Multiplicity: The New Science of Personality, Identity, and the Self

Published By: Little, Brown and Company

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Science

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Reviewed by Muhammed Hassanali

Most of us tend to think of ourselves as one individual, a consistent self. In Multiplicity, Carter argues that we consist of a group of unique personalities – each with its own characteristics. She contends that we slide from one personality to another as the situation demands. These many personalities are held together by shared memories.

Part I of the book provides an overview of dissociation and multiple personality that supports the notion of multiple personalities. While some of Carter’s examples would be of “normal” people, some seem to better fit for those suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. Human beings are very adaptable, and hence these different personalities came about to help us cope with the situations we face. Hence, the “troublesome” personality was created to help us, and brings some benefit to our psyche.

One would imagine that coercing a personality to “behave” (as Carter recommends) would not have the desired outcome as it may retaliate, if it can, often surreptitiously (as do individuals). If we subconsciously switch on or off personalities (as Carter contends), then one may question how much control do we truly have to summon a particular personality. Carter says that there is no “true self”; we are a collection of our personalities. Some readers may feel that this goes too far and that perhaps in the “shared memories” there is a “self.” I feel that more research is needed in this area to construct a more coherent theory of multiple personalities.

Part II is dedicated to finding each of these personalities within us through a series of exercises. Carter does add that it may require the help of a friend or changes in circumstances to discover all these personalities. There are so many questions that only the most motivated readers would muster the stamina to do them all. Second, Carter does not provide much (empirical) evidence if this process really works well.

The theory of multiple personalities is interesting and does explain some observations that a single personality theory does not. From this book, it seems that we need additional research to make this theory more coherent.

Armchair Interviews agrees.

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