Relating to People & Multiple Personalities

By Grantley Morris

Need for Caution in Relationships

If You Have

Dissociative Identity Disorder


Dissociative Identity Disorder

Of itself, having multiple personalities (Dissociative Identity Disorder) presents many challenges. These are greatly multiplied by the fact that the traumas that caused the Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.) have additional negative consequences. The awful experiences typically crush self-esteem, affect physical health, cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.), and so on. And if, as is often the case, the trauma was sexual, there is a whole range of sexual implications as well.

People with D.I.D. commonly have at least one protector alter who is excessively wary and protective. Likewise, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder causes one to repeatedly see danger where there is none. Of course, I do not wish to further inflame fears and unnecessary caution. Nevertheless, there are dangers and need for caution that can be missed and so I need to alert you to these, even though I am reluctant to because I do not wish to contribute even slightly to anyone being more on edge than necessary.

For all of us, there is a need for caution in relationships. Not everyone is safe, or understanding, or able to be trusted with a secret. Inexperience renders children particularly vulnerable. One consequence of Dissociative Identity Disorder is that parts of a person are far less experienced than the age of their bodies suggests. A particularly tragic reason for people with D.I.D. needing to be cautious is that ignorance in the general population about D.I.D. means that the average person often has weird ideas about the matter.

Even among people who should know better, there are those who confuse alters with demons or make other serious blunders. This compels me to always warn people not to tell anyone they have D.I.D. without first getting the person to fully reveal his/her views about it. You might say, “Have you heard about people with multiple personalities? What do you think about it?” Then after they have given their answer you could say something like, “If someone told me they had multiple personalities, what should I do and say?”

Provided you get the person talking about it for long enough, raising the subject in casual conversation as if the matter were of little concern to you is often all it takes to get a clear idea of the person’s attitude and to determine whether he or she has a sufficiently accurate and non-judgmental understanding to be trusted. (For a little more on this, see Letting People Know that you have Dissociative Identity Disorder: The need for Caution.)

Any Christian with Dissociative Identity Disorder deserves to be revered as a hero. For such a person to be isolated, and perhaps even ostracized, is not just cruelly devastating and humiliating, but outrageously unfair. And to suffer this at the hands of know-alls who claim to have the heart of God is appalling beyond words. For anyone reeling under this, the temptation to feel sorry for oneself is excruciating.

The sad truth, however, is that no matter how misjudged people with Dissociative Identity Disorder sometimes are, they have no claim to being the only ones treated shamefully. With sickening frequency, even simple physical illness is enough for some people filled with the beauty of Christ to end up accused of inadequate faith or even of secret sin.

Appalling numbers of innocent people have been presumed guilty of vile acts and treated atrociously because of false accusations. Even Joseph, the Old Testament hero of impeccable integrity and especially favored of God, was thrown in jail, wrongly maligned of the hideous crime of raping another man’s wife – and this was after being callously betrayed by his own brothers who sold him into slavery. Moses led an entire nation out of slavery and yet they turned on him and almost stoned him (Exodus 17:4). Likewise, when David was at his lowest – having saved his nation by defeating Goliath and yet hunted as the nation’s most wanted with a price on his head, and then having all this possessions plundered and his loved ones kidnapped – his most faithful companions considered grabbing rocks and stoning him to death (1 Samuel 30:6). Later, his beloved son, Absalom, tried to steal the throne from him and literally raised an army to wage war against him (2 Samuel, chapters 15-18). The Bible is filled with good people suffering unjustly. Hebrews 11:35-38 speaks of people highly esteemed by God who, “. . .  were tortured  . . . Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” In the words of Stephen, just moments before he was martyred, “Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him,” (Acts 7:52). And we all know of righteous Job, highly esteemed by God, who lost everything including the lives of his children. His closest friends came to ‘comfort’ him by accusing him of sin.

Nevertheless, whether it be because of D.I.D. or something else, being mistreated and misunderstood by those who should know better, forges a bond of exquisite fellowship with the Lord of glory, beyond what others have any hope of grasping. Jesus understands. Moreover, through our suffering we better understand the anguish of the breathtakingly perfect, supremely exalted Lord of lords who was despised and rejected by esteemed spiritual leaders and by those touted as being so holy. Even long before his arrest, Jesus was misunderstood, slandered and hated far more frequently than all but the most careful Bible readers realize (Examples).

It is easy to slip into taking Jesus for granted and forgetting who he really is. It is no small thing to be understood and approved of by the King of universe, the sole Judge of all humanity. One day, every other voice will be silenced. Every opinion differing from his will die in eternal shame.

I feel the need to recycle something I was moved to write elsewhere:

    An athlete, in the midst of a record-breaking run, has never in his life been so fit and strong. Yet his pain-racked body may have never felt so weak. Likewise, in the midst of a spiritual trial, it is not uncommon to be stronger and yet feel weaker than ever before. And to fellow Christians you might seem hopeless. An ultra-marathon champion staggering up the final hill looks pathetic. A child could do better. Anyone not understanding what this man has gone through would shrink from him in disgust. Only someone with all the facts would be awed by his stamina as he stumbles on.

