MPD For You and Me: the Script

1,1

Rogan sits in a chair, elbows on knees.

Rogan: So, I'm supposed to be telling you about multiple personalities in comic book story form.

Rogan raises hands.

Rogan: Unfortunately, it's being harder than I thought. Because let's face it--it's not an easy subject.

Rogan holds up a blue book.

Rogan: This is the DSM-III-R. It's about as fun to read as a medical dictionary--which it essentially is.

Frame of solid utter text from the DSM-III-R, hopefully as boring as possible.

Caption: "Yeah, no."

1,2

A bunch of multiplicity-related books sit on a shelf, titles on their spines.

Caption: "In the DSM-III-R, the diagnosis is called Multiple Personality Disorder. That's the more famous name--you might recognize it from books like Sybil and When Rabbit Howls."

Rogan holds up another book, red, in his other hand. The blue book stays.

Rogan: Now, this is the DSM-IV. It came out less than ten years later. In that amount of time, they changed the name, criteria, and philosophy of the condition. It's still considered 'the same thing,' but not quite.

A summary of the MPD diagnosis--but the name has been crossed out in red and relabeled Dissociative Identity Disorder, and criteria have been added: "must not be able to remember important personal information."

Caption: "Nowadays, if you have multiple personalities but no memory problems, you have a different diagnosis: Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. But it's still called MPD outside the States. No idea whether this includes DID and DDNOS, or just DID."

Rogan throws red book over his shoulder, obviously disgusted.

Rogan: It's just as confusing and irritating as it sounds.

1,3

Frame: two obvious shrink types with large moustaches and pipes stand, looking confused and annoyed.

Caption: "No wonder some people prefer to just skip the drama and ignore the whole thing."

Shrink 1: This is ridiculous. Let's just say it doesn't exist at all.

Shrink 2: Right ho. Only Americans get it anyway.

Rogan stands holding only the blue book now.

Rogan: So, I'm sticking with the old, outdated diagnosis for now, because it predates the controversy and gives me a starting point. Maybe some other time, when I know more and have more paper, I'll discuss the diagnosis's evolution and changes. Right now, though, I'll sum up:

Traditional "psychotherapy" scene of a pipe-smoking, mustachioed shrink speaking to a woman on a couch. The shrink has an eyebrow raised, as though he's being told something surprising.

Caption: "In the early nineties--after the DSM-III-R was made--there was a seeming 'epidemic' of MPD cases in the US. Since MPD is supposed to be rare, and a lot of the stories sounded bizarre, this made people skeptical."

A picture of the DSM-IV, complete with heavenly halo.

Caption: "The strange epidemic made American shrinks try to understand the disorder more, leading to its new name and criteria. They hoped this would solve everything, but no; a fair number of people still argue it doesn't exist, or that American shrinks inadvertently cause it by their expectation."

2,1

Rogan holds open the DSM, and starts tearing one of the pages down.

Rogan: Another thing I want to do is tear away the text of the DSM...

He holds the DSM higher, displaying that where the page has been torn out, there is now a window to somewhere else, a hint of landscape and a person.

Rogan: ...to show the richer world underneath it.

Rogan tosses the book away, strikes a conversational pose.

Rogan: This is when I admit to you that I'm an alter myself, or 'alternate personality.' As the narrator of this comic, I have the power to make you see things from my point of view. You already are; you see me as a person talking to you, not just a 'symptom.'

2,2

He raises his hand in an obvious prelude to snapping his fingers.

Rogan: But that's not all. If you saw me as I appear in the real world...

Flashy SNAP! Sound effect, complete with funky magical cloud.

Rogan is now a rather pretty girl with long hair, standing with his body language and facial expression.

Rogan: ...I'd look like this.

2,3

"She" grins.

Rogan: Not what you were expecting, was it?

He reverts to himself, with a DOINK! Sound effect, and puts his hands to his chest.

Rogan: Now, as an alter, I am fully capable of having all the flexibility and emotional reactions of a 'normal' person.

A split cell. First, Rogan assumes the classic Hysterical Tiger Pose: head thrown back, hands in claws in front of his face, expression tortured. (If inked, high contrast.)

Rogan: I can suffer great emotional pain and conflict--OH DEAR GOD, WHY?

Second, he stands straight and grins. If necessary, add sunshine and flowers in the background.

