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Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) &
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID):

MPD/DID viewed as naturally
occurring phenomenon. #5 of 5 views

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Please read the overview to MPD / DID before tackling this essay.


As the name implies, Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) -- since 1994 called Dissociative Identity Disorder -- is a mental condition in which two or more personalities appear to inhabit a single body. 

There have been five main conflicting views about MPD. This essay will describe MPD viewed as a naturally occurring phenomenon caused by an unusual brain structure or as environmental factors, and not by childhood abuse.

This belief has never been widely accepted by mental health professionals; they generally view MPD/DID as an iatrogenic (physician induced) disorder that does not appear in nature.

MPD accidentally induced by playing role playing games:

The False Memory Syndrome Foundation mentioned in their 2006-JUN newsletter:

"For years, some American trauma specialists have claimed that Multiple Personality Disorder is caused by child abuse -- in spite of the fact that there is no solid scientific evidence to support that claim. In March 2006, another theory was offered by Bert de Wildt of the Medical University of Hanover in Germany. Dr. De Wildt said that he had an example of a female patient who had played internet role playing games for several hours a day for more than three years. 'During that time the invented characters gradually took control over the personality which had been neglected. The patient lost control of her own identity and social life,' he said. During psychoanalysis, therapists discovered that she had developed multiple personalities." 1

Multiplicity seen as a naturally occurring phenomenon:

There is a subgroup within the MPD community who often describe themselves as "empowered multiples" (EMs). Others use terms like "non-disordered multiples." "natural multiples," or "non-trauma multiples." They look upon multiple personalities as a gift, and a naturally occurring phenomenon, unrelated to childhood abuse.

They differentiate themselves from what they call "survivor multiples": victim survivors of MPD who are seriously disabled by their multiplicity. EMs have not been well accepted by survivor multiples. When they ask survivor webmasters to install links to EM web sites, they "have been rejected for 'unsuitable content.' "

One EM, named Sharon, wrote:

"Empowered groups believe that being a multiple means that you have a community or world all sharing one body. They do not believe it means you have any kind of disorder...many multiples have proven themselves capable of living happy, productive lives WITHOUT INTEGRATING. There is no cure for being a is a state of being, and just as natural as being left-handed...We are people, not identities, alters, fragments or 'parts'. We are not ashamed of who we are, because we are multiple and proud!" 2

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Most empowered multiples do not accept:

bullet The concept that all multiplicity is caused by childhood abuse.
bullet The belief that multiplicity is a disorder.
bullet The term "MPD" itself, presumably because the "D" refers to "Disorder." 
bullet The assumption that multiplicity needs to be cured by integration of all of the personalities into a single host.

Most empowered multiples:

bullet Have never been diagnosed during therapy as having MPD or DID.
bullet Believe that multiplicity can be a natural process.
bullet Believe that they have had multiple personalities for as long as they can remember.
bullet Do not recall having experienced any physical or sexual abuse during childhood.
bullet Object to therapists who try to link multiplicity with childhood abuse, and/or who create false memories of abuse in their clients.

Some empowered multiples:

bullet Believe that many children are "natural multiples." It is only later in life that some integrate themselves into a single dominant personality, "because that is the social norm." 3
bullet Believe that their form of multiplicity has a genetic cause.

What does the future hold for EMs?

Almost all counselors and therapists who once specialized in diagnosing MPD / DID as a mental disorder have now abandoned the field. The approximately two dozen clinics in North America that specialized in this disorder are now closed or converted to offering more conventional therapies. The future might see empowered multiples become more visible as the number of clients diagnosed with DPD / DID become rarer. With visibility may come acceptance by therapists and the rest of the public.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Internet roleplaying games can cause multiple personality  disorder," (2006, March 13). Deutsch Presse-Agentur, 2006-MAR-13.
  2. Sharon, "The Empowered: A new brand of multiple," at: This essay is no longer online.
  3. Larry, "Larry the Harmonica Player," at: This essay is no longer online.
  4. "Multiplicity as a social phenomenon," Wikipedia, at:

Copyright 1998 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1998-JAN-11
Last updated on 2009-SEP-13

Author: B.A. Robinson

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