Multiple Personalities



Multiplepersonality disorder can be considered as a disorder where a person’sconsciousness is organized into a series of distinct dissociativestates that are centered on specific effects, modes of cognition andperception, body images, behaviors, as well as state-dependentmemories (Erlendsson, 2003). The transitions amid these ratifiedstates are considered abrupt and discontinuous compared to thetransitions amid normal states of consciousness. The evidence forthis disorder dates back to the Paleolithic era, but it was not untilthe late 18thcentury that recorded cases of presence of exchanged personalities.The validity of the multiple personality disorder as a category ofillness has been questioned by different individuals. Someindividuals point out that the disorder can only become caused byhypnotic induction and does not occur in real life situation.Sometimes, the disorder is confused with schizophrenia because theterm schizophrenia emerges from the concept of having splitpersonality (Harrison, 2006). In the category of illnesses (DSM-IV),multiple personality disorder has also been named DissociativeIdentity Disorder (DID). The purpose of this paper is to discuss themultiple personality disorder, its history, its epidemiology,aetiology, diagnosis, as well as features of different personalities.

Historyof Multiple Personality Disorder

Thisdisorder can be considered as an interesting psychological disorderbecause, throughout history, different cultures have been confrontedwith persons that claim to have multiple personalities. In history,the disorder could be associated by some people, with the possessionof demonic spirits. However, individuals in the mental field haveindicated that the disorder cannot be explained in terms ofspirituality alone. In the 1800’s Pierre Janet commenced a thoroughstudy in medicine, psychology, and philosophy and through the studiesstarted to make connections between a person’s childhood traumaticexperiences and an individual’s present day capacity to function.From the studies, Pierre Janet was in a position to connect thedissociative behaviors to traumatized childhood memories. The releaseof early films such as Sybiland Evehelped in the development of a new social awareness of disorders.Through psychophysiological research that was led by Brandsman,Ludwig, Bendfeldt, Wilbur, and Jameson that resulted in thedevelopment of Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-3rded., which indicated that multiple personality disorder wasdiagnosable. The recent release of Diagnostic and Statistical Manualof Mental Disorders TR-IV in 2000 has seen an accurate diagnosis ofthe disorder and the multiple personality disorder has now beenrenamed as the dissociative identity disorder (Abdel-Aziz &ampSalama, 2005).


Theprevalence of multiple personality disorder has been indicated to bemore frequent in women compared to men, and only approximately 0.1%of the population will present their case to the psychiatricservices. The idea of the illness is usually neglected by a majorityof the clinicians who rarely make a diagnosis. Research has indicatedthat when individuals are forwarded on acute wards, about 6% of thepatients become diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.Approximately 40% of patients who are offered the diagnosis ofmultiple personality disorder have been indicated to have been giventhe diagnosis of schizophrenia (Erlendsson, 2003).


Theprimary causes of multiple personality disorder have been indicatedto be abuse as well as neglect in childhood. Nevertheless, it isacknowledged that it may be induced in adulthood and this is stillbeing used in undercover operations by the military operations. Thechild abuse model as well as the conceptual model has been used inexplaining the cause (Abdel-Aziz &amp Salama, 2005). According tothe child abuse model, the cause of multiple personality disorder issupposed to be ruthless sexual trauma in a child, which was sopainful such that it needs to be dissociated from the child. In thiscase, two predisposing aspects need to be present. The first aspectis the biopsychological ability to dissociate, which is identifiedwith a high responsiveness to hypnosis. Alternatively, the secondaspect entails repeated exposure to strict stressful environment forinstance, the environment in an abusive family. On the other hand,according to the conceptual model, dissociation is seen as theseparation of a thought or idea process from the ordinaryconsciousness. In this case, there is involuntary putting out ofconsciousness.


Thediagnosis of multiple personality disorder is missed more regularlycompared to when it is made. A patient having multiple personalitydisorder is likely to have experienced three or morehospitalizations, amid three and five erroneous diagnoses andapproximately seven years in the mental health system prior to theproper diagnosis of multiple personality disorder is made(Erlendsson, 2003).

