Existence Multiple Personality Disorders Debate

Multiple Personality Disorders


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Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is a mysterious condition and remains controversial. Biological psychiatrists who use medication for treatment claim that MPD in most cases, is non-existent. However, it is iatrogenic, in cases where it does exist. In other words, they mean that the condition is created by therapists who train their patients to view their symptoms as though they carry a separate set of personalities. Nevertheless, specialized clinicians take the condition with notable seriousness. They even arrange for separate meetings with the various facets of the patient’s personality. The believers in the existence of the condition, based on data, highlight that the various personalities come with various electroencephalogram history. The cynics, on the other hand, will claim that actors can trigger various EEG tracings when they decide to switch between characters (Bhandari 2020). Like other psychiatrists, I have my considered view regarding dissociative disorders. The argument in this paper is based on the view that, indeed, Multiple Personality Disorder exists. The paper seeks to support this position through cogent arguments and counter-opinions before arriving at such a conclusion.

Arguments for the Existence MPD

Defining MPD, and who is likely to suffer

MPD manifests as a complex psychological condition caused by a wide range of factors, including trauma in childhood. Such trauma is usually one that is repetitive, severe, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Multiple personality disorder is an extreme dissociation form. It is a cognitive process that causes disconnection in one’s thoughts, memories, actions, feelings, or identity (Bhandari 2020). Dissociative complications are thought to be caused by a set of factors that could include someone with the disorder being traumatized. Dissociation is believed to be a way to cope with the experiences. Such a person shuts off from the experience that is too searing and violent to bear, trauma, or pain, to assimilate with his conscience.

The Difference between MPD and Other Related Disorders

Multiple personality disorder manifests with two or more split identities or characteristics that control behavior. MPD victims commonly forget crucial personal information in a way that is too glaring that it cannot be brushed off as sheer forgetfulness. Memory variations are a common symptom with MPD victims, and they often fluctuate.

While not all victims experience the same symptoms of MPD, for some, the various alters have their varying ages, race, and sex (Brand et al. 2016). Each of them exhibits their gestures, distinct gait, postures, and even how they talk. Sometimes, the”alter” are imaginary persons or even animals. As a particular personality emerges, reveals, and takes control of the individual, it is referred to as switching. The switching phenomenon varies from minutes to hours to days, weeks, and even months. Some of the cases call for hypnosis in the situations where the”alter” is responsive to the requests of the therapist.

More signs of MPD include amnesia, headaches, trances, time loss and”out of body experience”. Some individuals with this condition tend to lean towards self persecution, sabotaging oneself, outwards, or self-inflicted violence. For instance, a person with MPD could easily engage in an activity they would not ordinarily even begin to do if they were in their normal state. Some of the actions commonly noted include over speeding, stealing personal effects from close people, among others. However, they are compelled to engage in such activity by their condition (Ringrose 2018). Some victims describe the feeling as another person taking charge of their body. They feel helpless and cannot drive their body and choices anymore.

Dissociative disorders change a person’s psychological processes in several profound ways.

· Depersonalization: This involves detachment from one’s own body. It is commonly referred to as an out-of-body encounter

· Derealization: the world appears to be unreal, foggy, and farfetched.

· Amnesia: A person in this mental state is unable to recall important personal information to such an extensive level that it cannot be ordinary forgetfulness. Microamnesias also exist, in which the current discussion is forgotten fast within the same session.

· Identity alteration and identity confusion: they both entail a sense of confusion regarding who one is. One of the shreds of evidence of identity confusion is when one finds it hard to identify the things that interest them in life. They may also fail to point out their sexual orientation, religious or political views. They might not even tell what they wish to achieve professionally. Some cases present distortions in time, situation, and place.

· It is observed that the dissociated states are neither mature nor independent personalities. Rather, they are a disjointed form of identity. Amnesia is a typical symptom of MPD. The various states of MPD remember details about the same individual in part. The host personality usually identifies with the real name of the individual (Bhandari 2020). Strangely, the host personality is often unaware of the presence of other personalities.

