Sigmund Freud developed a psychiatric process called “psychoanalysis.” Psychoanalysis is a form of conversational counseling. In other words, it is mere talking as a means of cure. While few of the Freudian archetypes are followed today, the conversational approach as a means of curing mental-emotional-behavioral disturbances is the prototype for all the counseling conversations that followed. All of the counseling conversations (psychotherapy) are problem-centered, and all of the biblical counselors we have examined follow this psychological, problem-centered conversational counseling format. This method of counseling was established for the biblical counselors by Dr. Jay Adams, the godfather of the movement, who copycatted Dr. O. Hobart Mowrer, an atheist psychologist from whom he learned and with whom he traveled and participated in conducting group psychotherapy.

A central conversational technique Freud birthed is called “free association,” which is “a technique used in psychoanalytic therapy to help patients learn more about what they are thinking and feeling,” and to help them “discover unconscious thoughts and feelings that had been repressed or ignored.”[1] Free association is generally not used in psychotherapy or in biblical counseling. However, we have coined a new expression: “free spiritual dissociation,” which is what happens when Christians engage in psychological or biblical counseling conversations. The noun dissociation is defined as “separation of normally related mental processes, resulting in one group functioning independently from the rest, leading in extreme cases to disorders such as multiple personality.”[2]

We define our expression “free spiritual dissociation” as what happens in counseling when biblically knowledgeable Christian counselors and counselees enter counseling together where the words of the Bible prohibiting their sinful conversations are ignored, resulting in the use of words that are contrary to the admonitions, prohibitions, and restrictions of Scripture. For example, when the Bible is clear about husband-wife relationships in Ephesians 5 and counselors encourage counselees to speak freely regarding their complaints about one another and the counselees do so, there is a spiritual dissociation between what the Bible says and what is a primary content of the counseling conversation. Somehow, freely spiritually dissociating the Bible from the counseling conversation is not only expected but considered necessary to help the married couple resolve their issues with one another. Such is the way of the world and sadly it has become the standard and acceptable means of help among Christians.

Because so many in the church have maintained their free spiritual dissociations over a long period of time and therefore multiplied the numbers of those engaged in this kind of counseling, they have become a case that we would call “Multiple Spiritual Dissociation” (MSD). This occurs because they are first not able to see what is hidden in plain sight and, second, not willing to consider that they are in gross biblical error! Following the long-term free spiritual dissociation, which is the use of the psychological, problem-centered counseling format to counsel, they end up with MSD, which colors other areas of their theological beliefs.

An extreme case of MSD involves a Dissociative Identity Disorder, which is defined as “a rare psychological disorder in which two or more personalities with distinct memories and behavior patterns apparently exist in one individual.” A literary example of this is Robert Lewis Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The Christian who counsels becomes a spiritually split personality. Many words spoken by Christian counselors are soundly biblical outside the counseling room, but inside the counseling room the Christian counselor uses words and encourages words from the counselee that are contrary to the words of the Bible. This dramatic difference of words reveals two different behavior patterns that we name “Spiritual Dissociative Identity Disorder” (SDID). Counselors outside the counseling room and inside the counseling room present two different personalities by the very words they use.

While what we have said may be a tongue-in-cheek way to confront a serious and prolific problem among Christians, it reveals what literally exists throughout the church among those who claim to counsel biblically, but suffer from SDID.

[1] “What is Free Association?”

[2] “Dissociation,”