Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay

Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay

MPDeIdentity Disorder (DID) was first acknowledged in the 1700’sbut was not understood so therefore it was forgotten. Manycases show up in medical records through the years, but in1905, Dr. Morton Prince wrote a book about MPD that is afoundation for the disease. A few years after it waspublished Sigmund Freud dismissed the affliction and thisdropped it from being discussed at any credible mentalhealth meetings. Since then the disorder has been overlookedand misdiagnosed as either schizophrenia or psychosis.  Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.Manyin the medical profession did not believe that a personcould unknowingly have more than one personality or personinside one body, even after the in the 1950’s Three Faces ofEve was published by two psychiatrist.

In 1993, recordsshowed that three to five thousand patients were beingtreated for MPD compared to the hundred cases reported tenyears earlier. There is still as increase in the number ofcases being reported as the scientific community learns moreand more about the disease and the public is becoming moreand more aware of this mental disorder.

There are still manyquestions left unanswered about the disease, like “Is itgenetic?” or “Is a certain type of personality morevulnerable to the disorder?” but many aspects of how peoplecome by the disorder are already answered (Clark, 1993,p.17-19) MPD is commonly found in adults who wererecurrently abused mentally, physically, emotionally, and/orsexually as young children, between birth to 8 years of age.

The child uses a process called dissociation to removehim/herself from the abusive situation. Dissociation is whena child makes up an imaginary personality to take control ofthe mind and body while the child is being abused. The childcan imagine many personalities but usually there is apersonality for every feeling and or emotion that wasinvolved during the abuse (BoyyM, 1998, p.1). As an adult,the abused child finds it hard to keep track of time and mayhave episodes of amnesia. Other symptoms that will appear inadults with MPD are depression, auditory and visualhallucinations (hearing voices) and suicidal thoughts.

Another major symptom is when the adult has no recollectionof their childhood. The adult with MPD has no idea they wereabused as children and also unaware of the otherpersonalities living inside of their head.

Multiple Personality Disorder is when there is “thepresence of two or more distinct identities orpersonalities, each with its own relatively enduring patternof perceiving, relating to, and thinking about theenvironment and self”(BoyyM, 1998, p.1). Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay. There can beanywhere from two to over a hundred different personalities.

Usually each personality will fall into one of the followingcategories: core, host, protectors, internal self-helper,fragments, child members, preteen, teenager, adults,artistic/music, cross-gender, cross-colored, animal members,inanimate members (BoyyM, 1998, p. 2-3). The hostpersonality is the person who is the multiple, this is theoriginal personality, or the one that created the otherpersonalities, but is unaware of them. The most commonapparent identities are the child, persecutor, rescuer, andhelper. The child is the identity that is under the age oftwelve. They behave as children often sucking thumbs,twisting hair, like to eat cookies, throw tantrums, and usechild-like vocabulary. The Persecutor identity is theself-destructive identity that is violent and angry.


Persecutor identities usually have a drug/alcohol problemand generally put the host at risk. The rescuer personalityis usually devoid of emotion but logical, able, proficient,and responsible. The helper personality knows the most aboutthe history of the multiple; they generally want to helpeveryone for the general good. The helper personality is thepersonality that is most helpful in therapy because theyusually know about all the other identities (Clark, 1993,p.80-83). Subpersonalities are not only part of a personwith MPD but they are also evident in emotionally normalpersons as well. Although, in a normal person, he/sheremembers when their subpersonality takes over, but in a MPDpatient, the personality disconnects from the host that thehost can not remember what happens. When a traumaticexperience happens, whether positive or negative, asubpersonality will develop. In a normal person, thesplitting is broken into an “ok self” and a “not ok self”.

