Perpetrator Alter States and Guilt
Katherine Sullivan’s Presentation
The Second Annual Ritual Abuse, Secretive Organizations and Mind Control Conference – ’99
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Hi. Katherine Sullivan will be speaking today from 2:30 to 3:30. Some of the topics discussed may be triggering. The conference is educational and not intended as therapy or treatment. Photographing, audio taping, and video taping without the written permission of S.M.A.R.T. are prohibited. Please remember this presentation is being recorded.
Katherine Sullivan is the founder of PARC-VRAMC, she has a table here with literature if you want to find out more about her. A grass roots organization dedicated to helping RA and MC survivors find personal healing, she will speak about perpetrator alter states, letting go of the guilt.
This is Katherine. I’m not able to be at the conference with you today because of a family emergency. I also want to say that if I sound tired, it’s because I am. I hope that you can get a lot out of this next hour anyway. I’m a survivor of thirty-seven years of severe trauma and abuse. My background is ritual abuse and governmental mind control experimentation. So far, I’ve found over a thousand fragments and alter states in my fragmented personality. I’ve been involved in a lot of integration and therapeutic activities. I think I’m doing pretty well which is why I want to share with you. I am the founder of PARC-VRAMC which is “Positive Activism, Remembrance, and Commemoration for Victims of Ritual Abuse and Mind Control.” We have two main activities that we are involved in. One is the Living Memorial Garden outside of Chattanooga, which honors victims of ritual abuse and mind control. We also have literature available, including two books that help people in healing from these atrocities. I want to add that our literature is not a substitute for therapy. The materials are mostly contributions from survivors who want to share their methods and ideas that have helped them in their own healing processes. I do apologize again, for not being here. Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga has been very helpful in helping us get this video to you. I want to also mention that what has happened in my family is not the result of any evil activities. It’s just something that just happened to happen when it did and it was going to happen anyway. So I want you all to be at rest about that.
What I want to share with you today is about perpetrator alter states and about guilt. I’m not going to be addressing guilt directly but I hope that as some of you that have those alter states hear what I’m going to say it will help alleviate some of the guilt and some of the pain of the guilt that you all have been feeling inside for probably a long time.
The first thing I want to talk about is a discovery that I’ve made in my own life. Because I had so many fragments and alter states, I found many different kinds that had many different belief systems, and ways of acting out or not acting out. What I discovered is, like when you take a white light … and I do not mean this in a triggering way … when you take a white light and shine it through a prism you run into a spectrum of colors and this is the way a human personality can be broken down. Normally, a person who is a singleton will have seemingly one personality that they exhibit to people on an everyday basis. People who have multiple personalities tend to have their personalities broken down into the spectrum. You might have one end, as I did, that is very modest or submissive or very caring about people and animals.
In my case, because I had that end of the extreme in my personality, broken down and fragmented, I had the opposite extreme in my personality that was more sociopathic, aggressive and hurtful. A lot of people from my background, who were involved in the experimentations, find that unless they are in therapy, those other parts of their personalities do not even emerge and, therefore, they do not think they have them. One of the things that I’ve learned about the other extreme of my personalities was that I was amoral. I did not have morals. I did not go by the law. I was not able to sympathize with people or with animals. This was very difficult. At times I was suicidal from it. I know the pain that can result from discovering that we can have this type of self within; and I know how important it is to deal with this issue. Like I said, mine did not emerge at home. Mine were triggered out in controlled situations for specific purposes. My parts were used and manipulated to do crimes for my owners and handlers. This is not happening anymore.
For a long time, I judged people who were not in my type of situation, who did act out at home, maybe hurt their husband or their children or their dog, or whatever. I also was very judgmental towards people who found that their only relief from stress was to act out sexually, and, unfortunately, sometimes this included with children. What I’ve learned since then is, programmed or not, because of how I was abused as a child, I still would have developed perpetrator alter states. For most severely dissociated abuse survivors the discovery of perpetrator alter states is inevitable. The reality is that as much as there is one extreme in the spectrum of a fragmented human personality, there will be as much of the opposite extreme in morals or lack of morals and in behaviors. This is very important information for a recovering dissociative survivor to have, especially when suffering from either MPD or DID, whichever you want to call it.
