The Two Calders

Prince Calder, ready to go on an interesting adventure.I’ve been re-watching the first few seasons of Murdoch Mysteries lately. It’s set in Victorian Toronto, with a detective who uses cutting-edge science to solve crimes. Of course, a lot of that science is commonplace today, including x-rays, ballistics, and recreating the likeness of a person from their skull. Murdoch’s interest also extends to the social sciences like psychology. I just passed one of my favorite episodes, where the suspect has Dissociative Identity Disorder — and it reminded me of Calder.

No, he doesn’t have DID. A person with DID has two or more distinct identities (or personalities). In the show, Murdoch and the doctor he consults observe that the suspect’s identities are vying for control, and she switches back and forth. One minute she’s a meek young lady, the next a confident, angry woman.

Calder, on the other hand, has two identities that are hardly distinct. They’re more like two lives that he lived simultaneously. One life is that of a Crown Prince, the life as it was supposed to be. The other life is that of a younger son. These two identities also vie for control, but it’s much more subtle. (I love my subtleties.)

In fact, it sounds pretty similar to what WebMD lists as an effect of having DID:

Identity confusion or identity alteration. Both of these involve a sense of confusion about who a person is. An example of identity confusion is when a person has trouble defining the things that interest them in life, or their political or religious or social viewpoints, or their sexual orientation, or their professional ambitions.(emphasis added)

Each Calder has his strengths and weaknesses, in addition to his own memories. But as the novel progresses, the lines begin to blur until Calder has trouble knowing which is which.

Disclaimer: I have not studied psychology. I did not throw much research into this. I just made a cool connection while watching a tv show and wanted to share. 🙂


Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.