Acts 16:16
 “One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we
met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and
brought her owners a great deal of money by fortunetelling.”
ESP
 The New Testament links spirit possession with a form
of extrasensory perception (ESP).
 Divination (predicting the future) in Acts 16:16.
Outline
 Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
 Dissociative Trance Disorder (DTD)
 Conclusions: “Personalities” or “Spirits”?
Dissociative Identity
Disorder
 Formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD)
 It involves the appearance of two or more identities
that take turns in controlling a person’s behavior.
 Psychologists call the alternate identities “multiples” or
“alternates” for short.
Alternates Differ In:
 Gender
 Age
 Handedness
 Handwriting
Alternates Differ In:
 Sexual orientation
 Eyeglasses prescription
 Foreign languages spoken
—James N. Butcher, Susan Mineka, and Jill M.
Hooley, Abnormal Psychology. Thirteenth Edition (Boston,
MA: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007), 299.
Symptoms
 Depression
 Self-mutilation
 Frequent suicidal attempts
 Moodiness
 Erratic behavior
More Symptoms
 Headaches
 Hallucinations
 Substance abuse
 Post-traumatic symptoms
Cause
 Psychiatrists and psychologists generally hold to the
position that traumatic childhood experiences in a person’s
life cause a person to develop DID.
 However, researchers also acknowledge that not all DID
cases are rooted in abusive childhood experiences.
–Eugene L. Bliss, M.D., Multiple Personality, Allied
Disorders, and Hypnosis (New York, Oxford: Oxford
University Press, Inc., 1986), 137.
“Alternates”: Coping Tools
 Patients allegedly develop alternate personalities to
cope with their bad memories of trauma.
 The new personalities remember the events, but the
main personality does not.
Cause?
 However, researchers also acknowledge that not all
DID cases are rooted in abusive childhood experiences.
–Eugene L. Bliss, M.D., Multiple Personality, Allied
Disorders, and Hypnosis (New York, Oxford: Oxford
University Press, Inc., 1986), 137.
Researcher MA Simpson
States:
 “There is no convincing evidence that MPD is a naturally
occurring condition, let alone a distinct diagnosis.”
Simpson MA, Multiple personality disorder (letter). J Nerv
Ment Dis 176:535, 1988, quoted in Carol S. North, M.D., JoEllyn M. Ryall, M.D., Daniel A. Ricci, C.M., A.C.S.W.,
Richard D. Wetzel, Ph.D., Multiple Personalities, Multiple
Disorders Psychiatric Classification and Media Influence (New
York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 35.
Is It a Real Condition?
 Psychiatrists and psychologists debate among
themselves regarding whether or not Dissociative
Identity Disorder is even a real mental disorder.
Some DID Patients:
 “Had inclinations toward the occult as well as toward
parapsychological and metaphysical phenomena.”
—Multiple Personalities, Multiple Disorders Psychiatric
Classification and Media Influence (New York, Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1993), 151.
DID and Paranormal
Phenomena
 Psychokinesis
 ESP (including clairvoyance)
 Astral travel (out-of-body-experiences)
 Poltergeist activities
—Multiple Personalities, Multiple Disorders Psychiatric
Classification and Media Influence, 151.
DID and Paranormal
Phenomena
 Alleged contact with ghosts
 Automatic handwriting
—Multiple Personalities, Multiple Disorders Psychiatric
Classification and Media Influence (New York, Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1993), 20.
Extrasensory Perception
Symptoms:
 “Should not be enshrined as first-rank symptoms of
MPD, but are worthy of serious study by mainstream
psychiatry.”
—Colin A. Ross, M.D., Multiple Personality Disorder
Diagnosis, Clinical Features, and Treatment (John Wiley &
Sons, Inc., 1989), 108.
Locally Described Dissociative
Phenomena in Uganda:
 “Going into another state of mind and talking in
languages people had not learned before. Later,
they don’t remember talking in those languages.”
(Marjolein Van Duijl, Etzel Cardeña and Joop T. V.
M. De Jong, “The Validity of DSM-IV Dissociative
Disorders Categories in South-West Uganda,” in
Transcult Psychiatry, 2005; Issue 42; Page 227).
Dissociative Identity
Disorder?
 “Western-type psychiatric and biomedical
treatment of the condition often remains
ineffective.”
