Multiple Personality Disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder) is the existence within a person of two or more distinct personalities. The different personalities are referred to as "alters". Alters may have experienced a distinct personal history, self-image, and identity, including a separate name, as well as age. At least two of these personalities recurrently take control of the person's behavior.

For me multiplicity is life, not a definition, but the purpose here is to help the non-multiple gain insight about the inner world of the multiple, so below is the definition the majority of multiples themselves would give you.

Multiplicity, simply put, is about hiding, pain and survival, no more, no less. It is a desperate, completely creative, and wonderful survival mechanism. For the child who endures repeated and inescapable abuse, it may be their only escape. I consider myself to be blessed with MPD not cursed. It was a gift from God to me, to ensure my survival in a world that was full of insanity and reason not to survive. That is not to say that being a multiple is a picnic, because it is not. It certainly brings it share of difficulties for me in my life, but what I am saying is, at least I can do life and do it with some degree of mental health because I survived an insane childhood with my sanity.

Individuals most likely to develop MPD share several common factors. They have endured repetitive, and often life-threatening abuse during a developmental stage of childhood. The type of abuse can vary or be a combination of physical, extreme emotional, sexual or Satanic Ritual Abuse. The multiple may have a biological predisposition for auto-hypnotic phenomena, or in plain english, a high level of hypnotizablitiy.

To understand MPD, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of dissociation. Dissociation is the state in which, a person becomes separated from reality. Picture dissociation as line with a continuum (see the illustration below) from normal everyday experiences, to disorders that fall in the middle, such as Post Traumatic Stress, to those that go to the far extreme, MPD.

Common examples of normal dissociation are highway hypnosis which at one time or another, most have experienced. For instance, Have you ever been driving and suddenly wondered, "Did I stop for that last stoplight?" (My pyschiatrist says he does this himself) or become so engrossed in a book that you are no longer aware of your surroundings? Have you ever watched a movie and completely lost your sense of the present? Daydreaming is a common form of dissociation, which I think everyone does or has done at sometime.

Dissociation is a common defense mechanism against childhood abuse. There is no adult onset of Multiple Personality. Only children have the flexibility, to fracture off from the "core" personality and escape the traumatic and painful memory. The common belief among most professionals is the personality splintered or fractured before the age of five.

Those with MPD have a dominant personality that determines the individual's behavior. Each personality has a separate and consistent pattern of perceiving their environment, themselves and others. The internal world of an individual who has MPD is structured, although each person's system is as unique as non-multiples are from one another. There are several metaphors that MPD's use to describe how they function and what their internal world looks and acts like. Each multiple has a specific way they see the inside of their mind, where the alters live when they are not in control of the body. Examples include stages, tunnels, houses, and levels. These are their internal homes, where they go when they are not are not out, in control of the body , or when they are hiding. It is helpful for a person with MPD to make a map or diagram of their internal personality system.

The alter's job is to protect the host personality from the memory of the trauma, therefore, it is not necessary for all alters to look and act differently than the host. This task is accomplished for the co-conscious MPD, by means of the dissociative barriers, or for the non-conscious MPD, walls of amnesia. I will elaborate on non conscious versus co-conscious on the next page, but for now either form of MPD would produce typical types of alters. I have listed them below:

A depressed, exhausted host.

A strong, angry protector.

A scared, hurt child.

A helper.

An internal persecutor who blames one or more of the alters for the abuse they have endured. (Sometimes patterened or named after the actual abuser)

Multiples, as well as those who deal with them, come to recognize different alters as completely separate people, rather than just different aspects of the same person. The different personalities usually have different names, ages, gender, likes, dislikes. Certain alters may have physical or mental abilities that the others do not possess. Often there is a difference in body language, speech and mannerisms. Some MPD's (myself included) have an alter that changes the color of the eyes, while others have been known to have one alter with cancer, diabetes, etc., while all the other alters remain healthy or have their own ailments. While most multiples have alters who are very similar to one another, the difference can be so minute, that at times, even the MPD themselves might have a difficult time distinguishing the difference.

If you know someone who is multiple, remember that for them each of the alters are different people. One may do or say something while in control of the body that another would not. Some alters have very specific jobs and you will only see them when they are out to do whatever their job might be. You might like some of the alters better than others but it is a general thought in the psychological community to try not to show partiality between the alters. Also, don't be afraid to ask the MPD questions and learn about them, all of them. Most people who are multiple are more than willing to answer your questions, and even welcome someone who takes the time to ask.

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