Multiple Personalities

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In Xenogears, the protagonist Fei suffers from a rare dissociative mental illness known as Multiple Personality Disorder. His character is inhabited by three personalities: "The Coward", "Fei" and the hyper-destructive persona "Id". When Fei was a child, his mother Karen's personality was altered by "Miang gene" that resides in all women, after he was suspected of being the primary Contact to the "Wave Existence". Karen forced him to undergo a long series of biological tests to confirm this status, in the process, subjecting him to excessive physical abuse. Unable to bear the pain of torture, Fei developed the alter-personality Id, to which he transferred all feelings of pain. As a result, his alter-ego Id, devoid love and happiness and knowing only pain, developed a destructive complex.

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Multiple Personalities and disassociative identities[1][2]

In 1930, "Sybil" Shirley Mason who lived in Minnesota was diagnosed as suffering from multiple personality disorder (MPD). She was apparently sexually and physically abused by her mother. Each time her mother abused her, she developed another personality to deal with the trauma. Each personality had a different name and character.

In the 1970s and 80s, the general adopted method of treating MPD was for the therapist to get to know each alter (short for alter personality) during the course of treatment. The therapist had to diagnose the severity of the disorder, as well as to find out how the disorder affects each patient: does the patient create a new alter to cope with the crisis or does the same alter used to cope with the crisis resurface when another crisis occurs. Therapists were to help the patient resolve their inner conflicts that led up to the creation of their alters. One of the methods of treatment involved hypnosis. The ultimate goal of therapy was "Integration", that is, to merge the different personalities together. This was a difficult task because patients often resist integration as they fear losing aspects of themselves.

In the 1980s, MPD clinics sprung up as the number of people diagnosed with MPD increased rapidly to the point where it was almost a phenomenom. People claimed that their disorders arose from childhood abuse.

Years later, some very same people who were diagnosed with the disorder claimed that their history of childhood abuse never existed, but rather, they were fake memories that were created during therapy. This became known as Forced Memory Syndrome. Memories are unreliable. It is difficult or even impossible to verify if "memories" are really memories. A critical backlash of MPD resulted and this led to the development of a conflicting school of thought: there are no such things as multiple personalities.

According to this new school of thought, the MPD clinics were unwittingly enforcing MPD rather treating them. In "treating" the patients, by cueing a patient to bring out their "personalities" during the treatment, it was possibly inducing the development of alters. What patients were actually suffering from is now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder. Patients believe they have multiple personalities, and because of this, they build identities on top of their original personality which take off from that belief. The "multiple personalities" are really one personality — a personality that has been split, usually due to some traumatic event in the person's childhood, with different aspects of the personality used to deal with certain situations. Symptoms of this disorder include time-loss, alternative states of consciousness, low esteem etc. Alters built to deal with trauma/crisis are often violent and tend to have more complete memories while passive identities tend to have more restricted memories.

A Brief Analysis of the Coward, Id and Fei

In Xenogears, although Fei's condition is classified as MPD, it is more of a combination of both the concepts of MPD and DID.[3] The "Coward" is the original personality and "Id" is the persona that split from the original personality to deal with his torture. As the hostile aspect, "Id" is completely aware of his past and retains all memories of his childhood. "Id" is therefore a disassociative personality. "Id" despises the "Coward" for transferring all pain to him. The "Coward" is trapped in his own childhood memories, unwilling to face up to reality.

The personality "Fei" on the other hand, was artificially created to cover up his past and to keep "Id" dormant. "Fei" had only had memories dating back three years up and has no knowledge of his other identities. Because of his inability to recollect his childhood, his character is much more stronger than that of the "Coward" and is thus able to suppress the emergence of "Id" except in times of extreme stress. Later in the game, when the three personalities finally merge into one, that could be likened to the Integration process used to treat MPD as mentioned earlier.

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References

  1. Mistaken Identity - BBC Online
  2. Disassociation.com
  3. At least in this author's opinion. —Terra
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