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Multiplicity: The New Science of Personality
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2010
More years ago than I care to remember I undertook a Myers Briggs personality assessment. Whilst I've forgotten much else since then, I still recall the result and the warm feeling as the description of who I was matched who I felt I was. There's something undeniably comforting about the feeling of being understood, even if only by a matrix of questions.

However, even then I wondered which of me was being assessed. Was it the schoolboy, so quiet that my teacher on parents evening had to double-check for my mother that I was actually in his class? Was it the twenty-something software writer who played the part of the team clown? Was it the adult I became speaking at conferences.
Who did the results describe, and what if anything did they say about the future?

This book explores the multiplicity of personalities that almost all of us have.
The first half of the book describes the theory, building a spectrum which at one end has people with a single personality responding in the same way to all situations. At the other extreme is Multiple Personality Disorder, a Jekyll and Hyde like state where completely separate personalities inhabit the same person. Between these extremes we find most of us with multiple personalities connected by shared memories.

Rita suggests these other me's are tapped into by the stage hypnotist for comic effect, or felt more prosaically as we switch from our work to home persona on the drive home, or adopt our `telephone-voice'.

The book is profusely scattered with vivid examples used to illustrate the arguments.

To a large extent we are unaware of these alternate personalities, and have little conscious choice of who to be at any moment. The thrust of the book is that this community of people we are, offers immense potential, a pool of people we can draw upon to meet challenges and create opportunities.

Part 2 of the book provides a set of tools which will help you become more aware of the range of personalities you have, how to access them, change and create them. The result is a suite of you's better tailored for different situations.

In the hands of consultants these ideas would quickly be abused as answers to apply, but as questions with which to explore who you are and can become, this is a very powerful and intriguing book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2008
It's such an interesting way of looking at personality and behaviour, bringing the whole idea of multiple personalities within us all to the mainstream. I've read Carter's other books on the mind and consciousness and she brings the same clarity and humour to this subject. I'm still working my way through all the activities in the book to find the different personalities within me but so far all of them am grateful to Rita Carter.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2008
The first half of this book is about a way of looking at behaviour and personality. I'm simplifying but, to give an example, Carter says that happy events make you behave in a happy way. Unhappy events make you behave in an unhappy way. Nothing controversial there. But she then goes on to say that you now have two personalities one of which is happy and the other unhappy. These personalities (and, she suggests, several more) may be hardly aware of each others' presence. 'Personality' is more or less synonymous with person in this book.

Carter quotes many people who have multiple personalities in the same brain/body sometimes with happy and sometimes with unhappy consequences. I feel it's more reasonable to think that happy events make me happy and make me behave in a happy way rather than bringing out a different person/personality.

I was enjoying the book (well, enough to read it anyway) but suddenly part two appeared and it's a long set of personality tests to help you find your inner selves. If you're interested in that sort of thing then this book could be for you.

I should say that I completed the first test and probably don't have any extra personalities (or my 'minors' are repressed) so perhaps that's why I wasn't interested in looking for them.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Years ago, I was 17 and had an idea that we were more than one personality connected via some form of common memory. This idea predicted, with ease, multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia and the idea that we can "hear ourselves think".

I took it no further, as we all have crazy ideas.

However, Rita Carter wrote a book that I had to buy as the blurb on the back read like my original notion. Only now, it's grown up to be a genuine and somewhat tested theory.

The first half is the easiest to read casually-it's very engaging and just a little addicting. Because of this, after the first ten pages I skipped to the second half. I'm not a fan of tests, so I'll freely confess to having NOT done these. However I read the practical material here and how the theory can be applied to real life, therefore tested. Excellent work, it echoes with my life experience. Ever found yourself starting new hobbies, abandon them after a blaze of enthusiasm, and then wish you hadn't stopped? Sound familiar?

The first half of the book makes the notion of major, minor and micro personalities clear. This material will probably resonate with anyone who isn't "singular" in particular.

Personalities are generated throughout childhood and life experience to cope with specific situations and experiences. Some persist because the situations are repeated. Some personalities may not take hold, due to very temporary circumstances or needs; others fade after being established through disuse, though these can be bought back to life.
Minor personalities may be quite 2 dimensional and specialising in a task (driving, working in a call centre from a script, factory worker line etc.), or indeed grow to become major as experience grows.

Her explanations are succinct and vivid, making it likely that readers will get a tingle of recognition every other page. This was my experience.

After having read Taming Your Gremlin, by Rick Carson, I found that Carter's ideas in her book clarifies his ideas. The inner Gremlin/critic is a personality that many, many people have and frequently find holding them back. It's a personality of often extreme caution that can cause social discomfort and artificial limitation by over "self" criticism. With the view of multiplicity, it's possible to be fully aware of this personality being active and note its interference, and reduce its influence in your life.

The freeing idea of multiplicity is that you can learn to be aware of each personality you may have and understand better how to delegate parts of your life. Sounds foreign perhaps, but most folks have had the experience of inner dialogues and confusion. Learning to negotiate with these "alters" can make life flow much more easily. Managing "problematic" personalities becomes a possibility too.

The fact that the lens of this theory allows for examination of many fairly successful forms of therapy gives it an appeal to me that few other psychological theories have.

Very well worth the 3 hours it took to read the book cover to cover.

Robert Ornstein's Multimind is an older work in the same vein and is referenced here. I have this book and also felt it works well.
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on 6 June 2014
this book clearly explains concepts not previously understood. beautifully written with humour and insight. Suggest you read this and spread the word
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on 2 February 2015
A bit poppy at times but a really fascinating way of looking at the brain. Well worth a read.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2008
Anybody familiar with Rita Carter's brilliant earlier books, such as Mapping the Mind, will be aware of her uncanny ability to make the most complex and difficult subjects accessible - and even entertaining - to us lay readers. In Multiplicity, Carter not only explores a difficult and often misunderstood subject with her trademark clarity and panache; she may also have helped to transform the way that we all see ourselves and see one another. A stunning, breathtaking book.
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