I read this short story only a few years ago in a collection of SF stories that might have been much older.

A woman who does not have dissociative identity disorder (DID) is fascinated by DID. (The fact that this condition probably does not really exist is irrelevant, as this a piece of fiction.)

She wants to pass for a DID person and rehearses several "personalities". When she thinks she is ready, she goes to a "DID"-bar and is attracted by a man who reciprocates (at least in the personality that inhabits him at that time, and towards the pseudo-personality she pretends to be). The relationship develops and though she is only in love with the man's personality she first met, she does get along very well with his other ones, including the one who is gay.

At some point she feels guilty of her lie and confesses she is just pretending. But the man tells her he knew it from the very beginning and loves her as she is. But he suggests she could develop DID thanks to a psychiatrist who uses drugs and other techniques. So she tries and the psychiatrist does evoke several personalities but warns her they may be unstable and the probability she reverts to "non-DID" is not negligible. And it does happen.

I don't remember the end.

The reason why this story was published in a SF collection, and why I believe it is on-topic, is that even if DID does exist in the real world (which is highly controversial) there are certainly no drugs or techniques to induce DID.

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    Posted on the anniversary of Psycho's premiere!
    – Spencer
    Commented Jun 16 at 13:24
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    Your only justification for this being on-topic is that you do not believe that DID exists? I'll also note that the main opposition to DID being real assert that the symptoms are instead caused by psychiatric treatment (i.e. drugs and techniques).
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jun 17 at 15:07
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    I’m voting to close this question because it's not about a Science Fiction or Fantasy work.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jun 17 at 15:10
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    @OrangeDog If DID does exist, and is a iatrogenic side effect of treatments meant to cure, the physicians that happen to cause it are certainly acting in good faith and do not intend to cause it. The idea of bars where DID people meet, on the one hand, and psychiatrists who openly cause DID to their patients on the other hand, are not things that exist in our worid. Moreover, the very facts that this story is by Robert Silverberg, a well-known SF writer, and was collected in "many anthologies" as specified by Clara Diaz Sanchez in her answer, are good reasons to call it on-topic.
    – Alfred
    Commented Jun 17 at 16:02
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    It has appeared, for example, in The Year's Best Science Fiction, First Annual Collection. Clearly some people, such as Gardner Dozois, consider it to be science fiction. Commented Jun 17 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


This sounds very much like Multiples, a short story by Robert Silverberg, first published in 1983 and has appeared in many anthologies.

The woman is called Cleo - at least that is her "singleton name". In order to pass as a DID person, so that she can go to a DID-friendly bar and pick up men, she makes up many other personas, such as Judy, Vixen, Lisa etc, but the man she is attracted to, who is a genuine DID sufferer, sees through her pretense.

She goes to see a therapist called Dr Burkhalter in an attempt to produce DID. He finds that she has five different personalities within her, and uses a combination of medication and electroshock therapy to "induce separation". It initially works, but after a month of so her personalities reintegrate into one again. The story ends with her

again in the bar, pretending to be DID to pick up men.

The story is available to borrow from the Internet Archive.

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