CRIMINALS AND IMAGINARY COMPANIONS
Ralph B. Allison, M.D.
Word Count: 2958
Key Words: Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD); Internalized Imaginary Companions (IIC);
Cognitive Restructuring; Bottle Routine; Anger Management; Shamanic Techniques
Published in Hypnos, Vol.28, No.3, December 2001, pp 201-206Abstract
Criminals who show "other selves" during forensic evaluations prior to trial are commonly
thought to have either Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or to be malingering. The view
presented here is that such criminals could have created Internalized Imaginary Companions (IIC)
due to anger at abusive parents in childhood. The IIC acted out violently in adulthood, causing the
arrest. Anger management is needed, combining "cognitive restructuring" and a shamanic
technique, called The Bottle Routine, to remove the "anger-energy" from such criminals. This can
eliminate the IIC. Such an approach is also beneficial with angry alter-personalities.Introduction
While seeing many dissociated patients in private practice, I also evaluated criminal
defendants for insanity pleas. When some showed "other selves," the question of a diagnosis of
Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) had to be addressed. In 1987, in my first paper on those
criminals (Allison, 1987), I pointed out six differences between "neurotic multiples" and the
defendants, whom I called "maybe multiples." However, I didn't understand the reasons for these
I finally understood when I saw an inmate I called "Fred" in a published paper (Allison,
1998). He and his two sisters created imaginary playmates when their father shot their mother in
front of them. Fred's "Chuck" later shot to death a cab driver. After Chuck tried to choke me
during our interview in jail, Fred moved Chuck out of his body onto the wall of the cell where I
then interviewed him behind Plexiglass. Finally I realized that the allegedly dissociated criminals
had made Internalized Imaginary Companions (IIC), not alter-personalities. They had used
"emotional imagination," not dissociation, to create these monsters, creatures with no conscience
or concern for the social consequences of their actions. Alter-personalities always served the
survival needs of the dissociating person. IIC did not.
A lawyer defending a prison inmate who had tried to kill his cellmate asked me to evaluate
him for an insanity defense. I interviewed him at the prison, with a guard at the door.
"Mr. C" was a forty-year-old man who had served several terms in prison for violent
offenses. Between incarcerations, he held a responsible job and was a law-abiding citizen. He then
struck out at someone and found himself in jail again. There was no doubt about his legal
responsibility for his offences, but he could not explain why he periodically acted so out of
He expressed intense hatred for his father. He hated him so much, for the abuse Mr. C had
suffered at his hands, he refused to allow his father to visit him in prison.
The present charge was attempted murder of his cellmate, a homosexual man who was a
month from parole. Mr. C denied any anger or other negative feelings toward the victim.
However, other inmates reported Mr. C had expressed great resentment of his cellmate.
The day of the incident, Mr. C checked out a hammer from the tool shed to use for
hanging pictures in the doctor's office at the psychiatric clinic where he worked. No one had
asked him to hang pictures. He kept the hammer when leaving work for his housing unit. That
night, he swung the hammer at his sleeping cellmate, fracturing his skull. The cellmate woke up
and grabbed Mr. C's hand, and Mr. C tossed the hammer out the window. The victim yelled, and
guards came to investigate. When they saw his wound and found the hammer, there was no doubt
about what happened. The unanswered question was WHY?
During my interview, he was civilized and polite most of the time. He did not understand
why he had done any of the misdeeds for which he had been incarcerated, much less the one for
which he was now charged. He could not explain the repeated changes from being a law-abiding
citizen to being a criminal. He expressed no anger toward the victim, who had now been paroled
At times during the interview, he talked like a career convict. One example was when he
told me that he had "rented" his cell to the new cellmate. When I asked him how he could rent a
cell he didn't own, he said, "When the state put me in that cell, I then owned it." I challenged him
with the statement that the State owned the cell, not him. He did not accept my logic. I then
realized I was now facing someone quite capable of murder. With enough information to write a
report, I left the room, in fear of my life.
Mr. C had been raised as a socially responsible man, not as a professional criminal. Yet he
was talking and acting like a habitual criminal, when he referred to "renting" his cell. This was the
talk of the convict who had spent most of his life behind prison bars. It is known as "Criminal
Thinking." Where had he learned it?
I theorized that, the first time he came to prison, he was scared for his survival. An IIC he
had created to contain his hatred of his abusive father took over much of that time in prison and
became acquainted with other inmates, most of them veterans of many incarcerations. From them
he learned what is called "The Convict Code." This is a set of beliefs that allows them to survive
in prison. One principle is that an inmate owns his cell, if he is assigned there when it is empty,
and he has the right to rent a part of it to any inmate sent there later. While this is legally
incorrect, it is a belief system that allows for a degree of control over his environment and a way
to extract favors from other inmates.
