Wednesday, February 14, 2018

On Deliverance

We recently read this amazing post from Theresa over at She lives with Dissociative Identity Disorder and she is someone who has found solace in the church community. I want to let you just jump right into her post. This is written by her and available on her blog at the link above, but please take notice of this. What she shares, how she explains it was so very important. We are pleased to call her a friend an fellow advocate, and we hope you enjoy and learn from her post...

If you are an atheist or fundamentalist and looking for a fight, please go away. This article is not for you. I will not tolerate disrespectful comments. If you know that you will be offended by anything christian, please stop reading now. I am not attempting to offend and seeking offense is immature love. I am trying to educate people with a certain worldview. 

The church is full of abused people. And they are looking for help. It is not rare for survivors of satanic ritual abuse to look for safety, protection and help in the church. Yet often the church cannot offer it. And part of the reason is that christian counselors are not educated enough when it comes to psychological matters and so they will start working with deliverance ministry as soon as they see something strange happening. 
I am a christian. I believe in the spirit realm. I am also diagnosed with DID and facing the reality of dissociation as a psychological problem, not a spiritual one.
Dissociation is strange. If you are working with a dissociative client under pressure you will most certainly see strange things. And I dare to say that you will not be able to tell if this is a demonic influence or dissociation from just looking at it. Whatever you have been taught about demonic manifestations, they have a purely psychological counterpart in dissociation. If you use the tools of deliverance ministry you will re-traumatize your client.
Our goal is to make the church a safer place for people with high levels of dissociation and DID. As long as people believe that parts could or even should be cast out, it is safer for a DID system to hide their condition. 

Psychological symptoms you will most likely get to see when working with dissociative people:

Derealization: they might tell you that they feel dizzy, the room looks strange, the floor might look curved, there are no straight lines, everything feels like it is not real, they might get scared of you because you don't look real, your face might look like it is shifting into a demonic mask...

Depersonalization: they might be unable to recognize (parts of) their body, sense (parts of) their body and generally feel estranged from themselves. Their own emotions, perceptions and thoughts might feel distant and strange to them, they might not recognize their own voice, handwriting etc.

Amnesia: your client might forget (parts of) the conversation you just had. You might feel like you are back to zero, you might accuse each other of lying, you might get angry because they never did what you told them to do but they never heard you say it. They might be unable to recall situations. You cannot hold people accountable for things they can't remember.

Body issues: clients might lose their ability to see, hear, speak or use any of their other senses. Their muscle tension might drop so that they will faint or be unable to stand/ sit upright. They might be unable to move certain body parts, have strange sensations in body parts, the list is long....

Pain: they might feel pain as if the abuse is happening at that moment. That is a flashback felt in the body. Sometimes parts in a system cause pain to make their point. This includes wandering pains and pain suddenly increasing when a certain topic is confronted. There can also be sudden pressure in the head.

Mind: when confronted with difficult topics the client might feel foggy and struggle to think, they might experience sudden sleepiness, thoughts vanishing from their mind, voices getting really loud in their mind, including negative talk, the ability to speak might be affected so that the client seems to speak in a strange language. 

Seizures: stress and strong emotions can cause the client to faint or go into a seizure with uncontrolled muscle contractions, those might include strange sounds and foam building at their mouth. It is also possible that clients who experienced electro shocks as part of their trauma will show this as part of a strong flashback experience. (Please HELP them by getting them grounded instead of praying for „more Lord“)

Zone out: your client might zone out, freeze and become like a statue. They might or might not be able to see and hear in that situation. This could be a response to difficult questions or emotions. Their eyes will change visibly, look harder, darker.

Possession: dissociative parts can feel like possession for a DID patient who is unaware of what is going on. There are voices in their head, there are strange urges to do things they would not normally do, they might even see their arms moving and hear themselves speak in a way that they did not chose. they might feel like someone else is taking possession of their body and making them do things, up to self-harming behavior. This can be co-conscious awareness while another part is in control. 

Parts saying they are demons: some parts wanted to feel safe or they think they are really bad and so they told themselves that they are strong demons. Depending on the background of your client some parts might have been taught that they are demons, using psychological tricks, costumes, masks, mirrors and drugs. If someone tells you that they are Satan, and I know it can be creepy because the voice can change dramatically and the atmosphere shifts, you should be pleased to meet them, you will be talking to an important part in the system. Don't be surprised if there is more than one satan. In my 15 years in a charismatic church I have never seen a demon show up and speak through someone. If they say they are satan that is most probably a part. Be kind. Offer them candy. Or a stuffy. Those parts are usually very young and lonely. 

