multiple personalites, MPD,multiple personality disorder, possession, spirit possession, demonic possession, exorcism,
Norman Allan
 
 science and philosophy    alternatve medicine       history and misc 
 poetry      gallery      lies my father told me      pipedreams       blog 
 

 

 

 

 

 

My Multiple Friend


I don't know how it ends, but Justin's story was beyond sensational, though I think he is sinking and by now he has probably sunk. I met Jus after he phoned to see if I could fix his rib. Coming into the office he announced, "You don't have to worry. We had a conference, twenty six of the leading personalities, we held a conference in the waiting room just nowand we've agreed not to harm you." You know, I never had any fear with Jus, though he was six foot four and a body builder when we met, and some of his "alters" were as rough as tumble. Perhaps foolishly, I felt safe.
     Jus had "put out" a rib working out at the gym. It was new for him to want to fix it, to want to avoid pain, to heal, but he had decided that he wanted to heal all the pains, and boy, was that a task. He had started taking therapy with the head of psychiatry at McPherson University Hospital. "We've discovered one hundred and five alternative personalities, so far, by hypnosis, Dr. Mann and I. I have more alters than any other Multiple on record."
     Healing, pains - Jus told me he had spent his summers fishing on the high seas. One summer he broke his thigh bone a few inches above the knee. "Snapped it clean through. I walked around on it for six months. The doctors couldn't believe it," but Jus had spent that half year in the personalities of several alters that felt no pain.
     The year Jus came to see me I ended up with five patients with Multiple Personality Disorder, five MPDs, in my practice. It started with Marla, who came for a low back problem and stayed for some CranioSacral relaxation/counseling. She was a "multiple", but not, on the surface, dramatic. (Her alters were lots and lots of frightened infants that stayed hidden in public. Marla felt comfortable with me, and she sent Jus, who she knew from a self-help network. Then Jus sent two friends, acquaintances. And there was another, a fifth MPD, I discovered in my practice, or maybe I "generated" that one...)
     I started reading about Multiple Personality Disorder. It's a survival technique when the mind is just overwhelmed by horror. You can "sequester" the emotional trauma, the torture, the fear, like an oyster sequesters grit in a pearl. The MPD walls off a person, a personality. A strategy to partition the pain away from consciousness. How separate are these alternate personalities? I mean, we all have separate personalities. When you talk to your mother you are a different person then you are when you talk to your friends. When you are alone in bed at night you are a different person again. But these different personalities share memories. Not so the MPD's "alters". They are walled off: "sequestered". Alters have even been documented with allergies not shared by the other personalities. They are, to all intents and purposes, separate people.
     It's a sign that something may be going on, says Dr. Putnam, when you find cloths in your closet that you don't recognize.
     "You can't imagine how strange it is," said Jus, "to wake and wonder how the flat-screen television got there. To wake up in your boarding house room and wonder where you are and how you got there."
     Why was I so fond of Jus? He was pleasant with me, considerate, and I considered him a hero in his way, that he would now embrace his pain to mend such hurt. And he seemed fond of me and he was ever so respectful.
     So we worked with Jus' rib, and then we worked with Jus. We? Me and mostly Jus himself. I rarely met his alters.
     Jus' story. Justin Coffin's father was a Satanist, Jus told me. There is a hotbed of Satanists on Vancouver Island. It's the satanic capital of Canada.
     "What about the Ottawa valley?" I asked.
     "Oh yeah, but Vancouver Island's the place."
     If you swear allegiance to the Devil, Jus swears, the Devil will give you anything you want… in the short term. But you have to seal the deal with blood - not your high school slash your finger. No. The blood of a relative, and all their blood. A murder, perhaps of your child. Then the Devil will give you millions of dollars, or sex, or power. Whatever you want, and quick. There are quite a few, true, Satanists, though there are a lot more low-grade imitators and dabblers too.
     One of the reasons Jus trusted me, and worked with me, was to do with an incident that happened around that time that I related to him in the context of getting things by just asking. I'd come across a Buddhist sect - the Nichiren Buddhists - many of whose followers claimed that if you said their mantra and asked for something, the universe would deliver. So I asked for a new patient: "Nam myoho renge kyo": and the phone rang. And then it range again. That didn't feel quite right, so I stopped saying the mantra. And because of that, Jus trusted me.
     Jus' story: continued… Jus was a victim of severe childhood torture. "Here, look at this scar. My father hammered a nail through my hand just there. Nailed me to the table. Some times he'd put me in a freezer, with the power off, but pitch dark, for hours on end. I used to like that. That's when Jesus would come to me, and take over. Just a calm black void and bliss. Safe."
     "Was Jesus one of your alters?"
     "At times. When I was a kid. When I was safe."
     Multiple is a strategy for the overwhelmed, the tortured. "When I was eleven years old my Pa put a gun in my mouth and made me fuck my mother."
     Torture. You may want to skip the next two paragraphs. On Halloween the Satanist convene for their high mass. "Yeah, they'll sacrifice some babies. But more are offered to the devil for possession. It's an honor to offer a child to the master for him to possess. They only do this with kids till they're six years old. So, so this happened to me once a year till I was six." They would fuck me, fuck the child - the congregation would bugger, or fuck, the child - until 'it left its body.' Then they'd call in a spirit to take possession."
     "I can remember leaving my body, hovering up near the ceiling, in the corner, and watching them bugger me. And they know when you leave your body. I watched them call the spirits in. Saw the devils entering my body. I have six entities that share my body that still possess me. One of them, the last one they called in, is the Devil himself."

