Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the Dissociative Identity Disorder, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

The book, “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, was written by Robert Louis Stevenson. One of the major themes of this book is the duality of human nature.  The duality of human nature is shown during the revelation that Mr. Hyde is actually Dr. Jekyll.  Mr. Hyde is an altered version of Dr. Jekyll’s evil persona.  This revelation does not occur until the conclusion of the book in the final chapter.  Throughout the book, and before the revelation, you read and imagine Mr. Hyde’s cruel and violent behavior in contrast to Dr. Jekyll’s peaceful and kind nature. The character, Mr. Utterson tries to discover who M. Hyde is and finds Mr. Hyde somehow linked to his friend, Dr. Jekyll, through a piece of paper.  As Mr. Utterson investigates and looks deeper into the link, he discovers something unimaginable.  M. Utterson is astonished to find out that Hyde and Jekyll are the same person and cannot understand the remarkable difference in behavior.  (Gradesaver, 2011)  The theme of this book, therefore, ties into the current psychological term, Dissociate Identity Disorder (DID).  DID is a psychological illness in which a person experiences at least two obvious identities or personalities.  This disease was formerly referred to as multiple personality disorder (MRD) or split personality disorder.  (Medicinenet.com)  The etiology, or origin, of the disease is a controversial issue.  Lilienfield (et al., 1996), indicates that DID is “an etiologically distinct condition that is best conceptualized as a defensive response to childhood trauma, particularly severe sexual and physical abuse”.  Some psychologists believe that DID is a form of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that individuals “compartmentalize” their experience into alternate personalities in order to deal with the trauma they have experienced. (Lilienfield et al., 1999)  “The identities may develop in number, complexity, and sense of separateness as the child proceeds through latency, adolescence, and adulthood.  DID develops during the course of childhood and rarely, if ever, derives from adult-onset trauma (unless it is superimposed on preexisting childhood trauma and preexisting latent or dormant fragmentation) (International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (2011)”.  Statistics for this disorder have also shown DID to be in about 3% of the patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals and have indicated the disorder to occur in females nine times more often than males. (Medicinenet.com, 2011)

The book, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde relates to the Dissociate Identity Disorder (DID) for the mere fact that the book was based on one person who personified two different people.  One of the main themes of this book also deals multiple personality disorder represented by Dr. Jekyll.  In fact, in scientific literature and in everyday life, the names, “Dr. Jekyll” and “Mr. Hyde” have become common usage for a split personality.  There are even Halloween costumes used in today’s culture with Dr. Jekyll on one side of the face and Mr. Hyde on the other.

As mentioned previously, recent research conducted on DID have been indicated that multiple personality disorders are rare in men, with more diagnoses occurring in female.  In addition, it has been previously noted that DID has also been linked to trauma experienced in childhood.  In the book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, however, we see an adult male, Dr. Jekyll, and an association with another persona, Mr. Hyde, through the ingestion of a scientific homemade potion. We can therefore infer that Dr. Jekyll’s is suffering from some sort of substance dependence that is leading to his suffering of a Dissociative Identity Disorder.  “Personas suffering from Dissociate Identity Disorder often seek treatment for a variety of other problems including depression, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, alcohol or drug abuse (Steinberg, 2011)”.

According to Altschular and Wright (2000), the diagnosis of substance dependence has to meet at least three of seven different criteria within a one year period.  In the book, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll meets six of the criteria.  For instance, one of the criteria is tolerance.  In the book, Jekyll needs to double the amount used. In addition, we see that Jekyll goes through withdraw and the need to control his abuse of his potion and we see him refrain from taking the potion for two months, but can no longer go without it and “falls off the wagon”.   Furthermore, we can infer that Dr. Jekyll has a DID disorder as well, as he comes to terms with the fact that he is making others suffer through bringing Hyde into their world from his substance dependence problem. (Stevenson, 1994).   In addition to the substance criteria, Jekyll seems to fit the diagnostic criteria for DID.  The diagnostic criteria for DID per the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (2011) lists the criteria as the following: the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states, at least two of these identities or personality states recurrently taking control of the individual’s behavior, the inability to recall important personal information, and blackouts or chaotic behavior during intoxication with alcohol.  In the book, Dr. Jekyll is a single person experiencing himself as having a separate alternative identity.  We also see how Dr. Hyde takes an affirmative control over Jekyll’s body and influences his behavior after the consumption of the potion.  This alternate identity makes a diagnosis of individual with DID.

The treatment for an individual diagnosed with DID is termed “Integrated functioning”.   (International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, 2011)  The DID patient is treated with respect that they are one individual person carrying identities that share the responsibility in their everyday life.  It has also been recognized that most DID patient each have a distinct identity in which they term their “own” first person. The switch in personality usually occurs with a change in their emotional state.  The switch in personalities, in these patients, make their therapy challenging as the therapist must tend to each of their personalities point of view.  “Helping the identities to be aware of one another as legitimate parts of the self and to negotiate and resolve their conflicts is at the very core of the therapeutic process (International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, 2011)”.  The therapist tries to understand each of the personalities in order to heal the underlying problem. Therefore, it is “countertherapeutic” to try and ignore any of the identities that exist in a DID patient.  In addition, a therapist needs to treat each identity equally, with no one personality more real or important than the other.    The final treatment phase for a DID patient is the final fusion, which is the “complete integration, merger, and loss of separateness-of all identity states (International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, 2011)” It has been noted, however, that even after the final fusion in therapy with DID patients has been completed, that some patients can never fully achieve the final fusion and can never see the final fusion as something they want to do.  Many factors can cause this unwillingness, all stemming from stress and the traumatic experiences that they have faced.  In addition, some patients do not have the finances to continue treatment or have too much of their identity invested in the alternate identity to want to change.  An alternative treatment to these types of patient is a longer term management of their identities.  Therapist can work with DID individuals to arrange their identities in a manner which they can function day to day.  (International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, 2011)

There are current and changing practices for psychotherapist’s role in helping individuals with DID.  Knowledge that some individuals had different personalities has been evident for a long time and was written more than 100 years ago, such as in the book, .The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Current guidelines and continued therapy of individuals diagnosed with DID is important and should continue in order to help those who have developed a dissociative disorder.

References

Gradesaver.com. 2011. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Themes by Robert Louis Stevenson. Retrieved on December 9, 2011 from: http://www.gradesaver.com/dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde/study-guide/major-themes/

International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. 2011.  Guidelines for Treating Dissociative Identity.  Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 12:188-212.

Lilienfeld, S.O. et al 1999. Dissociative Identity Disorder and the Sociocognitive Model: Recalling the Lessons of the Past. Psychological Bulletin. 125(5):507-523.

Medicine Net. 2011. Dissociative Identity Disorder.  Retrieved on December 9, 2011 from: http://www.medicinenet.com/dissociative_identity_disorder/article.htm

Steinburg, M. M.D., 2008.  In-Depth: Understanding Dissociative Disorders.  Psychcentral.com. Retrieved on December 10, 2011 from: http://psychcentral.com/lib/2008/in-depth-understanding-dissociative-disorders/all/1/

Stevenson, R.  1991. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Dover Thrift Editions) [Paperback] Black Readers Service Company, Roslyn, NY.

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