What if a convicted killer on death row wanted to defend himself and called as witnesses the pope and Jesus Christ? What if that same convict, during his trial for murder, put himself on the stand and questioned himself by adopting a series of different personalities and voices to match? This scenario isn’t only highly unusual, it’s reality. Yesterday the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the state of Texas granted a last minute stay of execution to death row inmate Scott Panetti. On Sept. 8, 1992, Panetti shaved his head, dressed in military fatigues, armed himself with a sawed-off shotgun and hunting rifle and shot his in-laws, Joe and Amanda Alvarado, at close range in front of his wife and young daughter. Critics of this instance of capital punishment argued that Panetti, who dressed as a cowboy during his trial, was schizophrenic and suffered from psychotic delusions; thus, his severe mental illness was a mitigating factor in his violent acts. But what if there is another explanation? DID and demons.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), known in popular parlance as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), is a fracturing of the mind, a fragmentation most often resulting from acute trauma. The afflicted individual has a need to survive by compartmentalizing horrific memories into categorical personality identities. For example, a person sexually abused when very young, may develop a child alter-ego state (“alter”) to encapsulate the memory of the violation, keeping all of its pain and shame in a separate mental space. If subsequent additional abuses occur, other “alters” contain those memories and feelings. Thus, an individual may assume any number of alternate personalities, some acting out violent and even murderous behavior.
Does this explain why Panetti acted so bizarrely? Was the killer in camouflage a dissociated identity in Panetti’s mind who expressed his violent rage in ways he wasn’t completely aware of? Did he suffer some unspeakable horror as a child that led him to develop a murderous personality who could exact delusional revenge on scapegoated in-laws? We’ll never know because he was labeled a “mentally ill” killer. I’m not suggesting he should have gotten off on such a presupposition, but it would have been helpful for future cases like this to investigate further his mental processes instead of writing him off as crazy.
Simply put, here’s how this process works. An emotionally tortured individual develops an alter to hold the pain. Demons enter that vulnerable mental compartment and hide behind the alter. These evil spirits manipulate the dysfunctional alter to believe in evil and to commit evil acts. The real culprit here is the dissociation and the demonization. I am not excusing criminal acts with spiritual and psychological mumbo-jumbo. I am saying that the devil is cleverer than most courts and many mental health experts. Everyone loses in a case like Panetti: the killer, his victims, and due process of justice.
An encouraging word: NONE DOES GOOD
“There is no one who does good, not even one,” says Romans 3:12. The apostle Paul echoes the sentiment of Psalm 14:3 in the exact, same wording. Those are strong conclusions for the humanists and educated sophisticates who believe that mankind is on an ascent to greater good. The Bible teaches that since the fall of Adam and Eve, human beings have been on a path of moral decline away from the splendor of Eden. We are sinners, born and bent toward evil as our most natural inclination. We may dress up this negative human impulse with good intentions and noble virtues, but the decline of civilization is always, eventually marching toward destruction. The answer to this dilemma is individual reconciliation with God through faith in Christ. Only then may we act in ways that are in accord with true virtue and godliness.
Bob Larson has trained healing and deliverance teams all over the world to set the captives free and Do What Jesus Did (Luke 4:18). You can partner with Bob and support this vision to demonstrate God’s power in action by calling 303-980-1511 or clicking here to donate online.