Introduction

— When novelists claim they do not invent it, but hear voices and find stories in their head, they are neither joking nor crazy.

— When characters, narrators, or muses have minds of their own and occasionally take over, they are alternate personalities.

— Alternate personalities and memory gaps, but no significant distress or dysfunction, is a normal version of multiple personality.

— normal Multiple Personality Trait (MPT), not clinical Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD)

— The normal version of multiple personality is an asset in fiction writing when some alternate personalities are storytellers.

— Multiple personality originates when imaginative children with normal brains have unassuaged trauma as victim or witness.

— Psychiatrists, whose standard mental status exam fails to ask about memory gaps, think they never see multiple personality.

— They need the clue of memory gaps, because alternate personalities don’t acknowledge their presence until their cover is blown.

— In novels, most multiple personality, per se, is unnoticed, unintentional, and reflects the author’s view of ordinary psychology.

— Multiple personality means one person who has more than one identity and memory bank, not psychosis or possession.

— Euphemisms for alternate personalities may include pseudonyms, alter egos, doubles, double consciousness, voice or voices.

— Each time you visit, search name index or subject index, choose another name or subject, and search it.

— If you read only recent posts, you are missing most of what this site has to offer.

— Please submit questions and comments. Please share this site with friends and colleagues.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Ian Fleming (author of James Bond) was known for his puzzling inconsistency

Persons with undiagnosed multiple personality usually look like everyone else, because alternate personalities are usually like spies: they remain incognito until their cover is blown (after which they will acknowledge themselves, you can interview them, and obtain previously unknown facts that can be corroborated).

One clue to the presence of unacknowledged alternate personalities is that the person has puzzling inconsistency (search “puzzling inconsistency” for past discussions). According to two biographies:

“…some remembered him as arrogant, prickly, and in general difficult, while others recalled a charming, handsome, witty, and lively young aristocrat…When he was nineteen…he was full of fanciful and imaginative accounts of his life, often made up on the spot, which he told to everyone at the school…The psyche of Ian Fleming was a battlefield. License and puritanical restraint…were constantly at war within him. One urge would control him for a time, only to be counterattacked in the next instant by its opposite” (1, pp. 1-2).

“The second son of a wealthy, socially prominent Scottish family…His investment banker grandfather…was a self-made millionaire…Ian was nearly nine years old when his father was killed [in WWI]. It was a catastrophe for the family, of course, but was not unnoticed by the nation at large. The event was notable enough for the London Times to print an obituary written by Winston Churchill… (1, p. 11).

“I was amazed to learn that Fleming had not graduated from either Eton or Sandhurst, which he certainly permitted and even encouraged me to believe. In fact, he even told me that on graduation from Sandhurst, he had selected the Black Watch as his regiment. I was also under the impression he left the foreign service for journalism. Actually, he had not; he never belonged to it” (1, p. 12).

Note: In multiple personality, some alternate personalities may give fanciful versions of personal history. As discussed in a past post, the novelist William Faulkner once cautioned interviewers not to ask him personal questions, explaining that he might give different answers to the same question on different occasions.

“…she was not the first or last person to be puzzled by the complexity of Ian’s personality. ‘He was a complete schizophrenic [she meant multiple personality]. He was tough and quite cruel, but at the same time he could be very sentimental' ” (2, p. 68).

“As she [another woman] got to know Ian, she became fascinated by his multifaceted character. She compared him to the layers of an onion: as fast as she peeled one layer away, there was always another. At the end she was not sure what was left. Ian remained an enigma. And that had its disturbing side. ‘You simply never could anticipate how Ian would behave. In a wreck I simply didn’t know whether he would go off in the first lifeboat, or go down with the ship…He was totally unpredictable” (2, p. 86).

“Ian seemed ‘really grateful’ to Ann for marrying him, recorded Lady Mary, but she could not help adding the caveat, born out of experience, that he ‘has more characteristics than anyone I know, and the opposite of each too.” (2, p. 225).

“…the contradictions of his character — the puritan and the libertine…” (2, p. 453).

1. Bruce A. Rosenberg, Ann Harleman Stewart. Ian Fleming. Boston, Twayne Publishers, 1989.
2. Andrew Lycett. Ian Fleming. New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1995/2013.

Sunday, December 8, 2019


“Are Multiple Personalities Always a Disorder?” by Tori Telfer: Discusses “members of the multiple personality community who insist they’re healthy”

I don’t know either Tori Telfer or “the multiple personality community” to which she refers. But I thought her article would interest readers here, because it is consistent with my view that there are many more people with what I call “multiple personality trait” than there are with clinical, multiple personality disorder.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vdxgw9/when-multiple-personalities-are-not-a-disorder-400

However, as far as I know, most people with multiple personality trait do not think of themselves as part of “the multiple personality community,” because they are not so aware of it, at least in those terms.

