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Multiple Personality Disorder

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Essay title: Multiple Personality Disorder

Multiple Personality Disorder

When you were growing up, did you have an imaginary friend? Did Mom and Dad have to set a place for Timmy at the table and serve him invisible food, or did all your aunts and uncles have to pet your imaginary puppy when the came over to the house? That's just pretend, though, kids having fun. So is a child pretending that they are someone else, forcing their parents to call them Spike, convinced they have a Harley even though they're only five. But what if this were an adult, someone who should "know better" convinced that they are someone else. If this were to happen, society would label them as crazy or delusional. Or, maybe, this adult suffers from a Multiple Personality Disorder.

Multiple Personality Disorder (or MPD) is a psychological disorder where a person possesses more than one developed personality. These personalities have their own way of thinking, feeling, and acting that may be completely different from what another personality is like (1). To be diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, at least two of the multiple personalities must dominate over the others on a slightly frequent basis (2). This results in an abrupt change in the way a person acts. Basically, they become another person in either an extreme or complete way (3).

MPD was first recognized in the late nineteenth century by Pierre Janet, a French physician. The disorder was later brought more to public awareness by The Three Faces of Eve (1957), a movie based on the true story of a pristine housewife who was diagnosed with MPD when she couldn't explain why she would suddenly become a very sexual person and not remember it. The eighties and the nineties brought on what was seen as an over diagnosis of MPD (1).

MPD is known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) in the psychiatric world (1). The reason for this change of label is that the term "multiple personalities" can be misleading (4). A person with MPD/DID is one person with separate parts autonomously comprising their mind . They are NOT many people sharing one body (5). Although it seems as though these "personalities" seem to be very different, it is important to understand that they are separate parts of the SAME person (4). It is not correct to say that someone with MPD/DID has "split personalities" as this denotes schizophrenia. A person with schizophrenia does not have connected thoughts and feelings, they are "split" (1). A person with dissociation, however, has memories, actions, identities, etc., that are unconnected. Different thoughts and feelings may be connected, but different thoughts and different memories may be connected to some and not the others. Everyone experiences this once in a while. Daydreaming, getting lost in a book or a movie, zoning out, etc. These are all moments of dissociation (4). Just because someone has MPD/DID does not mean they can not function in everyday life (2). Indeed, they usually have this disorder so that they CAN function.

There have been as many as 20 personalities [perhaps even 37] that have been reported (3). About 1% of the population has some form of MPD/DID. In fact, of patients in psychiatric hospitals, possibly up to 20% have MPD/DID but are misdiagnosed. With these statistics, MPD/DID can be put into the same category as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia as one of the major mental health problems at present (4).

Although the causes of MPD/DID are not completely understood it seems as if childhood neglect and abuse of some sort are the major causes (4). The abuse usually occurs early in life, before the age of nine, and is commonly repeated

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