Multiple Personalities: A Lifestyle of Choice

It wasn’t until the mid 1980s that hundreds of women believed they had multiple personalities and began to live their lives accordingly – whatever that meant. By the 1990s their numbers at least doubled. Richard Kluft, M.D., Bennett Braun, M.D., Cornelia Wilbur, M.D., Colin Ross, M.D., Richard E. Hicks, M.D. a other proponents at the center of the multiple personality debacle, had significant influence on their colleagues. Kluft confesses  –  “not much has changed over the years.”

Kluft is wrong, and so are the others whether or not they admit it. The change in the relationships between adult-multiples and their birth families is devastating for all – except for Kluft and others who conjure up theories, treat patients, collect numerous paychecks and then go home to enjoy the weekend. These medical doctors are either unaware or don’t care about the human carnage left behind their therapeutic wake. The impact of this psychotherapy on the families of multiple’s is profound.

You may be wondering what I mean by ‘lifestyle.” When I was misdiagnosed (by Kluft and my treating psychiatrist) and believed I had multiple personalities, life was difficult every hour of every day. It was difficult to live alone and find a means to support myself, difficult to be in and out of a hospital, difficult to be with family – difficult to be without them, and difficult to be uncertain about my future. Would I always be multiple? would I recover? were questions that plagued me.

Stress was enormous. Everyone around me believed I had multiple personalities stemming from horrific childhood sexual abuse. If they didn’t believe I was a survivor, they were replaced by others who did. Over time, my family was shunned and then cut-off altogether because I was brainwashed into believing they would impede my recovery and/or damage me further. I missed being a part of the lives of the children in my family as they grew up, missed birthday parties with kooky cakes and presents, holidays with traditional foods, songs and celebrations. I missed it all – by choice.

I was the only one in the family who was multiple; the only one who had been abused. I alone was the survivor of multi-generational sexual torture, secrecy, and nefarious acts. Common sense was no longer working in my brain. If I was the only one relating abuse stories, wasn’t it possible I was the one who was wrong – rather than declaring that everyone else was in denial? Nope. Again, that common sense switch was turned off.

I chose to surround myself with other multiples who said they were similarly abused and I allowed myself to be guided by a psychiatrist who promoted abuse theories and encouraged me to stay away from family. I’m the one who went to art therapy, to music therapy, and who sequestered myself either in my apartment, or in a hospital room ingesting psychotropic drugs ordered to relieve psychic pain by my negligent psychiatrist.

If I changed one thing about my multiple-lifestyle be it a new apartment, different friends, or treatment at a different hospital by a different psychiatrist it would have been the collapse of my social and psychic infrastructure – I unknowingly proved that theory right when I fled therapy. I found that shedding the multiple-lifestyle left me with nothing but a need to rebuild my life from the ground up.

Knowing multiple personalities didn’t exist and that the psychiatrist had a personal agenda was helpful, but didn’t put my life back together. It didn’t instantly mend my family; didn’t reinstate my career or give me a regular paycheck. I was homeless and on the run from the psychiatrist who was eager to find me and return me to treatment even if it was against my will – he court ordered treatment before and I knew he would do so again.

It’s unfortunate that multiple personality doctors and others similarly influential in the DID movement don’t spend an extended time with multiples and/or their families. If they reunite families, these theorists and therapists have a lot to lose. Some would lose their entire practice, other would lose book deals, TV consulting contracts, and the admiration of colleagues of they stopped to look at the human carnage they create. If any one of them decided to decry the multiple lifestyle as one of utter dysfunction and chaos and, instead, promoted lifestyles based on health and growth – without multiple personalities they would create an unprecedented stir in the psychiatric community that would ultimately heal many people – this time, at their own demise. Reinstate “do no harm” would kill the careers and lucrative income of many mental health care providers.

