Achieving Co-Consciousness


When a multiple notices that s/he is starting to remember and feel things s/he hadn’t before, things normally felt and remembered by another part of her, a very important milestone of recovery has been achieved.

A great deal of self-acceptance, learning to tolerate distress, and working on hard to hold memories will have occurred when a Multiple has gained co-consciousness. It’s a great achievement given that DID is all about having experiences that are too hard to hold in one place and therefore being ‘stored’ in the corners of one’s mind that are fiercely protected from access. A bit like Fort Knox, you just can’t leisurely stroll in there.

So, how is co-consciousness achieved, and how can a Multiple be helped or help her/himself in that process? That’s a great question I have been asked a few days ago. I wished it would be a simple one to answer. But it’s not! Well, what did I expect, if it were simple people would do it at the drop of their hat and not wait for a therapist to come along to enlighten them.

I remember some time ago a client asking me “Why am I still losing time? I am ready to know and feel what my parts feel! What am I not doing that the integration process is pushing ahead?” This was followed by an annoyed part of her proclaiming ardently “She isn’t ready!!! She doesn’t even want to know! She doesn’t even like us! All she wants is to be integrated! This statement shows beautifully the main aspects of gaining co-consciousness.

  1. Trauma-work with individual parts including developing distress tolerance skills
  2. Self/Parts-acceptance-and-love
  3. Healing narcissistic self-parts

In the next few days I will write to each of the three items. A disclaimer may be needed here: It sounds like three simple steps, but, more often than not, it’s very hard work that could take years to achieve. Healing from severe trauma is not a walk in the park but fighting formidable odds:

  1. You fight nature by threatening the attachment bond to the perpetrator(s).
  2. You fight biology by aiming to ‘retire’ established neuro-pathways that had years and years of re-enforcement.
  3. You fight against your own fears and panics evoked every time to approach your ‘Fort Knox’.
  4. You fight your environment that knows you the way you are now and will, unconsciously, behave in ways to maintain the status quo.

11 thoughts on “Achieving Co-Consciousness

  1. Kelly says:

    But HOW do you achieve or work towards coconsciousness? And also, is it so absurd that a person may not line what the others are possibly doing?
    How do you make peace and ask for coconsciousness?

    • gudrunfrerichs says:

      First of all, the problem is to define co-consciousness. What do we mean by that? Most people understand that co-consciousness is when every part of us knows what every other part of us thinks or does. I believe that is hard to achieve. You can ask every ‘non-DID person’, they’ll tell you that there are lots of time they do something spontaneous and won’t be able to give a rationale why they did it.

      It’s not absurd at all that you may not like what other parts of you are doing. How often have I said to myself, I shouldn’t have done that, bought that, or said that, and felt embarrassed about my actions? I guess that’s part of the human condition. HOWEVER rather than being hard on yourself when that happens, it would be much more helpful to be kind and compassionate with yourself. Try to understand rather than judge. Ask, what made you do that?

      I always found it helpful to remember: Everything a person does has a positive intention. Everyone tries to do the best they can with the knowledge/wisdom they have. Nobody wakes up in the morning with the plan to mess up their lives that day.

      I don’t think you can ask for co-consciousness. It’s not something out there you can pick up or be given. For example, if a part self-harms in any shape or form, it will do so for a reason. Once you understand that reason it’ll make perfect sense. Find out what it is, be compassionate, be grateful.

      Most of all, though, it’s important to grasp that there is not “you and your parts”, or “me and the others”. It’s all you, it all takes place in the one head on your shoulders, these are all aspects of you. There is one brain that moves everything, one heart that beats for everyone, one lung that breathes life in each of the parts that make up you! I hope that helped!

  2. Jaxom says:

    I’m actually a kiwi in oz… small world eh?. I doubt this forum is appropriate for details, but basically a de-evolved IT career and trying to get into programming/web development. Buyers beware! – non-accredited school counts for nothing despite how many tens of thousands it may cost.
    Back to the point though, I guess I was trying to say something to the effect that co-consciousness can be very deceptive – a false security when one (hehe) believes the system is in harmony as I have for many years. With all this nothingness happening in my life for the last couple of years, I’ve started to realize how blind I still may be to my selves (maybe my situation/stressors etc are just unsettling the system and I’m worrying for lack of other worries). Or perhaps no one can be truly/completely co-conscious? It can allow the sneaky ones to be even sneakier. I was (probably) deflecting my own frustrations and denials back to the ‘world’, but I still believe that this ability to describe or define oneself to others socially and/or professionally is a huge issue for many ppl – this ‘ability’ is blindly expected of everyone, why does the ‘world’ (read: employment agencies & ppl with jobs and socially stable/active) not know about this issue yet and classify it [lack of this ability and resulting loss of opportunities] as a form of discrimination? Or do they? What words/phrases would they use to say something like “I/Joe Bloggs cannot define my/himself beyond my/his name”? Sure I can lie and say things like I’m a wonderful & punctual person – mostly true, but I cannot guarantee it. I despise lying (unless I can call it ‘acting’) plus any ’opinions’ I declare about myself very quickly get disproven… always. I believe in loyalty to the company, I hate socializing but I’m famous when I do… pfft apparently not. LOL.
    If I wasn’t so co-conscious I don’t believe I would be in this situation, the others would have driven on and not allowed me to end up being stuck/abandoned internally(mind) as well as externally(physical life). Sure I would suffer the old symptoms again but perhaps it’s a price worth paying. In addition to my own, I’m copping their feelings/fears and restrictions to what/where I go/do next that it seems paralyzing. Having said that, perhaps I’m nowhere near the level of co-conscious I thought I was? So how does one really know, especially when thinking of the sanest/normalist person you know and how deep their denials/self deceptions can still go? The usual indications of things like lost time? If symptoms are not apparent – how can this predicament of self be determined? Or how to revert from co-consciousness when it starts working against the system? How can I get my help and support back if or when I need it? Am I reverting already and that’s the unsettling of the system? At what point does futile optimism become denial? (all rhetorical I guess – I’m sure I could google it).
    Having lived with co-consciousness for so long, I never wanted or needed integration, but I’m scared it has happened with the parts I rely/ied on most, so that the weakest and most destructive parts are now just more enabled (eg: if another primary is all or mostly part of me now, how am I supposed to access the knowledge/technique that a 100th of me used to suppress the infant, or to allow the child to have fun? etc).
    This article is really interesting – but there’s so much more to co-consciousness that I hope someone can start describing *it* from different perspectives (eg but not limited to: pre, mid & post-recovery/maintenance/management, the massive spectrum of its ‘function’ and related limitations [during the many years of integration or committee?]).
    Phew, I need to breathe…

