Historical Roots of Dissociation

By Norman L. Coad, D.Min.

Pierre Janet

Pierre Janet (1859–1947) pioneered the use of hypnosis as a clinical tool to study dissociation.[1] His understanding of Dissociation is that there is simultaneous development of additional personalities with parallel memories, in complete ignorance of one another.[2]

Janet expanded the meaning of somnambulism (sleepwalking) to include any kind of activity pursued while in a dissociated condition.[3] In this expanded meaning he included hysteria, hypnosis, multiple personality and spiritualism. [4]

Hysteria is a pathological form of dissociation that functions independently within the personality which disturbs the individual’s everyday life.[5] Hypnosis was induced dissociation.[6] Multiple personality was a condition in which two or more dissociated states function with distinct differences of behavior, mood and intention and are unaware of each other. [7] Spiritualism was a voluntary acceptance of a supposed bodiless being which was external to the individual.[8]

Hypnosis was effective in revealing the above. However its restorative effects were short term in nature. The characteristic after effects include a period of fatigue for as long as two days. There are several days in which the patient enjoys apparent health and well-being and is free of spontaneous hysterical attacks for several days or weeks. No ongoing change was brought about.[9]

Janet alluded to shameful secrets lurking in the patients’ pathology with such words as “obsession,” “fantasies” and the like.[10] He alluded to patient trauma but never stated it. He declared to one of Kroepelen’s students, “I believe these people (the psychotics) until it is proven to me that what they say is untrue…you see these people are persecuted by something and you must investigate to get to the root.”[11]

Sigmund Freud

Freud (1859–1939) was impressed by Jean-Martin Charcot’s work on traumatic hysteria. Charcot (1825-1893) believed that his clients were suffering from a form of hysteria which had been induced by their emotional response to traumatic accidents in their past.[12] Freud’s medical colleague, Josef Breuer, developed a treatment while treating Anna O. “The way to cure a particular symptom of hysteria was to recreate the memory of the incident which had originally led to it and bring about emotional catharsis by inducing the patient to express any feeling associated with it.”[13] The disappearance of one of Anna O’s symptoms led to Breuer’s therapeutic technique procedure.[14] She became, for Freud, his first psychoanalytic patient.[15] Freud married Breuer’s talking cure to Charcot’s understanding of traumatic hysteria, i.e., trauma is the basis of the hysteria.[16]

The majority of his eighteen clients from which he drew his conclusions were all sexually abused in childhood. He held this position until 1897 when peer pressure and social pressure caused him to say that the trauma events could be imagined events with equal negative effects.[17]

Freud describes bases of sexual abuse: assaults by adults (incest, rape or forced sexual activities) and long term sexually inappropriate relationships between adult and child with genuine feelings of love.[18]

Judith Herman, in her book, quotes Freud:

“By the way, what have you got to say to the suggestion that the whole of my brand new theory of the primary origins of hysteria are already familiar and have been published a hundred times over though several centuries ago? Do you remember me always saying that the medieval theory of possession (demon possession [writer’s interpretation]), that held by ecclesiastical courts, was identical with our theory of a foreign body and a splitting of consciousness? But why did the devil who took possession of the poor victims invariably commit misconduct with them, and in such horrible ways? Why were the confessions, extracted under torture, so very like what my patients tell me during psychological treatment?”[19]

C.G. Jung

Carl Jung (1875–1961) rejected the rationalistic legalism of his pastor father which forced all religious understandings to fit the intellectual grid of his mind in which he all but rejected the supernatural in Christianity. His reaction against his father’s religious rationalism moved Jung to seek out and accept all things supernatural. He treated all the supernatural as if they were of equal value. By not making any distinction between good and evil, functional or dysfunctional, he opened himself up to a vast array of spirit guided spiritual experiences. His psychological understandings come from this base.

Jung engaged in occult visions and conversations. He engaged “Elijah” in conversation who is with “Salome”. “Elijah” changes into another figure, “Philemon”. He teaches Jung about the nature of human consciousness. “Philemon” changes into the Egyptian nation spirit Ka.[20] He believed that “Philemon”, the spirit guide, was real, a source of information outside himself. He was dead, but talking to Jung.[21] He felt this was legitimate information. It was a type of library outside his physical reality containing everything ever known. The spirit guides interacted between that dimension and ours.[22] This opened the way for his theory of the collective unconsciousness.