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9 Comments

  1. Worried Family

     /  03/10/2015

    I am a close family member of someone diagnosed with DID and PTSD who is currently in the care of one of the “highly esteemed” and published doctors mentioned above. My loved one has spent a lifetime (30+ years?) in therapy of various types with a variety of diagnoses. We, her family, feel that she is in the stranglehold of her current psychiatrist and in a state of total dependency on him and the multiple prescriptions he provides for her. These include Percocet, Ativan, Cymbalta, Wellbutrin, Provigil, Xanax … She has done the multiple pharmacy routine and she has been given undated prescriptions for Percocet. Periodically, she has concerns about all of the meds she’s on and when she voices these concerns to her psychiatrist, he tells her that this is not the time to titrate because of the stress she is under but he assures her that he has done this many times with numerous patients (!) and that she will gradually be able to come off the meds when the time is right. I ask you, what kind of doctor says that to a patient? Is she part of a research study? Who is to gain from this? We are just not sure where to go with all of this. Our loved one defends her well-educated, credentialed, published, TV-consulting psychiatrist. She does not see her addiction and instead, she presents her family with “gag orders” about what we may not say or discuss. You see, “we just don’t understand.” Like the gentleman who responded above, we have spent years supporting, being patient and kind and coming to rescue. We have spent those same years at times overlooking, denying and acting like everything was fine when we knew it wasn’t. And now, our loved one’s life is a shell of a diagnosis filled with drugs and endless physical ailments. My question is this: where do we go with this and what do we do to help our loved one reclaim her life before it unravels completely?

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    • Hello Worried Family,

      I would think the first issue is that your daughter is an adult which means you have no access or influence on her treatment.

      One thing you could try is making a complaint to your state licensing board. It should trigger an investigation. She could question the meds to them and tell them what you’ve said here. I think that questioning her meds is a good sign.

      Your story sounds similar to mine. I started exercising and when the need for sedatives lessened, I woke up and was able to leave treatment.

      Are you a member of the False Memory Syndrome Action Network? There are other parents there asking similar questions.

      Best to you. Let me know if you have other questions. Jeanette

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    • Hello, Worried,

      It sounds like you are entangled with Kluft. I had an interview by him so I’m fully aware of some of his techniques.

      There is a Facebook page, for members only, where families and former patients and many researchers gather. If you are interested, let me know.

      I am sorry to hear you are in such distress. My family was too and no one knew what to do. It depends on your family.

      I’m assuming you are in PA. Anyway, every state has a licensing board where you can make a complaint. Other than that, a lawsuit might be the only way.

      You might contact the False Memory Syndrome Foundation in Philadelphia. They will offer you information you might find useful.
      Best, J

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  2. Anonymous

     /  04/04/2013

    Hi, I just wanted to relate how D.I.D (M.P.D) has been for me. I did experience abuse as a child, some that I remember and some details I cant. since that time, when I was very young, I always had ‘imaginary friends’ that would talk to me, and help me when upset.
    In junior school I asked my friends why they’re imaginary friends were ‘outside’ their body, not in their head…they didnt know what I was talking about, so I stopped asking people…
    there was less activity (inside my head) over the next two or three years that i was aware of, but my parents asked advice from many professionals trying to explain how I could switch moods so suddenly, how I could be un-aware of things that they had said to me just minutes before. in my teen years I experienced missing time from a few minutes to hours…and was told I said and did things that were completely uncharacteristic for my usual self. other issues I was dealing with were depression, eating disorder and self injury. which were my original reasons for going into therapy, as I started to talk about my problems, and become very stressed and emotional my counsellor noticed changes in my personality, a psych team, who had been supervising my therapy for over a year finally suggested to my parents the diagnosis might be D.I.D though they were not experts and I would have to see a specialist (my parents did *not* tell me what the team had said) I went to the specialist, who over about 3 to 4 weeks of sessions confirmed the diagnosis of D.I.D after asking me questions that were not easily swayed, and did not encourage me to say anything that wasnt already true for me. it has been extremely difficult to accept my diagnosis, not because I dont believe its true, but because of the negative stigma associated with D.I.D…I do see how it can be over diagnosed, in fact, wjen I told my best friend at the time, about the diagnosis, with-in a few weeks she had ‘magically’ developed the disorder too…then magically intergrated a few months later….she obviously, did *not* have D.I.D ..I do not blame people for holding the opinion that D.I.D isnt real, as it is clear that some people do say they have the disorder for attention, or, through no fault of their own, are diagnosed by an over eager therapist. I do feel it is a little unfair to generalise and say that a disorder is not real, because one was incorrectly diagnosed however. I do not mean to be rude or insulting, or seem aggressive, that is not how I feel. I just wish that there was a little bit more consideration before making generalisations.
    I’m so sorry you had to endure the pain and confusion this diagnosis caused you, your family and your loved ones… and hope you have made a speedy/full recovery, from both the incorrect Diagnosis and the depression you were suffering with.
    Kind regards. M

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    • Jeannette Bartha

       /  04/04/2013

      Hello Anonymous,

      Thank you for your kind post. I know that people with DID take issue with my opinions and I truly understand. You are one of the few who has come here to voice their opinions and experiences in a respectful manner and I appreciate that.

