MULTIPLE PERSONALITY

A rare dissociative reaction in which two or more relatively independent personality systems develop in the same individual.Only about a hundred cases of this highly publicized disorder can be found in psychiatric records. Each of the personalities has characteristic and well- developed emotional reactions, thought processes, behavior patterns, and mannerisms. Secondary personalities often give themselves different names, wear different clothes, and have different handwriting from the primary personality. Usually the personalities are strikingly different and even opposite: one may be inhibited, the other uninhibited; one timid, the other aggressive; one thrifty, the other extravagant; one prudish, the other promiscuous.The patient changes over from one personality to the other suddenly and without warning, for periods lasting from a few minutes to a few years.Generally the two or more personalities are not aware of each other, but occasionally the second or “co-conscious” personality is aware of the thoughts and reactions of the primary, dominant personality: B knows A, but A does not know B. In some cases B indicates his awareness of A through automatic writing or by performing some mischievous action such as charging extravagant purchases to A at a department store. See automatic writing AND DRAWING, PRINCE.Multiple personality is a gross exaggeration of normal behavior. All but the dullest among us have conflicting tendencies and occasionally do things that are surprising to ourselves as well as to others. Such tendencies may be a dynamic source of creative ideas and flexible adjustment, and contribute substantially to the excitement and satisfaction of living. Practically all of us can harness our conflicting urges and direct them to positive purposes. A few individuals, however, have such acutely incompatible urges that they do not succeed in adjusting their different personality tendencies to each other, and when subjected to stress may unconsciously adopt another solution. They cut away the unacceptable side of their personality and mold it into a separate self which appears to act on its own. In this way they are able to put forbidden urges into practice without feeling the tension and guilt that would haunt them if they were carried out in normal life. In a word, multiple personality enables them to eat their cake and have it too.Naturally this is no satisfactory solution to conflict. The personality is still at war with itself even if the armies are kept apart. The way to solve emotional problems is through integration not disintegration, through association not dis- association. The first step in integrating the personality is to bring the secondary personality fully to the awareness of the primary personality. This is usually accomplished by applying special techniques, such as hypnotic suggestion or sodium amytal interviews. The therapy is generally successful.Multiple personality is not to be confused with schizophrenia, which literally means split personality. In schizophrenia the split is not between different total personalities, but between different processes of the same personality. The individual is so disorganized and fragmented that his thinking, motor activity, and emotions are at odds with each other

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "MULTIPLE PERSONALITY," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/multiple-personality/ (accessed December 12, 2019).
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