Is Multiple Personality Disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder) “crazy”? Actually, it’s considered a creative solution, usually emerging accidentally in childhood, to keep from going crazy when experiencing something beyond what the psyche can handle, like torture. The vast majority of multiples experienced torture as children in one way or another.
(Today MPD is called Dissociative Identity Disorder, but many of us prefer the old term as more descriptive of our experience.)
How multiple splitting comes about: Under extreme stress, a person, especially a child, might “leave their body” to psychically escape unbearable pain; the mind, however, keeps recording the body’s experience – now on a blank slate – which then becomes another, separate personality.
The initial separation sets a repeatable pattern in the person called dissociation (dissociating mind from body); with ongoing stress, the pattern is repeated again and again, creating more and more alternate personalities, called “alters.” Since some of the alters are too afraid to come back into the body and risk torture again, they remain children. Interestingly, their young psyches may actually help the body stay young-looking – until an older alter comes out.
While the fragmentation of the psyche is not “normal,” each of the fragments, alters, is sane. They each have a sane perspective on their piece of the world. If they escaped pain, they have a psychology that never experienced pain and is normal for that experience. If the alter was one that did experience pain, they may have a neurotic personality, but totally appropriate to and sane for their experience.
Most positive: with all those alters, multiples have potentially more perspective than most – like insects with multiply-faceted eyes. The trick is coordinating the alters, helping the suffering ones heal, giving disruptive alters appropriate new “jobs” and identities, and if communication is a problem, helping everyone communicate, etc.
In ancient societies, multiples were supported and often honored for their diverse perspectives and skills, usually broad, including a range of skills from the mundane to psychic – as the alters who spent the most time dissociated from the body often develop significant psychic skills. These individuals were often trained as shamans.
In modern society, on the other hand, there is little recognition, much less appreciation or caring support for multiples. Some find good therapists, but many do not, and the cause of their affliction, the torture, is typically ignored by society. If individuals cannot function well enough to pass as un-fragmented, they live as “disabled” – even though they may have a lot of wisdom with all their perspectives.
Relationships between the alters can be very different from multiple to multiple. Some alters are entirely unknown to the other alters, which causes tremendous problems for the person. Sometimes a person has “co-conscious” alters which work together quite successfully (like myself), though there may be disconnected alters as well that cause occasional problems.
Children under torturous conditions who don’t “leave their bodies” and dissociate often become schizophrenic. So dissociation, MPD, is a blessing in disguise, having saved the child from a far worse possibility. MPD/DID is fairly easy to heal (unless complicated by mind control); schizophrenia, on the other hand, is considered incurable.
Being a multiple personality has not been easy, but it’s been far less difficult than typically depicted in books and movies, and in some ways, it seems to be an advantage: Many of us discover we have the capacity to manage a wide variety of mental tasks, having a lot of “minds” holographically in our beings. Managing them all is the trick.
The common perception of “multiples,” as being tragically out of control, is true for some, but many multiples are also very high-functioning, many even testing at genius levels (as I have a few times). Granted, we also often have severe mental, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual challenges as well – as readers of my book can appreciate.
As for the torture that causes multiple-ness: In the past, torture of children usually happened by accident, a child surviving a wild animal attack, for instance. Unfortunately, their propensity for dissociating was noted by people lacking empathy and any moral code, and they learned to take advantage of them, making literal slaves of the multiples.
In the 1940s, China and the United States, each seeking to protect their wartime secrets from their adversaries, began to experiment on soldiers, splitting their minds through torture – their own citizens, as well as others around the world.
The CIA eventually developed at least 123 mind control programs, the CIA Director testified to the Senate. Researchers have further uncovered evidence that an estimated 20,000 American or Canadian children and many more adults were used between the late 1940s and the mid 1970s – individuals who had no idea they were experimental subjects, did not give their consent, and have never been acknowledged, assisted in healing, or compensated.
The CIA director testified that they destroyed all the files because they wouldn’t do anyone any good. As a consequence, no subject can prove they were involved and disabled in this program.)
Few researchers or subjects believe they destroyed our files. They will never destroy our files, because they have tens or hundreds or thousands of us in some state of useful functionality or dysfunctionality, and no scientist would throw away the product of millions or billions of dollars of research over the decades. No way. So we live with ongoing surveillance, “doctoring,” being used as an amnestic agent and/or being used as an experimental test subject for the newest drugs, technology, and/or programming.
It is clearly criminal, the sort of thing that the United States has apologized for in recent decades, usually a century late. But today everyone is terrified to be the front person for a challenge to this. And even though we have testimony of the highest caliber, the courts refuse to accept our personal testimony that we know we were, and are still, subjects, and most of us have memories breaking through we’re willing to testify about.
The gravity of this crime is so great that it terrorizes, entrances, silences, subdues our fellow citizens, also useful.
More on American mind control history is in my page “Mind Control Defined.”
More of my personal experience is in my post “Multiple-ness: What it Feels Like.”