The Prodigy Text

NOTE: The opinions and concepts expressed below are not necessarily in agreement with the views of the management of Astraea's Page/Subspace Chatter. We welcome all comments and viewpoints.

However, we find it pretty unnerving to look back at this text and realize that at one time this was the only type of information on multiplicity available on line. Of particular note are Kluft's interrogation techniques. Multiples and abuse survivors alike, in bulletin boards and later on the internet, took it seriously, passed it around, and apparently felt that this kind of behavior on the part of therapists was justified.

This was originally provided by the Love Galaxy, Home of VBBS Health Net, 
which offered many files on multiple personality and health issues. 

PRODIGY(R) interactive personal service 11/21/92 9:27 PM

TIME: 11/20 2:56 PM
                       Diagnostic Signs of MPD 
DISSOCIATIVE  INTERVIEWING:  60%  of  multiples will  not  do  or  say 
anything that suggests MPD unless subjected to a detailed, subtle, and 
sophisticated  dissociative inquiry. Never accept "No" for an  answer. 
Denial,  forgetting  and  minimization produce many  false  "no's"  to 
questions  regarding dissociative experiences. If you have any  reason 
to suspect MPD, keep the issue open in your mind despite the patient's 
initial  "No's" to crucial diagnostic questions. Said differently,  it 
often  takes  several  or even a good  many  therapy  sessions  before 
sufficient information is acquired to strengthen (and finally confirm) 
a diagnosis of MPD. 
AMNESIA:  Virtually all multiples have periods of amnesia  (losses  of 
time)  but  (i) may deny them (ii) may be genuinely unaware  of  them. 
Remember  80% of multiples have no knowledge that other  personalities 
exist.  Finally,  some  multiple  confabulate.  They  report  made  up 
memories which cover their amnestic lapses - - and they believe  these 
confabulations. Losses of time, blackouts, Called a "liar" as a child, 
blamed for things he "did not do", finding that the rest of the  class 
seemed  to  have been taught something that the patient had  not  been 
taught.  Discovery  of items among one's possessions  that  cannot  be 
accounted  for parents or friends report behavior or events which  the 
patient  does not recall Does not recall a large chunk  of  childhood; 
Zero  memory  for one or more years. For example,  "I  don't  remember 
anything before age 8." 
CO-PRESENCE PHENOMENA: (Schneiderian first rank symptoms) are often an 
important  guide to diagnosing MPD. These symptoms are  accidental  or 
deliberate  impingements, by alters inside, on the personality who  is 

Voices arguing: usually about the patient 
Voices commenting on one's actions: typically, a helper or persecutor 
Influences playing on the body: often, somatic memory of abuse/trauma 
Thought withdrawal: going blank, often in mid sentence 
Thought  insertion:  alien  or  surprising  thoughts  are  imposed  or 
"Made" feelings: surges of feeling out of the blue that are not owned. 
"Made"  impulses:  strong impulses to action that are not felt  to  be 
one's own. 
"Made" violational acts: feels controlled, "I watched myself do it" 

MOOD SHIFTS: Most of the time, MPD looks like mood shifts rather  than 
personality  changes.  "Moody"  --  sudden  mood  swings  observed  or 
reported by patient or others 

                Brought to you without permission by: 
                  THE TEACHER & Nikki 10/22 09:48 pm 
"MEMORY" PROBLEMS: Many forms of apparent forgetting that are actually 
the  result  of activity of alter  personalities.  Little  forgettings 
(e.g.  lighting  a  cigarette while another is still  burning  in  the 
ashtray;  going  to  bring in the mail or newspaper  when  he/she  has 
already  brought  it in) Peculiar forgettings  (e.g.  learning  school 
material and then TOTALLY forgetting it the next day.) 
NOTE: This is an extremely common MPD experience. 
Makes written notes to him or herself because he/she too often forgets 
what he/she has done or needs to do 
Headaches that do not respond to pain relievers 
Spontaneous trance states 
Staring as if in thought 
Like watching a movie and may talk to self 
Dissociative experiences 
May admit to fearing that he or she is going crazy 
Visual hallucinations, visions 
Unexplained pain or other conversion symptoms 
Marked differences in manner, voice, language, or dress 
Changes of handwriting 
Says  he  or  she wants to know "why" he/she did  something  (e.g.  an 
episode of acting out) 
Does not like mirrors. 
Avoids going to the dentist 

NOTE:  The more of the above items that characterize the patient,  the 
more  likely  it is that she/he is multiple. Early in  the  diagnostic 
process, a patient who is multiple, may score positive on only 3 or  4 
items. Generally, this score will increase with time as the  patients' 
dissociative  process  becomes increasingly  visible.  Some  patients, 
however, will have a score of 10 or more right from the beginning.  In 
any  event, diagnosis ultimately depends on establishing  unmistakable 
contact with one or more alter personalities. As Rick Kluft is fond of 
saying, "The opera ain't over until the fat lady sings". 

