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Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory
by Ian Hacking
Twenty-five years ago one could list by name the tiny number of multiple personalities recorded in the history of Western medicine, but today hundreds of people receive treatment for dissociative disorders in every sizable town in North America. Clinicians, backed by a grassroots movement of patients and therapists, find child sexual abuse to be the primary cause of the il ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published August 3rd 1998 by Princeton University Press
(first published 1995)
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Ian Hacking's monograph "Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory" is a fascinating and insightful look at the history and politics of the psychiatric diagnosis known as "multiple personality disorder." Hacking starts by informing the reader of the then current state of knowledge and opinion about the disorder. (The book was published in 1995.) He discusses the ways in which late twentieth century discoures about child abuse and feminism in particular have fueled the ...more
Nov 18, 2013 Michael Burnam-fink rated it 4 of 5 stars · review of another edition
Ian Hacking is a subtle, thoughtful, and often frustrating writer. In Rewriting the Soul, he takes a genealogical approach to Multiple Personality Disorder, epidemic at the time of writing in the early 1990s, and links it to political movements, 19th century French psychiatry, and the philosophy of self and memory. All science, particularly the human sciences like psychiatry, are informed by politics, but Multiple Personality Disorder is is more informed than most. The appearance of alters, pers ...more
A philosophical critique of the "politics of memory" using multiple personality disorder as a sort of focusing lens. The author's thesis is that multiple personality disorder, at least in its full-blown modern form, was made possible only by the (fairly recent) advent of a science of memory, which was itself created to provide a secular alternative to the soul.
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“Self knowledge is a virtue in its own right. We value the way in which people can fulfill their own natures by gaining an unsentimental self understanding. We think it is good to grow, for all our vices, into someone who is mature enough to face the past and the present, someone who understands how character, in its weaknesses as well as its strengths, is made of interlocking tendencies and gifts that have grown in the course of a life. The image of growth and maturing is Aristotelian rather than Kantian. These ancient values are ideals that none fully achieve, and yet they are modest, not seeking to find a meaning in life, but finding excellence in living and honoring life and its potentialities.”More quotes…