Hello, hello !
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 around 400 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.
Okay – 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?
As always, I wish you the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
At this point in time, we developed pretty good communication among those who go out. We also have a whole lot to learn about those who only stay inside. Now, we can see that multiplicity wasn’t really the problem, our lack of communication was.
We have a family member who is dissociative but they don’t have insiders. Yet they don’t have a good sense of time, they keep forgetting things and so on. They are a singleton but it doesn’t make all their issues disappear.
It might be far from the truth but it seems to me that once you have good communication, you are able to understand things even better as a team? Again, I don’t really know how it works when you don’t have DID but I guess people have some internal conflicts anyway. In our case, we can sit down and talk, hear each other out, see all the twists and turns. It doesn’t always work and not everyone is cooperative but sooner or later, we figure it out. When you are a singleton, you have to somehow tune into something that is far more deep inside probably?
We had some parts merge if it is the right word but it happened naturally. They saw their peace in that. They were not very developed, they served mostly one specific purpose, they didn’t really live a long life of their own. However, when it comes to those of us who did, I don’t see a way how we could integrate. Even though we developed to be able to do something that others could not, we went far beyond that. That initial reason is no longer why we are a part of this team anymore. Therefore, I doubt we are going anywhere. However, we would probably merge with more insiders in the process of healing.
Hmmm this article was good I think.. but it’s been really helpful for me to have someone make the distinction between “fusion” or “final fusion” (becoming a singlet) and like “integration” the lowering of dissociative barriers… and I think perhaps making it clearer which like… type of integration you’re talking about might help the article be a little easier to read/understand.
Because integration can take lots and lots of forms… and sometimes I think it’s confusing. Idk. Thank you for the work you do –
a very small feeling (but not young) part
Molly Sigurdson says
So, one of the things I hate that our family doctor and to some degree, our therapist doesn’t understand. It’s great that our therapist and doctor are supportive, but they both are emphasizing to the host that there will be a day when we won’t be needed and we’ll just go away. Which is not only disturbing to us, but because the host has doubts on whether or not she’s the “original”, it also brings up the question of: “if she’s not the original, does that mean she’ll have to leave too?”. It’s also borderline re-traumatizing for the rest of the system as well, because some of what happened involved being threatened with abandonment, or being gotten rid of. I’m not certain if I should go about explaining this to them on behalf of the host, or how to even go about it. While they aren’t actively pushing for integration, it’s as if they expect it to happen. I know that our doctor, before she understood what we were, offered to get the host a support system so we wouldn’t be needed. Any suggestions on how I talk to them about it?
I hope all is well! Sort of on this topic, is it possible for a person to dissociate completely from trauma memories, yet not have parts/insiders.alters?
Kallena Kucers says
Hi Kathy –
Just found this post and really interested in it.
Yes, I agree 100% that this weird thing called “integration” is certainly not all it’s made out to be. It’s absolutely not some ‘holy grail or pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’ and to be honest, I found functioning as ‘co-conscious and cooperating’ parts for years much easier in many ways.
I also consider that once able to dissociate (to the point of having parts) it’s always possible to dissociate again under enough (or too much!) stress.
I think I get too what you mean by “the dark underworld of those who say they are “integrated”: You are referring to the possibility of people believing they are integrated when in fact the darkest parts have just been unconsciously ‘sent to hide’ someplace and it’s only the high-functioning, ‘lighter’ parts that are all ‘out there’. Yes?
I can very easily believe that happens, and the “dark and not so easily acceptable” parts remain hidden, only waiting to come forward again and literally, wreak havoc. I’ve met people (via the net) who presented as “integrated” or even “co-conscious”, who turned out to be like that. Then their ‘other, hidden parts’ would eventually turn up again and I admit I was very glad I only knew them via the net. I have also read case studies in the literature that to me read exactly like this – a therapist has not adequately recognised all the parts a person has and they “claim the patient is integrated” but, it reads as if the person has simply ‘disavowed and hidden’ their parts (or, just the ones more difficult to live with), to accommodate to the wishes of the therapist. Pathological accommodation in the worst sense of the term and likely to ‘come undone’ in the future when the person is placed in any slightly stressful and/or triggering situation. Reading case studies like this used to leave us feeling utterly terrified…
We didn’t experience any ‘organised blending’ or encouragement or even suggestion to ‘join up or integrate’ (or whatever word anyone likes to use) of any parts – ever. Our therapy simply wasn’t done that way. Nor did it actively aim for all of us to become ‘one’.
