The origin of multiple personality disorder
This week I have been reading an extraordinary book about another extraordinary book - "Sybil". Sybil was about a young woman who had been so horribly abused in childhood that she escaped into fantasy. She created sixteen different personalities, most of whom knew nothing of the other personalities. Sybil could do things in one personality and be completely unaware of having done it when she was being dominated by another personality. This was the origin of Multiple Personality Disorder.
Sybil sold six million copies, and was turned into a successful film. On the way it created the entire industry of finding and wrestling with multiple personalities. Therapists all over the world discovered that their clients too had multiple personalities, and some made stellar careers from studying multiple personalities. Multiple personality became firmly fixed in the public mind. Dissociative Identity disorder became a standard psychiatric term.
It turns out that Sybil was a complete fabrication designed simply to make money from a gullible public. The book was written by an unscrupulous therapist and a sensationalist journalist. It set out to shock and titillate in order to sell the maximum number of books.
Repressed memories don't exist either
Multiple Personality Disorder has been totally discredited. But the history of psychotherapy is filled with disorders that don't exist, and that say more about the therapist than about their clients. Everyone accepts the reality of repressed memories. Except that there is no evidence for anyone anywhere ever having repressed anything. I have had people challenge me on that statement, but none have ever been able to point to any concrete evidence of repressed memories, other than stories.
The same thing happened with the whole recovered memories of sexual abuse in the 1980's. Thousands of therapists discovered that their clients had been horrifically sexually abused in childhood and had forgotten all about it for fifteen or twenty years. Except that it never happened. Hundreds of innocent men went to jail for imaginary offences.
The same sort of thing surfaced briefly about demonic possession, until rational people demanded that the sanity of the therapists be measured. Then the whole thing gradually went away. Until a few years ago, homosexuality was listed as a psychiatric disorder.
And there is the Alien Abduction thing. How anyone can take these stories seriously is beyond my comprehension.
But then, given that millions people contact fortune tellers, believe in spirit guides and go to shows where mediums contact the dead for them, perhaps these things will always be with us.
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