         Of course this is brought to you without permission 
                             courtesy of: 
                 THE TEACHER & Nikki @ 10/22 09:42 pm 
                    Part 1 of 4. General MPD Info

     MPD  Education....Multiple  personality disorder is  about  pain. 
Nothing  else.  Just  pain  - physical  pain,  emotional  pain,  total 
helplessness, terror, traumatic humiliation, and overwhelming rage. 
     MPD  is  the desperate and creative solution of  the  traumatized 
child.  It  is a crude, powerful and wonderful means of  survival  for 
children   who  are  repeatedly  terrified,  abused  or   trapped   in 
inescapable  pain. MPD arises in childhood, mostly ages 3-9. There  is 
juvenile  diabetes and there is adult onset diabetes, but there is  no 
adult  onset  MPD.  Only children  have  sufficient  flexibility  (and 
vulnerability) to respond to trauma by breaking their still coalescing 
self into different, dissociated parts. 
     It used to be thought that MPD was an exotic form of hysteria, an 
elaborate  means of escaping responsibility for dealing with life.  It 
is  not; it is usually an effort to "escape" from child abuse.  It  is 
often  thought that MPD is a sham: a bizarre form of play acting  that 
is  perpetrated by manipulative, attention-seeking individuals. It  is 
not; MPD is a "disorder of hiddenness" wherein 80-90% of MPD  patients 
do  not  have a clue that they are multiple. Most know that  there  is 
something  wrong  with them; many fear that they are crazy -  but  few 
know that they are multiple. 
     It  is  sometimes  thought  that MPD is  the  last  refuge  of  a 
criminal,  a deceptive effort to provide an insanity defense  so  that 
the criminal can evade responsibility for his or her crimes. Far  from 
it,  most multiples don't know that they are multiple. Moreover,  once 
the diagnosis is made, the typical MPD patient consumes months denying 
the  diagnosis  and  insisting that the therapist  has  a  very  vivid 
imagination. A recent study of convicted criminals (felons, murderers, 
etc.)  who were diagnosed after being imprisoned, found that  none  of 
them  wished  to make use of their diagnosis in order to  seek  a  new 
trial or to ameliorate their existing sentence. 
     Finally, MPD is frequently misunderstood by the question,  "Isn't 
MPD  just an exaggeration of the different parts of  our  personality; 
aren't we all really multiple?" This is an enticing question. Yes,  we 
all have different parts to our personalities. No, MPD is not "just an 
exaggeration"  of these parts. Why? At least 6 reasons: 1) Because  we 
all  don't have dissociative disorder; 2) Because we all do  not  have 
amnesia for what we are doing when a different part of our personality 
comes  to  the fore; 3) We all don't suffer from  severe  and  chronic 
child  abuse or trauma; 4) Because the raison d'etre of the  different 
sides of out personality is not to hide from ourselves information  or 
feelings   about  trauma;  5)  Because  we  all  do  not   have   high 
hypnotizability;  and 6) Because we all do not develop  post-traumatic 
stress disorder when we begin to pay attention to our parts. 
     How  many parts are there? The typical female multiple has  about 
19 alter personalities; male multiples tend to have less than half  of 
that. The number of alters is explained by 3 factors: 

a) the severity of the trauma, 
b) the chronicity of the trauma, and 
c) the degree of vulnerability of the child. 

     Thus, a male multiple who was sexually abused a half dozen  times 
by a distant relative from ages 7-10 is going to have far fewer alters 
than  a  female multiple who was severely  physically,  sexually,  and 
emotionally abused by both parents from infancy to age 16. The  latter 
patient, in fact, could easily wind up with 30-50+ alters. 
     How  could  a person have so many  different  personalities?  How 
would  you  tell  the  difference among them?  The  answers  to  these 
questions require a clarification of several points. 

     First, MPD is a misleading term; Dissociated Self Disorder  would 
probably  be  better. There is but one self that is  dissociated  into 
multiple  parts.  MPD  tends to be understood  (incorrectly)  to  mean 
multiple  self  disorder; in fact, there is only one self  -  however, 
divided or dissociated it may be. 
     Second,  there are usually only 3-6 alters who  are  particularly 
active  (i.e., assuming full executive control) on any given day.  The 
rest  of  the alters are relatively quiet (or even  dormant  for  long 
periods of time). 
VISIBLY DIFFERENT TO AN OBSERVER. It is only necessary that each alter 
fulfill  the  basic function of an alter personality; to  protect  the 
host  personality  from the knowledge and experience of  trauma.  This 
task  is  accomplished by means of dissociative barriers or  walls  of 
amnesia. Thus, a multiple could conceivably have dozens of alters that 
look just the same, but who nevertheless serve the function of walling 
off  the  trauma  from the host (and  dispersing  it  among  different 