MPD Does Not Exist

Multiple Personality Disorder was classified afresh as Dissociative Identity Disorder in the earlier version of DSM in the DSM-IV. The classification was retained in the current DSM-V. Based on the fact that the establishment of mental health decided to reclassify the condition, signals that the very idea of the disorder is not stable. It is open to debate and impossible to pinpoint (Lazarus 2011)

In MPD or DID cases identified, at least two of the personality states frequently take control of the individual’s behavior. They are, then, not able to recall critical personal information in such a way that is too profound to be regarded as common forgetfulness. Based on this premise, therefore, not a single therapist has dealt with a genuine case of MPD. Therefore, not even one clinician in their practice spanning decades has ever identified an individual with genuine MPD (Lazarus 2011). In reality, if the condition ever existed, or exists, it would be extremely rare.

Considering that”Sybi” who experienced a bizarre odyssey through the intertwining complications of MPD and still sold millions of books and won an Emmy award for their TV mini-series was found to be a hoax and a fraud (Nathan 2011), defending the existence of MPD becomes even harder. The consumer is, therefore, exposed to the danger that if a therapist is led into the box of believing that there is MPD under focus, they will end up creating a non-existent condition, with misleading evidence (Lazarus 2011). It is also problematic that some of the clinicians encourage patient behaviors that are consistent with the MPD label. The latter practice means that the patient will likely act more like what they have been tuned to think they are suffering from.

In every case where a patient is claimed to suffer from MPD, it has been revealed that the”alter” were creations of the therapist who inadvertently, naively, and enthusiastically encouraged. Some cases are a result of imitations of friends or emulations of movie characters or as a result of participating in multiple chat groups. MPD is more a product of gullible or suggestible therapist than it is a real condition (Frances 2014). None of the cases claimed was convincing enough, and none had a spontaneous onset of MPD.

MPD has come with numerous fads; a situation that is associated with the labeling of alters, which seems to appeal to what appears to be a dramatic metaphor. Suggestive individuals find DID a convenient option. They describe their conflicting feelings because of modeling, pressure, guidance, and external authority. The metaphor, however, acquires an imperious independent life and feels real to the patient. This leads to invalidism, regression, and negative response to treatment/therapies (Frances, 2014). Many of the patients who present with MPD have real psychiatric disorders that are covered by the MPD guise. The peak of the fad was in the 90s, where it appeared that after every three or four patients, you would have one presenting with MPD. The modal for those presenting with the condition increased exponentially from just two individuals to 16 (Frances 2014).

Counter arguments to opposing arguments

To think that MPD does not exist just because it was reclassified in the DSM-IV is a laughable argument. Recent findings point to a strong foundation to prove the existence of the disease. 1) It is possible to diagnose MPD using semi-structured interviews included Structured Clinical Interviews for Dissociative Disorders-Revised and DDIS (Dorahy et al. 2014). It is also possible to diagnose MPD in clinical surroundings where there may not be structured interviews for use by the clinician. 2) Clinicians in community, outpatient, and in-patient environments around the world commonly and consistently identify MPD patients. It is possible to differentiate MPD patients from psychiatric patients, DID, and healthy controls with psychological and neurophysiological research. Dissociative Identity Disorder patients gain from psychotherapy, which addresses dissociation and trauma using consensus templates.

The debate that MPD does not exist is based on the premise that the characteristic episodic fads notice the unreal nature of DID. This assertion is misleading since there is a research body that is expanding and investigates the neurobiology, prevalence, assessment, structure of one’s personality, assessment, cognitive patterns, and MPD treatment. The research offers evidence of the content of MPD, construct validity, and the criterion (Brand et al. 2016; Dorahy et al. 2014). The allegation that MPD is a fad, and that it failed isn’t backed by an exam on the body of research on the subject.

