The Creation and Integration of Parts ‘Outside’ of the System

Kid alone One way to understand the creation of parts is to believe that every part of a multiple has been created to help. Even though we don’t quite know the process by which parts are created, we can assume that by creating parts the human survival instinct has somehow found a way to guarantee that the abused child has some help to get through stressful or painful times.

Whether a part was created to hold the anger, to be unaware of the abuse, to love the abuser, or to do what it was told, initially, it must have been vitally important for the child to access the qualities of that part to feel safe in its environment – even if that was a false sense of safety. Dissociated parts allow the child to be able to go to school or to sit at the breakfast table without showing distress about what happened the night before.

While the function of parts may make the difference between survival and total collapse of the child, later on in adulthood these functions and coping mechanism may be totally out of place. It is not unusual for a multiple to have parts that are so alienated and distant that they are perceived as not being part of the system. Such parts are often perceived as obstacles to recovery, as obstacle to coping and getting ahead.

Unfortunately, being seen as ‘not part of the system’ might mean that such an alienated part continuous with its obstructive behaviour, holds on to abuse-based beliefs, and doesn’t interact or rarely interacts with outside people. Thus healing and trauma processing might not take place for that part.

From my experience in my clinical practice it seems to be a fact that parts only grow and develop, change abuse-based beliefs (the abuse never happened, all men are bastards, people are not safe etc.) when they have 'out' time and are in contact with other human beings (like the therapist) or, to a lesser extent, in dialogue with other parts inside. It’s only in relationship and interaction with others can parts change and evolve.

So if you have a part that is not part of your system, it seems to be pretty alienated from everyone else. What a sad picture! By not being in contact with anyone, it cannot change its view, it cannot evolve, it cannot see what other parts have seen. Instead it is frozen in time and acts as if you are still a little girl that needs protection from the abuse.

For recovery and healing to progress, you have to find a way to connect with that part.

35 thoughts on “The Creation and Integration of Parts ‘Outside’ of the System

  1. breaking4silence says:

    When I read this page, my first thought was WOW! it was as if someone had read my own head…..It has bought so much validation into my life..and have a better understanding now of Parts and how the system works….I understand now how the parts that held and still hold so many memories from my childhood allowed me to carry on and do what I needed to do in order to survive. It is a long process and can sometimes be a very lonley time on the outside world, but on the inside some days its like a theme park….:) It has taken 9 months of \”out\” time for my protector to finally become almost social…..I know I will get there but thank you again for such a wonderful reference to go to and gain more understanding through the pages and other peoples experiences…:)

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  2. sophie says:

    good to hear from you Meegs – i like the way you said you have written on cards those ideas that resonated with you – I might pinch that concept. So often i find i forget that we can get thru this pain and that the top of the mountain isnt that far away – i see my journey as working our way to the top. what a view you get from the summit – it will be worth it – sometimes the mountain range Im climbing has deep ravines , dark caves and dense bush – i just have to remember it wont be like that all the time –
    healing from the abuse is my Everest – I want to knock the bast*** off –
    Hope you keep her close and tight
    sleep well

  3. Meegs says:

    I want to say thank you for your
    comments.
    I’m taking a part from each that
    really resonated with me and have
    written them on cards in my room to
    help me.
    As hard as it is for me to
    acknowledge my little ones
    life as mine, I will. She
    carried secrets that were too
    scary and
    hard for adults to face, and now
    it’s time
    for me to carry them
    within my
    adult self.

  4. Sophie says:

    Meegs – it is so, so hard at times. So hard that it doesnt seem fair – but hold on – no one, especially a child should of had to endure what many of us have had to. Good on you for posting on here – I have found that by reaching out even just a little – it has helped ease the pain slightly – knowing others have some understanding of my pain. I identify with what you have posted – that feeling of been estranged and lost. But these feelings are not what I’m sitting with today – I hope these feelings will pass soon for you.

