For Children Who Were Broken

For Children Who Were Broken :

Each day that we pretended,
we replaced reality
with lies, or dreams,
or angry schemes,
in search of dignity...
until our lies
got bigger than the truth,
and we had no one real to be.

Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Throughout history the idea of not being just us has intrigued everyone from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. But imagine having no control over who you are. Imagine having 30 people inside of you, and every one of them wanting to be in control. This is the case with Multiple Personality Disorder, and it affects thousands of people in the United States alone. But why does MPD fascinate us? It has often been found quite interesting. Movies, books, and even talk shows have been made trying to show the harsh reality of the disorder, but how seriously are we expected to take Truddi Chase and the "Troops" when they are on The Oprah Show? How worried are we for Sybil when we remember Sally Field as Gidget? As grim as this disorder is we often don't realize the severity unless we hear it from "the voices." Using the psychoanalytical approach, I will show how past abusive experiences have driven some to MPD. Citing case studies from such books as When Rabbit Howls, The Truddi Chase Story, Sybil, and Jennifer and Herselves the correlation between MPD and abuse will be made. There are more similarities to these examples than just MPD, all were driven to MPD due to excessive physical or emotional abuse from a parental figure. Also, each of these studies show the cause and effects this disorder has on.

Most MPD sufferers are , in fact female MPD sufferers outnumber men by a ratio of nine to one (Hales, 1993). This may be true because will keep their feelings of hostility toward others to themselves, whereas men would be more likely to lash out in random acts of . For instance, Anna doesn't want to believe that she is getting beaten, so she believes if she becomes someone else, it is not really her that is taking the abuse. However, it is only a matter of time before the abuse increases or takes another form. The effect compounds, one more personality develops, and so on until "the voices" have consumed Anna and left her broken, with every facet of her personality now being an independent mind.

With statistics showing that some form of abuse happens to as many as one out of every four s (Hales , 1993) it is almost impossible not to understand why so many are affected by MPD. Not every form of abuse causes as dramatic of results as MPD. Children who survive less personal traumas, such as concentration camps, are far less likely to develop the disorder than someone who is suffering at the hands of a loved one. Since 1970, the reported rate of growth in multiples and incest cases has been parallel. Almost as if when the bond breaks, the personality shatters. The alter personalities create a safe haven where the pain cannot reach. Each personality is specially equipped to deal with a specific type of crisis, depending on whatever was happening when they came into existence. The make-up of most multiples is usually the same. Each body generally consists of the same people. There is a small child, who was born when the abuse started. A flirtatious side who exhibits the repressed feelings. A male, who is either protector or abuser. A strong female, who doesn't need anyone, and assorted other personalities. But are the personalities just personalities? Not in their mind. Multiples believe that they are all different people, they just happen to be sharing the same body, they can be brothers, sisters, or just close friends. As strange as it sounds, this statement may have some bearing. Psychologists have long been able to tell their patients apart from "the others," just by their faces, body language and posture change, they actually look like someone else. Tests have also shown that each personality has its own blood pressure, heart rate, and so on. It appears that multiples go through some sort of self-hypnotism when they can no longer handle reality. They go into hiding and someone else, who is more capable to handle the situation takes over. When later questioned about what happened while they were not in control, most multiples are clueless. They report long blackout periods, if they admit to "losing time" at all. Losing time is one of the most obvious signs of MPD. When multiples "wake up" wearing different clothing or eating food they know they did not buy, admission of the disorder is easier. It is when multiples begin to want their lives back that they start to wonder what caused them to end up the way they did.