Saturday, December 7, 2019


Louisa May Alcott: Author of beloved “Little Women,” also of “Behind a Mask or A Woman’s Power,” both with unacknowledged multiple personality

Another film version of the beloved novel, Little Women, is due later this month. Most reviews and appreciations of the novel and its adaptations say things like this: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/13/books/little-women-alcott-anniversary.html

Reviews rarely mention, and so most people don’t know, that Alcott also wrote novels like Behind a Mask or A Woman’s Power, in which the female protagonist is a Jekyll/Hyde character (but published twenty years before Stevenson’s novel).

The following brief past posts will give you additional appreciation of Little Women, the author, and her writing process.

August, 27, 2017
Louisa May Alcott: Before “Little Women,” she wrote “blood-and-thunder” stories with femmes fatales, not only for money, but because A. M. Barnard preferred.

“I fancy ‘lurid’ things,” Louisa May Alcott wrote in her 1850 journal, “if true and strong also” (1, p. xii). And she said in conversation, “I think my natural ambition is for the lurid style” (1, p. xxvi). So who was this who expressed a preference for the lurid, Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women) or A. M. Barnard (her usual pseudonym)?

Most of her sensational tales, what she called her “blood-and-thunder” works, were published under a pseudonym or anonymously, but “The Mysterious Key has a male hero…and…was published over the name of Louisa May Alcott. The possibility suggests itself that Louisa insisted upon secrecy less for her blood-and-thunder stories in general than for her passionate and angry heroines in particular” (1, p. xvi).

“Her characterizations were natural and subtle and her gallery of femmes fatales forms a suite of flesh-and-blood portraits. Her own anger at an unjust world she transformed into the anger of her heroines, who made of it a powerful weapon with which to challenge fate. The psychological insights of A. M. Barnard [her pseudonymous personality] disclose the darker side of the character of Louisa May Alcott” (1, p. xxviii).

Stephen King infers that there were “two Louisa May Alcotts,” and although the conventional one, the author of Little Women, came to predominate, the sensational tales give us “…a fascinating look into a divided mind that was both attracted to themes of violence and sexuality and ashamed by its own interest” (2).

1. Louisa May Alcott. Behind a Mask: the Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott. Edited and with an Introduction and Afterword by Madeleine Stern. New York, William Morrow and Company, 1975/1995.
2. Stephen King. “Blood and Thunder in Concord.” New York Times, September 10, 1995. http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/04/13/nnp/18425.html?mcubz=0

August 28,2017
“Behind a Mask or A Woman’s Power” by Louisa May Alcott writing as A. M. Barnard: Woman, background like Alcott’s, portrayed as psychopath.

The protagonist of this novella is a poor, 19-year-old governess who uses her skills as an actress to trick her rich, elderly employer into marrying her.

Louisa May Alcott, herself, had a background in theater and was once a poor, 19-year-old lady’s companion, who had to flee her position, because her employer, the lady’s elderly brother, made inappropriate advances.

So I would have expected the governess in this story to have been portrayed sympathetically, with her marriage a triumph, if not for feminism, then at least class struggle and social mobility. But the narrative portrays the governess as a triumphant, scheming psychopath.

Another interesting thing about the governess is that she passes herself off as being nineteen, but she is actually thirty. The reader is told that she is thirty and shown her removing her disguise in private. The latter scene made me think of Dr. Jekyll’s turning into Mr. Hyde. Indeed, at another point in the story, she is referred to as a Scottish witch (Robert Louis Stevenson was Scottish).

But the governess’s transformation reverses Stevenson’s scenario. In A. M. Barnard’s story, the bad personality is the real one. Barnard’s story is like Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde told from Hyde’s point of view (except that Barnard’s story was written twenty years before Stevenson’s).

Maybe Louisa May Alcott was “Dr. Jekyll” and A. M. Barnard was “Mr. Hyde” in a novelist’s normal version of multiple personality.

1. A. M. Barnard (pseudonym of Louisa May Alcott). “Behind a Mask or A Woman’s Power” (1866), in Louisa May Alcott. Behind a Mask: the Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott. Edited and with an Introduction and Afterword by Madeleine Stern. New York, William Morrow and Company, 1975/1995.

September 1, 2017
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott: Is Laurie complimenting Beth, or saying that her music is composed by an alternate personality?

In the brief passage quoted below, there are two ways to interpret what Laurie says to Beth. Most readers rely on the narrator [and Jo], who interpret what Laurie says to Beth as a “compliment.”

However, if narrators are not always reliable, and you entertain the possibility that Laurie means what he says, then what he may be saying is that Beth has an alternate personality who takes over when she is alone, and composes music of which her regular, “stupid” personality is unaware.

“…There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long; even if it is, the consciousness of possessing and using it well should satisfy one…” [says Mrs. March].

“…I knew a girl, once, [says Laurie] who had a really remarkable talent for music, and she didn’t know it; never guessed what sweet little things she composed when she was alone, and wouldn’t have believed it if any one had told her.”

“I wish I’d known that nice girl, maybe she would have helped me, I’m so stupid,” said Beth, who stood beside him, listening eagerly.

“You do know her, and she helps you better than any one else could,” answered Laurie…Beth suddenly turned very red, and hid her face in the sofa-cushion, quite overcome by such an unexpected discovery.