Mostpatients having multiple personality disorder are usually aware to adegree of having behavior switch. They may at times individuals thatthey do not recognize, but who indicate they know them. Also, theyfind themselves having things at home, which they do not evenremember putting in the house. These individuals may experience blankperiods from childhood, but may depict some flashbacks (Harrison,2006). Furthermore, they can hear speaking voices in their hands andeven may have visions at times. It is critical for clinicians to makediagnosis after talking directly to the patient so as to notice someof the behaviors and conditions of the patient. In order to help inthe clinical interviews during diagnosis, there are differentquestionnaires as well as structured interviews that have beendeveloped. These help in the measurement of dissociation.

Makingthe diagnosis of multiple personality disorder is exceedinglycritical since therapeutic work can be very successful. Among thedifferent severe psychiatric diagnoses, multiple personality disordermay be the condition that carries the best prognosis in case there isproper undertaking and completion of treatment (Abdel-Aziz &ampSalama, 2005). Also, the diagnosis may be of benefit to the victimsince the patient may undergo proper therapies and end up becomingnormal again, which is beneficial since a person can carry outresponsibilities as normal.

Featuresof Different Personalities

Thenumber of personalities may vary from 2 to more than 100. Because oftheir variety, they emerge as complex to be identified by clinicians.These personalities may have their own name, mood states may bedifferent, and may depict different behavior (Harrison, 2006).Besides, these personalities may have their own different mannerismsas well as facial expressions. One of the most common identifyingfeatures of multiple personality disorder comprises of suicidalideation as well as suicidal attempts. Furthermore, there aredifferent physical attributes that may change such as dominanthandedness, sensitivity to allergens, and visual acuity among others.


Duringthe treatment, it is important to set limits since it helps a patientcontain as well as eliminate maladaptive and self-defeating behavior.Setting the limits to a patient also provides a dyadic model, whichis different from object relationship. Behavior therapy and cognitivetherapy are critical, and both can be recommended to go together.Treatment time following diagnosis is lengthy, and may average about2-7 years. According to the recommended treatment provided by theInternational Society for Study of Dissociation (ISSD), there shouldbe a three one-hour dynamic psychotherapy sessions in a week, and ifpossible, support in between the sessions. Also, they recommendtreatment for a minimum of 2 years and some for up to 7 years(Abdel-Aziz &amp Salama, 2005). In case this is prepared in terms ofhours, it implies that the treatment requires 200-1000 hours oftherapy time, which may emerge as expensive.


Multiplepersonality disorder describes a disorder where a person’sconsciousness is organized into a series of distinct dissociativestates that are centered on specific effects, modes of cognition andperception, body images, behaviors, as well as state-dependentmemories. Sometimes, the disorder is confused with schizophreniabecause the term schizophrenia emerges from the concept of havingsplit personality. The prevalence of multiple personality disorderhas been indicated to be more frequent in women compared to men, andonly approximately 0.1% of the population will present their case tothe psychiatric services. Most patients having multiple personalitydisorder are usually aware to a degree of having behavior switch.They may at times individuals that they do not recognize, but whoindicate they know them. Also, they find themselves having things athome, which they do not even remember putting in the house. Theseindividuals may experience blank periods from childhood, but maydepict some flashbacks. According to the recommended treatmentprovided by the International Society for Study of Dissociation(ISSD), there should be a three one-hour dynamic psychotherapysessions in a week.


Erlendsson,H. (2004). “MultiplePersonality Disorder-Demons and Angels or Archetypal Aspects of theInner Self”

Thisarticle provides different aspects of the multiple personalitydisorder such as its aetiology, epidemiology, and its diagnosis. Italso tries to argue whether the disorder is a possession orpersonalities.

Abdel-Aziz,A. &amp Salama, M.D. (2005). Multiple Personality Disorder: A Reviewand a Case Study. JIMA:Vol. 37.

Thissource provides an overview of multiple personality disorder, how itwas developed, its etiology as well as its epidemiology. It alsooffers a case study for the same. Furthermore, diagnoses of thedisorder as well as various treatment options are provided in thearticle.

Harrison,L. (2006). “MultiplePersonality Disorder: an alternative theory

Thissource discusses the issue of multiple personality disorder. Thediagnostic criteria for the disorder are provided as well as thedifferent models that can explain the disorder.


Abdel-Aziz,A. &amp Salama, M.D. (2005). Multiple Personality Disorder: A Reviewand a Case Study. JIMA:Vol. 37.

Erlendsson,H. (2003). “MultiplePersonality Disorder-Demons and Angels or Archetypal Aspects of theInner Self”

Harrison,L. (2006). “MultiplePersonality Disorder: an alternative theory