Multiple Personality Day. Who am I Talking to Today?

March 5 is Multiple Personality Disorder Day. Don’t forget to give a gift to each personality….

When I was young, I remember a movie came out called Sybil in 1976. I would have been five. It was about a real person who had dissociative identity disorder, better known as multiple personality disorder. I don’t believe I watched it, I just remember hearing about it. The thought that there might be some other person sharing the same body with me was terrifying. The Exorcist had come out three years before, and The Oman had come out earlier that summer. These three movies combined in my young mind to create an idea of the ultimate horror. What if I am the horror?

In Sybil the true story of Sybil Dorsett, the pseudonym for Shirley Ardell Mason (names were changed to protect the….innocent….?) is told. Evidently her personality fractured after her mother allegedly severely abused her physically and sexually. According to the book Mason had seventeen personalities. Through therapy her personalities became aware of each other, and in time with therapy, hypnosis, and medication, they become more functional, produced and sold works of art under their own names, and eventually coalesced into one whole and healed personality.

By Michelangelo – Information on Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine ChapelInformation on Michelangelo’s painting of the Delphic SibylPrimary source (internal jpeg comments modified for copyright reasons):Secondary source, Public Domain,

In ancient Greece, a Sybil was an ecstatic prophetess who would predict the future. There were Christian sects that believed The Sibylline Prophecies predicted the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as other great moments of history. Perhaps it is fitting to give this name to Mason, but I don’t read anywhere that she prophesied anything, though one of her personalities was interested in Biblical prophecy. Those who know me well know that this does not endear me to her.

I’ve never seen The Exorcist. But the thought of being demon possessed just whigged me out as a child.

The second film in the trilogy that tried to break my mind was The Exorcist. The thought that not only might there be alternate personalities I couldn’t control was bad enough, but the idea that a demon might control me, instead of me, was chilling in the extreme. I don’t think I ever fell for the whole “the devil made me do it” trap. Nor did I go down the rabbit hole my ex mother in law went down, seeing a demon behind every hedge. But I actually do understand the mentality. A melancholic portion of this returned when I read The Minister’s Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne. But now I believe that at least ninety percent of demon possession is either fraud, or tortured souls dealing with psychological problems like schizophrenia.

The devil went down to Georgia looking for a bed to steal…..

The last movie of the unholy trinity is the one that has haunted me most. Possibly it is because I actually saw it. And while it was edited for television, I was likely no more than eight when I watched it. This most hellish of films is The Oman.

The iconic suicide of Damien’s nanny haunted me as a child. “Look at me Damien! It’s all for you!” The evil nanny shouts before she hangs herself.

This last film opened up to me not just the horror of “something is out to harm me.” The Omen introduced me to Apocalyptic horror. “Something is out to destroy the world.” And as a little boy myself, I actually, horrifically, identified with Damien. And that opened up to me the possibility that I was myself evil. What would I do if I were the Antichrist? Surely not.

And of course, as a somewhat stable grown man the thought is nowhere in my mind. But as a small boy with a vivid imagination, I wondered about the possibility. It took some years for me to realize that, while yes there was sin and wickedness in me, I have no Hellhounds guarding me or nannies killing themselves around me.

Classical painting The Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist.

So in summary. If you have multiple personalities, get help. If you are dating someone with multiple personalities, write a book. If you get possessed by a demon, first go to a psychologist, then seek a priest. And if you think you are the Antichrist, the third verse is the same as the second. Have a happy Multiple Personality Disorder Day!

My dream job…..right there….

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