“…Beth…could not be prevailed upon to play for them after her compliment” (1, p. 61, book 1, chapter VII).

This is as far as I’ve read, and I’ve been paying attention mostly to Jo. But now that I think of it, Beth is the character whose behavior has been most puzzling.

1. Louisa May Alcott. Little Women or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy [1868-69]. New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 2004.

“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott: Narrative multiple personality, out-of-character behavior, imaginary friends at age thirteen, the first sixty pages.

After my last post—questioning the reliability of the narrator and suspecting that Beth has multiple personality—I looked back at what I had noticed about the narrator and Beth in the first sixty pages.

I had noticed that the narrator is usually third person, but occasionally switches to first person: “And I think Jo was quite right” (1, p. 34). “They would have been still more amazed, if they had seen what Beth did afterward. If you will believe me, she went and knocked on the study door” (1, p. 56).

The narrator switch is all the more remarkable since conventional wisdom is that Jo, an aspiring writer, is the author’s alter ego. So this novel has at least three narrative perspectives—third person, first person, and Jo—making it another novel with narrative multiple personality.

Regarding Beth, the above quote notes behavior that is so out of character for her that the narrator feels the rest of her family will be amazed when they hear about it (about this, the narrator is reliable). Moreover, Beth’s “little world was peopled with imaginary friends” (1, p. 38) at age thirteen.

There seems to be a pattern, and it is not subtle.

1. Louisa May Alcott. Little Women or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy [1868-69]. New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 2004.

September 3, 2017
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott: Does the masculine “Jo” personality of Chapter I switch to a feminine personality in Chapter XIV?

Chapter I of Little Women, in its introduction of Jo, lays great emphasis on her masculine identification. She has a “gentlemanly manner.” She is chided for whistling, because “It’s so boyish.” She says, “I like boy’s games, and work, and manners. I can’t get over my disappointment in not being a boy, and it’s worse than ever now, for I’m dying to go and fight with papa [in the Civil War], and I can only stay at home and knit like a poky old woman.” At age fifteen, she continues to be a “tom-boy,” and declares, “I’m the man of the family now papa is away.”

In Chapter XIV, Jo, one year older, has just published her first short story, “The Rival Painters” (which also happens to be the title of the first story published by Louisa May Alcott). When her older sister, Meg, shows signs of being marriage minded, and chides Jo for unladylike behavior, Jo says:

“Don’t try to make me grow up before my time, Meg; it’s hard enough to have you change all of a sudden; let me be a little girl as long as I can.”

My question is why the Jo described in Chapter 1 would say “let me be a little girl as long as I can.”

Readers, if they wanted to, could come up with a rationalization for the apparent contradiction. For example, they could argue that the Jo of Chapter XIV is not talking about gender, but about age only, and that all she is saying is she is not ready to grow up. But in that case, she could have said to let her be a boy or a child as long as she could. The “Jo” personality described in Chapter I would not refer to herself as “a little girl.”

Interestingly, her first story is published under the name “Miss Josephine March.” Why doesn't she publish it as “Jo March” or at least “Miss Jo March”? Perhaps because “Jo” is the name of her boyish personality, and the short story is a romantic tale of a sort that her boyish personality would not have written.

Another possible explanation for the inconsistency between Chapters I and XIV is that it was caused not by a switch in the character’s personality, but by a switch in the narrator. Perhaps the two chapters were written by different narrators, who differed in their perspectives on that character.

All I can say for sure is that there is a discrepancy between the two chapters. If you have a better explanation for it, please submit your comment.

September 4, 2017
Louisa May Alcott: Like her character, Jo, the author seems to have had two rival identities; one tried to delete evidence of the other.

“In Little Women, Alcott based her heroine ‘Jo’ on herself. But whereas Jo marries at the end of the story, Alcott remained single throughout her life. She explained her ‘spinsterhood’ in an interview with Louise Chandler Moulton, ‘I am more than half-persuaded that I am a man's soul put by some freak of nature into a woman's body...because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man.’ However, Alcott's romance while in Europe with the young Polish man Ladislas ‘Laddie’ Wisniewski was detailed in her journals but then deleted by Alcott herself before her death.”

Wikipedia. “Louisa May Alcott.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisa_May_Alcott

September 5, 2017
Louisa May Alcott: In Part II of “Little Women,” Jo, Alcott’s alter ego, will call her productive periods of writing a “vortex,” but what is that?

A vortex is a whirling movement that draws you into it, irresistibly, as, for example, a whirlpool.

And a whirlpool would not be a good metaphor for the manic episodes of bipolar disorder, which some people have associated with creative genius.

However, a vortex could be a metaphor for being drawn into an altered state of consciousness in which the person feels taken over by forces beyond their control (perhaps alternate personalities).

But let me read Part II and see what Jo actually says.

September 6, 2017
Jo’s “vortex” in “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott: It is something she falls into, seizes control of her mind, and provides divine inspiration.