      I made my initial decision, obviously, based on my experiences. Since then, however, I’ve read hundreds of books and research articles that show how DID is created and is a culture-bound syndrome. If you are interested, check out my book page and see what you think.

      I know what it’s like to live the multiple lifestyle. It’s very difficult and stressful. 20 years after stopping therapy, I am having serious physical problems stemming from all the stress and trauma of therapy. The fall-out from treatment, for me, is long-lasting and led to permanent injury – just sayin’.

      Best, Jeannette

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  3. Justin Sane

     /  02/13/2011

    This was very interesting, thank you!

    I’ve seen some DID claimants talking about being “in recovery”, but they seem to be “in recovery” for life – like an alcoholic. They almost seem addicted to some of their symptoms. Did you experience anything like that?

    Speaking of Multiple Personality as a lifestyle choice – have you encountered anyone from the “I was born with multiple selves, that’s my normative state” community?

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    • I agree that there seems to be no recovery from MPD. Some claim to have “integrated” several i.e. fused together, others want to live the way they are, but recovered, it is rare that I read anything about that. I never looked at it as addicted as you mention – interesting twist.

      In my experience, I was coerced into believing I had multiple personalities. Addiction implies, to me, that there is an awareness of what you are addicted to and that there is a means of ridding the addiction. I simply saw MPD as my reality and lived the lifestyle unwittingly taught and reinforced by therapy. Had I not left, I’d still be entrenched in it. During the doctor’s deposition, he said I probably still had MPD after a years without his influence.

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  4. Jeannette,

    I just don’t understand you. Maybe you included your “pre-DID” history somewhere, but were you a normal, well-adjsted person until you got fooled into believing your were DID? Why were you in therapy if you didn’t have major issues.

    My wife had plenty of issues, but I strove for 20 years to be a kind, loving and patient husband so other than in our marriage relationship no one else would have known about her dysfunction. When I finally got her to see her issues, the healing began.

    Were you, are you emotionally/mentally healthy? I don’t want to attack your history (especially in my ignorance) but I just don’t see how you could be so gullible to believe you were DID if there were NO symptoms.

    My wife’s only physical witness to her abuse is one that ONLY a gynaecologist could recognize. I’ve been close up enough to her vagina, and everything looks fine to me, but before we got married the gyn wanted to know WHAT had happened. Other than that there’s no physical evidence of her abuse (possibly the abnormal brainwaves she had as a child), just, as I said, the way she interacted with me for 20 years…dysfunctionally.

    I truly am sorry for what you suffered at the hands of your therapists, but that is NOT the experience of everyone.

    Take care,

    Sam

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    • Hi Sam,
      No, I had no symptoms of MPD prior to treatment – or after I left. The 6+ years in-between is another story. I sought help for unrelenting depression. My new psychiatrist was a founding member of the ISSTD and a colleague of Cornelia Wilber (Sybil’s shrink), Richard Kluft, Bennett Braun, Colin Ross among others. My former doc had a huge stake in this diagnosis and treatment.

      I was caught in the system at a time of extreme vulnerability and desperation. Gullible? Perhaps. I was too desperate for help to be able to see what was happening to me & trying to get help on my own (never a good idea). Believe me, I’m glad my experience is extreme and that most people are not treated as I was. The equation remains child sexual abuse = multiple personalities.

      I’m glad you came here and asked some important questions, Sam. I see my situation and experience with the mental health system a bit differently now. Yes, what happened to me was extreme. And I am grateful that what I endured is happening less frequently. I will keep that in mind. It leaves me wondering if a “softer” approach per se is actually a more dangerous one? I mean, eventually, I figured out what the shrink was doing and fled. If the treatment from a therapist is not that way, wouldn’t it be harder to see what was happening? That comes, of course, from my position that MPD doesn’t exist, not from yours who believe it does. Just a thought. Hope your wife and son are well. Regards, JB

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