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Dissociative Disorders - Part 6

The observed behaviors of people with multiple personalities as has been discussed in this series, was not new to the psychiatric community. They have been documented and referred to by many people wanting to understand this disorder. In Dr. Corbett Thigpen’s book, The Three Faces of Eve, he states:

“She (Eve White ) seemed to gain some reassurance in the explanation that unacceptable events are sometimes unconsciously repressed from memory or involuntarily dissociated from awareness.” To better understand the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder, he reviewed the many cases of the 1800s, some of which I have provided in previous posts. He also states in his book, “We felt that Dr. Morton Prince’s Miss Beauchamp, far more than any other patient reported, resembled our own.”

The case he referred to is shown below.

“The Development and Genealogy of the Misses Beauchamp:  A Preliminary Report of a Case of Multiple Personality” by Morton Prince M.D.

“What I propose to tell in this paper is the way in which the different personalities of Miss Beauchamp became developed, and the relation in which they bear to each other and the true self. This case has been the subject of a continuous study for at least there years.”

“When Miss Beauchamp first came under observation, she was a neurasthenic (nervous debility occurring in the absence of objective causes) of a very severe type. She is a wreck, a person of extreme idealism with a great deal of pride and reserve. She is a person of absolute honesty of thought and speech.”

“The usual methods of treatments were employed with no result. I concluded to try hypnosis. This produced rather brilliant results. She went easily into the somnambulistic (sleeplike) state. This somnambulistic state came later to be known as B. II., while the first personality with whom I became acquainted , Miss Beauchamp herself, was known as B. I. One day when I hypnotised (sic) her and referred to something that she had done in a previous hypnotic state, that is to say, something that she had said or done in a previous state when I supposed she was B. II., she denied all knowledge of it and said it was not so.”

“The next time I hynotised (sic) her, she denied what she had previously admitted, and so it went on, denying and then admitting, until it dawned upon me that I was dealing with an entirely different personality, and this proved to be the case. It turned out that when she went into the state of which she later denied the facts, she was an entirely distinct and separate person. This third personality, which then developed, came to be known as B. III. We had then three mental states, B. I., B. II., and B. III.  I knew nothing of the others.  B. II. knew B. I., but no more. B. III. knew both B. I. and B. II.

B. III, like B. II., was constantly rubbing her eyes, so that I was frequently compelled to hold her hands by force to prevent her from doing so. When asked why she did this, she said she wished to get her eyes opened, and it turned out afterwards that it was she who was rubbing the eyes of B. II.  in the earlier times. One day, owing to some nervous excitement, she was thrown in to the condition of B. III. and then, I not being there to prevent it, she rubbed her eyes until she got them opened, and from that time to this she (B. III) has had a spontaneous and independent existence. This personality came afterwards to be known as Sally.”

B. I. is a very serious-minded person, fond of books and study, of a religious turn of mind, and possesses a very morbid conscientiousness. She has a great sense of responsibility in life, an d with those who know her trouble is rather sad and depressed in her general aspect. Sally, on the other hand, is full of fun, does not worry about anything; all life is one great joke to her; she hates books, loves fun and amusement, does not like serious things, hates church, in fact is thoroughly childlike in every way.”

“During the first year Sally and Miss Beauchamp used to come and go in succession. At first whenever B. I. became fatigued or upset from any cause, Sally was likely to come. The periods during which Sally was in existence might be any time from a few minutes to several hours. Later these periods became prolonged to several days. It must not be forgotten that though Miss Beauchamp knows nothing of Sally, Sally, when not in the flesh, is conscious of all Miss Beauchamp’s thoughts and doings, and the latter could hide nothing from her. Curiously enough, Sally took an intense dislike to B. I. She actually hated her. She used to say to me, “Why, I hate her, Dr. Prince!”