I have though now found that there is a very different way to being than what we knew as ‘co-consciousness and cooperation’. It’s also very different to the times that we experienced in the past when some (or many) parts ‘just disappeared’ for periods of time. At those times, we always knew who was left.
Now I feel as I’ve never felt in my whole life before. It’s actually been a very very difficult and unpleasant time in a lot of ways, to be honest. Extremely confusing and feeling utterly out of control as I seem to finally be feeling many differing urges and feelings flowing in many different directions at once – something I never experience before – even when we were co-conscious.
I relate totally to your post where you write: “Becoming one and only one creates a lot of conflict and needless pressure. That’s the difference. To me, if you can merge your insiders into functional groupings, and also develop really positive teamwork between the inner peoples, that is absolutely as functional as “integration” claims to be. You don’t have to lose the benefits of being multiple in order to function in some very positive ways.”
Being as I am now means a whole new level of needing to learn to manage my feelings in a way I have never done before and it’s not easy. But, somehow it just happened for me and I have to deal with it. Given what I now know my whole system was I can understand that remaining separate was not an option for us once we got past a certain point. This isn’t the forum to go into explaining why.
So we did, in the end, get to a point where somehow, the parts just seemed to ‘blend into each other’ and now, for some time, I have had no-one else left in here to talk to. Nor do I have the sense that anyone is missing as we used to before when parts just disappeared. On the other hand, “I” can relate to and remember the feelings that everyone, as each part separately, had, in the past. I can also ‘remember my life’ in a way I never could before – aware of the feelings all of us had at once and overall, despite many parts not actively having been ‘present’ back then.
But, it’s the feelings of internal conflict and pressure that more than anything convince me that “we” are now “one”, that this time, no-one is missing any more. That, together with the fact that my perspective on my whole life before now has seemed to change. It’s as if suddenly I am looking at everything from a totally different dimension – one where I’ve never been before. All the reasons we ever had for doing anything suddenly disappeared. I never even realised before that underlying everything was a sense that all was, still (even though I have been physically ‘safe’ for many years now), a matter of life and death. That everything we did was as if it was a matter of life or death to do it, or not. Even such ordinary things as cook dinner or wash the dishes or do some gardening… And now – nothing feels like a matter of life and death any more and, finding any motivation to do anything now that I don’t feel that life or death drive any more – well – it’s not easy but I’m working on it.
All of this is simply so different to anything I’ve ever known before and there is something so fundamentally different to how things have been all our life that I am this time convinced that “we” are now “one”.
Should other people ‘aim for this’? Only if (all of you!) want to. If you want to – then of course – do! I think there are and will be a whole lot of advantages (as well as the disadvantages) to being this way, in the end. But, I would expect an awful lot of people don’t want to, and so, shouldn’t. Living as co-conscious and cooperating can be pretty good and a lot of people function really well that way. We sure did. I don’t know that we so actively aimed for this – it just ended up being this way and it sure doesn’t mean that my life is all wonderful and easy now – it’s not. And it sure doesn’t mean I don’t need a therapist to help me work out how to manage things – I sure do still need someone to help me work out how to manage a whole lot of things. I’m not at a point of happily getting on with my life and not needing any more therapy at all.
But, it also means that I’m capable of viewing my life and the world from a perspective I never could before, and that it feels in a very odd kind of way that for the first time ever, “I” am the one who is responsible for figuring out what “I” want to and will do with my life – and that only “I” am responsible for what I make of myself now. My past no longer has any power over what I do or do not choose to do, no matter how I may feel at any given time. Not easy to accept this, actually, but, I have a suspicion that this is something that those people who are not “multiple” (and who are also not avoiding much of their own issues in other ways) have to accept as they so ordinarily ‘grow up’.
