Throughout the book, Carter entertains the idea that personalities or selves do not come one to a person, but rather are created by that person in as many forms and as great or small a number as is required. The book is divided in two main parts, one of which is mainly explanatory and the second is practical. The first part consists of five chapters. She reserves the first chapter to the discussion of multiple personality from its roots in superstition through the discovery of hypnosis to modern-day brain imaging because even though this book is not for or about people with multiple personality, she thinks that understanding even a little about that extreme and pathological form of multiplicity may help us to understand our own selves.
The next chapter titled The Landscape of Mind describes the shifting inner landscape of mind on which our personalities are built and shows how our fond notion of inner stability, consistency and unity has been shown, time and again, to be a myth. In this chapter, she explains the reason why conventional personality tests fail to capture the full complexity of human beings.
Chapter three, titled Mechanisms of Mind, explain the mechanism by which personalities are created in our brains, and how and why some live separate existence from their neighbors. Chapter four titled Changing Times, Changing Selves explains why multiplicity is becoming more visible, its potential benefits and likely problems.
The last chapter of the first part of the book titled The People You Are is aimed at displaying where our personalities come from, namely the raw material, from which we construct the people we are before continuing in the second part of the book to show how to engage inner personalities in conversation with one another and help them to sort out their various responsibilities. In this chapter, she introduces the main types of personality: inner or anxious parents, inner or frightened children, stereotypical personalities, rebels, shadows, identikits and celebrities.
The practical second part of the book is intended to show how to identify and get to know the members of our own inner family and to see how their different skills, knowledge and ways of looking at the world can be used to the advantage of our selves. The second part of the book is open with a chapter titled How Multiple Are You? Here, she introduces a new tool called the Personality Wheel which she has designed to give the reader a graphic representation of his/her various personalities and to show at a glance how they interact and contrast with each other.
In the following chapter titled Meet the Family, she goes on to present profiles of some of the most common minors grouped into functional categories such as defenders, controllers, punishers, role players, relics and creatives. This section is designed to help the reader identify his/her particular personalities and understand what they do, how they do it and what can happen if they get neglected or overbearing. Finally, in the last chapter titled Working Together, there are a number of exercises aimed to help the reader get his/her personalities communicating with one another and encourage them to work together as a team.
This is a daring book that stands out against our conventional view of our selves as having a single, consistent identity. After reading the book one cannot but wonder about the possible minor or major personalities within oneself. By drawing on the results of recent brain research on dissociation and the multiple personality disorder, Rita Carter convincingly argues throughout the book that what has conventionally been regarded as harmful psychological conflict is more likely to be a sign of the inner diversity created by our ability to adapt to new circumstances.
While its writing style is very informative as many ideas are drawn from highly complicated sources of neurology and psychology, it is quite interesting and intelligible even to a layperson because she skillfully concretizes these ideas by many case studies in every chapter. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a deeper understanding of oneself.
© 2008 Kamuran Godelek
Kamuran Godelek, Ph.D., Mersin University, School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy, Ciftlikkoy, MERSIN, TURKEY