  5. jessica says:

    I’m not sure about the concept of a ‘new identity’. I’m sure we can’t become someone we never were. Maybe our ‘self’ has been disrupted, but it remains somewhere deep within us. Our job is about finding and nurturing ourselves back to wholeness, not creating a new self/identity. I think that sounds too much like wishfull thinking, and not grounded enough.
    Reconstructing our broken ‘selves’, is a sound concept, as we are not then loosing touch, we are working with something tangible and real. The identity we had when we were born was whole and beautiful and was growing inside us until it was interrupte. But it still exists, it is our own precious ‘self’.
    I do agree that the feelings experienced in the process of reconnecting with our ‘self’ and understanding the impact of our trauma… no matter how severe or or whatever happened… are not the ordinarry feelings of sad, angry, upset, etc. At times they are too big and unrecognisable to deal with, in any way at all. Overwhelming.
    That’s why we have to work very closly with a trusted therapist, so that she can guide us safely and bring us to a recognition and resolution, all in good time. (not calendar time)
    You are right, though, about trusting the process, even if it is a mystery most of the time. The process is hard work. And once it has started ther is no stopping. It often feels like being cracked open and loosing all sense of containment. I remember something about .. it is the cracks that let the light come in. We have to try and believe that the cracks are a doorway to discovering our strength.
    The most reassuring help I have had from someone who I used to call when I was troubled, was, “Go down deep and find your strong part. I know you are a very strong woman. You can do it.”
    Somehow I am beginning to believe that my strong part was the one I was born with… perhaps it is my soul and it is something I can never loose, no one can take it from me. it remains, and it is strong enough to wait for me to find it again. I really need to have this hope and belief in the ‘Self’. It is my name and I OWN IT.

  6. jessica says:

    I’m not sure about the concept of a ‘new identity’. I’m sure we can’t become someone we never were. Maybe our ‘self’ has been disrupted, but it remains somewhere deep within us. Our job is about finding and nurturing ourselves back to wholeness, not creating a new self/identity. I think that sounds too much like wishfull thinking, and not grounded enough.
    Reconstructing our broken ‘selves’, is a sound concept, as we are not then loosing touch, we are working with something tangible and real. The identity we had when we were born was whole and beautiful and was growing inside us until it was interrupte. But it still exists, it is our own precious ‘self’.
    I do agree that the feelings experienced in the process of reconnecting with our ‘self’ and understanding the impact of our trauma… no matter how severe or or whatever happened… are not the ordinarry feelings of sad, angry, upset, etc. At times they are too big and unrecognisable to deal with, in any way at all. Overwhelming.
    That’s why we have to work very closly with a trusted therapist, so that she can guide us safely and bring us to a recognition and resolution, all in good time. (not calendar time)
    You are right, though, about trusting the process, even if it is a mystery most of the time. The process is hard work. And once it has started ther is no stopping. It often feels like being cracked open and loosing all sense of containment. I remember something about .. it is the cracks that let the light come in. We have to try and believe that the cracks are a doorway to discovering our strength.
    The most reassuring help I have had from someone who I used to call when I was troubled, was, “Go down deep and find your strong part. I know you are a very strong woman. You can do it.”
    Somehow I am beginning to believe that my strong part was the one I was born with… perhaps it is my soul and it is something I can never loose, no one can take it from me. it remains, and it is strong enough to wait for me to find it again. I really need to have this hope and belief in the ‘Self’. It is my name and I OWN IT.

