Can Video Games & Biofeedback Help People with Multiple Personalities Regulate Emotions?

I read a lot written by women who believe they have multiple personalities who repeatedly express having difficulties regulating mood and controlling emotions. Psychotherapists selling treatment aimed at exploring alter selves and the alleged sexual abuse each personality claims to have experienced encourage venting of emotions like anger and rage as a means to re-experience the past, and thus get well.

I obviously think that multiple personality states do not exist, but many people disagree with me – particularly those who believe they have alter selves or parts. Let’s suspend our extreme differences of opinion for a moment and look at how the gaming industry may assist someone interested in emotion control and/or regulation whether you believe you have many alter selves or no alter selves.

1963 pinball machine

1963 pinball machine (Photo credit: jkbrooks85)

Researchers are finding that video games can teach children to regulate emotions. A video game player who can regulate anxiety performs better than a child who cannot steady and calm themselves in order to perform a task like hitting a target. So why not use that information and transfer the skill and knowledge to help child-personalities control themselves in real life situations?

I love video games – especially arcade games – my passion began as a little girl when I sneaked around the corner to the barber shop to play pinball. Yes, I was a child pinball-wizard – until Mom caught me and ushered me home. ūüėČ

So, what’s my attraction to video games forty years later? I enjoy aiming at a moving target – and hitting it! I love the physical and mental challenge, the sights and sounds games use as a reward and I like seeing my score move up the international scoreboard. I currently play mindjolt’s game (it’s free) “math lines”. Come on by and see if you can beat me – then come on back and tell us about your experience. Challenge yourself to remain calm while balls whirl around and see what happens. I know my competition and have midnightmomma51 & philssister in my sights. Got a free game you like, challenge me!

I inadvertently learned that I do better at video games when I control anxiety & a wandering mind. When anxious, I miss the intended target so I taught myself to remain calm, concentrate, breathe and focus even when colored balls are moving, the tempo of the music rises, and my score is headed for the toilet. The better I do at emotion regulation the better chance I have at moving to the next level and increasing my score. I’ve learned other techniques and tricks at winning video games ..but they are top-secret. Hey, I can’t tell you everything!

Intense anger and rage expressed by child-personalities are expressed in various ways. Some women who call themselves multiples (as in multiple personalities) get depressed or abuse alcohol while others develop additional personalities. Some cut themselves and/or make attempts to suicide to relieve tension and distress. Emotional expressions of this type are obviously less than optimal and interfere with day-to-day functioning. Developing multiple personalities are believed to be a creative way for an individual to cope with a childhood fraught with severe trauma. How about getting creative while learning a new skill and having fun too? I’m willing to bet that personalities will change. The need constant need for psychotherapy and clinging to a therapist may change too.

Why not use video games to learn to regulate emotions and to control the anger and rage of child alter-personalities instead of relying on a therapist or taking medication? Multiples repeatedly report that their little child personalities love to play games — why not present these imaginary children with a video challenge aimed at reducing and controlling what may seemingly be out of control behavior? If it works for real kids, why can’t it work for imaginary kids to?

The question remains. How can child alter selves, or personalities, learn to cope with extreme angry outbursts and fits of rage? A more pertinent question for those who think multiple personalities exist is: how can a child alter personality grow up, become an adult, and disappear or otherwise stop creating havoc? There are some therapies available that do not pander to multiple personalities or alter selves. But in order for another type of psychotherapy to be effective, the patient must be willing to try a different brand of psychotherapy or at least add something to what is already established. There is probably more to gain than to lose

There is at lease one huge obstacle to using video games to curb the chaotic behavior of enraged child personalities; that is the therapist – with a capital T. A psychotherapist peddling this destructive therapy in the first place, will unlikely encourage patients in this direction because the patient, god forbid, may become independent. The therapist, therefore, risks losing guaranteed income if the patient gets well and chooses to leave treatment. I am not saying that these therapists are consciously interfering with their patient’s welfare; it’s likely they think they are instrumental in creating wellness even though their rate of success (if defined as an emancipated patient) is very low.

Heck, if biofeedback via video games is effective for real children why not use it on imagined children if the outcome of better functioning and mental health is the outcome?

Can biofeedback-based videogames help kids regulate anger and emotions?


Video Game With Biofeed­back Teaches Chil­dren to Curb Their Anger (Sci­ence Daily):

‚ÄúChil¬≠dren with seri¬≠ous anger prob¬≠lems can be helped by a sim¬≠ple video game that hones their abil¬≠ity to reg¬≠u¬≠late their emo¬≠tions, finds a pilot study at Boston Children‚Äôs Hos¬≠pi¬≠tal. Results were pub¬≠lished online Octo¬≠ber 24 in the jour¬≠nal Ado¬≠les¬≠cent Psy¬≠chi¬≠a¬≠try‚ĶThe fast-paced game involves shoot¬≠ing at enemy space¬≠ships while avoid¬≠ing shoot¬≠ing at friendly ones. As chil¬≠dren play, a mon¬≠i¬≠tor on one fin¬≠ger tracks their heart rate and dis¬≠plays it on the com¬≠puter screen. When heart rate goes above a cer¬≠tain level, play¬≠ers lose their abil¬≠ity to shoot at the enemy space¬≠ships. To improve their game, they must learn to keep¬†calm.‚ÄĚ

Related arti­cles:

Sharp Brains describes themselves as “an inde¬≠pen¬≠dent mar¬≠ket research and think tank track¬≠ing brain fit¬≠ness and applied neu¬≠ro¬≠plas¬≠tic¬≠ity trends. AARP recently named The Sharp¬≠Brains Guide to Brain Fit¬≠ness a Best Book on the subject.”

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Can Video Games & Biofeedback Help People with Multiple Personalities Regulate Emotions? by Jeanette Bartha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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1 Comment

  1. avalon111

     /  11/08/2012

    Many’s the time I thought playing Halo or Battlefield or Clal of Duty would help regulate anger issues.

    I mean its obvious – look at all the kids who play 16 hours on these games everyday and how relaxed they are.



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