April 15th, 2008
12:10 PM ET

Herschel Walker's alter personalities

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

When I first heard that former football great Herschel Walker had multiple personality disorder, I was pretty stunned. Even though, I am a doctor, I had to admit that I knew very little about this particular psychiatric disorder. For starters, it is called DID, or dissociative identity disorder, instead of multiple personality disorder. Most people think of Sally Field's character Sybil, but another thing I learned is neither Sybil nor Walker actually has multiple personalities, but rather the lack of one cohesive personality. In Walker's case, he has 12 – yes 12 – alter personalities, which are all better described as fragments of one. (Here is an article I thought was very informative: http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=11122)

Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker

Sitting down with Walker, I met an extremely charismatic and likeable man who certainly didn't overtly flip from one alter to the next. It became clear, though, throughout our conversation that these alters were just under the surface. From stories of playing Russian roulette while still an extremely successful football star to rapidly switching from one alter to the next with absolutely no recollection, it was mind boggling, confusing, and a little bizarre. Again, unlike uncontrolled rage or depression, Walker really could not remember from one alter to the next. He even had names for his alters. The one that showed up on the football field was the General, and he was a competitive killer.

Because of the lack of memory of these various alters, we found it important to speak with people who witnessed this firsthand.  So, we flew to Dallas and met with his former wife, Cindy.  She described many incidents, including a chilling one of waking up with a straight razor to her neck and Herschel threatening to slit her throat - and then having Herschel quickly flipping and asking her if she was OK.  She saw that flipping back and forth and it scared her – eventually leading to their divorce.

Medically, I was fascinated to learn that DID is much more common than people realize – about 1 percent of the population has the disorder. It is often associated with psychological and physical abuse as a child; in fact it is a childhood disorder that is often diagnosed as an adult. The child starts to separate his or her personality into fragments in order to deal with different aspects of life.  By adulthood, these fragments become full-fledged alters. Herschel himself admitted he was bullied a lot as a child, because he was overweight and stuttered.

In Walker's case, sometimes the alter personalities worked for him as the General did on the football field, but most of the times they were destructive. He is getting help nowadays, but there is no specific medication that can be prescribed. Instead, he goes through counseling to sort of teach his alters to know one another and become one cohesive personality. While he seemed to have things in control as we talked for a long time and even threw the football around, the alters are still very much there.

As I said, I found the story of Herschel Walker to be absolutely fascinating.  And I wondered how many more stories like his are out there.  Have you ever seen or heard anything like this?

Programming note: Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's interview with Herschel Walker and report on dissociative identity disorder on Anderson Cooper 360 tonight at 10 ET.

Editor’s Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation. 

Next entry »
« Previous entry
soundoff (901 Responses)
  1. horse trailers in california

    I love reading a post that can make people think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!


    May 24, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. rv repair services near me

    I blog often and I truly appreciate your information. This great article has really peaked my interest. I'm going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed too.


    May 24, 2021 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Internet Marketing Businesses

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Thank you!


    May 25, 2021 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tritreviewifind

    buy cialis tadalafil cost walmart tadalafil cialis where to buy cialis without prescription https://cttadalafil.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 02:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Internet Marketing Consultants Near Me

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't fail me as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I actually believed you'd have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    May 25, 2021 at 07:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. SEO Marketing Experts

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It's always useful to read content from other authors and practice a little something from their web sites.


    May 25, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Social Media Marketing Specialist Near Me


    May 25, 2021 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Google Marketing Companies


    May 25, 2021 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. SEO Marketing Company Near Me


    May 25, 2021 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Local Marketing Agency

    Excellent post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our website. Keep up the good writing.


    May 25, 2021 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Video Marketing Agencies


    May 25, 2021 at 15:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Social Media Marketing Businesses


    May 25, 2021 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Tembepteriope

    cialis cost https://cttadalafil.com/ cialis tadalafil buy generic cialis online with mastercard where to order tadalafil tablets

    May 25, 2021 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. tausAffessy

    best price usa tadalafil tadalafil online with out prescription cost tadalafil generic https://tadalafilol.com/

    May 26, 2021 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Tamra Croom

    I want to build a blog in wordpress where I can share photos, have people upload photos and everyone can rate them. Can anybody recommend a good theme or some tips? Free is preferred or like, under $100.. . Thanks!.


