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How many people live in your head?
Before you hurry to prove your sanity by answering, “One,” take moment to consider the potential “guests” in all of our heads from time to time.
Let me explain.
The Minds of Billy Milligan, by Daniel Keyes tells the story (the true story) of Billy Milligan, the first person in the history of psychology who had multiple personality disorder and used it as a defense to get acquitted of grievous crimes. His attorneys were able to prove it was Billy’s two alternative personalities, not him, who committed the crimes.
Billy Milligan apparently had 24 alternative personalities in his head. Ten of them were core.
Having found out recently that Leonardo DiCaprio is going to play all 24 personalities of Billy Milligan in The Crowded Room, I wondered if there are more of us with alternative personas in our heads too.
I don’t mean mental illness here, but just inner helpers who let us dream, work, create, improve the world around us, inspire and help others.
Stop for a minute and try to imagine your personalities. How many of them would you have? Would they have names? What are their characters, and what do they do for you?
Mine are the following:
(None of them has a name, but I think it’s okay anyway.)
1. A grumpy cat—oops, lady—who delivers sermons.
2. A snickerpuss.
3. A loner.
4. A grammar nazi.
5. A tomboy.
6. A bookworm.
7. A fashionista.
8. A woman with RBF.
9. A coffee addict.
10. An adventurer.
Each of them comes out from time to time, overshadowing others and considering herself the best and most important one. I do not consider it anything bad or negative unless this personality depresses others. All 10 are parts of me, and I would not be me if I did not have a little of all of them.
Alphonse Karr said,
“Every person has three characters: that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.”
Do we know who we are? What is the real you? Who is your character? And, more importantly, are there any correct and exact answers to all these questions?
People are not blank pages. Very often it’s hard to read a person, and that’s the reason for many problems and misunderstandings we have.
The phenomenon of multiple personality, if we consider it in different way, gives us a chance to think about our inner world from a new perspective, asking ourselves many new and fascinating questions:
>Are we all MPs?
>What if one alternative personality in our head influences actions of others? Can we do anything with that?
>Should we try to repress one personality if other personalities consider its behavior undesirable?
>Should we be responsible for actions of other personalities? For example, could my grumpy lady be responsible for those five cups of coffee my coffee addict decides to drink daily?
I believe we all can come up with many interesting questions to dig deeper into our personalities and learn to understand ourselves better.
Of course, MP is a mental disorder, and we should not think of it as anything funny or entertaining, but I do believe this phenomenon can help us take a look at our characters from another angle. It allows us to considering our personas as small parts of a puzzle which, when gathered, show us a completed picture of our personality.
If we lose a puzzle piece, the whole puzzle becomes incomplete. So, therefore, if we repress parts of ourselves, do we become incomplete too?
Each of my personalities complements others, making me the whole person that I am.
What does having 10 people in my head make me?
A grumpy lady makes me thrifty, moral, clear-sighted, conservative, suspicious, serious and honest.
A snickerpuss makes me sincere, naive, open-minded, charismatic, playful, unselfish, easygoing and cheerful.
A loner makes me attentive, caring, melancholic, careful, ever-bus and quiet.
A grammar nazi makes me authoritative, intellectual, literate, vigilant and scrupulous.
A tomboy makes me cheerful, natural, friendly, teasing, mischievous and kind.
A book warm makes me literate, inspired, observant, prudent and wise.
A fashionista makes me artistic, feminine, charming, playful, and cute.
A woman with RBF makes me capricious, independent, emotional, bitchy, persistent, outspoken, and maybe (okay, let’s be honest) a bit bitchy.
A coffee addict makes me romantic, creative, dreamy, thoughtful and warm-hearted.
An adventurer makes me active, fearless, communicative, self-supporting, curious, adventurous (you don’t say!) and unpretentious in everyday life.
As we can see below, Billy Milligan’s personalities were completely different. And in his case, because of his mental illness, he got lost in them.
How many personas do you have?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Author: Lesley Vos
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Ally Aubry /Flickr