Jus' father died when Jus was fourteen. "He buried something before he died. Buried something in a chest in the woods. I met an Indian medicine man not long ago. A wise and powerful man. He said that chest is important. That I need to retrieve it. To open it. I'm trying to get the courage to go out to B.C. and do that. But it frightens me."
     It took a while for Jus to find that courage. Meanwhile he came to see me. I do a lot of CranioSacral Therapy which is deeply relaxing and can be transformative in many ways: physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. {*footnote: I've written about this in other places: a short description of CranioSacral Therapy and a lengthy discussion in Mind Body Dialogue in a Clinical Practice.} And though I didn't often see Jus Coffin "switch", nor meet many of his alters, I did meet some.
     Once, a man that looked very like Jus, but with a quite different demeanor, arrived for his appointment. A much gruffer dude introduced himself. "I'm Jude. I'm one of Jus' protective personalities." In a deep, hoarse voice he explained that just before arriving Jus had witnessed a couple arguing, fighting, and though the woman was giving her partner more grief then she was getting, Jus had quite a "thing" about men abusing women, his mother having been so sorely used. So he switched and Jude laid the poor fellow out cold with a couple of punches. He had bruised his hand some. Would I do acupuncture for it, he asked. I gave him some homeopathic arnica, but sure, acupuncture could certainly dull the pain and probably speed up the healing. "Do you enjoy sticking needles into people?" he asked
     "Not particularly."
     "Me, I like hurting people," he said pounding the injured fist into his palm. "They should know what it feels like," he said grimly.
     "I'm going to put a couple of needles in your hands in Hoku for the pain," I told him. "And one in your head, Baihui, to calm you down."
Baihui is amazing. My teacher, Jayasuaria, calls it "the Valium point". When I needled Baihui, Jude's eyes flickered. He twitched and switched back into Jus. "I hope Jude didn't scare you."
     Jus told me that he and Dr. Mann had uncovered two homicides and he feared there might have been more; lowlifes he had fallen in with, who had tried to cheat him some. A dumb move. Jus felt they had it coming, but he was also remorseful. Part of the reason he now wanted to heal. As I've said, I viewed his attempts at integration and redemption as quite heroic.
     At this time Jus moved to a room in a new rooming house. Moving in he felt unease. Though the walls had been painted white since the last occupant, he could sense Satanic designs, graffiti, that the last occupant had painted: he was sure he sensed or saw this under the new paint. And there was a lingering smell of demonic candles. "They use black candles with human fat in them. Human fat, or in pinch a black cat's, though you can smell the difference."
     Jus asked if I thought I could "clean" the room. He said his Indian medicine man had said that I could. I wasn't brimming with confidence about this, but I said I would try next week, when I got back from Blue Skies. Blue Skies is the most wonderful of folk music festivals. Only two thousand folk can camp there. That's what the field, the space, would sustainably support, so the tickets are allotted by lottery and the community is the cream of what would be the "counter culture" if the counter culture were still alive. (And it probably is. It's us old liberals.)
     At Blue Skies I met a young man with a sound grounded presence, though he called himself a white magician, a wizard, and a "shaman", and only the last in quotation marks, because, as he explained, "I'm not a Siberian. I mostly trained with the Lakota." Nonetheless, for all these words, I still had a good feeling about Tim and I asked him for his advice about cleansing Jus' room. Tim gave me a formula wherein I would call on all the entities, forces, powers (an inclusive list) that were not "pure" and dancing in the light, to leave and stay away. It was in a sort of spiritual lawyer's language and I can only paraphrase, for I can't, now, find the text.
     I told Tim I was a little tremulous about ordering the spirits gone in my own name. Couldn't I do it in Jesus' name, or some great dude?
     Tim said, "When you go into that room you are going to be the most powerful presence there. You just order them gone. They'll go. But you've got to dot your "i"s and cross your "t"s, cause they're squirmy. They are literalists and they are looking for loopholes."

