Once called “multiple-personality order,” dissociative-identity disorder remains a controversial diagnosis

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Photo: Louise Williams/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Formerly called “multiple-personality disorder” and most often associated with murderous con artists on shows like Law & Order: SVU, dissociative-identity disorder (DID) is a widely misunderstood and controversial diagnosis. DID remains listed in the , the most recent psychiatric diagnostic manual, where it is defined as “an identity disruption” involving two or more personality states, each of which may vary in behavior, memory, affect, and sensory-motor functioning, among other factors. Yet many professionals in the field have argued for its removal, even going so far as to call the diagnosis “ bogus.”

Those who affirm DID’s legitimacy, like Bethany Brand, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at Towson University, say that much of the controversy stems from the fact that most mental-health professionals have “shockingly little” training in trauma. DID, she says, is a trauma-based disorder, typically (though not always) formed by children in response to “very early, profound, chronic childhood abuse.” …


How Killing Eve’s Villanelle holds up to real-life examples

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Photo: BBC America

Next week, America’s favorite female assassin returns to television, in the season-two premiere of Killing Eve, the comedic drama in which British intelligence officer Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) becomes fixated on the beautiful, sadistic hired-assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). In coverage of the show, the character Villanelle is routinely described as a “psychopath,” and the show employs a psychiatrist to consult on the character’s presumed personality disorder. But the criteria for clinical psychopathy are very specific, and often misapplied.

According to Craig Neumann, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of North Texas and expert on psychopathy, “Psychopathy refers to a pathological personality style that is interpersonally deceptive, affectively cold, behaviorally reckless, and often overtly antisocial.” True psychopaths are also rare — experts estimate that between 1–2 percent of the population possess elevated levels of psychopathic features. Diagnosis is further complicated by how little data there is on psychopaths in general, and women psychopaths in particular. Most studies done on psychopathy are done on convicted criminals, which usually means they have already done something very, very bad — which not all psychopaths will. …


How much would you pay to feel heard?

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Graphic: Katya_Havok/Getty Images

Tia, a new membership-based women’s wellness clinic located in New York City’s Flatiron district, is the first tenant in a renovated building, and when I arrive on a Thursday evening, the main elevator isn’t working. To my genuine delight, a friendly doorman ushers me into the freight elevator instead, promising me it’s safer than it looks.

Elevator notwithstanding, Tia’s interior is pristine, beautiful above all else: The lighting is soft; the walls are white and speckled, the couch (which comfortably seats two, two and a half) is soft peach leather, and the three ottoman chairs are geometric and bright; the selfie mirror is adorned on either side with tall, lush green plants. A small refrigerator is stocked with Recess-brand seltzer (CBD and adaptogen-infused), perhaps the clinic’s only non–woman-owned product; its founder is Tia co-founder Carolyn Witte’s brother. A number of vibrators are displayed for sale, including one for couples called the “Dame Eva,” which costs $135, and is cradled between the paws of a plump ceramic rat, which is cuter than it sounds. On the bookshelf lining the seating area I see Joan Didion, Simone de Beauvoir, Roxane Gay. …


Among her many sins, Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, reportedly faked her deep voice. Here’s why that drives us crazy.

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Elizabeth Holmes. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

There are many fascinating, upsetting details in the story of Elizabeth Holmes, but my favorite is her voice. Holmes, the ousted Theranos founder who was indicted last year on federal fraud charges for hawking an essentially imaginary product to multi-millionaire investors, pharmacies, and hospitals, speaks in a deep baritone that, as it turns out, is fake. Former co-workers of Holmes told The Dropout, a new podcast about Theranos’s downfall, that Holmes occasionally “fell out of character” and exposed her real, higher voice — particularly after drinking. …


There is no one normal way for abuse survivors to retell their stories

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Photo: Dan Reed/HBO

About 45 minutes into Leaving Neverland, HBO’s two-part documentary detailing Michael Jackson’s alleged child abuse, James Safechuck, now 40, describes one such incident: “I remember one time I was sleeping, and I woke up, and Michael said he had performed oral sex on me while I was sleeping. I was like, ‘oh, okay.’” His brow is furrowed, but his delivery is straightforward, his expression only mildly perplexed. It’s one of many such moments in the movie, during which Safechuck and Wade Robson (another victim) describe many years of graphically detailed abuse with relative composure.

