Systems of Selves: the Construction of Meaning in Multiple Personality Disorder
Current models for understanding both Multiple Personality Disorder and human mentation in general are both linear in nature and self-perpetuating insofar as most research in this area has been informed and shaped by extant psychological concepts, paradigms and methods. The research for this dissertation made use of anthropological concepts and methods in an attempt to gain a richer understanding of both multiple personality and fundamental universal processes of the mind. Intensive fieldwork using in-depth, open-ended interviewing techniques was conducted with people diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder with the purpose of mapping their personality systems in order to discover the nature of the relationships between the various alternate personalities and subsystems comprising the overall personality systems. These data were then analyzed in terms of dynamical systems theory ("Chaos Theory") as a way of understanding various phenomena of multiple personality disorder as well as the overall structure of each system. It was found that the application of the formal characteristics of nonlinear models and equations to multiple personality systems provided a number of new perspectives on mental phenomena. The underlying organizational structure of multiple personality systems can be understood as a phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization in far-from -equilibrium states which characterizes dissipative structures. Chaos Theory allows the perspective that the nature of the process of the self and the nature of relationship are one and the same, and that both can be conceived as ideas in struggle at a fractal boundary. Further, such application makes it possible to postulate an iterative process which would have as one of its consequences the formation of a processural self who is conscious of self as separate self. Finally, given that the iterative application of a few simple rules (or instructions) can result in complex systems, an attempt was made to discern what the rules pertaining to human mentation might be.
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- Anthropology: Cultural; Physics: General; Psychology: Clinical; Psychology: Personality