May 1, 2012
I hope you are doing well today.
This will be a short post, but I made an important update to the Discussing Dissociation blog and wanted to be sure that you all knew about it.
I have been asked repeatedly about my views on integration. I’ve written posts and comments about this topic, but unfortunately, I didn’t create a “category” for these posts. So now, with the 170+ articles on this blog, these posts and comments are difficult to find. Of course! This means it’s time to simplify this topic search for everyone, and to make it simpler for the Discussing Dissociation readers to find these blog articles.
If you look on the right side of this page, scroll down until you see the Categories drop-down box. I’ve added the category “Integration – yes or no” to this feature.
This drop-box will link you to here.
I’m assuming, in all my many blatherings on this blog that I’ve made more comments about integration than just what is written in these two blog articles. However, this link is a good start. If anyone finds comments about integration in other articles, please let me know, so I can be sure to add that article to the category list as well.
In case you don’t have time to read the other articles at the moment, I’ll give you a quick summary of what I think about integration right here in this post.
Quick Thoughts about Integration – Kathy Broady’s Opinions:
Is integration necessary?
Is integration beneficial?
I doubt it.
Is integration the ultimate peak / proof of healing for dissociative trauma survivors?
Not at all.
Does integration need to be your treatment goal?
Not unless you say so. I wouldn’t ever ever make it a treatment goal for any of my clients.
If integration is not the treatment goal, what is?
Team work. Lowering the dissociative walls between internal people. Internal communication. Talking together. Not hiding information from each other. Building trust and genuine relationships within your system. Learning to genuinely love and care for each other.
Do you, Kathy, think that integration is possible?
Honestly? Not really. Not complete and “total” integration. I have not yet met anyone who integrated in such a way that they stayed integrated permanently for the rest of their life. I have not even met anyone that I would say has been integrated successfully for years of time. I have heard the stories of many such claims, and met some of these people, but in my opinion, none of the “integrated” people that I have ever talked with were able to literally demonstrate true integration. They were still very multiple in oh so many ways.
I’m not convinced that a person who has lived most of their entire life as a multiple can literally change their brain in such ways to become a singleton. Besides, what would be the point anyway?
Do you think that blending is possible?
Yes, absolutely. To me, blending and coming closely connected together in a co-conscious ways are very different from integration. Blending does not imply a complete union of absolutely everyone. It is perfectly natural, normal, and healthy for some of the splits to become more blended together, especially those parts that are already very close to each other. If their blending happens naturally, that is great. You cannot force blending to happen, and it doesn’t happen instantly. It is a very gradual process that happens over years of excellent therapy, healing work, and genuine external safety. If there is any kind of “forcing” or demanded blending under duress or coercion or deception, you can bet that those insiders will step back and separate again in the not so distant future.
Do you think that integration keeps you safe?
Ummmm…. No. In fact, I think that claims of integration can lead to the very opposite of safety. Why? Because I think that real and genuine integration so very rarely happens (if ever), that when someone begins to believe that they are integrated, this is the beginning of some really dangerous times. This typically means, in my experience, that some of the top layers of the system may have blended together, and/or learned how to work well together, but the darker under-layers of the system have hidden behind very thick dissociative walls. This is extremely dangerous because the dark parts are able to function without being noticed, and the top layers of the system are too busy being proud or protective of their integration and/or completely absorbed in their outside lives that they don’t notice the dark rumblings behind the wall.
Do you think that integrated multiples are safe leaders for other dissociative survivors?
No. Not that I have seen. In my opinion, it is much more likely that the alleged “integrated multiple” has very neatly hidden or shoved away their dark sides, even if they do not realize this. All the claims in the world of being integrated do not actually make someone integrated.
In fact, following the leadership of someone who alleges to be an “integrated multiple” can be extremely dangerous for others, especially for those who are newer in their healing process. You would be safer to run 100 miles in the other direction than to assume that an integrated multiple is “automatically” a safe person.
I know many of you will not like these statements, and it is ok if you disagree. I am not meaning to offend you. We each have our own opinion and our own experiences in life. Let me repeat this, because it is so very important. In my years of experience, “integrated multiples” have more often than not been used as lures, and in reality, they are people who have not completed HUGE areas of work, and they are not automatically “safe” people. Going further into this topic is an entirely different blog post, but in my opinion, there is a whole whopping lot of danger in this area. PLEASE be careful when you meet an “integrated multiple”.