  7. Gudrun Frerichs, PhD says:

    I think the hardest about ‘healing’ is not knowing how the process will evolve and how you will feel and cope with the material you are dealing with. The hardest thing is trusting the process that ALL WILL BE WELL when you hang in there.
    When starting trauma work people have a faint idea what it might be about. They are prepared for feeling sad, hurt, stressed, or even panicked. However, healing from trauma – and even more so childhood trauma – is much more than feeling sad etc. It is nothing less than restructuring a person’s SELF, the forming of a new identity that is very different from the one you’ve had when you started.
    A good metaphor is probably ‘Giving Birth’. I wanted the child, spent 9 month waiting for it and preparing for it. However, when labour started and things REALLY got going, I was hoping to be able to stop it, reverse it, and make it go away. Nothing had prepared me for how it really felt – tot even the memory of previous child births. Thanks God I couldn’t stop it – having a beautiful child was worth it!

  8. Meegs says:

    I don’t recognise and understand who I am anymore. I don’t know who I am in relation to the people I live with, how I feel about them, what they mean to me. I feel unpredictable and lost and estranged from my life.

  9. Sophie says:

    thanks Jae again for such a clear way of explaining things. I like the explanation you used re the puzzle pieces – healing is a bit like that – it is a good feeling when you have that moment when you see something more clearly – the piece fits!
    Hope your day is bright.

  10. Sophie says:

    thanks Jae again for such a clear way of explaining things. I like the explanation you used re the puzzle pieces – healing is a bit like that – it is a good feeling when you have that moment when you see something more clearly – the piece fits!
    Hope your day is bright.

  11. Jae says:

    Hi Sophie, Once a connection has been made I think it can only grow stronger. I think how we see things from day to day reflects much on the norm of how we are feeling,eg: If Im having an off day my house seems dull and more grubby, I can do no house work and yet if I wake up the next day feeling bright it looks better. I do see brighter colour and see so much more of my surroundings, I think this is because of the connections we make. Its like the puzzle thing, when you have all the pieces thrown on the table it looks like a pile of nothing but as you connect the pieces it looks interesting it starts to take form, you can notice the shapes, colours, what needs to go where.As the connections grow and become closer and stronger the more grounded and present we become in our world. Once our children from the pasts needs are met and they feel safe and loved they to come forward free of pain, the more we free ourselves from the past the brighter the now and future becomes. 🙂

  12. sophie says:

    Isnt it a wonderful feeling to be connected with a part you have previously found difficult to connected with.
    The world seems a far better place and colours even seem brighter. I hope this connection is able to be sustained. Anyone any ideas on how to remain connected?

  13. Jess says:

    Jae, Thanks you have summed it up pretty well. I have always seen her as APART not me. I have really and truly abandoned her!!!
    Now she is not letting me. There seems to be no where to run – I’ll just have to work with her. It’s good to know that others understand this whole alien idea – of having a totally cut off part. I talked to her today and didnt automatically feel like running from her. thanks again for the time you have taken to reply and your words of encouragement.
    Jess

  14. Jae says:

    Hi Jess, I think what you say resonates in many, it feels like you are reading the same page in my book, it is so hard to sit with that pain, ask some of your other team players to give you a hand so you dont have to hold everything and also tell her what you need,she also has to reach out maybe she would just love to be needed, it might make her feel part of everyone it sounds like she feels seperate. It sounds like your doing what it is you need to do but sometimes you just ca’nt see it when your amongst it. Go well Jae

  15. Jae says:

    Hi Jess, I think what you say resonates in many, it feels like you are reading the same page in my book, it is so hard to sit with that pain, ask some of your other team players to give you a hand so you dont have to hold everything and also tell her what you need,she also has to reach out maybe she would just love to be needed, it might make her feel part of everyone it sounds like she feels seperate. It sounds like your doing what it is you need to do but sometimes you just ca’nt see it when your amongst it. Go well Jae

  16. Jess says:

    Thanks Jae and Jessica for your insights and encouragement. It’s true that she is the one who has taken on a lot of the pain and anguish and allowed me to get on with life, to some extent – but she’s not allowing that anymore. I will try to walk beside her – (thanks Jessica for that) and see her for what she really is – a hurting,lonely introverted young child.
    I have to keep repeating the quote that says ‘Dont walk behind me – I may not lead.
    Don’t walk in front of me – I may not follow.
    Just walk beside me and be my friend.’
    I’ve tried to embrace her at other times – but her hurt is often so hard to bare that i actively seek ways to keep her away. She loves been fed – lollies, chocolate and chips!!! Maybe she is around because i am trying to deal with this problem – by not feeding her what she wants – she causes more pain. But like you both said, she needs to be noticed cause her pain wasnt noticed as a child and I find it hard now to acknowledge it.