The collective unconsciousness is made up of archetypes with their knowledge and wisdom that have existed since the remotest times.[23] The archetypes and shadows, of which there are many, are all manifestations of evil spirits.[24] Jung draws heavily from the occult and occult experiences, often researching back in history, practices and philosophies that had been evaluated by the church counsels and rejected.

In 1916 Jung stated that the start of the work was identical to a possession.[25]

“Then it was as if my house began to be haunted. My eldest saw a white figure passing through the room. The second daughter, independent of her sister, related that twice in the night the blanket had been snatched away. That same night my nine year old son had an anxiety dream. Around five o’clock the front doorbell began ringing. I immediately looked to see if someone was there, but saw no one. The two maids heard it and saw it (the doorbell) moving.” Jung felt he had to act. He shouted, “For God’s sake, what in the world is this?” They cried out in chorus, “We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought.” Over the next three evenings the book was written, and as soon as he began to write. “The whole ghastly assemblage evaporated. The room quieted down and the atmosphere cleared. The haunting was over.”[26]

Analysts have said it was both the automatic writing, and the contents of that writing, that shaped his writings.[27] Jung said,

“All my work, all my creative activity has come from these fantasies and dreams which began in 1912. Almost 50 years ago. Everything that I accomplished later in life was already contained in them, though at first only in the form of emotions and images.’[28]

“Philemon” and “Basilides” are but two of the spirit guides that were in contact with Jung.[29]

The union of opposites, the focus of alchemists, was, for Jung, the focus of Gnostics, whom he felt had been incorrectly labeled as radical dualists, i.e., believing the battle between good and evil without apparent union between the two.[30]

For Jung, dualism and monism were not mutually contradictory and exclusive, but complimentary aspects of reality. As such, there was no good or wrong, nor order or chaos, just opposites which create gray, and demanded of mankind to be united, transformed.[31] Jung became the philosopher of the New Age movement. The New Age is a graying of cultural attitudes arising out of 20th Century Western culture that are adaptations from ancient and modern civilizations that emphasize reincarnation, holism, pantheism and the occult, with an emphasis on spiritualism. These teachings are not based on Judeo-Christian teachings, nor do they emphasize right living, nor health. There is no referral to objective truth or absolutes.

Jung practiced indiscriminant supernaturalism. He made no distinction between good and evil—God, Who is good, and Satan, who is evil. He urged us to embrace both as who we are. If everything we do is okay, then ultimately, nothing has any value. Our life, then, is of no value, and the life we live is meaningless.

B.F. Skinner

B.F. Skinner (1904–1990) Whether or not the confusion and lack of clarity produced by Carl Jung’s writings was the motivation for behaviorism I do not know. However behaviorism did serve to reestablish objectivity to psychological studies. In his first book he defined behaviorism as, “A science of behavior using scientific methods and practices.”[32] Behavior is an organism engaged in, and acting on, or having commerce with, the outside world in which the effects of behavior are measured and observed facts of reality.[33] He reduced all behavior to stimulus, response and reflex.

Stimulus—the force affecting the organism.
Response—the reciprocal shown relationship between stimulation and response.
Reflex—the observable fact arising out of stimulus and response.[34] Isolating reflex allows demonstration of a predictable uniformity of behavior.[35]

Behaviorism in psychology is a theory that all investigation of behavior must be objective or observed. Introspection is considered to be invalid. Introspection (or subjectivity) in psychology is looking within one’s own self, evaluating feelings, reactions, attitudes, thoughts and behaviors to establish what is true, genuine and real. (Author’s definition.)

The problem of introspection that is separated from objective reality is that it is incapable of being checked externally or verified by other persons. Skinner’s work, along with others, established a body of objective, observed fact that led to advances in many fields of research and greatly advanced behavioral sciences.