—Felicitas D. Goodman, How About Demons?
Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World
(Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana
University Press, 1988), 84.
Dissociative Identity
Disorder?
 In some situations exorcisms are quite effective
treatments.
—Felicitas D. Goodman, How About Demons? Possession
and Exorcism in the Modern World, 84.
DID Patient: Carrie
 Psychiatrist Ralph B. Allison has occasionally
encountered “entities in his work with multiples
that acted anomalously. Their ‘birth’ could not be
pinpointed, they served no recognizable purpose,
and quite frequently they referred to themselves as
spirits.”
—Felicitas D. Goodman, How About Demons?
Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World, 84.
DID Patient: Carrie
 One of Allison’s DID patients, Carrie,
manifested a considerably violent and
aggressive personality. This alternate
personality “screamed obscenities, had
superhuman strength, and was viciously
aggressive.”
—Felicitas D. Goodman, How About Demons?
Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World, 85.
DID Patient: Carrie
 Carrie committed suicide before Allison could
effectively help her.
—Felicitas D. Goodman, How About Demons? Possession
and Exorcism in the Modern World, 85.
DID Synopsis
 DID may or may not be a real disorder.
 There may be genuine cases.
 Psychiatrists, however, may have misdiagnosed some
of their patients.
 Their patients might be suffering from another disorder
altogether….
Dissociative Trance
Disorder (DTD)
 The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health
Disorders (4th ed., 1994) lists Dissociative Trance
Disorder as a proposed topic for further study.
 Also known as “Trance and Possession Disorder”
 This diagnosis requires the presence of either a trance
state or a possession trance state.
Possession Trance State
 The presence of an altered state of consciousness, in
which a person’s normal identity is replaced by a new
identity attributed to the influence of a spirit or deity.
 The term possession trance only applies to trance
disorders that lead to distress or dysfunction.
Dissociative Trance Disorder
 DTD shares clinical symptoms with DID, most
commonly an altered state of consciousness with an
identity.
 These are, however, two distinct disorders.
 DTD patients generally do not suffer from traumatic
childhood experiences.
Researchers
 Stefano Ferracuti
 Roberto Sacco
 Renato Lazzari
 At: Department of Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine,
University of Rome “La Sapienza”
Patient Demographics
 All lived in Italy.
 The authors contacted the official exorcist of the Rome
diocese.
 16 people who participated in exorcisms were invited
to participate in this study.
 10 accepted the invitation.
Patient Demographics
 Their ages ranged from 26 to 60 years.
 The interviews occurred 7 to 10 days after the behavior
observed during exorcism.
 The participants were White and Roman Catholic
practitioners.
Psychiatric Treatment…
 2 people had received a diagnosis of schizophrenia and
had been treated with neuroleptics.
 5 had received pharmacological treatment for recurrent
depression.
 1 had a possible diagnosis of “epilepsy” as a child.
…Failed
 “They all claimed that psychiatric treatment had done
nothing for their symptoms whereas the religious
rituals had brought some improvement. Nearly all of
them said that exorcism helped to keep the demon
under control so that it pestered them less after the
session.” — “Dissociative Trance Disorder: Clinical
and Rorschach Findings in Ten Persons Reporting
Demon Possession and Treated by Exorcism,” in
Journal of Personality Assessment (1996), 528.
Paranormal Backgrounds
 “They also described having paranormal experiences,
such as ‘spirits’ moving things around in the home,
misfortune, and unexplainable nausea and vomiting.”
— “Dissociative Trance Disorder: Clinical and
Rorschach Findings in Ten Persons Reporting Demon
Possession and Treated by Exorcism,” in Journal of
Personality Assessment (1996), 527.
“High Percentage of
Paranormal Experiences”
 “The DDIS” (psychological test) “also showed that the
10 participants reported a high percentage of
paranormal experiences, notably diverse forms of
extrasensory perception, and contact with ghosts and
spirits.” — “Dissociative Trance Disorder” in Journal
of Personality Assessment (1996), 529.
“Poltergeist Phenomena”
 “For cultural reasons, most participants at first claimed
ignorance of poltergeist phenomena. Once the
meaning had been explained, 2 participants
immediately recalled having experienced similar
happenings.” — “Dissociative Trance Disorder” in
Journal of Personality Assessment (1996), 529, 533.