I admit to feelings of resentment and anger at this even as my past and the need to deal with it has most definitely impacted on my life in a whole lot of very negative ways and in many ways I now feel as ‘undeveloped and beginning’ as someone who might be in their early teens – not yet sure of what they want to do with their life. Yet, someone at that stage of life still has a whole lot of opportunities and time that I, in my 50s, no longer have. This feels extremely unfair but, it’s how things are. I do also keep trying to remind myself that I do, in fact, have a whole lot more knowledge and experience than someone who is genuinely so young and I will, in time, work out a way to use that that suits ‘all of me’. We all just keep on going. This whole thing is always really about the process, in the end, not the destination, anyway.
Jean Eisenhower says
It’s been 21 years since I discovered my “multiplicity,” and I agree with you: We can become co-conscious of our parts and learn to get them to work better together, and can love them all and work to heal those parts that need healing and acceptance, but not all of them can easily integrate for seamless functioning in every situation – because even “normal” people have their different parts (for instance: parent, employee, artist, etc) which they don’t blend, as it wouldn’t be useful or always appropriate. Understanding this takes off a great deal of pressure and helps us appreciate all of our parts.
“Normal” isn’t what we might have thought it was, so it’s no use chasing the dream. Everyone is a blended collection; some of us just got greater diversification! And we may have greater potentials than “normals,” though we have to work harder at the blending work. Oh well.
“Making lemonade,” as they say,
This is so confusing for me. I imagine you have a lot of life experiences with multiples that make you say what you are saying. Maybe it is all true, or maybe you are jaded by all the crazy work you must have done with so many years of working with multiples? I don’t know.
On some level, your argument seems logical to me. I wish I knew this answer to be the truth so I would know what I am working toward. Now I am just confused. Maybe my T will tell me her opinion and it will help.
There are so many experts who make a living dedicating their lives to treating people with DID. They all seem to speak the mantra on integration.
I think I read recently in a description about RK that he had personally integrated 200 people!! So, is that not true? BB at SEPH recently said in an article that integration was fairly easy these days. Now I know this is not easy, but I at least thought it was possible.
I am getting older, so I wish I just knew the answer to this. It is hard to work hard in therapy if you don’t really know what you are working toward. I don’t want to wake up and be disappointed 5 years from now because it was never possible. I already spent 10 years in therapy with nothing to show for it. I swore I would never do that again.
So frustrating. I wish we could sit down over coffee or something and you tell me what you really think as it applies to me and my goals. I would rather a T tell me something is not possible than me be deluded and work toward an impossible goal.
I don’t know many people who have said they are integrated–though I don’t hang out in those crowds anymore. I remember when I was in therapy in 90s there was a well-known T who supposedly was integrated and doing therapy with other multiples who then came undone and not integrated.
I am a little confused about the beware of those that are integrated comment too. Do you mean there are people who are pulling people into cults or something that way? I don’t really know what you mean. There is obviously some under world of darkness you are referring to.
Anyway, it is confusing right now to figure out who is telling the truth and what direction I should be going right now…
We used to think no no no, never integrate.
We start to think though, mabey its a good idea.
It probley would be good if there was less of us. Lots less.
There be too many of us, all tripping over each other all the time and kn the way and too long a line to talk.
We dont no how to do it thouw.
But there needs to be lots less of us. Lots of us need to disapear. It would be better for the outside pepole we no if there was less of us.
There is no way on earth we would eve integrate.
We all have to stay far away from each other right now, for several reasons, but mostly to he safe.
There is no way in hell i would ever want michael, missy, jadie, etc to ever be part of me. And i know they think the same thing, because no one inside likes me and they wouldnt want me to be part of them. We are all staying as far apart from each other as possible.
We wouldnt even know how to function as one person, its such a foreign idea. Life is hard enough with 25 of us inside trying to handle things. How do non DID people even survive?
Sorry, I know that this is an older post now. Can you expand on
“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.”
Because I don’t understand what multiplicity ‘looks’ like and how can you tell if they’re so invested in presenting a unified front?
Sam Ruck says
I know you haven’t been very active here lately, and that’s ok. I just wanted to ask a question even if you don’t reply.
Have you ever seen anyone 100% healed: totally and fully normal and healthy in all respects? That’s what I’ve always aimed for with the girls in my wife’s network, and I thought we were headed there. It’s just that the last girl was so deeply traumatized and everything for her is so painfully slow and difficult. Sometimes I’m starting to think I’m dreaming for having that goal. I think we’ll get there if I don’t give up, but I wish I knew about real success stories to encourage me that others are doing it.
