Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

-By Dereck

Dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, is basically a condition that causes a person to display multiple personalities that are each distinct and that behave differently in the environment.  As the name suggests, someone with dissociative identity disorder displays very different personalities that take over at different times, and that each personality doesn’t typically remember what the other personality did while “in control”.  This disorder has many symptoms which resemble other psychological disorders, including schizophrenia. One of the symptoms of this disorder can be described as sudden and uncaused anger.

This is something that is seen quite regularly with the character Mr. Hyde in Robert Louis Stevenson’ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a classic and widely popular novel.  In it one of the main characters, Dr. Jekyll, finds a way to “transform” into a person without a conscience.  This second form is known as Mr. Hyde.  Mr. Hyde exhibits strangely violent tendencies (such as murder) which force Dr. Jekyll to flee from the police, who are trying to hunt him down. What’s different about the two split personalities in this novel, as compared to Dissociative Identity Disorder, is that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde actually remember what the other person does, and that Dr. Jekyll knows what crimes were committed when he was Mr. Hyde.  This is one of the major plot elements that does not tie in with multiple personalities.

However, the relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has much similarity to Dissociative Identity Disorder in that the characters interacting with Dr. Jekyll and/or Mr. Hyde see very different people that take over at specific times.  They are different to the point where even physical appearance changes when Dr. Jekyll transforms. Another interesting aspect of the relationship between the two characters is that one personality is ultimately “winning”.  Dr. Jekyll in the novel becomes increasingly desperate to create more potion in order to revert back to his normal self.  This is because he begins to transform automatically into Mr. Hyde involuntarily and later against his will.  The end of the novel reveals that Dr. Jekyll was about to transform into Mr. Hyde for good before he finished writing the letter.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a familiar story that has many of the elements of a story about Dissociative Identity Disorder.  Through its slightly different twists and additions, the story portrays the struggle of someone dealing with other identities not in their own control.  In the end, Dr. Jekyll is ultimately unsuccessful in his attempts to regain control over his self as his final letter bids farewell to the world.  Fortunately, this is not necessarily the fate that people with multiple personalities have to face!

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~ by psychology2 on April 30, 2010.

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