The Selves Of An Entity
(Note: Most of this article by David McMillin was originally published in True Health newsletter.)
The concept of multiple personality disorder has become a part of mainstream culture, due in large part to motion pictures that have focused on the sensational aspects of this phenomenon. Beginning with the “Three Faces of Eve” various movies have portrayed the pathological dimension of multiple personality. Some widely publicized legal cases based on the multiple personality defense have also reinforced the sinister side of “multiplicity.” Less well known is the psychological and metaphysical basis for multiple personality theory.
Although the idea of multiple aspects of personality did not begin with Sigmund Freud, he certainly stands out as the key figure associated with this model. Freud theorized that each personality is an expression of three primal factors – the id, ego, and superego. These three fundamental divisions can be further divided into conscious, preconscious, and unconscious layers.
Post-Freudian models of multiplicity include Transactional Analysis, a psychological approach based on the premise that each of us can relate from a child, parent, or adult persona in any given social interchange. The social dimension of personality was also recognized by Edgar Cayce who defined personality as “that you would have others to see” in contrast to the individuality, or the “personality of the soul.”
Interestingly, Cayce used the Freudian model of conscious and unconscious levels of functioning, adding superconscious states to include the spiritual aspect of experience. He went even further when he used the expressions “selves of an entity” and “personalities of an entity.” From Cayce’s perspective, “entity” represents the soul and its heritage. In Cayce’s view, each of us, as entities, can be considered as a collection of selves.
I sometimes wonder why the first section of Cayce’s physical readings begin with the expression, “Yes we have the body.” Who are the we? Based on the work of hypnotherapists such as Milton Erickson and consciousness researchers, the whole phenomena of trance states is an expression of multiplicity that is labeled “co-consciousness.” Could Cayce’s we be an expression of the entity incarnated as Edgar Cayce?
In a similar vein, the hundreds of “life” readings given by Cayce begin with the hypnotic suggestion that he will provide information on “the conditions which are as personalities, latent and exhibited in the present life.” If Cayce is correct, each of us have multiple personalities that are associated with “conditions” including past lives and astrological influences.
The whole idea of personality as a “condition” is actually quite interesting from a modern psychological perspective. Behavioral psychologists focus on the inner and interpersonal stimuli/response patterns that can be construed as “conditions.” Likewise, the latest theories from physiological psychology assert that personality is a “condition” based on the interplay of various chemicals in the brain – that consciousness itself is a biochemical
condition. Heredity, an increasingly plausible source of personality, can be considered as a “condition.” As is often the case with the Cayce material, the more closely you look at it, the more elegant and powerful it becomes as an explanation of the human experience.
In the context of Cayce’s broader transpersonal perspective, the concept of multiple personality includes a strong nonpathological emphasis. The notion that as an essential part of normal human development we should seek self knowledge, to “know thyself,” adds to the mystery and complexity of personal development.
Perhaps, it might be more accurate to say that we should “know thyselves.” From a practical standpoint, Cayce provides healthy options for exploring the multiple facets of the psyche. Astrology, dreams, and meditation are all reasonable means of self-knowledge that can open the doors of inner awareness. I have found that in counseling individuals who are suffering from a sense of inner turmoil and fragmentation, using a multiplicity model can be helpful in the healing process.
Sometimes it seems as if these inner parts of the self are fighting or warring against each other. Getting in touch with the inner players can be helpful. I usually begin with a simple prologue on the various models of multiplicity that I have discussed above. I often ask if the individual has any curious or unusual nicknames.
One client quickly picked up on this technique and recalled that some of his friends call him the “hit man” because he can lapse into a quick and penetrating sarcasm that can be directed toward anyone that he wants to target. This tendency is not what one would expect from this normally quiet and courteous man. Social psychologists might explain this phenomenon in terms of roles that we play in different social “conditions.”
Another simple technique for getting in touch with the various aspects of the self is to listen for the phrase, “I am not myself today.” If you are not yourself, which self are you? This type of exploration can be done with an air of playfulness and curiosity.
When your “buttons are pushed” and you find yourself changing to a different mode of thinking and feeling, what is the source of the new you? Psychologists naturally look to previous experiences in this life, usually childhood experiences, to explain our reactions. Edgar Cayce acknowledged the importance of environmental influences in shaping our personalities, yet, as stated earlier, he went further in defining environment to include the spiritual environs (past lives and planetary environs).
Assuming that multiplicity is inherent in our natures and is not necessarily a pathological manifestation, how can we safely explore and develop our multiplicity? Here are some suggestions and cautions for maintaining mental health on the spiritual journey of self-knowledge.
- Develop a clear sense of purpose for self-exploration. The ideals exercise recommended by Cayce is a valuable tool for keeping a positive and consistent focus. Curiosity alone is not a good motivation for beginning this process.
- Find practical and constructive ways to apply the understanding that you gain about your selves.
- Keep a here-and-now focus. It can be easy to become obsessed about the past, whether the past of this lifetime or others. Remember, the present is the point of power. How you use your will now is more powerful than any previous experience.
- Flexibility is the hallmark of mental health. Try not to be rigid about how you view the concept of multiplicity, especially when it involves the beliefs of others. It is usually counterproductive to try to convince or convert anyone to your way of thinking. After all, e are only using words and ideas to explain something (the soul entity and its manifestations) that is beyond language and mental constructs. If others prefer to work with multiplicity using one of the psychological models discussed above, that may well be the optimal model for them. Likewise, there are numerous metaphysical systems that provide unique and useful explanations of multiplicity. In this article, I have focused on some standard psychological models and the philosophy of Edgar Cayce because I am more familiar with these sources, not because I think they provide the ultimate or final answer to this mystery.
- Dreams are a wonderful tool for getting in touch with the multiple selves, especially with regard to past lives in you are open to the idea of reincarnation. Watch for historical periods including characters, clothing, and architecture that my pop up in your dreams. If you do get such clues you may want to spend some time in meditation or revelry exploring them further.
- Hypnosis for exploring early childhood or previous periods of one’s life is commonly available. From a metaphysical perspective, past life regressions have proven helpful for some individuals seeking to explore the possibility of past life influences.
- Astrology may be a helpful way to “know thyselves.” The Cayce readings indicate that past lives in other realms of consciousness such as planets in this solar system can have an influence on in the present life. Traditionally these influences have been explored by various systems of astrology.
- Pyschic readings such as provided by Edgar Cayce may be an option if you know of someone with that ability. As noted previously in this article, the life readings typically focused on astrology (“planetary sojourns”) and reincarnation. So in addition to dreams, hypnosis, and astrology this is just one more post avenue for “knowing thyselves.
Here are a couple of red flags that can indicate a need for professional assistance. If you often feel out of control and experience compulsive behaviors or obsessive thought patterns, professional help may be appropriate. Lapses of memory that cover extended periods of time (fugue states) are a common symptom of multiple personality disorder (MPD), also known as dissociative identity disorder (DID). If you become aware of such episodes, professional help is indicated. Of course, seeking professional help itself can be a stressful undertaking. Ideally, you will have access to a transpersonal psychologist or therapist who is aware and comfortable with the concept of multiplicity as a normal expression of the multidimensional human psyche.