Finally! An Instant Cure for Paranoid Schizophrenia: MPD
Richard A. Gardner*
ABSTRACT: In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the
number of reported cases of multiple personality disorder. It is
claimed that these MPD patients were sexually abused as children and
developed "alter" personalities to cope with the trauma and therefore
had no memories of the abuse until therapy Some of these MPD
patients, however, are actually paranoid schizophrenics whose paranoid
delusions and hallucinations are interpreted in terms of the alleged
repressed childhood abuse. There are many reinforcements for both patient
and therapist in the MPD diagnosis. It substitutes a hopeless situation
with one for which there is the promise of cure; is much more socially
acceptable; includes social, psychological, and financial payoffs
inherent in the "victim" status; and provides an opportunity
far lawsuits against the parents.
We are living in a time when the multiple personality disorder (MPD)
diagnosis is very much in vogue. "Experts" on the disorder,
who are sprouting up everywhere, tell us that MPD has been traditionally
underdiagnosed and is much more widespread than previously realized.
of the reasons, we are told, why MPD has been ignored has been
reluctance, and even refusal, by therapists to even recognize that most
(if not all) of these patients were sexually abused as children. Their
"dissociated" thoughts, feelings, and experiences associated
with their sexual abuses have become foci for the development of
alternative personalities ("alters"), which made life more
bearable for them (in childhood and subsequently).
In recent years, as an extension of my involvement in child sexual
abuse, I have evaluated adult women who claimed they were sexually abused in childhood by their father
and/or other relatives. Certainly many of these women provided valid
descriptions of bona fide sexual abuse. However, there are others who, I
am convinced, were never sexually abused by their alleged perpetrators.
This is especially true for those whose memories were allegedly
"repressed" and then uncovered in treatment with an
"expert" in helping patients recover memories of childhood
sexual abuse. Many such women have been given the MPD diagnosis.
On the basis of those women with belated recall of sex abuse that I
have directly interviewed, those whose parents have come to me (and
whose accusing daughters have refused interviews), and what I have read
in the recent literature on this subject, I am convinced that many (I
did not say all) of these women are paranoid schizophrenics and that the
MPD diagnosis provides them with a more socially acceptable label.
all, if one is schizophrenic, then one has to deal with a chronic
psychiatric illness that may be lifelong. Because schizophrenia is
generally considered to have a high genetic loading, the likelihood of
"cure" by any known psychiatric method is minimal and the
prospect of transmitting the disease to one's children and grandchildren
is real. MPD, in contrast, is allegedly "curable" by proper
psychotherapeutic technique in the hands of those who claim to be
skilled in the treatment of this disorder. Accordingly, the MPD
diagnosis substitutes a hopeless situation with one for which there is
hope and the promise of cure.
Furthermore, to be called "paranoid" or
"schizophrenic" is to be called "crazy." In
contrast, these days MPD is a socially acceptable disorder, an
affliction that is widespread (even though many do not realize they have
the disease). MPD patients also enjoy the benefit of being considered
victims. In a world in which victims are held in high
regard where they are constantly
clamoring for our understanding and sympathy joining the ranks of
victims is a source of esteem enhancement and group identity for many.
Then there is the money factor. Victim compensation funds (both for
the patient and the therapist) are widely available. Social security
benefits can be obtained for rape victims, regardless of age and the
time gap between the time of the rape and the onset of treatment. Clinics that devote themselves to the treatment of the sexually abused
are likely to get significant money from local, state, and even federal
sources. Accordingly, although therapists who diagnose paranoid
schizophrenia may not have a paying customer, those who see the same
phenomenon as MPD can guarantee themselves an annuity.
Moreover, one is not likely to be successful in a lawsuit against
one's parents for having transmitted schizophrenia genes to their
children. A woman is far more likely to be successful in a lawsuit
against her father for having sexually abused her in childhood and she
can even sue her mother as an accomplice. Many lawyers are happy to take
such cases (if, of course, the father has the wherewithal to pay off).
Obviously, such lawsuits are not seen among the indigent.
At this point I elaborate on the ways in which the two most prominent
symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia paranoid delusions and hallucinations
(most often auditory) become reworked into an MPD diagnosis.
here is on a particular subsegment of the false accusation population,
namely, those who use the false accusation as a method for denying the
more pathological diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.