We’re going on a 3 1/2 week “celebration” vacation for our 25th anniversary starting in 2 days. My goal was always to have a healthy wife by the time we hit our 25th anniversary: I failed. It’s discouraging, even though they have all come so far with so few issues that are normally part of the d.i.d. experience.
Take care. Maybe vacation will work some magic like it has on past ones, and I’ll come home with the last girl fully attached to me and the others so we can move into the final phase of this journey.
Sam the Tired…
What are “spiritually-based integrations?” Can you please comment on these?
We are new to the DID world. Although I’ve known that I’m dissociative for almost 20 years, I didn’t know for certain that what was happening were really alters coming out until about 6 months ago. (They made it rather impossible to ignore the fact in July.) In the short time that we have known that we are multiple, it seems like there is a great deal out there, almost a pressure, to integrate. Every time anybody asks us what we think about it, we laugh and say: “Let us get used to being multiple first.” We really like your ideas about blending–that makes the most sense to us. Whether our opinion will change over time, who knows? But becoming more aware of each other, as well as learning to communicate and cooperate… that sounds more… practical (?)… than trying to force all of us to become one person.
I’ve noticed that already there are loose groups of alters–the 3 littlest sisters tend to stick together, but sometimes the oldest one of the 3 tries to pal around with the teenager, and there are 3 that were born around the same time who seem to have a special affinity for each other, as well. This means that the same people are choosing to associate with different groups at different times–kind of like real people in real life.
I’m very curious about your warnings about “integrated multiples” being used as lures… While I do ask other multiples who are not so new to the DID world about their experiences, I learned long ago not to just blindly trust people, so I listen to their advice but pick and choose what seems to fit our own experience, what might best help us in our own healing journey. But I’m wondering, specifically what have integrated multiples lured us newbies to? What are these dangers that you speak of? (I understand about the dark world underneath, having 2 really nasty introjects of my own.)
~Caro, the Littles, and Crew
Liz Teo says
Hi Kathy, I wanted to say that I am, like most, interested and perplexed by the integration thing. The only thing I can talk from is experience. My main persecutor part ‘Mr Angry’ disappeared about 4 years ago (interestingly, when I finally learnt to be angry appropriately myself). I guess you would call that spontaneous intigration…. believe me, he was so disruptive to live with, I think I would know if he was still around 4 years later. One part I wrote a letter to…….. saying how hugely grateful I was to her for her help, and her protection, but that I was big and strong now and really wanted to do it myself, and invited her to rest and sleep. That was 9 months ago, and I have not heard a thing from her and that is good. I have two parts that I would fight all the way to keep…….. can’t imagine life without them and wouldnt want to!!!
So…….. I am in the middle ground on intigration……..
Personally I think the whole topic gets a big distracted with ‘personality intigration’ being the focus………. I acutally think it is ‘information/fact intigration’ which is the real deal and totally and utterly necessary and healthy. For history to be seen for exactly what it is…… appropriate emotions and reactions attached, and all that to be OWNED as MINE. That to me is the integration secret…….. and the personality intigration just a bit of a side issue.
who knows…… I am no expert!!!! But just think if we were shifting intigration focus like, that our opinions really would be much stronger on the side of ‘intigration is good, healthy and necessary for complete healing’
I once felt a very, very young part of me “dissolve” in a good way after she was rescued in an EMDR session. It felt very comforting. In the visualisation she was being held on the chest of the adult rescuer me. It was like she entered the adult me’s chest / heart, and now she is safe.
Kathy Broady says
Thank you for sharing that. My understanding of natural integration / blending is very much as you described…. once the smaller inner pieces feel safe and secure, they can join in with the older ones… especially if there is no longer a specific reason that they need to stay separated and split from each other, and if joining together helps everyone feel safe and appropriately connected together again. Meaning, there has to be a sharing of information – the one blending in can’t be blended in unless the other one is fully aware of the reasons why there was the separation in the first place, and also, a complete willingness and acceptance to help / comfort / connect with each other. Good work. Well done.