Nikki & The Researcher 10/23 08:12 pm 

     The  answers  to  the  above questions can  now  be  more  easily 
understood in light of the basic task of an alter personality. If  the 
raison  d'etre of alters is to sequester trauma from the host so  that 
she   or  he  is  able  to  continue  to  function  without   becoming 
overwhelmed,  then as many alters will be produced as  are  necessary. 
Accordingly, when an alter becomes overwhelmed, additional alters  may 
be produced to help contain the trauma. It is not required that  these 
new alters look different, nor is it necessary that they all be active 
at  one  time;  it  is  only necessary that  they  do  their  job  (of 
controlling the trauma). 
     The typical alters that are found in a person with MPD include 1) 
a depressed, depleted host, 2) a strong, angry, protector, 3) a scared 
and hurt child, 4) a helper, 5) an embittered internal persecutor  who 
blames and persecutes one or more of the alters for the abuse that has 
been  suffered. While there may be other types of alters in any  given 
MPD individual, most of them will be variations on the themes of these 
5 alters. 
     How  common  is  MPD?  Although all data are  not  in,  the  best 
estimate  of  the prevalence of MPD is that it  approximates  that  of 
schizophrenia  (about  1% of the general  population).  This  estimate 
would  translate into at least 2,000,000 cases in the U.S. alone.  Why 
so  many?  Because MPD is directly linked to the prevalence  of  child 
abuse. And, unfortunately, child abuse is all too common. 
     How impaired is a person with MPD? The range of impairment across 
different  persons with MPD is best analogized to that of  alcoholism. 
Impairment  due  to  alcoholism ranges from skid  row  bums  to  high-
functioning   senators,   congressmen,   and   corporate   executives. 
Impairment also varies in any given alcoholic from one period of  time 
to  another  (as  function  of  binges,  patterns  of  drinking,  life 
stresses,  and  so on). It is much the same with MPD. There  are  some 
multiples who are chronic, state hospital mental patients, others  who 
undergo  recurrent hospitalization due to  self-destructive  behavior, 
and  many  more who raise children, hold jobs and may  even  be  high-
functioning   professionals   such   as   lawyers,   physicians,    or 
     There are 3 major factors that account for whether a multiple  is 
low-functioning   or  high-functioning;  personality   traits,   post-
traumatic stress disorder, and experiences of criticism or  rejection. 
Despite having many "personalities", every multiple, as a whole, has a 
personality  (just  like the rest of us). Thus, to the extent  that  a 
multiple has counterproductive traits (i.e. irresponsibility,  rampant 
denial  and  avoidance,  strong  narcissism,  entitlement,  masochism, 
addiction to interpersonal control, psychopathy, etc) then that person 
will  be  impaired  in  his or her  functioning  as  a  competent  and 
responsible  adult. The character traits of multiple not  only  typify 
how  they  deal  with daily life, but ALSO HOW ALTERS  DEAL  WITH  ONE 
     Lower  functioning multiples may have alters who  are  struggling 
with one another for dominance, competing for attention, stealing from 
one  another, refusing to take responsibility for the mess  that  they 
just  made,  grabbing control whenever they want (no  matter  what  it 
interrupts  -job, relationships, child care, financial solvency,  etc) 
and  so  on.  Such negative character traits are  the  single  biggest 
determinant  of frequent crises or chronic dysfunctionality; they  are 
also unquestionably the largest hindrance to the therapeutic treatment 
of MPD. 
     The  2nd major factor that affects daily functioning  in  persons 
with  MPD  is  post-traumatic  stress  disorder  (PTSD)   (flashbacks, 
intrusive  memories,  nightmares). Individuals with MPD also  tend  to 
have  PTSD.  To the extent that a person is troubled  with  recurrent, 
intrusive re-experiencing (visual, auditory, or somatic) of trauma, he 
or  she may also have depression,loss of  concentration,  suicidality, 
substance  abuse, panic attacks, self-mutilation, etc. An  upsurge  in 
PTSD symptoms (i.e., flashbacks about a significant trauma) is one  of 
the 2 most common causes of sudden crises, decline in functioning,  or 
psychiatric hospitalization for a multiple. The 2nd most common  cause 
of  sudden crisis in persons with MPD (and the 3rd major  factor  that 
affects  their  daily functioning) is an experience  of  rejection  or 
emotional  abuse  and rejection as children. As  a  consequence,  most 
alters  are  highly (and often catastrophically) reactive  to  current 
life  experiences  that  are  reminiscent  of  parental  criticism  or 
rejection.  Such current life experiences trigger crippling  emotional 
flashbacks   and   intensely  negative  thoughts   to   self-loathing, 
hopelessness, and perhaps even self-injury or suicidality. 
     For  many  observers,  MPD is a fascinating,  exotic,  and  weird 
phenomenon.  For the patient, it is confusing,  unpleasant,  sometimes 
terrifying, and always a source of the unexpected.
     The  treatment  of MPD is excruciatingly  uncomfortable  for  the 
patient.   The  disassociated  trauma  and  memory  must   be   faced, 
experienced,  metabolized,  and integrated into the patients  view  of 
him-  or herself. Similarly, the nature of one's parents, one's  life, 
and the day to day world must be re-thought. As each alter personality 
metabolizes  his  or  her  trauma,  then  that  alter  can  yield  its 
separateness  and reintegrate (because that alter is no longer  needed  
to contain undigested trauma). Recovery from MPD and childhood  trauma 
is  a  long and arduous process of mourning during which  fear,  hurt, 
rage,  and shame must all be digested. Recovery usually takes about  5 

This  appears  to be one of three notes on therapy  posted  by  Nikki, 
Researcher and Teacher about therapeutic vs spontaneous abreactions. 

          Facts about Spontaneous & Therapeutic Abreactions: 

     1.  Trauma and Dissociation - During a traumatic experience  some 
people  automatically  enter an altered state  of  consciousness  that 
protects  them from the full impact of the trauma. When  this  occurs, 
PART  OR  ALL of the traumatic experience is stored in  a  dissociated 
compartment of the mind. 

     2. Encapsulated Raw Trauma- Such dissociated compartments contain 
RAW  UNDIGESTED  TRAUMA  that is now "on  hold".  Unfortunately,  such 
encapsulated trauma cannot be kept on hold indefinitely. 

