Multiple Personality Disorder

multiple personality

multiple personality, a very rare psychological disorder in which a person has two or more distinct personalities, each with its own thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behavior. The personalities often are direct opposites and dominate at different times, with abrupt transitions triggered by distressful events or memories. Each may be entirely unaware of the other but aware of unexplained gaps in remembered time. In psychiatry the condition is known as dissociative identity disorder. The term "split personality," denoting schizophrenia, refers to an unrelated disorder in which the split (separation) is between thought and feeling.

Multiple personality was first recognized and described by the French physician Pierre Janet in the late 19th cent. Public awareness of the disorder increased in contemporary times after a case was the subject of The Three Faces of Eve (1957). In the 1980s and early 90s, such factors as recognition of child abuse, public interest in memories recovered from childhood (whether of actual or imagined events), allegations of so-called satanic ritual abuse, and the willingness of many psychotherapists to assume a more directive role in their patients' treatment, led to what came to be regarded as a rash of overdiagnoses of multiple personality.

The cause of multiple personality is not clearly understood, but the condition seems almost invariably to be associated with severe physical abuse and neglect in childhood. It is believed that amnesia, the key to formation of the separate personalities, occurs as a psychological barrier to seal off unbearably painful experiences from consciousness. The disorder often occurs in childhood but may not be recognized until much later. Social and psychological impairment ranges from mild to severe. The primary treatment is psychotherapy to help the individual integrate the separate personalities.

See study by J. Acocella (1999).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Persistence of Folly: A Critical Examination of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Part I. the Excesses of an Improbable Concept
Piper, August; Merskey, Harold.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 49, No. 9, September 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Persistence of Folly: Critical Examination of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Part II. the Defence and Decline of Multiple Personality or Dissociative Identity Disorder
Piper, August; Merskey, Harold.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 49, No. 10, October 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Theater of Disorder: Patients, Doctors, and the Construction of Illness
Brant Wenegrat.
Oxford University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Multiple Personality Disorder"
Recovering Identity: A Qualitative Investigation of a Survivor of Dissociative Identity Disorder
Fox, Jesse; Bell, Hope; Jacobson, Lamerial; Hundley, Gulnora.
Journal of Mental Health Counseling, Vol. 35, No. 4, October 2013
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Dissociative Processes, Multiple Personality, and Dream Functions
Bob, Petr.
American Journal of Psychotherapy, Vol. 58, No. 2, January 1, 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Rethinking 'Multiple Personality Disorder': Recovering Moral Agency
Nicki, Andrea.
Social Alternatives, Vol. 27, No. 4, Fourth Quarter 2008
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Dissociative Identity Disorder: No Excuse for Criminal Activity: Using Multiple Personalities as the Basis of an Insanity Defense Rarely Is Successful
Farrell, Helen M.
Current Psychiatry, Vol. 10, No. 6, June 2011
Dissociative Identity Disorder: Time to Remove It from DSM-V? Examining the Logic Behind Arguments to Perpetuate a Controversial Diagnosis
Gharaibeh, Numan.
Current Psychiatry, Vol. 8, No. 9, September 2009
Creating Hysteria: Women and Multiple Personality Disorder
Joan Acocella.
Jossey-Bass, 1999
Searching for Memory: The Brain, the Mind, and the Past
Daniel L. Schacter.
Basic Books, 1996
Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory
Ian Hacking.
Princeton University Press, 1995
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