AnnaLynne McCord has revealed she has dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously and commonly known as multiple personality disorder.
Earlier this month, the 33-year-old actress first discussed her DID diagnosis in a candid session with Dr. Daniel Amen – a psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and the founder of Amen Clinics. McCord agreed to let the session be filmed in an effort to destigmatize mental health problems.
Known for playing vixen-type roles, McCord first gained prominence as the scheming Eden Lord on the FX medical melodrama, Nip/Tuck. She described her history with DID as follows: "You'll see me just show up with a black wig and a new personality. I was this tough, little baddy. And then I'd be the Bohemian flower child."
Two of the most prominent symptoms of DID are gaps in autobiographical memory (such as everyday events and past traumatic events), and the existence of two or more distinct identities (know as "splits," "alters" or "personality states") in one person. McCord has experience with both.
Having been diagnosed with DID prior to her chat with Amen, she told the psychiatrist she believes her being an actress actually contributed to her ability to split.
"All of my roles were splits, but I didn't even realize I was doing it at all until I did a project, 90210," she explained of her five-year stint playing popular high schooler Naomi Clark in the reboot of one of the most definitive television shows of the 1990s.
During a hiatus from the series, McCord channeled her acting skills into an independent film called Excision, in which she played "a very cerebral, disturbed, strange little girl that was very close to who I feel I am on the inside."
"It was very exposing, very confronting, probably a bit retraumatizing without realizing it," she said. "The crazy thing about it was that I wrapped that film at 2 AM on a Tuesday and had to be [a] happy, crazy Beverly Hills blonde bombshell on Wednesday at noon. 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]."
Many people who struggle with DID are unaware of their alters or splits, but McCord is not one of those people. She told Amen she can recall being 13 years old and being "co-conscious" of her true self and the split she called "little Anna."
"She was a balls-to-the-wall, middle-fingers-to-the-sky anarchist from hell who will stab you with the spike ring that she wears, and you'll like it," the actress explained. "Then she'll make you lick the blood from it. 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."
And that hell, according to McCord, was prolonged childhood sexual abuse – a trauma believed to be the primary cause of DID. McCord explained that being raped at the age of 18 actually triggered those childhood memories.
"I don't have anything until around [age] 5. Then from [ages] 5 to 11, I recount incidents throughout," she said. "Then when I was 13, I have a singled-out memory that was one thing, but I don't have the sense of anything else at that time."
Hoping to destigmatize DID so that others don't feel like they have to suffer in silence, McCord to Amen that she is "absolutely uninterested in shame."
"There is nothing about my journey that I invite shame into anymore," she said, "and 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."