Current Title: Retired
- Occidental College, Los Angeles, BA, 1952
- UCLA School of Medicine, M.D., 1956
- Internship, rotating, Highland-Alameda County Hospital, Oakland, California, 1956-57
- Psychiatric Residency, Stanford Medical Center, Palo Alto, 1959-62
- 1962-63 Staff Psychiatrist, Santa Clara Co. Mental Health, Palo Alto, California
- 1964-67 Program Chief, Santa Cruz Co. Mental Health, Santa Cruz, California
- 1962-78 Private Practice of Psychiatry, Palo Alto & Santa Cruz, California
- 1978-81 Staff Psychiatrist, Yolo County Mental Health, Broderick, California
- 1978-81 Private Practice of Forensic Psychiatry, Davis, CA
- 1981-86 Private Practice of Psychiatry, Morro Bay, CA
- 1981-85 Staff Psychiatrist, CMC, San Luis Obispo, CA
- 1985-93 Senior Psychiatrist, CMC, San Luis Obispo, CA
- 1994-95 Retired Annuitant Psychiatrist, CMC, San Luis Obispo, CA
- 1995 Cornelia B Wilbur Award of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation (ISSTD)
- Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association
After completing his residency at Stanford Medical Center, Allison began treating patients in private practice in Palo Alto and Santa Cruz. In 1972, a patient was referred to him with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. As Allison writes in his biography, Minds in Many Pieces, "because the patient 'did not ‘feel' like a schizophrenic to me. I sent her home with a prescription for antidepressant medication and another office appointment.”1 When the patient was then hospitalized for a suicide attempt days later, Allison asked for a psychologist on staff to evaluate her. This psychologist reported that she believed the patient to be another “Three Faces of Eve” referring to the book and film released 15 years prior. She was Ralph Allison’s first patient to be diagnosed with MPD; his admittedly experimental treatments would continue with her and several more young women subsequently arriving at his practice with symptoms of depression (one of whom would commit suicide under his care) who he also diagnosed with MPD or demonic and spirit possession.
Reluctant to refer those patients who he was concerned he could not treat, he instead began “experimenting” with hypnosis, medication, exorcism, and one memorable therapy session in which he treated a patient by instructing her to put one of her “alters” into a pill-shaped paperweight from his desk and then throw it into a nearby river. Since this seemed to work, he followed up by going to her home, sitting with her in her bedroom where he felt a dark presence, asked her to move all this dark energy and pain into an ashtray which he explained represented a vagina, and then threw the ashtray into a garbage pile on the way back to the offices so as to avoid “taking any chances.”2 His treatments included hypnosis, exorcisms, and attempting to contact within his patient what he at first called the Inner Self-Helper, and later would define as the “Essence” which he believes created the patient’s “alters.”
One of his more high profile consultations was Kevin Bianchi, also known as the Hillside Strangler. At this time Allison was in the process of writing a book about his MPD cases. During an interview with Bellingham investigating officers featured on a Frontline episode about Bianchi, one of them had this to say about Allison’s approach:
“When he first came here and we were waiting to start the session, we were standing around outside the area talking and he indicated that it was very important to him to establish this was multiple personality because he was close to a world record number of finds of multiple personalities and he was writing a book or had a book going on the topic. I felt that it was way more important to him that the multiple personality be found than, in my mind, the facts being brought forth.”
After interviews with Bianchi, Allison did in fact assert that Bianchi’s other personality “Steve” had committed these crimes and managed to speak with several more personalities during their interviews. The diagnosis could change Bianchi’s defense and ultimately his sentencing considerably. When Bianchi was evaluated by another prominent psychiatrist, it became clear that Bianchi was faking his symptoms during the interviews. Bianchi later admitted to having “made it all up.” Initially Allison defended his diagnosis, stating he knew the “Steve” personality to be genuine because “I met him.” After it was confirmed that Bianchi absolutely had the capability and knowledge required to fake his symptoms, Allison explained his mistake in an interview with the press by claiming he had no suspicion a patient would ever lie to him, but that in his most recent work with incarcerated populations he discovered that patients could falsify symptoms to try and manipulate him.3
While an early member of International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD), and winner of that organization's Cornelia B Wilbur Award in 1995, he was quickly supplanted by younger physicians and fell out of favor with the society as a result of his increasingly incredible claims about his abilities to exorcise demons and spirits that were the cause of several of his patients' apparent multiple personalities.4 This caused some concern that his theories of the Inner Self Helper and the Essence, and his bent towards the religious and supernatural, would discredit the work of the organization.5 He continued in private practice and as staff psychiatrist for several institutions until he retired from practice in 1995. He continues to write and lecture about his work with dissociative patients.