The Ubiquity of Paranoia
Paranoia is much more common than is generally appreciated. Many
believe that paranoids are to be found mainly in mental institutions,
locked up in closed wards. This belief is in itself a delusion.
every paranoid in a mental hospital, there are probably hundreds
"on the outside," and many are not even recognized as being
mentally ill. Crichton-Miller, the English psychiatrist, once said
& Brodie, 1982):
For every fully developed case of paranoia in our mental hospitals,
there must be hundreds if not thousands, who suffer from minor degrees
of suspicion and mistrust; whose lives are blighted by this barrier to
human harmony; and who poison the springs of social life for the
community (p. 446)
Paranoia may fuel worthy causes, resulting in ostensible stability
and even social respectability. The paranoid anger is vented on those
who are considered to be causing and perpetuating various social
abominations. Sometimes constructive things come out of these movements.
There are others, however, whose paranoia blurs their reality, and they
distort significantly the object(s) of their indignation. They may view
a situation as worse than it is, misconstrue events, and attribute
malevolent motives when they are not present. Their own coworkers, then,
may find them less useful to the movement.
The Content of Paranoid Delusions
The content of paranoid delusions is not created de novo in the brain
of the patient. Rather, the material is derived from ambient social
phenomena that may serve as a focus for the paranoid's preoccupations.
In 1692, in Salem, some of the people who believed that they (or others)
were possessed by witches were most likely paranoid. (I am not claiming
that all who believed this were paranoid, only some.) In the World War
II era, Nazi spies were frequently incorporated into paranoid delusions.
Although there certainly were Nazi spies in the United States, it is not
likely that a network of them devoted themselves to spying on paranoid
patients, especially those in mental hospitals. In Germany at the same
time, Jews were commonly incorporated into the delusions of paranoids,
Adolph Hitler being the most famous example. During the cold war many
paranoids considered themselves to be persecuted by Russian spies.
Without doubt, the McCarthy hearings contributed to the development of
delusions involving impending persecution by Communists. Again, there
certainly were Russian spies in the U.S., but they certainly were not as
numerous as paranoids believed them to be and they certainly were not
devoting themselves 24 hours a day to spying on these particular
patients. Not surprisingly, since the end of the cold war, fewer paranoids are being persecuted by Russian
spies. They have been replaced in the 1980s and 1990s by sexual
harassers and sexual abusers. Once again, paranoids are incorporating
into their delusional systems the ambient scapegoats, the people who all
agree are worthy of scorn and denigration.
There is no question that some of the women who are accusing their
fathers of having sexually abused them as children are paranoid
individuals who have selected from society the in-vogue scapegoat to
serve as the target for the paranoid rage.
The Projection Element in Paranoia
Central to the paranoid mechanism is projection. Because of guilt and
other ego-debasing mechanisms, paranoids do not wish to accept the fact
that they themselves may harbor within them certain socially
unacceptable urges. Accordingly, by projecting them onto others, they
can consider themselves free of these undesirable thoughts and feelings.
This mechanism can involve unacceptable sexual feelings. The sexually
inhibited person may say: "It is not I who has sexual feelings
toward him; it is he who has sexual feelings toward me." And this
is one of the elements that may be operative in the false sex-abuse
The Oversimplification Element in Paranoia
Most problems are complex and most solutions are not easy ones.
paranoid solution generally involves an oversimplification of a problem
that promises a quick and easy solution. This is one of the elements in
paranoid prejudice. Such people are essentially saying, "If we only
get rid of those people, all our problems will be solved." Although
history has repeatedly shown that this is not the case, the delusion
A woman who has suffered with a wide variety of psychological
difficulties throughout the course of her life is likely to embrace a
simple solution that promises to cure all of her problems. If she can
come to believe that her father's sexual abuses of her in early
childhood were the cause of all the difficulties she has had in her
life, she has a simple explanation and, presumably, a simple solution.
Such women commonly say, "Now everything is understandable. Now I understand why I have all these
years of grief. Thank God I finally met Ms. X, my brilliant counselor,
who has shown me the path to cure. All the other doctors I've been to
missed the obvious. What a terrible waste of money. All that unnecessary
grief for nothing. Now I'm finally on the path to healing."
