November 28, 2015

"The blind woman who switched personalities and could suddenly see."

The Washington Post recounts the case history of a woman who was "diagnosed her with cortical blindness, caused by damage to the visual processing centers in her brain," got used to living as a blind person, but supposedly had "more than 10 wildly different personalities that competed for control of her body."
Then, four years into psychotherapy... while in one of her adolescent male states, B.T. saw a word on the cover of a magazine. It was the first word she had read visually in 17 years. At first, B.T.’s renewed sight was restricted to recognizing whole words in that one identity. If asked, she couldn’t even see the individual letters that made up the words, just the words themselves. But it gradually expanded, first to higher-order visual processes (like reading), then to lower-level ones (like recognizing patterns) until most of her personalities were able to see most of the time. When B.T. alternated between sighted and sightless personalities, her vision switched as well....
If you're like me, you're thinking didn't we learn a while back that this multiple personality business is fake? The key evidence this article presents is the EEG test: "When B.T. was in her two blind states, her brain showed none of the electrical responses to visual stimuli that sighted people would display — even though B.T.’s eyes were open and she was looking right at them."
Though DID [dissociative identity disorder] has been listed in... the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, since 1994 (and was recognized as “multiple personality disorder” for a decade and a half before that), there is still a large amount of skepticism about the diagnosis among experts and patients alike... The case study shows that DID “is a legitimate psycho-physiologically based syndrome of psychological distress,” Dr. Richard P. Kluft, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Temple University School of Medicine not associated with the study, told Brain Decoder. The condition is not just a product of culture and psychiatrists’ suggestions, he said; as in B.T.’s case, it “represents the mind’s attempt to compartmentalize its pain.”

14 comments:

tim maguire said...

Count me among those who always thought it was bunk. Which makes this really interesting.

Bob Boyd said...

"The condition is not just a product of culture"

Unlike the patient's sex and race.

SJ said...

I imagine that DID (formerly known as multiple-personality-disorder) is the kind of thing that can happen to some people...

But it also easy to misapply that diagnosis to people who are suffering from something else.

It's also easy to misapply that diagnosis to people who feel they are suffering from lack of attention from friends/family.

MadisonMan said...

I'm in Tim Maguire's camp, so this EEG evidence is compelling. I suppose you could train your eyes not to process things -- maybe -- but still, this is fascinating.

traditionalguy said...

Interesting study. They seem to be saying that While ten different persons compete for control within her soul, one or two of the ten seem to dominate over the others.

That raises an important question. Can the intitutions call her/them abnormal? Or must they let them dominate the rest of us too and build each of the ten a separate bathroom and assign them for ten different sex change surgeries.

Lonetown said...

Munchhausen by pseudoproxy?

robother said...

"I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see."

Char Char Binks said...

Women will do almost anything for attention.

Anonymous said...

Is Ms. Althouse signaling that she is now aware of her own selective blindness?
Think I'll check the graphics positioning on Drudge for a clue.

Michael K said...

Hysterical blindness is interesting. People with diplopia from esotropia (Cross eyed) suppress one image. That is why kids need to have one eye patched until they have surgery for eso- or exotropia.

You switch the eye being patched until the surgery.

chuck said...

> “represents the mind’s attempt to compartmentalize its pain.”

He's not helping.

virgil xenophon said...

One of my good friends had a second wife who had this disorder. I had known her for approx a year and a half as an utterly delightful person until one night while at one of our favorite watering holes I passed by her and she uttered a most toxic, out-of-place (for her) nasty comment directed towards me and in a totally different vocal register to boot. I literally couldn't believe my ears. I had to turn around to make sure it was she who had made the comment. Her ENTIRE personna/affect was different. It was (as subsequent events would reveal and confirm) her alternate personality emerging. TRUST ME, this is a VERY REAL phenomenon. I've witnessed it with my own eyes.

mikee said...

There are meditative states wherein one does not respond to external stimuli, up to and including being struck hard with a stick.

How might DID be compared to such states?

Well, until we find a well-trained female Bhuddist nun who also is sometimes a Vegas showgirl, a reincarnation of Cleopatra, or a waitress at a lunch counter, we'll have to guess.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Another confirmation of the Truth of the Holy Bible.