Previous Cult Involvement
 “Three participants stated that they had been possessed
by a dead person in circumstances other than exorcism.
The interviewer made no attempt to inquire further
into problems arising from participation in cults,
activities about which all participants expressed strong
feelings of guilt…
The Cult Activities
 “The activities within the cults that the participants
spontaneously reported as being more distressing were
connected with practicing blaspheme consecrations
and performing promiscuous sexual activity.” —
“Dissociative Trance Disorder” in Journal of Personality
Assessment (1996), 533.
Occult Family History
 “One participant (Case 2) had a notable family history
of paranormal experiences: The father worked as a
dowser, and two relatives were mediums.” —
“Dissociative Trance Disorder” in Journal of Personality
Assessment (1996), 533.
“Missing Time…”
 “On being interviewed the participants stated that they
had no memory of the possession trance state, which
lasted from 5 min to 2 hr.”
— “Dissociative Trance Disorder: Clinical and
Rorschach Findings in Ten Persons Reporting Demon
Possession and Treated by Exorcism,” in Journal of
Personality Assessment (1996), 527.
Possession Episodes
 “The possessing agent always manifested a moral
character different from that of the person’s habitual
state, usually expressing sexual and aggressive
concerns.
 The possessed persons also had frequent vomiting,
coughing, and spitting, accompanied by roars, growls,
and barks…
Possession Episodes
 During the possession state these people usually had
facial expressions of anger and hate.
 One person, a former seminarist, talked in bad Latin.
The Possessing Agent
 “…was usually lucid. It stated its identity (Lucifer,
Satan, or Asmodeus).
 Cursed the priest, the church, and God, expressing
disgust for the body it had possessed; and in some
cases claimed memories and congratulated itself on
having created the body it had entered so much
trouble…
Physical Effects
 Motor behavior always became intense, agitated, and
aggressive.
 The eyes rolled.
 The voice became deep and gloomy.”
— “Dissociative Trance Disorder,” in Journal of
Personality Assessment (1996), 527.
Dr. Beng-Yeong Ng
 Is Associate Consultant at Woodbridge Hospital and
Institute of Mental Health in Singapore.
 He is the first recipient of the Singapore Psychiatric
Association Book Prize in 1994.
Dr. Beng-Yeong Ng’s Study
 Published in December 2000
 In Transcultural Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed journal
Abstract:
 “This study investigates the characteristic features of
trance states in three different communities (Chinese,
Malays and Indians) in Singapore by administering a
semi-structured interview to 55 patients with the
condition and analyzing witnesses’ accounts….
Abstract Continued:
 Trance disorder among the three groups displays
remarkable similarities in phenomenology but
differences also exist. Most of the trances were
reportedly precipitated by fear, anger and/or
frustration. Seventy per cent of patients reported
prodromal symptoms….
Abstract Concluded:
 Common manifestations include unusual vocalizations
and movements, shaking, apparent immunity from
pain, and unfocused or fixed gaze. The patients tend to
assume the identities of gods from their own cultures.
For individuals reported to be possessed by deities, the
embodied identities are gods lower down in the
hierarchy of Chinese gods or a minor supernatural
figure on the Hindu pantheon.”
Occult Elements in
Singapore Religions
 “Scholars have documented the existence of a
distinctive religion among the Chinese people involving
an amalgam of Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, perhaps
a dash of Confucianism, and a great deal of spiritmediumship….
Occult Elements in
Singapore Religions
 …Belief in spirit possession remains fundamental in
the Chinese religious belief system.
 Spirits and ghosts are classified into two main types:
those which contribute to the welfare of the living and
those which have potential to do harm if not placated
at appropriate occasions.” –“Phenomenology of
Trance States Seen at a Psychiatric Hospital in
Singapore: A Cross-Cultural Perspective,” in
Transcultural Psychiatry, (December 2000), 561.
Occult Elements in
Singapore Religions
 “Most of the Indians in Singapore believe in Hinduism…a
practitioner or a temple priest, goes into a trance to seek
direct supernatural help for clients…The deity is asked to
descend upon a devotee, who enters into a trance. Some
Hindus in Singapore also practice fire-walking, which can
be done as purification or to worship, thank or appeal to a
god.” –“Phenomenology of Trance States Seen at a
Psychiatric Hospital in Singapore: A Cross-Cultural
Perspective,” in Transcultural Psychiatry, (December 2000),
562, 563.