I want to add here that I have absolutely no patience with any therapist or counselor or survivor who dares to call any part of a human being a demon or evil. These are parts that were created in human situations. Perpetrator parts have developed from abusers who were imprinted on the victim’s mind during trauma. The victim will dissociate and focus on the abuser’s voice, face, behaviors, and mannerisms. The victim does this to avoid pain and fear of death. This works not only for children, but also for adults who are already dissociated and tend to do that on a regular basis when there’s a trauma involved.
There’s other alter states that take it a step further. These are newly created alter states that are developed out of torture and near-death traumas. I use the word “tabula rasa” or blank slate, for these types of alter states. English philosopher John Locke said,”Children are not innately bad or good, but instead, are like a blank tablet”; which is where this theory came from. In this same way, as when a child is being born and developed, in the same way, a brand new alter state that first emerges will look through the eyes and whoever that alter state sees is who the personality will be modeled after. This is known as imprinting.
Conrad Lorenze was a student of animal behavior. He was the one, if you will remember, that used to be where a gosling or baby duck was hatching and that baby duck would first see him and would follow him and try to be where he was and do what he did, as much as it could. This is because, as we found out, baby geese attach to the first moving object that they see. New alter states take on the beliefs of their tormentors in the same way. They’re very loyal to them, and, in fact, these are the alter states that will be the most loyal to their abusers. If tormentors are anti-social in their belief systems, alter states will also be, because they are trying to be that person. Now, you will also notice, that if you are recovering and you look inside, you may find alter states that seem to have the faces of the people who hurt them. You are looking at alter states that were newly created in the presence of these tormentors.
What non-perpetrator parts, including host personalities need to understand is, at the very beginning of the creation of perpetrator parts, there is extreme pain, fear and distress, psychological and/or physical. You need to understand that perpetrator alter states did not choose to become the way they are, and you need to know, they may not even remember how they became the way they are. There may be amnesia before the remembrance of their beginning.
I’m going to show you a couple of cartoons which may help. If you all have perpetrator alter states, you in the audience, that are paying attention to what I’m saying right now, some of this will be for you. You can have a little joke about it, if you want. First of all, I want to declare that having perpetrator alter states is not an ugly, little secret hidden behind closed doors anymore. This is to let you know that it is okay to go home, and talk to your therapist about these situations, because it is a major part of your healing.
Here’s a little cartoon [holding it up for audience to see] where a mother takes her son to the principal’s office and she tells the principal about the boy, “He knows right from wrong and he prefers wrong.” A lot of people who have perpetrator alter states believe that the perpetrator alter states are wanting to do what’s wrong on purpose. I want to tell you, that’s not so. It’s just that they were exposed to people in amnesiac situations, where that’s the only life and only way of living and behavior that they know. It can change.
Here’s another one, a Garfield cartoon. John’s sweeping the pavement and there’s a spider between him and Garfield. Garfield stomps on the spider. John is really upset and he just holds his head in his hands and says to Garfield,” Oh, where is the compassion?” Garfield says,” You want compassion? Rent Bambi.” When you run into an alter state that has that kind of attitude, you’re looking at an alter state that holds the person’s sociopathic tendencies. A lot of times that alter state may be one or there may be a group of them inside the person. These perpetrator parts are especially lonely. They self-hate and they fear being hated by the other parts and by external individuals. They are isolating because of this and they are not able to socialize. They know they will begin to change, though, if they connect with other parts and, a lot of times, they don’t want to change because this is the only way of living and being that they have ever known. So breaking through the barriers of isolation with external people and with other alter states can be very painful at first. But the pain does ebb away, I want you to know that. It takes them much bravery to attempt to change and become co-conscious with non-perpetrator parts.
