Roma Hart, Canada
When did you start exhibiting alternate personalities (alters), and what do you think caused them?
October 1986 at the end of my first appointment with Dr. Colin Ross. I had gone to a university student guidance counsellor Lynn Ryan to get a form fill out for an extension to my unemployment insurance at the suggestion of my friend, but the form required a doctor and this guidance counsellor, who was also a student of Dr.Colin Ross, was sure that he would fill out the form for me. Although the unemployment was based upon a foot injury it just seemed easier to get an extension based on stress, I was certainly under stress, and when the student counsellor asked me what I did when I was under stress and I answered “I just switch to auto pilot” she immediately diagnosed that as another personality and became excited at the possibility of working with her idol and professor Colin Ross who held claim to being the only MPD expert in Western Canada at that time. I just needed the form filled out, I didn’t believe in multiple personality disorder and had read in a Psychology Today magazine several years earlier that it was junk science, no such thing existed. Nevertheless there Lynn and I were a few days later, in Ross’ office in the St. Boniface Hospital psych. building. At the end of the first appointment Ross asked me if he could speak to one of my personalities and I felt pressured to produce one for him. The student counsellor was sitting right beside me and I knew that I had a tendency to cry very easily when I has PMS, and that when I had PMS I hated being touched because my skin felt like it was on fire, an estrogen overload kind of effect. Well I just happened to have pretty bad PMS that day so I told the counsellor to touch me and I would switch to another personality. She did, worse than just a touch she started rubbing my back and I could not help myself from cringing and crying to get the hell away from her because she wouldn’t stop rubbing my back. Dr.Colin Ross was very pleased indeed for the apparent personality switch and I just nodded yes to every question he asked, I just wanted to get out of his office as soon as possible. I was terrified of going to a psychiatrist’s office and terrified of drugs but the student counsellor had assured me before going to that appointment that MPD was the only diagnosis that never required hospitalization and never required drugs, so I believed that if I were to get out of Ross’ office then I needed that diagnosis and no other. Furthermore I needed that damn form filled out because I needed the money, I had no intention of ever coming back for another appointment. Well Ross filled out the form and shook my hand welcoming me to MPD therapy at the end of that first appointment.
How many alters did you have?
I had 48 alter personalities, Ross said I had more but I was too bored to look for more and the MPD therapy was making me very sick.
I’ve heard people with “MPD/DID” say they have blackouts or periods of memory loss when being different alters. Did you? If so, can you explain the cause of the blackouts?
My so-called blackouts were nothing more than ordinary moments of distraction and day dreaming, for example missing my stop on the bus because I was looking out the window thinking about something. My periods of memory loss were nothing more than normal forgetting because something happened a long time ago. However, all supposed blackouts and supposed memory loss were rewarded by Ross and the other MPD support group members, it supported the cult like environment of the believers in MPD.
Did your friends and family believe you had different personalities? If so, why do you think they believed you?
Not my family, but I had one friend who wanted to be included in my MPD treatment program and seemed to love the drama.
Would you say you were acting? Did it feel like acting?
In the very beginning I felt like an actor, but by the second appointment I was completely sucked into the game. By the third appointment Ross had me convinced I was not only sexually abused by my whole family throughout my entire childhood but was also part of a murderous satanic cult. By the fourth visit he had me believe that I had an alien baby. The following month I attempted suicide. The following month, after standing in the hallway by the nurses station in the St. Boniface Hospital psych. building and yelling that “ it was all a lie and that nothing was true”, Dr. Colin Ross had me committed, forcibly injected with high levels of drugs, put in a seclusion room , and had one of his nurses sit beside me on the floor saying to me over and over again that it was all true. Well I never did that again, learned my lesson.
If you could say one thing to yourself at that time, what would it be?
At the first step toward the St. Boniface Hospital I would have screamed at myself to stop and run in the opposite direction as fast and as far as I could. When I had decided to just go to Ross’ office and pretend I had MPD to get the form filled out I thought that nothing could go wrong, I wasn’t crazy, all I had to do was sit there and talk to him for an hour, no harm could ever come from that, in a few weeks I could just go back to work. Boy was I wrong! What would I say to myself back then? Lots could go wrong! So much could go very wrong very quickly, oh my goodness turn around and never go in there and never ever speak to or listen to Dr. Colin Ross or his whacko student ever again!!
What made you stop believing you had multiple personalities?
I would watch the television show Sesame Street as a way to be kind to my child personality. There was one episode where Kermit the Frog and Grover were demonstrating emotions. Kermit would say this is what sad looks like, this is what angry looks like, this is what happy looks like, and then Grover would demonstrate what that feeling made him look like. Well, Hell! It was a light bulb moment for me. I remembered that before I met Ross I never had to switch personalities when I felt different emotions. Grover didn’t have to say he was a different name or a different person just because he was feeling a different emotion, he was still Grover all the time! That’s what I was like before MPD therapy! Geeeez! I was sick of MPD therapy and I was so sick of Ross not listening to me and always telling me to switch personalities. Then I remembered something I had learned as a student when I was in the university Faculty of Education, it was about “unlearning”. So I decided that if I had learned how to be MPD then I could unlearn it too. So that’s what I did, I unlearned it by stopping it.
Are multiple personalities real?
They’re only real if you believe in them. But they’re caused by bad therapy and bad therapists using junk science for personal investments of one kind or another. If you can manage to get away from those cult like influences and dust off your critical thinking skills then you’ll see that MPD is not a real thing and the personalities are not real thing either.