Do You Have Multiple Personality Disorder?

Years after Sybil, the debate continues

And while many people living with DID allegedly experienced abuse so savage and relentless that it actually caused the brain to think it belonged to a completely different person, and, in some cases, repress memories of the torture for decades, it's pretty easy to find online support groups and individual blogs where those living with DID air it all — every last excruciating detail.
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In Hodgin's office, Rachel braces herself and tries to explain the horror.

The abuse started when she was about three. Her grandparents lived nearby, and she'd often spend weekends there, with cousins and other children in the extended family. Her mother wouldn't come around, but her father did. He had to. Rachel's grandfather was His Highest, the cult leader. Therefore, her father played an important role.

Rachel claims her grandfather was the leader of a satanic cult.
Illustration by Craig LaRotonda
Rachel claims her grandfather was the leader of a satanic cult.
Jennifer and her husband both claim to have DID.
Illustration by Craig LaRotonda
Jennifer and her husband both claim to have DID.

From day one, Rachel was groomed to give them a child, a sacrifice to be offered to Satan. So the cult had to let her know her body belonged to them; it existed for their purposes. When she was too tiny for penile penetration, they used fingers and small objects. As she grew older, she graduated to intercourse, and they warned that if she ever told, they would kill her or other members of her family. So she was raped vaginally, orally, anally, and she kept the secret to save herself and others. Her mother never knew a thing.

The Press could not find any records of criminal charges involving children for either her grandfather or her father in the state of Texas. Her father, who now resides in a different state, was charged in 2006 for aggravated assault and ultimately received probation. The victim was not a minor. (Both men declined to comment for this story).

Rachel says the ceremonies took place in her grandfather's house, or in the woods behind it, in cemeteries and mysterious buildings. Cult members wore flowing robes of black and red, the children white. They lit fires and chanted in a foreign tongue. Their high holidays fell on the same days as Christian celebrations, only theirs were, of course, for unimaginable evil.

Rachel pauses and lets out a deep breath.

"I'm trying to stay here," she says, and the room is silent for a time.

"Give her a moment," Hodgin says, while plunking around on his laptop. He's been treating Rachel for three years and knows what she can and can't handle. Tonight, he's a kind of lifeguard, making sure Rachel doesn't wade too far into the deep end.

She continues, and answers a question about whether her behavior was affected to the point where a teacher or other kids at school would suspect that something was very, very wrong.

"School was safe," Rachel says. So she did well there. And her alters would handle schoolwork — like Tabitha, who flourished in the structure and schedule of the ­classroom.

All along, Rachel says, she had experienced bouts of severe amnesia. Someone might ask her how she enjoyed a vacation, and she would have no memory of such a thing. But eventually, she felt the presence of others inside her. She would catch a fleeting feeling of one — a force that would sort of jump out and say, "It's not safe!" Some were dominant and became recognizable. They had names. But it wouldn't be until she met Hodgin that she could truly start putting the pieces together. (Skeptics argue that DID is primarily a therapy-created illusion, one in which an overzealous therapist and an easily suggestible patient combine fact and fantasy to the point where there's no telling one from the other. However, there are cases, like Rachel's, where patients have decided prior to therapy that they are multiples.)

When Rachel was 15, she says, a cult member got her pregnant. She's not entirely sure, but she thinks it may have been her father. The sacrifice was not conducted upon the child's birth, but through an abortion, when she was three or four months pregnant. It was carried out in the office of a doctor who was either part of the cult, or at least a compatriot. Strapped into the seat, her feet in stirrups, Rachel felt the doctor inject her with saline, a pain worse than when she was seven and vaginally raped for the first time.

Rachel recounted the event on her blog:

"The doctor looked up and nodded. I felt my daddy's breath on my ear as he whispered, 'Push, bitch'....I bit my lip as another contraction came. I wanted her. I knew she was there. I could feel her. I couldn't let her go. 'Push, whore. Kill her. You deserve to'....My only satisfaction from the whole ordeal was that the doctor wasn't prepared. He was soon splattered with our blood, mine and my daughter's."

Six weeks later, she was dragged to a church used by the cult and forced to "re-create" the sacrifice for the pleasure of the other cult members. This is also described on her blog.

Dressed in white, Rachel was led by a man in a red robe and trailed by "a barrage" of black-robed men who moved "as one, like liquid, like something ­gelatinous."

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