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Multiples as Victims
The majority of this module has been devoted to assessing the criminal responsibility of people with DID who commit crimes. However, this relatively narrow focus by no means exhausts the legal questions raised by DID and its variants. To leave the reader with a small taste of other issues that need to be addressed, this playlist documents a case related to the capacity of multiples to consent to sex. The goal is not to address this issue with any depth, but rather to point beyond it towards the many questions this short survey leaves unanswered.
1 State v. Peterson
This is an article from the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry (Volume 9, No. 2, September 1998), written by Dr. David James. In it, Dr. James discusses a famous case – State of Wisconsin v. Mark A. Peterson – in which a woman with DID claimed that she had been raped by a local man. The defendant responded that one of the woman's alter – a fun-loving personality called “Jennifer” – had consented to the act. Read starting from the second paragraph of Section III (“the giving of evidence in court…”) through the end of Section III.
This case will likely be remembered more for its status as a media circus than for its jurisprudential significance. Nevertheless, it serves to illustrate the ways in which questions about the agency, identity, and responsibility of multiples do not stop once the multiples refrain from committing crimes. In particular, this case raises the question of whether and how an alter can assent to sex using a body all the alters share (think back to Barb's relationship to her husband). Similar questions can be raised about other kinds of consent. Can alters make contracts? Should they be sworn in separately? Must the confidentiality of each alter be respected by doctors and therapists? These questions are complicated, of course, by longstanding questions about the relationship between sanity and responsibility more generally. The strange and dramatic nature of <span class="caps">DID</span>, however, makes them all the more acute.
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