Rogan: And I can be happy and proud of myself for doing such a great performance in that last panel.

3,1

Rogan puts hands on his hips and looks cocky.

Rogan: Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean all alters can do this. I'm pretty highly developed, as they go; I had to be, to make and explain this comic book properly.

A little girl with a broom stands, apparently stopped in the middle of cleaning. She wears a headband and stares confusedly out at the viewer.

Caption: "Little Gigi, on the other hand, might have a simpler emotional structure and be in charge of things that require less emotional flexibility and understanding--like cleaning.

Gigi taps her broom meaningfully against the palm of one hand and glares, making it obvious she's displeased.

Caption: "Er. Of course, it's probably best not to assume things. You likely don't want to be told you're nothing more than a behavior pattern, and we're not much different."

3,2

Rogan stands in an inquisitive pose, one finger resting against his chin, arms crossed.

Rogan: Now, you may ask me, 'well then, what makes you a personality? What exactly does that mean, anyway? Doesn't that just make you an imaginary friend or a voice in someone's head?'

Rogan spreads his arms in an elaborate shrug, though he obviously doesn't care that much.

Rogan: Well, you can argue semantics all day about where the boundaries lie, but if you're looking at an MPD diagnosis, I have to have these three things...

He vanishes with a POINK!

Disembodied speech bubble: First, I have to exist in the first place.

Second disembodied speech bubble: Of course, it's very hard to 'prove' I exist. I don't have a body of my own; skeptics could easily argue that I only exist because you expect me to be there, or that it's just a lie.

3,3

He reappears again: POINK! He holds an ice cream cone now. Next to him stands a younger girl, Sneak, recoiling from the ice cream.

Rogan: Now, to be considered a personality, rather than a mood, I have to react to the environment differently than the others in the body. This can be as simple as always liking a food that someone else always hates...

Sneak: Not the vanilla! Anything but the vanilla!

Rogan and Sneak stand in front of a TV, which has a bomb on screen. Rogan looks angry; Sneak is sniffing and rubbing one eye.

Rogan: ...to something as major as how we respond to times of crisis.

TV announcer: "We interrupt this news broadcast to say that the bomb is dropping and we are all going to die."

Rogan: $*&@ers!

Sneak: (sniff) That's so awful...

4,1

Rogan is alone again. He holds up three fingers.

Rogan: And third, to truly bag the disorder--

Sneak runs over and shoves him out of the panel. She is mainly in view; Rogan is already mostly out of it.

Rogan: Unf!

Sneak: --We have to take control from each other every once in a while!

Sneak holds two thumbs up and grins. Rogan is entirely gone now.

Sneak: And that's what gets you MPD!

4,2

Rogan comes back and shoves Sneak out of the panel; he looks annoyed, she dismayed.

Rogan: Note that this doesn't really take into account how well we get along.

Sneak: Hey! Nooo!

The two alters battle for the panel; so far, Rogan seems to be winning. He holds Sneak back; she struggles to get back into the panel.

Rogan: We can achieve these changes in power by force--

Sneak: Come on, you've had the comic all to yourself! Let me back in! I'll be good, I promise!

Rogan lets Sneak back into the panel. She grins and looks celebratory; he looks put out.

Rogan: --or we can cooperate.

Sneak: I like that better!

4,3

The fight apparently over, the two alters stand side by side, Sneak looking pleased and Rogan indicating her with one hand.

Rogan: Now, you may notice that we both look very different from each other.

Rogan smirks as Sneak drags the "real girl" from earlier into the frame.

Sneak: And we both look very different from the body everybody else sees in the real world!

Real Girl: Don't bring me into this! You promised you'd do this without me!

5,1

Sneak clings to Rogan's arm cheerfully; he tries to continue, though obviously a little perplexed by her behavior. The real girl just stands there, shy and rather awkward.

Rogan: Temperaments aren't the only things different between us. As alters, our self-image isn't bound by the body. We can differ in age, race, gender, you name it.

Split cell: First, a picture of a woman brushing her long hair.

Caption: "It's really not as crazy as it sounds. Have you ever had long hair..."

Second, the woman has short hair; her pose remains identical, so the hairbrush appears to be brushing her shoulder. She looks surprised.

Caption: "...cut it, and then been surprised brushing your hair?"

