THE MULTIPLE PERSONALITY PATIENT
Ralph B. Allison, M.D.
Presented March 1, 1990
Association for the Anthropological Study
Mabel called me for her first appointment with the complaint
she had Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) and had just had a
tubal ligation after having two children. Since the surgeon had
apparently not known of her psychiatric condition, he had not
gotten permission from her various personalities, one of whom
now thought she was 8 p months pregnant.
When she arrived, she appeared to be an attractive white woman
with long straight black hair. She easily went into trance so I
could deal with her pseudocyesis problem by delivering an
imaginary stillborn child, which I handed over to my imaginary
nurse to take out of the office, never to be seen again. Then I
settled down for weekly sessions of a more traditional nature.
Mabel lived with her husband and their two children. She had a
strong interest in parapsychological matters and claimed to have
frequent psychic experiences, which is common with MPD patients.
One day she called me in a crisis, and I decided to make a
house call. At the time, I had in my office another MPD
patient, Mrs. J. I decided to take her with me so that she
could babysit Mabel's children, which would allow me to get the
job done more efficiently. Also, Mrs. J's occupation was as a
professional babysitter. When I drove up to Mabel's house, the
two women met briefly and then met again as we left. They had
no interaction other than these two brief meetings.
A few months later, Mrs. J was shot to death under strange
circumstances, which police called suicide. None of us who knew
her believed that was the cause. Mable reported that she saw
and spoke to Mrs. J in her car after Mrs. J's death. Mrs. J's
"spirit" told Mabel to tell her friends that she had not killed
herself. They talked for some time in her car about her life
and death. To my knowledge, Mabel had no factual knowledge
about Mrs. J's life or death.
One morning I found an unstamped letter in my office mailbox
when I came to work. It appeared to be a letter from the
deceased Mrs. J who used the hand of an unsuspecting woman. She
reassured me that she had not killed herself and expressed her
love of all her friends. Only my secretary and I saw this
letter, and I didn't dare tell anyone else about it.
Three days later, Mabel came in for her usual session and
reported that the day before someone had driven up to their
mailbox in front of their house and inserted a letter in it.
She was sitting by the front window and saw a Volkswagen drive
up with a man and a woman in it. She saw one of them put the
letter in her mailbox. She had brought it to show me. It, too,
was unstamped and appeared to be from Mrs. J. It was longer
than mine, but mentioned the same subjects. Mabel's husband,
who was at work at the time, was sure she had written the letter
herself and considered it Mabel's doing. To counter that, I
pulled out my own letter to reassure her that I didn't think she
was pulling a stunt on me.
Since the scribe was mentioned by name, I did search in the
local phone book for someone by that name, but was not
successful. I have had no leads regarding how those two letters
came to be or who delivered them.
Once Mabel called me at noon about a problem I thought would be
best handled in the hospital ward. Since she was on Medi-Cal, I
knew I had to have some sort of an emergency to justify
admission. After discussion with her helper personalities, I
instructed them to cause one arm to become limp and useless
during the afternoon. As I planned, her husband came home after
work and found his wife paralyzed in one arm. He properly took
her to the hospital emergency room, where I authorized her
admission to the psychiatric ward. When I came to see her that
evening, I hypnotized her to reverse the process and got down to
working with the problem she had complained of.
The biggest problem was the existence of a very nasty
alter-personality who wanted to destroy her. In those days, I
was using what I called "the bottle routine." I asked the
patient or an alter-personality, in hypnosis, to shove into a
small bottle in her hand all the negative energy she could, so
it would be withdrawn from her mind and body. This was a
variant of an exorcism, but I never expected a personality to
leave, like a genie in a bottle. I only asked the patient to
shove out anger energy, fear energy and whatever other negative
energies she chose to expel in this way. It was really a very
useful device for letting the patient regain control after such
feelings became conscious.