(ps: I’m not limiting this kind of work to “very young ones” only … hmmm… it might be the most common scenario tho’… I would have to think about that awhile longer.)
Anyway – your comment is much appreciated. Thanks.
🙂 What can I say but we agree, LOL! We’ve got what I like to call “2-1/2 Men” – 3 hosts; one child (the left-over host from old times); a teen and an adult being, as well as a ‘Crowd’. Some are pretty dominate personalities (like our Soldier and The Marine) and 2 dominating hosts (the teen and adult) . . . and the science guys (smile) …
We follow a “3 on top” rule, meaning no more than 3 personalities can be ‘on top’ aware, active, and functioning (controlling behavior & things) – which interestingly we found to be common in DID. We look at DID as being a “diagnosis, disorder, or disease’ depending upon the effect it is having. When everything is running fine, it is just a diagnosis. It’s when infighting starts or opposing factions form that it becomes a disorder. Then when the system begins ‘attacking’ itself (eg. cutting, deep depression or inexplicable sad feelings; suicidal / intrusive thoughts or lack of control; lack of co-consciousness, acts of self-damaging behavior; giving into self-destructive patterns of thought / behaviors . . . sigh, my, the list goes on there, doesn’t it now? LOL’ing! Been through it all before.) And, we’ve noticed, like many ‘systems’, we run by majority rule.
“We” … well, our story is waaayyy too long for this, so lets just skip it. You can always check out my blogs, LOL! (as if you don’t have enuff to do!) Let’s just say last year we learned to embrace ourselves, forgive the inner child (or/and children); we ‘blend’ a lot of the time; we love one another and have ‘cured’ a system gone wrong through the creation of another alter (a mediating one) – without knowing what we were doing or what we were going through. LOL; turns out we have quite the ability to ‘form’ a new ‘one’ on the fly so to speak; this was part of the military’s doing and my father’s training and stuff. But can we ever be cured?
I think not; and I don’t know if I – or ‘we’ would want to do that sort of thing. There’s a tremendous advantage in being ‘multiple’ sometimes and being able to deconstruct and reconstruct a ‘system’ on the fly, and despite the fact we are still missing ‘someone’ (or several ‘someones’) – and that we’ve had to do everything without therapy (mostly; there was some) – but fortunately having been given a psychology education (there again, at 14-1/2 or so; courtesy of my ‘dad’ – yuck! and I hate psychology and things <- LOL, inner child right there, LOL'ing out loud!) but anyway . . .
We pretty much agree. A flawed diamond, perhaps; our many facets . . . it's paid off in the end, because at least we survived – and learned. DID is not "all bad". In a way it can be pretty good! (Wonderful, in fact; beautiful; exceptionally nice! – in ways I doubt a singleton could understand . . .
Which may be part of the reason we don't "integrate". Because when it's "done" – and it's running 'fine'? It can be a beautiful thing – both inside and out. 🙂
By generalising a population, or situation; what skills are being imparted? You’re telling me to avoid people who say they’re integrated… so while you’ve just added to my tick box of people to fear, you haven’t told me what behaviours I should be cautious of.
How does this “darkness” manifest itself in people?
How can I spot the early signs?
Is it only integrated people who do this sort of thing? – this is what could be assumed from reading this post.
By saying that integration is not necessary, isn’t that similar to other people saying that it is necessary? Shouldn’t that discussion happen within an environment that has all of the facts presented, and be between the treatment team, and the client?
I agree with you so very much, in so many ways. I can’t ever see our system integrating. Blending? Yes. And we would love more communication and cooperation etc. I know that we still have a very long way to go on our healing journey, starting with being physically safe! But total integration? I don’t think it’s even possible, and I can’t see myself ever trying to do it, either. It would feel too much like death, like picking and choosing parts of people. We don’t think we’ve ever met someone who was completely integrated, although I could be wrong, it’s not like I remember everyone lol.
