07/19/2024

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  • Dr. Shelley Colton says she was sexually abused by cult members as a child.
  • She told Insider she got over the pain by adopting more than 30 identities known as “changers.
  • OBGYN says she underwent 13 years of therapy, called evacuation therapy, to heal her past.

Sheffer lost the baby days after Dr. Shelley Colton excitedly shared the news that her future wife, Susan Sheffer, was expecting their first child in 2001.

Instead of comforting her distraught girlfriend, the doctor called her cruel and despicable. Schaeffer later told Colton that her face turned into a stranger that night.

“What, you think you’re the first person in history to have a miscarriage?” The doctor, who had no recollection of Schaeffer at the time, told Schaeffer.

“Get over it,” she added.

She didn’t know it at the time, but her violent mood swings were caused by dissociative identity disorder (DID). The condition was previously classified as multiple personality disorder and affects 1.5 percent of people worldwide. Experts believe the syndrome, which has symptoms such as memory loss, stems from early childhood trauma.

“The first thing that hit me was Susie,” Colton told Insider, referring to her own “Jekyll and Hyde” behavior toward her spouse.

Now, after 13 years of psychotherapy, Colton has written a memoir, “Brainstorm: A Life in Pieces. The book describes how she and her family coped with the disorder.

Kolton learned that she had repressed traumatic memories since childhood


Dr. Shelley Kolton (left) battles the disease with the support of her wife, Susan Shaffer. Thanks to Dr. Shelley Kolton
Kolton, 72, says her mind was hijacked by more than 30 identities, called “alters,” that took over in midlife.

“It started with the feeling of noise in my head,” Colton said.

As Insider previously reported, people with DID experience a split in parts of their identity that developed to protect their minds from trauma.

According to Colton, she “pulled out” when she was with Schaeffer and their twin daughters, who were born in 2003, two years after Schaeffer’s miscarriage. “I was disconnected,” Colton says.

It wasn’t until 2007 that Colton realized she had repressed her early memories, including being sexually abused as a child. She said her parents often went on weekend trips and would leave her in the care of a family friend. She said he was the leader of a satanic cult that ritually abused her and other children in the basement of his home.

By the time she was in her 50s and early 50s, her mind was constantly “switching” between variants that represented victims of abuse. She says she suffered for their emotional pain and gave them names such as “Little Girl,” a seven-year-old, and “Tommy,” a 14-year-old boy.


Dr. Shelly Kolton (pictured left) and her wife, Susan Shaffer, with Kolton’s oldest daughter and the couple’s twin baby girls, now 18 years old. Thanks to Dr. Shirley Colton
Some of Colton’s changes are disturbing.

She calls them Raven, Hate and Fuckface. “I’m not quite sure what the difference is between them, but Fuckface is the verbal one who says the worst things to Suzy,” Colton recalls.

Throughout her adulthood, the doctor said, she was unaware of the voice and demeanor she often accepted from her replacement, but years later, he said, Schaeffer told her she had observed the habit from the beginning of their relationship.

Despite the insults, Schaeffer remained with her spouse. “I think she was sure there was another person inside me who would heal,” she said.


Dr. Shelley Kolton depicted as a little girl in the 1950s. Courtesy of Dr. Shelley Kolton.
OBGYN somehow manages to function at work – despite the confusion in her head
Kolton says she was able to keep her job of birthing and treating women because the physician part of her identity was very “practical and complete.

Fortunately, after consulting with several experts, she says she was thrown a lifeline. Yael Sank, a licensed psychotherapist, was diagnosed with DID 15 years ago.

In therapy, Colton learned that she dealt with her childhood trauma by dissociating from it. Then, in midlife, she subconsciously changed her state to “protect” her mind.

One psychotherapist used a radical form of therapy called dissociation as a way to help Kolton heal
Kolton says she underwent a therapeutic process called ablation to treat her DID, and during sessions – which Kolton says were “excruciating” – Sanker helped her During the session – which Colton said was “excruciating” – Sanker helped her recover as she “switched” between her identities and relived the horrors of her past.

Colton said Sank affirmed her by saying her past torment was real. “She kept telling me, again and again, that it wasn’t my fault,” she said.

Anthony Smith, a licensed mental health counselor, previously told Insider that with professional help, people with DID can learn how to bring their shattered identities together and function.

Treatment ends in 2020, when Kolton believes she has “cleared” the emotions she has been suppressing since the early 1950s.

Kolton says her wife and children supported her as she successfully battled her demons. They told her they were relieved that her various identities had disappeared.


Dr. Shelly Kolton is finally free of the “mutants” that have taken over her brain. Shelley Colton
“They said, ‘We love you, you’re going to get through this,'” Colton said, noting that her OBGYN clinic patients and partners also supported her. She concludes, “I’m lucky to have a lot of good people in my life.”

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