|| Multiple Personality: An Exercise in Deception
|| Ray Aldridge-Morris
|| Lawrence Erlbaum Associates © 1989
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
27 Palmeira Mansions
Hove, East Sussex, BN3 2FA
This 129 page book critically reviews the published
literature on the multiple personality controversy. Aldridge-Morris, a British
clinical psychologist and lecturer in psychopathology at Middlesex Polytechnic
School of Psychology, begins with a historical review of well-known multiple
personality case histories, including "Eve," "Sybil," and
Bianchi, the "Hillside Strangler," who claimed multiple personality as
part of his insanity defense. The next chapters review the theoretical bases for
multiple personality and the empirical evidence offered for and against it.
The author points out that a very few therapists are seeing
most of the multiple personality cases and that "some therapists have an
astronomically higher probability of meeting such patients than their colleagues
and the vast majority (dare one say 'all'?) are in the United States."
views the practitioners who are convinced of the reality of multiple personality
as belonging to a professional subculture which favors hypnotherapeutic
techniques, has an analytical orientation, and sees their patients over very
long periods of time.
He maintains that even if multiple personality should pass
muster as a discrete psychiatric syndrome, it has been grossly overdiagnosed.
notes that little empirical evidence supports it and believes that it is heavily
dependent upon cultural influences for both its emergence and its diagnosis.
interprets multiple personality in terms of social role theory and the demand
characteristics associated with the emergence and treatment of the disorder in
therapy and hypothesizes that multiple personality may be a variant of a
hysterical psychosis which occurs in highly suggestible persons. He concludes
that "One should only diagnosis multiple personality when there is
corroborative evidence that complex and integrated alter egos, with amnesic
barriers, existed prior to therapy and emerge without hypnotic intervention by
This book is extremely important in terms of the satanic
ritualistic abuse claims since adult "survivors" of these alleged
cults are invariably diagnosed as having multiple personalities and the stories
of the abuse are "remembered" in therapy, generally during hypnosis.
The fact that little empirical evidence supports the disorder, particularly when
it emerges through hypnosis and suggestive questioning, should raise serious
suspicion about any of the survivor stories.
This excellent book is clearly and concisely written and the
evidence for the author's thesis is convincing. The book is highly recommended
for an overview of the multiple personality controversy and the research
evidence concerning it.
Reviewed by Hollida Wakefield, Institute for Psychological
Therapies, Northfield, Minnesota.