Everyone should have multiple personality disorder. Here, I'm trying to make an educated decision as to whether there is a certain degree of severity that would be realistic/sustainable yet still significant enough to alter power dynamics/policy infrastructure. Clearly, certain conditions of the disorder would be crippling to a state (such as extensive memory gaps). I would like to think I have mapped out the two corner solutions:

In the severe case: Central and state government officials don't even know who they are on any given day, pursing entirely different routines for days at a time or fail to recall their policy expertise/other critical intel. Withdrawal and self-harm would also be factors in this scenario, presenting repeated disruptions to the rule of law as duties and roles are ignored.

In the most benign case: Daily ordeals may just entail a few flashbacks / short-term memory lapses that would largely go unnoticed or could at least be easily mitigated with a few protocols at the institutional level.

The Goldilocks zone: This will be a rough success metric for the question: the right balance of mental disorder such that society functions along meaningful time horizons but the multiple-personality disorders are pronounced enough to create a noticeably distinct world from a vanilla Earth.

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What is a realistic combination of severe multiple personality disorder across all people and state protocols to keep the rule of law in-tact for a meaningful time-horizon?

Further clarifications:

Time horizon: Even with "sane" people in office, failed states occur in vanilla Earth. The average life span of a state is approximately 158 years. So the point of the question is not to ensure survival of the state indefinitely, just along comparable time horizons to vanilla Earth.

Success metric: The greater the severity of the disorder, the better, all else held equal.

A note on subjectivity: While there is a degree of subjectivity at play, there is a greater degree of scientific basis to offset pure speculation (i.e. clinical studies, political science). Surely, to remove all subjectivity from a study, we would need thousands of planet Earths to form a Gaussian distribution and see what severity can be withstood. Clearly, that's not possible, but at the same time it's a non-argument. Having a degree of subjectivity doesn't undermine scientific progress. For example, subjectivity doesn't prevent scientists sharing their thoughts on human's impact on global warming. Clearly, to be 100% objective, we would again need 1000's of normally distributed planet Earths, some with humans some without to measure against co2 levels. I'm not taking sides; I'm just saying there may be an opportunity cost of setting the bar too high.

  • $\begingroup$ "yet still entertaining" Haha! People suffering from mental health issues! Hilarious! ... I'd caution against creating humor from laughing at people suffering real conditions like this. It can be done yes, but you need to be careful not to offend anyone non neuro typical with a work like this. (Still is an interesting question even if changed from entertaining to deadly serious.) $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 4:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would suggest before doing anything you do research on what multiple personality disorder (or rather dissasociative personality disorder as it's currently termed) actually entails and actually include that in your question. DID, among other things, is a potential dysfunctional coping response to trauma and only forms multiple personalities in extreme cases. The triggering event usually happens in childhood. If everyone in your society has DID that implies something is going severely wrong with how children are being raised. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 4:47
  • $\begingroup$ Have you read the book This Alien Shore? In it, there is a society consisting of entirely mentally ill people. amazon.com/This-Alien-Shore-C-S-Friedman/dp/0886777992 $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 5:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Ash Poor taste on my part, guess I'm often guilty of succumbing to moral decay... Wasn't even that precise anyway, updated. Thanks $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 5:25
  • $\begingroup$ Don't worry they still can go on with everyday life as long as they are held accountable for their deeds under section xxx chapter yyy of penal code for unsound mind, also they need to understand that skipping medications or therapy can result in a fine or jail or both ;D $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 8:25

2 Answers 2


Day to Day Functional:

These are just a few of my thoughts on the subject, most relating to how society would need to function.

I think if the individuals are aware of the universal multiple personality disorder, and can function on a day-to-day basis, then they may be able to compensate for their disorders in a variety of ways. It may not be democracy (although I can think of some interesting voting protocols that might compensate for this) but government? OF course. Social rules would need to be very different.

Selecting a leader would be much more complex. You would need to take into account all of their personalities, since different personalities might be making decisions - and then immediately reversing them when the personality changed. Either one personality would hold an office (meaning they wouldn't always be available for decision-making) or the whole person would likely need to be judged on how well their personalities worked as a team, so they all could agree on a unified course of action.

Traditionally, MPD is a controversial finding, and it's existence usually implies trauma. Unless your society creates MPD by trauma, the personalities are likely to be formed a little differently. To hold jobs, they would need to be able to either share skills and memories, or switch back and forth in a somewhat controlled fashion. MPD is sometimes portrayed as having a central personality who may or may not be aware of their condition. EVERYONE would know they had it, so there would likely be classes in school on internal dialog and introverted social behavior. Those who could control and integrate the best would be the most dependable.

A lot of decisions would likely be made by bureaucracies, and there would be a complex network of rules on how everything needed to be done. You couldn't rely on people being identical from day to day, so they might need a system for reporting who is in charge at a given time. Teddy is an artist, but Theodore does accounting. Deadlines for both would need to be loose, unless they could control who was "up" at any given time. Jobs would likely be more open-source, so an accountant personality could work on different clients just because they wouldn't be assured of being available on specific dates.

  • $\begingroup$ Complex network of rules sounds really interesting. Kind of like open-source, fluid work agendas? Contribute as you go pending current personality... $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 5:38

Very Severe - but your Government would be different to ours

A state could exist under almost any circumstances - as long as your flexible about what a 'State' is. In actual fact, even with, let's say 'neurotypical' people in government today on our Earth - we don't yet have a global 'state', and some states readily do collapse into disorder.

Slipping of states into disorder aren't necessarily due to the population - it could be through external factors, environmental or simple bad luck / bad timing that causes a state to collapse.

One could also argue that the Systems within government can make up for any shortfall in mental acuity / absence of neurotypical public servants. For instance, many systems in the Australian government as an example are ultimate in 'failsafe' almost 'catering for the lowest denominator', ie. Public Servants show up for work and simply 'follow procedure'. They don't even need to remember what they did yesterday.

It doesn't work for all cases though. For instance, long term public works such as urban planning would be very fragmented in your 'very severe' case, but then again systems could be established to work around the constraints of your population.

So the answer would be: a State could operate perfectly well with a population with multiple personality disorder, even a severe case of one, as long as it has been established to incorporate this into its governmental systems.


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