In Part II, Chapter IV, “Literary Lessons,” a third-person narrator quotes Jo and describes her “vortex”:

“Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and ‘fall into a vortex,’ as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace…

“…her family…during these periods, kept their distance…

“…when the writing fit came on, she gave herself up to it with entire abandon, and led a blissful life, unconscious of want, care, or bad weather, while she sat safe and happy in an imaginary world, full of friends almost as real and dear to her as any in the flesh…The divine afflatus usually lasted a week or two, and then she emerged from her ‘vortex’ hungry, sleepy, cross, or despondent.

“She was just recovering from one of these attacks when she was prevailed upon to escort Miss Crocker to a lecture, and in return for her virtue was rewarded with a new idea” [writing thrillers for the money] (1, p. 211).

After publishing her first novel, Jo criticizes the critics: “Some make fun of it, some over-praise, and nearly all insist that I had a deep theory to expound, when I only wrote it for the pleasure and the money” (1, p. 217).

“Vortex” metaphor
Jo would “fall into a vortex,” which is a “writing fit,” “divine afflatus,” and “one of these attacks.” “Vortex” combines elements of falling into something, having a seizure, and divine inspiration. It is a state of mind she falls into (like a whirlpool), that takes control of her, and provides content that seems to her like it is not her own imagination, but comes from somewhere and someone else (divine inspiration).

Of course, not all her writing is a product of the vortex, per se. Her writing also includes “parts that were taken out of real life…and scenes that I made up out of my own silly head” (1, p. 217).

Question
Who or what takes control of Jo’s mind when it is seized from her in this pleasurable way? I will continue reading, and see if the novel has anything more to say about it.

1. Louisa May Alcott. Little Women or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy [1868-69]. New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 2004.

September 9, 2017
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott: Jo’s personality radically changes at end of novel, probably because author’s personality switched.

Jo, at the end of the novel, is not the same as Jo at the beginning: she does not have the same personality.

At the beginning, she identifies herself as the boy or man of the house, who would never get married; moreover, she is a dedicated writer, whose writing process is epitomized by her “vortex” (see previous posts). At the end, she is no longer male-identified, is married, has children, and is not a writer.

This radical transformation of Jo’s personality has been called “The Horror of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women,” and interpreted as the author’s pandering to her readers’ wish for a traditional ending (1). I agree that the character’s personality undergoes a radical transformation, but have a different reason for it.

Alcott could have gotten Jo married, but left her personality unchanged in private, or at least in the privacy of her own mind. And Jo’s marriage could have left her free to pursue her writing, just as Amy’s marriage left her free to pursue her art. So I don’t believe that Alcott had to change Jo’s personality for commercial reasons.

What, then, does explain the radical change in Jo’s personality? My theory is that the author had multiple personality, and one personality wrote the beginning of the novel, but a different personality wrote the end of the novel.

Such a thing may be more common than you think. In past posts, I have cited similarly remarkable inconsistencies and contradictions between the beginnings and endings of other novels—e.g., Nabokov’s Lolita and Oates’ You Must Remember This—and, in the context of other things known about the authors, had to come to the same conclusion.

1. Angela M. Estes and Kathleen Margaret Lant. “Dismembering the Text: The Horror of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, pages 564-583, in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy [1868-69]. New York, W. W. Norton, 2004.

Note added September 10, 2017: Why did the issue of Jo’s marriage prompt the author to switch narrative personalities? The reason is that alternate personalities are relatively specialized and narrow-minded. In this case, the alternate personality who approved of marriage, and could write an ending involving marriage, did not approve of a woman's being boyish or a writer, so when marriage was in, boyishness and writing were out, even in private.

September 13, 2017
Louisa May Alcott: Alcott says stories “grow as they will” and are provided by character alternate personalities; then she transcribes it for publication.

Alcott describes a writing process similar to that described in past posts by Mark Twain and Edward Albee. Twain would wait for his creative, alternate personality to “fill the tank,” and then Twain would take the story from the tank and transcribe it for publication. Albee said that his plays were prewritten for him.

Alcott said: “My methods of work are very simple…My head is my study, & there I keep the various plans of stories for years sometimes, letting them grow as they will till I am ready to put them on paper.

“Then it is quick work, as chapters go down word for word & no need for alteration…

“While a story is underway I live in it, see the people, more plainly than real ones, round me, hear them talk, & am much interested, surprised or provoked at their actions, for I seem to have no power to rule them, & can simply record their experiences & performances” (1, p. 320).

The difference between constructed characters and character alternate personalities is that the latter are experienced by the author as more real than real, and as having minds of their own.

1. Madeleine B. Stern. Louisa May Alcott: A Biography. Boston, Northeastern University Press, 1996/1999.

Friday, December 6, 2019


Childhood Trauma vs. Combat Trauma: Regarding mental health and risk of suicide, childhood trauma is worse, according to studies by U.S. Army


Search “childhood trauma” here for discussions related to literature.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Ralph Ellison (post 6): On the occasion of publication of his letters, here are five past posts on the multiple personality reflected in his writing

Here is the New York Times review of Ellison’s letters: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/02/books/review-ralph-ellison-selected-letters.html

Here are five past posts:

August 8, 2016
Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”: Meaning of Title; Relation of Nameless, Unreliable Narrator and Rinehart to Dostoevsky, Melville, Multiple Personality

In the opening paragraph of Invisible Man (1952), the nameless narrator says he is invisible because people refuse to see him. But he is unreliable. Ellison calls him “the hero who is somewhat of a liar” and says “That’s what you have to be alert to whenever you read fiction in the first person” (1, p. 267). Also search “nameless” and “namelessness” in this blog for posts on its relation to multiple personality.

