multiple personality

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

multiple personality,

a very rare psychological disorder in which a person has two or more distinct personalities, each with its own thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behavior. The personalities often are direct opposites and dominate at different times, with abrupt transitions triggered by distressful events or memories. Each may be entirely unaware of the other but aware of unexplained gaps in remembered time. In psychiatry the condition is known as dissociative identity disorder. The term "split personality," denoting schizophreniaschizophrenia
, group of severe mental disorders characterized by reality distortions resulting in unusual thought patterns and behaviors. Because there is often little or no logical relationship between the thoughts and feelings of a person with schizophrenia, the disorder has
..... Click the link for more information.
, refers to an unrelated disorder in which the split (separation) is between thought and feeling.

Multiple personality was first recognized and described by the French physician Pierre JanetJanet, Pierre
, 1859–1947, French physician and psychologist. As director (1890–98) of the laboratory of pathological psychology at Salpêtrière and as professor of experimental and comparative psychology at the Collège de France from 1902, he made
..... Click the link for more information.
 in the late 19th cent. Public awareness of the disorder increased in contemporary times after a case was the subject of The Three Faces of Eve (1957). In the 1980s and early 90s, such factors as recognition of child abuse, public interest in memories recovered from childhood (whether of actual or imagined events), allegations of so-called satanic ritual abuse, and the willingness of many psychotherapists to assume a more directive role in their patients' treatment, led to what came to be regarded as a rash of overdiagnoses of multiple personality.

The cause of multiple personality is not clearly understood, but the condition seems almost invariably to be associated with severe physical abuse and neglect in childhood. It is believed that amnesiaamnesia
, [Gr.,=forgetfulness], condition characterized by loss of memory for long or short intervals of time. It may be caused by injury, shock, senility, severe illness, or mental disease.
..... Click the link for more information.
, the key to formation of the separate personalities, occurs as a psychological barrier to seal off unbearably painful experiences from consciousness. The disorder often occurs in childhood but may not be recognized until much later. Social and psychological impairment ranges from mild to severe. The primary treatment is psychotherapy to help the individual integrate the separate personalities.


See study by J. Acocella (1999).

multiple personality

[′məl·tə·pəl ‚pər·sə′nal·əd·ē]
A personality capable of dissociation into several or many other personalities at the same time, whereby the delusion is entertained that the one person is many separate persons; a symptom in schizophrenic patients.
References in periodicals archive ?
Although Skinner (1953) had suggested we all might display multiple personalities, Kohlenberg (1973) first proposed a learning theory account for a disorder of multiple personality.
1985) 'Childhood Multiple Personality Disorder: Predictors, Clinical Findings and Treatment Results', in R.
During my residency a faculty member brought one of his patients to a case conference to illustrate multiple personality disorder (MPD) (later recast as dissociative identity disorder [DID] in DSM-IV).
In her brutally honest autobiography, Today I'm Alice - A Memoir of Multiple Personality Disorder, she describes how the abuse shaped her life.
A survey of 30 medical students found that 25 diagnosed Gollum with schizophrenia, with three citing a multiple personality disorder.
If it is simply a matter of observing what someone says and does, how is this "psychosis" different in kind from an overdiagnosed (and possibly nonexistent) "neurosis" such as multiple personality disorder?
Brooklyn Heights, New York: she sits on the pink downy edge of my bed, sifting through a book she has pulled from my bookshelf, Ian Hacking's Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory.
Dissociation may even lead to multiple personality disorder in which a person harbors a number of separate identities.
LOS ANGELES -- A sultry and sweet chanteuse one minute, a bold and edgy rocker the next, singer/songwriter Wensday brings a magical multiple personality to her explosive debut album Torch Rock.
Author Debbie Nathan has reportedly discovered the letters of the three women, all dead, who formulated the concept of multiple personality, which later become an officially recognised psychiatric diagnosis.
Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder: A Survey of Current Practices.

Full browser ?