While I had dealt with other convicts for over a decade, none of them had actually talked
this way in front of me, a free person. They were wise enough not to let on to a free person how
they thought. Yet this man clearly told me, an outsider, just what his Criminal Thoughts were.
That was out of character for a convict, who trusts no one.
I thought this man's angry IIC had learned the basic principles of Criminal Thinking the
first time he entered prison. Each time he returned, his IIC accommodated to the prison
subculture. Since it was not the whole person, it did not have the good judgement to keep secret
what it was thinking in front of me. It told me what it was thinking, which was in stark contrast to
Mr. C's usual belief system.
Mr. C did not have any antipathy toward his homosexual cellmate, who was a friendly man
and of no danger to him. But Criminal Thinking automatically put any homosexual cellmate into a
feared and hated category, a "queer." The IIC obtained the hammer and tried to kill his
"dangerous" homosexual cellmate. Mr. C claimed amnesia for most of the three days prior to the
assault, so he was not aware of what his body was doing.
My analysis did not allow for a diagnosis of any mental illness, nor any excuse from legal
responsibility. Since I consider an IIC as a mental entity which is deliberately created by the
personality, there was no excuse on the basis of involuntary origin or behavior. It was created as a
"hit-man" to express the man's anger toward his father. It later fashioned its belief system after
the convicts he met in prison, and it acted out Mr. C's anger toward a homosexual man, the type
of inmate convicts despise. The IIC was Mr. C's agent, consciously created in his youth but acting
out in his adulthood. He was convicted of attempted murder, and time was added to his prison
The IICs I have seen in criminals came about in similar ways. As a boy, the man was
subjected to some kind of violent behavior or witnessed violent behavior toward his siblings. He
then hated that parent, usually a drunken father, but his survival needs required that he suppress
acting out on those feelings. The IIC was a reservoir for the hatred of the abusive parent. If highly
hypnotizable, he created an imaginary person with full humanoid characteristics. Into it, he placed
all the forbidden urges and impulses he dared not express himself. This became what in the
military is called a "smart bomb," which has a huge load of explosives (anger-energy) directed by
a rudimentary targeting mechanism. Once it is aimed at a target, it hits and explodes. It has no
social judgement, no recall mechanism, and it can kill whomever happens to be in its way at the
time of detonation.
How are therapists or prison officials to deal with such persons, who have such a deadly
entity inside their minds? I participated in the evaluation of one such man who was treated in a
psychiatric hospital and successfully got rid of his IIC. The rest went back to prison for longer
terms, with nothing being done to solve their problems.
The man who was treated was a businessman in California whose IIC killed his wife. He
had been a solid citizen, a Sunday School teacher who was respected by all who knew him. But he
had an IIC (which all examiners thought was an alter-personality) which killed his loving wife
because she asked him to go to Wednesday evening church services one time too many.
This entity had shown itself only three times before when it took him on trips away from
home. It was created at age 13 when he became angry with friends who failed to show up on time
to take him to a basketball game. Since his parents had preached that he was never to get angry at
anyone, he put all his anger into this IIC, which lay dormant for many years.
After a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity, because of a diagnosis of MPD, he
was sent to Napa State Hospital for treatment. The psychiatrist advising his attorney had called
me in for consultation, and the two of us met with the hospital staff to acquaint them with this
man's condition. A psychologist on staff was willing to see him as an individual patient. The other
psychiatrist and I interviewed the patient at intervals to monitor his progress.
The breakthrough came eighteen months after his hospitalization. He slept in an open
dormitory, with all the beds out on the floor. By each bed was a locker for personal belongings.
While at work one day cleaning the floor, he watched another patient steal his favorite jacket from
his locker. For the first time in his life, he got angry all by himself and did not push his anger into
his IIC. He confronted the thief and ordered him to put his jacket back into his locker. He swore
at him like he had never sworn before. This was the first time he allowed himself to be angry at
anyone since age 13.
The next time we interviewed him, we hypnotized him and tried to call out the IIC. We
could not find it. It had disappeared.
This man was later released from the hospital and returned home, where he got a job in a
florist shop. He has not committed any new criminal acts.
The treatment approach is to deal with the inappropriate way the patient or inmate handles
anger. What might have been a suitable method for diverting anger in his youth became pathology
in his adulthood. In my treatment of MPD patients, anger at others was the common reason for
creating Persecutor Alter-Personalities. Therapy aimed first at changing their belief system about
the abuser deserving to be hated so much. I convinced them to change their opinion of the abuser
to one deserving of pity, being mentally ill, or any other attitude which eliminated a desire for
Once the patient changed her mind as to why the abuse occurred, she realized she was
holding inside a lot of useless anger. This anger no longer had a target and was only hurting her.
The patient no longer needed the fuel of the anger to keep her revenge intact, so I could persuade
her it was time to get rid of the anger-energy.
