Multiple Personality: Why Activism?

Anthony Temple, Astraea

I think one of the two main reasons we have engaged in some form of activism from the time Jay first realized we were here, is that other people tend to make it their business when they find out that a friend or family member is plural.

As long as multiplicity is seen as a mental disease, children who display multiple-ish behaviour will be dragged into psychiatrists' offices, drugged up or locked up. In states which hold involuntary commitment laws, if a friend, relative or neighbour finds out you are plural and deems it to be a dangerous condition (which they are likely to do considering all the media hype), they can phone you in and have you committed to a state institution. Multiplicity is now considered a thought disorder by many professionals, and it's not the most pleasant thing in the world to be turned into a zombie by antipsychotic medication. Particularly when your multiplicity is (as many have described in their correspondence to us) a spiritual or mystical experience between persons in your group.

I think, though, that a more fundamental reason for our activism lies in the fact that it took thirty-two years for Jay to realise that we were real, that we were persons. He had known about multiplicity since Sybil came out in the early 1970s; but he had no idea that this could apply to his own situation. The media and mental health industries' portrayals of multiplicity have done a grave disservice to multiples who do not fit that limited profile.

Nearly ten years after we put up our first web pages, healthy multiples are still culturally invisible. Young people today go through what Jay went through thirty years ago, experiencing the presences of unseen others around or within them, terrified that they're insane, ashamed and afraid to tell anyone. I've lost count of the number of letters we've received from such young people, expressing such heartfelt gratitude for the relatively simple facts we provide them. Our pages, by their account, have saved some of them from becoming deeply depressed; our simple statement that integration is not necessary to stability has kept at least two groups, by their own report, from committing suicide. Others have reported extreme relief at discovering that multiplicity does not necessarily indicate a need to spend thousands of dollars in therapy with the goal of recovering and processing repressed (and possibly nonexistent) memories of horrific trauma. This is a relative handful of people in one very small subsection of the internet, but at least we have helped those few.

Some members of this community, and others, choose to charge into the fray, as it were, when multiplicity is being disparaged by others whose viewpoint more closely reflects that of the dominant culture. I don't bother, because everything I have to say is on the website, and because I rather think that the nature of the debate is comparable to visitations of the Blessed Virgin; because the experience is subjective and cannot be tested, all that I could say would be that I have experienced something that was real to me; I can do nothing tangible to convince anyone that I'm not alone in here.

However, I am grateful to those who take the few seconds to post a link to our website, or to Amorpha's, or the Layman's Guide. If even one person, or one group, is helped to understand what multiplicity is and can be, I consider our activism to have been of some use.

Anthony Temple

Other Essays by Anthony Temple

Why We Fight Shorter, more personal version of the above.
Multiple Personality and the Media Why are we constantly portrayed as freaks?
Multiplicity Is Natural We have been sold a bill of goods about a "mental disorder".
On Integration Why it is neither necessary nor desirable... and may be impossible.
No More.. A tirade on multiplicity as sickness.
Our Truth For those who would help us recover from denial.
Removing Diagnostic Labels Multiple personality does not belong in the DSM.
The Kaycee Nicole Thing On the Internet, you are who you say you are.. use it wisely.
Validation and Language in Multiple Personality An answer to the often-asked question "Does this happen to anyone else?"

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