personality cases (Rieber 1998).While admitting the unwitting collaboration between patient and therapist has much to dowith the number and nature of the multiple personality, Hacking fails to see the significance of the reversal in the two characters in the classic 19th century case of Louis Vivet, as described byBourru and Burot (1885, 1886). The 'normal' person was the criminal type and therefore wouldnot count as the 'normal state' while the condition of the second person was docile and pious, etc.Clearly this is not an accidental reversal of a typical case, as that in the
book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
, rather it is much more typical of a psychopathic malingerer. To make things even worse,the use of Prince’s Beauchamp case suggests that Hacking failed to read Prince’s book carefully.If Hacking had understood what Prince had to say, he would know that Morton Prince’s handlingof this famous case was not 'monkey business' as were most of those Hacking discussed.Finally, we must take serious issue with Hacking’s discussion of Humphrey and Dennet(1989) and Braude (1991). Hacking argues his position as follows:
He contends that the very phenomenon of a multiple personality demand a unity under the multiplicity. Starting with almost exactly the same suppositions as Ribot, he concludesthat there must be a transcendental ego. Who is right, Ribot or Braude? One possibility isthat one of the two men is right. The other is that both are wrong, no conclusions about the self can be derived from the phenomena of multiple personality. I take the later view.
If we understand Hacking correctly, he totally disbelieves that the study of the abnormalthrows some light on the normal and vice versa. Such a conclusion seems a superficialconclusion at best. Just because there have been so many historical misrepresentations of thediagnosis of DID in the literature, it does not warrant the conclusion that nothing can be learnedfrom DID regarding the nature of the mind. Surely if one accurately understood the'doubleganger' clinically in the history of Dissociative Disorders, there is much to be learnedabout this important human capacity of dissociation in terms of how it has both creative anddestructive potential in human consciousness and mentation (Rieber, 1997).
Personal account of my involvement in the Sybil case
Sometime during the fall of 1972 Flora Rheta Schreiber, who at that point was a colleague of mine at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was discussing with me her book
. Flora wasmost anxious to have the Sybil case written up in a legitimate scientific journal and was quitefrustrated because the paper she and Dr. Cornelia Wilbur had prepared for that purpose had beenturned down on several occasions. Flora knew I was doing research on the language of thementally ill at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. With this in mind, she handed me a bagof cassette tape recordings that she described as 'good material for you to do a study on'. Iremember having played one or two of the tapes to test the amount of background noise that was present in the recordings and abandoned the project because the tapes were too noisy. Our studyhad to do with 'pause time' and 'phonation time' in the dialogue of conversation. I believe Flora’smotivation in giving me the tapes was to obtain scientific publication in a good journal in order to support the legitimacy of the Sybil case. I stashed away the tapes in one of my desk drawersfor many years and believe I must have thrown a number of the tapes out because they were outof their cassette box and I assumed they were not worth keeping for re-use.