Ellison says, “The invisibility, there is a joke about that which is tied up with the sociological dictum that Negroes in the United States have a rough time because we have high visibility…High pigmentation…But the problem for the narrator of Invisible Man is that he creates his own invisibility to a certain extent by not asserting himself…” (1, p. 96).

“Ellison…modeled his narrator after the nameless narrator of Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground” (2). That’s the same Dostoevsky who wrote The Double, a classic multiple personality story (search “Dostoevsky” and “The Double” in this blog).

Regarding another character in Invisible Man, Rinehart, Ellison says, “I was thinking of a character who was a master of disguise…"(1, p. 18). “He’s a descendant of Melville’s Confidence Man” (1, p. 76). Search “Confidence Man” in this blog to read my post on Herman Melville’s novel about a man with multiple personality.

1. Maryemma Graham and Amritjit Singh (Editors). Conversations with Ralph Ellison. Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1995.
2. Invisible Man. Wikipedia.

August 9, 2016
Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” (post 2): Is narrator incarnated but invisible, or a disembodied voice? Views of Prologue, Epilogue, Author's Introduction.

Prologue
“I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids…I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me” (1, p. 3).

Epilogue
“ ‘Ah,’ I can hear you say, ‘so it was all a build-up to bore us with his buggy jiving. He only wanted us to listen to him rave!’ But only partially true: Being invisible and without substance, a disembodied voice, as it were, what else could I do?” (1, p. 439).

Author’s Introduction
“For while I had structured my short stories out of familiar experiences and possessed concrete images of my characters and their backgrounds, now I was confronted by nothing more substantial than a taunting, disembodied voice…an ironic, down-home voice…the voice seemed well aware that a piece of science fiction was the last thing I aspired to write. In fact it seemed to tease me with allusions to that pseudoscientific sociological concept which held that most Afro-American difficulties sprang from our ‘high visibility’…But then as I listened to its taunting laughter and speculated as to what kind of individual would speak in such accents, I decided that it would be one who had been forged in the underground of American experience and yet managed to emerge less angry than ironic…And after coaxing him into revealing a bit more about himself, I concluded that he was without question a ‘character,’ and that in the dual meaning of the term…this has always been a most willful, most self-generating novel…” (1, pp. xiv-xxi).

Comment
As is true of many novelists, Ellison, intellectually, knew that he had imagined and thought up his narrator and main character. But that is not the way he experienced his creative process: His protagonist just seems to have arrived. He is confronted by it. He hears its voice. It has its own opinions and attitude. It seems to be self-generating, with a mind of its own. All of which describes the psychological experience of getting and having an alternate personality.

Although most characters and alternate personalities are embodied, it is not uncommon to have an alternate personality who is conceived of as a disembodied spirit of one sort or another.

1. Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man [1952]. New York, Random House, 1982.

August 11, 2016
Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” (post 3): He is invisible, because his true emotions and humanity, in the form of alternate personalities, are hidden.

A man is “invisible” when he has repressed, and buried inside him, his true self, his humanity, so that it is invisible from the outside.

“Behold! a walking zombie! Already he’s learned to repress not only his emotions but his humanity. He’s invisible, a walking personification of the Negative…The mechanical man! (1, p. 72).

But what if that repressed, true self were released, discovered, and became visible, so to speak? What form would it have?

Would it seem like an alien, alternate personality that had been lodged deep inside him? Would he hear its voice? Might he hear more than one voice: the voices of several, contradictory, alternate personalities, each singing its own tune inside his head?

“…I had the feeling that I had been talking beyond myself, had used words and expressed attitudes not my own, that I was in the grip of some alien personality lodged deep within me…” (1, p. 189).

“…but now a new, painful, contradictory voice had grown up within me…If only all the contradictory voices shouting inside my head would calm down and sing a song in unison…” (1, p. 197).

Clinically, the counterpart to what Ellison calls “invisible” is what some clinicians refer to as “depleted.” For example, a patient who is noted to have an absence of strong emotions is later found to have alternate personalities—an angry personality, etc.— who have these strong emotions, leaving the host personality emotionally depleted.

1. Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man [1952]. New York, Random House, 1982.

August 13, 2016
Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” (post 4): The title means man is invisible, especially to the extent that his alternate personalities remain hidden.

Neither Ellison’s interviews nor his introduction to this novel nor the novel itself gives a clear and consistent explanation of what he meant by “invisible man.” He is of two (or more) minds about it.

At some points, he says it means that men (especially blacks) are not seen by others (especially whites) for who they really are. But at one point, he says that some of the white characters are not seen for who they are, either. And so, since it is impossible to know what is in the heart of any other person, “Invisible Man” means that man is invisible.

