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Dissociative Identity Disorder, God, and Minds…at Wheat and Tares

December 15, 2011

Multiple Personality Disorder

Earlier today I posted my latest post up at Wheat & Tares, The Problem of Other Minds. It was based on a MetaFilter post that I had seen a few days ago on Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder. From that post, I became acquainted with sidian3 and introduced to Multiple Personality Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder. (P.S., definitely check out that MetaFilter post…) I had heard of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), now called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), before…but I definitely didn’t know enough about it to have much of an opinion on it. I never saw or read the controversial books/movies regarding “Sybil,” and so I didn’t have any undue reason to be especially skeptical. And so I watched some of the videos from the MetaFilter post.

I started with sidian3′s video explaining the difference between personas and personalities. It seemed tame enough, but it seemed to make sense. There’s a sense that everyone has different “faces” to show in different social settings — how I act with my parents is different than how I act at work, and that’s different than how I act with my friends. But these different personas are all a part of one whole — me. I wouldn’t say that I have multiple personalities.

And so I continued with the MeFi post by watching the four videos where sidian3′s “alters” explain various aspects of their “system.”

And this is what my thought process was as I watched the videos…

First, I was pretty confused. Even though the various alters were trying to explain things about the system, I felt like I couldn’t put the puzzle pieces together. For one thing, while “Richi,” “Beth,” “Mimi,” and “Hari” were interviewed, some of these alters would also speak about “Cassie,” “Willow,” other “ghost alters,” and so on. I was confused when they mentioned “Tommy” as core personality, especially since “Cassie” was said to be the “leader” with certain powers over the other alters.

I thought some of the affectations were weird. So, Hari was supposed to be a little child…ok. And Beth is…English?  OK.

However, what fascinates me now was the extent to which I generally granted that it was probably legitimate. And so my second thought was of intrigue. I thought it would be neat to have that — especially if you could develop a cooperative system as involved as theirs is. Yes, I do play too many video games and read too many fantasy novels, and that probably has something to do with that fascination.

…but then, I began to realize there was something underneath the surface that I hadn’t been getting before (because I was too busy trying to keep the alters straight). How had they been formed? What was the reason for their creation?

That’s when I realized the horror. Identity dissociation doesn’t just happen for fun. It is a reaction to really bad stuff happening.

This really came out when Tommy was talking about the stages of cooperation (have you been watching the videos from the MetaFilter post as I’ve suggested?) — about how the alters are born from pain, abuse, etc., and have to *learn* that there is both more in the world (e.g., it’s not all abuse…there are some people you can trust) and less in the world (you have to work…you can’t just make things appear, etc.,)

And on top of all of this, there are many people — like many psychologists and psychiatrists — who will suppose that in order to “move past” this disorder, the best option is for the “core” personality to integrate the alters.

Anyway, I won’t go further because all of that was already in the Wheat and Tares post, of course. But, as the title of this article implies, it made me think about minds. Specifically, minds not of my own. And that spilled over into thinking about the idea of gods.

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