Reviews of the documentary have made similar note of the way in which the survivors tell their stories, calling their delivery “clinical … shocking for its matter-of-fact” nature, displaying “disarming eloquence and self-possession.” The vast majority of critics have come down on the side of Jackson’s alleged victims, and their descriptions aren’t meant to dismiss, but clearly, something about the way these men retell their stories sticks with us, which may or may not impact our perception of their credibility. …


A linguist explains why we use words at work we’d never use elsewhere

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Photo: NBC

In my place of work, there is perhaps no “word” more ominous than “hihi,” typed over Slack, sent by a person senior to you. Or, at least, that’s how I feel about it. “Hihi” means a request is imminent, or worse, a correction. “Hihi” means Listen up, buddy, in a not-nice way that is absolutely desperate to seem nice. One “hi,” unpunctuated, is bad enough, but two, joined together, is almost always a sign of unwelcome news. The same is true for the always disingenuous “quick Q.”

I feel comfortable enough saying this in plain view of my peers and superiors because I strongly suspect that they, themselves, hate “hihi” just as they hate its dismissive cousin, “kk,” which means something closer to If you say so. And yet, we continue to speak to each other this way, in this weird, repetitive, deceptively cheery tone. I don’t mean buzzwords, like “synergy” or “deep dive,” though those are also annoying. Let’s call it Slackspeak: the singsong, unnecessarily abbreviated, robotically polite way we talk to co-workers over Slack, or other similar messaging services. Dialects may vary from workplace to workplace — I don’t know, for instance how common it is to use “bandwidth” elsewhere the way we do, as in, “Do you have the bandwidth to add X project to your pile?” — but you know what I’m talking about. You have your own version, and you’ve likely found yourself slipping into it even as you’ve spent so much time mocking it when you’re off the clock. …


The term ‘narcissist’ gets thrown around easily, but what does it really mean?

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Photo: Stephan Dtsch/Getty Images

Though the term “narcissist” is often used as shorthand for your standard preening, primping, vanity monster — reality stars, Instagram influencers, certain politicians — the actual diagnosis, as it stands in the world of clinical psychology, is considerably more layered, and not uncontroversial. While the DSM IV defined narcissists as necessarily “lacking empathy,” the DSM V softened their terminology, writing only that many narcissists’ empathy is “impaired.” …


So we do we keep doing it?

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Photo: Mint Images — Tim Robbins/Getty Images

By Katie Heaney

Cindy Lou (not her real name) used to work at a library, and one year, she and her co-workers — a small, relatively close-knit group of people — decided to do a Secret Santa book exchange for Christmas. Cindy Lou had previously complained (in “SFW terms,” she clarifies) about her “hopeless” love life, which is perhaps what made her boss, who drew her name for the exchange, feel that buying her a copy of Sex Tips for Straight Women From Gay Men was a good idea.

(It was not.) (This should be obvious.)

“I loved my boss, and we’re still friendly, but it was pretty mortifying and weird to open that and be like, here this is a gift from your DIRECT SUPERVISOR,” Cindy Lou tells me. “Our overall manager was immediately like ‘Put that away, that’s an HR violation.’” …


As told by a 20-something graduate student

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Photo: Towfiqu Photography/Getty Images

I’ve been a volunteer with a crisis text line for a few months. The high-profile suicides that happened recently stirred me a little bit, and I had a friend who previously worked for another crisis hotline. She told me a lot about that, and it just really marked me, because she had some very, very difficult conversations, and I thought it was interesting that people felt comfortable sharing with total strangers. So it was always in the back of my mind.

Someone very close to me has a history of [being suicidal], too. And I always love to volunteer, but as a graduate student, it’s hard to find volunteer opportunities that fit with my schedule. I started looking into different opportunities, and I came across the crisis text line. It appealed to me that it was texting and not calling, because the thing my friend had said when she volunteered for the hotline was that it was sometimes really hard to talk to people on the phone. …


Turns out we really hate inconsistency

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Photo: SasinParaksa/Getty Images

Many working adults have had at least one boss they couldn’t stand; it seems likely that fewer have had a boss they loved. More common than both these extremes, though, are the bosses who waver between them: sometimes supportive, sometimes not; sometimes helpful and sometimes frustrating; etc. And while it’s intuitive that a bad boss can negatively impact their employees’ well-being, new research published in the Journal of Management suggests that a boss you’re ambivalent about might be even worse for you — at least in terms of your job performance.

In the study, 952 subjects were asked to rate their ambivalence toward their leaders, or bosses, and to rate their overall relationships with their managers, and their emotional experiences at work. The subjects’ managers were then asked to rate their employee’s work performance (yikes). Interestingly, researchers found that those employees who were most ambivalent toward their managers were rated most poorly by those managers. This finding held true regardless of the way employees rated their overall relationship with their manager — ambivalence made bad relationships and otherwise good relationships worse. …

About

Katie Heaney

author of PUBLIC RELATIONS, out May 2017.

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