In a multiple, the personalities are more defined; they arebroken into smaller fragments that disassociate from thehuman host (Rowan, 1990, p. 7, 20).Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.  In the book by Terri A. Clark, M.D., it shows thedistinct the personalities are in several cases. It alsodisplays how each identity can be different from the otheridentities and the host. In one of Clark’s cases, Veronica,one of the personalities of her patient Regina, showed upfor the weekly appointment instead of Regina (note that itreally was Regina, but she was a different identity). Clarknoticed a change in the appearance of Regina on her arrivaland noted the difference in her voice. Veronica (Regina)continued to speak to Clark as if it was the first time theyhad met. Although, Veronica knew about Clark, Regina’spersonal life, and therapy, this was the first time Clarkhad met this personality. Clark discovered while talking toVeronica that she had a separate business which she ran onthe weekends, and when Veronica was in control of the body.

Regina had no idea about the business; Veronica used thefake name and an Art Gallery’s telephone number in which torun her business. Veronica even had a different handwritingthan Regina. According to Clark, each personality has itsown distinct features, such as handwriting, fashion taste,hobbies, and culinary taste. In most cases, there willalways be personality that writes with their left hand,while the host and other identities write with their right.

In Regina’s case, Veronica wore different clothes thanRegina and she had an interest in fine art. Each personalityof a host, when asked, will tell you they have a certaintype of hair color and cut, height, weight, and even gender(Clark, 1993, p. 73-78). The problem with having all thesepersonalities is that they do not mesh well. Consequencescan arise from having so many different traits inside onebody like eating and sleep disorders, depression, anxiety,and substance abuse (Smith, 1993, p.1). Each alter also hastheir own name, these names can come from anything but thereare three common factors that influence the alters name.

Some alters are just born with the name, this is when thealter is modeled after a real or fictional character. Somealters are named after emotional responses, such as Sad Oneor Angry Janie. Many alters are named for the specific jobthey are supposed to do, like Director, Helper or Avenger. Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.

The names chosen have been created by a child so they aremost likely modeled after a fictional or real character.

Although the host will have no idea of the otherpersonalities and will not respond to the names at first,the alters respond to the birth personalities name (Clark,1993, 90-91). The circumstances that the identities get thehost into can also become a problem. The different alterswhile in possession of the body can go somewhere where thehost does not know and then leave and the host is left withno idea how he/she got there and how to get back. In Sybil,one of the first times she realized she had a problem waswhen she had to leave her Columbia University Chemistry Labwhen something broke. The last thing she remembered wasstanding at the elevator but when she regained consciousnessshe was in the warehouse district of Philadelphia. Milesfrom where she had been before in New York and it was fivedays later (Schreiber, 1973, p. 23-36). The persecutoridentity has a tendency to leave the host in dangerousCarla, one of Clark’s patients, had a persecutor alternamed Godiva. Godiva was always putting Carla in stickysituations like Godiva would pick up men at bars and bringthem home or go home with them. Carla would come toconsciousness with an unknown man in her bed and she wouldpass out, another alter would have to come out and rescueCarla. CJ (Carla’s big burly male alter) would come outpunch the guy and leave. Christine (Carla’s logical alter)would come out and handle the situation using hernegotiation skills. Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay. At other times Timmy (the young boy whowas an escape artist) would come out talk his way out of thesituation, leaving the man so bewildered because he was witha woman who thought she was a young boy. When this occurredit would leave the other alters upset at Godiva (Clark,There are three different types of relationships thatalters can have between each other. The first one is,”one-way amnesia”, this is when alter number one knows aboutalter number two but alter number two does not know aboutnumber one. The second relationship is “‘two-way amnesia’exist when neither alter know about each other”(Clark, 1993,p. 87). Cocognizance, the third relationship, is when allthe alters know about each other but the host personalityknows about none of them. The host will hear conversationsin his/her head, these conversations are between the alters.