Resistance to Alteration by Logic and/or Confrontation with
There are strong psychological forces within the individual that
compel the person to maintain the belief, no matter how much at variance
it may be with reality. Therefore, those who try to alter the belief of
paranoids by logic, argument, and confrontations with reality suffer
nothing but frustration and a sense of futility. When the father,
mother, and other family members try to convince the accusing woman that
her beliefs are false and that some of the elements in her scenario are
absurd and even impossible, their arguments fall on deaf ears. Or, if
she does feel the need to respond, she provides some kind of an
explanatory justification that may be as implausible as the original
Also, paranoids are notorious for their avoidance of such
confrontations and provide a never-ending stream of justifications for
not involving themselves in such conversations. They and their
therapists (some of whom are equally paranoid in a folie à deux
relationship with their patients) commonly say, "There was no point
in even confronting him; he would deny it anyway, so why waste
time." When they are willing to discuss their accusations, they are
often ingenious in providing rationalizations to justify their
distortions. This principle is well demonstrated by an anecdote from my
residency days. It is the story about a man who comes to a psychiatrist.
The following interchange takes place:
||How can I help you?
||Doctor, I'm dead.
||Let me ask you this. Can a dead man bleed?
||Of course not. A dead man can't bleed.
(takes a pin, pricks the man's finger tip, and
expresses a drop of blood): What do you think about this (while pointing to the drop of blood on the man's
||(after a long pause): Well, what do you know. This is the
first time in the history of the world that a dead man has bled!
Paranoid women who accuse their lathers of sexually abusing them
provide similar rationalizations to support the maintenance of their
delusion. When their mothers try to convince them that the accusation
has no basis in reality, they will claim that the mother is only trying
to protect the father in order to preserve her marriage. It is a no-win
situation when one tries to change a paranoid's mind regarding the
validity of a delusion.
Low Self Esteem in Paranoia
Paranoids basically suffer with deep-seated feelings of insecurity.
This is one of the factors contributing to the need for projection.
People with stronger egos are willing to tolerate socially unacceptable
impulses within themselves and have enough compensatory assets to
counterbalance personality weaknesses and socially unacceptable thoughts
and feelings that they may harbor. Paranoids do not have the ego
strength to do this.
Not only does this problem contribute to the mechanism of projection
wherein they project out onto others their own inadequacies
(or presumed inadequacies) but this weakness contributes to their
inability to admit that they were wrong. Admitting that one makes
mistakes requires a certain degree of ego-strength. And this is one of
the reasons they are so resistant to logic, arguments, and
confrontations that might demonstrate that their thinking is awry.
paranoid, such an admission is tantamount to admitting that one is
"crazy," and this, of course, is very difficult for anyone to
The feelings of low self-worth may also be compensated for by the
individual's developing the belief that he or she is more astute than
others regarding the ability to appreciate the significance of subtle
information. Paranoids often consider themselves quite skillful in
detecting innuendo, slights, and trifling disparagements that pass
others by. They pride themselves on their ability to detect hostility in
everyday inadvertencies. For women who promulgate false sex-abuse accusations
against their fathers, they may, in retrospect, pride themselves on
their new-found sensitivity to the most subtle manifestations of sexual
abuse, manifestations that others were too blind and/or stupid to
detect. In the extreme, this compensatory mechanism for ego-enhancement
may result in grandiosity and an all-pervasive feeling of superiority.
This feeling of superiority, then, serves to strengthen the individual
against those who inevitably react with hostility to the paranoid's
accusations. A vicious cycle then ensues in which those who disagree and
argue with the paranoid unwittingly contribute to the strengthening of
the paranoia and its derivative symptoms.
Release of Anger in Paranoia
Generally, these are very angry women. When the problems generating
anger are not resolved, anger builds up and presses for release. Society
always provides targets that facilitate such release, and these change
with the times. Various rules and regulations are set up that strictly
define which areas of release are acceptable and which are not. Some of
the more common vehicles for release in our society are competition,
gossip, worthy and noble causes, sports (both as a spectator and as a
participant), family squabbles, and violent themes in books, television,
and cinema. Family members are safe targets for such pent-up anger
because they are often captive and are less likely to retaliate as
strongly as strangers. As mentioned earlier, the socially sanctioned
targets change with the times and place. Paranoia provides a justifiable
vehicle for the release of anger. If one has the delusion that the hated
person should justifiably be scorned and punished, one need not feel
guilty about using that person as a scapegoat.
