Multiple personalities- the existence of two or more distinct personalities or personality states within one person. In actuality, up to ten or even more personalities can coexist within one person, some documented cases have revealed over one hundred. But, the question remains, what exactly is the multiple personality disorder (MPD)? First I will look at what exactly the disorder is. It is, in simple terms, many complex personalities all inhabiting the same body. At any given time, one of those personalities is in control of the body.
Each one has different tastes, style, thought process, and many other things that define a person. However, research has proven even more than that. In clinical studies it has been found that of the different personalities of one person, the eye prescription, allergies, athletic ability, and even diabetes can exist in one of the personalities and not the others. The person can switch at any given time from one personality to another, often not realizing it. This can account for memory loss and time loss in the primary personality, who often does not have access to the memories of the other personalities. A common misconception among the general public is the confusion of MPD with the disease of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenics do NOT have distinct personalities, rather, they have hallucinations of voices outside their heads. Schizophrenia is caused by brain malfunctions and can be treated with drugs, whereas suffers of MPD cannot because MPD is an almost purely psychological disorder. MPD seems to be caused mainly by incredibly violent and terrible childhood abuse. In fact, about 98% of MPD sufferers were abused as children. The disorder also occurs between three to nine times more in women than men, the person being abused creates other personalities to handle the pain. In the case of a man named Milligan, his father beat him and sexually abused him.
Then he forced the boy to dig his own grave, burying him alive with only a stove pipe to breath through. Then the father urinated into the pipe onto the boy’s face. With that kind of abuse, you either go crazy, die, or develop other personalities. That is why, in many people with MPD, there are agitated and distracted child personalities.
These personalities were created in order to suffer the pain of abuse. When the abuse was over, their call was no longer needed and the primary personality could resume control, dropping with that second personality all memory of the event and continuing as if nothing happened. This type of personality exists in almost all MPD sufferers. Another common personality is the Persecutor personality.
This personality is created to absorb the rage the person feels towards his abusers. It often lashes out, either at other people or at the other personalities, because it believes some of the punishment was their fault. To punish that personality it will often harm the body of the person, not realizing it is hurting itself in the process. A final common personality is the Protector personality. It is created to give a feeling of protection to the child personalities and to try to prevent the Persecutor from lashing out at others or itself.
These are obviously not all the personalities, found, but they are the most common. Due to all these conflicting interests the personalities often argue with each other. This is why the person often hears voices “inside his head” whereas the schizophrenic hears them from outside in the world. Many people dispute the existence of multiple personalities. They argue that such an idea is impossible and that the people are simply making it up.
However, I believe the opposite, and many people share my opinion due to one study. Around 10 years ago a Dr. Putnam conducted an experiment, whereby he hooked several MPD sufferers up to a machine that measures brain waves. He then subjected each personality of each person to a set of stimuli.
Each personality reacted differently, the difference was around the same as between two separate people. The control group of volunteers faking the disorder could produce any difference, indicating to me that something is very different about those states of mind, and they cannot simply make up the changes in response to stimuli, nor can they fake diabetes and different physical requirements as I stated earlier as examples in differences of personalities. To move on to treatment, there is virtually no treatment a psychiatrist can offer other than extensive psychotherapy and hypnosis. In bringing out the suffering that caused the development of personalities, usually many personalities will “fuse” into a more complete whole, though some retain a few personalities.
Some MPD sufferers would rather keep their personalities, they fear that the special skills each one has might be lost if they are all fused into one big personality. For one of the most complicated areas of this topic, I will now discuss crimes. Crimes where a multiple personality is in any way involved immediately become very complicated. Who is at fault? Who is testifying when that person gets on the witness stand? Are they faking it to get an “innocent by insanity” judgment? It is an easy way out, to lie about having MPD to get an innocent verdict, and that must be decided by the jury in a trial. The real problem comes when the MPD person is the plaintiff or defendant.
In one example, a woman with twenty or more personalities ended up sleeping with a man whom she knew. He claims one of her personalities consented to have sex with him. While having sex, one of her child personalities came out and she thought she was being raped, though she didn’t voice this until afterwards when she complained of being raped. He does, however, admit to knowing about her disorder. So who is at fault here? I would have to say it is not the man’s fault, she consented and therefore it was not a rape. However, others claim else wise.
They say that since he knew about her disorder he was taking advantage of her. I cannot agree, for as long as she consented, he didn’t intentionally commit any crime and cannot be prosecuted for it, even if it wasn’t her main personality, it was still “her.” The other type of case involving multiple personalities is even more involved, that is where one personality commits the crime, to the others’ horror and surprise. In this case, is that person liable for the damage another personality caused? In the example of Juanita Maxwell she had a violent personality named Wanda who robbed two banks nine years after being acquitted on the insanity defense for killing a seventy-three year old woman. What do you do with this person? Do you lock them up and throw away the key? Do you release them on grounds of insanity? Seeing as she was acquitted for murder, apparently the legal system thinks they should be allowed to be treated. I agree with this. However, many people disagree vehemently over this subject.
Many feel they have committed a crime and should be punished the same as anyone else, and sometimes this happens. However, it happens more often with men than women, who are usually steered towards the psychiatric treatment route and are prosecuted less than men. Men offenders are viewed as brutal beasts, while women are seen as disturbed oftentimes, or at least that is how it seems to me. However, offenders with true MPD should not go to jail, where conditions might worsen the disorder due to more abuse and bad conditions.
Also, in jail, there is almost no hope for diagnosis and help, so when they are released they will not be any better than when they went in and will probably offend again. So putting them in jail is hurting society, not helping it by keeping them off the streets. However many are too paranoid to realize this, they just want to throw them where they won’t be seen for a long time. These paranoiacs don’t look in the long term, just the immediate results. I feel they should go to therapy to help get rid of their problems. Research has shown psychotherapy is the only effective way to help MPD, and it doesn’t come in prison.
If they go to therapy for 2 years and are cured it helps society more than if they are locked out of sight for 20 years. So in cases where it can be proven it is a case of MPD I say send them to the psychiatric ward. All in all, multiple personalities are kind of an obscure subject. Not much research has been done on them, though I think they have fascinating potential, both in curiosity and in the effects of mind control on the body as I discussed earlier, and they should be researched much more. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 1990 Revision The Boston Globe, November 6, 1989 The New York Times, April 17 1983 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 1990 Revision The New York Times, April 17, 1983 The New York Times, August 10, 1990 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct.10, 1990