I smudged Jus' room with cedar. I smudged it with sage and sweet grass. I said the formula with steadfast conviction. And we smudged a can of paint for Jus to paint again.
     Later Jus told me that when I had smudges him, he could feel the entities in him, the Devil and demons, shrink away from the smoke. They did not like it. They had a power over him, particularly the "Devil" did. He would reward Jus for doing things he wanted with orgasmic paroxysms. Jus, and most of his alters, could resist the "Devil's" urgings easily enough, but the rewards had some allure.
     And the smudged, cleansed room? Better, but Jus was never comfortable there.

Then Jus was gone a while. Months later he came back to my practice. He'd been to B.C. Had dug up his father's chest. Nothing of importance in it. A let down.

Jus had told me how once in therapy with Dr. Mann, he had changed, like a werewolf, into a hyena headed creature. Literally, Dr. Mann had fled the room, he said.
     Dr. Mann, said Jus, was trying to arrange for an exorcism. He had corresponded with, and talked with, a branch of the Church, a Vatican committee that dealt with such stuff, and they were working on it, the bell, book and candle thing, but… but there was a lot of paper work, bureaucracy, and training. They were meeting with Jus. Had been meeting with him to prepare him but they had told him it would take a long time to prepare him, before he was ready. Perhaps a year. (Did he have to repent all his sins before they would begin?)

