THREE women: ONE body
Is it possible that one housewife can be three people at once? Yes, say scientists who have studied this true Jekyll-and-Hyde story. It’s hard to believe, but here are the facts:
Experts say this handwriting is hy three different women • • •
• • • Yet doctors are sure it’s one woman — with three personalities eiet oers an e æ si» s s «e wre w«--
A case history by SYDNEY KATZ
PERHAPS once in a lifetime a doctor finds a patient with a condition so rare and startling that he is overwhelmed by feelings of wonder and awe. This has been the recent experience of Dr. Corbett H. Thigpen, a 35-year-old associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta.
For more than three years Thigpen has been treating a young woman who, he is convinced, is not one but three completely different people. She has what is perhaps the strangest malady known to medicine. She is a “multiple personality.” Improbable as it may sound, her body appears to be shared by three different women.
When she first went to see Thigpen the woman was twenty-five and married with a two-year-old daughter. In medical history she is now known as Eve White, although that is not her real name. Eve White doesn’t smoke, drink or dance and she wears drab conservative clothes. Her face is lined with worry and her only aim seems to be not to offend anyone.
But at times another personality emerges, pushing Eve White aside and taking over complete control of her body, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for several weeks. She is known as Eve Black and in many ways she’s the exact opposite of Eve White. She is a racy, free and sexy young woman. She is outrageously flirtatious, picks up strange men, drinks, smokes and buys flashy clothes she can’t afford. Eve Black sums up what she wants out of life in a single sentence, “I want money and fun.”
The third person in Eve White’s body is Jane, who seems to possess the better qualities of both Eve White and Eve Black with something of her own added. She is poised, calm and intelligent, dresses in excellent taste and is gracious and pleasing with men.
Each of the characters “comes out” whenever Thigpen asks her to (“Come out, Eve Black!” he may say). But sometimes one will take over from another without warning and turn Eve White’s life into a bewildering nightmare. She has been told about her multiple personality, but until then Eve White knew nothing about Eve Black or Jane. Eve Black on the other hand always knows everything that Eve White thinks and does but only what. Thigpen tells her about Jane. Finally, all the thoughts and emotions of both Eve White and Eve Black are an open book to Jane although they have no personal knowledge of her.
Doctors, as well as laymen, find it difficult to accept the extraordinary fact that three different personalities can exist at the same time in the same body. Is it possible that Eve White is merely a clever actress who has hoodwinked them?
This is highly unlikely. The voice, expressions, gestures, vocabulary, dress, tastes and thinking of Eve White, Eve Black and Jane are
different. It would not be possible for even the most accomplished actress to play this complicated triple role for three years without a single noticeable flaw. Furthermore, the existence of three distinct personalities has been established by such objective means as “brain-wave tracings” (the electro-encephalogram), psychological tests and handwriting analysis.
Finally, the two men who have made the deepest study of the case, Thigpen and his superior at the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Harvey Cleckley, are both highly qualified observers—Thigpen a specialist in psychiatry and author of scientific papers in several leading medical journals and Cleckley a former Rhodes Scholar who wrote The Mask of Sanity, a highly regarded work on the psychopathic personality.
What are the causes of multiple personality? What course does it run? Can it be cured? These questions are not easily answered because there is no definitive work on this type of mental disorder. During the past two hundred years medical literature makes mention of only about ninety such cases. The best-known multiple personality occurs in a work of fiction —Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The central character is Dr. Jekyll, a respectable law-abiding physician. But at times he changes to Mr. Hyde, a lustful evil man with all the instincts of a savage. Concerning real-life multiple personalities, available medical literature has this to say:
Multiple personality is a form of hysteria— “the grand hysteria.” It is related to conditions such as amnesia (memory loss), trances, dream states, flights from reality and sleepwalking and is the reaction of a person to emotional conflict. The person can no longer cope with some painful situation so his mind gives up the fight and runs away, unconsciously deserting his personality for one with no problems. In the multiple personality it’s as though the patient’s mind has divided itself into part» each part—with its own mentality and its own ego—taking a turn presiding over the body.
This rare psychiatric - disorder has made Eve White’s life a turmoil of conflicting desires and ambitions, with each personality apparently exerting its will on her often-weary body. Eve Black’s fascination for expensive clothes and strange men has threatened to break up Eve White’s marriage with her husband George White. (When she can be persuaded to think about it Eve Black considers herself single.) Eve White loves her daughter Carol and is anxious for her sake to patch up her troubles with George. Eve Black is usually impatient with the child and has a black hatred for George.
