In a previous blog post, I made a request for artwork about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID / MPD). Sometimes it is easier to describe experiences through images than through words.
I send a special thank you to the different dissociative trauma survivors who have been willing to contribute to this project. I will add various pictures and related comments as I receive them.
For “Self Portrait”, notice the number of different parts. Clearly, this person is polyfragmented (they have lots of insiders!) and each part is completely unique and different from the others in the system. If I were speaking to this person about their picture, I would ask the following questions:
- I see over a dozen different colors. What do each of these colors represent to you? Which colors are you most comfortable with? Which colors are the most anxiety-provoking for you? Please explain why.
- What does the one white piece near the center mean to you? Why is it placed there?
- What does the grouping of red pieces in the center mean to you? Why are they placed there?
- Why are the three red parts able to sit closely together when most of the other colors do not sit next to each other? How does this relate to your inner system?
- What does the outer pinkish border represent? Does this color represent your external host? What keeps this part of you from mingling more with the others inside?
- I see black outlines separating most of the different pieces from each other. What kind of barriers do these represent in your system? Which barriers represent complete separation / time loss from the other parts?
- Can the parts next to each other communicate together? Who can talk to who?
- Can the parts on opposite sides of this portrait communicate together? Do they know each other exists when they are so far apart?
- When you look at this picture, who do you know? How many of the other insiders are you familiar with?
- Do the various parts of the same coloring, even if scattered throughout your system portrait, have the ability to communicate with each other?
- Some parts are larger in size than others. What does that represent to you? Does the size of the part represent age? Power? Presence?
- What do you feel when you look at this picture? What do you hear from inside when you are looking at this picture?
- What can you say about the bigger black spots? Do they represent a “black group”? Does the black represent a not-knowing who or what is there?
- Are these parts fluid? Do they move from place to place? Do they stay exactly where they are? Please explain more about that.
- Is that brown heart an on-purpose heart shape? What does that particular piece mean to you? Are there reasons for any of the other specific shapes of the different pieces?
- What kind of system cooperation / internal communication did you experience while you were making this picture?
- What are you hearing from inside as I ask you all these questions? (lol, one can safely assume that the inside will have plenty to say by this point!)
So much system work can be accomplished through just this one picture.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
You’re spot-on Kathy. Each splinter is it’s own unique part that’s unrelated to the rest. Polyfragmented yes.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful picture. All those colourful and unique parts. I look at this and I can see me (us)! My parts identify with it SO much. I am realising I have many parts with many unique functions. I often feel so scattered on the inside. Every day is a challenge. It is often overwhelming. I can sometimes change from moment to moment to moment. And sometimes I know there are many parts present all at once.
We identify with this picture. I think we might need to make our own mosaic of colourful parts.
Your picture makes some of us inside cry…we didn’t realise other people were like us too.
Kathy Broady says
To clarify my purposes….
(written elsewhere, but I’ll add it to this page too)
Please know that I do not personally know these artists nor am I familiar with their systems or how things work for them. In the blog articles, I will ask questions and interpret some DID system issues by the way things were drawn, but not because I am familiar with the people in real life. My guesses might be wrong! I am simply looking at these pictures and presenting some of my thought about how DID can be seen and more deeply understood by paying attention to artwork and drawings.
In a therapeutic setting, I would of course, ask the survivors to explain their art before I began presenting some of my own interpretations. However, for the purposes of this blog, I will present some of my thoughts without having had the opportunity to speak with the artist directly.
The intention is to provide education information for those working with dissociative disorders – to point out possibilities of dissociative issues within artwork – to explore options about system interpretation, etc.
My interpretations may or may not be correct — only the artist will know that. The artists are not required to nor expected to provide the “correct” interpretation of their work to me or to the readers of this blog as their privacy is important.
However, for the purposes of discussing elements of dissociation, I will be speaking openly even without knowing if my comments are accurate or not.
Thank you for your interest in this project!
Paul from Mind Parts says
I guess what I was saying was that I tend to be cautious about making definitive statements and drawing conclusions about someone based on viewing their art informally as an outsider. In your introduction, you said: “Clearly, this person is polyfragmented”. I have done very similar paintings and I am absolutely not polyfragmented, nor ever have been.
This is why when I post editions to the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse, I have let art and poems stand alone without moderator commentary. I tend to focus my comments on these creative contributions in terms of how they make me feel and how I relate to them in terms of my own experience.
Paul from Mind Parts says
Where you can see “polyfragmentation”, I can see order and connection and communication. The pieces need not necessarily be parts of a personality in the traditional sense.
Kathy Broady says
yep, it could be.
Could be both / and
Or maybe the goal could be for it to be both / and….
There’s just lots going on – that’s what I see. 🙂
Oh man, rather relieved we don’t have to answer all those questions here hah head would explode. The Painter is the one who paints and she’s very sercetive. But yes–this is a total roadmap. We see coping functions as colors.every shape every hue every location has it’s place. For the most part we’re clueless but have been really trying to get the clues of late.
At the moment we’re kinda in crisis mode in tjerapy from the rape thing last weekend. But we will most definitely bring your queries to therapy when we can. Thank you, you’re Queen for the Day ;).
we see six hearts around the white piece. the brown, 3pm, a tan-yellow at almost 12pm up three pieces, a peach at 9pm three steps out, a light blue at 9pm two steps out, the white nestled in the blue heart at 6, then the smaller peach next to it on the right.
not a question, just our eyes.
Kathy Broady says
good point, lkatieb.
I saw the blue one after I made my post, but you’ve found more, so yes… asking about all the rest of them would be good!
Why are the hearts around the white piece, vs. in other areas of the picture? What is the significance to that?
Thanks for the post and questions, Katht. We so valu e your interest, making us cry;). (a rare and very good thing). I’m hopped up on all kinds of cold medicine so don’t think I can answer your questions right away but of course will ASAP. I can tell you we don’t know who painted it or why, just that it’s perfect. Lemme chew on you’re as usual spot-on cogent questions. Thank you!! 😉
Kathy Broady says
Thank you, splinteredones, for sharing this picture with us.
What I can see, as you’ve said in your own blog, each splintered one is real.
And in your picture, the splintered ones are there – each and every real splintered one of them…
I’m glad to hear that I have reached something tender within you….
I’m certainly not expecting these questions to be answered in detail out here in the public world – but please be sure to explore them in the privacy of your therapy. There’s lots there!
Any generalized thoughts or comments are welcome, of course.
Thanks again. Sending my warmest thoughts your way –
This is so pretty and creative. It looks like the people who made this had a lot of thoughts in their head and a lot to say.
Maybe us older Pilgrim people will send in a picture.
If we’re feeling brave.
Whoever made this picture, it was nice of you to share it.
Wow. Lots of questions. I don’t have a picture but when reading this today thought instantly of this lego world that a family member has. It’s pretty big and in a display case and I imagined that my portrait would be three dimensional like that is and that it would be mostly see through (like the case is on three sides) but the legos are thrown all out of whack(like it got shaken really really hard) and things are higher and lower than they should be and just sort of lost. A few things are strong (buildings, it’s a village) and still mostly intact but others are just wrecked and the little trees and cars and lego people are every which way.
I don’t think going and shaking up the lego world and getting a photo would be in my best interest but that is what I/we felt immediately.