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Multiple personality and personal identity

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Abstract:

If personal identity consists in non-branching psychological continuity, then the sharp breaks in psychological connectedness characteristic of Multiple Personality Disorder implicitly commit psychological continuity theories to a metaphysically extravagant reification of alters. Animalist theories of personal identity avoid the reification of alternate personalities by interpreting multiple personality as a failure to integrate alternative autobiographical memory schemata. In the normal case, autobiographical memory cross-classifies a human life, and in so doing provides access to a variety of interpretative frameworks with their associated clusters of general event memory and episodic memory. Multiples exhibit erratic behavior because they cannot access reliably the intersecting autobiographical memory schemata that permit graceful transitions between social roles, behavioral repertoire and emotional dispositions. Selves, in both normal and certain pathological cases, are best understood as semi-fictional narratives created by human animals to serve their social, emotional and physical needs.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09515080120088102

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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