  17. Jess says:

    Thanks Jae and Jessica for your insights and encouragement. It’s true that she is the one who has taken on a lot of the pain and anguish and allowed me to get on with life, to some extent – but she’s not allowing that anymore. I will try to walk beside her – (thanks Jessica for that) and see her for what she really is – a hurting,lonely introverted young child.
    I have to keep repeating the quote that says ‘Dont walk behind me – I may not lead.
    Don’t walk in front of me – I may not follow.
    Just walk beside me and be my friend.’
    I’ve tried to embrace her at other times – but her hurt is often so hard to bare that i actively seek ways to keep her away. She loves been fed – lollies, chocolate and chips!!! Maybe she is around because i am trying to deal with this problem – by not feeding her what she wants – she causes more pain. But like you both said, she needs to be noticed cause her pain wasnt noticed as a child and I find it hard now to acknowledge it.

  18. Jessica says:

    Jae, what a caring and perceptive reply. I am doing this with one of mine. It’s so hard to make the time for such a part in everyday life, and when she takes over, it’s so hard to break in and walk together. But if this happens it is wonderful. The enigma is that she is both ‘other than’ and at the same time, ‘part of’ the self. There is a tricky manouvre we try to make, of both distancing and joing together with the hurt part, in order to stay in the moment. Go well all who are leading hurt ones by the hand.

  19. Jessica says:

    Jae, what a caring and perceptive reply. I am doing this with one of mine. It’s so hard to make the time for such a part in everyday life, and when she takes over, it’s so hard to break in and walk together. But if this happens it is wonderful. The enigma is that she is both ‘other than’ and at the same time, ‘part of’ the self. There is a tricky manouvre we try to make, of both distancing and joing together with the hurt part, in order to stay in the moment. Go well all who are leading hurt ones by the hand.

  20. Jae says:

    Hi Jess, I think we all struggle with our part or parts that feel like this, it is really hard to be with, The thing that is helping me at the moment is to just sit with her at quiet times and reasure her that you are there and you and all the others are holding her hand, I talk to her, and I walk round the streets and shops and things showing her the different things out there and the differences in time, dates, newspapers, the children we have and there ages,How people we no have grown older.The thing is these very wounded parts of us are experiencing the emotions that they came in to hold and live through, so every day for them is like this, They did these hard times when we could’nt.This part of you isnt there because it wants to make you miserable she/he is experiencing these emotions, Maybe give her lots of time in therapy so she can be heard and work through her pain so she has a safe place to feel and talk and cry and learn to laugh and be loved, you all deserve to.

  21. Jess says:

    I liked the explanation about why we have different parts. When viewed as they developed to help us get thru pretty terrible times it makes sense. I havent viewed it like that before and just thought I was mad. How could I be seen so different to how I perceived myself and inwardly felt? The idea of the laughing clown – outwardly laughing – but despairing on the inside. I am striving to be more accepting of a part that I never have accepted, when she is around she causes so much pain and agony and causes so much despair. She is in my nightmares, she is taking over, she makes us all freeze with fear – anyone any ideas of what has helped if you have experienced anything similiar?

  22. Jessica says:

    I have finally come to grips with ‘Outside part’ concept…His making an appearance in therapy, albeit reasonably dramatic and devastating, was almost the saddest thing I have heard, how he has held all the memories and anger so that we didn’t need to know or be upset by it at the time, then blanking out our memories by any means possible at other crisis times. It must have been a hard job to do and a lonely one, then what was it like living with the knowledge of this lie. no wonder there was little or no interaction, and such a reluctance to ‘come on board’. The thing is, that now We want to protect him because he feels so broken by owning up to the life long secrets he has been holding in clenched fists. Is it this we have to forgive?

