Let me preface this post by saying that we are NOT clinicians, and we NEVER diagnose anyone with anything! That being said, we do deal with dissociation of varying degrees on a regular basis when it presents itself.
Dissociative Identity Disorder
The most severe forms of dissociation include Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and involves a person doing things that they have no memory of doing. They may suddenly find themselves in another place with no memory of how they got there, or wearing different clothing, with no memory of changing their clothes. Typically in these cases people have missing chunks of memory, with no recollection of what they did or what happened to them during these missing periods of time.
Dissociative Identity Disorder, previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), is the most severe and chronic manifestation of dissociation. Clinically, it is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identities or personalities (also called alters, or alternant personalities), that periodically take control of the person’s behavior. The person him/herself (the core personality or host personality), is unable to remember the things that happened while the alter personalities were in control.
These dissociated parts of a person's soul, are not fully formed personalities, but are usually somewhat fragmented, with varying degrees of personality formation. For example, one alter may hold the memories of a particular incident of abuse and carry all the anger over the incident. Another alter may have the same memories of the same incident, but be holding all the fear and pain from the incident. And yet another alter may hold the memories and emotions from a different incident altogether. There may not be much more to some alters than the memories and emotions of a single incident. While some might have a far more developed personality with many different memories, yet still they are only a fragmented part of the core person. All the alter personalities usually serve distinctly specific roles in coping with the problems and difficulties of life. So the events of life and living, both large and small, can often trigger sudden shifts from one personality to another.
We in deliverance, do not like the term “disorder” applied to this condition, because we believe that dissociation is a God given coping mechanism, to help children survive trauma. If God had not given us the ability to dissociate, a child's mind would snap under some of the extreme forms of abuse that we hear our clients describe.
Most of the people that we minister to in deliverance are not going to be severe enough to receive a clinical diagnosis (from a licensed clinician) of DID. However, we see many cases of dissociation where the trauma memories are very separated from the core person, in that the person is completely amnesiac to some of the trauma or abuse. In other words the person doesn’t remember certain incidents of abuse until an alter comes up and tells us about it, or the memory comes back in the course of the deliverance process.
A word of caution is needed at this point. We NEVER suggest amnesiac abuse incidents, even when they are suspected. We wait and let the person tell us about it, when they come to a realization for themselves. Severe damage can be done by suggestion and we are very careful NOT to do that.
Since dissociation itself is normal, the way God designed us all (see Dissociation, Pt. 1), we approach all inner healing from this perspective. We do this because it is an extremely effective way to get to the pain from the past and get it healed, no matter where a given individual may fall on the dissociation spectrum.
What we see most often, is what is called co-consciousness. Co-consciousness is when some of the different parts share memories and/or emotions. There can be co-consciousness between some of the alters, or between the core personality and the alters. There can be co-consciousness between the core and some of the alters but not all of them. Every system (of demons and alters) is different.
When the core person remembers the traumatic incidents that have happened, the dissociated parts are usually there, but they are not as separate. Many people experience this degree of dissociation, though this would never receive a clinical diagnosis of DID. Usually this person thinks that the emotional turmoil they are struggling with is normal. They may think they are just moody. The emotional response of the alter feels like “them,” and so they may never think if it as a response that is coming from a wound from their past. In deliverance, this person must learn to separate what is “them,” from what is “the alter.” With DID the alter sort of just comes up and takes over. With co-consciousness it is more a process of getting in touch with the emotions of the trauma, and just speaking out of that place of intense pain or emotion. We call this, going to the point of the pain. The point of the pain is where we need to go to in order to then minister healing for the trauma. More on this in Dissociation Part 3, coming soon.
By Cynthia Yarbrough