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Split Personality – A Myth Or a Reality?
In this world of today’s’, there are a lot of implausible diseases; one of them is the disease of human’s mind, which is called as split-personality disorder. Not many people around the world believe if this disease really exists or not, or they rather think that the person is acting.
I was on my way from Bangalore, India to Mumbai, India and during the journey I was just chatting with the person sitting next to me and during the process of our conversation we begin to discuss on “Split Personalities”.
I distinctly remember that when I was in college, I had one very good friend of mine and his name was Mr. T. Kiran Kumar. The uniqueness of our relation was our compatibility and depth of understanding. Whether we were with kids, or classmates or elderly people or uneducated people or females or highly intellectuals, hardly mattered; how we might behave, was entirely based on the type of group that we were part of. Believe me or not but our attitude, approach, behavior, and our way to react to a given situation was based on the type of group we were into. Does that imply that we were having split personalities? If that is the case then every one of us are having split personalities. We behave differently with our family members, with our friends, our spouse, and unknown people, right?
Let us understand the term “Split Personality”.
Definition of Split Personality: “A relatively rare dissociative disorder in which the usual integrity of the personality breaks down and two or more independent personalities emerge”.
Explanation: There is no category or phenomenon in psychiatry called split personality. The term is commonly used in popular language to indicate an ambiguous or radically and spectacularly alternating type of behavior of the “Jekyll and Hyde” type. It is often bewildered with the medical illness of schizophrenia because the etymology of the latter (from the Greek schizein, to split + phren, mind) suggests, misleadingly, that schizophrenia is a type of split personality. In schizophrenia, however, the splitting is within one single personality as the individual’s thoughts, feelings and emotions are seriously and confusingly disconnected from each other in a chaotic and random fashion. Schizophrenic individuals, far from having split or multiple personalities, actually have a great struggle maintaining the coherence and integrity of even a single self.
Before proceeding further let’s try and understand as what we mean by term “Personality”.
There are three distinct meanings for the term “personality,” two of them general and popular and the third technical and philosophical. The first and most general meaning is that personality is the sum of the characteristics, which make up physical and mental being. These include appearance, manners, habits, tastes and moral character. The second meaning emphasizes the characteristics that distinguish one person from another. The two meanings overlap or merge into each other, as the first considers all characteristics pertaining to the individual, without comparing him with others, while the second sees the same facts in relation to the outside world and fixes attention mainly upon the features that distinguish the subject from his fellows. This second meaning is equivalent to individuality. It represents a widely prevalent conception of the term.
But the third meaning is the most important, and is the only conception of any value to the psychic researcher and the philosopher or psychologist. This conception of personality is concerned only with mental characteristics; it makes no distinction between common and specific marks. In fact it connotes mental processes rather than fixed qualities. The capacity for having mental states, or the fact of having them, constitutes personality for the psychologist and the philosopher. Personality is thus the stream of consciousness, regardless of the question whether any special state is constant or casual, essential or unessential. Physical marks will have no place in this conception, unless they may serve as symbols of mental states. It abstracts from them and denotes only the stream of mental phenomena.
This third meaning is so radically different from the other two that it gives rise to perpetual misunderstandings between the philosopher and the public. These misunderstandings arise particularly in the discussion of survival after death. The layman with his conception of personality looks for physical phenomena of some kind to illustrate or prove it. Consequently, if interested in psychic phenomena at all, he prefers materialization, which best satisfies his conception of personality. He cannot take the point of view of the psychologist or the philosopher, who neglects these purely sensory characteristics, and fixes his attention on mental states as the proper conception of the personality, which may survive. Materialization would supply the very characteristics, which the layman fixes upon to represent personality. But precisely the fact that mental states are not presented to sense, leads the philosopher to conceive of immortality as possible.
If the layman’s conception were correct the philosopher and psychologist would deny the possibility of survival with entire confidence, as a necessary implication of bodily dissolution. The day could be saved only by the doctrine of a “spiritual body,” an It astral body,” or an “ethereal organism,” supposedly a replica of the physical organism in its spatial and other characteristics. These represent personality after the manner or analogy of the physical body. The real spirit may indeed have a transcendental bodily form; but the stream of consciousness remains the same whether there is any “spiritual body” or “ethereal organism” or not. This is the fundamental element in all conceptions of spiritual reality. It is not necessary to decide the question of a “spiritual body” or “ethereal organism” as the condition of believing in the existence of spirits. That is another and perhaps a secondary problem. What we need to know is, whether the stream of consciousness survives, whether the personal memory continues, not how it continues. The fact of survival is to be considered first and the condition of it afterwards.
