Multiple Personality Disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder)

Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, chief physician at Salpetriere Hospital in Paris though he had discovered a new disease. This was the late 1880s when a lot more new diseases were being discovered. He called this new disease Hystero-Epilepsy. As you can tell by the name the disorder was thought to combine some traits of two already discovered mental disorders, hysteria, and epilepsy. Ever since this was first discovered people have been fascinated with what has later become known as Multiple Personality Disorder.

The symptoms when the disease was first discovered were contortions, convulsions, fainting, and impaired consciousness. Charcot was considered the preeminent French psychologist at the time and was able to demonstrate the symptoms in his patients to his staff all around the hospital. Ever since the disease was first discovered we have learned more and more about it and it has developed into being called Multiple Personality Disorder.

Multiple Personality Disorder is being diagnosed more and more as we move forward. As a result of this, more and more students are questioning whether or not the disease actually exists at all. Most of the symptoms found with MPD are found in other diseases that have been known for hundreds of years and they don’t really teach us anything new about mental health.

Not everyone believed Charcot when he first came up with hystero-epilepsy. One of the most noted doubters of Charcot’s initial discovery was actually one of his students, Joseph Babinsky. He felt that Charcot had in fact invented the disease. He said that he demonstrated the symptoms of convincing patients that were actually much more mentally healthy and had only more mild complaints that they had this serious disease. Once he convinced them that they had the disease he would invite them to join his other patients that he said had the disease. Babinski felt that they started having seizures not because they had epilepsy, but because they had been stuck in Charcot’s treatment ward for so long that they were imitating other patients with epilepsy and making it seem like they had hystero-epilepsy.

Babinski eventually proved his point with Charcot. He proved that some patients could be convinced that they had mental diseases that they didn’t have. This was especially true with women that had been under some kind of distress or other mentally vulnerable patients. This led to Babinsky and Charcot working together to develop a treatment program for their patients. Because of Babinsky’s claim, one of the tenants of this treatment procedure isolation to reduce the effect that other patients had the symptoms of other patients in the ward.

The very first patients that had the disease of hystero-epilepsy were put in general wards of the hospital while still being separated from each other. This means that they were kept apart from anyone that was observed to have been exhibiting the same symptoms associated with the disease that they were. This treatment method was very effective as far as reducing the symptoms is concerned.

After isolation, there was another step to the treatment, this step was called counter suggestion. This step was designed to give their patients a different self-view. This adjusted self-view could cause the patients to stop having the symptoms associated with the disease. Some of these counter suggestions would be viewed as inhumane today. They included electric shock therapy. The most effective way to treat it was to completely ignore that the patient was showing the symptoms at all.

When the staff members that were treating these patients began to ignore the symptoms that they were displaying, they did it gradually. They would ignore the hysterics that the patient was going through and instead talk to them as if they wanted to treat some other problem that may be causing the symptoms in the first place. When this happens, the patient doesn’t feel the need to produce the symptoms because they are starting to realize that the disease isn’t real. Babinsky and Charcot then would later understand who actually had the disease because of the people who were still exhibiting hysteroeplieptic symptoms well after the counter suggestion had been enacted. Other patients simply found much more constructive ways to deal with their problems other than having hysterical outbreaks.

These rules and guidelines that Charcot and Babinsky found when it came to diagnosing hystero-epilepsy are not being used today by psychiatrists that are diagnosing patients as having Multiple Personality Disorder. This is causing a nationwide problem with the over diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder nationwide. The disease will respond to standard treatments because, like other mental diseases, it acts by making the person have a obscured view of themselves.

The most obvious way that these two diseases have come to be over diagnosed and incorrectly diagnosed by mental health professionals has to do with their origin. Both hystero-epilepsy and Multiple Personality Disorder were diseases that were invented by humans. They aren’t a virus or a bacteria that is found in nature. Therapists both discovered and invented the guidelines by which they are diagnosed in patients. This is why many MPD diagnosis’s are contested by other medical professionals and therapists. It is also peculiar to note how much more MPD is being found in people as it is portrayed more in movies and on television. The disease is well known in homes everywhere and has been somewhat romanticized by Hollywood and the media.

Here is some advice on how to get alternative personalities to appear in people. Stephen E. Buie, M.D., in North Carolina has offered some tips on how to get them to come out. He says that most alternate personalities will come out during the time that the patient is being assessed by their therapists. This is peculiar and does make the disease questionable in the person that is believed to have it. A great way to get the other personalities to come out is to ask questions of the patient and start out very broad by just suggesting that they may have alternate personalities in their psyche. Then get more specific about who the different personalities are until one of them reveals itself during the interview. Sometimes you can talk to the other personalities simply by asking permission to do so.

When the patient allows their doctor to speak with one of their alternative personalities they have then committed to the idea of having the disease. They now know that they have MPD and must keep up the appearance that they have the disease if they are pretending to have it. Usually, they will be placed in some kind of care depending on the severity of their specific case of Multiple Personality Disorder. It is usually easier for psychiatrists to find other alters once the first alter has been found. This is because the line between fantasy and reality for the patient has become more blurred.

It is interesting to note that patients have been known to develop more and more alters as the disease goes on. Sometimes patients will start with just 2 or 3 alter personalities and it will develop into nearly one hundred. It is common for those with MPD to have personalities of both sexes. In fact, multiple sex personalities are found in just about every patient that has MPD. There are even some patients that have alters that are animals like dogs, cats, or some kind of farm animal.

There are some underlying threads between patients when it comes to those with MPD. One of those is that most people with MPD have a similar background. The usual genesis of MPD is some kind of childhood sexual trauma enacted on the patient when they were a child. An inordinately high number of people with MPD have experienced some kind of childhood sexual trauma of some kind. It is thought that the trauma is troubling that the individual breaks off from themselves and creates other personalities that don’t have the problem. They may also have a personality that stops developing from the age at which the trauma happened. The therapist and the patient may search together for alter personalities that remember this trauma so that they can hash it out and work on it. Once this is addressed it can go a long way towards ending the MPD.

Modern patients, like the patients of Babinsky and Charcot, almost all had some kind of personal conflict or trauma that was said to be the cause for the hystero-epilepsy or the MPD. The problem with this disease is that people get so distracted by the dramatic symptoms that they fail to address the needs of the actual patient themselves. When therapists treat only the symptoms they may never end as the patient just enters and endless cycle related to the disease. This is why MPD is thought to be chronic in many individuals.

Charcot came to the realization that he was helping patients invent this disease and took them out of the special hospital areas that he had created for them. Isolation was found to be a much more effective method of treatment for hystero-epilepsy as it helped weed out those patients that didn’t actually have the disease. He came to the realization that it was better to ignore the alter personalities that the patients were displaying and treat just the problems of the original personality. Once these rules are followed, the MPD seems to go away by itself from in cases where it might be something else.

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