As helpful as behaviorism is, it turned attention away from self-observation and self-knowledge.[36] To fill in this gap Skinner relented. He postulated what he called “radical behaviorism.” He allowed that the private world within the skin may be observed (no longer dismissing introspection and self report), but he questioned the nature of the objects observed and the reliability of the observations.[37] He stated that introspectively observed occurrences are the products of a person’s genetic and environmental histories.[38]

The spiritual was given no role. The spiritual aspects of human behavior are lost in behaviorism. This is a problem for behaviorists when working with Dissociative Identity Disorder. This may be the reason that behavioral research has not been able to develop viable therapies in the last thirty years.

Norman L. Coad

Norman L. Coad (1940– ) From the beginning of psychological Dissociative Identity Disorder studies it was revealed that spirit beings have interacted with human beings, split the personality into multiple personalities, and disordered the affected person’s every day life.

In my work on Dissociative Identity Disorder The Divided Soul, the spiritual and the behavioral aspects of dissociated persons are melded together to develop a solid therapy for diagnosis and treatment.[39]

With dissociative clients, behavior based psychological counseling is insufficient. These people live the majority of their lives in the spiritual and behavioral psychology has no means of dealing with the spiritual. Behaviorism is based on what is observed by one or another’s doing.[40] It’s a description of behavior based on stimulus, response and reflex.[41]

Spiritual understandings are measured by the written Word of God, the Bible, in order to maintain objective truth and reality. The written Word is to be considered objective truth to be obeyed. By measuring our interpretations of reality against the written Word, indiscriminate subjective spirituality is avoided. We have a standard by which we may test our observations.

In that comparison it is quickly observed that there is a good spiritual world and an evil spiritual world. Common sense and moral integrity force us to reject the evil and accept the good; choose God instead of Satan; confront demons and spirits of the dead and workers of iniquity. At the same time we embrace the help and work of angels of the Lord, the hosts of Heaven, the redeemed of all the ages and the indwelling Holy Spirit of the Lord. (Note: This has been dealt with fairly thoroughly in The Divided Soul.)

Biblical supernaturalism is based on the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The power of His death and resurrection is appropriated by the believer by grace through faith. All believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and as such they have the right and responsibility to use the Lord’s resurrection power, according to the will and Word of God, under the authority of the Holy Spirit.

When applied to the needs of dissociated people, healing takes place and positively changes the effects of abuse and multiple personalities. These can be reversed over time. By this supernatural means Dissociated Identity Disorder is curable. It is not a trauma and wounding that one must live with all through life. This therapy is a process, not an instantaneous cure.

The biblical world view is compatible with the created world we live in. A believer is to take authority over it, that is, human beings are to direct, control and use the resources of this world so that the part of life they have influence over is productive, creative, nurturing and effects others positively. This would also include the knowledge and wisdom of psychology that has been developed over time.

The biblical world view places humankind so that we must deal with the material and behavioral world and the spiritual world. “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:1). “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). By creation, human kind are both physical and spiritual. We live in two worlds simultaneously.

Dissociative Identity Disorder cannot be treated successfully without incorporating the realities of both the material man and the spiritual man into therapies.

Skinner, the father of behaviorism, states that what is felt, or introspectively observed, is not a cause of behavior.[42] There is no room to consider multiple personalities motivated by bodiless beings (referring to Pierre Janet). Neither is a behavioral process available to deal with (demon) possession nor the devil committing misconduct with his poor victims (referring to S. Freud).

The multiple personalities are hidden below, and between, layer after layer of amnesia. They have been formed into a pyramid structure ruled over by Satan and directed by demons, spirits of the dead and workers of iniquity (The Divided Soul, Glossary). This structure is made up of levels, areas, sections, divisions and systems. The alters are coerced into obedience to the demons and all evil by torture, pain and fear. They live in a world where survival is the goal.

There is no evil that the alters will not do in order to avoid torture. It’s a life of terror and deep shame. They have to be shown a way out of the demonically controlled life they live.

They are told, and it is true, if they try to get out, they will be killed. However, with the power of the Lord, His name, His Word and His blood, no one’s life is lost. When they commit to Him as their new master, the healing and change necessary begins to take place.

