If you have read the “About the Author” page, you know I am a survivor of satanic ritual abuse (SRA). I have not posted much about disassociative identity disorder, or DID (the direct and purposed result of satanic ritual abuse) as walking through that process was like suddenly falling into a puzzling maze. Not knowing what is happening or how to deal with it until you get there is hard to articulate in the moment. However, the time has come I need to address it. The Lord has been bringing to me people who are just now starting the process and I find myself finally able to articulate what I know back to someone just starting up the same path. So here goes! This will be a multi-part series as there is just WAY to much to share about this process I’ve been working through for 3 years now to do it in one blog!
To start, I will define DID (disassociative identity disorder) for anyone not quite sure what it is. To do that effectively, I’d like to break it down a little.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has some good definitions of dissociative conditions. For this blog I am taking information from their website. Let’s start with what causes disassociation.
“Dissociative disorders usually develop as a way of dealing with trauma. Dissociative disorders most often form in children exposed to long-term physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Natural disasters and combat can also cause dissociative disorders.”
What are dissociative disorders?
“Dissociative disorders are characterized by an involuntary escape from reality characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory. People from all age groups and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds can experience a dissociative disorder.
Its estimated that 2% of people experience dissociative disorders, with women being more likely than men to be diagnosed. Almost half of adults in the United States experience at least one depersonalization/derealization episode in their lives, with only 2% meeting the full criteria for chronic episodes. [Personal note: I do not believe these stats are correct. The whole thing about these conditions is you don’t know you have it until it surfaces! So technically, of those who know they have something going on, 2% are talking about it and who knows how many have these conditions and don’t know it.]
The symptoms of a dissociative disorder usually first develop as a response to a traumatic event, such as abuse or military combat, to keep those memories under control. Stressful situations can worsen symptoms and cause problems with functioning in everyday activities. However, the symptoms a person experiences will depend on the type of dissociative disorder that a person has.
Symptoms and signs of dissociative disorders include:
- Significant memory loss of specific times, people and events
- Out-of-body experiences, such as feeling as though you are watching a movie of yourself
- Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide
- A sense of detachment from your emotions, or emotional numbness
- A lack of a sense of self-identity
The symptoms of dissociative disorders depend on the type of disorder that has been diagnosed. There are three types of dissociative disorders defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):
- Dissociative Amnesia. The main symptom is difficulty remembering important information about one’s self. Dissociative amnesia may surround a particular event, such as combat or abuse, or more rarely, information about identity and life history. The onset for an amnesic episode is usually sudden, and an episode can last minutes, hours, days, or, rarely, months or years. There is no average for age onset or percentage, and a person may experience multiple episodes throughout her life.
- Depersonalization disorder. This disorder involves ongoing feelings of detachment from actions, feelings, thoughts and sensations as if they are watching a movie (depersonalization). Sometimes other people and things may feel like people and things in the world around them are unreal (derealization). A person may experience depersonalization, derealization or both. Symptoms can last just a matter of moments or return at times over the years. The average onset age is 16, although depersonalization episodes can start anywhere from early to mid childhood. Less than 20% of people with this disorder start experiencing episodes after the age of 20. [again – stats are based on people who are talking about it.]
- Dissociative identity disorder. Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, this disorder is characterized by alternating between multiple identities. A person may feel like one or more voices are trying to take control in their head. Often these identities may have unique names, characteristics, mannerisms and voices. People with DID will experience gaps in memory of every day events, personal information and trauma. Women are more likely to be diagnosed, as they more frequently present with acute dissociative symptoms. Men are more likely to deny symptoms and trauma histories, and commonly exhibit more violent behavior, rather than amnesia or fugue states. This can lead to elevated false negative diagnosis.”
Hopefully this will give more clarity to what dissociative conditions are on a technical level. Now I’d like to offer my perspective on this:
I have come to see DID as a gift. The human psyche cannot handle severe trauma and survive. This ability to “split” the consciousness during trauma is what saves us from complete destruction. By taking the facts and emotions of abuse with them, these parts relieve our main consciousness of the damage the traumatic abuse causes and lets us keep our level of sanity at least on the conscious level. It is true that damaged and traumatized parts can be given access to our consciousness and lead us into troubled waters. At that point we lose measures of sanity and eventually can lose our true consciousness in the mess. But I believe the intent of this ability is to secure us until the time of true healing and deliverance can be brought to us.
I love how Patricia Baird Clark puts it in her book “Restoring Survivors of Satanic Ritual Abuse”. She says God protects those abused in this manner (SRA) who are seeking help (perhaps as opposed to those who join the abusers) by hiding these parts until the right help is available to them. Otherwise, they would suffer even more by those who may have a desire to help others but have no understanding. I agree completely with that assessment. The Lord held all of me in a hidden place until the the right help was available AND the proper maturity and relationship was in place in me to follow the Lord to the right help and let Him guide the whole healing process.
When it comes to your own healing or helping someone you care about heal from traumatic abuse that has resulted in dissociative conditions, there are two factors that are paramount.
- Are you ready to face the truth?
- Are you at a place in your relationship with God where you will let Him take you where you need to go to really heal?
I have found that every time I got stuck or found myself facing a giant of fear or oppression, these were the two questions I had to come back to. The point of surrender on those points will determine how quickly you find wholeness or not.
Interestingly, this is the same message for anyone – whether dealing with dissociative conditions or not. It’s the basic gospel message. Jesus is Truth. Will we look at Him and let Him show us the Truth (the gospel)? And when He directs us to deal with whatever is exposed, will we turn from our way (or ways that have been planted in us, given to us or we have chosen) and follow Him? That is repentance: turning from the wrong way to His way. It is the simple gospel. And being “saved” is nothing more than working out those 2 steps over and over and over in our lives.
With dissociative conditions resulting from SRA, the enemy of our souls has separated us out and turned us against our own self. It is common for people to view this condition as a curse or as something impossible to overcome. It is neither. What satan has meant (and uses) for evil, God turns and uses for righteousness. Rather than an impossible condition, this is the safety net God provided for our preservation. The solution is to preach the gospel to each part that has been separated out bringing our own selves to turn to God (repentance) to be saved (delivered out from satan’s plan for that part of you and into God’s plan for you) over and over until we are a whole being again. If you ever felt a call to ministry, perhaps the “church” you are called to is first your own self (selves). Do you see the beauty in it? God’s way applies to us all. For some of us, we just have more to apply it to.
Rather than being angry, fearful or discouraged about this condition you have discovered about yourself, I encourage you to thank God for His gift of dissociative measures! Seek Him to lead you as you preach the gospel to your own selves bringing the freedom of repentance, deliverance and wholeness. Where others failed you, perpetrated vile things against you, or now wrongly accuse you, God was and is working out your deliverance. This is His provision for you.
Thank you, God for loving us so much you designed a mechanism of safety and provision for us through dissociative measures. Now that we realize what has happened and how you have provided not only a way to preserve us but also a way out of it into wholeness, we thank You and ask for Your help in receiving truth and following You as You lead.
Ephesians 4:7-8 “Each one of us, however, has been given grace to be measured by the Messiah’s bounty. 8 This is why it says, “After he went up into the heights, he led captivity captive and he gave gifts to mankind.” CJB
2 Corinthians 9:8-11 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.”
Luke 11:13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”