Back in 1954 the world was a divided place. The "Iron Curtain" divided East from West and the Cold War between Russia and America heated up with the detonation of the first hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll. America was divided too, with Senator Joe McCarthy conducting his "witch trials" and accusing fellow-Americans of being disloyal "Reds". America was still two countries: one if you were white, one if you were black; in states like Georgia segregation was normal and white and black people couldn't eat in the same restaurants. There were some who tried to put the two halves of America together. In neighbouring Tennessee, DJ Dewey Phillips was playing a demo record by a white kid performing black music. That was Elvis Presley.Two talented doctors were working at the Medical College of Georgia. Hervey Cleckley had already published a groundbreaking book on psychopaths called The Mask of Sainity while Corbett Thigpen had distinguished himself in the US Army. The two went into practice together and led the field of psychiatric medicine in the '40s and '50s. Then, in 1951, a young woman was recommended to Dr Thigpen as a patient... This was Christine Costner Sizemore [left], renamed "Eve White" by Thigpen and Cleckley. The two doctors published their case study, turned it into a book then sold the rights to make an Oscar-winning film about a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder. For other case studies, see Freud and Savage-Rumbaugh et al..
There's are short, sweet
|Read a summary of Multiple Personality Disorder on Medicinenet|
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There have always been people who suddenly change their personality. In ancient times this might be blamed on witchcraft, possession by spirits or changelings who have been "swapped" by goblins. In 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson published The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, which introduced the idea of a split-personality to the world at large. Psychiatrists came up with the term "Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD)" to describe people who have at least two completely separate ALTERS or personality states which are usually ignorant of each other and take it in turns to control the patient. It is supposedly caused by traumatic childhood experiences and brought on by stress.
MPD has always been controversial with many psychologists disbelieving in it. Freud rejected MPD and critics claim it is an IATROGENIC ILLNESS - a condition which is caused by the doctor and the psychiatric treatment itself. Thigpen & Cleckley's study was the first scientific study into a case of MPD and was wildly popular - they turned it into a book, then a film and many other cases starting being published by other psychiatrists afterwards.
Today MPD is termed Dissociative Identity Diosorder, but it isn't recognised as a legitimate medical condition in Britain. In the USA it is recognised, and the majority of cases seem to be Americans. Dissociative Identity Disorder has been used as a defence in American courts, with people claiming they should not be punished for a crime committed while one of their alters was in control!
Thigpen & Cleckley believed that their patient was a genuine sufferer of Multiple Personality Disorder and their case study tries to prove this with convincing accounts and scientific tests.
The authors also suggest a cure for the condition, which involves persuading the personalities (alters) to merge together or INTEGRATE. They admit there are moral problems with this, because it might involve "killing off" some personalities so that the strongest personality can absorb them.
Because this is a case study and not an experiment, there aren't really any Independent Variables. If it helps, you could treat each of Eve's different personalities (Eve White, Eve Black and Jane) as a different Independent Variable.
There aren't easily measurable Dependent Variables either, but Thigpen & Cleckley did collect two sorts of data on each of the patient's personalities:
Thigpen & Cleckley came across their patient rather accidentally - a bit like how Savage-Rumbaugh et al. ended up studying Kanzi. "Eve White" was a 25 year-old housewife who was being treated by Dr Thigpen for headaches and blackouts. Thigpen started using hypnotism to get to the bottom of the blackouts, in particular a long trip that Eve White had no memory of taking. Later, Thigpen received a letter from his patient about her symptoms, but with strange remarks at the bottom in a different style of handwriting. At the next meeting, Eve White admitted starting the letter but denied sending it. She grew agitated, asked if "hearing voices" was a sign of insanity and put her head in her hands. Then she looked up with a smile and said, "Hi there, doc!"
This new personality was much more outgoing, confident and flirtatious than Eve White and the doctors knew her as "Eve Black". Eve Black knew all about Eve White's life but rejected the idea she was married to Eve White's husband or the mother of Eve White's child. Eve White knew nothing about Eve Black and "blacked out" when Eve Black took over. There were three interesting examples of this:
Thigpen & Cleckley brought in a clinical psychologist to test the two Eves with psychometric tests and projective tests.
Psychometric tests are questionnaires that produce quantitative data. Eve White had an IQ of 110 and a memory that was superior to her IQ; Eve Black's IQ was only 104 and her memory was on the same level as her IQ.
Projective tests are creative tasks that produce qualitative data. The Rorschach Inkblot Test involves looking at shapeless blobs and saying what they remind you of. Another test involves drawing human figures. A trained psychologist can read secret desires into the descriptions or drawings. Eve White showed a REPRESSED personality, because she felt trapped as a wife and a mother. Eve Black showed a REGRESSIVE personality - immature and childish, but healthier.
Interestingly, Eve Black could not be hypnotised, whereas Eve White was very suggestible. Eve White wore nylon stockings, but as Eve Black she was allergic to nylon and developed a skin rash.
The doctors continued with their therapy, trying to integrate the two personalities. They persuaded Eve Black to cooperate by allowing her more "time out".
During the therapy, Eve White separated from her husband and her daughter went to live with her parents. For a while her headaches and blackouts stopped, she got a job and her life became stable, with less mischief from Eve Black. After 8 months of therapy, the headaches and blackouts returned but this time Eve Black said she was not responsible because she was experiencing blackouts too! One day when Eve White was being hypnotised her manner changed, she blinked and looked up at her doctor and asked, "Who are you?"
This new personality was called Jane: confident and mature, but not selfish or destructive; she seemed to be a "compromise" with the strengths of both Eves but not their weaknesses. She was aware of both Eves and had some of their memories. She gradually took over more and more from Eve White, who admitted that Jane would make a better mother for her daughter than she had managed to be.
Jane reported one occasion when Eve White snatched a toddler away from an oncoming car, but was so overwhelmed by having the child in her arms she didn't want to give him up. Jane had to "come out" to hand the baby over to a policeman. Jane expressed great compassion for Eve White's loneliness and unhappiness.
Thigpen & Cleckley tested all three personalities using an electro encephalogram (EEG) to measure brainwaves. Eve White and Jane had similar brainwaves but Eve Black's were much faster, almost abnormally fast. Fast brainwaves are sometimes associated with psychopaths (people with no sense of conscience). In general, Eve Black was more restless and tense.
The researchers also decided that Jane had been "created" at least partially by their therapy sessions and that their patient would have a healthier life if Jane took over from the other two personalities. However, they did not think they had the right to "kill off" Eve White or Eve Black to do this.
Thigpen & Cleckley concluded that this was a genuine case of MPD. They admitted that it might be a hoax but argued that even a great actress could not have kept up the pretence for so long.
Other psychologists have different views. It is obvious from the case notes that the doctors favoured Eve Black, found her more attractive and even flirted with her. It's possible they encouraged the patient to act this way, without realising it. This would be a type of DEMAND CHARACTERISTICS.
The differences betwen the personalities' test scores were interesting and statistically significant, but can be explained by stress or the pressure of expectations. A handwriting expert looking at Eve White's first letter and decided that, though the writing style was different for Eve Black's footnote, it was clearly written by the same person!
In the 1970s, Christine Costner Sizemore announced to the world that she was "Eve" by publishing her book and letting herself be interviewed. She claimed that Thigpen & Cleckley had taken advantage of her, that she had not been "cured", but that she had learned to live with her personalities - all 20 of them!!!