Monthly Archives: January 2015

A Man-Made Illness?

I have many pressing questions regarding multiple personalities as they are addressed in Hacking’s Rewriting the Soul. One of my greatest curiosities is why there has been such an exponential increase in cases of this “disorder” over the past fifty years. Hacking attributes this extreme increase to something he calls “the human loop.” He claims that patients began to fit the description of having multiple personalities because their psychiatrists were telling them how to act, for the “doctors’ vision was different because the patients were different; but the patients were different because the doctors’ expectations were different” (Hacking, 21). This claim of Hacking’s is puzzling to me. To suggest that people having other mental problems, such as depression and others resulting from some trauma, can begin to mimic the description their psychiatrists give them of multiples seems wrong. Yet how else are we to explain this fluctuation in the number of cases other than some external influence, like the media or doctors’ predetermined prototype description?

What is more, I also cannot comprehend how one can determine which of a multiples’ alters is “the right one” or the one which best represents the person’s true personality. Thus I agree with the more modern approach for the treatment of this illness, which is to try to unite all the different alters into one personality rather than the earlier approach, which was to kill off all alters which were not “the right ones.” Still, I wonder how the multiple feels about the statement that only one of their personalities or alters is the true one.

Questions summarized:

1) Why has there been such a great increase in cases of multiples over the last fifty years?

2) How can one decide which personality is the best representative of the person?