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Multiple Personalities Essay

Essay/Term paper: Multiple personality disorder

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Multiple Personality Disorder

More than two million cases can be found altogether in psychological and psychiatric records of multiple personality disorder also called dissociative identity disorder. It is often thought that multiple personality disorder is a trick, a bizarre form of "play-acting" that is committed by manipulative, attention-seeking individuals. It is not. Multiple personality disorder is a "disorder of hiding" wherein 80-90% of multiple personality disorder patients do not have a clue that they have the disorder. Most know that there is something wrong with them; many fear that they are crazy, but few know that they have a disorder.

What is Multiple Personality Disorder?
Multiple personalities is a dissociate reaction to stress in which the patient develops two or more personalities. Each personality has a distinct, well-developed emotional and thought process and represents a unique and relatively stable personality. The individual may change from one personality to another at periods varying from a few minutes to several years. The personalities are usually very different and have different attitudes; one may be happy, carefree and fun loving, and another quiet, studious, and serious.
People can have up to fifty personalities or more. All personalities usually will have their own name and their own role. For example one personality can be the keeper of pain, his role is to take and feel all the pain that the other personalities come in contact with. The personality also can have their own appearance, but this does not mean the person changes its outer image it is just the way he/she sees inside his/her head. The personalities will also have different ages, talents, and likes and dislikes. For example:
In the novel, The Minds of Billy Miligin, there was a man who had twenty-four personalities. All of his twenty-four personalities were different. They had different ages, their own appearance, and some were of the opposite sex. The personalities all had their own role and their own talents. There was one personality that was right handed all others were left handed, only one smoked, one had a British accent another Slavic. Many used their own talents some liked to paint, one was an escape artist, one was a karate expert and another a sculptor.
Various types of relationships may exist between the different personalities. Usually the individual alternates from one personality to the other, and can not remember in one, what happened in the other. Occasionally however while one personality is dominant and functions consciously, the other continues to function sub-consciously and is referred to the co conscious personality.
Relationships may become highly complicated when there is more than two personalities.
In many cases of multiple personalities the personalities will talk of a spotlight. The spotlight is how they come into the conscious world. All the personalities live around the spotlight whoever stands on it finds himself or herself in the conscious world leaving the other personalities unaware of the personality's actions. This leaves the next personality that comes into consciousness in total amnesia.

Causes of Multiple Personality Disorder
Multiple personality disorder often forms with a person who has been deprived of love and friendship and with a person who has been abused. These people make up friends for themselves, but not just and imaginary friends these friends form there own personalities. These people may also make up other people who are not scared or people, who can not feel pain to turn deal with abuse, which also turn into separate personalities. These people usually deny what is happening and may live their lives without anyone finding out about their disorder.

The degree of vulnerability of the child has a great impact on the amount of personalities the person will have. The typical female multiple has about 19 personalities; male multiples tend to have less that half of that. For example a male multiple from ages 7 to 10 who was sexually abused a half-dozen times by a distant relative is going to have far fewer personalities than a female multiple who was severely physically, sexually, and emotionally abused by both parents from infancy to age 16. The female could easily develop 30 to 50 (+) personalities, even in the hundreds. Although its important to remember that every person is different so there may be some people with many personalities and not that much abuse. Or allot of abuse and not that many personalities.

Some signs that a person has multiple personality disorder are:
1. History of depression or suicidal behavior.

2. Childhood history of physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse... reports one parent was very cold and critical reports of "wonderful" parents by a person who is clearly emotionally troubled.

3. Abusive relationships in adulthood

4. Strong attacks of shame; sees self as bad or undeserving sacrifices self for others feels does not deserve help; is a burden, reluctant to ask for help is sure you do not want to be troubled with seeing him or her

5. Reports being able to turn off pain or "put it out of my mind."

6. Self-mutilation or self-injuring behavior.

7. Hears voices.

8. Flashbacks (visual, auditory, somatic, affective, or behavioral)

9. History of unsuccessful therapy.

10. Multiple past diagnoses (e.g.: major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse).

11. History of shifting symptom picture.

12. Reports of odd changes or variations in physical skills or interests.

13. Described by significant other as having 2 personalities or being a "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde." 14. Family history of dissociation.