5,2

Two women stand in a room, apparently a party; they hold glasses in their hands. One holds a hand to her mouth, as though surprised. The other looks perplexed.

Caption: "Or lost a great deal of weight but just can't see it for a while, because you're so used to how you used to be?"

Woman 1: Oh my gosh, you look fabulous!

Woman 2: I do?

The woman with her hairbrush and Woman 2 stand in the panel. The woman with the hairbrush is patting at her short hair. Woman 2 is poking at her stomach confusedly.

Caption: "This is what happens when your self-image doesn't keep up with your body."

Rogan stands, shrugging.

Rogan: Of course, you might point out there's a big difference between forgetting you cut your hair for a few hours and thinking you're a big, hairy guy for years on end. And you're right.

5,3

Rogan holds his hands out as though trying to communicate something difficult.

Rogan: Even though I consciously understand that I'm not 5'9, 180 pounds, and a guy...

Doink! He's the "real girl" again. He looks put out.

Rogan: ...I really don't want to see this as 'me.' Would you, if you were a guy?

He reverts back, puts a hand on his hip, and cocks his head.

Rogan: I can't honestly give a reason why I keep seeing myself this way, any more than a transgendered person does. I just... know I'm male, and that I look this way. I can't make myself turn into the real girl, any more than you could turn yourself into me.

6,1

The real girl lies curled in the fetal position. The background is black.

Caption: "It's possible it's a sort of defense mechanism. A great number of folks with MPD seem to have suffered some great traumatic event in their lives."

Zooms in; real girl is curled tighter. Background remains black.

Caption: "When something happens that overwhelms people's coping defenses, particularly if they're young, some dissociate. They distance that event, either by somehow disrupting their memory of it, or their identity of it, all without even meaning to."

Zoom in closer. Still black.

Caption: "After all, if it didn't happen to you, surely it can't hurt that badly, right?"

6,2

One wide panel, full row, slashed vertically by slight skew white lines, as though they're different cells, except they all show parts of the same extreme close-up of the real girl. There's a caption in each 'mini-cell.'

Caption: "So what happens?"

Caption: "Things just get..."

Caption: "...a little..."

Caption: "...FRAGMENTED."

6,3

Zoom out again. Still black background, still fetal position, only now it's Rogan.

Caption: "This is just me postulating, but it seems like it'd be a lot easier to distance yourself if you experience something bad as occurring to someone that looks very much unlike you."

Same background, same distance, same fetal position, and now it's Gigi, the girl with the headband from the broom scene earlier.

Caption: "And if trauma comes again, the identity of the experiencer may keep changing..."

Back to Rogan in fetal.

Caption: "...or just stay the same over and over again."

7,1

Rogan drags the real girl into the panel. He's smirking; she's waving and looking awkward about the whole business.

Rogan: This is how a system can range from as small as two...

A group of various alters clutter the panel, still close enough to be distinct and have different faces and mannerisms.

Rogan: ...to twelve...

7,2

Now it's just a huge wave of indistinct people.

Rogan: ...to God only knows how many!

7,3

Rogan alone in the panel again, holding a hand up as though to make a point.

Rogan: This is called the 'trauma model' of multiplicity. Not everyone buys it.

He cocks his head and spreads his hands, indicating confusion.

Rogan: Not every traumatized person is multiple, they reason, so why should every multiple be traumatized?

He covers his face with one hand, looking a little put out--likely because Sneak has popped up in the cell, wielding a sign saying, "BIBLIOGRAPHY."

Rogan: It's an interesting argument, but unfortunately, I don't have time or space here to discuss it. Maybe in a further installment.

8,1

Sneak has tossed the sign. She waves one arm in classic 'elementary school' style. Rogan bows and indicates transferring to her.

Sneak: Ooh! My turn now! I get to talk about trading places!

Sneak is alone in the panel. She holds one hand behind her back and the other grasps a swirly hypno-disk on a string.

Sneak: Sometimes you can call us out with hypnosis, but other times, alters like us can change places by planning beforehand, like just now.

A teddy bear appears in the cell. She stares at it with obvious interest.

Sneak: Or, I might see something cool and come out to do something with it.

8,2

She cuddles the teddy bear. A little heart floats next to her head.

Suddenly the teddy bear grows fangs and claws and looks menacing. Sneak recoils from it, frightened.

Sneak: AAAH!