This is when the alters know the host personality but isunable to affect it as long as the host is in control(Clark, 1993, p. 87-88). The cause of MPD is severe trauma,most of the trauma happens at a young age and the violatoris usually someone who the child knows. In satanic cults,children mistreated and abused, to intentionally cause MPD,do not know everyone who is involved in the abuse. Examplesgiven by Clark are children put in a coffin with rats,snakes, and bugs then buried alive. Later the satanic cultleader or priest will rescue the child therefore making thechild feel obligated to that person. In satanic cults,children are also raped. During the rape, men and womenwould violate the child they would also violate the childwith objects such as a knife, an upside down crucifix, andother objects (Clark, 1993, 181-198). The child gets to thepoint where they think they are going to die, and theydisassociate themselves from the situation, this is when thepersonalities are born. Other types of abuse are emotionaland psychological abuse by a parent. One of Clark’s patientsremembered under hypnosis a time when she was two. Hermother took her outside put her in a tree and told her tojump, the child after a slight hesitation did so, and themother stepped back, watched the child fall to the ground,and laughed. These traumatic events and others are the causeof MPD (Clark, 1993, 105-106). No matter how bad the abusewas and how many different personalities are present; a MPDpatient can be cured. The process to recovery for a MPDpatient is long and hard. The personalities are not beingmade to disappear but to become one. There has to be afusion of all the alters into the host, the host has tolearn to express all the emotions, that for so long, anotheralter would take care of for them.Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.  Although some MPDpatients are harder than others to fuse, but all patientscan be cured. Patients that were subject to Satanic RitualAbuse are more difficult to fuse due to the threats that thecult made or are making on their lives. A patient that wasin a cult must have lost all contact with the cult beforesuccessful fusion can take place. When fusion issuccessfully accomplished, the host person can handle theiremotions as where before fusion they were unaware of manycommon emotions (Clark, 1993, 208-213). Research iscontinuing to be done on this disorder. Many people still doubt the realism of the disorder,especially as more people fake the disorder to get out ofjudicial problems. About 1% of America’s population has MPD,but many are scared to see Psychiatrist, and many fake thedisorder (Smith, 1993, p. 1). As awareness for the diseaseis becoming more prevalent, more patients are discoveringafter years of misdiagnosis, they finally can start theright kind of therapy. Multiple Personality Disorder is nota disease or mental illness, it is a disorder caused bytraumatic events in early childhood. MPD is treatable and aMPD patient can hope to one day live a normal life withevery part of his/her personality fused into one. A MPDpatient is not something to be afraid of as where theyusually just inflict pain upon themselves and not on others.

MPD patients can be your next door neighbor, parent, andeven spouse. They do not seem that different from normalpeople, and many do not even know they have the disorder.

Awareness is the key, not only awareness of MPD but of childabuse, if child abuse is stopped MPD will not be a problem. Biblical Response Multiple Personality Disorder isoften brushed aside by Christians who think that MPD isdemon possession, but MPD and demon possession differentiatein many ways. MPD although it can be caused by satanicritual abuse is not evil, it is a process of the mind.

Possession on the other hand, is when a body is taken overby an evil spirit. It is the physical body that the demonhas control over not the mind. In MPD the only part affectedis the mind, the body is not changed and does not convulseas it does in possession. In Ephesians 6:12(NIV) it iswritten, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against rulers, against authorities, against the powersof this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evilin the heavenly realms.Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay. ” Demon possession is the fightagainst the flesh MPD is the fight against the mind. InMatthew 8:28-31 we see demon possession, “When he arrived atthe other side in the region of the Gadarenes, twodemon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They wereso violent that no one could pass that way. “What do youwant with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come hereto torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance fromthem a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons beggedJesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into thepigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into thelake and died in the water.” This shows that demons arefirst only in possession of body and second afraid of JesusChrist. If a Bible is brought into a room with one that ispossessed they will immediately ask for the person to leave.

I do not believe that MPD is demon possession, I do believethat they are more susceptible to it if they have beeninvolved in a satanic cult. MPD patients are gifted, smartindividuals who suffered greatly as children and they usedtheir only defense their imaginations to alleviate the pain.

