Beware of the Other Side(s): Multiple Personality Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder in American Fiction

Beware of the Other Side(s): Multiple Personality Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder in American Fiction

by Heike Schwarz


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This interdisciplinary study examines the still vivid phenomenon of the most controversial psychiatric diagnosis in the United States: multiple personality disorder, now called dissociative identity disorder. This syndrome comprehends the occurrence of two or more distinct identities that take control of a person's behavior paired with an inexplicable memory loss. Synthesizing the fields of psychiatry and the dynamics of the disorder with its influential representation in American fiction, the study researches how psychiatry and fiction mutually shaped a mysterious syndrome and how this reciprocal process created a genre fiction of its own that persists until today in a very distinct self-referential mode.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783837624885
Publisher: Transcript-Verlag
Publication date: 05/15/2014
Series: American Culture Studies , #8
Pages: 440
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Heike Schwarz (Dr. phil.) teaches American studies at the University of Augsburg, Germany. Her research fields include psychiatry and literature, representation of mental illness in literature, (pop)cultural studies, ecopsychology and ecocriticism.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9

Preface 11

Introduction 15

Part I History and Theory

1 Personalities or Personality States? The Definition of MPD/DID in Medical Terms 25

2 The Split of Personality: The Diagnosis MPD/DID versus Schizophrenia 41

3 Of Demons and Dissociation: The Origins and Early Science of the Other Side 49

3.1 Demon and Posession 50

3.2 Magnetism and Mesmerism 51

3.3 Dipsychism and Polypsychism 52

3.4 Hypnosis and Hysteria 56

3.5 Pierre Janet: The Concept of Dissociation 59

3.6 William James: "Mutations of the Self" 62

3.7 Morton Prince: The Co-consciousness 68

4 Shock and Trauma: Renaissance of the Dissociation Concept 73

4.1 Memory and Identity: The Illusion of the Unitary Self 73

4.2 Trauma 81

4.3 Contemporary Theories of Dissociation 85

5 The Other Side(s): Famous Cases of Double Consciousness and Multiple Personality 89

5.1 The "umgetauschte Persönlichkeit": Gmelin's Case (1791) 90

5.2 Mary Porter and Estelle (1836) 91

5.3 The Old State and the New State: The Case of Mary Reynolds (1816) 92

5.4 The Two Identities of A.B.: The Case of Ansel Bourne (1890) 95

5.5 A Case of Personality Clusters: Miss Beauchamp (1906) 98

5.6 The Three Selves of Eve: Thigpen and Cleckley (1957) 107

5.7 Fact or Fiction? The Sixteen Persons of "Sybil" (1973) 111

6 Voices of Doubt: The Validity of Multiple Personality 129

Part II The Culture-embedded Syndrome-Multiple Personality and Dissociation in American Fiction

7 Brand Identity and "Culture-embedded Syndrome": Multiple Personality in American Culture 141

8 Creating a Public Consciousness: The Role of the Mass Media 159

9 Fractured Minds: Personal Narratives of Multiple Personality 171

9.1 Truddi Chase: When Rabbit Howls (1987) 173

9.2 Joan Frances Casey: The Flock (1991) 179

9.3 Cameron West: First Person Plural (1999) 185

9.4 Robert B. Oxnam: A Fractured Mind (2005) 192

10 "Man's Dual Nature" - Classical Literary Texts of Dissociation: Wakefield, William Wilson, Dr. Jekyll, and the Other Side 199

10.1 Doppelgänger, Double, and Alter Ego 201

10.2 Nathaniel Hawthome: "Wakefield" (1835) 205

10.3 Edgar Allan Poe: "William Wilson" (1840) 209

10.4 Robert Louis Stevenson: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) 213

11 Beyond Control: Multiple Personality in the American Novel of the 1950s 229

11.1 Shirley Jackson: The Bird's News (1954) 231

11.2 Margaret Millar: Beast in View (1955) 238

11.3 Robert Bloch: Psycho (1959) 244

11.4 Richard Condon: The Manchurian Candidate (1959) 251

12 Further Divisions: Subgenres of Multiple Personality and Dissociation Fiction since the 1970s 259

12.1 The "Devil Inside" - Dissociation as Demonic Possession 260

12.2 The "Spy Inside": Dissociation in Spy Thrillers 271

12.3 The "Killer Inside": Dissociation as Serial Killer Story 276

12.4 The "Protector Inside": Dissociation as Coping Mechanism 280

13 "What is Your name?": Dissociation and Psychogenic Fugues in American Film from the 1950s to the Present 287

Part III Contemporary Variations in Selected Novels

14 "This is what Mary would have said...": Margaret Atwood Alias Grace (1996) 301

15 "I know this because Tyler Durden knows this...": Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club (1996) 317

16 "- textbook MPD": Matt Ruff Set this House in Order (2003) 335

17 "Three! Three personalities in one...": Ted Dekker's Three (2003) 351

18 "Recall what had been lost...": Gabrielle Pina Chasing Sophea (2006) 363

19 "It's almost like there are two of me...": Jess Walter The Zero (2007) 375

20 "It's all staged...": Siri Hustvedt Sorrows of an American (2008) 391

21 Voices of Imagination: Valid Cases of Fiction Figues and Storytelling Selves 409

Conclusion 415

Works Cited 423

Primary Literature 423

Secondary Literature 425

Filmography 449

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