If people change radically as a result of mental disturbance or brain damage or disease, how should we acknowledge that change in the way in which we respond to them? And how should society and the law acknowledge that change, particularly in cases of multiple-personality and manic-depressive disorders? This book addresses these and a cluster of other questions about changes in the self through time and about the moral attitudes we adopt in the face of these changes. The result is a broad-ranging interdisciplinary discussion at the boundaries of psychiatry, philosophy, law, and social policy. Theories of personal identity are applied to, and clarified in light of, the appearance of multiple selves in a variety of personality and identity disturbances.
Divided minds force us to clarify our thinking about human subjectivity, Radden points out, and when they result in a succession of "selves," they provoke interesting ethical and legal issues. Radden provides a clear and thorough discussion of basic issues faced by clinicians and philosophers contending with the unity of consciousness and personal identity, particularly in the area of dissociative disorders, where issues of unity of consciousness have a direct impact on clinical and forensic decisions.
Part 1 takes up the divisions and heterogeneities associated first with the normal self and then with the pathological self and identifies a "language of successive selves." Part 2 provides an extended analysis of personal responsibility and culpability with regard to extreme multiplicity. Part 3 takes up the notion of a metaphysics of successive selves. And part 4 addresses theoretical concerns associated with clinical material in an effort to further our understanding of the concepts of self-consciousness and subjectivity.
A Bradford Book
"What right have you to choose the fate of your future self, a person who may not share your current aspirations and attitudes at all? Just who do you think you are? The most important—and confusing—decisions of your life depend on how you answer this philosophical question, and Radden's book organizes a wealth of relevant psychological information and philosophical analysis into a position of admirable and persuasive clarity. Seldom does philosophical thinking have so direct and beneficial an impact on real life dilemmas—dilemmas we all must face sooner or later."
—Daniel C. Dennett, Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University