In fact, beginning with her submissive manner and ending with her marriage, Eve Black doesn’t like anything
Continued on page 57
THE GRAPH below is a tracing of braincell activity as each personality takes over in Eve White. Note changes in pattern.
TIH‘M‘ Huai Personalities Fanion* in Fiction
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 15
about Eve White and does her best to make her life miserable. “Kill her off!” she has urged Dr. Thigpen who does most of the therapeutic work with her. “I’m the one who loves life.” By such mental and emotional storms of which Eve White is not personally aware Eve Black can give her a split-
ting headache, which she often does wilfully; she frightens her by making her hear voices and has cost her several jobs by maliciously influencing her decisions the wrong way.
Jane’s attitude toward the two Eves is exactly what you might expect from an intelligent mature woman. She disapproves of Eve Black’s mischiefmaking and she has the utmost respect for Eve White’s gentleness. Thigpen has told all three that if the case is satisfactorily concluded only one of them will survive. Jane unselfishly wrote to him that Eve White was the
most worthy to go on living: “ . . . She must not die yet! I wish I could tell her what I feel but I can’t reach her. I want her to live, not me!”
The strange Eve White-Eve BlackJane story begins in the Summer of 1951 in the city of August a, Georgia.
For some weeks a Mrs. Eve White had been visiting Psychiatrist Corbett Thigpen in his office at the Medical College of Georgia University Hospital. She was referred to him in a routine way. She had complained to her family physician about headaches, blackouts and skin rashes. When repeated
physical examinations revealed no organic defects he told her, “1 think your troubles may be caused by your emotions. 1 suggest that you have a chat with a psychiatrist.”
When she went to Thigpen she told him frankly, “Whatever is bothering me 1 want to get rid of it. I have a twoyear-old daughter and I don’t want my marriage to go to pieces.” The doctor recalls that Mrs. White was an attractive young woman, 25 years old, five feet three, 105 pounds, with lightbrown hair and blue eyes. She had a slender, graceful figure. Everything
about her suggested a shy timid person with prim ideas. She spoke so softly he often had to lean forward in his chair to hear her. Her clothes were quiet too and she wore no make-up or jewelry.
During one of these early visits Mrs. White told the doctor about a dream she had. There was a long cavernous room, she said. In the middle of it, was a murky pool with a slimy greenbrownish algae on its surface. “I was in the pool with my baby, desperately trying to avoid being drowned. Every time I put the baby on the bank my
husband would throw her back in. Then one of my relatives tried to push my head under the water and hold it
Thigpen felt that if he hypnotized iiis patient it would help her interpret the underlying significance of this dream. He put her in “a co-operative state” a superficial level of hypnosis. In that condition Mrs. White had little difficulty in relating the dream to her life.
She had married George White, a machinist, five years before and since then her life had been a constant round
of conflict and frustration. She was one religion while her husband was another. “I wanted to bring up Carol, my daughter, in my own faith but he refused to let me,” she said. Some of her relatives—particularly the one in the dream—sided with her husband. She felt that most of the family’s friends were critical of her stand in Carol’s religious training.
After bringing her grievances out into the open Eve White seemed to improve. She had fewer headaches and seemed more relaxed. “But in spite of the improvement,” says Thigpen, “I couldn’t escape the feeling that this girl’s major problems were not yetsettled.” This suspicion was confirmed not. long after by a phone call from George White. “I must see you right away, doctor,” he said. “My wife’s got me worried.” In Thigpen’s office, he told the following story:
He was in the living room reading the evening newspaper when his wife went into the bedroom, took out her traveling bag and started packing her clothes. The husband was surprised. “Where are yoù going?” he asked. She looked at him in astonishment. “Why, you know perfectly well. T’m going to stay wit h cousin Sue for a few days.” The husband could hardly believe what he heard. Sue lived in a city some seventy-five miles away and was married to a clergyman. A church convent ion had taken him out of town for a few days and Sue had asked Eve White to stay with her. Eve had made the trip and returned home the previous day but evidently she didn’t remember a single minute of the visit.
A Letter Without a Name
What made this even more incredible to George White was that after four ! days he had phoned his wife and asked her to return home and she had refused, using the most abusive language. He had been puzzled by this behavior in his usually meek wife and after waiting another few days had driven to Sue’s to fetch her. She was adamant. “What’s more,” recalled George, “she acted like a woman possessed. She shrieked at me and called me names. That wasn’t the same girl Í had left at Sue’s only a few days earlier.”