Upon the discovery of perpetrator alter states, it’s very important for them to have someone to talk to who will not judge them. I was very fortunate, this last week, to talk to Dr. Peter Barrach, who is the president of ISSD, which is,” International Society for the Study of Dissociation.” I had been notified about a president’s message that he had included in the ISSD’s publication for July. You’ve got this in your papers that you were handed for this presentation and I’d like you to turn to the second page and look at the second to last paragraph; and I’ll read it as you read it.
“If therapists are open to hear whatever patients want to say, some DID patients, who have perpetrator impulses, will begin to talk about them. But patients who sense that their therapist will become judgmental or horrified by hearing about these feelings and activities, will avoid discussing them. If patients expect that they have to deal with their therapist’s judgment, in addition to the judgment they may be leveling against themselves, it is only too easy for them to avoid these issues.”
There is a danger in this, because, if you avoid your perpetrator alter states and if your therapist avoids dealing with them, and getting to know them, and helping them to blend with other parts that are not harmful; there is a chance that those parts will act out again and can hurt somebody. It needs to be dealt with. One of the things I talked to Dr. Barrach about was the fact that when people have perpetrator alter states that already hold the self-hatred, and sometimes compartmentalize it, what can happen is that if they are considered in a judging fashion by the therapist, this can cause them to suicide. This is very dangerous. My suggestion to therapists is this; when you’re dealing with perpetrator alter states, consider this, “There, but for the grace of my Higher Power, go I.” Until you have been in the shoes of the survivor who has gone through such hell as to create these perpetrator alter states, you have no business judging them.
After working with about ten different therapists in the last ten years, I’ve been very fortunate to find one who has worked with not only people who are full-fledged sociopaths, but also with people who are severely dissociated and have the wide spectrum of personalities or alter states, as I would call them. She will up front tell each new patient who has dissociation that she will keep confidential anything that is said in therapy as long as no crime is being committed now or is planned to be committed in the future. Her patients can take from there how much they wish to share with her. This is important because perpetrator parts will not risk sharing unless they know they have confidentiality. Only then can they begin to open up enough to begin to bond with their therapist, which is the first step towards healing.
I’d like to share a couple more cartoons with you that may help explain what the perpetrator parts deal with and go through. If you’ve ever seen the Parade magazine in every Sunday’s edition of most papers, there’s this article by Marilyn Von-Savant. This one is taken from the June 27th issue. A writer wrote to her, “Why do you have to teach children to be good? Why does being bad seem to come to them almost instinctively?” Mrs. Savant said,”When you are teaching a child to be good you are actually teaching them how to be civilized, that is, to live in an increasingly complex community with others. Being ‘bad’, which generally means being selfish, including everything from inconsiderate behavior to stealing, probably is instinctive. That is, it has survival value for the individual, but at the expense of others. So teaching a child to be ‘good’ is more than a nicety, it is a necessity.” One of the things she was trying to explain and one of the things that perpetrator alter states need to understand, is that rules are meant to help people live together in a community or a society and fairly well get along with each other. Rules are not meant to judge.
David Grossman … if you will pull out this article from your packet, “David Grossman On Killing”, this was in the Post Traumatic Gazette by Patience Mason, Volume 4, Number 4. She went to the national conference of Vietnam Ministers and heard him speak about this particular subject and a lot of you can relate. Because, if you were used to kill in rituals or if you were used by our government as Deltas, you will understand especially. He said,” Above 175 heartbeats per minute, your frontal lobes, or the thinking part of your brains, are not working. Your forebrain has been hijacked by your mid-brain, the mammalian brain, which has four functions: fight, flight, feeding, and mating or having sex. And they can only do this one at a time.”