Historical Review of “Split Personality”
Possible cases of split personality have been reported in the medical literature since the early 19th century, and the condition was formally defined in the first years of the 20th. But until recently it was considered extremely rare–fewer than 200 cases were described before 1980. The diagnosis became much more common in the 80s for several reasons. One was the phenomenal popularity of Flora Schreiber’s 1973 book Sybil, which told of a woman with 16 personalities. Stories of “multiples,” fictionalized or otherwise, were nothing new–The Three Faces of Eve dates from 1954, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” from way back in 1886–but Sybil made a crucial innovation, introducing the idea that multiple personalities stemmed from trauma during early childhood. Around the same time, child protection advocates and feminists began arguing that child abuse, especially sexual abuse, occurred far more often than previously supposed. And in the late 70s, in a phenomenon thought to be linked to the resurgence of Christian fundamentalism, reports of so-called satanic ritual abuse first captured the public’s imagination.
Presented with, on one hand, allegations of an unrecognized epidemic of crimes against innocents and, on the other, a simple mechanism to explain why their troubled patients couldn’t remember any abuse (i.e., the personality divides in order to shield itself from horrific memories), a small but devoted group of therapists began diagnosing multiple personality disorder with alarming frequency–more than 20,000 cases had been reported by 1990. Under the influence of hypnosis and other techniques, subjects reported dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of “alters” whose behavior, age, sex, language, and occasionally species differed from that of their everyday personas. Alters were coaxed into revealing bloodcurdling stories of abuse by family members, or of sacrificing their own babies to shadowy cults. One prominent multiple personality specialists claimed that the satanic network programmed alters into its victims, which it could then trigger to act in certain ways by sending them color-coded flowers.
By the early 1990s it began to dawn on rational folk just how preposterous the whole business was. Having investigated more than 12,000 accusations over four years, researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Illinois at Chicago determined that not a single case of satanic ritual abuse had been substantiated. A 1992 FBI study arrived at the same conclusion: overeager therapists had planted horror stories in the minds of their patients. In 1998 psychologist Robert Rieber made a convincing case, based on an analysis of audiotapes, that even the famous Sybil had confabulated her multiple personalities at the insistence of her therapist. The bubble burst, and diagnoses of multiple personalities subsided.
Some real Life Examples of Split Personalities
The first patient is a man named William S. Milligan, he was caught by the charge of rape in Ohio at 1977. As police and the psychologists examined him, they found the unbelievable fact that he had several personalities. Here are the first ten personalities they found. In The Minds of Billy Milligan;
1. The first personality is the main personality, Billy, twenty-seven years old, blue eyes, brown hair.
2. The second personality is Arthur, twenty-two years old, British. This personality and the next one are the keeper of the “Spot”, where they can have the control of the body, or become themselves open to the outer world through the body of Billy.
3. The third personality is Leigen, twenty-three years old, Yugoslav, who knows how to fight and can use gun and other dangerous stuff, controls the hate.
4. Fourth personality is Allen, eighteen years old, talkative, only one who smoke and right handed.
5. Fifth personality is Tommy, sixteen years old, knows how to unlock chains or handcuffs, and the specialist of the electricity.
6. Sixth personality is Danny, fourteen years old, always scared to something especially man, blond hair, blue eyes.
7. Seventh personality is David, eight years old, controls pain, red-brown hair blue eyes.
8. Eighth personality is Christine, three years old, cannot talk, blond hair, female.
9. Ninth personality is Christopher, thirteen years old, brother of Christine.
10. For the last tenth personality, Adarana, nineteen years old, quiet, lesbian, female.
Those were the main ten personalities of the William S. Milligan. As if you wonder how they know their outlooks, William Milligan, Billy has a hobby of painting, or some of the personalities do. Therefore, they draw each other on the painting and that is how they get to know their outlooks.
The woman’s name is Claudia Ellen Yascow. She was arrested by the charge of killing four people, which they found later that she was not the suspect. However, it was not unnecessary for the police to think that she was the suspect, because she had information of the scene that cannot be known unless the person has been there. Even though the information was confusing and messy because of her mental disease, police believed her and thought that she was the suspect, for she knew even where the pot and other little detail was at when the crime occurred. She was caught once but let go after few month with the check of psychologist that she has a incubation type of split minds, and the lie detector found her answer to the question that she was not at the scene when the crime happened showed what she said is true, “No, I did not.”
Her trouble is brought up mainly because of her mental disease, incubation type of split mind. Claudia is different, as she can always be herself even she is in a great pressure, but she will be losing a collect criterion to judge what kind of situation she is in. For example, when she was caught in jail, she truly thought that she was in a middle of movie taking and she was playing her rolls of main heroine. “Suddenly she put the smile on her face and said ‘I never thought that I could have a great chance like this,’ She leaned her head on the wall.’I’ve always thought of having a chance to do a big act like a big actress. I do have some experience of acting in few films as a supporting player, but if I play this murderess act, maybe I can be very famous.’ Dye stared at her and asked, ‘You think we are making a film right now?’ She slapped his hand softly, smiling, ‘Oh Dye, you have seen all those cameras at the corridor and those of TV’s. I hope I can have a deal with a lot of money coming in, you know it is kind of hard to act.’