Sally as an individuality goes back to early infancy, and has grown with the growth of Miss Beauchamp. The theory which finally, I think, has been demonstrated, is that Sally represents the subliminal consciousness. During the times when Sally is in existence, B. I. is – as Sally puts it – “dead,” and these times represent complete gaps in Miss Beauchamp’s memory, and she has no knowledge of them whatever.”

“All this is also true of the relation of Sally’s mind to that of the third personality – B. IV. – who came later, excepting that Sally does not know B. IV.’s thoughts. While either B. I. or I.V. is thinking and feeling one thing, is depressed and self-reproachful, for example, Sally is feeling gay and indifferent and enjoying Miss B.’s discomfiture and perhaps planning some amusement distasteful to her.”

“In 1893 Miss Beauchamp was in a hospital in a neighboring city called Providence thinking about being a nurse. One night she was startled to see a face in the window. It was the face of an old friend of hers, a Mr. “Jones” whom she had known ever since she was a small girl. It did give her a violent shock. She went out and walked the fields at night by the hour; she became nervous, excitable and neurasthenic, all her peculiarities became very much exaggerated and her character changed; she became unstable, developed aboulia (the loss of ability to choose), and, in other words, changed into B. I.

“On June 7, 1889, a messenger quite unexpectedly brought her a letter from Mr. Jones. It threw her into a very highly excited state. Presently she changed completely. She became quiet, perfectly natural, talked affably, was very sociable, and, in fact, seemed to be in a condition in which I had never seen her before – more natural in many ways than I had ever seen her – quiet and calm, and apparently in a perfectly healthy state of body and mind; but, to my surprise, I found that she did not know me. A change came over her again. She passed through a brief period of confusion and then became herself again, but without any recollection of what had occurred. It turned out to be another personality.

“When a hysteric is thrown into another state – is awakened, and immediately goes back to a day on which an accident occurred and takes up the thread of her mental life at that moment, with amnesia for all succeeding events – does it necessarily follow that the new state is more normal than the others, and is the original self? I think not.”

“Now the most interesting and most important question is:  what is the relationship between all the personalities?  What relation do they bear to the normal personality; and for that matter, which is the normal Miss Beauchamp; or is any one of them the real and normal individual? A certain amount of disintegration took place in 1893 by which the original personality became fractured and modified. Certain components of her personality have become disintegrated from the rest. Certain local areas of her brain have gone to sleep. The original self has become modified by B. I.

“The original Miss B. became disintegrated and as a complete psychical composition departed this life in 1893, B. I. and B. IV. Are each different disintegrated parts of the complete Miss Beauchamp. In the disintegration of the primary consciousness, a certain portion split itself off and became dormant. The remainder persisted as a modified personality – B. I. – who remained to retain the memories of the past, which from this time became organised (sic) with all future experiences and made a continuous memory and personality. The split-off dormant portion was awakened six years later as a result of an intense excitation of its constituent memories by the shock in the Library, and in the awakening wrenched away from B. I. a portion of her mental associations, which thus become common to both. As in 1893, a certain number of groups of psychical associations that now belonged to B. I. remained split off and dormant. Those that remained awake became organised (sic) into another personality as B. IV. Waking up again suddenly in 1899, she goes back to the day when she went to sleep, as would any person who had slept an unusual number of days and nights. Again, B. I. and B. IV have no knowledge of B. III. because B. III. is subliminal. B. I.  and B. I. and B. IV. have no knowledge of each other because the essential associations of one are asleep when those of the other are in activity. B. II. is a part of B. I. and also of B. IV. B. II. knows the thoughts of B. I. and equally knows the thoughts of B. IV., but B. I. and B. IV.  know nothing of B. II.

In this case study, Dr. Prince does not reveal the early trauma of Miss Beauchamp’s life. It is important to understand, though, that again here is a documented case over 100 years old of multiple personalities. It is not a new phenomenon of the 21st century.

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Dissociative Disorders - Part 5
Dissociative Disorders - Part 7


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