This is why I also have this particular cartoon about apes running with a little baby in diapers. Besides the fact that this may be triggering for some of you who were exposed to primates in certain conditions, this also is a picture of the primal part of our brain that kicks in or what he would call the mammalian part, where we function to survive. We do not think,”Oh, this is wrong or I shouldn’t do this; or, this is hurting somebody.” We do what we have to do to survive and it all goes back to instinct. A lot of times, the perpetrator parts of us that are sociopaths act on pure instinct and the survival, the need for survival.
Another thing you will see is a Beetle Bailey cartoon here, and this is the thing that David Grossman had talked about that’s a conflict within the person’s mind. In this case, Beetle Bailey is supposed to be shooting his target and each time he’s saying, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He’s having a difficult time. He’s having a conflict because there is a part of him that is automatically doing what he is trained to do to survive and then there’s another part of him, the forebrain, that is thinking,”I don’t want to hurt that person.” This is a conflict that a person who’s not multiple goes through. Well, you can imagine that a person who is a multiple has one part feeling a certain way and another part that eventually gets to say,” I’m sorry,” or feels sorry about the situation.
I’m going to show you a couple more cartoons that I think will help make things even clearer about difference, the dichotomy in a person who has non-harmful parts and then has perpetrator alter states. This one, I thought, was pretty good. It’s a “Dennis the Menace” cartoon. Dennis says to Joey,” It’s easy to know right from wrong, Joey. Wrong is when everybody yells.” A lot of people who have alter states that are perpetrator alter states, have parts that literally cannot tell, because they have not been exposed to regular society, whether they are doing something wrong or not. It is very important for a therapist to be able to help that part learn what is appropriate and what is not.
Another problem that perpetrator alter states have a problem with is that they are so conditioned to have one way of meeting their needs for survival. If it’s, like I said before, a person who has alter states that abused children sexually, it may be that they were raised in a situation that the only thing they knew was having sex with children in rituals or in pornography. They need to learn new ways to get rid of their stress or to exert their stress, like exercise or other form of activities is that they don’t have to think along those lines anymore. It’s very difficult work. But if the therapist can put judgment to the side and see the needs of these alter states, then a lot can be accomplished.
This is an interesting little blurb that I found in the paper not too long ago. It says,” Fear of self. Is it possible that some people are afraid of themselves? The answer is, there must be because there is a scientific name for it. It’s called Autophobia.” Remember that one. You have it if you have alter states that are perpetrator alter states and alter states that are not.
Here’s some more that actually show a sequence of events that can happen when regular, home alter states go inside and find these other alter states and go through the struggle of how to deal with them, and connect with them. Here’s one cartoon, “Grin and Bear It”, where a man’s lying in his psychiatrist’s office and he’s telling the psychiatrist,” I got to be me but I don’t want to be me.” Here’s another one:” I’ve hit rock bottom in the deep, murky ocean of my soul. Alone in my emptiness to ask the eternal question,’Who am I?’ ” A lot of times, when people have regular, non-harmful alter states and they begin to find that they have perpetrator alter states, it really throws things off. They find out that they are just one end of that extreme of the spectrum of the whole personality, the fragmented personality. They begin to realize that there’s another extreme, on the other end that is totally different from them, and they can either keep that part shut off and pushed away, or they can begin to get to know and greet and get to actually love the other part of themselves.
Eventually, I want to say, there will be a middle ground that you will find, that you are not overly religious or overly moral or overly sensitive to other people and animals; and, at the same time, you are not overly hurtful or amoral. I like this.
This is another “Grin and Bear it”; I like it because it has a rather happy ending. There’s another man laying on his psychiatrist’s couch again and he says,” I think I’ve discovered one of the real me’s” and he’s smiling. It’s amazing how people who have perpetrator alter states can eventually get to love them. I think it’s just a natural thing that happens because we have self love somewhere buried inside us and eventually, we do get to love the other parts of ourselves if we just learn to withhold judgment and get to know what they’re about and the trauma that caused them in the first place. Like I said, a lot of times the perpetrator alter states will not even remember why they were developed because of trauma. But, if you can find the trauma, then it will help you to have more compassion for them.