15. Phobia or panic attacks.

16. Substance abuse.

17. Daytime enuresis or encopresis.

18. History of psychophysiological symptoms.

19. Seizure-like episodes.

20. History of nightmare and sleep disorders.

21. History of sleepwalking.

22. School problems.

23. Reports psychic experiences.

24. Anorexia or Bulimia.

25. Sexual difficulties.

Cures of Multiple Personality Disorder

There is treatment for multiple personality disorder, but the disorder usually can not be cured completely. The personalities can be combined to form one core personality the "original" person. This process of integrating all the personalities into one is complicated and does not work in several cases. The personalities will fuse together for awhile, but than break apart when put in a stressful or unsafe situation. Recovery from multiple personality disorder and childhood trauma takes of five years or more. It is a long and difficult process of mourning. The important thing to remember is that recovery does and can happen.

For many observers, multiple personality disorders are a fascinating, exotic, and weird phenomenon. For the patient, it is confusing, unpleasant, sometimes terrifying, and always a source of the unexpected. The treatment of multiple personality disorder is excruciatingly uncomfortable for the patient. Their childhood traumas and memories must be faced, experienced, digested, and integrated into the patient's view of him/herself. Similarly, the nature of one's parents, one's life, and the day-to-day world must be re-thought. As each issue or trauma is dealt with the alter personality that deals with it can disappear. The personality is no longer needed to contain undigested trauma.
In a sense we are all multiple personalities in that we have many conflicting tendencies and frequently do things that surprise both others and ourselves. This is illustrated by common sayings such as, "I don't know why I did it" or "I didn't think he had it in him." But most of us do not develop distinct separate personalities.


"Specific Neurotic Patterns",
pg. 245 - 247

"The Minds of Billy Miligan",
Keyes, Daniel

"Mental Disorders",
Martin, Ruth, Crowell Co. 1992, pg. 23 - 25

"The Voices Within"



"FIRST PERSON PLURAL": My Life as a Multiple
Cameron West, Ph.D

"Silencing the Voices"
Jean Darby Cline, Berkley June 1997


"I Never Promised You a Rose Garden"


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Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, chief physician at Salpetriere Hospital in Paris though he had discovered a new disease. This was the late 1880s when a lot more new diseases were being discovered. He called this new disease Hystero-Epilepsy. As you can tell by the name the disorder was thought to combine some traits of two already discovered mental disorders, hysteria, and epilepsy. Ever since this was first discovered people have been fascinated with what has later become known as Multiple Personality Disorder.

The symptoms when the disease was first discovered were contortions, convulsions, fainting, and impaired consciousness. Charcot was considered the preeminent French psychologist at the time and was able to demonstrate the symptoms in his patients to his staff all around the hospital. Ever since the disease was first discovered we have learned more and more about it and it has developed into being called Multiple Personality Disorder.

Multiple Personality Disorder is being diagnosed more and more as we move forward. As a result of this, more and more students are questioning whether or not the disease actually exists at all. Most of the symptoms found with MPD are found in other diseases that have been known for hundreds of years and they don’t really teach us anything new about mental health.

Not everyone believed Charcot when he first came up with hystero-epilepsy. One of the most noted doubters of Charcot’s initial discovery was actually one of his students, Joseph Babinsky. He felt that Charcot had in fact invented the disease. He said that he demonstrated the symptoms of convincing patients that were actually much more mentally healthy and had only more mild complaints that they had this serious disease. Once he convinced them that they had the disease he would invite them to join his other patients that he said had the disease. Babinski felt that they started having seizures not because they had epilepsy, but because they had been stuck in Charcot’s treatment ward for so long that they were imitating other patients with epilepsy and making it seem like they had hystero-epilepsy.

Babinski eventually proved his point with Charcot. He proved that some patients could be convinced that they had mental diseases that they didn’t have. This was especially true with women that had been under some kind of distress or other mentally vulnerable patients. This led to Babinsky and Charcot working together to develop a treatment program for their patients. Because of Babinsky’s claim, one of the tenants of this treatment procedure isolation to reduce the effect that other patients had the symptoms of other patients in the ward.

The very first patients that had the disease of hystero-epilepsy were put in general wards of the hospital while still being separated from each other. This means that they were kept apart from anyone that was observed to have been exhibiting the same symptoms associated with the disease that they were. This treatment method was very effective as far as reducing the symptoms is concerned.

After isolation, there was another step to the treatment, this step was called counter suggestion. This step was designed to give their patients a different self-view. This adjusted self-view could cause the patients to stop having the symptoms associated with the disease. Some of these counter suggestions would be viewed as inhumane today. They included electric shock therapy. The most effective way to treat it was to completely ignore that the patient was showing the symptoms at all.

