I found it rather amusing that Hacking wrote about multiple personality and stylistically, his writing reflected that. It seemed to jump around, moving back and forth between ideas, much like multiplicity. I just thought I’d put that out there.
However, after listening to Jill’s lecture today, I was extremely disturbed by the fact that until the 1970’s, child sexual abuse wasn’t really talked about because we didn’t have the language to talk about it.
I’m taking linguistics concurrently this term and it intrigued me to no end how this could have been. We recently went over the idea that language is productive; that is, since our environment is always changing, our language has to adapt to those changes in order for us to be able to continue talking about them. If child sexual abuse existed, then by definition we should have had the capacity to talk about it. It occurred to me that perhaps it wasn’t a matter of not understanding child sexual abuse, but rather the victims of it not being able to talk about it as openly as it can be talked about today (ex. to a therapist etc.)
Furthermore, after we developed the language to talk about child sexual abuse, it also disturbed me that psychologists would correlate multiple personality with the abuse the same way that it was associated with hysteria in 19th century France. It seems so silly to think of things in such a formulaic way. I like to think of this using words as examples: if the plural of mouse is mice, then the plural of house is hice. Clearly that is not the case, and native English speakers will know this isn’t true, but attributing grammar rules to deviations and irregularities will cause what is known as “bad English”. Similarly, attributing a common factor, like child sexual abuse and hysteria, to a case like multiple personality which has many different defining features and has been difficult to diagnose in the past anyway causes detrimental effects to the patients.
It also plagued me to think about how the psychiatrists would actually impose multiple personality onto their patients through their goal of trying to uncover some sort of child sexual abuse that may not actually have been there in the first place, causing their patients to “remember” events that did not actually happen.
And if all of that wasn’t disturbing enough to me, I have to sleep with the book on my side table with the creepy cover staring back at me. Thanks a lot, Hacking…