Split Personality Essay

Essay/Term paper: Multiple personality disorder

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Multiple Personality Disorder

More than two million cases can be found altogether in psychological and psychiatric records of multiple personality disorder also called dissociative identity disorder. It is often thought that multiple personality disorder is a trick, a bizarre form of "play-acting" that is committed by manipulative, attention-seeking individuals. It is not. Multiple personality disorder is a "disorder of hiding" wherein 80-90% of multiple personality disorder patients do not have a clue that they have the disorder. Most know that there is something wrong with them; many fear that they are crazy, but few know that they have a disorder.

What is Multiple Personality Disorder?
Multiple personalities is a dissociate reaction to stress in which the patient develops two or more personalities. Each personality has a distinct, well-developed emotional and thought process and represents a unique and relatively stable personality. The individual may change from one personality to another at periods varying from a few minutes to several years. The personalities are usually very different and have different attitudes; one may be happy, carefree and fun loving, and another quiet, studious, and serious.
People can have up to fifty personalities or more. All personalities usually will have their own name and their own role. For example one personality can be the keeper of pain, his role is to take and feel all the pain that the other personalities come in contact with. The personality also can have their own appearance, but this does not mean the person changes its outer image it is just the way he/she sees inside his/her head. The personalities will also have different ages, talents, and likes and dislikes. For example:
In the novel, The Minds of Billy Miligin, there was a man who had twenty-four personalities. All of his twenty-four personalities were different. They had different ages, their own appearance, and some were of the opposite sex. The personalities all had their own role and their own talents. There was one personality that was right handed all others were left handed, only one smoked, one had a British accent another Slavic. Many used their own talents some liked to paint, one was an escape artist, one was a karate expert and another a sculptor.
Various types of relationships may exist between the different personalities. Usually the individual alternates from one personality to the other, and can not remember in one, what happened in the other. Occasionally however while one personality is dominant and functions consciously, the other continues to function sub-consciously and is referred to the co conscious personality.
Relationships may become highly complicated when there is more than two personalities.
In many cases of multiple personalities the personalities will talk of a spotlight. The spotlight is how they come into the conscious world. All the personalities live around the spotlight whoever stands on it finds himself or herself in the conscious world leaving the other personalities unaware of the personality's actions. This leaves the next personality that comes into consciousness in total amnesia.

Causes of Multiple Personality Disorder
Multiple personality disorder often forms with a person who has been deprived of love and friendship and with a person who has been abused. These people make up friends for themselves, but not just and imaginary friends these friends form there own personalities. These people may also make up other people who are not scared or people, who can not feel pain to turn deal with abuse, which also turn into separate personalities. These people usually deny what is happening and may live their lives without anyone finding out about their disorder.

The degree of vulnerability of the child has a great impact on the amount of personalities the person will have. The typical female multiple has about 19 personalities; male multiples tend to have less that half of that. For example a male multiple from ages 7 to 10 who was sexually abused a half-dozen times by a distant relative is going to have far fewer personalities than a female multiple who was severely physically, sexually, and emotionally abused by both parents from infancy to age 16. The female could easily develop 30 to 50 (+) personalities, even in the hundreds. Although its important to remember that every person is different so there may be some people with many personalities and not that much abuse. Or allot of abuse and not that many personalities.

Some signs that a person has multiple personality disorder are:
1. History of depression or suicidal behavior.

2. Childhood history of physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse... reports one parent was very cold and critical reports of "wonderful" parents by a person who is clearly emotionally troubled.

3. Abusive relationships in adulthood

4. Strong attacks of shame; sees self as bad or undeserving sacrifices self for others feels does not deserve help; is a burden, reluctant to ask for help is sure you do not want to be troubled with seeing him or her

5. Reports being able to turn off pain or "put it out of my mind."

6. Self-mutilation or self-injuring behavior.

7. Hears voices.

8. Flashbacks (visual, auditory, somatic, affective, or behavioral)

9. History of unsuccessful therapy.

10. Multiple past diagnoses (e.g.: major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse).

11. History of shifting symptom picture.

12. Reports of odd changes or variations in physical skills or interests.

13. Described by significant other as having 2 personalities or being a "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde." 14. Family history of dissociation.

15. Phobia or panic attacks.

16. Substance abuse.

17. Daytime enuresis or encopresis.

18. History of psychophysiological symptoms.

19. Seizure-like episodes.

20. History of nightmare and sleep disorders.

21. History of sleepwalking.

22. School problems.

23. Reports psychic experiences.

24. Anorexia or Bulimia.

25. Sexual difficulties.

Cures of Multiple Personality Disorder

There is treatment for multiple personality disorder, but the disorder usually can not be cured completely. The personalities can be combined to form one core personality the "original" person. This process of integrating all the personalities into one is complicated and does not work in several cases. The personalities will fuse together for awhile, but than break apart when put in a stressful or unsafe situation. Recovery from multiple personality disorder and childhood trauma takes of five years or more. It is a long and difficult process of mourning. The important thing to remember is that recovery does and can happen.

