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Why We Reject the Label MPD

Multiplicity as been recorded by doctors for centuries. To my knowledge the first recorded case of it was in France in 1889. Over the years it has been called many things as the medical and psychiatric community tried to label and pigeonhole it. The reality is we as a society like to categorise things, and put labels on them. Multiplicity because it was seen as outside the norm had to be labelled a disease, and later a disorder. People needed to find a way to understand it, and feel comfortable with its existence. Thus the label of disorder gave them a sense of security, multiplicity was wrong, it was a sign of something abnormal happening with someone's mind. And that allowed others to feel comfortable, and in many cases superior.

Of all the labels placed on multiplicity it is Multiple Personality Disorder that has made the biggest impact. I believe this is because we are bombarded with images of sick people that are not in control over their own lives. Movies like Sybil showed multiples in conflict with each other, that they could not function and lived miserable lives. These people were definitely disordered Such images of mental and emotional breakdown allowed others to watch with morbid fascination and pity. Poor sick woman I hope she can get cured of this disorder. And there was always the cure, the end of the movie where integration came and the woman was saved and brought back into society as normal. Under this description it is no wonder people see multiplicity as an illness, for that is how it has always been presented. The label made by doctors that felt they needed to classify something outside of their understanding has been perpetuated by the entertainment industry.

In recent years the doctors and psychiatrists responsible for the diagnostical manual decided unilaterally to change the name of Multiple Personality Disorder to Dissociative Identity Disorder. Their belief was that it would take the focus off, what they saw as, the false belief that there was actually more than one person in the body. It was their belief that there was only one identity but it had become dissociated from itself. This change has not really taken hold over many people. Part of that reason, I believe, is that Dissociative Identity Disorder doesn't have the same "WOW" effect as Multiple Personality Disorder. When people hear it they do not feel the same fascination. I also think that the psychiatric profession left this change too late, that they have lost a lot of the power they used to hold over the multiple community. The time when professionals were seen as Gods is being to die, and multiples are starting to define their own reality.

It is my belief that this is why they have defined multiplicity as a disorder and mental illness. It was meant to subjugate people, to rob them of their power. Mental illness labels have always achieved that. In New Zealand, at least, it is very hard to force someone to receive treatment of any other type of illness, but if they are declared mentality ill they can be forced under the Mental Health Act to comply with any treatment the doctors deem necessary. You are deemed unable to make decisions for yourself. Many times when we complained about our treatment within this system we were told we were wrong, that we had over-reacted, misunderstood because we were sick. Therefore by labelling multiplicity as a disorder the reality of more than one inhabiting a body becomes nothing more than a delusion of a sick mind, you don't have to accept it, you don't have to acknowledge, all you have to do is treat it.

Once you take the concept of multiplicity being a disorder out of the equation you are left with the simple fact that you share a body with others. It stops being something bad, it isn't necessary something good, it just is. Then multiplicity is just another aspect of the person I am. No different than my gender, my nationality, my appearance. I am many things and multiplicity is one of them. I do not need it officially recognised. I do not have to fit some predetermined criteria to be acknowledged. When multiplicity is seen as a simple fact of someone's life it allows them to express themselves as they wish. If part of that is their wish to change the way they operate, to work on their life it doesn't exclude that. I am not saying that being multiple is perfect, nor without problems. But it is not a disorder. There can be disordered multiplicity, just as anyone can have a disordered life. But that is how it operates, how a person deals with it rather than the situation itself. In many ways removing the label of multiple personality disorder from multiplicity you are opening yourselves up to more opportunities to work on yourselves as people, develop the skills you need to live a life that suits all, rather than narrowing your view to only specified options.

Lately I have noticed a move away from the term multiplicity, where many are now using the term plural. I think this is a good idea, as it removes all associations with the diagnostical label. Many see multiplicity and multiple are just shorter versions of Multiple Personality Disorder and by calling it plural or plurality it separates you totally for the implications of the disordered approach. Personally we are sticking with multiplicity, simply because plural doesn't feel right in our mouth, rather than any objects to that term. But regardless of what term people decide to use it is the belief that we are not disordered, that we do not want to be confined to the image of sick and delusional person. We gain our freedom, our rights for respect and self-determination by refusing to allow someone to label who we are in terms of illness.