George White returned home alone wondering what to do next. The next day his wife walked in, calmly pecked Ihm on the cheek and began unpacking her bag. She made no mention of the trip or the quarrel, and her husband, thinking that this was her way of indicating that she wanted to let bygones be bygones, carefully avoided the subject.
The doctor questioned Mrs. White about the visit to Sue’s and indeed she was unaware it had taken place. He figureil that perhaps a form of amnesia had occurred: she had found the
quarrel with her husband so distressing that she unconsciously erased the entire experience from her memory. Under hypnosis she was able to recall most of the details of the trip. For the next few weeks she again seemed to show improvement. Butthen a strange incident occurred which led the doctor for the first time to suspect the real nature of his patient’s trouble.
An unsigned letter arrived for Thigpen: from the contents and handwriting he was certain it was from Mrs. White. It read:
Remembering my visit to Sue brought me a great deal of relief to begin with. Just being able to recall the trip seemed enough but now that I’ve had time to think about it and all that occurred, it's more painful than I ever thought possible.
A strange expression came over the grey worried face. She smiled recklessly and in a provocative voice said, “Hi, Doc!'*
How can I be-sure that I remembered all that happened even now? How can I know that it won't happen again? I wonder if I’ll ever be sure of anything again?
While I was there with you it seemed different. Somehow it didn’t matter so much to have forgotten; but now it does matter. I can’t even recall color schemes and I know that would probably be the first thing I’d notice.
My head hurts right on top. It has ever since the day I was down there to see you. I think it must be my eyes. I see little red and green specks and I’m covered with a kind of rash.”
Aí this point, the letter ended abruptly. But at the bottom of the page, in small cramped handwriting quite different from the other, was written:
baby please be quite dear lord don’t let me lose patience with her she’s too sweet and innocent and my selfcontrol
This postscript too ended abruptly. Thigpen showed the letter to his chief Cleckley, and the two of them puzzled over it. Could a child have found Mrs. White’s unfinished letter, added the peculiar postscript, then mailed it? Perhaps. The handwriting could belong to a child. Could Mrs. White be playing a joke on the doctors? They dismissed this notion; Mrs. White was too sober to indulge in pranks.
Besides puzzling him, the letter also alarmed Thigpen. On a previous occasion Mrs. White had unaccountably lost her temper and put the rope of the Venetian blind around young Carol’s neck. She might have done the child serious harm had her husband not been there. The doctor rushed to his phone and got in touch with Mrs. White. Talking with her he was satisfied she was quite normal. He asked her to come in later and see him.
When Eve White kept the appointment Thigpen showed her the letter. She denied sending it. “I wrote it— yes,” she said, “hut I decided against sending it and threw it away. As for the postscript, why it’s not even in my
writing!” Discussing the letter seemed j to agitate Mrs. White. Her face was | taut and she fidgeted uncomfortably.
In an almost inaudible voice, she whispered, “Doctor . . . for the past few weeks I’ve been hearing a voice ... a woman’s voice. Does that mean I’m insane?”
As the doctor was pondering his answer a strange expression came over Mrs. White’s face. As if struck by a ! sudden pain she closed her eyes and covered her face with her hands. She remained motionless for several seconds, then let her hands fall to her lap. A miracle of transformation appeared to have taken place in Eve White. The grey worried face was now vibrant and sparkling. She smiled recklessly. She crossed her legs, and the doctor noticed for the first time that she had pretty legs. Then, in a voice undeniably provocative, she said, “Hi, Doc!”
“I Ain’t Even Married”
The doctor immediately became aware that the woman seated in the big brown leather chair in front of him had undergone a profound change. This new woman had a daredevil air about her; her manners, voice, gestures and posture were different. The careful, correct language of Eve White had given way to careless slang.
“Anything wrong with you, Mrs. White?”
“Don’t you worry about me, doc,” she replied. “There ain’t a thing wrong.”
But even more perplexing was the fact that the patient began speaking of Mrs. White in the third person. When Thigpen asked her about her husband George, she replied, “Are you kiddin’?
I ain’t even married.”
“Then who are you?” asked the doctor.
“I’m Eve Black.” (This was Eve White’s maiden name.)
“Then where’s Eve White?”
“She’s gone . . . gone to the same place I go. 1 go and come.”
“How do 1 get in touch with Eve
White?” Thigpen asked his patient.
"That’s easy. Just call her.”
Thigpen did. The patient sat back in her chair and closed her eyes. By the time she opened them thirty seconds later she was again Mrs. White, the drab, harassed housewife. vShe looked down and noticed that her legs were crossed and that her skirt was slightly above her knee. She apologized to the doctor. “I’m sorry. I guess I must have had one of my spells. What were we talking about?”