In Mark 10:13-16 says, “People were bringing little childrento Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebukedthem. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said tothem, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinderthem, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Itell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdomof God like a little child will never enter it.’ He took thechildren in his arms, put his hands on them and blessedBibliography:REFERENCE LIST BOYY M. (1998). Clark, Terri A., M.D. (1993). More Than One (1st edition).

Nashville, TN:Oliver- Nelson Books, 17-19, 73-78, 80-83,87-88, 90-91, 99, 105-106, 181-198, 208-213. New Student BibleSchreiber, Flora Rheta (1973). Sybil (1st edition). NewYork: Warner Books, 23-26. Comer, Ronald J (1992). Abnormal Psychology (2nd edition). Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.

Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Introduction: Multiple personalities is a dissociative condition in which an individual’s personality is apparently split into two or more distinct sub-personalities, each of which may become dominant at different times. People with multiple personality disorder suffer from internal chaos, roller-coaster emotions and terrible memories. They also present confusing confusing and contradictory images to their family and friends. But in spite of all this, MPD is a treatable disorder. In theory, the developmental process behind MPD is a result of resorting to a mental escape from a traumatic situation. This is essentially achieved when neither fleeing nor fighting can be used as a defense option,.
These other personalities are called “alters” and may develop permanency, so that the identity of a single child fragments into many children in a single body. These abused children are often warned by their abusers to maintain secrecy. Therefore horrid memories get buried deep into the caves of the unconscious, each alter shielding his or her own traumatic memory. This also allows each alter to become more independent. Multiple personality disorder is very rare and is only found in about one percent of the population. It is also believed that seven percent of the population has experienced at least some sort of dissociative disorder in their life. Certain feelings are common to people with multiple personalities. Most MPD individuals usually suffer from unreasonable fear, and this fear often evolves into terror. They also have large blocks of missing memories. Some symptoms of MPD are depression, anxiety, excessive compulsive behaviour, seizures, epilepsy, blackouts, headaches, and fatigue. Multiple Personalities is not just one disorder, but is made up of many different dissociative disorders. Treatment: There is no real cure for multiple personality disorder, the only treatment is forcing the repression of the alter personalities. The first step in treating this disorder is to find a psychotherapist who is familiar with dissociative disorders and who has taken special training in

Multiple Personality Disorder, or Dissociative Identity Disorder, as it is now identified by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM – IV -TR) continues to be a disputed diagnosis after decades of diagnoses, treatment, and research. Psychiatrists, medical doctors, psychologists, counselors and social workers, as well as attorneys and judges, continue to seek the validity of this mental disorder. While the primary concern of those in the medical community is a correct diagnosis in order to direct treatment, the legal community relies on a proper diagnosis to determine both guilt and sentencing for those who use the diagnosis to plead a “not guilty by reasons of insanity” defense. Despite the lengthy battle between the opposing sides debating the actual existence of the disorder, the disorder will be included in the May 2013 edition of the DSM – V. Neither the medical nor the legal community doubts the need for therapy or counseling of some form for these patients. However, the proper treatment is, or should be, directly related to an accurate diagnosis. Determining the validity of Multiple Personality Disorder continues to be, after all these years, a serious concern. The question remains, “Is there sufficient scientific research to prove the validity of Multiple Personality Disorder?” Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.

I was 23 years old when the movie When the Rabbit Howls aired on television. The “true story” film adaptation of Truddi Chase’s story of extreme child abuse and subsequent diagnosis and treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder was a horrific tale of severe family dysfunction leading to vicious sexual abuse beginning at the age of two. Despite the massive volume of books I have read, the many movies watched, and the television shows viewed, none of them continue to haunt me as this movie has. Apparently, I was not alone in my fascination of Truddi Chase. Oprah Winfrey invited her to be the first guest on her radio program, as well as an early guest on her television program. Chase later returned in 1990 for a second interview on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show was later listed as one of TV Guides “Top 25 Oprah Moments”. Chase claimed to have 92 distinct personalities.