However, at other points, cited in previous posts, Ellison says that his nameless, first-person narrator/protagonist is really only a disembodied voice that he heard. So that is the reason he is invisible.

And as I pointed out, a disembodied person-like entity is an alternate personality, which, not having its own separate body, and being, most of the time, on the inside, behind the scenes, is, usually, invisible. According to this view, a man is invisible to the extent that his alternate personalities remain hidden.

Is there any evidence that Ellison ever thought in terms of multiple personality, per se? Toward the end of this novel, the protagonist is repeatedly compared to Rinehart, a character who is described as having “multiple personalities” (1, p. 377). Indeed, the only apparent purpose for the existence of the Rinehart character is to make the issue of multiple personality explicit.

Ellison is intrigued, but doesn't pursue the issue, because he finds “the possibilities posed by Rinehart’s multiple personalities…too vast and confusing to contemplate” (1. p. 377).

1. Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man [1952]. New York, Random House, 1982.

August 19, 2016
Ralph Ellison (post 5): Multiple Personality character from Invisible Man became core of the novel Ellison worked on for the next forty years.

“Ellison’s Opus II composition book makes it clear that the second novel belongs to 'Rhinehart,' as he spells the name throughout. Bliss Proteus Rhinehart is the hidden name and complex fate of this transitional character belonging both to Invisible Man and to the second novel…

“As Ellison actually began writing the novel, Rhinehart would go by other names—first Bliss, the child evangelist of indeterminate race…then Movie Man, an itinerant scam artist…and finally Adam Sunraider, a ‘race-baiting New England Senator’…

“An agent of transformation, Bliss Proteus Rinehart is a metaphor for the second novel as a whole, a way of explaining how Ellison could write for forty years without finishing his novel…

“He is of indeterminate race, here specified as ‘Negro, white, Indian’; he is raised in the church by a black preacher; he runs away and reemerges as a movie man looking to exploit a small Oklahoma town…and he gains political office, serving in the United States Senate, where he is assassinated…

“Rhinehart emerges as an individual particularly trapped by his racial indeterminacy, his protean ability to shift shades as well as shapes…

“The novel’s central action, as Ellison conceives it in this embryonic form, concerns Rhinehart’s attempt to return to his neglected past, to embrace his blackness…” (1, pp. 125-134).

Professor Adam Bradley is the coeditor of Ralph Ellison’s unfinished second novel, Three Days Before the Shooting, which Ellison worked on for forty years following publication of Invisible Man. He does not raise the issue of multiple personality.

1. Adam Bradley. Ralph Ellison in Progress: From Invisible Man to Three Days Before the Shooting. New Haven, Yale University Press, 2010.

Sunday, November 24, 2019


Sherlock Holmes’ multiple disguises reflect the multiple personality of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (post 6)

My previous posts on Doyle made a good case for his multiple personality, but without discussing his most famous character, Sherlock Holmes, whose image is that of the fact-oriented ultra-rationalist, the last person you might suspect of having something as imaginative as multiple personality.

But in the vast literary commentary on, and adaptations of, Sherlock Holmes, there has been speculation about multiple personality, the most common being that super-villain Professor Moriarty didn’t exist, except as an imaginary person (an alternate personality) in Holmes’ mind.

Another source of speculation has been Holmes’ frequent use of disguises:

“Holmes would have made an actor, and a rare one. His expression, his manner, his very soul seemed to vary with every fresh part that he assumed…He had at least five small refuges in different parts of London in which he was able to change his personality…Here is the list of disguises used by Sherlock Holmes: a sailor, an asthmatic old master mariner, an amiable and simple-minded Nonconformist clergyman, a doddering opium smoker, a common loafer, a venerable Italian priest, an elderly book-collector, an East End familiar known to Captain Basil, a plumber with a rising business named Escott, an unshaven French ouvrier, a workman looking for a job, an old sporting man, an elderly woman, an Irish-American spy named Altamont.” https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php/Sherlock_Holmes

In the following passage, note the reference to “exorcising” (demon possession is a pre-psychological theory of multiple personality); Holmes’ seeming to hear Moriarty’s voice (people with undiagnosed multiple personality often hear the voices of one or more of their alternate personalities) (even after the alternate personality's supposed death, because, as long as the person remains alive, death of an alternate personality often only means that the "dead" personality must remain inside; and the comparison of Holmes to Dorian Gray, a famous fictional character who has often been suspected of having multiple personality. (Search “Oscar Wilde” on this site.)

“As Watson says in The Final Problem, ‘… if [Holmes] could be assured that society was freed from Professor Moriarty he would cheerfully bring his own career to a conclusion.’ It was as if Holmes were exorcising himself. Yet even after Holmes ostensibly bested the ‘Napoleon of crime’ at the Reichenbach Falls, Moriarty exercised a hold over him. ‘I am not a fanciful person,’ said Holmes, ‘but I give you my word that I seemed to hear Moriarty’s voice screaming at me out of the abyss.’ It was, perhaps, the sound of his own demons that he was hearing. If Holmes is Dorian Gray, Moriarty equates to the picture he hides away in his attic—a grim reflection of the ravages of his soul that the detective keeps hidden from the world 
at large." https://strandmag.com/a-question-of-identity/

Why could Holmes hear Moriarty's voice even after Moriarty had died? Because, as long as the regular personality remains alive, the "death" of an alternate personality often only means that the "dead" personality has been prevented from coming out.