  3. uznco says:

    Hi Jaxom,
    Wow!!! sounds really really hard for you right now. And that you have worked so hard to get yourself qualified. So what did you study? thank you for explaining it so well. It sounds like not being able to find a job where you can get the training you need has really gotten you down. I wonder if winz can help you with this. Oh I’m assuming you are in NZ???? Its hard to make the move after trying so hard and losing your confidence but it sounds to like you are a strong person and I am thinking you are being hard on yourself. I wonder if spending a bit of time building yourself back might help. Be kind to yourself. Take Care.

  4. Jaxom says:

    Hi uznco, it’s a bit complicated so trying 2b brief; GFC=global financial crisis. It seems only elite in skills and personality can get a job these days, after 2yrs of trying a career change losing everything in the process, I can’t go backward or forward – I’m completely stuck and feel useless/worthless, living off the grace of a friend. All my independence, what I built of myself and life is gone. I have no self-belief anymore so obviously no one else does, and it gets worse as more unemployed time passes. The catch22 is I need a job to continue training, but I need training to get a job. My ‘primary’ usually gets by with charm and wit (converting negatives to humor sort of thing), a sympathy vote perhaps. I don’t feel humorous anymore – so he’s not effective plus I’m too old to be a young male adult persona, it doesn’t seem to look/feel right. Robot believes a redefinition of the system is required, hence this insatiable craving for education in acting – maybe it can be done better with some accurate knowledge of how actors work. I’m acting whenever I’m not alone but obviously getting it wrong.
    After all this time, I doubt the system can handle the instability of another rebuild, I’m scared, lonely and… I cannot define myself further. Most of me is usually gay and my failure at personality and self-definition results in a similar kind of discrimination. I just wish the world was aware that not all ppl have top-gun personalities, not all can sell themselves when the chips are down. Even luck is an unaffordable luxury.
    Its my conundrum, my choices, my daring to achieve, to chase a dream, has led me to this point. What a fool I’ve been to hope for some semblance of happiness and pride.
    I hope all that makes better sense, and thank you for listening. You’re welcome is very touching, I’m grateful to be heard/noticed even if anonymously.

  5. uznco says:

    Hi Jaxom
    Its good to beable to vent in a safe place isn’t. I read your post with some perplexity. Sounds like you a strong person being able to prepare yourself for the world at only 14.
    What is GFC’d world? I guess that by this professional and social discrimmination you mean people that have been hurt in such a way they don’t fit into the norm? I am just trying to make sense for myself what you mean please let me know if I am wrong.
    Hope you don’t mind explaining what you mean?
    All the best and welcome to the site.

  6. Jaxom says:

    I’m 41, male, co-conscious since I was about 8. I was never a child to be shattered to start with, rather I built the pieces of me that I could find from the nothingness I was. Finally when I was about 14 I had a workable me to show the world, and he was a great functional success.
    What really peeves me especially in the current GFC’d world, is the simple (professional & social) discrimination against any one who has not got the ability to define themself beyond their front name, as most people can do and take for granted.
    I will try acting school if I ever have any money again.
    Hope you don’t mind, just needed to vent my realization of this insidious form of discrimination.

  7. shen says:

    Wow, indeed. Thank you to Paul for giving me a link to this site. I think what you describe above is exactly what I’ve been going through for the last couple years… taking apart each side of me, bit by bit, and slowly examining all of the memories at a pace that I can handle, and that all the “lost children” can tolerate, as well, without pushing to get through before I’m ready.
    I am more aware than I have ever been, and I am not dissociating at all, right now – not for a few months. I know there is still more work to be done, but I am so close…
    Thank you for putting these concepts in simple, understandable terms.
    I’ll be back 🙂

  8. Paul says:

    Wow. This is really a special post. I’m going to bookmark it and come back to it, along with your related ones.
    I know your post is sort of just a teaser. But this is kind of exactly where I am now. I’m much more co-conscious now than, say, a year ago. And it’s a million times harder to live my life now than it was a year ago.
    Nice, huh?
    But I feel like you really do get it when you added the words in your disclaimer. Thanks so much for “getting it”. It’s truly appreciated!
    Paul from Mind Parts

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