The Different Theories and Conclusions About Multiple Personality Disorder

The Different Theories and Conclusions About Multiple Personality Disorder

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Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is a condition in which an individual has the experience of being more than one distinct person. As with all the concepts and theories we use to explain reality, anomalies in the experience of what we define as a self challenge such definitions. Advances in understanding often arise from unexpected quarters, so to close off any such quarter would be to willfully limit our understanding

All the writers I look at accept the existence of MPD, but each has a different conception of its causes. Each draw different conclusions about the self based on their interpretation of MPD or, in Hacking’s case, rule out meaningfully connecting MPD with our beliefs about the self.

Dennett and Humphries see the formation of MPD as illustrative of his philosophy of mind. This explains the self as ‘fictitious’, (clarify Dickhead’s theory here) but real enough to be in charge of the various sub-systems that give us our experience of self.

As usual with Dennett, he has a bet each way. The experience of self is not demonstrable but seems nevertheless to be acceptably inferred by the overall expression of an organism. We each have a network of sub-systems which somehow add up to an experience of self. Although he doesn’t try to define this self as it actually exists in our heads, in our lives, we are told that it exists like the US President exists. However closely this might ‘fit’ with our lived experience, Dennett’s explanation does nothing to explain any scientific truth of MPD. As Hacking would assert, this disqualifies Dennett’s explanation of MPD as evidence for any particular notion of self. Again, we have simply a happy, reasonable coincidence between an experience – MPD, an explanation - the self spl...


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...e centre of narrative gravity”. For Flanagan’s self to operate successfully, he has two, “deeply entwined” self-representational processes interacting to create the unified self. One part organizes a coherent sense of self, the other guides its behavior and matches this behavior, however successfully, with the coherent self. Flanagan does not grapple with the ontological issue of which causes the other, or how this occurs. Still, it gets him around the problem in Dennett’s theory, which requires one to have caused the other.


Dennett’s response to Hacking’s criticism that subsystems all share common skill sets – most definitively motor skills – is that all shared functions/capacities are themselves different subsystems. To call selves subsystems and then equate them with each and every skill as a subsystem seems absurd. Much wiser surely to posit a foundation

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