Multiple Identities and False Memories: A Sociocognitive Perspective (Spanos, 2001)

By Nicholas P. Spanos, PhD

Pages: 371
Item #: 4318541
ISBN: 978-1-55798-893-5
Publication Date: August 2001
Format: Softcover

Multiple personality—the mysterious capture of the body by alien, unseen personalities, or “alters”—is the stuff of courtroom drama and the basis of riveting accounts like Sybil. It’s also a staple in horror movies, and that, according to Nicholas Spanos, is where it should stay.

In Multiple Identities and False Memories, Spanos, one of the world’s leading experts in the study of hypnosis, delivers a blistering rebuttal to long-held assumptions about multiple personality disorder (MPD) or dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Written in a forceful, unapologetic style, and bolstered by a thorough examination of the relevant science, this book argues that MDP, or DID, is not a legitimate psychiatric disorder but a cultural construct, one with roots in earlier beliefs about demonic possession and upheld today by misguided psychotherapists and their patients.

Multiple Identities is a vivid, scholarly statement on a subject that fascinates psychology professionals, sociologists, cultural critics, and lay readers alike.

This softcover edition is a re-release of the 1996 hardcover edition.

—John F. Chaves and Bill Jones

About the Author

  1. Introduction

I. The Use of Hypnosis as a Therapeutic Tool

  1. Hypnosis: Mythology Versus Reality
  2. High Hypnotizability and Dramatic Behaviors
  3. Hypnotic Amnesia, Posthypnotic Response, and “Brainwashing”

II. Creating False Memories

  1. Distortions of Memory
  2. The Seduction Theory: Old and New Versions
  3. Child Sexual Abuse and the Fate of Abuse Memories
  4. Hypnosis, Age Regression, and Memory
  5. Complex False Memories, Body Memories, and Hypnosis
  6. UFO Abduction: An Example of Complex False Memory
  7. The Experimental Creation of Multiplicity

III. Multiple Identities in Other Cultures and Times

  1. Cross-Cultural Studies of Spirit Possession
  2. Historical Manifestations of Demonic Possession
  3. The Social Functions of Possession
  4. From Possession to Dual Consciousness
  5. From Dual Consciousness to Multiple Personality
  6. The History of Dissociation

IV. The Theory of Multiple Personality Disorder

  1. Multiple Personality Disorder and Social Learning
  2. Correlates of Multiple Personality Disorder
  3. Child Abuse and Multiple Personality Disorder
  4. Multiple Personality Disorder, Recovered Memories, and Sociopolitical Considerations

V. Conclusion

  1. Final Thoughts


Author Index

Subject Index

[An] important volume that no serious student of MPD (multiple personality disorder) can ignore…[Spanos’] scholarly review of hundreds of years of multiple identity enactments, spiritual and demonic possession, animal magnetism and hypnosis, memories of UFO abductions and previous lives, and the history of the concept of disassociation will be of great interest to thoughtful readers regardless of whether they are persuaded by his arguments. As one of the last works, this volume stands as a fine tribute to Nicholas P. Spanos and his distinguished career.
—Contemporary Psychology®, 1998, Vol 43, No 3

Spanos weaves MPD and FMS together through an understanding of how hypnosis works, how memory is easily distorted, and how child sexual abuse as a real phenomenon was incorporated into therapy belief systems…This is an excellent work that should be added to the bookshelves of skeptics and scholars, and should be required reading for therapists seeking credentials.
—Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1997

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