    May 26, 2021 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. dj rv center


    May 26, 2021 at 02:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. rv restoration

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been conducting a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this subject here on your site.


    May 26, 2021 at 03:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. brimonidine

    brimonidine eye drops combigan side effects

    May 26, 2021 at 07:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Soosteemocush

    cost of cialis https://tadalafilol.com/ – cialis tadalafil cost of cialis generic cialis online fast shipping buy generic cialis online with mastercard

    May 26, 2021 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Unitmerienepeft

    canada generic tadalafil https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ – tadalafil generic where to buy tadalafil generic tadalafil daily online generic tadalafil from uk

    May 26, 2021 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Tembepteriope

    https://cttadalafil.com/ side effects for tadalafil https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ – cheap cialis pills for sale tadalafil online

    May 26, 2021 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Generator Los Angeles


    May 26, 2021 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Social Media Marketing Agency Near Me

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the greatest websites on the web. I'm going to highly recommend this blog!


    May 26, 2021 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. SEO Marketing Companies

    I'm very happy to discover this page. I wanted to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely liked every little bit of it and I have you book-marked to look at new information in your blog.


    May 26, 2021 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rv decal repair


    May 26, 2021 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RV Wraps California

    Your style is so unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.


    May 27, 2021 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. rv alignment

    I was pretty pleased to uncover this website. I want to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely appreciated every part of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to see new stuff in your website.


    May 27, 2021 at 02:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RV Refrigerator California

    You are so awesome! I do not think I have read anything like this before. So wonderful to find another person with a few genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that's needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!


    May 27, 2021 at 05:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Cabinet California

    I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I found this during my search for something relating to this.


    May 27, 2021 at 07:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Tritreviewifind

    cost tadalafil generic what is tadalafil tadalafil without a doctor prescription tadalafil online https://tadacipetadalafil.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Unitmerienepeft

    tadalafil cialis tadalafil cialis tadalafil cialis cialis without prescription https://tadacipetadalafil.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Tembepteriope

    tadalafil daily online generic cialis tadalafil buy cialis pills where to order tadalafil tablets https://tadalafilww.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Roof Riverside


    May 27, 2021 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Blinds Los Angeles


    May 27, 2021 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. cabinet repair orange county


    May 27, 2021 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. oc rv parks

    I blog quite often and I really thank you for your information. The article has really peaked my interest. I will book mark your website and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    May 28, 2021 at 04:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. camera repair orange county

    I was very pleased to find this page. I wanted to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff in your site.


    May 28, 2021 at 04:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Shades Riverside

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't disappoint me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, however I actually thought you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    May 28, 2021 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. rvtv youtube


    May 28, 2021 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Generator Near Me


    May 28, 2021 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Inspection Los Angeles


    May 28, 2021 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. certified rv repair


    May 28, 2021 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Interior Designer Near Me

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I found this during my search for something regarding this.


    May 28, 2021 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. prostar collision center


    May 28, 2021 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Van Collision Repair Shop Near Me


    May 29, 2021 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Enterprise Truck Repair Shop Near Me


    May 29, 2021 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Semi Truck Windshield Replacement Shop Near Me

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Take care! Where are your contact details though?


    May 29, 2021 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. monthly tea

    Thank you, I've just been looking for information approximately this topic for a long time and yours is the greatest I have discovered so far. But, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you certain concerning the supply?


    May 30, 2021 at 02:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. loose tea vs tea bags

    nice information for a new blogger. it is really helpful


    May 30, 2021 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. gutter repair near me randolph county

    Thanks for wonderful information I used to be in search of this info for my mission.


    May 30, 2021 at 03:30 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Leave a Reply to 먹튀검증


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Next entry »
« Previous entry
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.