Despite my awe and fascination of the life of Truddi Chase, I am left wondering; is this possible? Does this disorder actually exist? To be able to blame all of our faults, sins, or shortcomings on another, someone other than our “self” could be the ultimate fantasy for some. If one is caught in a compromising position of sexual infidelity, drug use, driving under the influence or any other serious crime, one could simply wake up and claim someone else did this, another “self”. To walk benignly through life accepting responsibility for only the noble deeds we perform, the good we display, would that not be the best of all possible lives? Perhaps. Or perhaps it is a life of tormented existence, lost time, forgotten experiences, disrupted, fragmented pieces of a life half lived.

While some claim Multiple Personality Disorder was diagnosed as early as the 1800’s, the first famous or possibly infamous case in the United States was the case of Christine Costner in 1951. The classic 1957 film, The Three Faces of Eve was the story of

Dr. Corbett Thigpen, a young neuropsychiatrist who treated Christine Costner (called Eve White to protect her identity) in 1951. The existence of more than one “personality” became manifested gradually during treatment, in 1952. After about 100 therapy sessions over 2-3 years, Ms. Costner seemed well. Ms. Costner subsequently wrote three autobiographical books. She revealed her identity in 1977 (as Chris Costner Sizemore, her married name). She has claimed that she actually had about 20 personalities, that they were not resolved until years after her treatment with Dr. Thigpen, and that they were not the result of childhood trauma, as she had reported during treatment. (Atkinson, 2009) Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.

Even after this rather dubious case, the disorder did not fully manifest itself until after the renowned story of Sybil in the 1970’s. Sybil was a television miniseries, based on a 1973 book by science journalist Flora Rheta Schreiber. Sybil Dorsett was a pseudonym for the patient, Shirley Ardell Mason. Dr. Schieber was asked to write a book by the patient’s psychiatrist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur while Dr.Herbert Spiegel was asked by Dr. Wilbur to consult on the case as a hypnotist. The hypnotist reported he

did not think that Ms. Mason had MPD, he believed Dr. Wilbur had suggested this to her patient, and that Ms. Mason’s allusions to separate personalities amounted to “game playing” in a hysterical patient prone to dissociation. He said that Ms. Mason told him that she had read “The Three Faces of Eve” during her therapy and was impressed by it. According to Dr. Spiegel, Ms. Schreiber visited him and said, “But if we don’t call it a multiple personality, we don’t have a book! The publisher wants it to be that; otherwise it won’t sell.” After treatment (more than 2,000 sessions), Ms. Mason always maintained the truth of her claims of experiencing multiple personalities (16 in all) and childhood physical and sexual abuse by her mother. (Atkinson, 2009)

After the popular movie of Sybil, the diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder ballooned “from perhaps no more than 100 beforehand to 40,000 or more 20 years later, mainly in North America.” (Atkinson, 2009) Was it merely cases of misdiagnoses? Or was this a new phenomenon, a new disorder?

There are many reasons I believe the diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder to be faulty, overzealous, or patently untrue. I will attempt to provide both sides of this argument for or against the validity of this diagnosis as I found many professionals weighing in.

Psychiatric, as well as medical diagnosis can change. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was first published in 1952. Since then it has been through five revisions the newest edition DSM – V coming out in May 2013. According to the current DSM-IV-TR, Diagnostic criteria for Dissociative Identity Disorder300.14 must include the following,

A. The presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states (each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self).

B. At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently take control of the person’s behavior.

C. Inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.

D. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., blackouts or chaotic behavior during Alcohol Intoxication) or a general medical condition (e.g., complex partial seizures). Note: In children, the symptoms are not attributable to imaginary playmates or other fantasy play (American Psychiatric Association, 2000)

Therefore, my first argument would be that Multiple Personality Disorder’s appearance in the DSM was late in being included and has changed with each issuance of the manual. Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay. Multiple Personality Disorder did not appear in the DSM until 1980, the Third Edition. The criteria and terminology changed in the 1994 DSM IV edition, and according to Helen Farrell in Current Psychology, the “American Psychiatric Association Work Group has proposed new diagnostic criteria for DID for DSM-5, which is scheduled to be published in May 2013.” (Farrell, 2011) I have been unable to find the proposed changes, but am anxious to see if they were approved and what those changes are. The questions remain. Why was this disorder not observed in a number of patients prior to the 1980’s? Why does the criterion continue to be so difficult to define?