The commonly touted myth that DID is iatrogenically generated is indeed a myth. Those who make this claim argue that there are various influences such as suggestibility, which is a fantasy that therapists use questions and procedures that subtly hint at the existence of MPD (Brand et al. 2016). There is no study of any population clinical or otherwise to support such a myth. Two more research lines challenge the theory of iatrogenesis of MPD. There is a research that was conducted in cultures where MPD is not known well; the second one relates to chronic abuse during childhood, among adult subjects who exhibited MPD. Three research studies have also been conducted in areas where MPD was not known at all. The researchers used structured interviews for diagnosing MPD, among the subjects. Several individuals were diagnosed with the condition in the focus Chinese population, although there is no MPD in the Chinese Psychiatric manual (Brand et al. 2016; Yu, et al. 2010). The study of the Chinese population and two others conducted among a Turkish population in which there was little or no knowledge of MPD comes into conflict with the iatrogenesis claims. In one of the studies in Turkey, the researchers identified four MPD cases. All the cases reported incidences of abuse and or neglect during childhood.

Some critics of MPD postulate that the treatment used for the condition is harmful. Such claims fly against empirical evidence that shows improvement in the signs that patients of MPD display at the onset. Thus, it is not harmful. There was also a study on consecutive admissions to an in-patient trauma program in Norway. The study found that dissociation does not improve if amnesia and self-states that are dissociated aren’t addressed directly (Jepsen et al. 2014). None of the patients exhibiting MPD symptoms had undergone treatment for any dissociative disorder. Indeed, the treatment program did not focus on the dissociative disorder in the first place (Jepsen et al. 2014). The study’s approaches reduced to the minimum or even eliminated any possibility of the claimed therapist suggestion in MPD diagnosis.


There is a conspicuous and persistent interest in expanding the body of knowledge regarding MPD. MPD is a genuine psychiatric condition notable across the globe. It can be diagnosed reliably by trained experts and clinicians across communities. According to research available, MPD is a condition that is triggered by traumas one experienced in the past, particularly in childhood. The condition responds to treatment therapies based on the guidelines provided by researchers in the field. MPD is characterized by two or more split or distinct identities or personality states which take control over the behavior of a person. Clear and established approaches to diagnosing MPD have been developed in the recent past. Research has also established an MPD existence. Unfortunately, the cost of ignorance regarding MPD is high for both individual victims and the support system they live in. Empirical knowledge of MPD is available. Myths about the condition have no pace in a knowledgeable society. There is, therefore, a need for a vigorous spread of information regarding the condition.


Bhandari, S. (reviewer). Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). WebMed (2020). Accessed 20 June 2020 https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder#1-4

Brand, Bethany L., Vedat Sar, Pam Stavropoulos, Christa Krüger, Marilyn Korzekwa, Alfonso Martínez-Taboas, and Warwick Middleton. “Separating fact from fiction: An empirical examination of six myths about dissociative identity disorder.” Harvard review of psychiatry (2016).

Dorahy, Martin J., Bethany L. Brand, Vedat ?ar, Christa Krüger, Pam Stavropoulos, Alfonso Martínez-Taboas, Roberto Lewis-Fernández, and Warwick Middleton. “Dissociative identity disorder: An empirical overview.” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 48, no. 5 (2014): 402-417.

Frances, A.J. Multiple Personality: Mental Disorder, Myth, or Metaphor? Psychology Today, (2014). Accessed 20 June 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/saving-normal/201401/multiple-personality-mental-disorder-myth-or-metaphor

Jepsen, Ellen KK, Willie Langeland, Hal Sexton, and Trond Heir. “In-patient treatment for early sexually abused adults: A naturalistic 12-month follow-up study.” Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 6, no. 2 (2014): 142.

Lazarus, C.N. Why DID, or MPD is a Bogus Diagnosis. Psychology Today, (2011). Accessed 20 June 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-well/201112/why-did-or-mpd-is-bogus-diagnosis

Nathan, Debbie. Sybil exposed: The extraordinary story behind the famous multiple personality case. Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Ringrose, Jo L. Understanding and treating dissociative identity disorder (or multiple personality disorder). Routledge, 2018.

Yu, Junhan, Colin A. Ross, Benjamin B. Keyes, Ying Li, Yunfei Dai, Tianhong Zhang, Lanlan Wang, Qing Fan, and Zeping Xiao. “Dissociative disorders among Chinese in-patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.” Journal of Trauma & Dissociation 11, no. 3 (2010): 358-372.

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