The Three Faces of Eve -or- Multiple Personality Disorder

My studies as a psychology student and later in a three year training therapy included the understanding of the nature of psychopathological dreams. The dream is the most accurate, precise and pragmatic psychometric and diagnostic tool ever invented. Many dreams like the one below sent to the International Institute for Dream Research speak the language of psychopathology. Having worked with a client for a number of years that suffered from multiple personality disorder (MPD), the dream below has striking similarities to those I received in therapy. In that case the MPD was caused by sexual abuse as a child. The dreams provided the case management clues that led to the diagnosis of MPD. This diagnosis was later independently verified by a psychiatrist who specialized in MPD cases.  

Nadine, 29                                            

Recurring dream; I live in a house with many other people, predominately women. They each have a room for themselves. Many of the past dreams were very chaotic, with some of the people fighting or not listening to each other. This time, I go to talk to a friend about all the problems we have been having about living together. The group had elected me to speak for them.

Mr Hagen's Response: Multiple Personality Disorder -or- The 12 Voices of Nadine

James P. Bloch Assessment and Treatment of Multiple Personality and Dissociative Disorders defines dissociation as a defense mechanism that disrupts the ‘synthetic function of the ego' consciousness. The normal coping mechanism of repression (defense) edits and censors individual "memories, affects and drives from consciousness", in that there is no significant alteration or disruption of consciousness. In contrast "Dissociation leads to a more global disruption of consciousness than does repression".

Tracing the history of the psychological concept of dissociation, we find there are many who have framed the research paradigm such as Pierre Janet, William James, Morton Prince, Boris Sidis, Carl Jung, Ernst Hilgard and Frank Putnam.

Such a maladaptive dissociative defense strategy can be viewed for the most part as seeking to compartmentalize traumatic memories and experiences by creating a continuum of healthy and pathological altered states of consciousness. Said another way, the various states of consciousness are driven by compartmentalization of memories, consciousness and affect by dissociative amnesia. We can see the compartmentalization in the dream above, "each have a room for themselves" and the group (of sub-personalities) has elected her to speak.

We all forget, forgetting can be healthy or it can create psychological problems such as seen in MPD. The psychological dissociation creates a cleft (meaning to cleave or divide) in memory, thereby creating a split in personality and consciousness. As Bloch notes dissociation and splitting are intimately related psychological phenomena.

Bloch cites a number of studies (including J.O. Beahrs Unity and Multiplicity: Multilevel Consciousness of Self in Hypnosis, Psychiatric Disorder and Mental Health) that underscores the nosological range of normal and pathological conscious forms of self functioning. The wide range of pathological forms self consciousness and sleep include such phenomena as somnambulism, fugue, psychogenic amnesia and depersonalization.

From a popular culture perspective films such as the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Three Faces of Eve, the TV mini-series Sybil and Fight Club all dramatically present characters who have alter egos.




All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.