Many of the patients diagnosed with MPD have been found to have been highly suggestible and easily hypnotizable, with a tendency to fantasize, and unreliable in their counseling sessions. Roland Atkinson reports

Subjects who are highly hypnotizable (“virtuosos”) may self-induce trance states or respond to a therapist’s instruction to enter such a state with rudimentary, or even unwitting, cues. Thus, “personalities” may also have been cued, even if they seemed to have emerged spontaneously. In such circumstances, patient and therapist alike may inadvertently and honestly believe in an MPD diagnosis, and in “memories” of childhood trauma, which are not valid. This may have occurred in the filmed cases; that is, both may have been at least partly iatrogenic in origin. (Atkinson, 2009)

Iatrogenic means “Induced in a patient by a physician’s activity, manner, or therapy.” (Dictionary, 2000). In fact, it is not until the person is in therapy do they become aware of the multiple personalities. (Leuder & Sharrock, 1999) (Murray, 1994) The patient becomes aware of these alter egos through regression therapy or hypnosis. Most of the patients “discover” they were sexually abused as children, causing such trauma, the child forms another personality to deal with the pain and mental stress. (Piper Jr., 1998) The argument for the lateness in the diagnosis of MPD in patients is the client’s use of repression, denial, and rationalization. According to John Murray in The Journal of Genetic Psychology, the alter egos may present themselves only during “a window of diagnosibility” and be unable to detect at later times, remaining latent in the patient. (Murray, 1994)The MPD symptoms may be present in one session only to disappear in another, much like bipolar depression symptoms. Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.

The issue of childhood sexual abuse also becomes an issue of concern in the MPD diagnosis due to the difficulty in proving abuse. Sexual abuse is very hard to confirm in a child, it becomes even more difficult in an adult victim of child sexual abuse. This is NOT to say the abuse never happened, merely that it is difficult to substantiate. As the clients are highly suggestible, implantation of false memories becomes easily arguable. A few of the memories are so bizarre as to be unbelievable, consider the following

one patient claimed to have witnessed a baby being barbecued alive at a family picnic in a city park; another patient alleged repeated sexual assaults by a lion, a baboon, and other zoo animals in her parents’ back yard – in broad daylight. (It should be mentioned that both therapists in these cases are prominent MPD adherents, and neither appeared to have any difficulty believing these allegations).” (Piper Jr., 1998)

Independent corroboration would be very helpful in cases such as these and certainly helpful in the prosecution of current cases today, but, alas, this has never been, and will doubtfully ever be, the case.

The preponderance of sexually abused patients succumbing to MPD leads to another factor of the disorder. Ninety percent of the patients are women. (Atkinson, 2009), but it has been reported to have been as high as 92 percent in a 1996 study. (Murray, 1994) Ruling out gynecological concerns, I can think of no other illness with such a high rate of gender inequality. However, one must take into consideration that girls are subjected to higher rates of childhood sexual abuse than boys are.

Another concern deals with how psychiatrists and other professionals diagnosis MPD. The doctors assert that they had been alerted to the possibility of MPD when a client reported such benign symptoms as headaches, insomnia, listlessness or forgetfulness. Even more ridiculous was the absolute randomness and inanity of the following diagnostic clues reported by August Piper Jr.

glancing around the therapist’s office; frequently blinking one’s eyes; changing posture, or the voice’s pitch or volume; rolling the eyes upward; laughing or showing anger suddenly; covering the mouth; allowing the hair to fall over one’s face; developing a headache; scratching an itch; touching the face, or the chair in which one sits; changing hairstyles between sessions; or wearing a particular color of clothing or item of jewelry In one case known to the author, a leading MPD proponent claimed that the diagnosis was supported by behavior no more remarkable than the fact that the patient changed clothes several times daily and liked to wear sunglasses. (Piper Jr., 1998)

