MPD, is a bizarre syndrome in which two or more distinct personalities inhabit a single body. People who suffer from this disorder , or "multiples", often have an awareness of their condition. They do not realize that control of their body is being passed back and forth between different personalities and instead feel they are suffering from some kind of amnesia, confusion, or black-out spells. Most multiples average between eight to thirteen personalities, although so-called super-multiples may have more than a hundred subpersonalities.
One of the most telling statistics regarding multiples is that 97 percent of them have had a history of severe childhood trauma, often in the form of monstrous psychological, physical, and sexual abuse. This has led many researchers to conclude that becoming a multiple is the psyche's way of coping with extraordinary and soul-crushing pain. By dividing up into one or more personalities the psyche is able to parcel out the pain, in a way, and have several personalities bear what would be too much for just one personality to withstand.
In this sense becoming a multiple may be the ultimate example of what Bohm means by fragmentation. It is interesting to note that when the psyche fragments itself, it does not become a collection of broken and jagged-edged shards, but a collection of smaller wholes, complete and self-sustaining with their own traits, motives, and desires. Although these wholes are not identical copies of the original personality, they are related to the dynamics of the original personality, and this in itself suggests that some kind of holographic process is involved.
Another unusual feature of MPD is that each of a multiple's personalities possesses a different brain-wave pattern. In addition to possessing different brain-wave patterns, the subpersonalities of a multiple have a strong psychological separation from one another. Each has his own name, age, memories, and abilities. Often each also has his own style of handwriting, announced gender, cultural and racial background, artistic talents, foreign language fluency, and IQ.
Even more noteworthy are the biological changes that take place in a multiple's body when they switch personalities. Frequently a medical condition possessed by one personality will mysteriously vanish when another personality takes over.
Dr. Bennet Braun of the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality, in Chicago, has documented a case in which all of a patient's subpersonalities were allergic to orange juice, except one. If the man drank orange juice when one of his allergic personalities was in control, he would break out in a terrible rash. But if he switched to his nonallergic personality, the rash would instantly start to fade and he could drink orange juice freely.
Allergies are not the only thing multiples can switch on and off. If there was any doubt as to the control of the unconscious mind has over drug effects, it is banished by the pharmacological wizardry of the multiple. By changing personalities, a multiple who is drunk can instantly become sober. Different personalities also respond differently to different drugs.
Braun records a case in which 5 milligrams of diazepam, a tranquilizer, sedated one personality, while 100 milligrams had little or no effect on another.
Often one or several of a multiple's personalities are children, and if an adult personality is given a drug and then a child's personality take over, the adult dosage may be too much for the child and result in an overdose. It is also difficult to anesthetize some multiples, and there are accounts of multiples waking up on the operating table after one of their "unanesthetizable" subpersonalities has taken over.
Other conditions that can vary from personality to personality include scars, burn marks, cysts, and left- and right-handedness. Visual acuity can differ, and some multiples have to carry two or three different pairs of eyeglasses to accommodate their alternating personalities. One personality can be color-blind and another not, and even eye color can change.
There are cases of women who have two or three menstrual periods each month because each of their subpersonalities has its own cycle.
Speech pathologist Christy Ludlow has found that the voice pattern for each of a multiple's personalities is different, a feat that requires such a deep physiological change that even the most accomplished actor cannot alter his voice enough to disguise his voice pattern.
One multiple, admitted to a hospital for diabetes, baffled her doctors by showing no symptoms when one of her nondiabetic personalities was in control.
There are accounts of epilepsy coming and going with changes in personality, and psychologist Robert A. Phillips, Jr. reports that even tumors can appear and disappear (although he does not specify what kind of tumors).
Multiples also tend to heal faster than normal individuals. For example, there are several cases on record of third-degree burns healing with extraordinary rapidity. Most eerie of all, at least one researcher, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, the therapist whose pioneering treatment of Sybil Dorsett was portrayed in the book Sybil - is convinced that multiples don't age as fast as other people.
At a recent symposium on the multiple personality syndrome, a multiple named Cassandra provided a possible answer. Cassandra attributes her own rapid healing ability both to the visualization techniques she practices and to something she calls "parallel processing". As she explained, even when her alternate personalities are not in control of her body, they are still aware. This enables her to "think" on a multitude of different channels at once, to do things like work on several different term papers simultaneously, and even "sleep" while other personalities prepare her dinner and clean her house.
Hence, whereas normal people only do healing imagery exercises two or three times a day, Cassandra does them around the clock. She even has a subpersonality named Celese who possesses a thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and whose sole function is to spend twenty-four hours a day meditating and imaging the body's well-being. According to Cassandra, it is this full-time attention to her health that gives her an edge over normal people. Other multiples have made similar claims.
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