Rogan enters the panel, throttling the teddy bear, which no longer looks so threatening, though it retains the fangs and claws. Sneakergirl has her hands clasped in classic 'my hero!' pose.

Rogan: Or, one of us may come out to deal with something upsetting.

8,3

The two alters stand side-by-side, holding a sign between them that says 'COOPERATION.' A tiny stick figure stands in the distance, indistinct.

Sneak: Some people call this switching, but that's not a really good word, because sometimes we can both be here at the same time.

Same scene. The figure in the background is closer now; it appears to be holding a book.

Sneak: This is called 'co-fronting.'

Rogan: We're doing it now to make this comic, bouncing ideas off each other, collaborating.

The background figure is the real girl, reading a book. She barges between the two, breaking the sign. Sneak and Rogan are shoved halfway out of the panel.

Sneak: Ow, hey!

Rogan: Unfortunately, sometimes cooperation isn't that easy. Some of us have a harder time noticing each other, or might not know we're here at all.

9,1

Rogan is shouting at the real girl. The real girl continues to read her book, totally oblivious to how her hair is blowing around.

Rogan: This can be ANNOYING AS *^&%! HELLO? DO YOU MIND?

The real girl flips a page, unnoticing. Rogan watches her with a look of pensive annoyance.

The cell zooms out, showing that Rogan is holding a large sledgehammer behind his back, with the inscription 'Hammer O' Fury.' He looks disappointed at being stopped; the real girl reads on.

Sneak: (off cell) No! Bad Rogan, feel shame!

Rogan: Aww...

9,2

Sneak takes the Hammer O' Fury from Rogan, who looks sheepish.

Sneak: Sometimes a lot of multiple trouble is just communication problems. Give me the Hammer O' Fury, Rogan!

Sneak holds the hammer, still looking a little annoyed. Rogan looks hangdog.

Sneak: Some of us can hear each other really well, like Rogan and me. Others sometimes can't hear each other at all.

The real girl sticks her head into the panel. Sneak is giggling. Rogan has his hands in claws again and appears to be screaming with pain.

Sneak: And sometimes we can only hear sometimes.

Real Girl: Someone call?

Rogan: AAAAARGH!

9,3

Sneak stands sweetly while Rogan charges off, rolling up his sleeve with one hand.

Sneak: We can talk inside our mind, which is what you're seeing now...

A cell, split in three, all of the "real girl." In the first one, she waves a hand, Sneak-style.

Sneak: ...or we can do them vocally, so from the outside, we'd look like this!

Then, she has a look of surprise and dismay, and rubs her shoulder. She is now really the 'real girl.'

Real Girl: OW! Rogan, you hit me!

She lapses into Rogan's body language, crosses her arms, and smirks.

Rogan: Heh heh... yeah ...

The real girl stands on her own, rubbing her arm. She looks a little worried, and a few people are staring at her with puzzlement.

Caption: "This might give some multiples the reputation for talking to themselves, or for being a little crazier than they actually are."

10,1

Return of the Mustachioed, Pipe-Smoking Shrink! He holds a couple of pills out to the real girl, who looks a little dubious.

Caption: "Multiples are notorious for being misdiagnosed. The changes from alter to alter might be mistaken for mood swings. Internal conversations may be mistaken for psychosis or schizophrenia. Some alters may not be aware of the time they're not in control, which is mistaken for amnesia. A fair few just clam up."

Shrink: Take two and call me in the hospital.

Black background; the small girl with the headband from much earlier lies curled in a ball.

Caption: "On the flip side, the changes from alter to alter may conceal one's troubles for years. As temperaments differ, so does mental health."

Sneak stands, grinning, waving, and being the very model of cute and cuddle.

Caption: "One of us may be the very model of happiness and functionality..."

10,2

The girl with the headband is in the frame, looking frightened. Sneak is hugging her and patting her on the back.

Caption: "Others might have a little more trouble. If we can be as well-developed as a person, we can be as dysfunctional as one."

Girl with headband: I had bad dreams again...

Sneak pats the girl on the shoulders. She looks a little better.

Caption: "However, alters can become their own support group, if they work together well. Cooperation and affection help a lot."

The real girl stands, holding pieces of doodled paper in her hand. She appears to be reading.

Caption: "So does the ability to share memories. If you know what's going on when you're not in charge, it does wonders for your peace of mind--and makes things easier to keep track of."

