Could Multiple Personality Disorder Explain Life, the Universe, and Everything?

Robert Stern


Authors Bernardo Kastrup, Adam Crabtree, and Edward Kelly posed the above question as the title to their June 18, 2018, online article on multiple personality disorder (MPD), suggesting that MPD (now known as dissociative identity disorder [DID]) “might help us understand the fundamental nature of reality.”1 To prove the reality of MPD, they presented a case study of a woman with ten personalities, some of whom were blind and some of whom could see.2 As further proof of the reality of MPD, they cited a brain imaging study purporting to show that MPD/DID patients had different patterns of blood flow during “emotional” and “resting” states when compared to healthy controls.3 Things went downhill from there.

Making the illogical leap into New Age philosophy, they went on to write that the above-mentioned patient’s hysterical blindness was “a compelling demonstration of the literally blinding power of extreme forms of dissociation which gives rise to multiple, operationally separate centers of consciousness, each with its own private inner life,” and from there they argued that “this has important implications for our views about what is and is not possible in nature.” It wasn’t long before quantum physics and consciousness were tossed in, along with “constitutive panpsychism,” “cosmopsychism,” “idealism,” and universal consciousness, resulting in several paragraphs that could only be described as incomprehensible, although the term word salad had been suggested.

Normally, articles of this sort—Chopra-esque—are ignored by anyone with more than a freshman’s knowledge of either physics, philosophy, or psychology. However, this blog was published on the website of Scientific American(!), so a response is required. First, to the authors’ proof of MPD:

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