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What Is a Jekyll and Hyde Personality?

Someone with a Jekyll and Hyde personality can be friendly one moment and withdrawn the next.
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  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2014
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A Jekyll and Hyde personality describes someone with a double personality, each distinct and totally opposite. One side of a split personality may be amicable and easygoing, while the other side can be withdrawn or even violent. People with a borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder are often described as being this type of person.

While people who are moody and volatile are often referred to as having a Jekyll and Hyde personality, some may be unfamiliar with the origin of the names Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. These fictional characters were created by famed Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson sometime during the late 1800s. Stevenson's story was based on his own vivid recurring nightmares of living two contrasting lives.

The writer told a story of a scientist who developed a borderline personality after consuming a concoction he created. Stevenson depicted Dr. Jekyll as congenial and moral, while his alter-ego, Mr. Hyde, was wicked and immoral. The novel was later made into a movie in 1931, which became a classic. The characters' names became synonymous with a split personality, with one one side good and the other evil.

People with psychopathic tendencies often are described as having a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The side of Dr. Jekyll manifests as a kindhearted individual who lives an honest and respectable life. The dark side of Mr. Hyde is an explosive character who unleashes evil. Psychopaths who commit violent crimes often are described as being this type of person.

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Not all people who are labeled in this way are psychopaths or violent. This syndrome can also refer to someone who changes from friendly and kind to cold and uncaring. People with bipolar disorder, which is characterized by mood swings ranging from elation to depression, are also likened to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some with anger management issues may also display such characteristics.

People with a metabolic disorder or a significant increase in blood glucose levels may also exhibit a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Physical changes can alter a patient's personality, making him irritable, hostile, or aggressive. When the physical stress is alleviated, the person may take on a more tranquil and agreeable demeanor. This type of personality may also be attributed to substance abuse.

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anon929228
Post 4

Neurotic people can have tendencies of being having a split personality. Even just having a different justification for your own life on how you see someone else's represents a split of opinions in your mind.

Occasionally, you show the morals you expect for yourself or other times you express the morals you allow other people to have. I think I have this problem and its allowed me to genuinely see things from a point of view which is outside from myself.

KoiwiGal
Post 3

@pastanaga - It might be possible that the boss happens to have a mental illness though. It's actually quite common, and so are medical disorders of other sorts that can make people short tempered.

I think it might depend on whether or not people have read the original story as to whether they think of the label in terms of the good and evil dichotomy or as just an example of a personality change.

If you've read the story, labeling someone as Mr. Hyde is a fairly extreme thing to do, because he's quite chilling as an antagonist and not a nice person at all.

pastanaga
Post 2

@Ana1234 - I think most people use the expression to mean that someone's personality changes radically from one day to the next, rather than to make a statement about which part of their personality they like the most.

I've actually only rarely heard the expression used to describe people with mental illness. Usually it is used to describe a fickle boss or someone like that.

Ana1234
Post 1

I think that you need to be careful when using this term around people who do happen to have bipolar disorder. Some of them will appreciate it, because it is an appropriate metaphor for some people, but other people might get offended.

Especially because Mr. Hyde was basically portrayed as evil, rather than simply wild or sullen. The good and bad parts of the character's personality were split clearly, but there is rarely a split that clear in someone who has bipolar disorder.

Being depressed or on a downer might seem like the Mr. Hyde, especially to the person suffering from it, but to others it might seem more like the mania is the evil part, as people in the grip of it can do some crazy and dangerous things.

It does make sense as an analogy, but just be careful not to simplify things too much.

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