Course: PSYC*1000 (DE)
Professor: Harvey Marmurek
Schedule: Summer, 2012
Textbook: Psychology – Tenth Edition in Modules authored by David G. Myers
Textbook ISBN: 9781464102615
Module 51: Dissociative, Personality, and Eating Disorders
What are dissociative disorders, and why are they controversial?
Rare; disorders of consciousness, experiencing a sudden loss of memory or change in identity; dissociation itself is
not so rare
Dissociative Identity Disorder: a massive dissociation of self from ordinary consciousness characterized
those with DID, in which two or more distinct identities are said to alternately control the person’s behaviour. Each
personality has its own voice and mannerisms. This, the person may be prim and proper one moment, loud and
flirtatious the next. Typically, the original personality denies any awareness of the others. Formerly called multiple
personality disorder; not usually violent, can be good/bad like Jekyll and Hyde
Understanding DID: Spanos, hypnotic treatment. Most DID patients are highly hypnotizable, whatever
explains one condition – dissociation or role playing – may help explain the other. Between 1930 and 1960, number
of DID diagnoses in North America was two per decade. In 1980s (DSM) – 20,000+. Average from 3-12 per patient.
Rather than being provoked by trauma, dissociative symptoms tend to be exhibited by suggestible, fantasy-pron e
people. Other researchers believe DID is a real disorder. They find support for this view in the distinct brain and
body states associated with differing personalities (handedness, shifting visual acuity, eye-muscle balance).
Dissociative disorder patients also have exhibited heightened activity in brain areas associated with the control and
inhibition of traumatic memories. Interpreted DID symptoms from psychodynamic and learning perspectives. Both
views agree that the symptoms are ways of dealing with anxiety. Psychodynamic theorists see them as defences
against the anxiety caused bythe eruption of unacceptable impulses; a wanton second personality enables the
discharge of forbidden impulses. Learning theorists see dissociative disorders as behaviours reinforced by anxiety
reduction. Other clinicians include dissociative disorders under the umbrella of PTSD – a natural, protective
response to ‘histories of childhood trauma’. On one side are those who believe multiple personalities are the
desperate efforts of the traumatized to detach from a horrific existence. On the other tare the sceptics who think DID
is a condition contrived by fantasy-prone, emotionally vulnerable people, and constructed out of the therapist-patient
The psychodynamic and learning perspectives agree that dissociative identity disorder symptoms are ways of
dealing with anxiety. How do their explanations differ?
The psychodynamic explanation of DID symptoms is that they are defences against anxiety generated by
unacceptable urges. The learning perspective attempts to explain these symptoms as behaviours that have been
reinforced by relieving anxiety in the past.
What are the three clusters of personality disorders? What behaviours and brain activity characterize the antisocial
Personality disorders are disruptive, inflexible, and enduring behaviour patterns that impair one’s social functioning.
Anxiety is a feature of one cluster of these disorders, such as a fearful sensitivity to rejection that predisposes the
withdrawn avoidant personality disorder. A second cluster expresses eccentric or odd behaviours, such as the
emotionless disengagement of the schizoid personality disorder. A third cluster exhibits dramatic or impulsive
behaviours, such as the attention-getting histrionic personality disorder and the self-focused and self-inflating
narcissistic personality disorder.
Antisocial Personality Disorder: the person (sometimes called a sociopath or a psychopath) is typically a
male whose lack of conscience becomes plain before age 15, as he begins to lie, steal, fight, or display unrestrained
sexual behaviour. About half of such children become antisocial adults – unable to keep a job, irresponsible as a spouse and parent, an assaultive or otherwise criminal. Henry Lee Lucas, killed when he was 13, confessed 32
years of crime – 360 people.
Understanding Antisocial Personality Disorder: woven of both biological and psychological strands. No
single gene codes. Molecular geneticists have identified some specific genes that are more in common with
antisocial personality disorder. Awaiting aversive events, such as electric shocks or loud noises, they show little
autonomic nervous system arousal. 3-year-olds who are slow to develop conditioned fears are later more likely to
commit a crime. Preschool boys who later became aggressive or antisocial teens tended to be impulsive,
uninhibited and unconcerned with social rewards, and low in anxiety. Raine compared PET scans of murder’s
brains – reduced activity in the frontal lobes; some had 11% less frontal lobe tissue than normal. Biosocial group
whose lives were marked by boh the biological and social risk factors. Two combined factors – childhood
maltreatment and a gene that altered neurotransmitter balance – predicted antisocial problems. Shown emotionally
evocative photos such as a a man holding a knife to a woman’s throat, they display blunted heart rate and
perspiration responses, and less activity in brain areas that typically respond to emotional stimuli, also display a