You know why I’m posting this? Because I will never forget the mere 5 minutes or so Dissociative Identity Disorder was covered when I was getting my psychology degree. Right at the end of this incredibly minor discussion, the professor briefly mentioned some of the stranger aspects of the phenomenon, then just instantly skipped to the next thing as if she’d said absolutely nothing. So utterly WTF and intentional. Let’s just, pretend the bizarre and undeniable strangeness of the human imagination doesn’t exist so we can continue to maintain the illusion that we know what we’re talking about. Okay then.
I’m also bringing this up for another more specific reason though, which would have to do with something I channeled publicly a few years back. I was told that studying the neurology of people with mental illnesses would essentially prove the receiver model of consciousness to be valid. And here we are not long after, with an article that’s certainly sniffing around the concept in Scientific American by the always excellent Bernardo Kastrup. Read on true believers
In 2015, doctors in Germany reported the extraordinary case of a woman who suffered from what has traditionally been called “multiple personality disorder” and today is known as “dissociative identity disorder” (DID). The woman exhibited a variety of dissociated personalities (“alters”), some of which claimed to be blind. Using EEGs, the doctors were able to ascertain that the brain activity normally associated with sight wasn’t present while a blind alter was in control of the woman’s body, even though her eyes were open. Remarkably, when a sighted alter assumed control, the usual brain activity returned.
This was a compelling demonstration of the literally blinding power of extreme forms of dissociation, a condition in which the psyche gives rise to multiple, operationally separate centers of consciousness, each with its own private inner life.
Modern neuroimaging techniques have demonstrated that DID is real: in a 2014 study, doctors performed functional brain scans on both DID patients and actors simulating DID. The scans of the actual patients displayed clear differences when compared to those of the actors, showing that dissociation has an identifiable neural activity fingerprint. In other words, there is something rather particular that dissociative processes look like in the brain.
There is also compelling clinical data showing that different alters can be concurrently conscious and see themselves as distinct identities. One of us has written an extensive treatment of evidence for this distinctness of identity and the complex forms of interactive memory that accompany it, particularly in those extreme cases of DID that are usually referred to as multiple personality disorder.
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