With such diagnostic “alerts” to the doctor, one cannot be surprised at the large number of MPD cases some doctors had the opportunity to “treat”. MPD diagnosis and treatment became a cottage industry for some self-promoting doctors and therapists. In his article Film, fame, and the fashioning of an illness, Atkinson believed the films portraying “Sybil” and Eve” perpetuated this mass diagnosis. “Many cases shared features in common with false memory phenomena, such as the influence of coercive suggestion by therapists in producing the desired but invalid memory reports of highly susceptible patients.” (Atkinson, 2009) Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.

There are many diagnostic tools used by therapists to confirm the MPD diagnosis. A few include: Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociative Disorders, Dissociative Disorder Interview Schedule, Dissociative Experiences Scale, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (Farrell, 2011) (Murray, 1994), as well as the Thematic Apperception Test (T.A.T) and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) (Murray, 1994). Most notable in all of these tests and diagnostic tools is that they are all self-reporting. While many would argue you cannot “beat” the test, I find that argument to be untrue in some cases, particularly if an eager or leading therapist coaches the patient. However, Murray contends in a blind test “for 63 adult psychiatric patients, using the MMPI MPD profile, and correctly identified 68% of the 25 MPD patients. The MMPI seemed a valuable aid in diagnosing MPD.” (Murray, 1994)

The fact that no clear, specific method of treatment for MPD has been established also deals a blow to MPD’s validity. Even staunch supporters, such as David Hartman MSW of the Wellness Institute and psychologist Dr. John B. Murray agree that there are no particular methods of treatment and that it was all still very experimental. Some of the methods currently being used are psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, behavior modification, group therapy sessions (with some difficulty, I will not mention the humor I found in this, as I was unsure if the “group” therapy would include multiple personalities and one physical person), psychodynamic therapy, the use of sodium amobarbital (a drug with sedative/hypnotic properties) and of course hypnotherapy. (Murray, 1994) (Piper Jr., 1998) (Hartman, An overview of the psychotherapy of dissociative identity disorder, 2010) (Hartman, Treatments for dissociative disorders, 2010)While hypnotherapy often led to the initial diagnosis, it is also part of the treatment. However, Murray warns while “Hypnosis is usually a constructive intervention, it can be misused.” (Murray, 1994) And while hypnosis “provides access to “secret” personalities, it may enhance rather than repair the dissociation process.” (Murray, 1994) In his support of hypnosis, he continues, “hypnosis is useful in therapy when it helps MPD patients understand and use the past and present for better self-understanding and direction.” (Murray, 1994)

There are several diagnoses which MPD patients could also be diagnosed. A few include, schizophrenia, affective disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorders other than MPD, depression, bipolar disorder, even drug abuse. Prior to the diagnosing of MPD, I would hope all other possible disorders be completely ruled out, rather than MPD being ruled in. Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay. Again, despite being a advocate of the validity of MPD, Dr. John B. Murray writes, “MPD features can overlap with other psychiatric diagnoses, and clinicians have been wary of inducing MPD in patients and of treating MPD patients.” (Murray, 1994) He, too, recognizes the danger of MPD inducement!

Though life may often be stranger than fiction, I found the ridiculousness of the many reports derived from MPD cases to further cause my doubts of its validity. I will list several I found particularly absurd. “C. A. Ross writes of alters that “force [the patient] to jump in front of a truck. [The alters] then go back inside just before impact, leaving the [patient] to experience the pain” (Piper Jr., 1998), or the French woman who spoke no German would “suddenly” speak in another language. Carter writes, “as her French self, she could remember everything she had said or done during her previous French “episodes”. As a German woman, she knew nothing of her French personality.” (Carter, 2008) Some multiple even have different immune systems and bodies, “Felida X, for example, had three different personalities, each with their own illnesses. One of them even had her own pregnancy, unknown, at first, to the others.” (Carter, 2008) The fact that some alter egos can create their own alter egos is also incongruous. “Sheila claimed she consciously chose a masculine identity”. (Layton, 1995)

