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Biology Articles » Psychobiology » Personality, Personality “Theory” And Dissociative Identity Disorder: What Behavior Analysis Can Contribute And Clarify » Self-observation and controlling events

Self-observation and controlling events
- Personality, Personality “Theory” And Dissociative Identity Disorder: What Behavior Analysis Can Contribute And Clarify

To this point, some of the typical behaviors labeled as DID have been described in behavior analytic terms. While a complete account of the behaviors conceptualized under the DID label is not likely, a reasonable accounting of most of these behaviors can be framed, using established behavioral processes.

To pursue this further, the variance in self-report of identity and experience by individuals whose behaviors have been labeled as DID may be based disproportionately on inaccurate self-observations made without seeking verification from the social environment. Simply put, such individuals may attend more to their own observations expressed and reiterated in their own verbal behavior and less upon the observations and reports of others. That is to say, when in Rome and unsure of what to do, persons with DID-like behaviors may not attend to or imitate the behavior of other Romans as models. Instead, these persons may arrive at an inflexible self-produced verbal governance (Fine, 1992) by which to behave or they may attempt to engage in what they judge to be appropriate behavior by observing their own behavior without using social comparisons. Keller & Schoenfeld (1950) described the person as having "the ability to use one's own behavior as the SD for further behavior, verbal or otherwise" (p. 369); here, the person uses their own behavior as a discriminative event to a greater extent than the normal individual. Since abnormality is defined by its context, and since we are frequently less adept at self-observation than we are at observing the behavior of others (Skinner, 1974), this in and of itself could lead to aberrant behavior. But individuals with DID-like behaviors persist in their self-observations and reports, even in the face of contradicting evidence from others. They claim to be different persons when in fact there is only one and the same person (or body) present. These individuals have dissociated their self-observations and resulting reports from the reports of others. As a result, they have observations that are not as controlled by the public environment but are instead a function of their own distorted verbal governances (Fine, 1992).

Such inaccurate self-observations may be under the control of reinforcement contingencies other than those exerted by other individuals. In the past, the person with the now present DID-like behaviors learned to attend to and rely more heavily upon his own observations of how he felt, what he needed, whether he was "good" or "bad," etc. (Fine, 1992; Keller & Schoenfeld, 1950). This behavior may have either been due to neglect and abuse, both of which were possibly delivered without regard to what the child did. The behavior might also have been present before the abuse but only emerged as adaptive responses while experiencing the abuse (Kohlenberg & Tsai, 1991).


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