     3.  Flashbacks  and  Spontaneous  Abreactions-  The  encapsulated 
trauma  will  develop  leaks  (flashbacks) from time  to  time.  If  a 
flashback intensifies beyond a certain point, a spontaneous abreaction 
may  take place. In an abreaction, the compartment breaks  wide  open, 
the  person  is flooded with the raw trauma, and he or she  begins  to 
VIVIDLY RELIVE the trauma.

     4. Temporary Loss of Contact with the Here-And-Now. When a person 
abreacts  (relives the trauma), he/she may APPEAR to be psychotic  due 
to  losing  contact  with here-and-now reality. That  is,  the  person 
becomes totally immersed in reliving the there-and-then reality of the 
trauma.  As a result,the person may seem crazy because, (for  example)
he/she  may  suddenly tuck into a ball with flailing arms  and  scream 
"No,  Daddy!  No, Daddy!" This is NOT psychosis, it is  a  dissociated 
reliving of trauma. 

     5.  Renewed Dissociation of the Trauma. A spontaneous  abreaction 
of dissociated trauma can be just as overwhelming as was the  original 
traumatic experience. Consequently, the person who is inundated with a 
spontaneous  abreaction  cannot handle the trauma  this  time  either. 
He/she  will  try  to  force  the  undigested  trauma  back  into  its 
compartment as soon as possible - usually in a matter of minutes to an 
hour  or  so, but will probably continue to be troubled  by  intrusive 
flashbacks.  In  other words, SPONTANEOUS ABREACTIONS USUALLY  DO  NOT 

     6. Therapeutic Abreactions. Because the encapsulated material  is 
overwhelming (i.e., traumatic) the person can digest it only if it  is 
somehow rendered non-overwhelming. Abreactions that are not overwhelm-
ing  -are- therapeutic, because the person is now able  to  METABOLIZE 
the trauma. 

     7.  CAREFULLY PLANNED ABREACTIONS. The key to  facilitating  safe 
therapeutic abreactions are careful planning, pacing and titrating.  A 
carefully  planned  abreaction for a person with MPD has  at  least  8 

     i)  The patient knows (and KNOWS that he/she knows) a variety  of 
basic  hypnotic  skills that provide control, containment,  and  dosed 
release of the traumatic material. 
     ii) The patient has an explicit, clear understanding (IN ADVANCE) 
of each step in the abreaction - including how he/she will be left  at 
the end of the session. 
     iii) The basic details of the trauma are known BEFORE  initiating 
the abreaction. 
     iv)  All alters who are part of this trauma are known in  advance 
of the abreaction. 
     v)  The  trauma  is  released A PIECE AT  A  TIME  (e.g.,  visual 
overview, fear, body sensations, anger, shame, grief) in ONE ALTER  AT 
     vi) Adequate time is reserved for the abreactive work to be  done 
in  the  session  AND  for  winding  down  and  preliminary  cognitive 
processing of the trauma. 
     vii)  At  the  end of the session, either  unfinished  trauma  is 
locked away again or unabreacted alters are put hypnotically to  sleep 
until the next session. 
     viii)  Adequate  time is allocated in the NEXT SESSION  for  more 
cognitive  processing  of the meaning and implications of  the  trauma 
that is being metabolized. 

8. ABREACTIVE WORK WITH MULTIPLES. In general, abreactive work  should 
not begin until months of teaching, stabilization and establishing the 
therapeutic alliance across many alters has taken place. An abreaction 
may  (and, often should) be spread out over several sessions -  broken 
down into logical chunks that allow session-sized pieces of abreactive 
work to be done. Depending on the complexity of the case, therapy  may 
involve  dozens,  or  even hundreds of  abreactions.  As  the  therapy 
progresses, and the patient learns the ins and outs of abreactions and 
the  broad parameters of his/her trauma history, he/she will often  be 
able to speed up, condense, or even group abreactions in order to move 
faster.  The impetus for such accelerated abreactive work should  come 
from the PATIENT, not the therapist. 

9.   HYPNOSIS,  DISSOCIATION  and  ABREACTION.   Hypnotic   phenomena, 
dissociative  phenomena,  and  abreactive  phenomena  are   intimately 
intertwined  with  one another. An informed approach to  treating  MPD 
requires  a rich understanding of all three. Accordingly, a  clinician 
who  seeks  to treat MPD must be prepared to seek  whatever  training, 
continuing  education,  consultation  or  supervision  that  might  be 

       [I'm not certain if this next item is part of a series]

     1.  Dissociation  is a normal  psychophysiological  ability  that 
allows people to protect themselves when faced with trauma. 

     2.  Dissociation occurs spontaneously in the midst of trauma  and 
gives the individual partial protection by BLOCKING PART OF THE  PAIN, 
TERROR, AND AWARENESS of what is happening. 

     3.  This  blocked pain, terror, and awareness of  trauma  creates 
"compartments"  in  the mind that hold the  still  undigested  trauma. 
Blockage  of awareness causes AMNESIA for part or all of  the  trauma. 
When  these  trauma compartments "leak", the  person  has  FLASHBACKS, 

     4.  Dissociative  ability  is a  normal,  inherited  talent  that 
differs  from  person to person. Approximately 10-15%  of  individuals 
have superb dissociative ability; probably it is only this group  that 
has the capacity to develop multiple personality disorder. 

     5. Multiple personality disorder is a survival tactic. It is  the 
creative attempt of highly traumatized children to protect  themselves 
from  trauma  and  abuse: "It isn't happening to  ME".  When  children 
dissociate  (block)  trauma,  their "compartments"  of  trauma  become 
separate personalities. 