“Everyone has an Essence, a.k.a. Soul or Spirit. Ancient philosophers thought so and so do most religions. But what is it, and what does it do? Where did it come from? Many of Dr. Allison’s patients with Multiple Personalities showed him Essences which had separated from their Personalities and could come out and talk to him. From them he learned of their past lifetimes and their present duties as they protected their 'charges', as managed memory, and influenced bodily and social functions. He met their spiritual 'Supervisors' who have been called angels, and they provided him with their job descriptions. All this is told by Michael, his Essence, whose last lifetime was as a Roman Army officer 100 years before Christ was born. Michael and his supervisory spirits tell how they attempt to manage the human race and try to keep us living our Life Plans.”
"Spiritual Helpers & Multiple Personality Disorder" submitted to Anthropology of Consciousness
“During 25 years of working with highly hypnotizable patients with Multiple Personality Disorder, the bodies of two of these women were borrowed by four different types of spiritual entities. One identified itself as the Essence of the patient's Personality, and the others were its supervisors, who called themselves Celestial Intelligent Energy or CIE. The three CIE were the Spiritual Guardian, Teacher, and Professor. Functions of the Essence are described. Job descriptions of the CIE are presented. They report how they serve "The Creator" in assisting us humans in fulfilling and completing our Life Plans. While each Essence shifts back and forth between Physicalspace (the material world) and Thoughtspace (the nonmaterial world), the CIE are full-time residents of Thoughtspace. However, the CIE have great influence on what happens to humans in Physicalspace.”
“Discover how humans and spiritual beings put Marie’s 70 personalities back together again. Join Dr. Allison in his wild trip through the life of Marie, who created her first alter-personality at the age of six months. She first met with Dr. Allison at age 28, when he began helping her integrate her personalities. See how they did that in the next three years. Becky, her Essence, was Dr. Allison’s valuable advisor during Marie’s therapy and was still dissociated from Marie, her Personality, after integration. After 13 years apart, they agreed to write her story. Becky, acting as Marie’s memory manager, provided historical details from her files in the Akashic Records. Becky’s supervisory spirits, Faith, Hope, and Charity, described how they had monitored Becky and Marie. While borrowing Marie’s body to speak to Dr. Allison, they told him their job titles and descriptions and how they observe and help members of the human race.”
“In this book you will join Dr. Allison on his continuing journey into the bipartite human mind, where demons frolic and angels do not fear to tread. In the first edition of this book (1980), Dr. Allison told astonishing stories about his dissociated patients' parading alter-personalities and other psychic beings before him. Now, in this 15-year follow-up, he answers many of the questions that intrigued him then. In doing so, he opens up new vistas for students of the human psyche.”
In His Own Words:
Excerpts from: The Human Essence Workshop at the Unity Christ Church, San Luis Obispo, California, April 6 through May 11, 1998
“The Essence which has been my primary teacher states that her "location" in the human body is in the Pineal Gland, which is located in the center of the brain. From there, the Essence can manipulate the entire human organism, via the master hormone, melatonin. The Pineal Gland has been traditionally considered the 'Seat of the Soul,' and this seems to be true from all I have been told.”
“First we need to recognize that we exist in two parallel universes, which I have chosen to call PHYSICALSPACE and THOUGHTSPACE. We all know about PHYSICALSPACE, as that is the 'real world' around us. Theoretical Physicists insist there has to be another 'dimension' or the rules of Quantum Physics cannot operate.”
“In most humans, the Essence has chosen to follow that segment of the Master Life Plan which is appropriate to this incarnation. (Reincarnation is a fact, say my informants.)”
“In most people, the Emotional Selves operate much of the time in Free Will mode, because they do not know what their Life Plans are. At the same time, the Essence of each person does know its Charge's Life Plan and it avoids using its own Free Will and cooperates with its 'supervisors.' Since its PRIME DIRECTIVE is to do whatever is necessary for its Charge to complete and fulfill that portion of the Life Plan assigned to this incarnation, the Essence must keep the physical body alive.
- Ability to communicate in the Original Language (Ancient Sanskrit) so that it has the -
- Ability to communicate with all other Essences.
- Ability to "see" where human eyes cannot, so it knows when danger is near. (Blindsight)
- Ability to take over control of body in times of extreme emergency, or under hypnosis.
- Ability to talk "out loud" to its Charge, to warn in times of difficulty.
