Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) wasfirst recognized and described by the French physician Pierre Janet in the late 19th century. The disorder is a very rare psychological disorder in which a person has two or more distinct personalities, each one with its own thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behaviour. The personalities are often direct opposites and dominate at different times, with abrupt changes triggered by events or memories. The cause of MPD is not clearly understood, but the condition seems to be associated with severe physical abuse and neglect in childhood. MPD often occurs in childhood, but may not be recognized until much later. It has two main causes. Thefirst is a capacity for profound dissociated; in fact, MPD patients tend to be hypnotizable. The second is a history of childhood trauma, mostly a combination of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. An MPD patient is very much in touch with reality. However, if the patient does not want to face reality, they can escape that through dissociation, 1 in which the "host" (the original personality- see glossary for more details) is able to avoid experiencing or dealing with an intolerable episode by turning it over to an alter (an alternate personality- #see glossary for more details) who lives through those experiences instead of the "host". Dissociation might initially have been used as a defense against what the patient found to be trauma or abuse.

A large majority of MPD patients report a history of abuse, and a majority of those report instances of incest. Also, another frequently reported trauma is witnessing a violent death. At least three-quarters of known cases of MPD report personalities that are under the age of twelve.

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Alters tend to come out when the "host" cannot deal with memories or thoughts associated with the abuse earlier on in his or her life. The number of alters that an MPD patient has ranges anywhe…

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