I’d like to write a post that’s titled, “What does it FEEL like to be a Personality?“, but that would depend on who is writing. We’re all different. I suppose the oddest thing for all of us is the discovery that we’re all in one body. For us that’s still pretty weird. So I decided to write about different types of personalities. In this post you’ll find:
How life happens
The purpose of DID
The two main types of personalities and how they relate to each other
An overview of programming and it’s relationship to denial
A discussion of common types of personalities that are programmed
Hints for non-multiples who know someone with DID
How does a new life happen? I don’t know what you believe. What I know to be true is that first you are a thought in the mind of God, and He decides when, where, and to whom you will be born.
Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb. All the days ordained for me were recorded in your scroll before one of them came into existence.”
Acts 17:26 “From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”
God has a perfect plan for your life, if you live according to His will. Unfortunately, Satan also has a plan for your life, and because all people have free will to do whatever they decide to do, extremely bad things happen, and it may take some time for you to connect with God and learn about His love, His comfort, and His plans. We’ll talk a lot more about that in future posts. The point for this discussion is that there is an “original you” whom God created for this time and place in history. In the beginning of your life, you become a living being with a body, soul, and spirit. That Original Self is not perfect because we’re born into a very fallen world. Generational curses, bad genetics, mistreatment even in the womb, etc. all begin to form who you are the moment you exist. If you are born into a cult family, often you are claimed for Satan from the time of conception, and fragmented parts of you may be made even while you are in utero. Those are the extreme cases. Most people who later become DID are born intact with an Original Self. All of the later splits of the personality ultimately can be traced back to that Original Self.
The purpose of having other personalities is to protect the Original Self. This only becomes necessary when there are events that take place that are so overwhelming for the Original Self that dissociation is used to escape the situation. Since DID is formed early in life (by age 7 or 8), these events occur to little children who have essentially no other defense mechanisms. An example in a baby might be abandonment or abuse by the primary caregiver. A child intuitively knows that it needs to be cared for. When that doesn’t happen, or worse yet the child is abused, the Original Self has a problem. It’s an irreconcilable conflict. To protect the Original Self, who believes they need care, a part is formed by dissociation to deal with the abandonment or abuse. The Original Self then is put inside in a safe place, and a new personality takes the pain. This allows the Original Self to continue to believe that all is well.
Because DID starts so early in life, essentially all of the first splits of a personality are children or Littles. What happens to that Little depends on what treatment the child endures. To form complete alter personalities, the abuse needs to be severe and recurrent. Lots of newborns have to deal with some pretty serious stuff, but they don’t become DID. So our first Little may remain for awhile as a fragment of the Original Self that holds that very early memory. However, if the abuse continues and there are a variety of serious conflicts (physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual), the Original Self will need more help. Now obviously, the Original Self isn’t “thinking” about this. All of this happens subconsciously. Fortunately, God gave us the power of dissociation as a protective mechanism that even unborn children can use. Thus the child survives what might otherwise be fatal or lead to irreversible mental/ psychological damage.
Before we go on, let’s talk about the broad classification of personalities that may be produced. In the broadest sense all personalities fall into one of two types. I’ll discuss them here as if this was always black and white. It isn’t. Sometimes it’s hard to tell in which category a personality belongs. The first is the Apparently Normal Person/ Primary Identity. (This is a good place to start reading.) This type of personality is very closely associated in some way with the Original Self. Like the Original Self they have a very strong sense of self, or what we like to say, a sense of “I”. From now on I’m going to call this group “Primaries“. Despite being very similar in some ways to the Original Self, Primaries may or may not know about the Original Self. In general, Primaries are strong, they have functional roles in life (although not always on the outside), and they are essential for inner healing. Primaries tend to be variable in age and usually mature as the person matures.
The second type of personality is the Emotional Personality/ Alter. Again from now on I’ll refer to them as Alters. Usually there are many more Alters than Primaries. When questioned, Alters rarely have a strong sense of self. They may have important jobs. They may hold memories, programs, or critical life content. Just because one nomenclature calls them “emotional” doesn’t mean that they are always emotional, nor does it mean that Primaries are not emotional. In general the Alters hold the most severe memories for the system. Alters are often stuck at the age in which they were made or the age they were programmed to be. Respecting, caring for and about, and uncovering the deep lies that they believe is critical to becoming free.
