Multiplicity – The New Science of Personality - Rita Carter
MultiplicityMore 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 software writer who played the part of the team clown? Was it the speaker with an audience of 5,000 in the heart of Tehran?

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 for example 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.

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.

Highly recommended.

Steve Unwin
June 2009