I am very aware that there are many multiples who have had spiritually-based integrations. That is yet another complicated topic, to be discussed at another time.
Ok – this was going to be short (and of course, it’s not short!!), so I’ll stop at this point. I can feel the waters already getting stirred out there. Ah well. What is life without controversy, yes?
IF I thought integration was a great thing, I would certainly say so. I just haven’t seen it as such.
What about you?
Do you have any comments about integration?
Copyright © 2008-2012 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
February 24, 2010
Here is yet another unique view of dissociative identity disorder.
“How I View My Head”
Isn’t this an interesting picture!
It almost looks three-dimensional. Very cool!
Once again, please remember, I’ll be writing out some of my thoughts without having conversations with the artist. I am presenting these thoughts for educational purposes only, and my guesses or impressions could be wrong. If I were speaking to the artist for real, I would certainly be asking questions instead of first voicing my comments. However, for the purposes of discussing elements of dissociation, I will be speaking openly even without knowing if my comments are accurate or not.
So if a trauma survivor with a dissociative disorder presented this artwork to me in a therapy session, my thoughts would include:
The first impression I see is the complicated twisting, turning, and complexity of issues. I can see that the journey has not been easy, and there have been many difficult points along the way. I see some smooth pathways, but the overlapping, tangled blocks and obstacles are prominent.
There’s a lot of movement and activity in this picture. What’s happening? Where’s everyone going? How chaotic does it feel inside your head? Everything except the one-inch strip on the right edge feels busy and intense. How did the area on the right become calmer? What can you say about these differences?
I am assuming that the bottom left, with the swirls of green and yellow is the front of the head, with the doors being like the beginning of the hairline. From this perspective, the doors and pathways back have the appearance of being like hair blowing in the wind. This is a cool layering of the picture as it gives of feel of the outer head as well as the inner head.
My first impression of the doors is that they represent different insiders with the big doors being adults and the little doors being younger child parts. The doors could also represent different struggles in life, or different events that created a set of parts in the overall system, with each group having their own life pathways and life experiences separate from the others. Maybe there are upstairs / downstairs layers to this system. The upper / lower doors could represent all kinds of things if that was the case. What do you think the sets of double doors represent?
When you open the doors, what do you see behind each of the doors? When can the doors be opened, and who can open them? Are the doors locked? Can anyone open them?
Is there significance to the number of doors? If so, how?
Do the pathways represent memories or the life events of particular system parts? When the pathways are separate and on their own, are those times when the life-events were not shared with others in the system? Does the information on these pathways get shared with others or not? Each pathway has splotches of darker color, or alternating light / dark colorings. What do these splotches of color represent? Does the light / dark coloring represent the conflict and struggles of your system? For example, do you have some system parts that are “light side” parts, vs. others that are “dark side” parts? How do these pathways demonstrate those internal conflicts?
Notice the various crossing points of the pathways. What is the significance of these points? These places where the pathways cross and overlap might represent times when life experiences, memories, and events were shared between the different parts of the system. The overlap could represent times of co-consciousness and shared communication or conflicts between internal parts. At each point of overlap, the colors turn black. What does this mean?
Of course, I am going to ask about the meaning of the colors. Colors are typically important, and different survivors will connect different feelings / beliefs with various colors. With this picture, I would ask about the colors of each door and pathway, but I would also ask about the combination of colors. For example, why does the mustard / yellow doors have a pink pathway? Why does the pink / salmon doors have a green pathway? These color combinations could be relevant in some way. What do they mean to you?
The blue pathway coming out of the purple doors is different from the other paths. It is thinner and straighter, and has few splotches. Is there any meaning to this? Who takes this path?
Do the doors represent more about the outer world, while the pathways represent more about the inner worlds? The doors are brighter than most of the rest of the picture. If the doors represent what is seen to the public world, are the brightly colored, cheerful doors trying to hide the amount of darkness and depression hidden behind the doors?
Do system parts come out from behind the doors? If so, who comes out of each of the different doorways? If I were to see you when a “yellow door person” was presenting, how would that be different from when a “green door person” was presenting, vs. when a “purple door person” was presenting, etc.?