In recent years, many women have found that men can serve as useful
targets for their hostility. There is no question that women have been
terribly subjugated since the beginning of civilization and that the
process is still going on in just about every part of the world. There
is no question that the women's liberation movement is, overall, a
constructive force in human progress. However, every movement has its
fanatics and zealots, and the women's movement is no exception. Most women have some justification for feeling angry at
men in general. If scapegoatism is to work, it is important that the
scapegoat be close by. And this is an important element in prejudice.
One can be intellectually prejudiced against people who live thousands
of miles away, but they are not available as targets for the release of
anger. Accordingly, one must find a scapegoat close by, even in the next
house or neighborhood. Husbands and fathers satisfy this proviso quite
Those who believe that the best way to deal with their anger at men
is to destroy every man in sight are certainly not making constructive
use of their anger. Actually, such women do the women's movement much
more harm than good, give it a bad name, and work against its progress.
Such use of men as scapegoats is a form of bigotry.
Sexual Factors in Paranoia
For many (if not most) women, their father was once the most
important person in their lives and, at the time of the accusation, may
still occupy the number one (or possibly the number two) level in the
hierarchy of men who have influenced them. If one looks over the last 15
to 20 years with regard to what has been going on in the field of
sex-abuse accusations, it might have been predicted that false sex-abuse
accusations toward husbands (which started in the 1980s in the context
of child-custody disputes) would spread to fathers.
Contrary to popular opinion, children are capable of having strong
sexual urges. Although there is generally an intensification of such
urges around the time of puberty, they are present earlier and have the
capacity to be intensified even to adult levels. Children's sexual urges
are generalized, and children have to learn which individuals are
"proper" to involve themselves with in the particular
environment in which they are raised.
In our society, where the incest taboo is quite strong, little girls
have to learn that their fathers are off limits when it comes to the
expression and gratification of their sexual feelings. The suppression
and repression of such feelings may produce some clinical and behavioral
squelching, but the sexual urges may press for release nonetheless.
One way of dealing with them is via
the mechanism of projection: "It is not I who harbor strong sexual
desires toward my father; it is he who has strong sexual desires toward
me." The next step is to have the fantasy that these desires were
realized in reality. Paranoids, because they have impairments in reality
testing and significant compromises in their ability to differentiate
between fact and fantasy, are likely to convert this fantasy into a
One could argue that these patients provide some of the most
convincing evidence for the existence of the "Oedipus
complex," evidence far more compelling than Freud ever enjoyed in
his lifetime. However, calling all this craziness an "Oedipus
complex" or "Electra complex" adds no new information.
fact, the use of such terms tends to oversimplify, and to distract one
from a wide variety of other factors operative in the phenomenon being
considered. Freud considered these particular desires to be the central
element in the development of most psychoneurotic problems. I am in
disagreement with him on this point, but I do agree that these
intrafamilial sexual urges do play an important role in our lives.
importance here is that such urges may contribute to a patient's
professing that a parent sexually abused him or her in childhood. Elsewhere (Gardner,
1992) I describe in greater detail my views on
childhood sexuality and the Oedipus complex, views derived from over 35
years of experience working directly with children. (To the best of my
knowledge, Freud only treated one child: Little Hans.)
The Expansion and Spread of Paranoia
Paranoia tends to expand with regard to the complexity of the
delusional system and spread to include an ever-increasing number of
people. Whereas the delusions may start with a single individual, they
frequently spread to others. For many of the women who accuse their
fathers of sexual abuse all family members and friends are divided into
two categories: those who agree that the sex abuse has taken place and
those who do not. The woman may consider all individuals who support the
father's position to be capable of aiding and abetting his abuse
present. Although, as an adult, she considers herself strong enough to
resist any present advances, her children would certainly not be able to protect
Grandchildren, who previously may have had a loving and warm
relationship with their grandfather, are now removed entirely from the
opportunity to have any contact with him even by mail and telephone.