Obviously, Eve Black knew all about live White but Eve White wasn’t even aware of Eve Black’s existence.
A series of further interviews with the patient and conferences with Harvey Cleckley forced Thigpen to the almost unbelievable conclusion that he had an authentic case of multiple personality on his hands. "I felt as if I had suddenly been confronted with a legendary figure like a centaur or a unicorn come to life,” he said later.
Voices in Her Head
Each day taught him something new about this strange malady. On her first appearance Eve Black had simply "popped out” of Eve White. To get her to come out the second and third time Thigpen had to hypnotize Eve White. After that, Eve Black would come simply when she was called. On other occasions she would also come out when sin; wasn’t called. But she was unable to come out as often or as long as she would have liked. Her short time "out” rankled Eve Black and made her the declared enemy of Eve White. “She (Eve White) keeps me bottled up even though she doesn’t know I’m here,” Eve Black told the doctor. “I hit back at her by giving her headaches.”
This observation was of particular
interest to the doctor. TsThy^ anything else you do to her?” he^n^ed.
Eve Black broke out into a laiVgft. “Sure . . . sometimes I give her a rash. She’s got it coming for not lettin’ me out. But I’m gettin’ stronger all the time ... 1 feel it . . . Pretty soon 1 ’ll be out all the time. I’ll be the one in charge. Then there’ll be no Mrs. White.”
The doctor tried another line. “Was it you who went to visit Sue instead of Eve White?”
There was more coquettish laughter. “Sure . . . What a time that was! I bet Sue hasn’t recovered yet !”
Another question. "Mrs. White sometimes complains of hearing voices. Do you have anything to do with that?”
Eve Black seemed amused. "I’ve been talkin’ to her for a long time. What a laugh! I start talkin’ to her when she’s alone in a room; pretty soon she’s pokin’ her head out the windows or looking around to see who it is and it’s only me. Boy, does that shake her!”
This was no exaggeration. On several occasions Eve White had complained to the doctor about hearing mysterious voices commanding her to "Watch out!” or “Go over there!” or “Knock George’s block off!” They seemed to come from inside her head.
Eve White was not yet told about Eve Black; the doctor wanted to learn still more about his unusual patient. He was not sure what effect this news might have on her. She was now coming to his office several times a week. Hardly a week went by without some disturbing incident. One night George White came home to find his wife surrounded by several boxes of expensive wraps and gowns. “Why did you buy all these?” he asked angrily. “You know we can’t afford them.”
"But I didn’t buy them,” his wife
“She tried to kill herself because her husband told her he didn't like her. He said that he'd sooner see her dead."
protested. “I just found them hidden in the cupboard and I thought they were a surprise from you.” George disclaimed any knowledge of the clothes. So did his wife. “They’re not the kind of clothes I’d buy,” she said. “They’re much too flashy.”
George White phoned the store where the clothes were purchased. The saleslady’s description of the purchaser left, no doubt that it was Eve White. Eve White decided the whole thing was a frame-up, planned by her husband, to make it appear that she was insane. 'Thigpen felt that this rather thin explanation didn’t even satisfy Eve White herself. As he was to learn, Eve White’s explanations for situations which resulted from her changing personalities were often rather fuzzy. She didn’t think too deeply on them. It was as though she had made a private agreement with herself not to question herself in too much detail.
A bitter quarrel ensued about the clothes. On top of that, the voices were hack again. Frantic, Eve White rushed into the kitchen, seized a butcher knife and was about to slash her wrists. At ! his crucial moment Eve Black popped out and forced her to put back the knife. Shortly after, the doctor discussed the incident with Eve White and Eve Black. The interview was recorded.
Dr.: Why did you want to die?
Eve W.: I’m sick ... I can’t get any better ... I’m a burden to George. If I can’t get well ... if I can’t look after my baby, maybe it would be better all round.
Dr.: Has your personality changed
any since you’ve been married?
Eve W.: I’ve become weaker.
Dr.: What do you mean by that?
Eve W.: I was high-spirited before
marriage. But that’s gone away. I don’t know why. It’s just gone.
Dr.: How do you feel about George?
Eve W.: I neither like him or hate
Immediately after this conversation, 'Thigpen called out Eve Black. She was casual about saving Eve White’s life, as though her own physical preservaI ion were not also at stake. 1 he doctor accused her of driving Eve White to suicide by making her hear voices. She hotly denied it:
Eve B.: That’s not it at all . . . She tried to kill herself because her husband told her he didn’t like her. He said he’d sooner see her dead. Anyway, I think you should kill her off; get rid of her once and for all . . .