What are the black splotches all over the inner areas? Are they unknown areas? Are they scary memories? Are they insiders that cause problems or self-sabotage? Notice the black inner lining around the area where the black splotches are located. What does this black line represent? Is it a barrier of some sort? Does it block out awareness? If the black splotches are something of a negative or stressful nature, it is good to see that they are contained within a particular area of the inner world. The ability to contain the scary things into one area could be considered a personal strength.
What is the significance of the light faint black background? Does this represent feelings of depression, or low self-esteem, or unworthiness, or shame? Do you feel surrounded by the dark? Does it feel like darkness permeates your life? If so, what does this mean?
What does the light green door at the top represent? All the pathways lead to this place. It is representative of internal connection, blending, cooperation, or integration? It is the place of healing, hope, and health? Is the light green door the goal or a destination?
The light green door is surrounded (protected?) by a similar layering of green and yellow squiggles as at the opposite corner of the picture. What do these repeated colors represent? How do these squiggles protect the green door?
This top corner looks safer, happier, and more peaceful than the rest of the picture. Does the light green door represent the way so many survivors describe a floating away, up to a corner of the room during times of abuse? Does it represent a state of dissociation? Does the light green door represent the part of your internal system who has been kept separate from the trauma? Often times, there are certain parts that are blocked off and separated from the trauma, amnesiac and unaware of the abuse. Who resides behind that door?
The light green door has a window. It is the only door with a window. What does the window represent? Does someone from the other side of the door look out the window? Is the window for people on this side to see past the door?
There are so many interesting complexities to this picture.
What else do you see?
How do you view YOUR head?
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
February 20, 2010
This picture is an example of an internal landscape for a trauma survivor with dissociative identity disorder. Internal worlds are very real, and they sometimes feel more real than the external world for certain parts. Internal worlds are more than having an imagination. They are interactive, busy, alive places.
Some survivors with DID have trouble looking inside. Many people say they can hear things, but it looks black inside. Even if you cannot see inside, there will be others in your system who can see your internal worlds. Try communicating with them, and as you build positive rapport with these other parts of your system, they may be willing to let you see what they see.
Becoming more familiar with your internal worlds is an important part of internal communication and getting to know the other parts inside. Internal worlds are like internal homes. They provide a type of internal community for your system insiders.
Think about how much harder it would be to get to know various people in a work office setting if you couldn’t see the different areas, the different cubicles, the different desk locations. If there were a dozen people in that area but the lights were off, or in curtains were drawn, it would be much more difficult to connect with the people that were there. Seeing each other helps. Seeing where each other is also helps.
Getting to know the internal locations of your insiders is equally important. When you see where someone lives, you learn a lot about them.
Please note: It is extremely important to keep the details of your internal world private to only the most trusted people in your life. This kind of information is personal, and if you give away too much info about your internal worlds to someone who has less than noble intentions, you could be putting your system at risk.
With cautions in mind, here is a picture that represents a portion of an internal landscape.
When I look at this picture, if I was speaking to the dissociative person, I would ask:
- Can you tell me about this place? And this place? And this place? I would ask the person to describe the different structures to help me understand the importance of each location. Since the inside worlds can be whatever you want it to be, it can be important to hear why you have those specific things.
- What is this yellow triangle thing? Where did you get the idea to build this kind of place in your internal world? What does it represent? What are those circle things and why are they connected together?
- Who lives here? And who lives here? And who lives here? Each separate location / building / structure can be the ‘home’ of someone in the system.
- Do the neighbors all get to speak and interact with each other? Why or why not? Can the people in these areas always hear what is going on in these other areas? Why or why not?
- I see the little worlds. Each of these circles looks like it could be its own little world of people. What groups of your insiders are connected to these areas? Can you tell me more about these?
- Do these colors have any specific meaning to you?
- Part of your internal world looks bright and cheery. Part of it looks dark and heavy. How does that match with your experience of what your internal worlds are like?
- Who in your system is allowed to go through these doors? What are the rules for who can go through them vs. who cannot? What does it look like on the other side of these doors?
- What is the purpose of having a lake in your internal world? How does it help you to feel better? What have lakes meant to you in your outside life?
- I see the clear blue sky in a distance. Why is the blue sky so far away? What is over there at the horizon point? What is making the rainbow so much heavier and prominent than the sky? What does that mean to you?
- The trees on the island appear to be separated from the other structures. Do the insiders that live on the island have to stay separate from the others? Are the people able to cross to the other section? Do these people know those people?
