Behind Closed Doors: The Correlation Between Multiple Personality Disorder and
Child Abuse


"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"

From "For Children Who Were Broken"

by Elia Wise

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 effects 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, ual,
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 ual
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