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I usually reply that the symptoms attributed to it are as genuine as hysterical paralysis and seizures The "alters" are said to occur spontaneously and involuntarily, and function more or less independently of each other. The unity of consciousness, by which we identify our selves, is said to be absent in MPD.
Another symptom of MPD is significant amnesia which can't be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. The label may have changed, but the list of symptoms remained essentially the same.
Memory and other aspects of consciousness are said to be divided up among "alters" in the MPD. The number of "alters" identified by various therapists ranges from several to tens to hundreds. There are even some reports of several thousand identities dwelling in one person.
There does not seem to be any consensus among therapists as to what an "alter" is. Yet, there is general agreement that the cause of MPD is repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse. The evidence for this claim has been challenged, however, and there are very few reported cases of MPD afflicting children.
Spanos argues that repressed memories of childhood abuse and multiple personality disorder are "rule-governed social constructions established, legitimated, and maintained through social interaction.
The experts have created both the disease and the cure. This does not mean that MPD does not exist, but that its origin and development are often, if not most often, explicable without the model of separate but permeable ego-states or "alters" arising out of the ashes of a destroyed "original self.
These children have often been kept in such extraordinary terrifying and confusing circumstances that I am more amazed that they survive psychologically at all than I am that they manage to preserve themselves by a desperate redrawing of their boundaries.
What they do, when confronted with overwhelming conflict and pain, is this: Dennett exhibits minimal skepticism about the truth of the MPD accounts, and focuses on how they can be explained metaphysically and biologically.
For all his brilliant exploration of the concept of the self, the one perspective he doesn't seem to give much weight to is the one Spanos takes: That is not to say that our biology is not a significant determining factor in the development of our ideas about selves, including our own self.
It is to say, however, that before we go off worrying about how to metaphysically explain one or a hundred selves in one body, or one self in a hundred bodies, we might want to consider that a phenomenological analysis of behavior which takes that behavior at face value, or which attributes it to nothing but brain structure and biochemistry, may be missing the most significant element in the creation of the self: Being a social construct does not make the self any less real, by the way.
And Spanos should not be taken to deny either that the self exists or that MPD exists.
How could it be possible that most MPD patients have been created in the therapist's laboratory, so to speak? How could so many people behave as if their bodies have been invaded by numerous entities or personalities, if they hadn't really been so invaded?
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How could so many people actually experience past lives under hypnosis, a standard procedure of some therapists who treat MPD?
How could the defense mechanism explanation for MPD, in terms of repression of childhood sexual trauma and dissociation, not be correct?
How could so many people be so wrong about so much? Spanos' answer makes it sound almost too easy for such a massive amount of self-deception and delusion to develop: Most educated people today do not try to explain epilepsy, brain damage, genetic disorders, neurochemical imbalances, feverish hallucinations, or troublesome behavior by appealing to the idea of demonic possession.
Yet, at one time, all of Europe and America would have accepted such an explanation. Furthermore, we had our experts--the priests and theologians--to tell us how to identify the possessed and how to exorcise the demons.
An elaborate theological framework bolstered this worldview, and an elaborate set of social rituals and behaviors validated it on a continuous basis. In fact, every culture, no matter how primitive and pre-scientific, had a belief in some form of demonic possession. It had its shamans and witch doctors who performed rituals to rid the possessed of their demons.
In their own sociocognitive contexts, such beliefs and behaviors were seen as obviously correct, and were constantly reinforced by traditional and customary social behaviors and expectations. Most educated people today believe that the behaviors of witches and other possessed persons--as well as the behaviors of their tormentors, exorcists, and executioners--were enactments of social roles.
With the exception of religious fundamentalists who still live in the world of demons, witches, and supernatural magiceducated people do not believe that in those days there really were witches, or that demons really did invade bodies, or that priests really did exorcise those demons by their ritualistic magic.
Yet, for those who lived in the time of witches and demons, these beings were as real as anything else they experienced.College essays are important because they let you reveal your personality.
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