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Let's say a person has/suffering from a split personality. And let's call this personality as A.

My question is, Is it possible for this personality A, belonging to that person, to have its own different set of personalities/split personalities and by extension further down the line? That is, can each personality, belonging to a person having/suffering multiple personalities, have/suffer from split personality disorder/multiple personality disorder?

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  • $\begingroup$ So to clarify you are wondering if a person can have a second personality and then one of those extra personalities can have child personalities as well? $\endgroup$ – James Jul 8 '16 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ Your title doesn't describe the question you are asking. You may want to fix that. I'd ask in this situation, what does it mean for a personality to have a split personality? Wouldn't they functionally all just be separate parallel personalities on the same level? $\endgroup$ – Mwr247 Jul 8 '16 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ One thing that might provide evidence of a subpersonality might be that it would only manifest while the personality that it was branched from was active and would only return to it and not to another. Purely conjecture. $\endgroup$ – Dennis Williamson Jul 8 '16 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ What's wrong with just having 3 equal personalities? Why does there have to be a branching hierarchy? $\endgroup$ – Pharap Jul 9 '16 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ that sounds sick and fun $\endgroup$ – άλεξ μιζέρια Jul 9 '16 at 14:32
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Dissociative identity disorder (DID; split personality) is one of the most controversial psychological conditions and professionals can't really agree on a formal diagnosis process. Professionals generally agree that it exists, but trying to narrow down, define, and understand it has been a bit of a mess.

However it's important to note that it's the brain having the multiple personalities, and since a person only has one brain, there can only be one point of division. So a strict answer to your question is no.

However perhaps one of the personalities could act like they were the primary personality, and have another personality that seems like a split from it. A nice, compact, general description of the various personalities from Wikipedia:

The primary identity, which often has the patient's given name, tends to be "passive, dependent, guilty and depressed" with other personalities being more active, aggressive or hostile, and often containing a current time line that lacks childhood memory. Most identities are of ordinary people, though fictional, mythical, celebrity and animal parts have been reported.

It would be difficult to pull off, and most obviously it would be one of the split personalities claiming that they had DID.

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Probably not.

Rather than a single person with multiple personalities (or, to be more precise, Dissociative Identity Disorder) you seem to be asking if a multiple personality can, in turn, develop its own multiple personalities. This is a semantic description since ALL the personalities are in fact derived from the organic host, so a "multiple-multiple personality" would just be a split of the original personality. These personalities are not really separate individuals trapped in one body with simultaneous existences like they are often portrayed in media (like the John Cusack film "Identity"). Since all of these personalities are splinters of the original one, any new identities would just be an additional splinter of the original, not a fracturing of an already purely fictional identity.

It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to determine that a multiple personality has developed its own multiple personalities anyway. Since they all share the same body and same sensory input/output, how would you even tell, externally or internally, that it happened? These sub-personalities would all manifest just like the main personalities, so they are just additional main personalities.

But these disorders can be very weird. It is entirely possible that a personality can BELEIVE it is a subset of the dominant personality but again, this is just a semantics argument.

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    $\begingroup$ My thoughts exact. $\endgroup$ – ventsyv Jul 8 '16 at 20:26
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If a person has 2 personalities, and personality 2 has DID, to an observer (or a doctor), it will appear as if the patient has 3 distinct personalities.

People with DID are often diagnosed with other disorders as well (schizophrenia, etc) and DID not being well understood and quite rare, thus making it virtually impossible to tell that the 3rd personality is a split of the 2nd one, and not the first (main) one.

I think a doctor will just say "the patient has 3 distinct personalities".

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As a mathematician or computer scientist it is clear that the concept of split personality, which is taken from the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, strangely making it from fiction into "science", could be generalized so that a person can be viewed as being made up of a tree of personalities and subpersonalities.

But the people that wrote the DSM are just a bunch of money-driven pseudo-scientists who have no interest in being truly scientific. Instead, they bade themselves on folklore and behaviors societies tend to dislike to create artificial man-made disorders, such as this one, which, tend to have fascinating names to the literarily, rationality-overlooking people.

Personally, I like Mead's approach. The way we see ourselves is how we think others see us. Whenever that changes, our personality will appear different. So convenient to a psychiatrist who will make thousands of dollars by labeling their patient as such and then forcefully drugging them against their will for life, receiving money from government and pharmaceutical companies.

And since you brought up the discrete model, why not also consider a continuous model where the "personality state" of an individual is unique at any given time and can take on values of whatever discrete our continuous tuples you wish to model personality as.

This should give you reasonable motivation to believe no such "split personality disorder" actually exists, although a psychiatrist can do what they want with you or any other individual that may come or be brought into their office.

The same pills are prescribed for psychiatrist "behavioral" disorders, making psychiatric labels irrelevant.

Hope this helps.

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  • $\begingroup$ Did you mean to write a comment, but clicked answer by mistake? This looks like a comment, but I am not sure, it could be a rather obtuse answer. $\endgroup$ – Lyndon White Jul 9 '16 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ I've updated my answer. Please see above. $\endgroup$ – Jack Maddington Jul 9 '16 at 12:00
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I used to think that DID did exist as is described till I read the article named Multiple Personality Disorder by Scott O. Lilienfeld and Steven J. Lynn included in "The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: Volume One".

So, as DID seems to be a iatrogenic "condition that results from the therapist’s cueing (e.g., suggestive questioning regarding the existence of possible alternative personalities), media influences (e.g., film and television portrayals of DID), and broader sociocultural expectations regarding the presumed clinical features of DID", I would say yes, because the suggestion could be modeled in this way and the personalities would appear one by one, so the patient only would have to keep track of one at a time (and the rest of the hierarchy would remain blurred while not in use).

But, as this site is about imaginary worlds, what if this condition really existed, i.e., the personalities had to be codified somewhat in the brain? As a finite machine with its limits (and with limited features, adapted to survival and reproduction), the answer should be no or, at least, so unlikely that would be impossible in practice.

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