Gifts are returned with the excuse that these are likely to be sexual
"bribes," the purpose of which is to entice the grandchildren
into sexual encounters. And his wife, as one who has openly supported
her husband's denials, is considered to be similarly untrustworthy.
Because she "looked the other way" or was "too stupid to see
what was going on" when the accuser was molested as a child, the
woman now suspects that her mother would be similarly incapable of
preventing her husband from perpetrating similar abuses on her
grandchildren. The accusing woman's siblings, (i.e., the child's aunts
and uncles) as well, who have not come forth to align themselves with
the accusing woman, are similarly distrusted and viewed as potential
facilitators of her father's sexual abuse of her children. Many of these
women go into hiding, take refuge in selected shelters (where they are
likely to find a significant segment of paranoids, the justification for
such centers notwithstanding), move to distant states, and cut off
entirely any and all communication with the accused father and his
extended family and friends.
Paranoia and the Legal System
People who are angry to the degree described here often want to wreak
vengeance on those whom they believe have abused them. Our legal system
(both civil and criminal tracks) provides a ready and willing vehicle
for gratifying this morbid desire. On the civil track, they can demand
punitive damages and payment for their "therapy." Because the
trauma has been "enormous," the amount of money that can
provide compensation is generally an amount equal to the total value of
the assets of the father. And because the therapy must be intense and
prolonged (no one can predict how long it may be lifelong), then
payment for such treatment is also justified. In some cases the
blackmail element here is easily seen. I have seen letters written by
such women in which their fathers were told that if they did not come forth with the
indicated amount of payment, the daughter would consider herself to have
no choice but to press criminal charges, with the threat of years of
On the criminal track, too, such women will find willing accomplices
in the legal apparatus. There is a sea of prosecutors and district
attorneys who are quite happy to enjoy the notoriety that comes from
bringing "justice" to these "perverts." And the
public media, as well, are happy to provide these individuals with the
notoriety (and future promotions and salary increments) that they crave.
In most states the punishment for sexual abuse of a child is Draconian,
far above and beyond the punishments meted out for most other crimes
(including murder). Life sentences for fondling little girls are
commonplace, and there are hundreds (and possibly thousands) of
individuals who have been convicted of such a crime some of whom may
very well be guilty but many of whom, I am convinced, are not. In either
case, their punishments are far beyond what was visualized by the
Founding Fathers when they framed the U.S. Constitution, which was
designed to protect an accused individual from "cruel and unusual
It would be an error to conclude that I believe that all adult women
who promulgate false sex-abuse accusations against their fathers are
paranoid. Rather, I believe that some (and possibly many) of them are,
but it is too early to know approximately what percentage of these
accusers fall into this category. Some are preparanoid and may be moving
along the paranoid track, with the false sex-abuse accusation enhancing
movement along that path. Certainly, there are other types of
psychopathology in women who promulgate a false sex-abuse accusation.
have focused here on the paranoid element because I consider it quite
common. These women will have demonstrated significant degrees of
psychopathology in the earlier years of their lives, long antedating the
outbreak of the psychopathology associated with the sex-abuse
Auditory Hallucinations and "Alters"
Auditory hallucinations are far more common than visual, the latter
being more likely associated with organic brain disorders. Therefore,
the term "hallucination" will refer to auditory hallucinations
unless otherwise specified. Often, an hallucination is a concrete
symbolization of a delusion. Also, like the delusion, the projection
element is often operative.
In order to qualify as a bona fide hallucination, there must be an
associated impairment in reality testing, to the point where the
experience becomes egosyntonic. So real are hallucinations that
schizophrenic patients commonly enter into discussions and even
arguments with their own hallucinatory material. Voices perceived as
coming from within (to be clearly differentiated from the patient's own
inner thoughts, which do not have an auditory component) warrant the
label hallucination just as much as voices that are considered to come
from without (Kolb & Brodie, 1982). This is an important point with
regard to the relationship between these inner hallucinatory experiences
and the so-called alters. The alters of many hallucinating, paranoid
schizophrenic women are basically internal type, auditory
hallucinations. Calling them "alters" rather than auditory
hallucinations (which is what they really are) is one of the great
psychiatric and psychological rationalizations of the late 20th century.
One would think that well-trained psychiatrists and psychologists should
know better, and recognize a schizophrenic when they see one.