Another absurdity are the form alter egos may take according to their therapist, “There are alters of people of the opposite sex, of the treating therapist, of infants, television characters, and demons. Alters of Satan and God, of dogs, cats, lobsters, and stuffed animals – even of people thousands of years old or from another dimension – have been reported by MPD proponents”. (Piper Jr., 1998)

And lastly in the area of ridiculousness, throughout the reading about MPD, I found time after time, journal article after journal article, from proponents to nay-sayers, asserting that the “alter personalities” “identities,”, “alter egos, “ego states,” “personality states” or merely “alters,” could number two, sixteen, ninety-two, two thousand, or even ten thousand! How does a therapist keep up with these characters? After all, many are deceitful, some are aging, some stay nine years old, some will split yet again, some will be hidden, and others will be repressed. Keeping track of the multiples would create a full-time job for a therapist with a single patient!

Lastly, MPD simply does not meet the legal test. Some in the legal community have said the diagnosis “may be the most controversial diagnosis introduced into the criminal justice system.” (Hafemeister, 2009) In fact, most recently, “courts have rejected the admissibility of DID evidence, including expert testimony, because the scientific evidence failed to meet reliability standards, and therefore is not ultimately useful to the judge or jury.” (Farrell, 2011) The State of West Virginia has also spoken to the validity of this controversial diagnosis, “Similarly, in State v Lockhart (2000), Mr. Lockhart contested his conviction of first degree sexual assault on the basis that he was not permitted to present evidence of DID to support his insanity defense. The West Virginia Court held that the diagnosis of DID was speculative and therefore did not meet reliability standards for evidence.” (Farrell, 2011)  Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.


Does it matter? Does a diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder versus another matter? I maintain that it does. Billy Milligan, a serial rapist from Ohio in the 1970s, was excused from any criminal responsibility with his diagnosis of MPD. In Current Psychiatry, Helen M. Ferrell writes, “The court declared serial rapist Billy Milligan insane due to lack of one integrated personality and therefore not culpable of the crimes he committed. Public outrage was extraordinary. Since this case, most DID defenses have not been successful.” (Farrell, 2011)

“Public outrage was extraordinary.” Indeed! I am sure it was. As I suggested previously, being able to blame all of our faults, sins, or shortcomings on another, someone other than our “self”, could be the ultimate fantasy for some. Commit multiple rapes? Milligan would simply wake up and claim someone else did this, his other “self”.

Another case making this argument matter, is the woman in Chicago who consulted a psychiatrist for depression.

He concluded that she suffered from MPD, that she had abused her own children, and that she had gleefully participated in Satan-worshiping cult orgies where pregnant women were eviscerated and their babies eaten. Her failure to recall these events was attributed to alters that blocked her awareness. No one had produced any evidence for the truth of any of this, no one had seen her do anything unusual, no one had come forward to say they had participated in satanic activities with her. But no matter. The doctor notified the state that the woman was a child molester. Then, after convincing her that she had killed several adults because she had been told to do so by Satanists, he threatened to notify the police about these “criminal activities.” The woman’s husband believed the doctor’s claims. He divorced her. And, of course, because she was a “child molester,” she lost custody of her children. (Piper Jr., 1998)

The validity of a MPD diagnosis also matters so we, as counselors, therapists and others in the mental health field can provide appropriate treatment to these patients. For, despite the label we may wish to give an illness, the illness MUST be treated.

Multiple Personality Disorder was a fad, a psychological trend, a craze, perhaps. Therapists, the public, even Oprah Winfrey, became enthralled by these captivating stories of abuse, human survival and the mind’s incredible fortitude. However, the diagnosis has led to more harm for the patients, abuse from malingerers, and prevented those with true mental illnesses from receiving the treatment they need and deserve.  Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) Essay.