multiple personality

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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
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, 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
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 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.
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, 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).

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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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Proponents of the sociocognitive model claim that people with multiple personality are psychologically distressed individuals who respond to media presentations of DID and their therapists' suggestions by adopting the behavior of a person with more than one personality.
Alice Jamieson, author of Today I'm Alice, has been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder
Presiding Judge Akiba had court-appointed psychiatrists conduct such tests based on the defense counsel's request and judged that Oshima suffers from multiple personality syndrome.
A proposal is made here to re-evaluate behavioral accounts of personality and their relation to Multiple Personality Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 1987), now called Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).
Joseph Mahoney, a Catholic chaplain in Detroit who works with people suffering from multiple personality disorder.
This paper offers a behavior analytic account of personality and relates this to Multiple Personality Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 1987), now called Dis sociative Identity Disorder or DID (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).
Multiple personality was recognized in DSM III-R under its traditional name 'multiple personality disorder'.
(1986) Multiple Personality, Allied Disorders and Hypnosis, Oxford University Press, New York.
Contrary to popular belief schizophrenia is not"split personality" or "multiple personality," and the vast majority of people who suffer from schizophrenia are not dangerous to others.
In Sybil, based on the actual case history by Flora Rheta Schreiber (1973), a therapist (Joanne Woodward) treats Sybil (Sally Field), a patient who is suffering from multiple personality disorder(15) During the course of treatment, the therapist journeys to her patient's childhood home to search for corroborating evidence of childhood abuse.
In Carol Tavris's review of Elaine Showalter's Hystories in the same issue, we learn that Tavris is thrilled that Showalter is "braving the wrath" of feminist therapists, and that these same feminists are to blame for panics about satanic ritual abuse and multiple personality disorders.
Compared to these, the early pictures look like a simple case of multiple personality disorder.

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