further in this article.


Getty Images/DigitalVision/Leonard Mc Lane

Bipolar disorder is sometimes referred to as a manic-depressive disorder due to the characteristic alternation between periods of turbulent activity which might be called mania, and periods of depressive state. Individuals suffering from bipolar disorder experience both manic and depressive “stage” for significant periods of time. These stages may last up to several months. Usually, during the manic phase, a bipolar individual feels he possesses the unlimited energy which allows him to perform a number of tasks a human being normally wouldn’t be able to perform, both physically and mentally. The manic phase is followed by the depressive phase, during which a person suffering from bipolar disorder slips into the long lasting period of apathy. In the depressive stage one experiences low energy levels accompanied by low self-esteem and inability to perform even simple tasks, let alone grandiose ones he thought he could perform during the manic phase. A depressive phase may be viewed as the flip side of a manic phase.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

A manic phase:

  • Exaggerated feelings of self-importance
  • Unfocused thoughts and ideas
  • Decreased sleep levels
  • Constant “brainstorm”
  • A person is easily irritated
  • Unusual activity levels
  • Poor appetite

A depressive phase:

  • A feeling of overwhelming sadness
  • Decreased interest in pleasurable things
  • Anxious thoughts and dim future prospects
  • Decreased energy levels
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Self-harming behavior 

Getty Images/Moment/Javier Zayas Photography

Multiple personality disorder is known among professional psychiatrists as dissociative identity disorder. An individual suffering from it honestly believes that he possesses more than one self. The common feature of multiple personality disorder is an ongoing “dialogue” between these several identities. One of the reasons these identities emerge is the need to help solve issues in one’s life that the primary identity is not able to solve on its own. These false identities take distinct shape and have a steady set of features. For example, a shy lecturer may feel anxiety, stress and “stage fright” when talking to an audience. The second identity, “an experienced professor” identity substitutes the primary shy identity and makes the task of talking to the audience feasible. Multiple personality disorder is quite uncommon and it is barely understood by modern medicine.

Symptoms of multiple personality disorder include:

  • Impaired sense of time
  • Inability to recall even basic personal information
  • A feeling that one doesn’t know where one is at the particular moment
  • Poor  communication skills
  • An ongoing dispute between several “voices inside”

Comparison chart

Bipolar DisorderMultiple Personality Disorder
Self-identity is normalSelf-identity is split between a number of identities
The depression is the integral part of the illnessThe depression is secondary to the illness
Men are more frequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder than are womenWomen are more frequently diagnosed with multiple personality disorder than are men
Many famous personalities are diagnosed with bipolar disorderThere are only few renowned artists diagnosed with multiple personality disorder

Bipolar Disorder vs Multiple Personality Disorder

What is the difference between Bipolar Disorder and Multiple Personality Disorder?

  • Persons with bipolar disorder do not have problems with self-identity. On the other hand, people with multiple personality disorder have issues with self-identity which is split between several identities.
  • The state of depression is one of the two alternating phases of bipolar disorder. People with multiple personality disorder, on the other hand, are not depressed initially. Their energy levels are normal. However, sometimes they may become depressed for a significant period of time, but this depressed state is secondary, meaning that it originates in the inability to cope with the core disorder.
  • Men are more frequently diagnosed with bipolar disorder than are women. On the other hand, women, conversely, are more frequently diagnosed with multiple personality disorder than are men. Besides, diagnosed women usually have more “personalities” than diagnosed men have.
  • Bipolar disorder is quite a common mental illness among renowned artists. Among famous people that have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder are actors Steven Fry, Mel Gibson, Marilyn Monroe and Vivien Leigh; writers Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway; performers Frank Sinatra, Lou Reed and Nina Simon. On the other hand, there are only a few artists who have been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder for the reason that the creation of art requires concentration and focusing of creative energy – the qualities that multiple personality people lack.