For many observers, multiple personality disorders are a fascinating, exotic, and weird phenomenon. For the patient, it is confusing, unpleasant, sometimes terrifying, and always a source of the unexpected. The treatment of multiple personality disorder is excruciatingly uncomfortable for the patient. Their childhood traumas and memories must be faced, experienced, digested, and integrated into the patient's view of him/herself. Similarly, the nature of one's parents, one's life, and the day-to-day world must be re-thought. As each issue or trauma is dealt with the alter personality that deals with it can disappear. The personality is no longer needed to contain undigested trauma.
In a sense we are all multiple personalities in that we have many conflicting tendencies and frequently do things that surprise both others and ourselves. This is illustrated by common sayings such as, "I don't know why I did it" or "I didn't think he had it in him." But most of us do not develop distinct separate personalities.


"Specific Neurotic Patterns",
pg. 245 - 247

"The Minds of Billy Miligan",
Keyes, Daniel

"Mental Disorders",
Martin, Ruth, Crowell Co. 1992, pg. 23 - 25

"The Voices Within"



"FIRST PERSON PLURAL": My Life as a Multiple
Cameron West, Ph.D

"Silencing the Voices"
Jean Darby Cline, Berkley June 1997


"I Never Promised You a Rose Garden"


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Anne Webster, RN


When I was fourteen, my Uncle John—then in his twenties—chased his pert, blonde wife through their neighborhood with an axe. Grandmother explained that he had something called schizophrenia, or a split personality. I imagined the playful, sweet John I knew cut down the center, as with that axe, the nice part off him peeled away from the violent half.

A few years later when I graduated from high school, I thought of John, and wondered if, like him, my two halves would always be at war. In my case, the smart, creative person and the numbingly practical fought to control my future. Despite a desperate yearning for college, where I wanted to follow in the footsteps of one of my two heroes—the impressionist Mary Cassatt or the scientist Marie Curie—my divorced mother, a government stenographer, declared she could barely feed and clothe me, much less pay for college. She suggested instead that I use my typing skills to take a government job as a stenographer in the Forestry Department where she worked.

When I received a scholarship to nursing school, I accepted it with Mother’s full approval. Since the scholarship paid $175 toward the total $300 tuition for three years, a sum that included room, board, and uniforms, it would be an education that she could afford. And, I reasoned, anything would be better than sitting in an office typing meaningless documents.

During the first quarter of nursing school, I could almost pretend that I was a regular student. Mornings, I road the bus downtown with my classmates where we attended classes at a local college for thirty quarter hours of science credits; afternoons were devoted nursing classes at the hospital. But after three months, in addition to our course load, we found ourselves taking care of patients a couple of hours a day.

I was soon to learn that nursing school in the late fifties was little more than indentured servitude. In return for our upkeep, we students provided a labor pool that staffed the hospital night and day. The two hours an afternoon soon became five hours each morning, giving baths and making beds, in addition to classes on pharmacology and “Nursing Arts.” At the beginning of the second year, our clinical hours expanded to six days a week of eight-hour shifts, with classes thrown in extra. If I was on night duty, for example, I would sleep three hours after breakfast, go to classes all afternoon, and try to catch a nap before going on duty at eleven p.m.

The brutal schedule that I worked left me little time to think about the college I was missing. Still, the urge to develop that other part of me, the would-be artist whose pastel drawing of a desert scene had won an art contest in the fourth grade, nagged at me. I sketched whatever I saw in my dorm room—furniture, ashtrays, even my feet. But the relentlessness of class, study, and work drowned out everything else.

In my last year of school, our class went for a three-month psychiatric affiliation at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia. During those months, we traded our terrible hours for the day shift and a five-day work week, taking care of the mentally ill. The huge campus housed twenty-five thousand patients, many of whom had been “warehoused” for life.

There I learned the true meaning of schizophrenia as I tended immobile catatonics, jabbering hebephrenics, and people who seemed perfectly sane until you mentioned something that triggered their delusions. “Isn’t that nice music on the radio?” I once asked an elderly woman. “It’s the aliens!” She shrieked and covered her ears. ‘They’re sending rays through the radio to control our brains.”

Back at my home hospital, I spent the remaining nine months of nursing school on night duty. As a senior, I took charge of an entire floor with fifty-two patients, at a time when there were no ICUs; critical patients were mixed in with the appendectomies and bleeding ulcers. With little preparation, I was introduced to people with DTs, fibrillation, and crushing chest injuries, patients who somehow survived my care.

