“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but shall have eternal life.” John 3:16
Suppose a person has been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (also known as “having multiple personalities”) and has numerous different personalities. None of the personalities have any knowledge or awareness of any of the others. Let’s look at two of these personalities. One is named “Robert”; the other is named “Jason.” Robert is an avowed atheist who despises organized religion. Jason, on the other hand, is not hostile toward religion, but is undecided regarding which one he follows.
One day, Robert changes his beliefs and trusts Christ as his Savior.
Several days later, our DID patient awakes as Jason. Jason has no memory of a religious conversion, nor does he possess any knowledge of Robert’s existence. While out for a jog, the patient is accidentally struck by a car and killed.
For a Christian, this scenario raises numerous questions. First of all, is it even possible for one personality to believe the Gospel and for the other not to? If not, then do all of the personalities believe? If they all believe (or if even one does), then do they recoalesce into a single personality?
If it is possible, then is only the believing personality saved, with the others being condemned? Are all of the personalities saved? Is each personality treated as a separate soul (incidentally, do multiple personalities indicate the existence of multiple souls?)? Or, is only one personality (the original) capable of believing the Gospel? If this is the case, then is this personality saved, with the others simply being discarded as artifacts of a mental illness? Furthermore, would Robert be responsible for Jason’s actions?
According to modern scientific understanding, DID can occur when an individual (a single personality) is subjected to a traumatic experience. The brain is unable to fully process it, so it develops multiple personalities in order to cope with it. In a sense, a single personality becomes many. In terms of the soul, does this mean that a single soul has now become multiple souls? Or, does the person still possess only one soul, and the DID is only an illness of the mind? Or, did the distinct multiple personalities exist when the original individual was conceived, but simply not become active until the traumatic experience?
Is each personality considered a person in his own right, or only a piece of a whole person? Does each personality have rights? Is silencing a personality through medical means (such as medication) an act of murder?
If a personality is like a mirror, and this pane is shattered into multiple shards, then is each shard a separate mirror, or simply a piece of a whole mirror? Suppose this mirror is pointed at an idyllic scene containing a lake, a sunrise, trees, and a clear sky. If this mirror is shattered, then each piece would reflect only the portion of the scene at which it was pointed. The shard reflecting the sun may be akin to a “sunny, bubbly, happy” personality, whereas the shard reflecting a tree may be more akin to a calm, reserved, or stoic person. With this in mind, could each personality be considered well-rounded, or would each one have a bias of its own, based upon its ideological and experiential filters? How would these filters be different for a whole personality?
One psychiatrist states that the cure for DID is simply to speak to the different personalities, getting them to come to terms with the traumatic experience, so that they re-integrate into the individual’s psyche. Perhaps this is akin to fitting the pieces of the mirror back together?
These questions have spun about in my mind for some time, and I would be most fascinated to hear discussion from those more learned in the topic than I am. Pastors, theologians, psychiatrists, researchers, what do you think? Readers of my blog with no training in these areas, what do you think? Have you thought of different questions?
Or does anyone, perhaps, have answers?