Today’s Idiom – X-factorMeaning-an indescribable quality about a person that you cannot put your finger on, that makes the person very special.
“Lalitha is suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. In layman’s terms she’s showing symptoms of Multiple Personality Disorder or split personalities. Of course, I cannot say that I’m completely sure of it and it would be better if we have a second opinion”, Vishnu declared while rubbing his forehead.
“I’ve never come across such a case in all these years of my career. MPD is very rare and very controversial too and has been hyped too much in media. Monica is Lalitha’s alter, or other personality.”
I was shocked beyond words. I had heard about split personalities but only in books or in movies.
“But why? I mean how could she have developed this condition and no one from her family is aware of it.” If Monica had first appeared when Chandra was killed then that means Lalitha was suffering from MPD for more than a decade.
“How is it possible that her condition went unnoticed for so long?” I wondered aloud.
“MPD is very uncommon and Lalitha… umm… Monica confessed that she was very careful to remain unnoticed. Her parents wouldn’t have detected the change in her behavior unless it was very obvious.
MPD is speculated to be caused by severe childhood trauma that creates a mental split or dissociation as a defense against that trauma. These different personalities develop separately and in adulthood they help the sufferer deal with stress in situations when the core personality is not able to handle. The patients suffering from MPD may have several distinct states of mind or personalities residing in one body. There is a varying range of how many personalities may be present, from 2 to over 20 personalities within one shared body.”
Vishnu looked at my shocked face and turned his laptop to show me.
“Don’t look so shocked. Here look at this case of Shirley Mason, who was diagnosed with MPD in 1950’s. She had 16 personalities within her and her case had attracted a lot of public attention. In fact there was a book and movie - Sybil, related to her case. See this one here. This case is of Kim Noble, from UK who was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder in 1995, and she believed that she had around 100 personalities in her. Of course this disorder has been hyped so much in the media that it’s difficult to perceive the difference between fact and fiction.
Each of these personalities has its own sense of self and has its own habits of thought, emotions, and memory. These identities may or may not be aware of each other. In Lalitha’s case, she is not aware of what she does when she turns into Monica. The lack of power to recall creates gaps in the memory, causing the personalities to feel as though they did not exist for the period of time.
In most cases the alter personality is a dominant one. While Lalitha is timid and scared, Monica is the one with the X-factor, the one who controls Lalitha’s mind when she is too scared to deal with a situation.”
Then I asked Vishnu that one question that I had been dreading.
“Can you treat her? Do you think Lalitha can be cured?”
Vishnu sighed before replying, “I don’t know. Yes, MPD can be treated with medications and therapy but we cannot predict how successful the long term treatment will be. It may take years, 10 years, 20 years – I don’t know.
But I do know that Lalitha wants to become better because of you. You motivate her. You are the only beam of sunshine in her dark, chaos- filled life. And if you leave her side now, she’ll slip into an abyss of delusion.”
No matter what Vishnu said I had made up my mind and there was no way I would marry Lalitha next month.
You can read the previous chapters here-