- Ability to cause positive or negative hallucinations.
- Ability to provide "virtual reality" experiences, i.e., Out of Body and Near Death
- Ability to solve all problems on a case-by-case basis.
- Knowledge of its Charge's Life Plan.
- Knowledge of what its Charge is thinking and planning to do.
- Knowledge of the sex of an unborn baby of pregnant Charge.
- Knowledge of actual nature of physical illness and appropriate treatment.
- Ability to come up with new solutions to problems instead of repeating old solutions.
- Ability to allow appropriate illnesses to occur.
- Ability to shut down the physical organism to cause it to "cease to exist."
“Those persons whose Life Plans are scheduled to terminate that day will have Essences giving them no warning, and their Essences will be urging them to book that particular flight, knowing it will crash, killing all aboard. That is one way the Essence can cause that person to 'cease to exist' on schedule.”
“What the Essence Can Do With Its Charge.
- Manage memory, both in recording what is not perceived neurologically, and retrieving memory needed for action by Emotional Self.
- Provide intuitive warnings of danger.
- Provide "intellectual knowing" of what to do next.
- Fill in blanks of visual field.
- Provide problem solution not covered by rules of conduct.
- Provide a positive emotional push, i.e., erotic feelings, to make Charge interested in a person in area.
- Provide negative emotions and nausea to make Charge stay away from dangerous people.
- Put Charge to sleep.
- Take over body and walk away from a dangerous situation, if Charge is frozen with fright.
- Make Charge have infection.
- Make Charge not see a dangerous object so she will fall and hurt self.
- Cause pregnancy to occur.
- Cause pregnancy to miscarry or be a stillbirth.
- Cause body to have cancer or other chronic or fatal disease.
- Cause physical disease to disappear and reappear.
- Provide dreams at night for instructions, insight, and advice.
- Cause Charge to fall in love "at first sight."
- Cause Charge to have sudden flash of insight.
- Cause Charge to have Out of Body Experience & Near Death Experience.
- Cause Charge to feel driven to accomplish a difficult goal.
- Make work situations so difficult Charge feels driven to quit and find a new job.
"Rules We Must Follow or Else
“In the case of fertility clinics, we have the opposite situation. Here we have women literally 'buying bodies of babies.' What they don't realize is that for each body, there needs to be an assigned Essence and Emotional Self. If that woman has a Life Plan that does not include any more children, there are no Essences or Emotional Selves ready and available for implantation in the body. One option is that someone else will have to 'cease to exist' before originally planned.
"Another option is to pull an Essence out of school and sent it into active duty before it is fully trained. This is what happens in wartime with recruits in basic training. When the war gets too demanding for manpower, new recruits will be sent through a shortened training program and sent to duty in the front lines before they have had a chance to become completely trained. This increases the risk that they cannot do their jobs properly. This is why the chances are higher than average for children born with the help of such clinics die sooner than others or are mentally retarded.”
“In my role as explorer I witnessed parapsychological phenomenon for which there is, as yet, no satisfactory explanation.” (pg 5)
“The first time I saw Shana I needed every bit of the professionalism drilled into me by my professors during the long years of college and medical school. She was very attractive. Her low cut blouse revealed an ample bust and her miniskirt accented her narrow waist and attractive legs. I found her appearance unnerving, and I would rather have met her over a drink in a singles’ club.” (pg 9)
“While Shana talked I tried to maintain an air of professionalism. This meant that I rocked back and forth on my chair, my hands pressed together on my lap… The problem was that my chair wasn’t really meant for rocking. During one sessional I accidentally leaned back a little too far, knocking the precariously positioned chair off balance. The chair flew out from under me and I found myself painfully on my back looking up at the ceiling.” (pg 10)
"I tried to remember what little I knew about [Multiple Personality Disorder]. We had never discussed it at UCLA, nor had it come up during my psychiatric residency at Stanford Medical Center. In fact, my total exposure to the subject had been little more than going to see Joanne Woodward in The Three Faces of Eve when I was serving in the Air Force.” (pg 34)
“I didn’t have the slightest idea what I was doing, or what the results might be.” (pg 33)
“It was like something out of a movie. It was Joanne Woodward changing from Eve White to Eve Black in The Three Faces of Eve. (pg 33)
“The complexity of her problem seemed overwhelming, but I decided to act anyway, not knowing what might happen next.” (pg 34)
“Children who become multiple-personality patients are also unusually sensitive to those around them. They retain this extreme sensitivity all their lives, often to the point of having psychic abilities. Henry Hawksworth, one of my former patients, could see auras, for example - colors around people that reflect their moods.” (pg 40)
