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Rewriting the Soul

Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory

Ian Hacking

Publication Year: 1998

Twenty-five years ago one could list by name the tiny number of multiple personalities recorded in the history of Western medicine, but today hundreds of people receive treatment for dissociative disorders in every sizable town in North America. Clinicians, backed by a grassroots movement of patients and therapists, find child sexual abuse to be the primary cause of the illness, while critics accuse the "MPD" community of fostering false memories of childhood trauma. Here the distinguished philosopher Ian Hacking uses the MPD epidemic and its links with the contemporary concept of child abuse to scrutinize today's moral and political climate, especially our power struggles about memory and our efforts to cope with psychological injuries.

What is it like to suffer from multiple personality? Most diagnosed patients are women: why does gender matter? How does defining an illness affect the behavior of those who suffer from it? And, more generally, how do systems of knowledge about kinds of people interact with the people who are known about? Answering these and similar questions, Hacking explores the development of the modern multiple personality movement. He then turns to a fascinating series of historical vignettes about an earlier wave of multiples, people who were diagnosed as new ways of thinking about memory emerged, particularly in France, toward the end of the nineteenth century. Fervently occupied with the study of hypnotism, hysteria, sleepwalking, and fugue, scientists of this period aimed to take the soul away from the religious sphere. What better way to do this than to make memory a surrogate for the soul and then subject it to empirical investigation?

Made possible by these nineteenth-century developments, the current outbreak of dissociative disorders is embedded in new political settings. Rewriting the Soul concludes with a powerful analysis linking historical and contemporary material in a fresh contribution to the archaeology of knowledge. As Foucault once identified a politics that centers on the body and another that classifies and organizes the human population, Hacking has now provided a masterful description of the politics of memory : the scientizing of the soul and the wounds it can receive.

Published by: Princeton University Press

Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Many people have helped me, but here I would like to speak for all the members of a seminar on multiple personality that met on Monday evenings during the winters of 1992 and 1993. We thank our guests who came on those cold dark nights for no reward, except love of their subject, to share their experience, knowledge, and opinions: ...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-7

Memory is a powerful tool in quests for understanding, justice, and knowledge. It raises consciousness. It heals some wounds, restores dignity, and prompts uprisings. What better motto for automobile license plates in Québec than Je me souviens?—I remember. Memories of the holocaust and of slavery must be passed on to new generations. ...

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1. Is It Real?

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pp. 8-20

As long ago as 1982 psychiatrists were talking about “the multiple personality epidemic.”1 Yet those were early days. Multiple personality—whose “essential feature is the existence within the individual of two or more distinct personalities, each of which is dominant at a particular time”—became an official diagnosis of the American Psychiatric Association only in 1980.2 ...

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2. What Is It Like?

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pp. 21-38

What is it like to be a multiple? The formal criteria of the diagnostic manuals are too impersonal. Nineteenth-century patients with “double consciousness” fit the criteria, but their experience, their ways of getting on (or not), the resulting family and social life—all those are quite unlike the life of a modern multiple. ...

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3. The Movement

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pp. 39-54

We have been familiar with psychological “movements” ever since madness was medicalized, and certainly since the advent of psychoanalysis. No one hesitates to speak of the movement founded and orchestrated by Sigmund Freud. Multiplicity has no founding and controlling parent, but if ever there was a movement, it is the multiple personality movement. ...

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4. Child Abuse

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pp. 55-68

Child Abuse made sense of multiplicity. Most multiples, according to recent theorizing, dissociated when they were little children. That was their way to cope with early terror and pain, usually in the form of or accompanied by sexual abuse. ...

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5. Gender

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pp. 69-80

Nine out of ten patients who have been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder are women. The same proportion is observed in old cases of double consciousness or alternating personality. I do not claim the latter as a statistical fact, because it depends whom you count. One survey finds a larger proportion of males among old reports than I do.1 ...

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6. Cause

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pp. 81-95

“Never in the history of psychiatry have we ever come to know so well the specific etiology of a major illness, its natural course, its treatment.” This remarkable statement was made in 1989 by Richard Loewenstein, when he was president of the ISSMP&D.1 In the course of twenty years an illness had passed from being virtually unknown to being better understood than any other mental malady. ...

