In the 1950’s or 60’s the book, “Three Faces of Eve” by Corbett H. Thigpen, M.D. & Harvey M. Cleckley, M.D. came out and was later made into a movie. It is the true story about a woman who had multiple personalities. It threw open the floodgates for much controversy. Is it true? She’s faking! There’s no such thing! The woman was made fun of by not only the public but well known psychiatrists.
Even today there are many psychiatrists who do not believe multiple personality disorder is a real disorder. Because these hurting patient’s hear voices in their head they are thrown in psych hospitals and deemed schizophrenic and given very potent drugs. The only problem is the drugs do not heal the patient from the shattering that has taken place within their mind. It does not heal the wounds of having been betrayed, brutalized, and shamed. Did you note I said they hear voices IN their head. That’s important.
The mind is a very delicate organ. With so much trauma and no normal way to cope the mind shatters into several parts. Drop a mirror on the floor from a height of about six feet and watch it shatter on impact. That gives a pretty accurate image of what sexual abuse to a child can do to the mind. It splinters into several parts.
The child unknowingly creates “alters.” Many think of them as their little imaginary friends. There’s no imagination to it! It is real parts of the core person! Each “alter” has a specific purpose and hold specific memories.
Maybe one can relate in a teeny tiny way by thinking about the various roles we play. Early morning we’re Mom or Dad getting the kids off to school. The door slams, we’re suddenly the husband or wife kissing the other good-bye. Thirty minutes later we’re behind a desk giving orders to our employees. In these cases it is roles we are fulfilling. The alters have roles to fulfill also. Grab the pain, handle the experience at hand, protect the core child. In roles we are in control. With multiplicity, the alters are in control.
Schizophrenia is a chemical imbalance within the brain and can be treated with drugs. They also hear voices. When I worked with schizophrenic patients at the psych hospital I learned that in most cases the voices the schizophrenic hears is from OUTSIDE the head. The clock is talking to them, the walls are whispering, etc. With multiples the voices are strictly within the confines of their head.
Many Christian counselors think schizophrenia is demonically induced. I have no intention of getting into that debate. Schizophrenia is a mental disease. Multiplicity is an emotional disorder. Big difference! Multiplicity is a survival tool! It is a coping mechanism that saves the child because of the horrific acts done against the child. A toddler, or five year old, cannot understand, cope, rationalize being raped (physical sexual abuse is rape) or with all the emotions involved with the ongoing atrocities. Her escape is within her.
Sexual abuse at an early age and long-standing is the main culprit. Other circumstances can cause personalities to develop but sexual abuse, ongoing, long-term, early age, is the main factor that brings about the shattering. A child develops it’s personality from birth to about 5 years old. If the child is being sexually abused during that time, if there is no escape, if there is no-one to turn to for help, if no help is given, the child turns within herself/himself to be able to cope with the horrors that are being done to her. It is a survival technique that the Lord has set in place to save this child from being totally destroyed emotionally.
Most times the child grows up without ever realizing alters have been created. Alters come in all sizes, shapes, male, female, child, teen, adult. By the time adulthood arrives hundreds of alters can be present.
The person may one day be a wild carefree party girl, the next she’s extremely shy. She can be the loving mother one minute and a woman from hell the next. She may be a secretary, teacher, preacher, or is gifted in art, music, paints. She may appear as a slob on Monday and a model from New York on Tuesday. Some will have a foreign accent, or knows a foreign language.
One indication is that the multiple’s handwriting styles change frequently. Another is one minute she needs glasses and the next her sight is perfect. She may have severe asthma and suddenly there’s no such thing. She looks in her closet and sees clothes she swears she never bought. She shows up in a hotel across the state line and has no clue how she got there. Her husband swears he told her about the boss coming for dinner and she’ll argue until she’s blue in the face that he did not tell her. Well, he didn’t tell her, he told one of her alters! This is called “switching.” One altar takes control then steps back and a different alter steps up. It’s as though there’s a room full of a wide variety of people – except there’s only one body in the room.
At some point the person may make statements such as, “I feel like I’m going crazy!” When things begin to get pretty out of control; suicidal thoughts, prolonged depression, out of control behaviors, psychiatric help is sought. Those that I have ministered to had no idea when they sought help that the core problem was sexual abuse nor did they have a clue that they had alters. They didn’t tell right away that they heard voices because that would mean, “I’m crazy as a loot and they’ll lock me away!”
In time and with much work and therapy the core person (the person God created before the abuse began) becomes aware of the alters. It’s done through a whole lot of journaling, therapy, and possibly medication. Eventually the core person can hear the alters talking and even communicate with the alters and with continued work, therapy, support, and of course Christ, healing and integration/wholeness begins to take place.
It is imperative that these hurting people not be condemned, judged, or made fun of. They are not a circus act and they are not crazy!
If a pastor tells a victim he/she is possessed by the devil – you have just done unspeakable damage to that victim and I have absolutely nothing nice to say to you!
These people need love, prayer, support, and therapy. It is a very long, hard, grueling journey down a path filled with pain like no-one can imagine. They will re-live that emotional pain as each alter is allowed to share what they experienced, why they were created, and how they can now help the core person.
Multiplicity is a very complicated disorder with lots of layers, twists, and turns. I have tried to put this in the simplest terms as an introduction to this devastating disorder to make people aware that it does exist, it is a reality, and it is not rare. There is so much more to it than I have dealt with here. There are several good books about this disorder. The one I have suggested below is easy to read and covers more than I have been privy to explain here.
I have ministered to multiples, both men and women, and I have witnessed their journey to wholeness that comes by the grace of our Almighty God. He created a beautiful person with no intention of him or her being buried beneath layers of alters that were created to take the pain and experiences of the atrocities done to the innocent child.
There is hope and there is healing. You CAN become the person that God created you to be, whole!
If you have confidential questions/comments feel free to e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
“More Than One” by Terry A. Clark, M.D.
Available at http://www.Amazon.com
Blessings to you.