The phenomenology and psychosocial conditions of the multiple personality syndrome are examined, and the problem that this syndrome seems to raise for the idea of a single self-conscious psychological subject is explored. Tracing the development of the disorder in a disturbed, emotionally repressive, and often violent family background, an explanation for this process is sought in terms of the cognitive effort involved in the achievement of self-identity. It is contended that, far from undermining a strong principle of the self-conscious psychological unity of the individual, this disorder provides a key to the understanding of that unity and the influences to which it is subject. © 1986.
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