Multiple Personality Disorder as a Plot Crutch


I observed a while back while I was deep in my soap opera fandom that when a character has lost their luster and has become dull, secret familial connections had begun to surface. A surprise offspring, a long lost sibling, an estranged parent or spouse often appeared out of nowhere to juice up the plotline. On the rare occasion that a wayward family member wasn’t enough, soaps had gone the extra mile to give the lackluster character an extra personality.

Multiple personality disorder has made appearances on General Hospital, Guiding Light, Days of Our Lives, Another World and One Life to Live. The one that had the longest staying power and I’m most familiar with is from One Life to Live. The character of Viki Lord Buchanan had lasted as long as the soap itself and while she had been there, lurking in her subconscious had been her alter ego Niki. Where Viki was rich and refined, prim and proper, Niki was a loose, barhopping, cheap tramp, complete with a very convincing wig of long red-hair. After several appearances, intense therapy revealed that Niki was a product not just of Viki’s extremely strict upbringing under her father Victor Lord but long hidden sexual abuse that happened during her childhood. Her multiple personality haunted Viki even after she died as she had to confront Niki herself while she travelled on the spaceship to heaven. (Yeah, One Life to Live got REALLY weird.) Viki also managed to pass on her disorder to her daughter, Jessica, whose alter egos were Tess, Bess, and Wes.

Geez, what was I thinking? Not too long after I began thinking about stopping my daily ritual of soap watching, I was introduced to the comic book world. There, I found the best story of multiple personality disorder in the character of Rogue of the X-men.

Rogue’s mutant power was to absorb another person’s power and psyche at the touch of her skin, an odd power to understand until you can truly see it in action. Before she joined the X-men, she was a part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (I kid you not). On one of their terroristic exploits, Rogue attacks Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel, and holds on a little bit too long. When Rogue absorbed Carol Danvers, she did it permanently. All of Ms. Marvel’s Kree powers along with Carol Danvers’ consciousness had transferred to Rogue. It was great that she now possessed super strength and the ability to fly but she also had a different personality inside her head just itching to take over.

Unable to deal with the aftermath of her powers and the guilt of what she had done to Ms. Marvel, Rogue turned to Professor Xavier and the X-men for help. After proving herself as a good team player, she was taken in by the team. Occasionally, when the situation grew out of Rogue’s comfort zone, Carol Danvers’ personality asserted itself and took over. It wasn’t always a bad thing but it did tend to drag out the guilt for poor Rogue, who began to wonder if she deserved to live her life when she had taken away Carol’s.

Eventually, through a divine mechanism called the Siege Perilous, (I might explain that someday. That was definitely a plot device.) Rogue and Ms. Marvel are separated, but there is only enough life force for one of them to survive. (See above picture.) As Rogue begins to sacrifice herself to let Carol win, the decision was taken out of her hands by Magneto. Rogue lived and Ms. Marvel was no more.

Until, the “House of M” storyline brought Carol Danvers back into existence without so much as an explanation. One day she didn’t exist and the next, it was like she had never been gone.  I do wonder though, if Rogue remembers what it was like to fly.

Next time, I’ll talk about odd family relations.


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