Eve B.: I like to live and she doesn’t.
George White now noticed that his wife was no longer content to stay at ¡ home and do her housework and mind her child. Often at night she would deck herself out in a low-necked gown, load herself with costume jewelry, change her hair style and set out for a night club unescorted. She teamed up with any strange male who happened to be available. “For the perfect life you need only two things,” she confided to Thigpen, “fun and money.” Interestingly enough, she never actually had sexual contacts with these casual acquaintances.
Did she have no ambition to find the right man and settle down? “Sure, you need a man to take you out and take you dancing and get you things but j that’s all.” Would she not like to have children of her own? “Not; for me,” said Eve Black, shaking her head emphatically. “I don’t like kids.”
Her Hair Was Flashy
This distaste for children was illustrated a few days later. Eve White was at home minding baby Carol when suddenly Eve Black popped out. Eve Black immediately phoned the doctor and complained about being left with live White’s “brat.” “Besides,” she said, “I don’t know what to do with it. What d’ya give kids to eat anyway?” Thigpen had her come to his office where he had Eve White come out and look after her child.
Eve White constantly found her everyday life confusing. Eve Black smoked heavily, after which Eve White (a non-smoker) complained of “a terrible taste in my mouth.” On her visits to night clubs Eve Black would sometimes drink too much. “When 1 go out and get high,” she explained to the doctor, “she wakes up with the hangover. She wonders what in the hell lias made her so sick.” After every visit from Eve Black, Eve White had to change her hair and dress back to a less flashy style.
'Thigpen and Gleckley decided that their patient might be observed more carefully if she was in a hospital, so they sent her to the Medical College of Georgia University Hospital for some weeks.
The doctors soon noticed that Eve White awoke each morning exhausted. Eve Black had the explanation. “Down in the lounge they had some real snappy records. When she went to sleep,
I’d get up and go down to the lounge to dance with the attendants and other patients.”
The doctors decided that now was the proper time to explain to the patient and her family the nature of her unusual illness. Eve White received the news calmly. Her husband was skeptical. “Multiple personality?” he exclaimed. “What the hell’s that? Sounds fishy.” Her mother observed, “Pardon me, doctor, but 1 think you’re talking a lot of nonsense.” Thigpen thereupon called out Eve Black who promptly got into an argument with
her mother, calling her “an old witch.” She also insulted her husband. The sharp contrast in appearance, voice, language and attitudes convinced the family Eve Black was real. Later, she described this first formal meeting with her family: “I just said to them,
‘H’ya folks and funny people . . . pleased to meetcha . . .’ and they darned near passed out.”
In hospital, with the help of both Eves, it was possible to retrace the patient’s life from childhood. Eve Black, it was found, had been bedeviling Eve White for years. Once when
she was six, for example, she had been warned about going off to play with the children of a tenant farmer. After one four-hour absence she was whipped with a leather strap. “But I wasn’t there!” she kept shrieking. Evidently the other Eve had “come out” to enjoy the adventure in the woods and then retreated during the whipping. When Eve White was seven she often played with her twin baby brothers. Eve Black recalls: “I hated the brats, while she (Eve White) loved them. I used to bite their feet leaving tooth marks on them. When her mother would hear
them yelling she would come running and start beating her for it. I’d hide inside.”
There were a number of surprises for the doctors. They were told by one relative, for instance, that George White was not Eve’s first husband. When Eve White was asked about this, she said, “Nonsense!” Eve Black denied it too. “I’ve never been married and I’ve never considered marrying any man,” she said. However, Eve Black finally confessed that she had been lying. She told this story:
One time when she was living with an -, aunt, she said, she went to a dance with a young man who worked in the same office as she did. There she abandoned her escort and took up with a stranger named Albert. The two had an uproarious time and it was 3 a.m. before Eve Black was ready to go home. “It’s too late to go back now,” she said.
! “My aunt will throw a fit.” Albert I suggested that they get married instead. This struck Eve Black’s fancy , and some sort of ceremony was performed. (Official records show that a marriage license was issued to Albert and Eve Black at the local marriage office. The minister performing the marriage ceremony is supposed to return it, properly witnessed, to the office. He never did. It appears that the minister was merely a prankster in league with Albert and therefore the ceremony was not legal.)