The structural hierarchy of Primaries and Alters are as different as there are people with DID. At one extreme, the Original Self begins to make Primaries and subsequent Alters, if necessary, esp. in cases where the abuse is not cult or government related, i.e. there is no programming (see below). There may be only one Primary and a few Alters. At the other extreme, the Original Self never even gets born and a multiplicity of Primaries and Alters are purposefully made by groups who have perfected the way to split, own, and direct for life the various personalities. In the worst cases of fragmentation the Alters are actually only fragments of a person who remember only one part of a specific event. For example, during some horrific event an Alter is produced, but even that is not enough to keep the mind sane. A fragment remembers the sounds. A fragment remembers the smells. A fragment remembers the emotions or part of the emotions. A fragment watches the event from the ceiling (a very, very common phenomenon in ritual abuse survivors). In order to heal that memory, all of those fragments have to be reconstructed in a safe environment. Fortunately, if Jesus is involved in the healing, He knows where all these fragments are and can help reunite them in a safe place. It’s an important part of getting free when there is severe fragmentation of personalities. One of best references to understand the differences between ANP and EP and how they occur can be found here.
Let’s talk about programming. Believe us, we’re not an expert. We’re a survivor. We’ve read a lot, but we by no means have a good grip on all of the types of programming. And to be honest, since this is still going on, probably no one has the complete story. For the most part, the earliest programming in a child is usually done by some sort of cult. That may be a blatant satanic cult of some variety or another, or it could be a gang or terrorist group, who are actually a satanic cult, but they self-identify as something else. The foundation of programming is to make personalities who “belong” to one or more people in that cult. The personality is formed by torture/drugs/ etc. and when that personality comes forth, people in the cult are waiting to make the new personality identify in some way with a person or the group. One has to realize that most of these cults are generational, not just some group of people who are playing around with becoming Satanists or New Agers. Cults often go back hundreds of years. Thus, the very people who are perpetrating that evil to make multiples are, in fact, often programmed multiples themselves.
Here we need to take a small diversion. In a previous post I talked about denial and how denial is a central component of being a multiple. If an individual is in a true satanist cult, the likelihood is that the parents are involved and are also multiples. When and if the time comes to look at one’s life with respect to what happened in the cult and the family, parents may truly NOT KNOW what you’re talking about, because their OK/normal/nice person Primary is out at home. They may be totally non-coconscious of their cult-loyal personalities. That’s certainly not always true, but it’s something to consider.
In programming the programmers make personalities to think, do, and believe whatever they desire. This can involve hypnosis, torture, drugs, electrical shock, viewing horrific events, etc. Sometimes programs can be linked to specific movies (usually kids movies). Sometimes there are specific color schemes. Sometimes there are very clear levels of achievement. A detailed discussion of programming will be in future blogs. Just note that the personality doesn’t have any way to comprehend the moral value of what they are doing. In fact, at times moral conflicts are used to create a personality, but once made there are really no freewill choices. It’s very important to understand this because putting moral blame, shame, condemnation, etc. on personalities is ALWAYS in there somewhere in programming. This in essence shuts down any hope of a personality trying to get free. Likewise horrific threats if a personality “tells” is ALWAYS a part of programming. Programmers will threaten to kill family, a pet, your teddy bear, another personality, a whatever. The point is, to the programmed personality, the threat is real and more horrific that they can contemplate. But remember, the personality that is programmed is often completely unknown to the rest of the system. Thus, specific personalities may perform very detailed instructions, and the rest of the personalities are totally unaware that this is happening. In highly programmed individuals, esp. those involved in government programming, there can literally be hundreds and hundreds of very specifically programmed personalities.
Some of the general functions of personalities have been well covered by a survivor named Svali. Her discussion on alter types is well worth reading and can be found here. We’ve touched briefly on the Original Self. That central or core original being is the first to fracture. The many ways that can happen will be discussed in another blog. At some time the Original Self has personalities split off and these personalities become the source for all of the other personalities. In our system, these early splits became our Primaries. Each Primary then became the founder of a vast set of subsystems and sub-subsystems. Other cases could be quite different. Let me note at this point that the person subconsciously makes personalities for their own protection from overwhelming circumstances. These personalities may then have to co-mingle and form a structure, again subconsciously, with alters that are purposefully formed by cult member or the government. In other words there are self-made and purposefully-made alters.
As mentioned above, since splitting begins very early in life, a large number of the early personalities are Littles. Littles can have a single memory or be quite well-developed in personality over a number of years. They often act like children, having the need to be wanted, cared for, and to explore. Despite how they may present, they are severely abused, retain memories of extreme abuse, and may not be capable of feeling safe or being consoled. Normally, they have been threatened not to tell. They may hold all of the emotions of a memory and be hysterical. They may be nonchalant and tell of the most horrific things with no emotional content at all. Finding and getting to know your Littles is often the very first thing that happens during healing.
Almost from the very beginning programmers will install Punishers. These are personalities of any age whose job is to react if someone in the system disobeys. That reaction could be telling cult members. It could be an internal reprimand. It could be causing the errant personality to be overwhelmed with emotion/pain/dysfunction/etc. It could be implementing what appears to be self-directed mutilation and even suicide. It’s not at all uncommon for punishers to be snitches who tell the cult exactly what’s happening during therapy. Since no programming is absolutely irrevocable over time, it’s important in complex systems that there be internal means for detecting and punishing personalities whose programs are failing. Obviously, these personalities are important to find and communicate with early in therapy or they will prevent any disclosures from occurring and may even create a set of false narratives to prevent the counselor from understanding the underlying issues.
