Conquering Social Fears

The stage of MAKING HUMAN CONTACT  saw fear becoming a key concern again. The rising need for contact with others evoked uncertainties and fears of being re-abused, re-abandoned, and re-traumatised.  This fear was not easily dismissed and clients experienced issues of trust and safety surfacing again.

To proceed in this stage proved to be unexpectedly difficult. The consensus was that clients had imagined that once the processing of the traumatic material had been completed and Integration became more advanced, their struggle would be over and they would be able to have relationships like everybody else. They were surprised how ingrained their habit of living Behind Block Walls was and how little they knew about normal everyday relationships. They had to Learn To Relate and Repair Broken Trust. A strengthened sense of responsibility as well as a growing internal locus of control aided people to proceed in this stage.

Integration

Integration The consequence of the processes described in the stage COMING TOGETHER was to arrive at a sense of Integration.This came about when the client better understood what experiences the different personality parts had carried for the person and how traumatic events had shaped their tasks, beliefs, and behaviours. Integration occurred when the traumatic memories have been disseminated amongst all parts of the person and the related affect became re-associated.

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Integration: A Life-long Process

Integration Integration is a complex and difficult to define concept that embodies a certain movement over time, even though it is situated in the stage of COMING TOGETHER as a consequence suggesting a point of completion or conclusion of a process. Integration is a life-long process associated with the forming of everyone's identity. In each person's life there will be numerous events and stages that need to be integrated and that impact on her/his sense of identity, such as motherhood, old age, an accident, or a serious illness.

The word integration is a nominalization, a grammatical construct that changes a verb (to integrate) into a noun (integration). As such it is a distortion by linguistically representing a process as an event (Bandler & Grinder, 1975). It is of major importance to offer DID clients the opportunity to reconnect with the ongoing dynamic process of life, and help them to understand integrating as a process, a living dynamic phenomenon in every person’s life-journey.

Integration: Confusion and Fear of Death

Integration The DID clients in my study expressed their individually defined understanding of desired Integration. While some clearly stated they aimed for becoming one person, others were afraid of that concept and feared some of their parts would have to die. The latter was a source of enormous grief and fear.

It was evident that the concept of Integration had a vast impact on clients right throughout the healing process. Many could not imagine how it would be to not be a multiple. Being a singleton, an expression used by multiples for non-multiples, has been perceived as static, inflexible, and strange. Instead clients had difficulties envisaging full integration or even defining exactly how they understood this concept.

Integration and Spirituality

Head spiritual One client found that all her personality parts were able to be part of the spiritual development, which gave her a sense of COMING TOGETHER. Surprisingly the literature in the DID field pays little attention to the spiritual dimension of the healing process.

It (spiritual development) seems to bring everyone together. I am one person. When I am practising wicker or when I am doing my shaman’s journey, I am one person. And every aspect of self is part of it. It’s the whole being. It gives peace and rest to those of us who want it. It gives challenge and excitement to those who need it. It seems to give everything (Sharon 1/14).

Integration: Working Together

Handshake For many clients Integration is achieving a functional working relationship of the different personality parts. Some are unable to envisage themselves as becoming one person.

Unification. Yeah, because that was scary. When I met that lady who said how it was to become one, it freaked parts of me out. Because we thought, well, were would we go? And then I thought that’s not me. We are not going to become one, we will become 15. And we will all work together…Because the person I was before and the people we are now are two totally different things. And that’s what we want. We want; I don’t know whether it’s total integration that we are working for. We just want everybody to be able to feel the same way about everything (Krista 2/6).

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Integration: No Voices Anymore

Beach-1 One of the more noticeable signs of integration is the absence of internal voices. This experience was a huge change for clients after having had an ever present internal dialogue for most of their lives. Although during critical times in the earlier stages of their therapy clients often wish for the voices to stop, not having voices anymore – or only very infrequently – was accompanied for some with a deep sense of grief.

It is, it is very much becoming one. No voices anymore, parts coming together, no voices anymore…it’s a funny sensation. There are no voices anymore, but there is this weird sensation, you are all there together, but so united. There isn’t voices talking to each other or talking at you (Treena 2/3).

The Internal Manager

For example the client that has an internal manager who organised not only the internal life of the different parts but also took executive control and influenced the person’s actions in the outside world will most likely be open to a therapy that is more structured. She probably is rather a high achieving DID client that has considerable success in life.

….And the denial and the disbelief that’s not a safe place to be in. That is feeling very very unsafe…Like the dealing with the inside we probably quite quickly got to grips with that. We have one part that puts a halt to the things and it’s like OK, that’s it! And she takes over the rein…we had to. Oh shit, we had to. We had to have a system that is going to work. And we had to be really really strong. (Katherine 1/11).

Structuring the Internal World

Each multiple I have ever met has some form of internal structure. The nature of that structure is a reflection of that person as a whole. It also gives the therapist a different view into the clients life. However, before jumping to any conclusions, it is best to check with the client whether your assumptions are accurate.

Facilitating Internal Communication

Direct conversation with the different parts was often difficult in the early stages of Grouping Together. This may be due to amnesic barriers between the different personality parts. These barriers have been put in place in order to prevent vulnerable parts from getting overwhelmed by material that they were not able to deal with at that point.

Going back to the 'Energy Model' shows that these barriers remain as long as parts are unable or unwilling to stretch their emotional band-width. Once they are able to tolerate narratives and emotions that used to be felt only by other parts, communication and/or co-consciousness usually follows.

Clients used different aids to initiate internal communication, i.e. a journal, a tape recorder, or a notice board. Not every method suits everyone. It is important to experiment and find the most suitable way of aiding communication.

I would be doing something at work or I would be at home and had different aspects of self emerging at all different times. And the way to do it was to use the journal to actually have conversations (Sharon 1/13).