Do Multiple Personality patients use more of their brain than us

Assuming us “normals” use 10-20% of their brain, wuld MPD patients use more? They have to keep track of their memories, and which personality knows what, and what individual charactorisitics they have. Does each personality have a different, seperate memory bank, or does the “Gatekeeper” tell each one what they know?

I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV but I pretend to be one to pick up chicks, so maybe my understanding isn’t complete. I always thought that we only used 10-20% of our brain at any given moment. Different ideas/activities stimulate different areas of the brain. So while we aren’t always using the whole brain we certainly end up using most of it.


well… if they had 3 personalities, and were in each one an equal amount of time, each would only have 1/3 of the memories of a normal person. They’re squeezing 3 people into 1 human lifespan, so each one would actually have less experience than 1 normal person. Hey, it could happen…

Hasn’t “multiple personality disorder” pretty much been dismissed as a lot of banana oil by now?

This is an urban myth; you use pretty much your entire brain. See Cecil’s comments here.

Eve is also correct in that “multiple personality disorder” is almost invariably the province of bad novelists, soap operas, and Hail Mary defenses in court. I do believe there are some well documented cases, but we’re talking about maybe a few dozen in the entire world, ever.

Not only do we use our whole brain, we are pretty good at reorganizing it if we need to.

[The following information is from an episode of Scientific American Frontiers with Alan Alda]

Researchers have realized that blind people convert the visual cortex area of the brain to other purposes. Particulary the sense of touch and to the reading of Braille. They demonstrate this by magnetically “stunning” the visual cortex of a blind man, and show that his ability to read Braille letters diminishes.

Then they take a young sighted woman, and blindfold her for a few days. During this time, they teach her how to read Braille. She gets pretty good at it. They “stun” her visual cortex, and she gets worse. The cortex “wakes up” and she gets better again. They take the blindfold off, she walks around looking at stuff. They test her Braille reading and it is back to what it was with the “stunned” visual cortex.

Moral of the story: not only are we using our whole brains, but our mental processes are in extreme competition for computation time. If one process stops being necessary, it’s resources are quickly co-opted by other processes.

[Moderator Hat ON]

This is more of a General Question than a Great Debate, since there probably are some statistical measures of diagnosed MPD’s brain activity as compared to “normal” humans. So I’m moving it there. Say hi to Manny and Chronos for me.

[Moderator Hat OFF]

In his book “Seeing Voices”, Oliver Sacks states that early deafened people often rewire their speech centers for visual rather than auditory processing.

I’m a newbie, but I figured that the idea would be worthy of debate. The person I was “discussing” this with certainately made it escalate into one. :slight_smile:

In asking my psych prof, she said that she hadn’t seen any reports or research on the subject, either.

After doing a 10 page research paper on the subject, I’ve ran across the idea that MPD might be bunk. Personally, I believe that even though it can be faked, I believe that there ARE people out there with the disorder.

Thanks for clearing up the 10-20% idea.

My friend came up with this:

**Well since the average person uses 5-6% of their brain throughout a normal life span (which is what? 80 or so years?) then I would say it would have to be a function.

Percent of brain used = 6% x (# of personalities)
*Assuming that it lasts for 80 years)

With this formula, if you are average and have 2 personalities you would use 12%. If you are average and have three personalities, you would have used 18%. So if you were average and had 16 and 1/3 personalities, you would use all 100%!! :slight_smile:

Or if you are a genius, who uses between 7 and 8 percent, it would take 12.5 personalities.

Probably a lot easier on your friends, if you were a genius! **

In which I replied:
How do you then account for the people with 100+ personalities? Or how about that different parts of the brain have different functions? For example, with the pituitary gland? Not all personalities are the same age or size or sex, but the PERSONALITIES are still in the same SHELL

Any comments on this?

I actually started a thread about whether MPD is real or not. I believe now it is call DID Dissociative Identiy Disorder.

I can’t find the thread but it is in there.

In it, most people said DID is a real disorder but rare and was WAY over diagnosed.

And I don’t know how accurate the concept of having more than one seperate and complete people in the same brain is. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist, but it seems that people with DID take one concept too far: Different reaction sets for different situations. For example, the policeman during a traffic stop is a paranoid, demanding asshole. That same person in a social environment could be the nicest man you could ever meet. Part of that is training: He’s been taught that the best way not to get shot is to act like a paranoid, demanding asshole. But part of it is a reaction set adapted to cope with an intensely stressful job: The next idiot you pull over for a missing tail light could be a speed freak with a kilo of crack and an illegal gun. Would you not get shot if you weren’t a paranoid, demanding asshole prepared for the worst?

Now, from what I know about DID, it is caused by severe mental stress and the mind’s attempts to cope with it. So the patient with DID does the same thing as the traffic cop: He develops different reaction sets for different situations. Of course, in DID it goes too far, leading to wildly varying reaction sets and blackouts when one reaction set comes into play. Normal people have reaction sets that are variations on a ‘baseline’ reaction set and they do not get the blackouts because they can switch reaction sets smoothly and consciously. From what I understand, DID patients have a damaged baseline and cannot switch reaction sets smoothly or consciously, leading to blackouts.

I hope to learn more here to supplement my woefully inadequate knowledge on this topic. The abovesaid are just my theories based on some casual research I’ve done on the topic (mental disorders of all kind interest me, especially ones as profound as DID). Blast away if you know more than me or have a better explanation of the disorder.

Pee Eve’s comment I think MPD has pretty much been relegated to the therapist induced “learned disorder” category for suggestible mental patients and psychiatric clients and is not a “real” physically manifested brain dysfunction but a volitional behavior by people wanting attention.

Aside from the “only use 10%” thing being bogus, Percent of brain used = 6% x (# of personalities) is definitely wrong. I don’t know what the numbers are, but I don’t think anywhere near all of your brain is responsible for personality-type stuff.

Even if you had different parts of your brain devoted to different personalities (which is not necessarily the case), the parts of your brain responsible for basic bodily functions, motor control, sensory input, low-level pattern recognition, etc. would not be duplicated for each personality.

We don’t use more of our brain.

Yes we do!