Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory

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Overview

Twenty-five years ago one could list by name the tiny number of multiple personalities recorded in the history of Western medicine, but today hundreds of people receive treatment for dissociative disorders in every sizable city in North America. Clinicians, backed by a grassroots movement of patients and therapists, find child sexual abuse to be the primary cause of the illness, while critics accuse the 'MPD' community of fostering false memories of childhood trauma. Here the distinguished philosopher Ian Hacking uses the MPD epidemic and its links with the contemporary concept of child abuse to scrutinize today's moral and political climate, especially our power struggles about memory and our efforts to cope with psychological injuries. 'In this brilliant and provocative new book, Ian Hacking fixes his searching gaze on the hot topic of multiple personality. The results are remarkable.... In Hacking's hands, multiple personality emerges as a paradigmatic case study illuminating basic questions about truth, memory, fact and fiction, about knowledge, science, and identity.... [This book] treats these impossibly difficult problems of knowability in the human sciences with grace and wisdom."--Ellen Herman, Contemporary Psychology

Twenty-five years ago, treatment of multiple personalities was rare. Today, however, hundreds of people receive treatment for dissociative disorders. Hacking uses the MPD epidemic and its links with child abuse to scrutinize today's moral and political climate, especially our power struggles about memory and our efforts to cope with psychological injury.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Many clinicians, backed by a grass-roots movement of patients and therapists, argue that child abuse is the primary cause of multiple personality disorder (MPD), while critics charge the MPD community with fostering false memories of childhood trauma. Using this controversial disorder as a point of departure, Hacking (philosophy, Univ. of Toronto) here probes deep into the science of memory. While the fascination with memory is nothing new, it wasn't until the second half of the 19th century that a real science of memory developed. The study of pathological memory arose out of this new science, and with it came the study of multiple personalities. Hacking (The Taming of Chance, Cambridge Univ. Pr., 1990) argues that the manner in which the sciences of memory evolved has much to do with today's memory confrontations, and, moreover, that the current outbreak of dissociative disorders reflects our new political times. Ultimately, Hacking illustrates in this demanding examination how the current politics of memory have resulted in the scientizing of the soul. A challenging read for all but scholars and specialists in the field, this is recommended for larger academic psychology collections.-David R. Johnson, Louisiana State Univ. Lib., Eunice
Ellen Herman
... In Hacking's hands, multiple personality emerges as a paradygmatic case study illuminating basic questions about truth, memory, facts and fiction, about knowledge, science, and identity.... [The book] treats these impossibly physical problems with no ability and the human sciences with grace and wisdom.... Rewriting the Soul should challenge and inspire readers in psychology, philosophy, history and beyond.
Contemporary Psychology
Karl Miller
This is a penetrating and brilliant book about multiple personality and childhood trauma, and about 'attempts to scientize the soul through the study of memory.'
The Times Literary Supplement
Contemporary Psychology
In this brilliant and provocative new book, Ian Hacking fixes his searching gaze on the hot topic of multiple personality. The results are remarkable.... In Hacking's hands, multiple personality emerges as a paradigmatic case study illuminating basic questions about truth, memory, fact and fiction, about knowledge, science, and identity.... [This book] treats these impossibly difficult problems of knowability in the human sciences with grace and wisdom.
— Ellen Herman
Mind
The details of Hacking's discussion are enthralling and illuminating. He manages to avoid altogether the sensationalism usually associated with treatments of multiple personality, providing an informative history and raising deep and important philosophical issues.
— Marya Schechtman
The Washington Times
There is little Mr. Hacking leaves untouched. His book ranges from history, science and philosophical rumination to amused reflections on daily life with equal authority and grace. Mr. Hacking writes with a poetic, almost elegiac beauty.
Contemporary Psychology - Ellen Herman
In this brilliant and provocative new book, Ian Hacking fixes his searching gaze on the hot topic of multiple personality. The results are remarkable.... In Hacking's hands, multiple personality emerges as a paradigmatic case study illuminating basic questions about truth, memory, fact and fiction, about knowledge, science, and identity.... [This book] treats these impossibly difficult problems of knowability in the human sciences with grace and wisdom.
Mind - Marya Schechtman
The details of Hacking's discussion are enthralling and illuminating. He manages to avoid altogether the sensationalism usually associated with treatments of multiple personality, providing an informative history and raising deep and important philosophical issues.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 1995 Pierre Janet Writing Award, International Society for the Study of Dissociation

"In this brilliant and provocative new book, Ian Hacking fixes his searching gaze on the hot topic of multiple personality. The results are remarkable.... In Hacking's hands, multiple personality emerges as a paradigmatic case study illuminating basic questions about truth, memory, fact and fiction, about knowledge, science, and identity.... [This book] treats these impossibly difficult problems of knowability in the human sciences with grace and wisdom."—Ellen Herman, Contemporary Psychology

"The details of Hacking's discussion are enthralling and illuminating. He manages to avoid altogether the sensationalism usually associated with treatments of multiple personality, providing an informative history and raising deep and important philosophical issues."—Marya Schechtman, Mind

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691036427
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/3/1995
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.37 (w) x 9.62 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments
INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER 1 Is It Real?
CHAPTER 2 What Is It Like?
CHAPTER 3 The Movement
CHAPTER 4 Child Abuse
CHAPTER 5 Gender
CHAPTER 6 Cause
CHAPTER 7 Measure
CHAPTER 8 Truth in Memory
CHAPTER 9 Schizophrenia
CHAPTER 10 Before Memory
CHAPTER 11 Doubling of the Personality
CHAPTER 12 The Very First Multiple Personality
CHAPTER 13 Trauma
CHAPTER 14 The Sciences of Memory
CHAPTER 15 Memoro-Politics
CHAPTER 16 Mind and Body
CHAPTER 17 An Indeterminacy in the Past
CHAPTER 18 False Consciousness
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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