The Wish-Fulfillment Element
Hallucinations can be wish fulfilling. Probably one of the more
common examples is the hallucination of a recently deceased loved one.
Here there is often both a visual and an auditory component to the
hallucination. These are generally considered to be less pathological
than those that do not have such an obvious purpose. Another example
would be the woman who hears the voices of an old lover who abandoned
her many years previously. He repeatedly professes his affection and
For MPD patients the repressed wishes being gratified are sexual,
which Freud referred to as Oedipal. The "alters" of the
paranoid women being discussed here describe in exquisite and
ever-expanding detail the wide variety of sexual encounters they had
with the accused father. These voices, we are told by MPD experts, have
nothing to do with schizophrenic hallucinations; rather, they are the
wailing voices of abused women, victims of abominable acts perpetrated
against an innocent child. This explanation is supported by these women's
therapists who tell us: "If a person has a thought about a sexual
encounter with a person, it must be true because where else would it
come from?" And, if the "thought" is an internal auditory
phenomenon (heretofore referred to as an auditory hallucination), it is
now relabeled an alter and the schizophrenic consideration evaporates.
We see here an example of the folie à deux relationship often seen
between these women and their therapists.
Diminution of Guilt
Hallucinations, via the projective mechanism, diminish guilt. It is
as if the patient is saying: "It is not I who harbor within me all
these unacceptable impulses, it is he out there who is the
pervert." Patients who hallucinate the ubiquitous odors of
disinfectants (odors that appear to be everywhere) are basically
attempting to disinfect themselves from thoughts and feelings which they
feel guilty about and consider noxious. The patient who feels
continuously that the world smells is basically projecting outward his
or her own feelings of body putrification. The patient who hears others
calling him "sex pervert" is basically an individual who feels
guilty about his own sexual impulses and needs to project them outward.
The MPD women are basically saying: "It is not I who want to have
sex with him; it is he that wants to have sex with me. In fact, his
sexual cravings toward me are so enormous that he cannot control his
impulses and raped me repeatedly throughout the course of my childhood,
starting at the age of six months."
Alters can diminish guilt in other ways. An alter can assume
responsibility for taking legal action. On the civil track, it is the
alter who is suing for megabucks to pay for the therapy and provide compensatory damages.
is the same alter (or another one) who reports the accused parent to the
police in order to put the person in jail as a "therapeutic"
maneuver. The patient herself may not feel guilty about this because it
is not she but the abused alters who are wreaking vengeance on the
accused. (This is yet another benefit of having an MPD diagnosis as
opposed to the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. This maneuver is
also a testament to the capacity of patients and their therapists to
Enhancement of Self-Esteem
Hallucinations often involve esteem enhancement. Being singled out
from 5.3 billion people on earth for a visit by God is certainly an
esteem-enhancing experience. This is especially the case if God takes
out a significant time from His (Her, Its) very busy schedule to spend
significant time talking with the patient. For MPD patients who have
allegedly been sexually abused, the belief that one's father has singled
her out for special attentions, in preference to all other members of
the family, even the mother and siblings, is ego enhancing.
Hallucinations (equals alters) can provide compliments,
encouragement, and praise for the legal actions taken against the
accused parent. They therefore aid and abet the pathological acting out
of the delusional/hallucinatory system. And they also provide positive
reinforcement for such acting out, thereby ostensibly enhancing
self-esteem. I say ostensibly because the pathological esteem
enhancement ultimately ends up producing just the opposite kinds of
Capacity to Spread
As is true for delusions, hallucinations have a tendency to spread,
expand, and become elaborated upon as the patient becomes progressively
sicker. For these "MPD" patients suffering with paranoid
schizophrenia, this phenomenon takes the form of an endless quest for
the discovery of more and more alters, sometimes numbering in the
hundreds. Generally, it is the therapist who embarks upon this voyage of discovery which, for most patients, never ends.
always new alters to be uncovered, alters allegedly buried ever more
deeply in the patient's unconscious. Of course, such searches enrich the
therapist because until all the alters are discovered, the healing path
cannot be embarked upon. Joining sex-abuse survivor groups, engaging in
weekend marathons with other sex-abuse survivors, and proselytizing for
the rights of victims not only entrenches these delusions but enhances
the likelihood that other people's alters will be brought into one's own
collection. I refer to this as the cross-fertilization process.