Scientists have long wondered what causes MPD. The cause was first thought to be the result of mental deficiencies or a defective gene in the make-up of multiples. After extensive testing proved that multiples are extremely gifted, few with an IQ of less than 120 (Schoenewolf, 1991), that possibility was thrown out. It has now been shown that traumatic experiences in life cause Multiple Personality Disorder. The pattern seems to be that for every severely troubling episode in life, a new personality is born to help with that particular incident. The subconscious will withdrawal the conscious and take over whenever the threat of abuse surfaced. The anxiety of the subversion would frighten the children to the point were they could not function without the help of others. When beaten by her father Jennifer turned into Margaret, a very independent woman, with a deeply rooted fear of men. While Jennifer was being ually abused by her mother, Jenny appeared, because Jenny was strong and would just go away. To Jennifer, they weren't alter personalities, rather friends who needed a place to stay. Many would dismiss it as an overactive imagination. Sybil's parents would call her "moody" when she changed. Many others believed it was all just makebelieve, most were psychologists. With no clinical definition of this mystery disorder, many patients were misdiagnosed.

Before MPD was identified as a disorder in 1980, the majority of patients were diagnosed as Schizophrenics or Manic Depressives, therefore it was believed that there was no cure. Today, through extensive therapy, there is hope for multiples. Treatment is a three-step process, which is usually just as trying on the therapist as the patient. The first stage is just being aware that you have the disorder, about 80 percent of MPD sufferers do not realize they have the disease, most don't want to. The hardest part of the healing process is getting the patient to admit that there is something wrong with them. Multiples have spent so much time denying the fact that they have problems, asking them to admit to having the disorder is like asking them to admit that they are crazy. However, this stage must be secured before any treatment is possible. The second stage is co-consciousness. While there is no interaction between the personalities and their "host," there are fewer blackout periods, and there is an awareness of what the others are doing at times. The third step is integration. The goal in this step is all of the personalities merging into one root, or base personality, but first patients go through a draining process called abreaction. In abreaction the acts of abuse are relived under the watchful eye of a therapist. This process causes patients to relive the abuse that they have been through, and deal with it head on. Ideally, this step allows multiples to become a well-rounded individual who is capable of handling problems on their own without help from the alters. However, it is not an ideal world. Very few MPD sufferers ever achieve total integration. The personalities that have integrated disappear, leaving behind their best traits. Those personalities that have resisted tend to regress until their presence is no longer felt. While it's not perfect, this is the most common cure. Fortunately, once this step is reached, the chance of relapse is slim, if therapy is continued.

The majority of multiples do require continued therapy after integration. In a 15 year study, it was shown that of multiples that continued seeing a therapist on a regular basis 96% no longer had multiple personalities (Hales, 1993). Of the remaining four percent, only one or two personalities resurfaced. They were usually the more developed, or older personalities that the base had come to depend on, and refused to live without. While therapy is the only cure, it is not a cure-all. There are some who will never lose their alters, whether it be safety reasons or an act of habit. Some multiples are unable to deal with the emotional trauma of therapy, without losing whatever grasp they still have on reality. Therapy is about the most painful thing that multiples can go through. It is more painful than the abuse because they are forced to face it, they cannot become someone else. For the first time in their lives, they are actually feeling. One patient was quoted as saying, "Our entire self is beginning to thaw after a long, long time of being completely frozen.

Multiple Personality Disorder is one of the most treatable defects of the human brain. Through empathy MPD virtually disappears, multiples just need to realize that they are not the only one. In a study conducted at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Researchers were able to confirm allegations of parental abuse in 17 out of 20 reported cases. The earlier treatment begins the easier it is to recover, but it isn't commonly until early hood that the world of multiples begins to collapse. While many multiples continue to deny that there is anything wrong with them, those who are brave enough to seek help are among the strongest individuals known. They risk their entire world, but what they gain is immeasurable. They need to recognize that they are worthy, and understand that they are heroes just to be alive.


1. Chase, Truddi. When Rabbit Howls. Jove Books. New York (1987)

2. Schoenewolf, Dr. Gerald. Jennifer and Herselves. Donald I. Fine, Inc. New York (1991)

3. Schreiber, F.R. Sybil. Warner Books. New York (1973)

4. Sizemore, C.C. A Mind of My Own. Greene Com. New York (1989)

5 Hales, Dianne. "Silencing the Voices Within," Good Housekeeping. (August 1993)

6. Taylor, John. "The Lost Daughter," Esquire. (March, 1994)

7. Coons, Dr. Philip. Child Abuse and Multiple Personality Disorder.

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