     6. Only children have sufficient flexibility (and  vulnerability) 
to  adapt to trauma by means of creating alter personalities. ALL  MPD 
begins  in  childhood;  adults do not have the capacity  to  adapt  to 
trauma by forming alter personalities. (The exception is that  adults, 
who  became MPD in childhood, CAN continue to make more alters  during 

     7. Because of the frequency of child abuse, about one person  out 
of  100  (HA!-says  I)  has MPD (or  another  closely  related  severe 
dissociative disorder. 

     8.  The  most  common symptoms of MPD  are  sudden  mood  swings, 
episodes of depression, lack of memory for much of childhood,  periods 
of  amnesia or time loss, headaches, nightmares, and  hearing  voices. 
Other  symptoms  may  include,  flashbacks,  self-injuring  behaviors, 
shame, guilt, self-hatred, panic attacks, wanting to die, and  feeling 
crazy.  Some  people with MPD have all of them symptoms,  others  have 
only some. 

     9. MPD IS NOT SCHIZOPHRENIA. Most people think that schizophrenia 
means  split personality. Actually, this is totally  incorrect.  Split 
personality  is  MPD - not schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is  a  chronic 
psychosis  due  to  a  biochemical/genetic  disorder  of  the   brain. 
Schizophrenics  do not have other personalities, schizophrenia is  not 
caused by trauma, and does not involve amnesia and flashbacks. 

     10.  A  person  who  is  multiple  will  REMAIN  multiple   until 
successfully treated. 

     11.  About  90% of multiples are totally unaware  that  they  are 

     12.  The SYMPTOMS of MPS wax and wane. A person who  is  multiple 
may  appear  to  be fine for years and then suddenly  begins  to  have 
strong symptoms - usually due to flashbacks of past trauma. 

     13.  The  typical  personalities  in a  person  who  is  multiple 
include:  1) a depressed host personality; 2) a scared or hurt  child; 
3)  a strong, angry protector; 4) an internal caretaker of  the  child 
alters; 5) an envious protector who is angry at the host. 

     14.  MPD  may appear to be exotic or strange, but  when  seen  in 
context,   MPD  "makes  sense".  It  is  an  ADAPTATION  to  a   TOXIC 
ENVIRONMENT.  In  an environment of danger and abuse,  it  makes  good 
sense to be multiple. 

     15. Each of the alter personalities protects the host by  holding 
one  or more compartments of undigested trauma. HOLDING TRAUMA IS  THE 

     16. Recovery from MPD is a process of releasing the old hurt  and 
completing  the  process of mourning. Successful  digestion  and  full 
understanding  of  the  old  hurt  and  trauma  puts  an  end  to  the 
nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks. It also allows the  various 
alter personalities to REUNITE with one another. 

                 Nikki & The Researcher & The Teacher      

                Note 1 of 7 - MPD Education Series # 4
       [this series of notes is more technical than the others]

                   Etiology of Multiple Personality 
                 -From Abuse to Alter Personalities- 

     Researchers  have yet to fully understand the causes of  multiple 
personality,  but preliminary findings suggest that no  single  factor 
engenders the syndrome and no single intrapsychic pattern is common to 
all  cases. Instead, according to Dr. Richard Kluft, "There appear  to 
be  both  biological  and environmental factors  which  interact  with 
developmental  and psychodynamic processes in each patient  with  MPD. 
The  uniqueness of this interaction in each individual case  leads  to 
the  wide diversity of the condition's manifestations, structures  and 
treatment outcomes." 
     Kluft has developed a "four-factor theory of the etiology of  MPD 
which  reflects this conclusion. The four factors he  deems  necessary 
for the development of multiplicity are: 

     1. A biological capacity for dissociation. 
     2. A history of trauma or abuse. 
     3. Specific psychological structures or contents that can be used 
        in the creation of alternate personalities. 
     4. A lack of adequate nurturing or opportunities to recover  from 

     Kluft's  model was well-received by his colleagues at  the  137th 
Annual  Meeting  of the American Psychiatric  Association  (APA)  last 
spring  in  Los  Angeles.  It was published  in  a  special  issue  of 
Psychiatric Clinics of North America (March, 1984) devoted exclusively 
to multiple personalities. Kluft hopes that the work he and others  in 
the  field have done to shape a broad picture of the etiology  of  MPD 
will  contribute  to the formation of testable  hypotheses  about  the 

                Note 2 of 7 - MPD Education Series # 4
                     Defense Through Dissociation