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7. Measure

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pp. 96-112

An illness becomes an object of knowledge when it is identified, as its causes are discovered, and as methods of prevention, treatment, or cure are developed. Measurement is a second route to knowledge, and the two routes cross. For example, the causal story about multiple personality is bolstered by measurements used to establish that dissociation comes in degrees, ...

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8. Truth in Memory

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pp. 113-127

Tolstoy famously observed that all happy families are more or less alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own particular way. Today he might revise the second part of that judgment if he were to come across families torn by memories recovered in therapy, adults’ memories of child abuse and incest perpetrated by now-aging parents, ...

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9. Schizophrenia

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pp. 128-141

In the next part of the book we move into the past, settling, for a while, in the period 1874–1886. That was when a wave of multiplicity swept over France, when the sciences of memory firmed up, and when the idea of trauma, previously used only for a bodily wound or lesion, came also to apply to psychic hurt. ...

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10. Before Memory

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pp. 142-158

Multiple personality has been specifically Western, peculiar to the industrialized world, and consistently diagnosed in only this or that region and then only for a few decades at a time. It may nevertheless be a local manifestation of something universal: trance. People go into trance states in almost every society. ...

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11. Doubling of the Personality

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pp. 159-170

It was “in the spring of 1875, in the course of a conversation on the bizarreries of memory,” that Eugène Azam first told the story of the classic French double, Félida X. Somnambulism had been a topic for medical expertise and folklore for millennia. There had been trickles of interest in double consciousness and spontaneous somnambulism throughout the nineteenth century. ...

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12. The Very First Multiple Personality

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pp. 171-182

Multimpe means more than two. Neither double consciousness nor dédoublement was multiple personality. Advocates of the diagnosis of multiple personality will want to say that Félida had more than two alters; we have intimations of as many as five. Under a different type of treatment all might have flourished; they might have been clues to Félida’s underlying distress. ...

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13. Trauma

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pp. 183-197

Traumatic events, traumatic experiences—we know what they are: psychological blows, wounds to the spirit. Severe trauma early in life may irrevocably damage the development of a child. Trauma is psychic hurt. The word has become a metaphor for almost anything unpleasant: “That was really traumatic!” ...

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14. The Sciences of Memory

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pp. 198-209

I now wish to advance four theses. They are difficult in themselves; their interconnections are yet more difficult. Here and in the next chapter I propose a way in which to understand the events I have been describing, both old and recent. Here are the theses, in capsule form. ...

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15. Memoro-Politics

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pp. 210-220

It has become commonplace to speak of a politics of this or that or almost anything. Such generous usage strips the word of much meaning. But talk of a politics of memory is no metaphor. The confrontations between the False Memory Syndrome Foundation and various schools of recovered memory therapy are plainly political. ...

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16. Mind and Body

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pp. 221-233

Does multiple personality matter to metaphysics? I do not think so. Metaphysics asks: What is a person, a soul, a self? It does not ask who I am, but what I am. What constitutes me as a person? One answer is well known to English empirical philosophy, for it is at least as old as John Locke. ...

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17. An Indeterminacy in the Past

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pp. 234-257

It will be good to conclude in a more analytic vein. Multiple personality, I argued, has nothing to teach philosophers about mind and body. But philosophical analysis, of an almost grammatical sort, may help us with memory and multiplicity. The title of the present chapter means what it says, which is hard, because we think of the past as fixed, final, and determined. ...

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18. False Consciousness

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pp. 258-268

Does it matter whether what we seem to remember really happened, more or less as we remember it? In daily life it matters most of the time. I thought I left my wallet in my raincoat pocket; it’s not there. Panic. I (seem to) remember loaning you my copy of Putnam’s book. Oh. I’m sorry, I loaned it to Lisa; I was confused. ...

Notes

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pp. 269-296

Bibliography

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pp. 297-328

Index

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pp. 329-336


E-ISBN-13: 9781400821686
E-ISBN-10: 1400821681
Print-ISBN-13: 9780691059082
Print-ISBN-10: 069105908X

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 1998

Edition: Course Book

OCLC Number: 51453550
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Rewriting the Soul