Hypnotic interview and age regression procedures in the elicitation of multiple personality symptoms
Patients diagnosed as suffering from multiple personality (i.e., multiples) behave as though they possess two or more distinct personal identities. When behaving as one identity, these patients often display signs of amnesia for events that occurred while they were behaving as a different identity (Sutcliffe and Jones 1962; Taylor and Martin 1944). In most theoretical accounts multiples are conceptualized as the passive victims of unconscious psychological processes that are beyond their sphere of control. For instance, patients' secondary identities are typically described as "dissociated" mental entities, as "taking over" behavioral control, as behaving independently of (and often in opposition to) patients' wishes and intentions, and so on (Allison and Schwarz 1980; Gruenewald 1984; Prince 1930; Watkins and Johnson 1982). Our paper criticizes this traditional account and suggests instead that multiple personality may be more usefully conceptualized as a social role enactment. Along these lines we present a study using college student role players as subjects to test the hypothesis that the kinds of clinical interview procedures employed routinely to diagnose multiple personality may instead encourage and legitimate enactments of this syndrome.
Psychiatry. 1986 Nov;49(4):298-311. Spanos NP, Weekes JR, Menary E, Bertrand LD.