Tag Archives: Multiple Personality

Childhood Trauma: Does ‘Multiple-Personality Disorder’ Exist?

multiple personality disorder

does multiple personality disorder exist?

I have written other posts on DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS of which one is DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER, commonly referred to as ‘MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER’. I will not repeat what I’ve already said in other posts, but, essentially, DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS refer to the idea that, under enormous stress, some people will ‘cut off’ (dissociate) from unbearably painful reality (as they perceive it) as a psychological defense mechanism.

In the interests of fairness, I have decided, in this particular post, to look at arguments AGAINST one specific dissociative disorder, namely DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER (D.I.D), or, MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER. My own position, for what it’s worth, is one of neutrality.

Although there is a sound and quite compelling theory behind why D.I.D should occur, together with research evidence which purports to support its existence and the idea it is often caused by severe childhood trauma, critics point out weaknesses in this ‘supportive’ research evidence. For example, whilst a correlation has been shown to exist between its reported existence and experiences of childhood trauma also reported by the sufferer, it has been pointed out that a correlation does not necessarily imply causality (as all beginner statisticians know). In other words, just because a person who has reported suffering from D.I.D and also reports having suffered severe childhood trauma, this does not prove that the latter has CAUSED the former.

Some critics go a step furter in their skepticism, and challenge the idea that D.I.D. exists at all. They draw our attention to the fact that much of the ‘evidence’ (I use inverted commas in representation of the critics’ stance) for its existence derives from patient self-reports, as does the ‘evidence’ that they’ve suffered severe childhood trauma. Often, such ‘evidence’ goes entirely uncorroborated.

multiple personality disorder

It has been suggested, even, that in order to support their own theoretical frame-works (which they may have a vested interest in preserving) some psychotherapists may put the idea of the condition into the patient’s head, especially if they use hypnosis as one of their therapeutic tools (the suspicion being the idea of the condition’s existence is given to the patient through suggestion – individuals tend to be, after all, particularly suggestible whilst under hypnosis.

Furthermore, it has been stated that the media must bear some responsibility; many novels and films, after all, have plot lines revolving around a character with ‘multiple personality disorder’. It is said that this does not only fuel the idea of its existence in the public’s imagination, but it may even give certain disturbed individuals ‘the idea’ and they may, in some sense at least, mimic the symptoms they have learned about from such media. Such critics have even suggested the individual purporting to have the condition is doing so in a desperate bid for attention.

I must stress again that my own position is neutral, and, in the interests of such neutrality, I shall conclude by pointing out that very recent research has supported the genuineness of the condition. These researchers have also clearly stated that D.I.D. is likely to serve an adaptive and protective function as a defense-mechanism against intolerable mental anguish, as suggested in my opening paragraph.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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