January 10, 2009
I’m going to take a slight detour in the internal communication series and write a little about working with difficult alters. It is crucial to work with these internal parts, no matter how challenging and hopeless things seem in the beginning. Your therapy and healing will never be resolved unless you approach the issues connected with these difficult insiders.
And for that matter, the whole process of building a connection with these difficult, complicated insiders is based on building good communication skills with them, so in that sense, this post is still part of the internal communication series. System work, in whatever way it happens, is a critical part of internal communication and the overall healing journey for everyone with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID/MPD).
Insiders may first appear in your therapy process being difficult – obstinate, obnoxious, aggressive, scary – and they may maintain destructive behaviors for a long time, but regardless of where they start, any alter within your system can become a helper or a protector. If you as the person truly want to achieve healing, then the healing of your difficult insiders can and will happen as well. No matter how difficult they initially present, they can become productive, helpful, positive members of your system.
Remember, even as a multiple, you are still one whole person. If any of your insiders are left to behave obnoxiously, or if they maintain their destructive negative goals, their behaviors and feelings will affect you and the outside people that interact with you. You cannot block off your “problem parts” and pretend they don’t exist and still expect to achieve positive healing. ALL of your insiders have to have the chance to heal, including the people you are afraid of or the ones about whom you don’t immediately find anything likable.
Some difficult alters are destructive by their own choice and design. They do what they do because they purposefully want to be negative and interrupting. Other difficult situations are complicated simply because the issues at hand are very complex and emotionally challenging. Those internal parts may not want to be as much “trouble” as they are, but until their issues are more resolved, they may not know what else to do.
Who do I define as a difficult alters? Some examples are:
- Those that purposefully sabotage or terminate your therapy and your healing process.
- Those that are self-destructive, violent to the body, or harmful to the body in any variety of ways.
- Those that sabotage other people within the system, including hurting or negatively manipulating others, blinding them, locking them up, abusing them, etc.
- Those that are willing to hurt outside helpers – any of the people that are legitimately trying to promote healing. Any version of hurting the helpers – verbally, physically, emotionally, monetarily, violently, etc. – counts as being difficult and destructive to your treatment and to your system overall.
- Those that cannot contain the new learning and tend to repeat the same negative behaviors over and over.
- Whoever the system members themselves define as “difficult” or “challenging” because those parts hold issues or feelings that are particularly hard for them to work with.
- Those that have trouble connecting to the current day, time, place.
- Those that act out their trauma instead of talking about their trauma.
- Those that stay locked in trauma memories and do not see or interact with the current day, time, place, etc.
- Those that adamantly insist on staying hidden, separated, and amnesiac from the others inside.
The quick answer to address these complicated insiders is to speak to them. Talk to them. Get to know them. Try to understand them. Listen to their perspective on life. Even these insiders can be and should be approached in your therapy sessions. I can promise you, if you avoid talking to these insiders, they will continue to act out their issues. Ignoring them frequently means they will just act out more to get your attention.
It is essential to approach these insiders knowing they have had their job for a reason. You might not like the reason, or understand their reason, but the point is, they are doing what they do because they believe it is helping to achieve a goal that they want. Try to understand what it is that they are doing. Why are they acting out like that? What do they believe? What do they value? From their framework, does their behavior make sense?
Really listen closely to understand why they are doing what they are doing. Work hard to hear and listen to their perspective. You might be pleasantly surprised to hear that their goals are not as “bad” as you might have originally thought they were. The main difference is that you might not agree with the visible behaviors.
Once you have an understanding of why they are doing what they are doing, you can work with them to problem solve and find new ways – more positive and helpful ways – to get what they want. You can begin negotiations on what helpful and positive goals will be.
And the whole process starts by talking to them. Communicate with them. Let them talk to your therapist. Let them get involved in the healing process. Remember, if they aren’t helping the healing process, they’ll continue to hurt it.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
December 21, 2008
“Have you worked with clients that have ‘extreme torture’ trauma history in cult-RA and/or mind-control (governmental experiments)? If so, what has worked?”
Yes, I have worked with trauma survivors that have talked about extreme torture, cult / RA abuse, mind control and governmental experiment traumas. Bunches of clients through the years have spoken in detail about many of these things. All of these survivors have also presented with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID/MPD), as these extreme, sadistic tortures cause splits to occur.
That’s the easy part to answer. The harder question is addressing the “what has worked” part!
