Multiple Personalities are NOT Demons
Dissociative Identity Disorder is Not Demonic
Enormous psychological and spiritual damage has been inflicted on people by well-meaning, but tragically mistaken, Christians who have confused Multiple Personality Disorder (also known as Dissociative Identity Disorder) with demonic activity. The result is like a surgeon blissfully supposing he is doing wonders by amputating the leg of the wrong patient. In fact, we will see there is a sense in which it is even more dangerous.
We can understand someone suffering something so horrific that he cannot cope with thinking about it and his mind so effectively pushes it from his consciousness that he can no longer remember it. What happens, however, to little children whose mind so recoils from what they have suffered that they desperately need to suppress the memory but they cannot do so because the trauma often recurs, thus reminding them of the horror?
We commonly speak of the “inner child” or the “subconscious.” With some victims of repeated childhood trauma (such as severe child abuse), these naturally occurring parts of the human mind become so strong that they act as if they were a slightly different part of the same person, often differentiated by “age” and awareness. This natural defence mechanism allows the child to have a little respite from having to be continually plagued with the awareness that they have suffered the unthinkable and that these horrifying events are likely to happen again. It is a desperate attempt to retain their sanity in the midst of unspeakable distress, enabling part of them to live in denial so that that part of them can limp through life relatively free from conscious awareness of their inner pain, while other parts of their mind continue to reel in unresolved agony over what they suffered.
This reaction to severe trauma is commonly believed to commence only in young children, but once their mind discovers this way of coping, it can become an automatic response that continues into adulthood. Some parts of their consciousness that formed to cope with unthinkable horrors might have assumed demonic-sounding names such as “Pain” or “Evil.” The first type of name reflects the current agony of that part of their consciousness. The second type reflects the fact that little children believe adult abusers, who commonly try to break their victims by labelling them as evil, and so on.
Multiple Personality Disorder is not some theory dreamed up by non-Christians such as secular psychologists who are unaware of the reality of the spirit world. I try to take my lead from Jesus who said he did only those things he saw the Father doing (John 5:19,30). In my deep, personal interaction with many Christians who have multiple personalities, I have frequently known the Lord Jesus to reveal himself in powerful, loving ways to various “personalities” (often called alters or insiders) within people. I have frequently seen them embrace the power of the cross and been set free from guilt and shame as only Jesus can and undergo remarkable healings. I have also had close dealings with people with multiple personalities who have had demons. The evil spirits had, of course, to be commanded to leave in Jesus’ name, but the people’s alters (“personalities”) were very different, even though the surface similarity could easily fool an inexperienced person.
Most people with Dissociative Identity Disorder have done their utmost to despise and suppress their alters, leaving that part of them not only unhealed of intense inner pain over past suffering, but cut off from social interaction and, even worse, cut off from any knowledge of the Gospel that the person gained at a later age. Consequently, alters typically act like bitter, angry non-Christians, just like anyone would if he or she were a rape victim condemned to years of solitary confinement, denied awareness of the Gospel, and told to the point of brainwashing that he or she is irredeemably evil. Once someone has sufficient insight to explain to alters the power of the cross, they fall in love with Jesus and undergo beautiful transformations which, of course, would be impossible for demons. To be frank, I have met many alters whose relationship with Jesus is so real and intimate that I’ve found it hard not to be envious. My extensive experience has confirmed over and over that, like all hurting children, alters are very dear to God’s heart.
We Christians often talk about the huge difference between head knowledge about God and heart knowledge. By teaching their alters about Christ, a powerful transference of head knowledge to heart knowledge takes place in someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder. The spiritual benefits are enormous.
Child abusers normally do all they can to crush their victims’ self-esteem. With this happening in one’s formative years, it is the norm for people with multiple personalities to be exceedingly fragile, which makes it even more damaging when over-zealous demon chasers try to “cast out” a huge part of who they are. To reinforce an alters' already dangerously false self-image by declaring them demonic could be the final straw. At the very least, any attempt to drive out an alter will succeed only in driving the alter into deep hiding, giving the host person temporary peace in that the person is no longer aware of the alter, but making healing of the person’s inner pain, false guilt and so on, impossible (unless the damage is somehow reversed later). It could even result in the person’s suicide.
Even more appalling is that the likely result of driving an alter not out (which is impossible) but into deeper hiding, is to give the deluded demon chaser the false impression that he has succeeded, thus spurring him to repeat his devastation on other vulnerable people.
It would be bad enough if your self-esteem were already so shattered by an horrific childhood that you are barely managing to battle the urge to kill yourself and then someone giving the impression of being an infallible authority on such matters wrongly pronounces that you have a demon. But what if someone whose opinion you and your friends deeply respect went way beyond that and did the unthinkable of confidently concluding – and probably declaring in the presence of all your friends – that you don’t just have a demon but that you are a demon?
See this from the perspective of one of the personalities that someone is vainly attempting to exorcise. Each personality has the same human consciousness that you have, and even greater sensitivities. Can you grasp the horror of being so vulnerable as to actually be in danger of believing someone trusted as a spiritual authority who has arrogantly convinced himself that you are not just disgustingly and dangerously evil but literally a demon? Try to conceive what it would be like for not just a precious but ultimately indispensable part of your being to be treated as a demon, but for someone to seriously believe that you are a demon – and, by implication, not human, but irredeemably evil and eternally damned.
© 2008, 2011 Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged and it is not used in a webpage. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at www.net-burst.net Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.