posted on Jul, 2 2007 @ 12:51 PM
Excellent topic, but one question, just so I'm clear on what we are discussing here...Are you asking a question on Multiple Personality Disorder
(what is commonly referred to as Dissociative Indentity Disorder), or are you talking about Schizophrenia? I only ask because people often times get
the two confused with one another, and both are completely different disorders.
I will assume you are asking about DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) by how your question was phrased, but please excuse me if you were alluding to
Schizophrenia. On a side note, I will commonly refer to it as simply "DID" from here on out to save word length.
There has been some room for controversy of whether DID can be associated with any particular personality disorder as currently its care and treatment
is done on a purely subjective nature. Whereas many personality disorders fall under the category of being objectively viewed, and that verifiable
factors in mental and physical deterioration can be observed, DID remains opposite of that. Most cases that I know of are the direct consequence of
childhood trauma (either mental or physical), a secondary mental illness, or possible undue stress on a patient that is either child or adult.
Schizophrenia, on the other hand, is a sort of "split" between the real and un-real in a patients personality that is characterized by
hallucination, dementia, and paranoia. This is why I posed the earlier question of which you were referring to.
One thing to remember is that most psychiatrists do not believe that humans have one solid ego state, but rather we change our identity depending on
the situation we find ourselves in. I have often thought of personality as a sort of natural defense mechanism in that we find ourselves in various
situations throughout our lives, and adapt according to our experiences. In other words, someone may not naturally feel inclined to exhibit the
characteristics of a socialite, but may be forced in certain situations to conform to that role in order to "fit in". The same thing happens in the
brain of someone going through early childhood stress and abuse...the brain essentially "splits" into seperate entities to lessen the stress on the
brain as a whole. One side will bear whatever trauma is forced upon it and the other side will compensate along opposite lines. So, when added
stress or pressure is put upon the side that cannot cope with it a natural defense mechanism kicks in and switches the personality to the identity
that has learned to cope.
Another thing to keep in mind is that their are no scientifically testable methods for verifying if someone has a mental disorder, because we have yet
to find the exact triggers that cause the problems. In fact, we know very little about the brain, and hopefully with current advancements in science
we will continue to gain a better understanding. This is not to say that the brain is a totally foreign object, but it is very hard to measure and
quantify the organ itself. Most personality disorders including DID eventually fall into the realm of philosophy, and even though there is incredible
evidence to suggest that they do in exist, it has yet to be proven.
There are some known cases of DID that cannot be explained by convential means in that there was apparently no trauma, depression, anxiety, etc. in
the patient exhibiting signs of DID. Barring the cases of experimental DID as mentioned by KilgoreTrout, I am unaware of any successful attempts to
induce a patient with DID like symptoms. However, I do believe that should a participant in such an experiment be put under the same conditions as
they would in early childhood, when the brain is still adapting to it's surroundings, it could be possible to cause enough mental stress to induce
DID. Having said that, I believe any undue stress on a subject would not only be unethical, but unprofessional in any form.