This was what I was using to help Mabel deal with what she
perceived as a very angry alter-personality one evening during
that hospitalization. I struggled and struggled with her for at
least an hour, but nothing happened. Finally I gave up, feeling
completely exhausted. Then I excused myself to go do the
admission write-up of another old patient who had returned.
The new write-up should have been easy, since I knew the
patient well. My problem was that I could not write larger than
half my usual size of letter. I lacked energy to do more than
scribble my notes. By 9 pm I decided to go home while I still
had the strength to drive my car.
I went home to do my usual things. At 11 pm I was getting
ready to go to bed and had to go to the commode. Suddenly
everything came apart. Without much warning, I gushed bright
red blood from both ends of my GI tract. I collapsed to the
floor and called for my wife, who was in the bedroom. If she
had not been there, I would not be here today. She helped me to
the bed and called my doctor. Then she drove me to the same
hospital I had just left so I could be admitted to the ICU by
midnight. I spent the next week in the hospital being treated
for my acute bleeding duodenal ulcer and then took the next five
weeks off at home.
It is true that before that night, I had been burning my
candles at both ends with too many trips and meetings I should
have avoided. For several months I had ignored those aching
pains in my abdomen that improved temporarily when I ate. I was
very vulnerable to stress then, and I had no doubts that the
stress that had sent me over the edge was related to Mabel.
When I saw her after my recuperation leave, I asked her to tell
me what she thought went wrong in that last session. Her report
was that I had not been dealing with an alter-personality but
with the spirit of a British witch who had died in the 1890's
and now lived in Mabel. The witch was upset that I was trying
to get rid of her, so she fought back by draining my energy, a
process I call sapping. This was the final blow, and my body
lacked reserves with which to cope with the assault.
I advised Mabel that I could no longer be her therapist. But
she kept in touch with me. Her husband threw her out, and she
went to live with the family of her best friend, who was also a
patient of mine. This friend was also an hysteric with interest
in the occult, but soon she told Mabel to leave. She felt that
the psychic radiation Mabel put out was harming her children. I
told Mable that it appeared she was a psychic typhoid Mary who
should live in isolation somewhere. She took me seriously and
moved to her mother's mountain cabin, away from all humans.
When she returned, she told me a wild story of physical battles
with evil demons who knocked her physically around the woods. I
have no idea what really happened, but she believed it. She then
moved to a boarding house and got a new boyfriend.
The boyfriend decided that he was going to cure her by
exorcism. He tape recorded his sessions, and I listened to them
later. What I heard him identify as the demon I considered to
be an alter-personality and a helping one at that.
After his involvement with Mabel, his personality and interests
changed drastically. He became a religious fanatic who formed
his own religion and sought converts to his way of thinking. He
approached a Catholic priest as a potential convert, as well as
me. He called me on the phone at the office and tried to
persuade me to join his church.
Mabel told me of one Sunday evening when they went out for a
drive and he insisted on stopping at a church where they were
having evening vespers. He dragged her into the church against
her will and made such a scene in the church that he destroyed
The last I heard of this young man was when his brother called
me from Florida to ask why he had suffered such a personality
change while out in California. The brother reported that the
boyfriend had returned to Florida and had continued to approach
everyone in sight trying to enlist them in his new religion. In
his final attempt, he was so enraged by the rejection by a man
he met downtown that he turned on him and killed him on a public
sidewalk. He was now in the county jail awaiting trial on a
The last I heard of Mabel was a phone call from her landlady
asking me if she really was a witch. I asked her what had
brought up the question. The landlady told me that Mabel had
proclaimed herself a witch at the residence, and she was none
too happy about her staying there.
These are the bare facts in this case. I cannot give you any
theories why they occurred. But occur they did. I was
unwilling to do any long-term followup, and I have not heard
from anyone else about them since I left that town 11 years ago.
I have never before presented this case, as I cannot make
something scientific out of it. I do so now at the urging of
Dr. Grossbeck, who felt that it needed to be told. He may have
some way of explaining it to you, and I will listen with you.
For me it was a dark day when I met Mabel, and I hope she never
crosses my path again.