As you can see above, by the shock she got from been captured by police, her mind had made an escape way from pain by believing that all the stuff going is an act and not a real deal. This is very close to what Billy has done to himself; only the difference is that fortunately, Claudia was not getting shocked when she was before teenager, but after she became an adult. I think that this is the reason why she was quite right in condition even though she had some mental problems since she was fourteen and had been looked after by a psychologist. Her case is still, with a great trouble, that in such a hard circumstance like in the police office, she would be nervous and will not be able to say what she really wants to.
As she says in Unveiling Claudia, “If I am lying to you right now, that is anything but my will. She is telling the truth here that her mind is trying to protect herself by not telling the truth about the matter, and she cannot help it. It is rather an act of her instinct, to let the shock coming above her because of telling and remembering the truth softer in order to not breakdown for it.
This has been appearing in the way of making the book. As she was making the confession about the murder, she always kept telling a one big story with half lie and half-truth. As you will find later that the truth was such a hard one that it was too much for her to remember it and telling it to the person who you met one or two years ago. This can be seen in Unveiling Claudia, ” ‘Claudia, I don’t know what I should believe in you.’ She put her hand on my shoulder and looked into my eye. ‘I’m sorry Dan. I do trust you more than before. But not enough.'” This conversation was held more than two years past after they have met, and as you can see that she is very careful about telling the truth and that is why she kept telling lie, or something that she believed it was a truth and unfortunately it was not. Although she is always careful about telling the truth, she is always an easy person to make believe. If someone tells her that she has a superstitious power, she believes it and so on. This has prevented her from stopping the murder, because she had known that the real suspects of the case had planned to proceed the crime week before the murder. However, she was busy and also her weak mind was scared with the pressure what if she tell it to the victim and the what if the suspects would know about it and come after her? In the way of her mind escaping from the reality, she started to believe that it was an oracle, and she could not stop the crime. This story was one of the reason she was arrested once by the story told by her friend that she knew that the crime is going the happen a week before, and the truth was different.
The shocking truth was told on the end, and it was shocking enough for her mind to look for some escape way. On the night when crime has occurred, she was forced to go to the place with a gay, right after the murder had happened. The man was gay but he had a gun in his hand and she could not refuse to go there with him. Their car came in front of the house just in time when two suspects where killing the victim, and after they had gone away, they went to the house’s garage where there was a one dead body of a man and one body of woman laying on the floor. Claudia was forced to put her hand into the dead woman’s genitals and find a bag of drugs. Now, this is a real hard and sick experience for the twenty-six years old woman, or any other person in the world. She was shocked and her mind could not stand it and she has lost her memories in order to prevent the breakdown.
After few days she found herself knowing about that crime but could not find out why she knows so much about it. She shared that story with police and they misjudged her as a criminal and put her in jail.
What they have to say
Article analysis by Joshua Burke
“My father is a metal health counselor here in the US. He has seen only 2 multiple personality disorders in his 20+ years of private practice. In both cases patients were former participants in covens. One was a willing participant and the other was supposedly the unwilling offspring of a “breeder” program.
Neither my father nor I are generally prone to believe such things for the very reasons that you put forth in your article but never-the-less both patients exhibited classic multiple personality disorder symptomology. In the case of the unwilling participant he came to the conclusion that the majority of the damage to her psyche had been done by a previous therapist, when he met with the therapist and watched him work with her he was then certain that this was the case… Perhaps this fits with your theory of therapists putting ideas into people’s heads.
Unfortunately, this leaves a difficult problem to solve… Whether or not the problem is caused by a therapist or by some other external force, what is to be done with these people? Regardless of *how* they got that way they still deserve to be whole persons who will probably require further therapy… The *cause* of multiple personality disorder is not so important to determine for these patients as healing is.
The process used by my father in his therapy sessions is called re-integration where the personalities are not taught how to *co-exist* but rather how to re-integrate with the main persona or the core identified “true self” as discovered in therapy. This re-integration can be very simple or complicated depending on the strength of a particular personality.
For instance, if a person has one major alternate and several minor ones the minor ones would be integrated first before the major etc. The difficulty arises because for each personality present there is a tremendous loss of individuality for each one and in each case this loss of an individual “persona” is often felt as a grief or loss of a friend for the true self. As each personality is re-integrated the true self becomes more in tune with its own emotions and feels this grief more keenly. For this reason it is important to take things slowly and to address only personalities that emerge rather than force anything.
In many cases a person’s sense of self may be so buried under all of these layers of ‘others’ that finding the true self may be the most difficult part of the therapeutic process. Often this self is so weak and lacking in will that it presents as a smaller, other personality. It takes caring, sensitivity and insight to help these people since this true self is often a very young child.
It might sound strange and eerie and it is… The problem with your argument of is it all in their head is that of course it is… Does that make it any less real for the people who suffer from it? It is very similar to people who experience vivid hallucinations, are those things real? No. Do they cause them grief and pain? Yes”.
Stay in touch and yes, do take care of your good self because you are precious.
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