MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER
Ralph B. Allison,M.D.
Published in the American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry,
Anyone of you may become involved in a forensic case where the
question may be, "Does the defendant have Multiple Personality
Disorder (MPD)?" My most recent case is an illustration of how
five different doctors were pulled into this one case, each one
having a different point of view.
The business office of a major California corporation
discovered that some employee was forging vouchers for payment
of inservice training to a California company, but inserting an
address which was out-of-state. Security officers discovered
that the address was that of the sister of one of their
employees, Mrs. X, who had the duty to create such vouchers.
When called in for questioning, she denied any knowledge of the
matter, but admitted that the evidence pointed straight to her.
After the meeting, she told her supervisor that she was sure
she would lose her job and family and go to jail. He drove her
home and reassured her that she had not been fired.
She came back to work the following morning as usual. Shortly
after her arrival, the security officer's office received a call
from what may have been an alter-personality of hers saying,
"Mrs. X did it but Miss Betty made her do it." An hour later,
Mrs. X became upset about another missing voucher, fainted and
started talking in another voice. This voice said, "I've got
you, you bastard; I'm going to get even with you; I told you
so." She went on like that, writhing on the floor like a cat
while an ambulance was called. The paramedics took her to a
hospital emergency room, where the doctor called for a
psychotherapist, whom I will call Dr. #1.
Dr. #1 reported talking to three different personalities. The
only psychological test he gave was the MMPI, which showed no
evidence of dissociative disorder or hysteria, but indicated
possible psychosis. He was convinced that she had MPD and
learned that one of the alter-personalities, Miss Betty, had
forged the vouchers in question.
Four weeks after her last day at work, Dr. #2, the company
medical director, sent a letter to Dr. #3, a private psychiatric
consultant. Dr.#2's letter stated, "a company security
investigator met with Mrs. X to confront her with evidence that
she had defrauded the company of $10,000. Mrs. X was given
overnight to think about what she wanted to do, such as resign,
return the money, prove innocence, etc.... Is she disabled, or
is this as unreal as it seems?"
There are several falsehoods in this letter, which we could
assume Dr. #3 would take as authoritative. First, she had not
succeeded in cashing any of the false vouchers, so she had not
defrauded the company of any money and had none to pay back.
Secondly, she had never been given an ultimatum by anyone,
according to written statements by the investigators and her
supervisor. The tone of the letter makes it clear that the
company's medical director wanted the psychiatric consultant to
say that she was malingering. He clearly was not interested in
an impartial professional opinion.
Dr. #3, the psychiatric consultant, saw her and considered her
disabled but not multiple. He felt that her story was
"inconsistent with the typical case histories of true multiple
personalities." That may sound scientific but those with
extensive experience with multiples repeatedly say that there is
no "typical multiple" against which to measure all others.
However, he did not call her a malingerer, either.
Eight months after leaving work, Mrs. X was seen on referral by
Dr. #1 by Dr. #4, a professor of psychiatry in a medical school,
who was experienced in using hypnosis and treating multiples.
He supported Dr. #1's diagnosis of MPD and reported finding
evidence of six alter-personalities. His version of the crime
was that "Betty came out and erased material on the computer in
anger and then altered one of the accounts." This is not what
really happened, and it is unknown where he got this alleged
information. Also, he only interviewed the patient and secured
no tests of any type.
Mrs. X was fired when a handwriting expert concluded that she
had written the signatures on all of the vouchers in question.
Three years later she wanted to go back to work,
claiming that her MPD had been cured in therapy with Dr. #1. He
was very much on her side and berated company personnel for
treating his patient so rudely. The union representative had
become involved and had arranged for a hearing with a labor
arbitrator. Dr. #3 had continued to see her for evaluations and
still considered her a non-multiple but suffering from numerous
So three years after the case started, Dr. #5, yours truly,
became involved at the request of the company's attorney, who
was preparing for the arbitration hearing. I read all of the
documents, which included detailed reports by every company
member involved and reports by all the doctors. The attorney's
first request was for me to tell him whether or not Mrs. X had
suffered from MPD three years ago. I found that to be
We then discussed how the attorney could cope with the case
most appropriately. He finally decided to use the same method
used in a bifurcated criminal trial. The first hearing would
deal strictly with the alleged misdeed of forging vouchers. The
second hearing would deal with her alleged illness and her
recovery from it.
Fortunately for all doctors involved, Mrs. X's husband died
shortly before the first hearing was scheduled, and she decided
to cancel the hearing. She accepted a small amount of money
from the company in exchange for an agreement never to return to
work for that company.