But of all the illnesses I encountered, schizophrenia frightened me most—the malady of being taken over by irrational thought.

Despite having learned first hand at Milledgeville the true meaning of the disease, Uncle John still came to mind when, as a young RN, my opposing parts clashed. The girl who had dreamed of college, of becoming an artist or a doctor, railed against her existence as the busy, low-rung practitioner she’d become. To appease her, one night each week I abandoned my husband and small son for the Atlanta School of Art, where I took classes in drawing and composition, still-life and landscape painting. Finally I realized that, though I could competently render a bowl of fruit, I would never become the next Mary Cassatt; the visual imaging part of my brain refused to come up with anything new.

Still smarting from feeling shortchanged by my one-sided technical education, I went to Georgia State University for those courses in the arts and humanities I’d been denied as a student, courses that I’d hoped would turn me into—if not an intellectual—someone who understood her world.

But something important was still missing from my life. What could I do with that urge, the one that made me want to record my world? After I stopped drawing and painting, I began writing down my impressions of patients on three by five index cards with no idea of what I would do with them. When my sister Rosemary had a few poems published, she started hosting a group of writers at her house and invited me to join. Within months, I knew I’d found my creative home. Instead of struggling to force something into being as I had with painting, writing came naturally, and soon some of my poems appeared in local literary journals.

As satisfying as that was, this new outlet only deepened the schism I felt at work. Did that doctor who yelled at me when his patient went bad realize—or care—that he was berating a published poet? When the other nurses chatted about their kids, new curtains, or boyfriends, I kept mum about the poems I wrote. I could imagine their stares, as if I’d grown another head. The few times I’d mentioned my writing to friends, say at a dinner party, a stunned silence had followed.

I worked that way for twenty years—an earthy, competent nurse and a closet writer housed in the same body. But along the way I had discovered that writing gave me a way to cope with the trauma of dealing with sick and dying patients. Contrary to what non-nurses think—that the bodily realities of disease, injuries, and excretion are difficult to face—it’s the emotional pain of watching patients and their families suffer that takes a toll on their caregivers. Eventually I began a novel, spurred on by a patient I’d seen in the ER, one whom I felt sure had been murdered but had been declared a suicide. When my closest friend dropped dead at 39 while dancing on the eve of a divorce from an abusive husband, I could only retreat to my desk and write page after page of verse, a chaotic jumble that later became a published poem.

I eventually quit nursing for a few years to devote myself to writing. I finished the novel about the man who died in the ER, as well as another prompted by a battered woman, another ER patient. I wrote more poems, consulted on writing projects, and taught business writing. Finally I felt comfortable in my identity as a writer.

But I missed that other part of me—the nurse. Like an amputated limb, it begged to be itched. When my daughter-in-law was severely injured—her uncle’s Great Dane bit off her chin—I spent weeks at her bedside while she endured repeated surgeries to restore her face, time that made me realize my nursing skills were as important to me as writing, maybe even more. Though my poems had been widely published in literary journals, I felt sure the number of people who had read my work were fewer by far than those patients whom I’d nursed back to health or through terminal illness to their deaths, patients whose lives I could enrich at a time when they were at their neediest.

After a three-month refresher course, I went back into nursing, taking a demotion from my last job as a critical care administrator to one as a staff nurse on a cardiac unit. I had never been happier. On the three or four days a week I worked, I wholeheartedly devoted myself to the patients. On my days off, I wrote poems, attended writing groups, and taught a correspondence course in business writing. When something terrible happened to a patient—like an infected post-op cardiac bypass patient who hemorrhaged to death, his incision spewing blood all over the room—I knew how to put the trauma outside myself. That patient became both a poem and a part of a memoir, as well as a permanent resident of my heart.

I’ve since learned that the schism I’d felt exists in many people. A friend and successful businesswoman told me that she has to tamp down her creative side to succeed, reminding me that we met many years ago in a poetry workshop. Another friend shares her ambitions as dancer and actor with a practical personal trainer. And, coming full circle, my roommate from nursing school, following her interest in history, writes brochures for historic sites and has published a biography of Stephen Foster.

It’s now been half a century since I was that eager teenager first donning a uniform. Looking back at my career, I have no regrets about the college degrees that I didn’t earn. The second-rate education I had once hated led me into work that has provided me with the satisfaction of knowing I’ve helped fellow humans in a meaningful way. The same work continues to provide me with fuel for my other life—that of a writer. At last I have become a whole person, the two disparate halves no longer at war.

fromRattle #28, Winter 2007


Anne Webster has combined a career in nursing with writing and leading workshops. Her poetry has appeared in such literary magazines as The New York Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, and Mediphors, along with several anthologies, including Intensive Care and The Poetry of Nursing. Her collection of poems, A History of Nursing, will be published early in 2008 by Kennesaw State University.

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