I don’t think integration is anything that would work, it’s more like me just cramming parts back where they had been hiding for years. That takes more out of you than you could ever know. I know cause I do it. I think some have blended because at first I would tell that a group of parts became one force, but with no name. If that makes any sense. Some are now coming out that are mean. Not physically hurtful, but verbally hurtful towards anyone and screws me around….and boy do I get into trouble for it….lol
I am not sure if I am blending or if I have just crammed everyone back into that deep dark whole. The parts you knew are no longer around, except Mickie : )~ . Things feel different when I feel that a part is out, I don’t know who it is and nothing about them or the way they make me feel is familiar. Dealing with all those different parts was too overwhelming so I refused to let them out or acknowledge they were there. That is the only way I could get by after Ken died. Things are changing though, it feels kind of like a shift. Can’t explain.
Sam Ruck says
Integration is a bad word in our house. We emphasize things/activities that have general interest but still make room for individual interests, and the girls seem to be blending on their own without a push for it.
And yes, my wife/girls have been deeply hurt by some “healed” survivors who ran a large support group on-line…
WE CONCUR WHOLE HEARTEDLY! the mom thinks integration is the goal and if we don’t integrate we will never be able to live on our own, but we’ll show her..the irony of the whole situation is the mom doesn’t honestly believe in DID to begin with, so well.. my therapist says we don’t ever have to integrate if we don’t want to. mostly it’s just safety right now and keeping out of the hospital. it’s soo hard, and it hurts soo much.
Paul from Mind Parts says
I agree with all of that. The only thing I would add about people new to healing is that such a word like integration isn’t all that bad to be thinking about. It’s a way to simplify everything when the path is unknown and life is overwhelming. Eventually, if one works at it and begins to more and more understand herself or himself, they appreciate that it’s more complicated than that. But I think the word integration has been overused, and so the state you talk about for people who have moved on is, in my mind, a sort of functional integration and real-life whereas the long-held view is probably not. I’ve written enough on this. I feel like I’ve hijacked your blog. It’s helped me think about it. Thanks.
To me it would be very hard living as 1 single person. I dont know how anyone does it. The only thing i dont like about DID is having to share everything,& share the time of people we all love. It never feels fair. But integration seems enormously weird, scary,& it doesnt sound very healing to me. I dont like how some therapists and treatment places think integration is the ultimate in ” better”. I like your idea of working together much better. Although the idea of being nice to each other and getting along is a huge challenge. Sometimes it feels like i am stuck in a jail cell with a bunch of people and none of us like each other.
Maybe someday we will figure out how to get along and play nice.
We agree, and feel that when Ts try to “force” integration on us, it does more harm than good. I wish there were more professionals who understood and felt as you do. A friend of ours was forcefully “integrated” when he was in his teens and a few years later it all fell apart and he’s lost 12 years worth of memory!
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for the comment. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me shudder….
Everyone, please please remember…. no therapist should ever be “forcing” integration.! First of all, it’s a for sure fire way of that integration falling back apart, and oh gosh, what a set up for a looooong list of all kinds of other problems. This decision has to come from the DID survivor, and it belongs ONLY to the DID survivor. No one else can say how healing has to look for you and your group of insiders. Your life, your memory, your internal world, your insiders, and your healing all belong to you. Not to anyone else, not even a therapist!
And those 12 years of lost memory? Lots of hard work and talking with the insiders that were present during that time will fill in the gaps.
Thanks for reading, Serenne – much appreciated.
Paul from Mind Parts says
I agree with 1-7. Number 8, I also agree with but I would have said it differently.
But your last point on your “advice” on “safe leaders” is, in my opinion, based on a number of assumptions that appear biased. There are many other dangers you may have called people’s attention to, but I don’t see why you made such a dramatic emphasis on this one.
That aside, your comments on this only serve to stoke the flames of an “us” versus “them” mentality.
And you must know that staking ground on telling others who is to be “trusted”, “safe”, “real”, and who is not is, for a survivor who has heard this kind of advice from non-trusted people, going to naturally cause us to question where the advice is coming from.
So why not tell us why we should trust your opinion?
Maybe you could start by quantifying your own experience in real-world terms and not by “number of years” which anyone can do. You could quantify it in baseball terms. Why not reveal number of patients you have treated, say, in the past year that you have actually seen more than, say, 15 visits (which is how baseball statistics work; averages, for example, are based on a minimum number of at bats). Why don’t you give us a real measure of how respected you are in the community of your peers?
Kathy Broady says
Welcome back. It’s good to see you again.