And since this is a ritual holiday weekend, I thought this might be a good time to address these extreme abuses. I am sure that many of my readers have been experiencing difficult memories and flashbacks this weekend. It’s heavy on my mind that many others could be experiencing current-day traumas as we speak, so it seems to be an appropriate time to address this topic.
As far as “what works,” that is a very complex question. The simple answer is, basic good trauma therapy, listening closely to the inside parts, soothing the pain, creating more internal (and external) safety, reconnecting those parts with the rest of the system, and addressing the concerns raised by those internal parts in all the normal ways, etc. Many of the very same processes that work to help heal “regular abuse” continue to be effective in addressing more extreme abuses.
Mind control and programming are very complicated topics. Most people who have been programmed with various mind control techniques have experienced some of the most hideous of abuses. Healing comes by processing the traumas, but also in freeing the mind from the controls of the abusers. The various techniques and approaches to de-programming are quite complex — I’ll write more specifics about that on another day.
Working with the trauma memories themselves is much the same — start by hearing the story of what happened. Because of the level of pain and violence involved, it is very common to have more than one insider involved with any specific RA memory. So, be sure to check with a variety of parts in the system to hear what they know, to understand what they saw or felt or heard or smelled. It is also common for a person to split off new parts during extreme tortures, so you might find that you are meeting a bunch of new insiders while you are working on these extreme abuses. These inside parts each helped you to survive some of the most horrible of abuses, so welcome each of them into your world.
It is absolutely essential to remember that the inside parts are not the “bad guys”. Don’t “kill the messengers” of this bad news. No one finds memories of cult / RA / sex slavery stuff to be good news. However, your internal people didn’t create these original traumas — they just lived through it, and they survived. So recognize them as your heroes, not as people to be feared.
Of course, these internal parts with dark-side roots will have been taught dark-side things and would have been expected to behave in dark-side ways. That’s all they know. Don’t expect them to present as goodness and light when they have only participated in the dark worlds. Some of these insiders might not have ever even seen the day-side world or light-side activities. They will likely have been locked away from all that, contained and controlled by their perpetrators. They will be as disconnected from your everyday “normal” life as you are from their hidden dark worlds. They will have been already told how terrible and horrible your day-side world is, and they will be initially resistant to your efforts.
This is normal. Don’t get discouraged. The perpetrators planned ahead for this and have created various system “blocks” to prevent easy access to these parts.
The fact that you are meeting them is HUGE. They are courageously breaking the first rules given to them by even admitting and showing their existence to you. Breaking the rules of silence is not easy, so expect the road to be bumpy. And, these dark-side parts will need a lot of time to work though the years of gunk they have experienced.
Healing comes as you can claim these parts as your own people. Listen to them. Hear their experiences. Address their concerns, fears, anger, etc. Remember, it is very likely that they have heard ONLY teachings from the dark side. They won’t initially believe you or agree with you. They have already been taught and programmed to think dark things.
Let me say that again: you as your very own person, with freedom of thought, and the power to decide for yourself, can genuinely break their controls over you.
This is hard. It is not easy. They do not put in years of programmed training-trauma-abuse for no reason. Those predators have had every intention of controlling your life, for your whole life.
There is an entire book of information to write on this topic. But, none of the things that “work” will matter two hoots if you haven’t gotten this first step down pat:
The fact is, all the people in your system belong to you. The programmers will have told the dark ones, they belong to “them” — that is a lie. The people in your system came from your head — from your splits — from your life. They are yours. Healing from RA and mind control means that you are willing to do what it takes to get them back, and to show them that they do not have to stay stranded or stuck in those dark worlds.
Here are some soul-searching questions to ask yourself:
- What could your dark-side people say to you that will push you away from wanting to work with them?
- Do you really want parts of yourself to be controlled, manipulated, owned, and used by the cult or programmers or sex slavery organizations? Why or why not?
- Are you willing to do what it takes to claim all your inner people back to you? Why or why not?
- Are you willing to hear in detail what these dark-side parts have been through in their experiences? Why or why not?
- Are you willing to fight on their behalf, even if they are mean and ugly to you at first? Why or why not?
- Have you read RockingComplacency’s article about RA? If not — please do. http://rockingcomplacency.wordpress.com
To get through the process, you will need to be firmly planted on one side of the fence. You can’t play both sides.
Which side are you on?