Position Paper: Demons or Dissociative Identity Disorder?
Jennifer A Jenkins
The somewhat hostile relationship that has been established between the church and individuals with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) has caused counselors, Christian and secular alike, to assist churches in developing an understanding of the differences between DID and demonic possession. Exorcisms and prayer services directed at survivors of trauma who developed DID as a coping mechanism often caused additional trauma and stress to be experienced and consequently leading to the development of a new alter (Gingrich, 2013). Though the manifestation of demonic possession and DID are very similar, the fundamental difference exists at the foundation of both conditions. Deciphering whether an individual is possessed by a demon or if they are an individual living with DID can be done by examining the personality, its origins, and how it manifests itself in the individual.
Hammond and Hammond (2008) state that demons are evil personalities that when possessing an individual, reside within them with the objective to destroy, defile, and perform evil acts through. Boddy (1994) extends this definition by stating that a possession can be exorcised or lodged permanently within the individual. The success of the exorcism itself depends upon the strength of the demon, the faith of the individuals performing, and the amount of demons present. On the other hand, the presence of a DID alter is not an evil personality rather a protective one that separates trauma and the individual’s safe world (Gingrich, 2013). The fact that an alter is there to protect and comfort while a demon exists to tear down and destroy is the first indicator that a sexually traumatized woman who has developed DID is not possessed by a demon but instead that her alters have been created in order to provide a protective barrier around her to prevent further trauma.
The second indicator that demonic...