by Jay Johansen | May 6, 2023
I've seen a number of YouTube videos lately by young people, mostly teenagers, talking about their split personality. They'll appear on the video and talk for a minute or two, then cut to them with different clothes, sometimes a different hair style, speaking in a different tone of voice, and acting differently.
Which naturally brings up the question: How did split personality go from being an extremely rare condition, with just a handful of diagnosed cases, to an epidemic affecting hundreds? And all of them teenagers or young adults? There are two obvious answers:
I'm guessing (2). Because let's face it, teenagers are prone to fads. There are harmless fads, like idolizing the latest rock group or watching a new TV show. There are dangerous fads, like using the latest hallucinogenic drug or swallowing Tide pods. Teenagers have a tendency to follow the pack. When my daughter was a teenager she once commented that there were a group of "goth" kids in her school. "Because", she said, "they want to be non-conformists. Just like all their friends." I'm reminded of a lecture I heard by a high school principal once who said, "When you put a bunch of teenagers together, they pool their ignorance, and do things far more stupid than any one of them would ever think of on his own."
I don't know if this particular fad is actively harmful. Of course we all have different aspects to our personality. Sometimes we are mellow, sometimes we are excited, sometimes we are angry, etc. It doesn't take great creativity to say, "It's almost like I'm a different person when I'm in this mood." It's not a big a step from there to change your tone of voice and mannerisms when you're in a different mood. So if someone takes it a step farther and changes their clothes and hair style to match their mood, and calls themselves by a different name, okay, seems like a lot of trouble to go to, but whatever.
I wonder if these kids are just playing the latest fun game, or if they actually have delusions. I'd guess for most this is just a "phase", as they say, and within a few months they'll move on to some other fad.
I've read that some psychiatrists are now saying that there really is no such thing as "split personality", that it's just a delusion. I'm not quite sure what that means. Of course someone supposing that they are really 6 different people is a delusion. Are they saying that these people don't really have a delusion, that they just have a delusion that they have a delusion? What does that even mean? But frankly, I haven't studied the matter. It's just not that important to me. Maybe if I read what these psychiatrists have written on the subject it would make perfect sense.
A sad reality is that this is not the only mental illness that has become a trendy fad lately. And some others are far more clearly dangerous.
© 2023 by Jay Johansen
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