When the staff members that were treating these patients began to ignore the symptoms that they were displaying, they did it gradually. They would ignore the hysterics that the patient was going through and instead talk to them as if they wanted to treat some other problem that may be causing the symptoms in the first place. When this happens, the patient doesn’t feel the need to produce the symptoms because they are starting to realize that the disease isn’t real. Babinsky and Charcot then would later understand who actually had the disease because of the people who were still exhibiting hysteroeplieptic symptoms well after the counter suggestion had been enacted. Other patients simply found much more constructive ways to deal with their problems other than having hysterical outbreaks.

These rules and guidelines that Charcot and Babinsky found when it came to diagnosing hystero-epilepsy are not being used today by psychiatrists that are diagnosing patients as having Multiple Personality Disorder. This is causing a nationwide problem with the over diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder nationwide. The disease will respond to standard treatments because, like other mental diseases, it acts by making the person have a obscured view of themselves.

The most obvious way that these two diseases have come to be over diagnosed and incorrectly diagnosed by mental health professionals has to do with their origin. Both hystero-epilepsy and Multiple Personality Disorder were diseases that were invented by humans. They aren’t a virus or a bacteria that is found in nature. Therapists both discovered and invented the guidelines by which they are diagnosed in patients. This is why many MPD diagnosis’s are contested by other medical professionals and therapists. It is also peculiar to note how much more MPD is being found in people as it is portrayed more in movies and on television. The disease is well known in homes everywhere and has been somewhat romanticized by Hollywood and the media.

Here is some advice on how to get alternative personalities to appear in people. Stephen E. Buie, M.D., in North Carolina has offered some tips on how to get them to come out. He says that most alternate personalities will come out during the time that the patient is being assessed by their therapists. This is peculiar and does make the disease questionable in the person that is believed to have it. A great way to get the other personalities to come out is to ask questions of the patient and start out very broad by just suggesting that they may have alternate personalities in their psyche. Then get more specific about who the different personalities are until one of them reveals itself during the interview. Sometimes you can talk to the other personalities simply by asking permission to do so.

When the patient allows their doctor to speak with one of their alternative personalities they have then committed to the idea of having the disease. They now know that they have MPD and must keep up the appearance that they have the disease if they are pretending to have it. Usually, they will be placed in some kind of care depending on the severity of their specific case of Multiple Personality Disorder. It is usually easier for psychiatrists to find other alters once the first alter has been found. This is because the line between fantasy and reality for the patient has become more blurred.

It is interesting to note that patients have been known to develop more and more alters as the disease goes on. Sometimes patients will start with just 2 or 3 alter personalities and it will develop into nearly one hundred. It is common for those with MPD to have personalities of both sexes. In fact, multiple sex personalities are found in just about every patient that has MPD. There are even some patients that have alters that are animals like dogs, cats, or some kind of farm animal.

There are some underlying threads between patients when it comes to those with MPD. One of those is that most people with MPD have a similar background. The usual genesis of MPD is some kind of childhood sexual trauma enacted on the patient when they were a child. An inordinately high number of people with MPD have experienced some kind of childhood sexual trauma of some kind. It is thought that the trauma is troubling that the individual breaks off from themselves and creates other personalities that don’t have the problem. They may also have a personality that stops developing from the age at which the trauma happened. The therapist and the patient may search together for alter personalities that remember this trauma so that they can hash it out and work on it. Once this is addressed it can go a long way towards ending the MPD.

Modern patients, like the patients of Babinsky and Charcot, almost all had some kind of personal conflict or trauma that was said to be the cause for the hystero-epilepsy or the MPD. The problem with this disease is that people get so distracted by the dramatic symptoms that they fail to address the needs of the actual patient themselves. When therapists treat only the symptoms they may never end as the patient just enters and endless cycle related to the disease. This is why MPD is thought to be chronic in many individuals.

Charcot came to the realization that he was helping patients invent this disease and took them out of the special hospital areas that he had created for them. Isolation was found to be a much more effective method of treatment for hystero-epilepsy as it helped weed out those patients that didn’t actually have the disease. He came to the realization that it was better to ignore the alter personalities that the patients were displaying and treat just the problems of the original personality. Once these rules are followed, the MPD seems to go away by itself from in cases where it might be something else.

Last Updated: Feb 14, 2018

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