The opposite of that is Protectors. Protectors can keep the entire system or parts of the system unknown to the outside, or they can actually protect the individual from the cult by their extreme obedience. In both cases these personalities are HARD. They show little or no hesitation, and they believe they can do ANYTHING no matter how horrific. Depending on what they are protecting against, some may be angry, hateful, and vicious in nature. They may believe that they are animals or demons and can kill anything. In our early years we seemed to specialize in animal personalities. Protectors can also be highly sophisticated members of the cult who take over whenever a personality is seen to be weak, thus hiding from the cult the presence of a weak member. On the other hand, protectors on the outside are invaluable to maintain the illusion that everything is “normal”. When attacked, they attack. Our precious husband has a huge experience with a male protector part who reacted whenever our husband disagreed with our Primary Presenter. Try dealing with that in marriage counseling.
As mentioned before, denial is programmed in at various levels. There are entire personalities whose main job is to convince others and themselves that there could never have been any abuse. At lower levels individual personalities are taught to switch to a denial mode if questioned. Similarly, amnesia is programmed at many levels. Often there are parts within that block off specific periods of time or specific sets of actions from the other personalities. Amnesia is often coded into an Alter so that after the programmed act is performed, the personality has no memory of it at all. Breaking down the denial and amnestic barriers is an important, but difficult, part of the healing process.
One important purpose for making personalities in the cult is to provide for future cult members. Cult-loyal parts can be at any level from Littles, who are trained to clean up, to very well-trained high priestesses or priests. Whatever the cult hierarchy is, the personalities will reflect that structure and be strictly obedient to cult protocols. Cult-loyal parts can include protectors, punishers, and a variety of workers within the system. It’s probably 100% among seriously programmed cult multiples that one or more personalities is a perpetrator. During healing, that fact alone can keep individuals from seeking freedom. Once you know what you’ve done, it’s forever before you – unless you’re freed by Jesus. Only He can truly take that sin away and set you free. Never diminish the guilt that individuals may feel about the horrible things their parts have done over time. Great wisdom and compassion is needed to deal with these issues.
In a highly programmed person, the programmers will make whatever is needed. These are just a few of the attributes that can be placed in a personality alone or in combinations: Sex slaves – that could include personalities of any age to be involved in pornography, prostitution at any level, or sexual acts in cult rituals. Prostitution can be street, motel, high level orgies, or for blackmail and accessing information. Life hosts….(I just made up that term). Somehow the individual has to have a system of people who can handle all of the events normal to their life. Obviously, there needs to be one or more personalities who know when and how to get to cult events. Someone needs to go to school, or have a job, or be a wife, or a mother, or whatever. Some of that can be through programming and some of that can be through life crises where another split will occur to handle what the others can’t manage. Again there are self-made and cult-made alters. Cults may program recruiters or spies. Governments encode personalities to perform specific missions (including almost anything). In the end the person is placed wherever the programmers want them placed to be doing what they want them to be doing. If the primary purpose is on the outside, then that person will be doing an outside job that fits that role (like in the military to uncover secrets or mess up military operations). If the primary purpose is inside, then someone leads a double life which looks ordinary on the outside, but has many Alters who perform whatever is needed on the inside. For example, a secretary may be in a corporation to steal patented information. A minister may actually be a cult leader who uses the sanctuary at night for satanic rituals. In our case our intended function was on the outside, and so we were very high functioning with ultimate goals that required extreme intellect and dedication to our career.
At this point I would be remiss in not talking about sleeper cells. The rationale for the formation of sleepers will be discussed at another time. However, it is common for many Alters to be programmed and not used. These Alters are highly trained to do “something”. Given the correct signal/ trigger (a tone, a phone call, seeing a particular object…), that personality will execute their program. At that point they may disappear and forget that they ever existed, or they may implement a suicide program. A lot of information about sleepers is out in the web. One of the most pressing reasons, to us, to get healing was to make sure all of our sleepers were “deactivated”.
What non-multiples must realize is that whether the person is a Primary or an Alter, they are REAL. They know who they are. They know they are not someone else. They have a history, usually of extreme torture. They can’t help who they are. Each of them is there for a very good reason, and randomly trying to make them go away or change their views or shame/condemn them is not helpful and is disrespectful. Once understood for who they are, even the most wicked of protectors needs to be acknowledged for the part they play in the system. Learning a little bit about how systems are formed and structured, hopefully, goes a long way for non-multiples to have collegial interactions with the many multiples in any DID persons around them.
So if you are a multiple, did this make sense? What else would you want to be known? If you’re not a multiple and learning, what did or didn’t make sense? What other questions do you have? I’d love to hear from you.