A recent visitor to this blog, who was raised in a chaotic home with a mother diagnosed with multiple personalities, shared some of the horrors she and her siblings lived through during their childhood. She asked me to address the topic of sanity. Many scholars have spent years contemplating and writing about sanity – their work graces shelves and shelves at libraries around the world, but here I am humbly attempting to address her questions.
I don’t presume to know what sanity is – it’s a cultural definition that changes from country to country, tribe to tribe, and clan to clan. American’s, the British & Canadians, and gurus in India and China may think they have a handle on it but all is subjective. The United States publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) slated to be updated in a few years. That publication is steeped in controversy and politics but is it the authority on mental disorders and sanity? It created heated debates between clinicians who disagree whether or not dissociative identity disorder/multiple personality disorder should be included. Did that fact show the psychology industry that something was wrong? No.The arguments continued, the politics continued. Proponents won. DID/MPD will be included in the forthcoming DSM V. Besides legitimizing a controversial illness, all the DSM does is give clinicians a resource to find symptoms and its assigned number so they can bill an insurance company and collect reimbursement for their time.Unfortunately, many patients misunderstand what this book is and they point to it as proof that dissociative identity disorder exists and is a real condition. Is it, perhaps, a warped argument to say: here, here’s a book that proves I am not insane when I tell you I have this insane, non-existent illness?
To address whether or not multiples are sane is an issue I feel somewhat competent to address but understand my opinion is mine as are my experiences. I can tell you I’ve known many multiples and lived with several of them simultaneously when I was held captive in a psychiatric hospital for a total of 1040 days – yes, I counted. We were together 24/7 and I probably have more accumulated time with them than most people – patients and therapists included (except those who work on psych wards). It’s one thing to chat on the Internet all day with like-minded multiples, and another to wake up with multiples, share meals, therapy sessions, and hang out with them in a hospital lounge waiting for one of our friends to be released from restraints so all of us could go play at the snack bar. I knew their families, grieved their family member’s deaths, celebrated graduations, marriages, and the birth of grandchildren. I mourned with my multiple friends when one of us committed suicide. We hugged, we cried, we erected monuments to them in the woods behind the hospital. We were afraid, wondering which one of us was next.
Yes. I think people with multiple personalities are sane. If they weren’t, arguments, debates, and heated discussions would be different. It’s most difficult to argue with a sane person who believes and clings to insane ideas, theories, and who chooses to embrace a lifestyle fraught with chaos, pain, coercion, and undo influence by practitioners. I do not question the existence of horrific childhood abuse but I vehemently oppose the existence of multiple personalities as a creative way to cope with it.
Talk about insanity: I fled treatment after realizing Dr. Stratford * was cuckoo. I went underground to escape him and his crazy therapy. After finding a place to sleep for the night, I was alone and had a lot of time to think about what I had experienced the previous 6 1/2 years. I knew Dr. Stratford was hell bent on getting me back into treatment so I kept on the move – never staying at the same motel twice – until I finally got on a plane and left Philadelphia entirely. He had invested his professional reputation on my treatment; I was one of his prized guinea pigs who was meant to be transformed into a well person who had beaten childhood sexual abuse and would become a mouth piece for the MPD movement much like Chris Costner Sizemore (AKA Eve) had done. He would be lionized for his brilliance and dedication. What was really happening was that I was being set up to suicide as other patients of his had done. The insanity of the belief in multiple personalities could not have been more evident.
Multiples are sane yet misguided individuals. Switching personalities is nonsense and their emergence is calculated much of the time if they were to be honest with themselves. To me, instead of remaining an adult, the patient, often with prompting or encouragement of a therapist or loved one, changes into a child or other entity as a method of coping with inner turmoil. Why, I ask over and over, does the therapist or significant other refuse to acknowledge the alter personality and not demand the person remain a responsible adult to discuss issues or to cope with daily living. I think that behavior borders on insanity – but I digress again.
I have only met a few multiples whom I believe had an untreated mental illness beneath the multitude of personalities they presented. Add psychotropic drugs legally administered as chemical straight jackets to control behavior and we have a patient misdiagnosed and untreated. They are denied the mental health treatment they need and deserve.
In conclusion: Yes, people who think they have multiple personalities are sane. What therapists do during treatment is insane and does little more than keep their patients coming back.
- Canadian doctor’s scathing report on multiple-personality disorder says it should never have been included in DSM-V (mentalhealthmatters2.wordpress.com)
- Dr. Phil Exposes Deranged Psychotherapist (mentalhealthmatters2.wordpress.com)