Please see my previous five posts by searching “arthur conan doyle.”

Saturday, November 23, 2019


Fred Rogers: Was his demeanor both sincere and artificial, in the way that child-aged alternate personalities of adults often are?

Since multiple personality originates in childhood, the most common type of alternate personality is child-aged. They may honestly see themselves as children, and may have an endearing childlike quality, but their behavior, judged objectively, is not perfectly childlike. The impression they make is a combination of sincerity (which they have) and artificiality. And that is my impression when I see Fred Rogers in excerpts from his show, “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.”

In the first two years of the show, Rogers often implied that the show’s fantasies were real and that he had a direct line of contact with the characters. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mister_Rogers'_Neighborhood

Was there anything about his childhood to suggest the he created a fantasy world with alternate personalities?

“Rogers had a difficult childhood. He was shy, introverted, and overweight, and was frequently homebound after suffering bouts of asthma. He was bullied and taunted as a child…he made friends with himself as much as he could. He had a ventriloquist dummy, he had [stuffed] animals, and he would create his own worlds in his childhood bedroom” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Rogers

In short, it is possible that he developed multiple personality and that “Mister Rogers” was a personality that helped his other alternate personalities be less frightened and make friends with each other.

An article in tomorrow’s New York Times Magazine (print version) by someone who knew Rogers for many years, says, “…he somehow lived in a different world than I did. A hushed world of tiny things — the meager and the marginalized. A world of simple words and deceptively simple concepts…”

‘L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.’ That was Fred’s favorite quote. He had it framed and hanging on a wall in his office. ‘What is essential is invisible to the eye,’ is from Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.”

The context of that quote is that the fox tells the little prince that the true value of his rose is not its outward appearance, but the love he put into raising it. And I would add, since that novel’s relation to multiple personality is evident to me (search “the little prince” on this site) then that quote takes on the additional meaning that Rogers' alternate personalities are invisible to the people who know him.

If you want to begin to understand why alternate personalities are typically invisible to most people, search “diagnosis” on this site. Most alternate personalities like their privacy and intentionally evade diagnosis. But after their cover is blown (by asking the right questions and knowing what to look for), they come out of hiding and become obvious. Multiple personality is not just a theory. It is directly observable.

Another inadvertently revealing quotation: “We arrived late, skipping the cocktails, and entered a ballroom at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Fred was scanning the room as if expecting ghosts to pop out.
     “You O.K. there, Fred? I asked.
     “I just don’t know what to expect,” he said. “You know that’s why I sing that song, ‘Children like to be told.’ ” His answer seems to include himself among those children.

On another occasion, Rogers was giving a commencement address at Carnegie Mellon University. After he delivered the last line, he sang his song “It’s You I Like,” and hundreds of students joined in.

“Fred told the crowd that he wrote the song ‘for the child in all of us — that part of us which longs to help in the creation of a new and better world’ ”

Did he mean “the child in all of us” as in child-aged alternate personalities? Or did he only mean “that part of us which longs to help in the creation of a new and better world”? After all, there are other ways he could have expressed that thought than with a phrase that could refer to a child-aged alternate personality. And he did not have to refer to it as “that part of us,” considering that people with undiagnosed multiple personality often refer to their vague awareness of alternate personalities as “parts.”

If new to this site, you might misconstrue the above as disparagement. But I have discussed literally hundreds of great fiction writers, including literally dozens of Nobel Prize winners. For them, their multiple personality trait—multiple personality without clinically significant distress or dysfunction from it—is a creative ability. Including Rogers among them is high praise.

Jeanne Marie Laskas. “The Mister Rogers No One Saw.” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/magazine/mr-rogers.html

Added Nov. 24, 2019: I just corrected my misspelling of the show’s title. I had instinctively written it as “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” But the abbreviation, “Mr.,” which American adults instinctively use, was never used for the title of this show. From 1968-1970, it was spelled “MisteRogers’ or “Misterogers’ (sources differ), and in 1971, it was changed to “Mister Rogers’.” Why was “Mr.” never used?

Was Fred Rogers an expert on children’s cognitive development? Had he read a study which found that young children don’t use abbreviations? But most children that young probably wouldn’t be reading the show’s title anyway. So I infer that “Mister” instead of “Mr.” reflected Fred Rogers’ subjective sense of himself as someone too young to be using abbreviations. (Disregard the underlining, which was involuntarily carried over from the above link.) 

Friday, November 22, 2019


NY Times theater review of “The Underlying Chris” by Will Eno: Protagonist is extremely self-transforming, but review fails to recognize multiple personality

The protagonist is described as continually changing names, gender, and body. Whereas, in multiple personality, alternate personalities often differ in names, gender, and body-image. Thus, the review describes a dramatized multiple personality scenario, but the reviewer never mentions multiple personality.