Eve took Albert home to her aunt’s house. The “marriage” lasted three months and during this period Eve Black enjoyed her longest period “out” up to that time. Eve Black had no desire for intimacy with her “husband” but she enjoyed infuriating him by arousing him and then denying herself to him. “I got a great kick out of it,” she said. He would become angry and beat her. “But I didn’t mind,” said Eve Black, “because I’d go in and let the other Eve feel the blows.”
The pseudomarriage reached a crisis when Albert left her unconscious once on the floor of her bedroom. Later the same day he forcibly took her away on I a bus. Her uncle summoned the police, who rescued her. Albert continued on his way and that was the last they ever heard of him.
A Funny Mixed-up Feeling
One feature of Eve Black’s “marriage” puzzled the doctors. If it was Eve White who suffered the pain and humiliation of those brutal attacks, why couldn’t she remember them? Eve Black had a ready explanation. “By thinking about it over and over again, I can make Eve White forget anything Í want.” The doctors tested this claim and Eve Black demonstra ted that she actually possessed this power.
When Eve White was twenty and considering marriage to George she was the one in control of her body. Eve Black took a violent dislike to the groom and said later that she often made remarks like, “He’s a boor!” or “What a knucklehead!” These were the voices that Eve White was later to describe as coming from “inside my head.” After the marriage Eve Black managed to “come out” once in a while. On one occasion she resumed correspondence with an old boy friend, much to George’s annoyance.
While Eve White was still in the hospital, Thigpen made one attempt to “blend” both personalities by asking them to “come out” together. A colored motion picture which recorded the episode showed an intense emotional struggle. Eve clutched her face, breathed hard and flung back her head. Eve White later reported that she experienced a violent headache and great emotional distress while Eve Black ex-
plained, “I had a funny mixed-up feeling. I ain’t gonna put up with it any more.” Dr. Thigpen said later, “The different personalities were not ready to be united.”
Eve White left the hospital but didn’t return to her husband. Instead, she took a job in a nearby community while her daughter Carol was placed with her grandparents. The doctor impressed upon Eve Black that she mustn’t molest the other Eve. If she did, he warned, Eve White might have to be confined to a mental hospital. “And that would mean that your freedom would be gone as well,” he told her. Eve Black didn’t appear to take the doctor’s admonition seriously. He was therefore pleasantly surprised to find that her behavior during the next few months was exemplary. Eve White’s headaches vanished, she experienced no blackouts and the voices in her head were silent. Eve White missed her child, but she shared an apartment with another girl and was enjoying her independence. She was gayer and she had made a few friends. In a moment of optimism she confided to the doctor, “1 may soon feel well enough to go back to my husband.”
A Turn for the Worse
At this point Eve Black became discontented with her humdrum existence. She started “coming out” at night, going to night clubs and dating strange men. Often Eve Black’s boy friends would show up at the apartment only to have the door slammed in their face by a shocked Eve White. Once Eve Black impishly told a soldier that she would spend the following evening with him for twenty-five dollars. When he called and x'eminded Eve White of her offer she was embarrassed and angered. Eve White suddenly found herself one morning in a dimly lit, smoke-filled night club. The man beside her had his arm ax-ound her waist. She looked down at herself and was shocked by the flimsiness of her gown. Without a word, she ran out the door and took a taxi home.
Eve Black now began a campaign to have Eve White fired from her job as a telephone operator which she considered dull. Once, when the supervisor was watching, Eve Black forced Eve White to lay aside her work and busy herself with a poem. The supervisor was surprised. “1 don’t understand it,” he said. “You’re usually so efficient. Please keep your mind on your work.” Finally, Eve White was fired. Later, Eve Black told Thigpen, “The work bored me.”
In spite of her conduct, the doctoi'S didn’t regard Eve Black as being purposefully mean, cruel or sadistic. She was simply incapable of realizing how much she made other people suffer. Dr. Thigpen explains: “She reminds me of a child who pulls the wings off a duckling without realizing what a terrible deed he is committing.”
Because they felt that a psychological investigation might be helpful, the doctors requested Dr. Leopold Winter, a clinical psychologist, U. S. Veterans Hospital, Augusta, to administer a battery of psychological tests to both Eve White and Eve Black. He found that during the tests Mrs. White was more serious and conscientious; Miss Black was satisfied with giving superficial responses. Mrs. White’s IQ was 110, Miss Black’s 104. Mrs. White’s memory was far superior but Miss Black revealed that she had a much more flexible nature.
Mrs. White’s condition now took a turn for the worse. Her headaches became more frequent and more severe; two or three times her roommate found her unconscious in the apartment.