  23. Jessica says:

    YEA, I WISH! THE ONLY TIME I EVER GOT ANGRY WITH MY THERAPIST WAS WHEN I SAID, “WHY DIDN’T YOU WARN ME IT WAS GOING TO BE LIKE THIS?”

  24. M says:

    I love all the different words you have come up with instead of intergration, cant wait to see what system will bring, I totally agree, youve got me thinking and thanks for your reply, I guess im looking for an easy way out 🙂

  25. Jessica says:

    Hi M, hold her and tell her you are there for her. I don’t know what else to do but sometimes for me that seems right. I’ve tried lots of things, some work, some don’t. Just an acknowledgemwnt of her presence and her need is often enough. She has already suffered enough rejection. stay with her.

  26. Jessica says:

    Sometimes I think that we are lucky to have the ME that runs the show when all else fails. It’s when the ME bombs out that we are in trouble. But you can just sneek away into bed with your favourite blanket or soft toy for an hour or so . Also Silver recently told us about a ‘resting room’ that you imagine around yourself; that worked well for some peaceful time out and to gather your strength. I wish you well.

  27. Jessica says:

    I’m having a problem with the word INTEGRATION somehow this has connotations of getting rid of parts and absorbing them into one, which then leeds to a feeling of loss. I know this is not true, the melding of parts should make us a stronger, more together, well rounded person. For example, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. However, I have been playing around with other words/concepts that may be more satisfying as an alternative and perhaps have a greater emphasis on ‘Togetherness.’ Together we stand, divided we fall, you know, that sort of thing. Here is a short list of words that I came up with. We can strive to become…
    Meshed, harmonized, inclusive, configured, cohesive, dovetailed, entwined, linked, or work towards atachment, solidarity, affiliation … etc Anyone want to add more? We don’t have to go with psychotherapy jargon. And another word I don’t like is SYSTEM, it just sounds too clinical or mechanical. Anyway, just some thoughts!?!?

  28. Gudrun Frerichs, PhD says:

    You are welcome! And remember, you are not really alone when your therapist is going away. You will have a representation of her in your mind / heart that will never go away; and you have your ‘system'(sorry for the pun) that has always stood by you and was there to chip in when times got hard. Trust that! There is also a pretty supportive community of readers here who always seem to reach out and are willing to give support! Just ask for it!
    Take care Gudrun

  29. Shen says:

    Thank you so much for that explanation. It does help. I didn’t get to ask about this in my appt. today… we are in the middle of something that feels so intense and I keep running over my time, as it is. At the end, she told me she is leaving town on May 7th, and so I will be on my own for a week, and it feels like such a hectic time for me that I wonder how that will go and if we will be able to resolve the current issue before then, with only one more appt. before she goes.
    ack
    sorry, that was like a hundred thoughts on one breath.
    Anyway, i came to check here as soon as I got home and was so glad to read your response. It makes a lot of sense. Walled off… separate… and then once these parts integrate, they are there, but the emotion seems to be mostly gone. They are not so sensitive to everything. I can remember what they know, things I did not know before. Its like a door opening.
    and there does not have to be anything other than “me” running the show – no true “system”, just me.
    thank you again.