Animal expressions: some parts think or were taught that they are animals. They might not speak but growl, snarl, hiss or make other animal noises. They might also move like these animals.  Ritual abusers use tricks like wrapping kids in plastic foil shoulder to toes, to teach these alters to move like snakes. Do not mistake it for some kind of manifestation.

Most of the „demonic manifestations“ taught in church could also be a dissociative symptom or parts acting in a way they were taught by abusers. Some dissociative symptoms even look like manifestations of the Holy Spirit or they are in line with christian mysticism.
That is why I am asking you to be very careful with this. If you see a client act in a strange way, help them to feel safe and grounded instead of a) going into intercession or b) trying deliverance. There is still time for prayer later. In that moment they might need practical help and smelling salts. 

Trying to „cast out“ any of these symptoms will most certainly increase them. Maybe the client will also shift from one kind of dissociation to another. Trying deliverance on a part is very painful for this part, it means deep rejection, shame, guilt, anger and extreme fear of death
If you push a system long enough they will present a part that can be „cast out“ to please you, and to make you stop. You are abusing them.. This is the clients soul trying to stay safe in a situation that seems life-threatening
In another equally worst case the system will ban that part and try to contain them so they won't show up and cause this trouble again. This containment might last for years and keep this part and the whole system from healing. Parts cannot be cast out. 
They can also not just go to the Father and be gone. Even with this well-meaning imagery those parts will just be moved from the surface and be contained, maybe not an inner prison but in a place they learned to call „the Father's lap“. 
Containing parts costs the whole system. They do not have a chance to be whole with parts missing, functioning might drop too.

If you know that you are working with a dissociative client I would recommend not trying any deliverance ministry. If a part shows up that you are insecure about, treat them with kindness and see if they want to get to know Jesus. If not, be kind anyway and see if they want to tell you something. You can also kindly ask them to step back to allow others who want to meet Jesus to come to the front. Never push a part who is getting aggressive. They are trying to protect, so you are looking like a threat to them already. Creating an atmosphere of acceptance, affirmation and safety will get you to places that confrontation never will. If in doubt, always treat it as a part. If in doubt, help with grounding first. And you should start to doubt the moment you learn that your client has a background of trauma and abuse.

If you client is levitating, throwing things without touching them, has glowing eyes or anything like that happening, that is not dissociation. You might want to talk about the occult with them.

Often your client will use coping strategies that are not healthy or that you consider sin. Please don't try to take that from them. It is currently the best way of coping they know. They would have to turn to even worse strategies if they are not allowed to use this one. Work on effective coping instead. Repentance means to change the way they think. It is not done with a prayer that renounces their former coping. You can also not cast out bad coping strategies. You can replace them with something better. If you want to do this in prayer, don't ask them to give up their coping strategy, ask Jesus to give them something instead first. That is the only way that letting go does not cause intense fear of death and more maladaptive coping strategies to make up for it. (yes, your traumatized client goes from zero to fear of death in a second and skips lesser fears, that is what trauma does to the brain)

I have heard people tell me testimonies of how systems with hundreds of alters were integrated by a miracle. I always nod and go away. Integration is not as hard as you might think it is. The HARD thing is to stay integrated. It is a known problem that people fall apart again. This is because they did not learn how to cope with their life as an integrated individual. Therapy is not over after integration. If dissociation is still the tool of choice to deal with difficult situations, emotions, relationships, sexuality, pressure and stress a quick „integration“ will not serve anyone. There is a lot more to it than fixing the splits. Please don't rush your clients. The success will not be permanent. They might even just fake it to please you, push their parts into the darkness and build up denial. It will prevent healing.

On behalf of those who seek help in the church I ask you to either get some really good training, for trauma, dissociation and how to work with parts, or leave this work to specialized therapists. If you are trying to help you will very easily end up being abusive yourself. Your client doesn't need more trauma in their life. There is proper training out there. DID is nothing new and nothing strange and you don't have to invent a strategy to deal with it yourself.
If you are willing to listen, love and pray this is a lot of support already. Don't get yourself traumatized by listening to too many terrible details of trauma. That is not needed to be supportive. Always make sure to take care of yourself and set healthy boundaries. We need more trauma-informed people in church who understand dissociation and who can offer safe support. Be one of those. And be careful with that deliverance stuff. 

As always you can comment to continue discussing this topic. Keep is respectful and curious.

A sketch one of my parts (Stevy) had done. Life's Exhausting 

A MASSIVE thank you again to the wonderful Theresa for allowing us to share her words with you.
There can be much more found on we encourage you to go and please check out Theresa's content, but again, once I read this post I knew I desperately wanted her to allow us to share it as a special guest post here on our blog as well. Please keep in mind there are translations available on there blog, we shared the English version here, but her blog is also written and shared in German. Take care and we hope you all enjoyed this as much as I did and are excellent.

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