Most of the surprisingly common symptoms of multiple personality in novels and plays are unlabeled and unacknowledged, because authors seem not to have thought of what they have written in terms of multiple personality, per se. What, then, are these unlabeled symptoms of multiple personality doing there? They are a literary or dramatized reflection of authors’ own psychology.

(As discussed on this site during the past six years in over 1700 posts, most fiction writers have multiple personality trait. For them, it is a special ability, and an integral part of their creative process.)

And since fiction writers usually do not think in terms of multiple personality, per se, and so have not labeled the symptoms of multiple personality in their novels, poems, and plays, most reviewers fail to think of it, even when it is blatant, as in this case.

Thursday, November 21, 2019


“Nothing to See Here,” Kevin Wilson’s bestseller: Author interview suggests possible connection between his novel and Gillian Flynn’s “Sharp Objects”

Wilson’s current bestseller, “Nothing to See Here,” was recently reviewed in The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/29/books/review/nothing-to-see-here-kevin-wilson.html?module=inline 

In a single paragraph from today’s author interview (quoted below), Wilson’s first sentence is in the present tense. His second sentence is in the past tense. His last sentence is an abstract generalization. Evidently, one part of his mind continues to have his childhood obsession with spontaneous human combustion. Another part of his mind takes a retrospective, psychological view. And a third part of his mind has an empathetic and social point of view:

“Since I was a kid I’ve been obsessed with spontaneous human combustion,” Wilson says. “Sometimes I’d be afraid I might burst into flames and other times I wanted to be a human torch. I wanted to manifest my anxiety physically. But what I’m always trying to figure out with my writing is, how can I create a story where people survive dark things? I don’t want anyone to ever get hurt.” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/21/books/review/dont-hate-kevin-wilson-but-he-wrote-his-best-seller-in-10-days.html

He says he had severe anxiety in childhood. It was emotionally intolerable, so he coped with it by imagining it was converted into something physical (but which evidently didn’t burn him like real fire would). And he hopes nobody else will get hurt like he was.

This seems to be a variation of the scenario of coping with overwhelming, probably posttraumatic, emotions, starting in childhood, by cutting or burning the skin, two usually secret activities that may be more common in people with multiple personality disorder. Search “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn, which (along with her “Gone Girl”) involves multiple personality.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


“Enemies, A Love Story” by Isaac Bashevis Singer (post 6): Protagonist’s probable multiple personality is unacknowledged by narrator or characters

This novel, originally published in Yiddish (like all Singer’s works), was first published in English in 1972, six years before he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The story, which takes place in New York City shortly after WWII, sometimes seems like a comedy, but its youthful main characters are holocaust survivors.

Herman, the protagonist, is depicted as probably having multiple personality, but Singer evidently didn’t intend to do so, since it is unacknowledged: No narrator or character recognizes the significance of his memory gaps (a cardinal symptom of multiple personality). He has a job as a ghostwriter (which is symbolic of the role that characters play in the fiction-writing process as co-writers or ghostwriters); and his trigamy—three wives at the same time, living separately, in New York City—like any multiplication of things that are usually single, is a metaphor for multiple personality, not to mention that only a person with multiple personality would get himself into such a predicament.

The following passages describe Herman’s memory gaps, his trigamy, and his sense of unidentified personalities inside him:

“These mistakes in the subway, his habit of putting things away and not remembering where, straying into wrong streets, losing manuscripts, books, and notebooks hung over Herman like a curse. He was always searching through his pockets for something he had lost. His fountain pen or his sunglasses would be missing; his wallet would vanish; his own phone number would slip from his mind. He would buy an umbrella and leave it somewhere within the day. He would put on a pair of rubbers and lose them in a matter of hours. Sometimes he imagined that imps and goblins were playing tricks on him” (1, p. 20). Search “memory gaps” and “absent-mindedness” for discussions related to diagnosis and other writers.

“He had two wives and was about to marry a third. Even though he feared the consequences of actions and the scandal that would follow, some part of him enjoyed the thrill of being faced with ever-threatening catastrophe. He both planned his actions and improvised. The ‘Unconscious,’ as von Hartmann called it, never made a mistake. Herman’s words seemed to issue from his mouth of their own accord and only later would he realize what stratagems and subterfuges he had managed to invent. Behind this mad hodgepodge of emotions, a calculating gambler throve on daily risk” (1, pp. 130-131). “The unconscious” is a misnomer. Herman evidently has alternate personalities inside him, who are fully conscious and have their own agendas.

When two of his wives had missed their menstrual periods, “Herman thought of the Yiddish saying that ten enemies can’t harm a man as much as he can harm himself. Yet he knew he wasn’t doing it all by himself; there was always his hidden opponent, his demon adversary” (1, p. 176).

Puzzling Ending
Herman simply disappears. Is he in hiding? Did he commit suicide? Nobody knows. Perhaps he is just one of the author’s alternate personalities; his services are no longer required; and he has gone back inside, where most alternate personalities live most of their lives.

1. Isaac Bashevis Singer. Enemies, A Love Story. New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1972.