“I was faced with a patient seeking help for a problem that was quite possibly beyond my ability to solve. The sensible thing would have been to refer her elsewhere…” (pg 44)
“Looking back I still wonder if I made the right decision at that stage in my professional development. Was I actually enticed by the idea of blazing new trails in my field? Or, perhaps, I was looking upon Jeanette as a guinea pig in an intellectual exercise? Or did I simply care about this troubled patient and want her to get well? I don’t know the answer. I’m not even certain I want to face the reality of my motivations at that time. What is important is that I did plunge forward, disregarding my inexperience and lack of information.” (pg 44)
"I had been studying hypnosis since I first entered practice, but this was one of the first times I had utilized it with one of my patients.” (pg 45)
From “If in Doubt, Cast It Out? The Evolution of a Belief System Regarding Possession & Exorcism” (Journal of Psychology and Christianity April 1999)
"My Reasons and Criteria for Doing Exorcisms
"Why did I do exorcisms and what criteria did I use when I chose to do them? The 'why' is easy to answer. Sometimes one of these difficult patients whom no other psychiatrist would treat presented me with an entity who was talking and acting extremely dangerously, and who had no apparent psychological roots in the patient's mind. They might promise to kill the patient's body by a specific time, or threatened and try to kill me."
"Yes, I could call an ambulance and hospitalize them. But I would still have to deal with them later."
"When pure rage and 'evil intent' are being manifested, there is no time for quiet contemplation of therapeutic options and an intellectual analysis of motives. I had to do something, and, since I had broken the barrier by doing my first exorcism and having a positive result, the procedure was in my mind as a viable option, if all else failed."
"In several cases, the entity claimed to be the spirit of a relative who had invaded the mind of my patient and was determined to do her harm. In such a case, exorcism was simply the ordering of that 'spirit' to go back to where it came from. This resulted in an alleviation of the patient's symptoms, and we then went on with traditional therapy."
"The ISH expected me to perform an exorcism. If I were to misunderstand its intentions, the ISH would come out and stop me before I had harmed the patient. Both the ISH and I knew that no alter-personality could be exorcized, no matter how nasty it might be. Eventually it had to be integrated with the rest of the personalities."
"I advised the "lost spirit" to accept the fact that she was dead and should no longer be among the living. I had her look to her left and right, suggesting that she would see darkness to one side and light to the other side. I then suggested that her relatives were waiting for her 'in the light' and that she should go there permanently. She finally agreed and departed 'for the light.' When she was gone, Elise was back to 'normal,' just a lady with MPD."
"Her body was taken over by a series of 'evil demons' during our therapy sessions. They said they were agents of Satan and Beelzebub, who had ordered them to kill me. They attacked me physically and clearly wanted to end my life. I had spent the previous three years helping her angry but protective alter-personalities give up their anger at her abusive parents. But these entities were not like them. All the alter- personalities had integrated to make the present Marie. These evil demons were clearly not protective alter-personalities."
"Being threatened with imminent bodily destruction, I decided to exorcize them as soon as I could. They all cowed in fear when I spoke the words 'Jesus Christ.' I said a simple exorcism speech and ordered them to leave my patient's body. They disappeared, Marie calmed down, and I left for San Luis Obispo on schedule."
"I sat there amazed, wondering what kind of a prison I had come to work in. I also realized that, with someone else doing the exorcisms locally, I never had to do them again. The current inmate Protestant pastor was the Rev. Charles 'Tex' Watson (Watson, 1978), the murderer of actress Sharon Tate and the second in command of the Manson Family gang. Watson later told me that he believed he was possessed by an evil demon when he knifed to death the pregnant Ms. Tate."
"Chuck was as much an 'evil demon' as any exorcist could ever imagine meeting. It hated everyone, even those who might help Fred. Here was another 'teaching case' in which a man controlled by a 'demonic spirit' moved it out of his body and placed it on the wall of his cell.
1. Allison & Schwarz, Minds in Many Pieces: The Making of a Very Special Doctor (Rawson, Wade Publishers; 1st edition (1980), p. 30.↩
2. Ibid pp 93-94.↩
3. Frontline S2:E6, "The Mind of a Murderer" (Aired March 19, 1984)↩
4. Nathan, Debbie. “Dividing to Conquer? Women, Men, and the Making of Multiple Personality Disorder.” Social Text, no. 40, 1994, pp. 77–114. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/466797. Accessed 12 June 2020↩