Real Girl: Hey, I remember them making this page! Heehee, Hammer O' Fury...

10,3

All four alters stand together, looking more or less content and happy.

Rogan: Really, it matters less how many of us there are, more on how well we get along. Cooperating and helping each other out, we can live pretty well together.

The real girl stands alone, gripping her arm. She still looks a little awkward, but not as much as before.

Real Girl: Some people say that integration--stuffing everyone back into me--is the best way to end things...

Four people are back in the panel.

Real Girl: ...but sometimes that's just not possible, or desirable. Integration can seem a lot like dying, because it means not existing independently anymore. It's scary. Sometimes, just living together peacefully is enough.

11,1

Rogan stands alone, basic conversational pose

Rogan: To sum up...

Three mustachioed pipe-smoking shrinks argue. Two are shaking their fists, one is wailing.

Caption: "Multiplicity is plagued by controversy and conflict."

Shrink 1: MPD!

Shrink 2: DID!

Shrink 3: No, you fools, it doesn't exist at all!

All four alters stand, physical differences and body language making personal differences apparent.

Rogan: Alters are capable of being as different and deep as any group of people.

11,2

They turn towards Sneak, except the real girl, who's reading again.

Sneak: And we can trade places by choice...

Rogan shoves her out of the panel; Gigi watches, but the real girl keeps reading.

Rogan: ...or by force.

He looks at the real girl with annoyance; she's looked up from her book, perplexed. Sneak is reentering, rubbing her head and looking sulky. Gigi looks unhappy.

Rogan: Though some of us are less observant than others.

Real Girl: Huh?

11,3

Sneakergirl offers Gigi a teddy bear. Rogan and the real girl look on. Gigi seems uninterested.

Rogan: But whatever your origins, and whatever your issues...

The teddy bear sprouts claws and fangs again. Everyone recoils but Gigi, who stares at it goggle-eyed.

Gigi apparently likes fanged teddies. She hugs it and smiles; a little heart floats over her head. Sneak smiles, happy that they're happy. The real girl still looks a little confused but is smiling. Rogan's rolling his eyes.

Rogan: ...the most important thing is to cooperate and function. Whatever that requires.

THE END.

Bibliography and Suggested Reading

American Psychiatric Association. "300.14 Multiple Personality Disorder." Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Third Edition -- Revised) 3 (1987): 269-272

The source material to convert for this project.

American Psychiatric Association. "300.14 Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder)." Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) 4 (1994): 484-487

"Second place" in the contest for source material to convert for this project.

Astraea's Web: multiple personality resources & controversies. September 13, 2007. <http://astraeasweb.net/plural/>.

A website devoted to the idea of "natural multiplicity." Discusses multiplicity as a healthful, natural state of being plagued by media disinformation and miseducation.

"Plurality 101, or Plurality for Dummies (or Stuff You Can Show Your Grandmother To Explain To Her That You're not a Serial Killer." Collective Phenomenon. September 12, 2005 <http://www.dreamshore.net/amorpha/plural101.html>

Three links. The Layman's Guide to Multiplicity is down, but the guides for children of and significant others of multiples are still up. Takes a natural, "empowered" multiplicity perspective.

"The Layman's Guide to Multiplicity." four and twenty. September 30, 2004. <http://www.karitas.net/blackbirds/layman/>

The correct link to the Layman's Guide to Multiplicity. More healthy natural multiplicity for beginners who want to know more about it.

"D.I.D. You Know?" DeviantArt. June 21, 2007. < http://tigrin.deviantart.com/art/D-I-D-You-Know-58072489>

A comic, partly to blame for this one. Illustrates the diagnosis of DID and its symptoms in a simple, nonbiased, reader-friendly way.

Rabinowitz, Dorothy. No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times. Free Press, 2003.

Discusses, among other things, the idea of False Memory Syndrome, and the bizarre stories accompanying the Satanic Ritual Abuse sex circles of the early nineties, which was accompanied by a wave of MPD diagnoses. Doesn't directly discuss multiplicity.

Loftus, Elizabeth, and Katherine Ketcham. Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness, and the Expert Who Puts Memory on Trial. St. Martin's Griffin, 1992.

More of the same, discussing memory and its fallacies during times of trauma, and how it can be changed and warped over time. Not directly related to multiplicity, but relevant.

Return Home