  30. Gudrun Frerichs, PhD says:

    Hi Shen, your comments make perfect sense and they probably reflect what most people with DID experience. For me a system is a person with all the different parts/aspects/alters. I agree with you, everyone has that. It’s a normal constitution of a human’s mind. Jung called the different aspects of a person ‘sub-personalities’. So it’s not really a new thing, it’s not even a DID thing. It’s normal.
    The difference with DID compared to other people is that because of the repeated trauma the parts of the SELF/System are more walled off from each other than in non-DID people.
    This explanation is probably a little bit simplefied, but the general idea is hopefully coming across. 🙂 Gudrun

  31. Shen says:

    I am glad I have an appt with my therapist this afternoon, after reading this post. I have a question that should have struck me a long time ago.
    In all the reading, blogs and books, I’ve done in the last few years, I have heard of “systems” again and again. Somehow I haven’t noticed that I just write it off every time it comes up. I have rarely, if ever, considered what this really means.
    I know I have parts, and the ones I’ve worked with in therapy have always seemed younger than “I” am. My therapist has often talked about parts frozen in time. She speaks to them as children and that feels right and normal.
    But what is a system? Is it just when I have sort of a divided sense of a situation, but am aware of both sides of it? This is so hard to describe. I believe everyone is divided like that, at times, not just those with DID. It reminds me of the cartoons where a guy has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, each telling him their opinions of what he should do. The fact that is cartoons makes me think it happens to everyone.
    So what makes a “system” unique?
    Is it possible that I have all these parts and no system?
    For me, integration has been the process of bringing these parts together, but I always felt as if “I” was a single being and they were all outside of me. I never thought of myself as “we” until I started this integration process nearly three years ago. Each of these “alters” has a separate set of memories that I was unaware of, before. It is like getting to know another person, someone who I had never met.
    I still have a sense of “I” even though I am now aware of the thoughts and feelings of many alters (I want to say six, but I’m not sure any more) who have been brought into “Us”. I still feel like me, but these other parts are also there and I know that they are also me but they do not feel like “me”.
    It is impossible to talk about this in a coherent way, and that is very frustrating.
    I have something else I need to bring up in therapy today, but if we have time I want to ask what she thinks about this. I would love to hear your opinion, as well.
    thank you,
    ~S

  32. M says:

    Hi Jessica, I identify so much with that outside smiley coping person, that’s me but I have this nagging upset inside person that I don’t want to go away or stop, I want to understand her and help, but I can’t be there to long because I am not used to such intense feelings, I am being selfish I no but how do you do that and stay doing

  33. Jessica says:

    Hi Gudrun, once again you have given such helpful information in the last three posts. It has given me a ground on which to base some new thinking and as always, renewed hope.
    Talk about rocky road!! My sleep has been fraught with dreams of confusion; how to… hike over mountains, make a sea journey by kayak, walk across a sinking, muddy swamp; what to pack for the journey, who does what, what clothes to wear, where am I headed on the journey, calamities, disasters and rescues on the way… and I wake up worn out and thinking, ‘look at me, I’m a healthy, human-being on the outside and in turmoil on the inside. My outside copes, does what needs to be done during the day,(mostly) appears normal,talks, smiles… and continually has this nagging voice from out there somewhere saying,
    ‘Get over it, there’s nothing wrong with you, people say you’re looking well, fit, good. Stop this stupid nonsense, the past is past and it wasn’t so bad. You need to start over again and just realise nothing happened to effect you so much. It’s just a sign of weakness. Others are far worse off, get over yourself.’
    So do I reply,
    ‘Well if you want me to be so strong, then help me, teach me how to do it. But by the way ‘ME’ is actually ‘WE’,and we don’t come from a position of ignorance, we don’t wish to start from a blank slate, we each come from a real place of fear and sadness. we want to begin our journey from whence we came and retrace our steps back to the present. We can’t start with our feet in the air and move into the future as if we’ve come from nowhere.’
    Do I invite this voice in the air to come down to earth and join us so that he can see what it was really like… then we can make our plan, together, with this information in mind?
    Does this make sense!!??

  34. habersmack says:

    Gudrun,
    Thanks again for a wonderful post. I had an experience on Friday that has made me feel hollow, empty, defeated.
    These recent posts have helped me and although i am not quite pulled out of that pit, I am closer.
    Thanks.

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