     In  Kluft's  view,  the first and most important  factor  in  the 
etiology   of   MPD  is  a  biological  capacity   for   dissociation. 
Dissociation,  according to him "is an unconscious  defense  mechanism 
which involves the segregating of mental or behavioral processes  from 
the   rest   of   one's  psychic  activity  and   any   analogy   with 
hypnotizability  is  probably  not  a  capacity  of  all  individuals. 
Instead,  it  is  very  highly developed  and  accessible  in  some  - 
immediately so in others, and minimal in yet others." 
     Psychologists say that dissociative mechanisms function in all of 
us,  to  some extent. The experience of dreams or  spontaneous  waking 
imagery, the "automatic" performance of "over learned" behaviors,  and 
simple  forms  of  state  dependent  learning  are  all  instances  of 
dissociation.   Subpersonalities  may  also   represent   dissociative 
processes  at  work. Hypnosis and trance are  considered  dissociative 
states par excellence. 
     By  comparison  with  the  norm,  persons  who  develop  multiple 
personality  are dissociation-prone. Their response to the  experience 
of  extreme stress or abuse is to isolate the associated feelings  and 
memories  from  conscious  awareness, as memories  are  isolated  from 
awareness in post-hypnotic amnesia (studies have found that nearly all 
multiples are highly hypnotizable). Dr Eugene Bliss of the  University 
of  Utah  explained  how the same mechanism might  apply  to  multiple 
personality:  -  if  hypnosis  can  cause  the  individual  to  forget 
experiences,  feelings or even native language, why should he  or  she 
not be able to forget himself or herself. There is a rapid switch  and 
the  individual  forgets  herself  or to describe  it  in  a  slightly 
different form, the individual goes into hypnosis, disappears and then 
is  hidden  in  hypnosis like a host personality,  while  the  (alter) 
personality emerges into the real world, no longer in hypnosis. 
     Dissociation  is the core mechanism in  other  psychopathological 
syndromes  besides  MPD. Psychogenic fugue,  psychogenic  amnesia  and 
depersonalization  disorder  are  among  the  dissociative   disorders 
formally  recognized  by  psychiatrists.  Dissociation  also  plays  a 
partial  role in some kinds of phobia and anorexia nervosa. "In  fact, 
many  people may use dissociation as a defense, said Dr David  Spiegel 
of Stanford University, School of Medicine, but they don't  dissociate 
themselves, as multiples do". Only in MPD do dissociated processes and 
psychic  contents form highly organized and autonomous  personalities. 
This  reflects the fact that there seems to be a critical  period  for 
the  development of multiple personalities in children, prior  to  the 
development of a mature ego. 

                 Note 4 of 7- MPD Education Series #4
                Abuse and Alter Personalities- Part II 
       DISCLOSURE: The following information may be upsetting.

     Multiples  have also been given frequent enemas or massive  doses 
of   cathartics  because  their  caretakers  believed  they  must   be 
absolutely   clean  not  only  outside  but  within  as   well.   Such 
physiological  abuse  has  also included "home  treatments"  in  which 
children  were inappropriately given adult medications,  which  Wilbur 
said is common when a parent attempts to treat other abuses that  have 
been inflicted on the child. 
     "Who  ever  heard  of an abusive parent take  the  child  to  the 
doctor?"  she  asked.  Survey results suggest that  the  number  of  a 
multiple's  alternate  personalities  is  related  to  the  number  of 
different  types  of  abuse  she or he  suffered  as  a  child  (super 
multiples  have  usually been severely abused well  into  adolescence, 
according  to  Kluft). Moreover, because of the multiples  history  of 
abuse,  at least one personality will almost invariably be  an  angry, 
hostile, and possibly violent alter. 
     The  link  between MPD and child abuse creates  special  problems 
both  for  detecting MPD in its early stages and for  alleviating  the 
conditions  which foster it. Until recently, professionals  tended  to 
respond  to reports of both child abuse and multiple personality  with 
incredulity,  disbelief, and misunderstanding. "While  such  responses 
may be an understandable attempt on their part to maintain a sane  and 
manageable  perspective on reality in the face of the  awful  evidence 
presented  by abused children", Wilbur said at the APA meeting,  "they 
amount to a shared negative hallucination". 
     The problem with credibility may be particularly acute for  child 
multiples. Since they are among the most severely abused  individuals, 
they  may also be experienced as the least credible.  Incredulity  and 
disbelief on the part of family and professional counselors,  however, 
serve only to reinforce the child multiples use of dissociation as the 
best available defense against trauma, or the "only way out". 
     "There should be a massive approach across the country toward the 
prevention  of  child  abuse",  Wilbur  said.  Research  on   multiple 
personality  can  help  authorities  and  the  public  understand  how 
important it is to control this terrible problem. 

               Note 5 of 7 - MPD Educations - Series #4 
                     The Puzzle of Psychogenesis 

     Not  all children who are abused become  multiple  personalities. 
What  then are the other factors which place a child at risk  for  the 
development  of MPD? Researchers have a few clues, but their  data  is 
primarily  descriptive  -  the  mechanisms  of  splitting  are  poorly 
     The  third factor in Kluft's model of the etiology of MPD  refers 
simply  to  all the psychological structures, ego contents  and  other 
unique  shaping influences that a multiple can enlist in the  creation 
of  alter personalities. Taken together, these factors  determine  the 
particular  characteristics of each alter, many of  the  relationships 
among them, and the ways in which they develop. 
     Psychiatrists  use  the term "splitting" in  several  ways.  Most 
generally, it simply refers to the creation of alter personalities. In 
psychoanalytic  theories  of  MPD,  however,  the  term  has  a   more 
specialized  meaning.  There, splitting refers to a  specific  defense 
mechanism  which  functions  very  early in  life  and  results  in  a 
distortion  of  ego  development.  It  involves  the  polarization  of 
emotional  identifications  so  that  the  child  fails  to  integrate 
experiences  of "good" and "bad" in developing mental  representations 
of the self and others. In the narcissistic or borderline  personality 
disorders,  splitting leads to uncertainty about  identity,  emotional 
instability, and problematic relationships. 
     Some  features of MPD support the psychoanalytic claim  that  ego 
splitting  of this kind plays a role in its psychogenesis. At the  APA 
meeting,  for instance, Putnam noted that many multiples split off  in 
pairs  of  personalities  that seem to  be  emotional  opposites.  One 
personality might have a sweet pollyannish disposition, he said, while 
her complement is a "bad" or "horrid" child. 
     Yet,  some researchers also point out that other features of  MPD 
argue against a strict theoretical interpretation involving splitting. 
Not all personalities in a multiple reflect the contradictory  psychic 
organization   that   would   be  expected,   and   individual   alter 
personalities  may grow and reach more mature stages of  psychological 
development than borderline or narcissistic patients do. Moreover,  in 
some cases, a cohesive personality representing the whole self appears 
to   exist   in  conjunction  with  all  of  the   fragmentary   alter 
personalities  who represent split off parts of the self. This  hidden 
personality may have a normal, integrated self structure and  reflects 
a  unity of personality that is totally lacking in the  borderline  or 
narcissistic disorders.In a paper prepared for the First International 
Conference  on  MP/DD States, Dr. Richard Kluft concluded  that  while 
"some limited support for the presence of "splitting" as a defense  in 
individuals  with  MP  exists...there  is  little  evidence  that  the 
construct of "splitting" explains the actual formation or  maintenance 
of alter personalities with unique memories and histories, nor does it 
explain the "switching" process between personalities." 