Thigpen feaxed she was about to become psychotic. He suspected that Eve Black was up to her old tricks, but she said she had nothing to do with Eve White’s difficulties. “I’m telling you it’s not me, Doc,” she pi'otested. “I’m worried myself. We’re both blacking out now.”
And now the case reached another dramatic point. One day Eve White was describing a scalding she had received in her childhood. As she spoke her eyes closed sleepily and her wox*ds trailed off. Thigpen looked on curxously. Her head fell back on the chair aixd
she appeared to be in a deep sleep. Then, a minute later, she opened her eyes, slowly looked around the room until she saw Dr. Thigpen.
“Who are you?” she asked.
Thigpen introduced himself and then asked, “And who are you?”
She said, “I don’t know.” Later, she selected the name of Jane.
The new personality had no memory. She was in many respects like a newborn babe. The doctor explained that she had an unusual disorder wherein she was one of three personalities sharing a single body and that he was try-
ing to help her get better. Jane was later to describe those first few minutes of her life. “I was puzzled aixd frightened. I felt as large as a giant sitting there on the chair. Perhaps the explanation is that I had suddenly grown from nothing into a full-grown adult.”
Several interviews with Jane convinced the doctors that she was the xxiost desira bit' of the three personalities. She was poised, self-confident and sympathetic, intelligent and mature. She dressed tastefully and talked like a cultured woman.
Apparently her memory extends only
as far back as the day she came to life in Thigpen’s office. On that first day Eve’s parents invited her to dinner. She didn’t know what the word dinner meant. (Strangely enough, she seemed to know her parents, but, as in the case ¡of so many other inconsistencies, she didn’t enquire into this too closely.) Before she could eat, she had to watch how the others used their knives, forks and spoons. Shrimp was served at that i meal and for several days after Jane ¡ordered nothing but shrimp in restaurants because she didn’t know the name of any other food. When it came to
going to work, Jane retired and let Eve White do all the jobs. “I let her teach me everything,” said Jane. She was an apt pupil. She kept a dictionary and other reference works close by her side during her first months to fill in the large gaps in her knowledge. Fortunately, the ability to read and write was with her from the beginning.
Having three personalities to keep track of complicated the doctors’ job but there were also compensations. Eve Black had always been an incorrigible liar. Now there was reliable Jane who could tell the doctors when
they were being misled. When Jane is “out” her conduct is impeccable. She will work capably at Eve White’s job or help her with her child and domestic chores. But she confided to Thigpen, “I mustn’t come between Eve White and her baby. After all, she’s the mother.” As for Eve Black, Jane regards her at best as childish and at worst as a thoughtless nuisance. Eve Black was not cheerful about Jane’s arrival. “Janie’s coming out and staying out more and more,” she told the doctor. “I don’t like the look of it. Only one of us is going to stay. For the
rest of us, it’Ll be just like dying. I have a hunch it’ll be Janie who’s gonna
Eve White has been fully informed about Jane and has great admiration for her. She is quite willing to give up her life in order that her child might have a mother as competent as Jane. On the other hand, Jane will have no part in any act which might finish Eve White. On marriage Mrs. White says she’ll give her husband a divorce if he wants one. “I don’t want any alimony,” she says. “He can pay for Carol’s keep if he wants to; if he doesn’t it won’t matter.” Eve Black thinks as much alimony as possible should be squeezed out of George White. Jane didn’t want Eve White to rush into a divorce; as for money, “George should be responsible for the support of the child because she can’t work for a living.”
The doctors had their patient submit to an examination by the electroencephalogram. By means of electrodes attached to the head the activity of the cells on the surface of the brain are traced in ink on long rolls of chart paper. Dr. J. Manter, of the EEG (Electro-encephalograph) Laboratory, Medical College of Georgia, had the patient in the machine for thirty-three minutes while Thigpen called out the three personalities alternately. Part of his report reads:
“. . . The greatest amount of tenseness is shown by Eve Black. Eve White next and Jane least. Eve Black’s tracing is on the border line between normal and slightly fast . . . slightly fast records are sometimes (but not consistently) associated with psychopathicpersonality. Eve Black’s EEG tracing is definitely distinguished from the other two and could be classified as borderline-normal. Eve White’s EEG tracing probably cannot be distinguished from Jane’s—both are clearly normal.”
Jane’s Big Problem
According to Manter the fact that the rhythm of the tracing shows a marked change just as soon as Eve Black is “called out” is a remarkable thing. “After examining four thousand patients,” he says, “I’ve found that a person can’t voluntarily change his tracing. You can count on the average person giving the same tracing, day after day and week after week.”
