WOMAN HAS 400 PERSONALITIES
"Not ashamed that I am not normal"
by George Hunter
Originally appeared in the Sun, a tabloid rag. But RaLynne& were real.
They appeared on Leeza Gibbons' talk show in December 1997 and died the following March.
Medical marvel RaLynne Hitch shares the corridors of her crowded mind
with 400 other "residents"-- her distinctly different personalities!
Multiple personality disorder is usually very traumatic for the victim,
as well as family and friends. But spunky RaLynne considers her condition a
"I'm not ashamed of having multiple personalities," she says. "I enjoy a
richness and diversity of experience that 'normal' people do not. For me
The 38-year-old Whittier, California resident has nominated her true
personality mayor of the citizens inside her crowded cranium.
Each personality is unique. They come forth as all ages and lifestyles,
both male and female. RaLynn insists she loves them all. "In my heart of
hearts, I would never want to go through life as a singleton," explains the
mother of four. "My kids have been the strongest source of support and
understanding in my life. They love me and accept me and all the other
people within me with totally open hearts. My kids love having such a
diverse mom! Around my house there has never been a shortage of playmates.
My eight-year-old, for example, loves to play with Debbie, my personality
of an energetic little girl just her age. If my daughter asks her to come
out and play, Debbie starts jumping and screaming to come out."
At any given moment RaLynne has about 10 different personalities sharing
her thoughts. She has learned to carry on conversations with them
internally, while simultaneously interacting with people in the outside
She often finds the inner dialogue to be more entertaining. "I'm always
blown away by how different some of the personalities are from myself,"
"For example, if I even smell alcohol, I'm already half- wasted. I have
no tolerance for it."
"But Brenda is a real domineering and aggressive personality who can put
it away like crazy.
She's also a heavy smoker and I cannot stand cigarettes."
RaLynne's macho personalities sometimes grumble about being stuck inside
a woman's body.
But the manly personas have rushed to her aid in the past.
"One time I was on a miserable date with a total creep who was getting
touchy with me," notes RaLynne.
"So I switched to Paul, a macho personality, and he bellows 'Get your
hands off her!' Then he walloped the guy in the face, knocking him on the
Other information about this group:
The following comes from the False Memory Syndrome website, and should
be read keeping in mind the typical mentality associated with those people.
They believe neither in child sexual abuse nor in multiple personalities.
If you want to know more about the False Memory Syndrome foundation and
what you can do to oppose them, go to the False Memory Syndrome Facts website. We are including an extract from one of their newsletters here only because they
talk about RaLynne and other multiples who have appeared to tell their
stories to the media.
"We now seem to be in a transition period of public
understanding about recovered memories. For example, most appellate courts
have noted that there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the
theory of repression but the Arizona Supreme Court in April allowed suits
tbased on this theory to extend the statute of limitations. (The summary
and analysis of that decision (p.7) are fascinating reading and document
the need for ongoing educational efforts.)
"Another example of this transition is the divergent media treatment of
Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD; officially DID for Dissociative
Identity Disorder). Its advocates claim that MPD is caused by childhood
sexual abuse. A powerful article by Joan Acocella entitled "The Politics of
Hysteria" appeared in the April 6, 1998 issue of The New Yorker. Acocella
notes that the recovered memory movement has done serious damage to
feminism by bringing back the old "weak-woman stereotype," and that "the
patient forfeits the privileges of being an adult -- self-knowledge, moral
agency." She minces no words: "If MPD was supposed to rescue insight
therapy, it did the opposite: it covered insight therapy with shame." The
New Yorker critique is so completely devastating that one might conclude
that the problem is over.
"Television programs, however, give just the opposite perspective. On
May 11, 1998, for example, Oprah Winfrey uncritically accepted the belief
that mental disorders are the result of sexual abuse. Any association that
may exist between past abuse and mental disorders is much more complex. But
it has been the handling of MPD that causes this writer anxiety. The MPD
movement received a major kick-off in the 1980s because it was presented
with the imprimatur of medical authorities. Two television programs in the
past half year seem to be doing it all over again.
Last December the daytime talk show Leeza featured RaLynne, a mother of
four children who was said to have 300 personalities. While Leeza
acknowledged that there can be skeptics of this disorder, Stuart Gluck,
M.D., the Medical Director of Charter San Jose who treated RaLynne for
three years, was presented to confirm the reality of this diagnosis in
general and in RaLynne in particular. Throughout the program, the camera
focuses on the scars on RaLynne's arm, a result of her self-cutting. At the
same time RaLynne and her children are seen smiling and laughing. We are
given a picture of a normal person with an exotic disorder for whom life
now is fine.
"Leeza continued with RaLynne the next day. This time Dr. Don
Hackenberg, M.D. was the expert psychiatrist. He told the world that
RaLynne was a multiple because she had been victimized by a "satanic cult."
He told us that we didn't know or understand this because "satanic cults
act in secrecy." Again the program showed close-ups of the scars on
RaLynne's arm even while portraying her life now as normal. Sadly, RaLynne
died in March, 1998.
"On March 4, 1998, Prime Time Live featured two segments on MPD reported
by Diane Sawyer. The first segment featured Chris Sizemore (the real name
behind "Three Faces of Eve") who told us that she developed not just 3 but
22 personalities. What she did not tell Diane Sawyer on television is what
was revealed by Acocella in The New Yorker that "having MPD was `fun'--that
when she recovered, the `magic' went out of her life."
"In the second segment Sawyer introduced us to an MPD patient named
"Lucy," a nurse who told us that she never switches alters when she is on
duty at work but who happened to switch during the taping of the program.
Her doctor, Richard Moskovitz, M.D., whom we are told as just published a
book on the topic and thus is "an expert," authenticates the reality of the
diagnosis. Dr. Moskovitz has hospital priviledges at Charter Springs
"Sawyer told us that two-thirds of those diagnosed with MPD try to take
their own lives. (She omitted the fact that these attempts are mostly after
the diagnosis and memory recovery.) While she said there are skeptics, she
then said that 80 percent of doctors in a recent survey believe in the
diagnosis. (The survey was of doctors in veterans' hospitals; other more
recent surveys find nothing like this result.) [Astraea Note: But
doesn't that SAY something about what goes on with veterans? Was this ever
followed up?] Her chief expert was David Spiegel, M.D. who appeared
four times. His father, Herb Spiegel, M.D. appeared just once to say that
MPD is greatly overdiagnosed and it is an embarrassment to psychiatry. [Astraea Note: Herb Spiegel is an embarrassment to psychiatry.] David Spiegel then assured us that MPD is not over-diagnosed.
"As long as we continue to have television programs that present MPD and
recovered memories in an unbalanced and romantic fashion, we have a
problem. We must continue our work."
And we must continue ours. sigh.
The Nautilus' tribute to RaLynne
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