                 The Puzzle of Psychogenesis- Part II 

     Just what comprises the "window of vulnerability" for MPD is thus 
still a puzzle for researchers. While they are amassing a growing body 
of  clinical  data regarding the creation of alter  personalities  and 
their subsequent intrapsychic organization, as yet, no theory  unifies 
their findings. "There are a lot of competing theories", said Kluft. 

     Clinical experience with multiples as well as survey results have 
shown that: 

-Some alter personalities may begin as imaginary playmates and develop 
gradually, while others have no identifiable precursors. 
-Some  alters "live inside" for awhile before coming out and  assuming 
control  of the body, while others emerge full blown "on the spot"  at 
just the moment they are needed. 
-The  initial "split" usually occurs before the age of five. Once  the 
first  personality has been dissociated, alters may form at  any  time 
-When an alter personality is formed, he or she may or may not deplete 
the parent personality of psychological resources.
-Alters  can  be  clustered  or related to one  another  in  terms  of 
emotional or psychological similarities among them. 
-Splitting usually occurs along effective lines, and each alter  tends 
to deal with a related set of conflicts and feelings. 

     At  the APA meeting Wilbur said, "In the analysis of the  various 
alter  personalities of a MP, we find individuals who deal  with  rage 
and  hatred,  individuals who deal with hypocrisy  and  dishonesty  in 
others,  alternates who deal with envy and jealousy in themselves  and 
in others, and individuals who encapsulate intense affect and conflict 
of all kinds." 
     Another  way  of putting this, according to Bliss, is  that  each 
alter is initially an invited guest, with specific functions for which 
he  or  she  is responsible. In addition  to  alters  who  encapsulate 
emotions  associated  wth trauma, there may be personalities  who  are 
responsible  for developing valuable skills or abilities,  others  who 
express   conflictual  impulses  and  needs  such  as   sexuality   or 
aggression,  and  personalities  who assume control  of  the  body  in 
specific behavioral roles or social situations.

                          Absence of Healing 

     The  final factor involved in the etiology of MPD is the lack  of 
restorative   experiences  following  abuse  and   dissociation.   The 
incipient multiple never given a chance to heal adopts dissociation as 
a  routine strategy for dealing with problems.  Dissociative  barriers 
are strengthened through reinforcement and elaboration, and  alternate 
personalities assume an autonomous existence. 
     Studies  by Drs Bennett Braun and Charles Stern help  to  confirm 
the  idea that multiples do not find the necessary succor  or  healing 
support in their environment. They have attempted to characterize  the 
family  of origin of the multiple, and the profile that  emerges  from 
their  research  is  remarkably similar to  that  developed  by  other 
investigators studying families likely to include abused children.

     The family of origin of the multiple (often or typically): 

-Espouses rigid religious or mystical beliefs. 
-Presents  a united front to the community, yet internally is  riddled 
with conflict. 
-Is   isolated   from  the  community  and   uncooperative   regarding 
intervention or assistance. 
-Includes at least one caretaker who exhibits severe pathology. 
-Subjects  the child to contradictory communications from  significant 
others during childhood. 
-Is  polarized;  one  parent may be  overadequate  (the  abuser),  the 
other underadequate (the enabler) 
     It  is this combination of genetic, psychodynamic,  developmental 
and  environmental factors which perpetuates a tragic chain of  abuse, 
dissociation and multiplicity.
                Edited from a note about kids with MPD
                   FROM: LISA RICHARDSON (XDSH17B)

