Split personality – public success, private hell

I actually wanted to write about Clive Lloyd’s tactics for building great teams and started reading about his achievements and success as the West Indies captain… While reading about him, I stumbled upon the news of his divorce and the bitter outpouring from his wife of 37 years. Then I switched on the television and every channel was talking about the current scandal involving Tarun Tejpal, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Tehelka.

Both these things made me think of split personalities … Technically, the definition of split personality is a rare dissociative disorder in which the usual integrity of the personality breaks down and two or more independent personalities emerge.

Clive Lloyd built a West Indian cricket team that remained on top of the game for nearly a decade. He was captain of the team between 1974 to 1985 and led the team to 27 match wins, 11 in succession. He made a super team from people of different nationalities, different cultures. Fondly called the “Supercat”, Lloyd is revered as one of the greatest captains the game has seen and a true gentleman. In an interview on how to build a winning team, Lloyd talks of how you need to know each team member personally, so you can figure out in a crisis whom you could rely on, he goes on to explain why it’s important to keep the squad happy. The public persona was and has been of a gentleman, an inspirational figure and the statistics of the team he led provides the data behind that claim. Then you hear that his wife of 37 years is divorcing him because she is so heartbroken by his public philandering. She sees the telltale signs early on, but ignores them for the sake of raising her children and in the hope that he will change. The great man has feet of clay and smelly clay at that – what made him not apply the same principles that helped him build a great sports team to the most important team member of his life, his wife ?

Now let’s look at Tarun Tejpal. Business week named him amongst the 50 leaders at the forefront of change in Asia, then in 2009 named him amongst India’s 50 most powerful people. He was the precursor to the Anna movement against corruption. He brought out the defence scams and many other wrong doings through sting operations … The wrong doers felt some fear, that they might be caught on camera. He probably thought he would not be caught harassing a young lady. How could he turn villain ? He was the one who caught villains and exposed their misdeeds. Didn’t he have the intelligence to expose his misdeed to himself and not commit it ?

I always say that you are the same person at home, at work, in social settings … Maybe not. Maybe there are multiple personalities, hiding in each of us and given the right circumstances a different personality comes to the front :(:(

Does fame do this to people ? Do they try and show a “good” face to the adoring public and then show their “bad” face elsewhere, where they feel they won’t be caught ? Schizophrenia is more rampant than we think !!! Sad. Really sad.

3 thoughts on “Split personality – public success, private hell”

  1. The term “doubling” describes the conscious and deliberate development of two different personas, one good and one bad. This is rare (and not a mental health condition) – it is a way that seemily ordinary, decent people can perform horrific acts on a regular basis, and has been applied to concentration camp guards (for example). Doubling does not involve amnesia or two personalities, just a single person taking on different roles and behaviors when they choose to.

    A “split personality” in the sense of its representation in books and film is not at all similar to dissociative identity disorder (DID, which used to be called multiple personality disorder), a personality does not “break down” but instead it never actually unifies fully, this is caused be severe, early childhood trauma (usually abuse). It’s not rare and most people with it have many more than 2 identities, the identities often take on memories of child abuse. A better analogy would be to see the identities as a “team” – just like you described in having to know each of them, and trying to work together. It’s a coping mechanism for trauma and isn’t associated with violet actions. More on this here http://www.dissociative-identity-disorder.net/wiki/DID

    I think a better comparison for the cases you mentioned would be someone who deliberate sets themselves up as an advocate for others, perhaps involved in charity work, and uses that position as a “cover” for their real intentions, or even to allow them access to vulnerable people who they can later abuse. A well known example is Jimmy Savile – he even setup a charity called the “Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Trust” yet used the same hospital to sexually abuse patients.

    • Thanks for the clarification and description. Much needed. I wrote it as a lay person and the way these seemingly nice, gentle accomplished people end up having either a violent or just a darker side that shows up at home, or even in public when they feel they won’t be caught. Your point on childhood trauma is probably a cause and could very well be the cause in these cases or it might just be the person has both the good and the bad, and no medical condition.

      Sent from my iPad


      • thanks for the response – the “doubling” isn’t caused by trauma but by a conflict between doing what is “right” morally, and what is expected… those who were asked/told to participate in war crimes were in a very rare situation

        the only “dark side” to trauma survivors I’ve really seen is depression – trauma itself involves inappropriate self-blame and shame (I’m referring to severe trauma). Many trauma survivors get involved in caring professions and helping others, because of their deep empathy for those suffering like they once did.
        In terms of childhood emotional maltreatment and emotional neglect though some people do go on to develop one of the few personality disorders which are associated with harming others – anti-social personality disorder for instance (very common in the prison population) and narcissism (often hidden from others of course) but these are the exception rather than the rule.

        Sometimes I wonder if people with a good nature try to look for a logical and sensible cause to answer the question of why others do such awful things. Can we as a society accept that those people sometimes just choose that path, and that their actions can’t be safely rationalized and aren’t based on their own trauma? I’m not sure.

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