Legion Theory explains

Psychogenic fugue

It is possible that selves emerge and enter the realm primus, but, at least initially, they may fail to integrate with the corporate self. This may especially be the case in times of crises, either because intense psychological stress may serve as an inhibitor of smooth integration, or, it may occur as a consequence of the action of helpers who inhibit integration. We know, for example, that helpers have claimed to have constructed active alters in Multiple Personality Disorder patients, and so it is likely that helpers will also construct selves under difficult situations for an integrated person.

Consider the theoretical scenario of a failure of integration of a newly emerged self with the corporate self in the context of the following description of real events from the psychiatric literature

Burt Tate was questioned by the police following an argument he had had with a customer in the diner where he worked as a short order cook. He had no identification, could not recall where he had lived prior to his arrival in town several weeks earlier, and could not describe his previous job. However, he did know the name of the town in which he now lived and the date. The police later identified Burt Tate as Gene Smith, who had been reported as a missing person in a city 200 miles away about a month earlier. He was identified positively by his wife, although he did not recognize her. His wife explained that he had been experiencing problems at work (as a manager in a manufacturing company), including being overlooked for a promotion, and that 2 days before his disappearance he had an argument with his son who referred to him as a ‘failure.’ [1]

This description of “Burt Tate’s,” or Gene Smith’s, behavior is referred to in the psychiatric literature as a case of psychogenic fugue. The essential features of a psychogenic fugue are usually an initial stressor in the person’s life, followed by a complete amnesia accompanied by an action in which the person leaves their current place of residence, travels somewhere else and establishes a new life for themselves.

In times past it may have been not until many years later (if ever) that anybody established the person’s true identity. Interestingly sometimes this “new identity” is reported to display talents which the person had never displayed or been aware of when they had lived as their original identity. For example, one man displayed an ability to draw and paint in his new identity, something he had never been able to do before.

Legion Theory would describe these events in terms of the emergence of a self which enters the realm primus but does not integrate with the corporate self. The realm primus would appear, in most individuals, to only have the capacity to have one entity within it at one time. The corporate self then would become unconscious in the same manner that the core personality becomes unconscious when an unintegrated alter enters the realm primus. The unintegrated self then proceeds to establish a life for itself, probably with some degree of subtle guidance from the helpers.

  1. Spitzer, Sodol, Gibbon, & Williams, 1981, pp. 100-101

References and further readings

Spitzer, R. L., Skodol, A. E., Gibbon, M., & Williams, J. B. W. (1981). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders case book. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.





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