Ng’s Study Criteria for
“Trance”:
 (i) An altered state of consciousness
 (ii) Partial or total amnesia after a trance state in that the
individual has no recollections, or at most patchy ones, of
the event
 (iii) Adoption of at least one alternate identity in the trance
states.
–“Phenomenology of Trance States Seen at a Psychiatric
Hospital in Singapore” in Transcultural Psychiatry,
(December 2000), 565.
Patient Demographics
 55 patients, 43 men and 12 women were studied.
 The age range was 17 to 69 years.
 They sought help at the psychiatric hospital when the
trances became too bizarre or persistent.
 Forty-four patients (80%) reported that the trance
states occurred spontaneously and no prior preparation
was involved.
Paranormal Background
 “Prior to their consultation at the psychiatric hospital,
11 (20%) worked as temple mediums.
 5 (9%) were temple assistants.
 2 (3.6%) were bomohs (traditional medicine men or
mediums).
 Of the remaining 37, 9 had participated in trances and
28 had witnessed trances before.
Pre-Trance Symptoms
 3 patients reported premonitions, dreams or visions
that conveyed important messages to them.
 7 had a sense of a presence. For example, a Chinese
male soldier remarked, “I can sense the presence of Tai
Seng Yeh (the monkey god) in the jungle.”
Pre-Trance Symptoms
 Changes in body image and sensation included
sensation of weightlessness, feeling of upward
movement/body floating, and feeling detached from
external environment.
 The two Chinese men who experienced nausea and
vomiting were subsequently possessed by Kuan Ti, the
god of war. –“Phenomenology of Trance States Seen
at a Psychiatric Hospital in Singapore: A CrossCultural Perspective,” in Transcultural Psychiatry,
(December 2000), 567.
Possession Conduct
 “Certain behaviors, such as stiffening, shaking,
shivering of the body and aggressive gestures, crossed
cultural borders.”
 “The typical scenario was that the affected individual
suddenly began speaking in an altered voice with an
altered identity.” –“Phenomenology of Trance States
Seen at a Psychiatric Hospital in Singapore: A CrossCultural Perspective,” in Transcultural Psychiatry,
(December 2000), 569.
“Unlearned Languages and a
Capacity To Speak Them…”
 “Nine individuals (16.3%) manifested an
understanding of unlearned languages and a capacity
to speak them. A Malay man when possessed by his
ancestral spirits spoke ‘Sundak’, a Javanese dialect that
had not been used by his people for a few generations
and was never taught to him…. –“Phenomenology of
Trance States Seen at a Psychiatric Hospital in
Singapore”, 569.
“Unlearned Languages and a
Capacity To Speak Them…”
 … A Chinese military recruit heard that the offshore
island Pulau Tekongwas a Malay cemetery and that
many Japanese soldiers had died there during the
World War II….
“Unlearned Languages and a
Capacity To Speak Them…”
 …He subsequently saw what he thought to be a female
ghost and according to other soldiers, in the entranced
state, he spoke almost faultless Japanese using a female
voice. In his normal waking state rather than in a
trance, he spoke not a word of Japanese.” –
“Phenomenology of Trance States Seen at a
Psychiatric Hospital in Singapore”, 569-570.
Summary
 Some people may suffer from a natural disorder called
Dissociative Identity Disorder.
 DID may not even be a real disorder.
 Other patients may have been misdiagnosed, and are
suffering from Dissociative Trance Disorder.
 DTD patients do not respond to medication or psychiatric
treatment.
 Exorcisms are usually the most effective treatments.
Summary
 Some DID patients and all DTD patients dabbled in
the paranormal (occult) prior to becoming possessed.
 Some DID and DTD patients manifest ESP (speaking
unlearned languages).
 All DTD patients experience a “missing time”
sensation and amnesia—similar to alleged alien
abductees.
Conclusions
 Alien “abductees” and DTD patients share the same
general paranormal background.
 “Abductees” and DTD patients sometimes experience
poltergeist activities prior to their experiences.
 Secular psychologists and psychiatrists are struggling to
fully comprehend the possession phenomena—they
have not “explained spirit possession away,” as
materialist skeptics frequently assert.
 Spirit possession experiences are still around today—
just like they were in the first century C.E.
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