A&E Series Highlights Imaging Study of Dissociative Identity Disorder Patient

The Martinos Center’s Robert Savoy is slated to appear in the final episode of the 6-part A&E series “The Many Sides of Jane” airing on the network tonight (Tuesday, February 19).

The series follows Jane Hart, a 28-year-old mother of two with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder), as she seeks to understand the roots of her disorder and navigate a life shared with her more than nine identities. Tonight’s episode is expected to feature a functional MRI (fMRI) imaging session with Savoy and Hart at McClean Hospital. During the session, both resting-state fMRI data and data for simple task-based activities were collected for each of two of her identities.

Savoy’s involvement with DID research dates back to 2005, when he gave a general lecture on task-based fMRI. After the lecture, a psychiatrist contacted him about a DID patient who was eager to participate in experiments about her condition. The correspondence led to a collaboration with the psychiatrist and other colleagues at McLean hospital and, eventually to a 2012 publication describing the use of task-based fMRI to look at the switching process in the DID patient—who could switch on cue—within the scanner.

Jane saw that publication and, in September of 2017, contacted Savoy about possibly taking an fMRI course at the Martinos Center—Savoy has been teaching fMRI basics at the Center for the past 25 years. “When we spoke,” he says, “she mentioned that she was working with a developer to pitch a series about her life and DID. She was interested in making people more familiar with the reality of the condition, and, in particular, showing that she is a good and safe parent—in contrast to the kinds of messages that have come from Hollywood’s version of multiple personality disorder.”“The Many Sides of Jane” has been airing on A&E since late January. Episodes are also available on the network’s website for the series.