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Multiplicity: The New Science of Personality, Identity, and the Self Hardcover – March 27, 2008

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Multiplicity: The New Science of Personality, Identity, and the Self + The Human Brain Book + Mapping the Mind
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (March 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031611538X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316115384
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,802,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this interpretation of the many selves within the human mind, science and medical writer Carter (Mapping the Mind) offers a unique definition of multiple personalities in a functioning person, without the usual discussion of phobias or other psychological disorder. Carter sees personality as a cluster of related traits; for instance, ambition and related traits like drive and impatience could be one personality that would coexist with other personalities in one individual. She describes, for instance, a passive mother of two transforming into a powerful attorney in a high-powered firm; this mental shape-shifting leads the mother to display contradictory character traits at home, at work and at play. Contrasting what the author calls minor and major personality traits in thought and behavior, Carter explains: Our inner landscape is constantly changing. Various personalities form, change, fade away, reform, merge, shrink and grow. She adds intriguing diagrams of memory and recall patterns illustrating how people behave differently in different situations. Exercises provided in the second part of the book encourage the reader's family and work personalities to interact and communicate positively with each other. Carter is pushing the envelope on personality, and her book should spark debate on the flexibility of the human mind. (Mar.)
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About the Author

Rita Carter is an award-winning science and medical writer. She contributes to New Scientist and a wide range of other British magazines and newspapers. Before specializing in science Rita worked for six years as a TV news presenter and radio host and producer. She continues to appear and be heard regularly on TV and radio as a medical and science commentator, and gives frequent talks and lectures throughout Europe and the US.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Rita Carter is a fine writer with a sterling track record in charting the human mind, both in her well praised Mapping the Mind, and Consciousness (Mapping Science) and here she explores the issue of personality.

The twist here is that recent advances in neuro-science are enabling us to understand much better how the brain operates, and Carter vividly explains a model that I'd describe as a networked email system with messages shared, responded-to, forwarded just as they are in an organisation. And just as an organisation has different departments and cultures, so too our mind has different facets - and out of these arise different responses to the world around us. Rather than having a singular personality, we actually have a cluster of personalities - a work persona perhaps, a cycnical persona, one persona while dating, and another persona while driving - and of course not all these personalities get on. Again, like the internal workings of a large organisation. There are complex interrelationships, conflicts, dissenting voices and unresolved differences.

This is the heart of multiplicity: the concept that we have a competing though potentially harmonious set of personalities.

What I love about the book is how Carter very tidily dissembles the dominant "one personality" idea promulgated by such war-horse tests as Myers Briggs: which as she shows, have only a low likelihood of awarding you the same personality prognosis from one sitting to the enxt.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on April 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Most of us tend to think of ourselves as one individual, a consistent self. In Multiplicity, Carter argues that we consist of a group of unique personalities - each with its own characteristics. She contends that we slide from one personality to another as the situation demands. These many personalities are held together by shared memories.

Part I of the book provides an overview of dissociation and multiple personality that supports the notion of multiple personalities. While some of Carter's examples would be of "normal" people, some seem to better fit for those suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. Human beings are very adaptable, and hence these different personalities came about to help us cope with the situations we face. Hence, the "troublesome" personality was created to help us, and brings some benefit to our psyche.

One would imagine that coercing a personality to "behave" (as Carter recommends) would not have the desired outcome as it may retaliate, if it can, often surreptitiously (as do individuals). If we subconsciously switch on or off personalities (as Carter contends), then one may question how much control do we truly have to summon a particular personality. Carter says that there is no "true self"; we are a collection of our personalities. Some readers may feel that this goes too far and that perhaps in the "shared memories" there is a "self." I feel that more research is needed in this area to construct a more coherent theory of multiple personalities.

Part II is dedicated to finding each of these personalities within us through a series of exercises. Carter does add that it may require the help of a friend or changes in circumstances to discover all these personalities.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kare Anderson VINE VOICE on March 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
That irritating co-worker you were stuck sitting beside (again!) sees a decidedly different side of you than your best friend does. That's because you have may people inside of you. That's what veteran science writer, Rita Carter discovered as she began reading about bi-polar personalities for Mapping the Brain. Emerging research shows that several, "personalities are made and kept separate in the human brain" ... of everyone. Want a glimpse of how many you have? Depending on the situation and who you're are around, different people pop out and speak for you. If it is of some comfort, you do play one main character, much of the time, in the unfolding movie that is your life.

Discover Yourselves At Last
Yet even the argumentative or otherwise darker personalities are in your life for a reason. In Carter's newest book, Multiplicity, you can get to know your "people", the one who plays the most likeable role and the one who keeps getting you in trouble. In a conversational style, Carter describes the research on our multiple personality brains. In the second part of the book, find exercises to understand more about the multiple you. As a quiet child I'm still surprised at the many personalities that have appeared out of me in my multiple and overlapping careers, as a high tech exec, journalist and, perhaps most peculiar, a public speaker.

Imagine doing these exercises with a spouse, best friend of co-workers at a retreat. It would be a vulnerable time - and an opportunity to explore ways you can bring out the best side in each other more often.
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