- Much contemporary philosophical discussion about persons and personal identity has focused on hypothetical and clinical cases that raise problems for traditional accounts of persons and their identity. Consideration of such cases forces us to re-evaluate our understanding of the nature of persons and, as Derek Parfit1 puts it, see 'what really matters' to us about our identity ("Parfit (Derek) - Reasons and Persons" ).
- Multiple personality is one such problem case, because prima facie it raises the possibility of a single human body constituting more than one person during its life-history. It challenges the commonly held view of a one-one, body-person relation.
- The phenomenon of multiple personality, however, has received little critical attention by philosophers. In one of only a handful of articles on multiple personality published in philosophical journals since 1940, Kathleen V. Wilkes attributes this neglect to a lack of a steady consensus in the psychiatric community as to the scientific respectability of the diagnosis and its proper method of treatment ("Wilkes (Kathleen) - Multiple Personality and Personal Identity" ). If the psychiatrists can't get it straight, how can philosophers responsibly discuss its philosophical implications?
- However, the dearth of philosophical discussion may also be due to certain assumptions that philosophers have about the meaning of 'person' and 'personality' and how these terms are used in the analysis of multiple personality.
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