At that point, I had to become a shaman. Psychiatry does not accept such principles as
anger-energy being contained within a human body, even though everyone who has been angry
talks that way. Our common sense view tells us it is true. Then the question is, "What mechanism
can get rid of useless anger?"
I learned that particular shamanic ritual with the second patient whom I thought had MPD
(Allison, 1999). I call it my "Bottle Routine," since I usually used empty baby food bottles to
receive a patient's anger-energy. With the patient in a light trance, I put an empty jar between
both hands. I ask her to move all the anger-energy from her feet, legs, trunk and head into her
shoulders, and then out her arms, into the bottle. When she has expelled all her anger-energy into
the bottle, the bottle would feel too hot to hold, and she would throw it on the floor.
Once the anger-energy is expelled by the patient's mind, a "vacuum" exists within the
patient. That vacuum must be filled with positive energy, or anger-energy will come in from
somewhere else. I then put my hand on the top of the patient's head and tell her that she needs to
draw in through the crown of her head (the location of her "coronal chakra") the agape love-
energy which is available to all of us. I could say it comes from The Creator, to be religiously
neutral, or I could invoke the highest religious entity of the patient's religion.
It doesn't matter what kind of psychic entity the person has made to hold the anger, an
alter-personality or an IIC. The "Bottle Routine" works for both of them. But it must be preceded
by these other procedures.
First, both the doctor and the patient have to agree that there is an IIC who is in need of
neutralization. No treatment can work unless both doctor and patient agree on the disease and
that the proposed treatment is logical for what ails the patient.
Second, the doctor must go through what is called in psychology, "cognitive
restructuring," which is a fancy way of saying "changing your mind." The patient has been
viewing the interaction between herself and the abuser as a child the age she was at the time of the
abuse. She is now an adult, and she can look at the situation from an adult point of view, as does
the doctor. The child may feel she deserved the punishment, an incorrect idea. In trance, she will
still feel that way, but now, as an adult, she can be persuaded that such a view is not valid, but a
different view might be accurate. The therapist suggests a more adult view of why the abuser did
what he did.
A common story is that he came home drunk and became angry at his wife when she
refused him sex. The patient, as a child, did not know her father's true attitude at the time and
thought she was being punished for some unknown sin she must have committed. Now that she
realizes that he did it for some other reason, she can stop hating him for abusing her. Only then
does the anger-energy become unnecessary for her.
Third, the doctor must envision a transfer of anger-energy from the patient to an inanimate
object as possible. His use of the "Bottle Routine" confirms this belief to the patient.
Fourth, the doctor must understand that chakras exist in every person, and that the
coronal chakra is the one through which agape love-energy can be received. The agape love-
energy can then fill up the vacuum left by the anger-energy, making the patient full of love of
mankind and enjoyment of life. This last step is essential. Otherwise, anger-energy from some
angry mental bystander will be sucked in to fill the void. This last step provides a permanent cure
of the condition.
Since dangerous IICs are nothing but anger, this ritual can totally eliminate them. I have
done it myself, so I know it can happen, when the circumstances are right.
Fifth, the doctor has to realize that what is in that bottle is not fit for human use and must
be discarded in the trash outside the office or home. It should be placed in two plastic bags which
are sealed and deposited in the trash receptacle for the garbage man to collect on his rounds. This
ends the shamanic ritual.
While it is possible for an inmate with an IIC to destroy it himself, by an act of will, there
is no encouragement to do so in our prisons. Any inmate feels the victim of revenge on the part of
society. Few victims ever let the criminal know they forgive them, so the criminal feels hated
forever, and this keeps his anger-energy intact.
Since the same principles of treatment apply to both IIC and angry Alter-Personalities, one
might wonder why I bother to separate the two conditions. The removal of anger-energy is done
the same way, regardless of which entity is angry. But, in the case of Alter-Personalities, each is
meant to be a part of the Original Personality, and they are not dangerous to the therapist. They
may be noisy and irritating, but they will not harm the therapist, at least not deliberately.
But an angry IIC, being designed as a hostile hit-man, is potentially dangerous to everyone
around, including the therapist. They will commit dangerous, illegal acts. They are not meant to
be integrated into the Original Personality, as they are like waste products of the body, suitable
only for expulsion. That is why I liken the process described above as "Psychic Toiletry," as The
Creator has supplied such a sewer system for all of us to use with such waste products. It is for
the wise therapist and patient desirous of a cure to realize when anger-energy is such a waste
product in need of such disposition into the "Psychic Sewer System."
Allison, R. B. (1987). Maybe multiples in courts and corrections. Paper presented to American
Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Allison, R. B. (1998). Multiple personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and internalized
imaginary companions. Hypnos, 25(3), 125-133.
Allison, R. B. (1999). Minds in many pieces (2nd Edition) (pp. 62-94), Los Osos, CA: CIE