    Consider Scott and his team, who struggled to the South Pole only to discover their honor of being the first to reach the Pole was lost forever. Amundsen had beaten them by about a month. To add to the futility, they endured further blizzards, illness, frostbite and starvation only to perish; the last three dying just a few miles from safety. Yet today their miserable defeat ending with death in frozen isolation, witnessed by not a living soul, is hailed as one on the greatest ever epics of human exploration and endurance.

    Every fiber of my being is convinced that their glory is just a shadow of what you can achieve. Though you suffer in isolation and apparent futility, the depths of your trial known to no one on earth, your name could be blazed in heaven’s lights, honored forever by heaven’s throngs for your epic struggle with despair, illness, bereavement, or whatever. The day is coming when what is endured in secret will be shouted from the housetops. Look at Job: bewildered, maligned, misunderstood; battling not some epic foe but essentially common things – a financial reversal, bereavement, illness; – not cheered on by screaming fans, just booed by some one-time friends. If even on this crazy planet Job is honored today, I can’t imagine the acclaim awaiting you when all is revealed. Your battle with life’s miseries can be as daring as David’s encounter with Goliath. Don’t worry that others don’t understand this at present. One day they will. And that day will never end.

One of the tragic consequences of being sexually violated during one’s tender years is that it seriously interferes with one’s ability to discern who is safe and trustworthy and who is not. It is heart-breaking how common it is for survivors of child sex abuse to fear people who are safe and would help them and yet trust those who are dangerous.

A related danger is that abuse survivors have usually been starved of love and attention and have low self-esteem which causes them not only to be desperate for love but to set low standards in who they imagine would be willing to marry or even befriend them. They commonly do not consider themselves worthy of someone who treats them with gentleness and respect and basic kindness and finding someone who treats them this way could be so contrary to their experience that it makes them suspicious and think that the person must be fake and trying to deceive. Another serious concern is that sexual predators are skilled at detecting people who are vulnerable to exploitation. See Predators Hunt the Wounded. These factors combine to magnify the danger that even after escaping the nightmare of their childhood abuse they will end up in an abusive relationship as adults, unless they are very careful.

Yet another complicating factor is that alters know only a fraction of what the whole person knows. This can have serious implications. Unknown to you, there could be a part of you that has ended up deliberately or accidentally quarantined from any awareness of the unpleasant side of sexual abuse and from any awareness of it being morally wrong but is only aware of pleasurable sexual feelings and that sex brings attention and approval. Even more common, are alters who believe they are little and physically too weak to resist any abuser and that no amount of screaming or whatever will reduce the amount of abuse but will only produce more violence. It could well be that such alters remain hidden within you so that you do not know they are there but they are likely to be triggered to come to the fore in the presence of a former abuser, or someone with some features that remind the alter of the abuser. When such an alter takes over, you might lose awareness of what is happening and so be unable to intervene. This can render relating to former abusers far more dangerous than you consciously realize. Avoiding them is important, even though doing so can be very awkward when they are family friends or relatives.

There are vital reasons why Christians should not date non-Christians. See Dating Non-Christians. Regrettably, this by no means implies that all Christians are safe to date. Appallingly large numbers of so-called Christians are so deluded by the immorality of present-day western society that they are not defiantly opposed to pre-marital sex or they lack the steely self-control needed to repel temptation if an alter acted seductively.

Moreover, to marry before being healed sexually ends up being torturous for both partners. I strongly advise against marrying or exposing oneself to the possibility of sexual involvement by being alone with someone until being well advanced on the long journey toward full healing. A casual glance at divorce statistics will confirm that it is typical for us humans to think ourselves more healed and more prepared for marriage than we are. I know of no way that anyone with D.I.D. can be certain that they have discovered every alter within. This is quite an issue because one could be unaware of alters who despise the person you intend to marry.

Something to be aware of if you have D.I.D. is that not only is it possible for another alter to do something without your knowledge, the danger doubles when relating in an unsupervised way to someone else who has D.I.D. It is not impossible for alters that neither host is even aware of, to relate to each other in an unsafe way. For example, two women might think themselves completely heterosexual, having no knowledge of highly sexualized alters within them that are vulnerable to same-sex attraction and do not even realize that they are married. Another issue is that people with D.I.D. have a tendency to form high dependency relationships that could even result in stalking. Even if you are sure of yourself, how can you be sure of the other person?

There is no need to get paranoid about remote possibilities but a little caution and setting some safe boundaries is wise.

A dear friend of mine, e-mailed me about another need for caution. I considered it so useful that I sought his permission to quote him. He wrote:

    I recently met one of my friend’s alters. This particular alter was pretty aggressive, but what caught me a touch off guard was that she knew me, and had “dirt” with which to criticize me since I had previously shared much with my friend in confidence.