- What are the brown leaf-type shapes on the left edge? What do they represent?
- If this is a picture of your internal world, where are the people? What are they doing? Do you see other insiders when you look at these places?
- How has your internal world changed over time? What has remained constant? What has changed? Do you know what was going on in your life when the changes occurred? Are there any changes that you would like to make to your internal worlds at this point in time of your life?
- When your internal worlds look like this, how do you feel?
- How much time do you spend looking inside at these worlds? How easy is it for you to see this? Does anything ever block your view of these areas?
- How real do these internal worlds feel to you?
Kathy Broady LCSW
February 11, 2009
As I’ve said over and over in this blog, internal communication – people within the DID system talking to each other – is absolutely central and crucial to the healing process. The inside parts need to hear each other, talk to each other, see each other, write to each other, etc. The more you all talk amongst yourselves, the better your healing journey will progress.
Addressing and finding problem issues as they surface via the internal landscape is another key element in the healing process. This involves an intense level of system interaction that can feel very real and be very powerful. Looking inside and finding the visual manifestations of the problem issues makes for a quick way to understand what is happening for you.
For example, if you have a strong urge to self-injure, and yet you don’t quite know where that is coming from or how to control the compulsions, look inside to your internal world and see who is demonstrating that pull towards self-harm.
Do you see someone inside that is holding a weapon? Do you see someone inside who is internally doing harm to her inside body or threatening to hurt someone else within the system?
When you can see who it is in your system that is containing the feelings, urges, and beliefs about doing self-harm and internally acting it out at that precise moment in time, you can address the problem more specifically. Problem-solve with those specific insiders about the their desires to self-injure, and find other ways to meet their specific needs.
Or, as a second example, if you are feeling an overwhelming sadness and you do not know why, look inside and see who it is in your inside world that is demonstrating and expressing that sadness and despair. If you feel like you need to cry (and yet those feelings really aren’t “yours” to claim), look around in your system and see who is crying. When you can visually see who is feeling so sad, you can then make some decisions about how to comfort the one that is crying.
Do you see a little girl crying in the corner? Is she hiding in a closet or under the bed? Do you know why she is crying? Do you know who she is? Look around till you find where she is, talk gently to her, give her a teddy bear or a blanket or a hug, and find out what the problem is. As you learn more about what is bothering her, reassure her that you will do something to help fix the problem, comfort her and address her needs the same as you would if you saw a real child crying.
Here’s another for instance. If you are having the kind of week where you find that you are really really having trouble eating, and you really don’t know what that is about but you know you feel like starving yourself, look inside for clues. Who do you see close to you that is in full agreement with actively starving themselves? Is your anorexic part pulled near the front? Is your anorexic part having a bigger struggle than usual during that week for some reason? What is going on with her? If you approach her, and speak to her, you might be able to understand what is bothering her so much at the current time. Once you start talking with her, you can probably find a solution to the issue that is more effective than self-starvation.
Any time you feel something prominent happening in your external everyday life and you can’t quite figure out what it’s about, look inside for clues. Literally, look. Go inside and look. What do you see? Chances are, someone within your inside world will be intensely feeling those very same things and will be visually showing that when you look in their general direction.
The intensity of internal feelings or desired behaviors will be rippling out to the front of the system from the insiders deeper within your system. They may or may not be literally presenting in the outside worlds, but the intensity of their issues can still strongly affect how you present-behave-feel in the outside world. In essence, their issues can overflow onto you, and you end up feeling what they are feeling, even when the issue actually belongs to them.
Become familiar enough with your internal worlds and friendly enough with your insiders to make checking in with them an easy process on a regular basis. Check with them frequently, repeatedly, in an ongoing kind of way. As you are familiar with the “norm”, you will more quickly recognize the changes that happen along the way.
Learn to identify problems by what you can see from your system, instead of staying stuck in the outside world being clueless as to why a certain emotion or behavior has suddenly become so prominent for you. If you can feel it, but you can’t claim it as “yours”, then it’s coming from someone within your system. Even if they can’t tell you what is happening, they can often show you. So — the more you look inside, and the more you can see of your internal people and see what they are doing, the better you can understand the source of any problems. An accurate assessment of the problem is necessary before you can accurately problem-solve.
Looking closely at your internal world will provide a wealth of information for you.
What is your internal world telling you today?
What are your insiders showing you?
By: Kathy Broady LCSW