How Multiple Personality Disorders Affect the Brain

Multiple personalities: Each I has its own brain connections

So-called multiple personalities have two or more identities, between which they often switch back and forth in an uncontrolled manner. The background to this mental illness, which is often mistakenly equated with schizophrenia, is often a traumatic experience. By building a second personality, can patients gain distance from what they have experienced? as if the terrible event had happened not to them but to someone else.

This second personality can also be found in the brain structure, as Simone Reinders from the University of Groningen and her colleagues were able to demonstrate. The scientists had read autobiographical stories to eleven patients about the traumatic experience they had suffered.

If the patients were in their first personality state, the brain areas responsible for emotions became active. On the other hand, did the second ego have the upper hand, did they no longer experience what they had heard as themselves and completely different brain regions became active? including areas that play a role in building a person's self-image. For Reinders and her colleagues, the results clearly indicate that the multiple personality disorder goes very deep and that people with this disorder don't just quickly switch back and forth between different moods.

January 10, 2004