    This woman is one of my Facebook friends. A couple of days ago, I posted a Bible verse on Facebook, and mentioned how powerfully this verse had impacted my life. The first person to post a comment was my friend’s protector alter. I recognized her right away. She didn’t swear up a storm like before (phew!), but was still aggressive. Fortunately, in this case everybody (including myself) agreed with what the alter wrote. However, within the hour, my friend had permanently deleted her Facebook account, and e-mailed me privately to say she had done so. Such extreme action got me thinking, though, and you know what? I agree with her. I think she did the right thing – for several reasons.

      * For her own protection

      * For the protection of her alters

      * For the protection of her friends

    I can see Facebook being a very dangerous place for someone with D.I.D. to hang out and especially dangerous for alters. An alter can post on other people’s walls, in the name of the host, for example. Often, this won’t be a problem. In fact, knowing what I know now, I realize my friend’s alters have been posting on her Facebook page for quite a while. Her friends just kind of laughed it off as her being silly or something. But even being laughed at can deeply hurt an alter. I can see how even something harmless can quickly become harmful, especially for alters.

    I have over 600 Facebook friends, Within minutes of that alter posting on my wall, I had, I think, a dozen comments about that posting, several of which were directed at her. Suppose I happen to be away from the computer at the time, and an alter posts to my Facebook wall, where 600+ random people get a notification. Before you know it, a whole whack of people are responding to that alter on Facebook, saying who knows what, potentially injuring, ridiculing, confusing, or just all around hurting this poor alter who has stepped out but doesn’t know how to relate to people yet. It could also give my friend a bad name, because nobody knows that this is an alter writing. And who knows what the alter might have to say? An alter might do to others like this one had done to me shortly before – speak very critically, bringing up past things I had said and done, etc. And all it could come totally out of the blue. Even though I recognized what was going on when the alter lashed out at me, it was hard to handle. Imagine someone not having a clue, seeing their friend suddenly behaving this way!

    Fortunately, I was able to recognize who was writing on my wall, and fortunately it wasn’t offensive at all. In fact, it was pretty profound what the alter wrote . . . this time. But the dangers suddenly became very apparent to my friend. So to protect her inner family and herself, she permanently deleted her Facebook account. My friend is incredibly smart, and so I’m assuming she realized what could happen if she just suspended the account – an alter can get up in the middle of the night and reactivate the account without the host even knowing about it.

    I have told my friend’s alters that they can write to me ANYthing they want, ANY time they want. They have an open door with me, I don’t care if it’s offensive; if they gotta swear, that’s okay. I have emphasized over and over to them that I just want to hear from them. But this degree of openness with most other people could prove dangerous.

    My friend had over 600 Facebook friends, the majority of whom are non-Christians and many of them are rather emotionally unstable. So an alter could write on any one of their walls, and those people can have hundreds to thousands of people on their pages who will see these writings and can respond.

      Then there are little matters like someone I know who recently placed on Facebook photos of her jewelry, boasting about how many thousands of dollars it was all worth and capping it off by sharing she was going on vacation. Surprise, surprise her house was burgled while she was away and the only thing taken was her jewelry. It was almost as if they knew . . . Then there’s my wife’s relative who wrote a scathing Facebook message about someone and accidentally sent it to the very person she was slandering. If adults without D.I.D. can make such slips what might little alters who are inexperienced with Facebook do? – Grantley

    My friend will undoubtedly make a new Facebook account in the future, but at this point in time, when she is still working through issues and trying to get wounded alters to come forward, I think she did the right thing. It’s important that alters come out and speak their mind freely, in a safe environment. It is safe with the group Grantley has established (see Chat Group Support for Christians with Dissociative Identity Disorder). It is not safe on Facebook.

    I might also suggest to those with D.I.D. that if you have a Facebook account and don’t want to delete it, get someone you can trust with your account. Hand them control over your Facebook account – have them change the password, so you do not know what it is. If you want to hop on Facebook for a while, and you’re in good shape to be doing so, your friend can temporarily change the password to something you know. When you’re finished, they then change the password back later on to a password you don’t know. You will also have to change the reference email address, otherwise you can just request a password reset. It involves a lot of trust with another understanding person, but I can see this system working.

Not So Scary

Yes, it is wise to be cautious but things usually work out. Alters are a very important part of a person and have skills that the host lacks. So if they take over for a while it could be because they are more capable at dealing with the specific matter at hand than the host.

Related Pages

Explaining Dissociative Identity Disorder to People who Do Not Understand
(contains a helpful section on choosing who to tell that you have D.I.D.)

For much more insight and help, see:
Christian Resources: Index of Help for Dissociative Identity Disorder

Never too Soon to Prepare for Marriage

Personalized support
Grantley Morris:

© 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  Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.

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