Multiple personalities

Peter McKellar. Mindsplit; The Psychology of Multiple Personality and the Dissociated Self. Dent, London 1979.

Peter McKellar's study of dissociation in all its forms contains much that will be of interest to the readers of Magonia. McKellar argues that there is a spectrum of dissociated states, ranging from the 'automatic performance of routine tasks' while thinking of something else, through such states as post-hypnotic suggestion, sleepwalking, and abreactive repetition of traumatic events. The spectrum continues through amnesiac fugue, in which a person becomes 'someone else' for a while, right up to cases of alternating personalities, such as the famous 'Eve' case.

Along this continuum of such states McKellar places 'recovery of fugue personality under hypnosis', automatic writing, hypnogogic and hypnopompic imagery, and lucid dreams.

The author is a recognised authority on hypnogogic imagery (a term he regards as being more accurate that 'hypnogogic hallucination') and related states, and what he has to say about these in chapters 5 to 7 is most thought provoking.

Hypnogogic imagery can be either isolated scenes, or proper narratives. they can be either amusing, embarrassing, indignation provoking, or plain frightening. Some of the most hair-raising visions can be observed with surprising detachment; on the other hand some images can be so emotionally charged as to feel, in the words of one subject, "too vivid and too extraordinarily evil not to belong to something real, somewhere".

False awakenings can be extraordinarily vivid, too. One subject 'woke up' in his bed, with his wife, but was rather puzzled to see a fox terrier in the room as well, as he did not own one. He was then able to make himself aware that he was still dreaming (a 'lucid dream'); then really woke up, where the scene was as before, sans fox-terrier.

Experiences such as McKellar describes in these chapters should reinforce the view suggested by Keith Basterfield, Michel Monnerie and the editors of this journal, amongst others, that many strange experiences in the UFO context can be interpreted in terms of hypnogogic imagery. As if to confirm this suspicion, one subject had a very 'ufological' piece of hypnotic imagery: "an eye... In a glass of water, which split in two as he watched, to reveal inside a metallic sphere with tiny people moving about it."

McKellar takes issue with psychologists such as T. K. Barker, and argues that hypnosis does involve a genuine altered state of consciousness involving dissociation; rather than Barker's concept of a 'goal directed fantasy'. He also notes cases in which an hysterical patient may develop spontaneous fugue during an hypnotic session in which they may perform anti-social acts, for which they later have amnesia. This is, of course, a feature which has been noted in several 'abduction' regression sessions.

In McKellar's study of multiple personalities, and in particular his observation that in some cases the dividing line between an imaginary childhood companion, and a fully-blown secondary personality is very thin indeed, we may have clues as to the source and nature of the contactee experience.

Yet another example of dissociation is the 'spontaneous' emergence of stories in a writer's imagination. McKe11ar's chief example is Enid Blyton, who claimed that her stories appeared to her in the form of 'private film shows' projected onto what she called her 'undermind'. Towards the end of her life these images seemed to take over and threaten her sanity.

If McKellar's attribution of a family relationship between this range of mental phenomena is established, their use in interpreting a wide range of UFO and UFOrelated experiences would be enormous. A person, driving down a dark road, experiencing hypnogoric imagery, followed by a fugue state in which hours are 'lost'; recovering to suffer from further periods of dissociation, in which the fugue state is 'recalled' by hypnosis; yet another dissociated state, during which communications from a dissociated part of the personality are received, Is perhaps, an example of how these things might fit together.

Well worth reading, provided you ignore the nonsense on pp. 145-6 about the bicameral mind - an example of a psychologists ignorance of modern anthropology' -- Reviewed by Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 6, 1981.

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