Spirit Release Foundation

Case Study


Multiple Personality and Spirit Attachment

Battle for the Soul

Taken from the Spirit Release Foundation Conference 2005 - Part 2

by   Alan Sanderson

Part 2 of Case study given at the SRF Conference 2005

See Part 1

The Inner Complexity of MPD

Having drawn up a basic scheme for MPD, it is time to inject some life into it.  In its dramatic manifestations the condition has a pallet of daunting complexity.  Consider a system in which a cast of actors, as varied as fantasy can create, plays human, transcendental and diabolical parts, living in fear and turmoil in a vast range of different environments, where awareness continually changes in a moving pattern of light and shadow.   Consider further that several dramas may go on simultaneously in two or more different realities, not all of which are in public view, and you begin to have some awareness of the baffling complexity of MPD.  To find out how this can look in actual case descriptions, readers are advised to consult the books by Allison or Ross in the bibliography.  The following summary of one of Rossís cases highlights some of the problems in assessment and treatment.

 Ross came upon Pam, a 26-year-old woman with 13 hospital admissions in 6 years, as she crouched in the quiet room, screaming, ďNo! No! Donít hurt me!Ē  She gave a history of partially remembered childhood trauma, ongoing blank spells and auditory hallucinations.  In hospital, under Rossís care, she would suddenly switch between the host personality who suffered bipolar affective disorder and borderline personality disorder; a frightened child state, who did nothing but fearfully abreact abuse situations and could not be engaged in conversation; a helper personality who identified itself as ďthe FriendĒ; and a growling, spitting, self-abusive, head-banging state.  Often Pam would pound the wall with her fists or run her head into it with such force that transfer to another hospital in a neck brace was required.  After a month during which Pamís behaviour had put intolerable strain on staff and patients, Ross tried an interview with intravenous sodium amytal.  An exuberant adolescent personality came out.  Within a week it had opened the doors to a complex personality system, which included rebellious teenagers, frightened children, various adult alters and two spirit helpers of a transcendental nature who Pam insisted were not part of her.  The spiritual helpers partially controlled the system while preferring to stay in the background.  They helped the therapist to draw up a map with 335 alters and personality fragments.  Certain adult alters took on the job of caring for the distressed children and Pam made such good progress that she could continue therapy as an outpatient. 

 A few weeks later, Pam reported the suicide of her mother, an emotionally unstable woman who had had a turbulent marriage.  Pam was counselled for bereavement and made a good adjustment, although she was incensed that her father quickly took another woman into the house.  She began to hear new voices and Bob, a somewhat aggressive and sarcastic male, made his appearance.  Bob said he had been with Pam for two years, with the function of helping her deal with life.  When asked about the motherís suicide, Bob said that he had fabricated this with the intention of sparing Pam the pain of the parentsí marital difficulties.  Pam had believed the story, even to the extent of misidentifying her mother as the new woman friend on several visits home.  Pam was discharged from therapy soon after, when an aggressive entity (identified as an alter) threatened to kill the therapist. 

 Pamís story, much summarised, illustrates the complexity of MPD and the way in which delusional thinking can create havoc for patient and therapist.  How can statements, clearly intensely real for the teller, be assessed?  Does it matter clinically?  The subject of veracity, not just in day-to-day events, but in historical recall, is a continuing problem (witness the False Memory Syndrome movement) which has to be acknowledged by all who seek an understanding of MPD and the factors that cause it.  Finally, on a broader canvas, what does this tell us about the origin of delusions?

 Spirit Attachment and MPD

Another important example of multiplicity is spirit attachment (Fig 4).  Here, usually without knowing it, a person comes under the influence of another spirit entity.  While such spirits are hardly ever able to take executive control, (the Watseka Wonder is a notable exception) it seems to happen frequently in MPD, perhaps because the severely weakened core personality is unable to stop it.  Billy Milligan and Pam appear to be examples of this phenomenon. 

Fig 4.  Spirit attachment.

These composite cases (Fig 5) are important, for, while the manifestations of an alter personality closely resemble those of an attached spirit, it is necessary to distinguish between them for correct treatment.

Attached spirits need to move on, while alters must remain in the system, perhaps proceeding to integration.

Fig 5. A composite case, showing an attached spirit in executive control.

In view of these considerations, one has to conclude that multiple personality does not have a unitary cause.  Both dissociation and spirit attachment (in some cases outright possession) can occur separately, while in others both influences seem to be at work. 

 The Clinical Picture

The clinical picture of MPD may, as in Pamís case, be floridly obvious, or it may be hidden so that not even the subject suspects that there is a problem.  Disturbance may only become evident when a catastrophic event in the present matches one in the past.  A fistula forms, linking some or all of the different parts.  Then there is real-time chaos which is difficult to make sense of, until there is identification and understanding of the various splits. 

 In addition to the diagnostic signs of loss of time, switching between personalities, partly remembered trauma and unreality, there are many other non-specific signs and symptoms, which can lead to confusion with other psychiatric conditions.  The presence of voices, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorder and deliberate self harm are all common.  Social and personal chaos are the rule.  To make diagnosis more challenging, the inner turmoil may be concealed behind a deceptive outer calm.


Having given an outline of the theory and a smattering of what MPD can be like, I must preface Roseandallís story by saying that, while her experience of abuse and terror, rare though it must be, can be matched by other cases, her response of determination, courage and triumph over adversity, must surely be unique.  But I will let the story speak. 

NOTE: This account has been removed to ensure privacy. Those wishing for information should contact Alan Sanderson at dralan.sanderson@talktalk.net

Allison,Ralph. Minds in Many Pieces.(1999) CIE Publishing, Los Osos, California.
Hilgard,Ernest. Divided Consciousness: Multiple Controls in Human Thought and Action. (1977). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Myers,F.W.H. Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death (1903). Vol 1. 360-369.
Ross,Colin. The Osiris Complex.  Case Studies in Multiple Personality Disorder. (1995) University of Toronto Press, Toronto.
Thigpen,C.H. and Cleckley,H. Journal Abnormal & Social Psychology, A case of multiple personality. (1954) 49 135-151.


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