At this time, and this will date it for me -1994, '95 - I was working with a spiritual healer, R.D. R.D. would come to my office Wednesday evenings to treat her patients, and some of mine. I had seen her work with "possession", exorcising entities (though half the time that she was asked to do this, she discerned rather that the person asking was delusional - that it was "all in their head"). I asked Jus if he was interested in meeting R.D., and they arranged to work together.
     R.D. talked with the entities, dialogued with them one by one, inviting them, guiding, facilitating their leaving. It seems that ghosts or entities that take possession of people (usually people who are in some degree incapacitated, so you'll find these hungry ghosts hanging out in bars, for drunks, and hospitals, waiting on their chances, or so Tim the "shaman" told me), these entities are souls in dread of passing on, fearing hell fires. R.D. explained to them that it wasn't like that. That Earth is a school and our lives are lessons, and it wasn't fire and brimstone they'd earned as the wages for their sins, but remedial classes: come back and try again, and she'd convince them to leave. Well, it took the first hour's session to convince the first three. The next two traveled on easily, quickly, in the next session, but the "Devil" was hard to move. He was hanging on for dear life. They talked at length. R.D. would speak and then listen. Finally she arrived at a tactic that began to make an impact. "You don't want that body," she cajoled; playfully, but disdainfully, she taunted him. She explained to me later that this sixth entity was quite a dandy. He'd been hanging round in one body, then another, for decades - an Edwardian dandy - and he was indeed mortified to be confined in such a low class person, body builder though Jus was in those days, and quite a handsome man. It was this disparagement of Jus as an unsuitable host that finally did the trick. The Devil (he called himself the Devil to Jus. To R.D. he was Damien)… Damian was, actually quite bored, and he decided he might journey on.
     "Look over there, by the willow tree." R.D. eyes glanced over to, and through, the corner of the room. "Those three angels. They're here to guide you… No. No, they're not here to punish or confine you. They just look like angels. That's how you picture them. They're spirits. They have no form, no real form… Over there by the tree, by the stream. They're waiting."

"Well, Jus," I asked when he came to see me next, "do you feel deferent? Did it work?"
     Jus wasn't sure. "But it was sure weird. You only heard one side of the conversation. I heard both sides!"
     Jus said he still felt the devil in him. R.D. insisted the Devil, Damien, had left and that Jus was just so used to the shape of him that he felt him still. And, she thought, Jus still desired Damien's strength and power in some degree.
     Jus felt he was still possessed.

How do I know any of this is true? Jus once showed me a copy of a letter Dr. Mann had written to the church council concerning the possible Church exorcism they were planning. (I later met Dr. Mann in connection with another patient and he was indeed head of psychiatry at McPherson's.) Written on McPherson Hospital letterhead the letter went on to describe Dr. Mann's conviction that something unworldly was indeed happening (he had to convince them that it really was "demonic possession" and not just delusions). He wrote that he had seen Jus' visage change physically into a wolf's head.
     "It wasn't a wolf," Jus said, with distain, as I read. "It was a hyena, and besides, how would he know. He ran out of the room when I started to switch."

The third year I was working with Jus, for the changes were slow and while his work with Dr. Mann was steady, his work with me was intermittent… the third year he was no longer a fit bodybuilder. He had run to pudge… he was pudgy and he'd become a little sallow. (Well, he was haunted.) He was now living with a sweet, sweet woman, Jenny Hu. She came to sessions with him a few times. Spoke with an accent. Worked for bell Telephone. A slightly built, attractive woman, and so caring. She doted on Jus. But Jus was doubtful about the relationship: felt that it wasn't good for Jenny. Some of his alters, Jake and Jordan, were rude to her. He feared for her.

My final chapter with Jus involved the "healer", R.D., again. R.D. was then a student film maker. She wanted to make a "short" about Justin the Multiple for her film course. A documentary. He agreed. On camera he changed and switched, and switched: mostly babies and toddlers. With the older of these he'd talk in a silly baby voice. "I'm Jimmy. I'm a good boy." With the younger, he'd "goo" and "gah" and dribble. Vulnerable innocent infants. Sad. I'd not seen any of this before with Jus.
     I was rather conflicted about this documentary project that we shot at my office. It felt a little exploitive, unfeeling, to me and I feared it might tarnish Jus and my "therapeutic relationship", even though it was not, directly, my project. It might have been difficult for me to veto. That would have needed some balls, and I was "conflicted". I don't know if Jus, or any of his alters, also felt this disquiet. It was the last that I saw of Justin Coffin.





*footnote: I've written about this in other places: a short description of CranioSacral Therapy and a lengthy discussion in Mind Body Dialogue in a Clinical Practice.

      if there is someone you know
      who would like to see this page
      send them the link