Conversely, with the behaviors labeled Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), the variability between behavioral repertoires is very high, possibly so extreme that the repertoires don't compose one consistent personality repertoire (Sapulsky, 1995). The person him- or herself may even report being a different person, complete with a different name or "identity." While the behavioral variability is more extreme here, it is still on a continuum with the average person. We all exhibit several personality repertoires and there are obvious circumstances of threats of extreme punishment or the potential for deprived reinforcements under which any person might claim to be a different person (Sackheim & Devanand, 1991). Among the behaviors correlated with a diagnosis of DID, self-report is less controlled by public, environmental events and more controlled by events which are private to the person giving the self-report (Kohlenberg & Tsai, 1991; Phelps, 2000). The most apparent question is, what type of experiences could account for this extreme behavioral variability, in the self-report of being a different person, with differences in sex, age, race, physical appearance, etc,?
Commonly, these individuals frequently report having suffered drastic neglect or abuse during their childhood (American Psychiatric Association 1994; Murray, 1994). Reports of a history of childhood abuse are no doubt seen as the defining feature of DID in the minds of many clinicians, as individuals with DID-like behaviors may also display post-traumatic symptoms (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). These reports don't enlighten much since child abuse and neglect sadly isn't rare but the prevalence of these behaviors, while in dispute (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) isn't nearly as common as abuse. Some of these remembered reports of abuse have been considered suspect since the individuals exhibiting these behaviors give highly variable self-reports of their histories. It has also been argued that some of these reports of abuse may have been suggested and prompted by overzealous therapists (Spanos, 1994). In relating variations in self-observations and self-reports to the consequences delivered by others, the behavior analyst sees a straightforward connection and interaction. Much self-observation and resultant self-report comes from experiences with, observations of, and inquiries from others (Skinner, 1974). Conceptually, a person with behavior so labeled has had learning experiences that resulted in extreme behavioral variance as well as self-reports of their behaviors. The behavioral variances aren't as clearly related to obvious public events, however, as they are in the person who does not exhibit the behaviors labeled as being DID (Kohlenberg & Tsai, 1991).
Kohlenberg & Tsai argued that any individual has the experience of "being someone else," typically as part of a child's imaginary play and these behaviors can be occasioned and reinforced and or punished by the social environment. Having different aspects of one's self or "being someone else," accompanied by different subjective states of remembering and emotion, because of so behaving, can become a very adaptive behavior under some specific circumstances. When experiencing repeated physical or emotional punishment, being somebody else could provide means of escape or avoidance when no other means of escape or avoidance is attainable (Kohlenberg & Tsai, 1991). The child cannot be unaware of the horrible happenings, but the child can come to be unaware that the aversive events are happening to them. By “being someone else” who needn't remember the trauma, the child can distance him or herself from the abuse and still maintain some coarse approximation of a normal emotional relationship with the abuser. From the perspective of the abused person, "My daddy does nasty things to that other little girl, but only because she is so naughty, but my dad loves me and has never done anything bad to me." The culmination is an individual who never acquires a complete personality, self, or an experience of being one coherent "I" controlled by both public and private events. Instead, the individual who experienced the history of abuse has more than one personality repertoire, primarily controlled by private events (Kohlenberg & Tsai, 1991). On the other hand, during more normal acquisition of personality repertoires, an individual will increasingly engage in being the same person, with these behaviors occasioned and maintained by public and private events; being someone else does not have significant adaptive value.