The doctors submitted handwriting samples of the three personalities for analysis to Captain Ward S. Atherton, an army handwriting expert at Camp Gordon, Georgia. “It appears,” he reported, “that the handwriting of each personality is of a different person . . . Nothing was found to indicate a wilful and conscious intent to disguise writings.” However, Atherton felt that a painstaking investigation might establish that, in spite of the difference, they were all written by the same person.
As Eve Black had predicted, Jane has grown in strength with each week. With her superior ability, she’s always the one to help the others. Once, for example, Eve Black was in a car collision. As Jane later described the incident, “Eve just popped back in. She can’t take it when the going is rough. This left Eve White at the scene of the accident. Eve White didn’t want to evade her responsibilities but the excitement, the noise, the broken glass and the sight of blood were too much for her so she just fainted. I then took advantage of the opportunity to come out and take charge of things.” Jane got home in a taxi and for the next three days it was she who lay in bed with two broken ribs. The other two showed no signs of wanting to “come out” during this
This chart on the two main characters in the strange multiple personality of Mrs. Eve \\ hite was made by Dr. Corbett Thigpen and Dr. Harvey Cleekley. psychiatrists at the Medical College of Georgia. This and other evidence in their three-year study helped them find the truth about her rare maladv.
1 ace :
Suggests a quiet sweetness; the expression is predominantly sad.
Demure, retiring, somewhat saintly.
Tendency to droop or slump. Movements careful and dignified.
Fond of reading, likes to compose verse.
Always softly modulated and influenced by a specifically feminine restraint.
Not colorful or glamorous; limited in spontaneity. An industrious and able worker; competent housekeeper and skilled cook.
Seldom lively or playful or inclined to tease or tell a joke. Seldom animated.
No allergy to materials in wearing apparel.
Simple and conservative, neat and quietly attractive.
period. Listening to Jane’s recital of these events, Thigpen found if difficult to keep in mind t hat there was only one woman in the car accident , not three.
The doctors have no doubt that Jane is the most intelligent and mature of all three personalities. Yet, should she take over permanently the patient would have to make drastic alterations in her life. There’s the matter of marriage. It’s unlikely that Jane would find George White the kind of man she would want for a husband. On the other hand, suppose Eve White survives, free of headaches and blackouts, and resumes her marriage through a sense of duty? The doctors believe it likely that the same conflicts would arise and perhaps, this time, lead her into a psychosis.
Thousands of Secrets
Judged from the practical point of view, Eve Black should be the first to die. “A steadily prevailing Eve Black would indeed be a travesty of woman, the doctors have written. But, “would any physician order euthanasia for the heedlessly merry and amoral but nevertheless unique Eve Black?”
Thigpen and Cleekley have concluded that t hey are not wise enough to he responsible for passing the death sentence on two of the three personalities. Even if they were, they don’t think it’s their responsibility. Their job, as they see it, is to help the
Pixy like; eyes dance with mischief as if Puck peered through the pupils.
Obviously a party girl. Shrewd, childishly vain and egocentric.
Becoming, form-fitting, provocative
Posture and gait suggest playful attitude, a challenge to some sort of frolic.
Never contemplative; to be serious for her is to be tedious or absurd.
Coarse with implications of mirth and teasing. Talk seasoned with spontaneous gusts of rowdy wit.
Immediately likable and attractive. A touch of sexiness seasons every word and gesture. Ready for any irresponsible adventure.
Addicted to pranks. Enjoys taunting and mocking Eve White.
Reports that her skin often reacts to nylon with urticaria, a skin rash.
patient work through the problem herself.
Doc tors Thigpen and Cleekley point out that the case of the multiple personality lias raised a host of questions about the human psyche that as yet remain unanswered. For example, did the patient’s once whole personality «plit up into three, or were they never firmly united? What, exactly, do we mean by personality and how does it grow?
Are there within each of us several other spectral personalities, silently standing by, waiting for the proper time to emerge? If so, what powerful influences must touch us to bring them alive? Our common figures of speech suggest that this notion is not as fantastic as it first appears. We speak of John Jones being a new man ever since he gave up drinking; Harry Brown finding himself in his new job; Dick Smith being a different person since his marriage. Finally, how do we know that the personality we present to the world is our real personality? Could it be that a more effective, a more comfortable personality is seeking release?
In spite of all the spectacular advances in psychiatry and psychology in recent years, there are no complete answers to all these questions. There are still thousands of dark secrets hidden deep in the body and soul of man. Perhaps the case of Eve White, t he shy housewife, was meant to serve as a dramatic reminder of this fact. ^