Here’s another one. I can’t remember the name of this comic strip but I do love it. A boy is behind a reception desk and says,” Welcome to Duncan Dental, may I help you?” A man says, “Can you validate me?” The boy reaches over the counter and hugs him and says,” You’re a good person.” A lot of times, when perpetrator alter states come out, they don’t need to be judged, they don’t need to be told they’re evil, they don’t need to be kicked around and mistreated and talked down about. They need to hear that they’re good, just as good as any other part, because they served an important function. They kept all the sociopathy compartmentalized in one or a number of different parts, so that the other parts could function and could go ahead and care.
One other thing that I found, that I thought was really neat, was in Modern Maturity, January-February, 1999, is an interview with George Foreman, who used to be a famous boxer. He was asked about different issues in his life and one of the things he says is on forgiveness. He said,” If you want to love people, you’ve got to understand them. Sometimes a lion will bite its trainer and people will ask,’Why don’t you kill it?’ The trainer will say,’Because I made the mistake. The animal was just doing what came natural.’ It’s strange that people understand that about animals but not about human beings. You’ve just got to forgive them.” I know that is easier said than done if you find that you have parts that were used in activities that were criminal or very hurtful to people, even rituals where you were used to murder, against your conscious will.
What I want to say to you also is that it’s a good time to sit down and go back in memory, if you can, and find out what happened before the event and what happened after. Sometimes, you just have to sit and relax and let the memory come. It’s easier sometimes to remember what happened after than before. But you’ll be surprised, if you can get past the compartmentalization, where you have amnesia on one side and amnesia on the other, you might have to go through several parts to find the after, to find what events took place afterwards. You may be surprised to find out that you were handled and this stuff was not of your own volition. But, then again, if it was, please, please, please do not judge yourself. There are things that happened in your childhood that led up to this. What is your responsibility now, and what I say there should be guilt for is, if that knowing you have, that you have these tendencies, whether it is to hurt children or go out, like some people have done, and take a gun and shoot up a crowd, whatever it is … that you know you have these tendencies and don’t get your butt to a therapist to deal with it. And again, if you have to go from therapist to therapist to therapist, until you find one that’s willing to help you work through your rage, your pain, or whatever else is underneath this, just keep trying. Just keep working at it.
It’s very important to make sure that you have a clear understanding with your therapist up front; that if you have more recently done something, or if there is murder involved, which in some cases, in rituals especially, there will be that … in that case, chances are it was against your will, if you would not normally go out to a ritual and do something like this. You need to make sure, up front with you therapist, that if you need to talk about the pain of what you went through and what the other person went through, that the therapist will not report you because, by law in most states, the therapist is not required to do this. Again, unless you are actively doing something now, or actively planning to do something, and you tell your therapist, only then is the therapist required by law to report it, which I think is appropriate.
I want to thank you for spending the time to listen to what I have to share from my own experiences today. Again, I am sorry that I cannot be there with you in person. The family circumstance is big for me and there is absolutely no way I could have been there. I’d like to give you all a hug, if I could. I do ask that if you have perpetrator alter states that have been coming up to hear this, or parts that have, I ask that you take the handouts that have been given to you home to your therapist or home to your strongest support person, and you go over these handouts with them. The one that’s from ISSD needs to be gone over carefully without judgment, because Dr. Barrach was not specifically talking about the programming when he was dealing with the issue of perpetrator alter states. He is working with clients who have these issues. His concern is more that therapists who work with dissociative clients be safe in working with them and that they don’t end up getting hurt when these parts come out sometimes. He’s also concerned because he doesn’t want clients going around and avoiding this issue and then hurting somebody because they didn’t get help with it. I appreciate your time and I hope you have a good time at the conference. Thank you.