It may very well be that there has never been a time when paranoid
schizophrenics have enjoyed so much secondary gain from their symptoms.
In collusion with an army of mental health professionals, representing
all levels (especially psychiatrists, psychologists, and social
workers), they not only gain social approbation from a significant
segment of society, but have opportunities for financial remuneration
never before enjoyed by psychotics. And a whole network of other
professionals are joining in because of the obvious benefits (especially
financial) to be derived from such participation. Lawyers well know how
much money there is to be made from these sex-abuse victims, especially
in association with their lawsuits against their fathers. Prosecutors,
district attorneys, and judges enjoy notoriety as they gain the
reputation of cleansing society of these old perverts. The media is
having a heyday with these women as they consider it part of the
"healing process" to expose their perverted fathers to the
public and describe in detail the sexual abominations they were
subjected to, throughout the early years of their lives, at the hands of
their fathers. Their therapist generally encourages such public exposure
as part of the process of "healing." Police, prosecutors, and
district attorneys can then demand increasing funding because of the
ever increasing flow of cases in this category.
Paranoid schizophrenics who are incorporating sex abuse into their
delusions, who are then being given the MPD diagnosis are indeed
victims. They are not the victims of their delusional abusers; they are
the victims of those who label them with the MPD diagnosis. Wrong
diagnoses do patients more harm than good. In this case the wrong
diagnosis causes enormous grief for the family members who are often
subjected to cruel treatment, destruction of family support systems, and
even sadistic lawsuits. These patients' victimization in this way also
deprives them of proper neuroleptic medication, medication that in some
cases might be useful. These patients are also victims of the supporting
network of people who profit from convincing these sick people that they
About 25 years ago I recall reading articles by psychiatrists who
were treating paranoid schizophrenics by entering into their delusional
systems and joining in with them on their journeys through fantasy land.
Although this method of treatment never gained widespread popularity
(happily so, because it could not but entrench such a patient's
pathology), the psychiatrist (hopefully) was not delusional. Today, the
same thing is going on with one big difference: many of the therapists
here are delusional and the two journey through the MPD fantasy land
searching for more and more alters. And this is viewed as progress.
Perhaps my medical school classmates were right, after all, when they
said that only the craziest people in the class who went into
It may very well be that there is such a disorder as MPD. Since 1957,
when I first began treating psychiatric patients, I have not seen one
such patient that I considered to justify the diagnosis, although a
colleague did present one at grand rounds during my residency training.
And it may even be the case that some people who have MPD have gotten
that way because they were sexually abused in childhood.
I do not know the true prevalence of MPD. Perhaps it is nonexistent
and is entirely iatrogenic as McHugh (1993) so compelling argues. He
considers it an entirely iatrogenic illness similar to the "hysteroepilepsy"
described by Charcot, a disease that appeared to evaporate when people
stopped labeling it and paying attention to it. Perhaps it does arise
novo (without the suggestion of mental health professionals) in a small
percentage of cases. I do know that I personally, in over 35 years of
practice, have never seen one. I am very dubious about the notion that
it is a widespread phenomenon, especially because all those whom I have
come across who were given the label appeared to have compelling
evidence for a wide variety of other diagnoses (of which paranoid
schizophrenia is only one).
Whatever the prevalence of MPD there is no question that a parallel
phenomenon is taking place, namely, the use of the MPD diagnosis by
paranoid schizophrenics and their therapists for the purposes described
here. Whatever the prevalence of true sex abuse (from common to
widespread), there is no question that the parallel phenomenon of false
sex-abuse accusations exists, and it has been my purpose to describe one
subcategory of the false sex-abuse accusation phenomenon and the
functions it serves for this category of false accusers.
Gardner, R. A. (1992). The Psychotherapeutic Techniques of
Gardner, M.D. (2nd Ed.) (). Cresskill, New Jersey:
Creative Therapeutics, Inc.
Kolb, L. B., & Brodie, H. K. H. (1982). Modern Clinical Psychiatry
Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co.
McHugh, P. R. (1993). Multiple personality disorder. Harvard Mental Health Letter,