Through biblically based Christian therapy, positive change is possible. The therapist works to apply the biblical world view, prays in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, uses the Scriptures of the Bible and applies the principles based on God’s Word. The Spirit of Christ joins the therapist by empowering His wisdom in the work so that the healing that follows is quite beyond what one can do in one’s own strength and abilities alone. We partner with the Lord.


I. Pierre Janet—of the dissociated individual determined:

A. Dissociation is a simultaneous development of additional personalities with parallel memories in complete ignorance of one another.
B. Hysteria is a pathological form of dissociation that functions independently within the personality and which disturbs the individual’s everyday life.
C. Multiple Personality is a condition in which two or more dissociated states function with distinct differences of behavior mood and intention and are unaware of each other.
D. Spiritualism functioning in the individual is voluntarily acceptance in which a bodiless change agent functions in, but is not native to, the individual.
E. Hypnosis is helpful to expose the realities of dissociation (but positive results are short term in nature).

II. Sigmund Freud

A. Drawing from Jean-Martin Charcot’s work states, “Hysteria is induced by the individual’s emotional response to traumatic events (accidents) in their past.”
B. Most of Freud’s dissociated patients were sexually abused in childhood.
C. His descriptions of sexual abuse include: assaults by adults, incest, rape or forced sexual activities, and long term sexually inappropriate relationships between adult and child with genuine feelings of love.
D. The memories then are based on fact. They are real things that happen to real people at a real point in time.
E. Freud states that the foreign bodies that took possession of the individual were demons.

III. C.G. Jung authenticated the reality of the supernatural.

IV. B.F. Skinner

A. Objective behaviors allow for dependable accurate interpretation of human behavior (and other species of life as well).
B. Behaviorism alone cannot account for all human behaviors but must allow subjective interpretations of individual reality based on genetics and environmental history.
C. Spiritual aspects have no real place in psychological evaluation and treatment.

V. Norm L. Coad (1940 – )

A. The biblical world view is complete so that it addresses both the behavioral and spiritual aspects of men and women.
B. The Bible and the biblical world view is true and reliable.
C. By faith the wisdom and knowledge of the therapist can partner with the Lord to do a supernatural healing of Dissociative Identity Disorder.
D. By a power encounter through prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, demons may be cast out and healing of the individual takes place.
E. This is usually a process of applying therapies to bring about healing and change, as is true of most abuse and trauma clients.


1. J.R. Haule, “Pierre Janet and Dissociation: The First Transference Theory and its Origins In Hypnosis,” American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 29 (2) (October, 1988), 86-94.
2. Ibid., p. 86.
3. Ibid., p. 88.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid., p. 88, 89.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid., p. 90.
11. Ibid., p. 91.
12. Richard Webster. “Hysteria, Anna O. and the Invention of Psychoanalysis,” http://www.richardwebster.net/freudandcharcot.html.
12. Ibid.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. S. Freud, “The Aetiology of Hysteria,” http://courses.washington.edu/freudlit/Hysteria.Notes.html
18. Ibid.
19. M. Bonaparte, A. Freud, and E. Kris, The Origins of Psychoanalysis. Letters to Wilhelm Fliess, Drafts and Notes, 1887-1902, trans. E. Mosbacher and J. Strachey (NY Basic Books, 1954), 187-188.
20. Philip Coppens. “The Automatic Writings of Jung,” http://philipcoppens.com/jung.html
21. Ibid.
22. Ibid.
23. C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (U.S.A. Important Books, 2014), 7.
24. Ibid., p. 25-33.
25. Coppens, op. sit.
26. Ibid.
27. Ibid.
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid.
31. Ibid.
32. B.F. Skinner, The Behavior of Organisms, An Experimental Analysis, (Acton, MA: Copley Publishing Group, 1991), 5.
33. Ibid., p. 6.
34. Ibid., p. 9.
35. Ibid.
36. Skinner, op. sit. p. 16.
37. Ibid., 16.
38. Ibid., 17.
39. Norman L. Coad, The Divided Soul, (Burleson, TX. Coadword Books, 2016), 22.
40. B.F. Skinner, op. sit. p. 6.
41. Ibid., p. 9.
42. Ibid., p. 17.


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