     A recent research study on a checklist used to screen for MPD  in 
kids showed that a family history of MPD or Dissociative Disorder  was 
not statistically significant in predicting MPD/DD in kids.
     The  most  predictive  items were: traumatic  history  of  sexual 
abuse,  periodic intense depression, fearful regressive  episodes  and 
perplexing forgetfulness (Reagor, Kasten & Morelli, 1992). 
     Symptoms  of MPD\DD in kids which others describe include:  in  a 
daze,  trance,  'another world'; answer to or use  another  name;  big 
changes  in personality and behavior; forgets or seems confused  about 
very  basic simple things; odd changes in physical skills;  schoolwork 
goes  from  very good to bad (and I see kids who are  inconsistent  in 
what  they can do in school--i.e. one day they read above average  and 
the next day they can't read at all, etc); discipline has little or no 
effect; denial of behavior observed by others, extreme inconsistencies 
in  abilities,  likes, dislikes; intense  angry  outbursts;  excessive 
daydreaming  or sleepwalking; internal voices; imaginary playmates  or 
companions (past age 6); amnesia. 
     I  would say that if you see some of these symptoms, perhaps  you 
should  have  your child evaluated. If you are concerned,  perhaps  it 
would  help you to rest easier to have it done, too. Please  look  for 
someone,  though, who is familiar with working with children who  have 
MPD/DD. I hope this helps.
                    (Adapted note from Doris Bell) 

                0%                  PEARL             100% 
            confidence                of           confidence
             <-------- chain of confidence ------------>
               <=== the pearl can move either way ===>

     It  helps to find a way to think about trust that allows  you  to 
make the adjustments in how MUCH you trust without needing to go  into 
a tailspin about it.
     Now, say a total stranger does something thoughtful for us and we 
feel  really  good about it. It isn't wise to trust that  person  100% 
because we FEEL good, because they are STILL a stranger to us. Or, say 
a  trusted  friend does something that makes us feel bad.  It  doesn't 
seem wise to move the pearl of trust to the 0% point, either. We  know 
them,  and have a lot of experience with them, and a long  history  of 
how they've treated us in the past.
     So, the trick of learning to trust wisely is to learn to move the 
pearl  of  trust  only  as far along the chain  of  confidence  as  is 
warranted by how much we know about the person we're dealing with, AND 
by  the thing that happened that made us feel anxious, OR  good.  This 
gives  us  a  SAFE  way  to determine how much  trust  to  give  at  a 
particular point. 

Editor's comment:
      I  visualize  the pearl as being VERY HEAVY, so  that  a  single 
action has very little effect on it - like one nudge to a big boulder. 
A  nice act by a stranger would have to be repeated lots of  times  to 
move it, and by that time the stranger has become a friend!  Likewise, 
a  friend who has been trustworthy for a long time would have to do  a 
series  of deliberate bad acts to move the pearl off the  trust  level 
they had attained over years.

                     Note 3 of 7 - MPD Education- 

            ~~~~~~~ Abuse and Alter Personalities ~~~~~~~~

     The  second  factor in MPD is some set of  traumatic  experiences 
that overwhelm the individual's capacity to copewith them by any means 
other  than dissociation. A growing and terrible body of evidence  now 
shows  that this is usually severe physical, sexual  or  psychological 
abuse by a parent or significant other in the the child's life.
     In  a survey of 100 multiples, Dr Frank Putnam found that 97%  of 
them  had  a  childhood history of incest, torture,  or  other  abuse. 
Psychiatrists   now  believe  that  as  children,  multiples   created 
alternate personalities as a response to such experiences.
     Dr.  Cornelia  Wilbur  of the University of  Kentucky  School  of 
Medicine was the first contemporary psychiatrist to identify the  role 
of abuse in the development of MPD in her pioneering psychoanalysis of 
Sybil  Dorsett. Wilbur discovered that the severe and sustained  abuse 
Sybil  suffered  at  the hands of her mother  had  evoked  intolerable 
feelings  of  rage, hatred, fear and pain that Sybil learned  to  cope 
with by blocking them out of awareness entirely, through dissociation. 
The feelings and memories that Sybil isolated from awareness, however, 
were  the  nucleus around which her alter personalities  later  formed 
though inner elaboration and through reinforcement by repeated abuse.
     "Normal  at birth...Sybil had fought back until she was  about  2 
and  a half, by which time the fight had been literally beaten out  of 
her.  She  had sought rescue from without until,  totally  recognizing 
that  this  rescue  would bedenied, she  resorted  to  finding  rescue 
within.  First  there  was  the rescue of  creating  a  pretend  world 
inhabited  by  a  loving  mother of  fantasy,  but  being  a  multiple 
personality  was  the  ultimate rescue.  By  dividing  into  different 
selves, defenses against not only an intolerable but also a  dangerous 
reality, Sybil had found a modus operandi for survival.
     Wilbur  discussed  the  nature  and  scope  of  the  trauma  that 
multiples  suffer  in  a keynote address at  the  First  International 
Conference on Multiple Personality/Dissociative States.

     The  sexual abuse of multiples has included rape, incest,  sodomy 
and  fellatio,  both heterosexual and homosexual, Wilbur  said.  Cases 
have  been reported in which a child's caretaker(s) regularly  invited 
other  relatives or friends to participate in sexually exploiting  him 
or her, and some multiples have been forced to witness the physical or 
sexual abuse of other children.
     Therapists  have also treated multiples who were  psychologically 
abused  by  being  compelled to participate in  murder,  or  who  were 
exposed  to  multiple  murders. Religious  activity  involving  ritual 
murder - reportedly still widespread in this country - was said to  be 
the context, in some cases, for this diabolical kind of abuse.
     Physical  abuse of multiples has included burying,  torture,  and 
beatings. Neglect has included their being almost completely  deprived 
of  physical  contact,  or constantly having  been  fed  inappropriate 
foods. If the latter practise is widespread, Wilbur noted, it suggests 
that  nutrition may be an etiological factor in MPD, or may figure  in 
some of the unusual psychosomatic irregularities in multiples. 
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