And wow! This is amazing to me. We agree on 7 points right off the top, well, sounds like probably 8 points. That’s very good for us, don’t you think? 😉 I’m interested to hear how you would have worded what I was trying to communicate in point 8. If you would… ?
And ok… to answer your question about my years of experience. I know I’ve written this in various places online, but it’s ok to summarize it again here. Fair enough.
I started working with trauma survivors and dissociation in the mid 80’s. That gives me over 25 years experience in the field on a clinical professional level. (As an aside, I have frequently spoken about my personal experiences with trauma issues, but I don’t write about them on the internet, nor do I plan to go there.)
I worked for over 7 years in a residential treatment center with adolescents, many of whom were multiple. Several of those years, I was fortunate enough to be allowed to completely focus my entire 40+ hour work week with the dissociative population in that facility. These were my first years of direct experience with DID, and my shifts, in that center, were either 8 hours long or 12 hours long, depending on the day. I learned a LOT more about multiplicity by interacting with multiples for more than a 50-minute hour “therapy session”.
I worked for about 4 years in an inpatient hospital setting on a Dissociative Disorders Unit (DDU), leading 10 treatment groups per week with dissociative trauma survivors, and having oodles and gobs of individual sessions each week. I spent long hours in that hospital, again interacting with multiples in a setting very different from the 50-minute therapy hour. At that time, that particular DDU had typically 20 – 30 dissociative trauma survivors there every single day. I met a LOT of DID survivors during this time frame, and frankly, I still speak with several of the people that I met during those years. This setting provided a nice mix of short-term work and long-term work with dissociative issues.
Since approximately 1990 or so, my private practice has been almost exclusively with dissociative trauma survivors, probably at least 90% of my clients have had some version of a dissociative disorder, and probably at least 80% of my clients have been DID. No, I haven’t counted how many clients I have had. Lots. I tend to work long-term with people when I agree to work with them, well over the 15 visit “marker” that you suggested.
I have been doing online work with dissociative trauma survivors for 10+ years now. I had an online forum for dissociative survivors for approximately 6+ years, and now this Discussing Dissociation blog for about 3.5 years. Obviously, I get to know some people in more depth than others via online, but to throw some numbers out here in honor of “baseball statistics”, there were hundreds of survivors that participated in the forum through the years, with at least 125 survivors participating intensely for long chunks of time. No, I didn’t do an official count.) And here, at this blog, there are nearly three thousand comments, mostly from dissociative readers. (WordPress does the counting for me, for the most part, lol.)
I have not counted exactly how many dissociative trauma survivors I have met during all this time, but I know the numbers is easily in the upper hundreds, and more realistically, probably in the thousands.
Obviously, I have interacted with numerous DID people under the 15 session marker point, for a variety of different reasons, different settings, etc. What I learn from them still counts, their opinions about topics still registered with me, and I take all that into consideration as well.
So… in a brief summary, that’s where I base “my years of experience from”…..
I write this blog out of what my experience has been, simple as that. I write out of what I’ve seen, and what I’ve experienced over the years based on who I’ve met, and who I’ve spoken with, etc. I’m sure other people have had life experiences completely different from mine. That’s ok – that’s how life is. It’s not the same for all of us.
So in that sense — and I’m saying this in the most gentle of voice tones — it really doesn’t matter to me if you “trust my opinion” or not. It’s ok if you don’t. My experience is what it is, and whether anyone else trusts that or not doesn’t change what I’ve seen or what I’ve experienced. I can only write about my experiences, regardless of what my readers feel or think about them.
IF I had met anyone who was integrated on a long-term basis, and demonstrated positive, helpful, signs of progress and healing, I would so very gladly write about that. This just hasn’t happened. Maybe I’ll meet that someone next week, or next month, and then I’ll be able to write something different.
Unfortunately, in my years of experience, the only people I have seen / crossed paths with who alleged integration, were either so blatantly unintegrated, and bless their hearts, they deeply wanted it to be true (for whatever reason), but it just was so very not true. OR I’ve seen the kind of people who were using their alleged integrative status in ways that were very scary and very dark, and so very unsafe.
That’s just what I’ve seen.
Maybe someday, I’ll meet someone that is integrated who is not in either of those categories. And when I do, I’ll be very pleased to write something glowing on their behalf! 🙂
Thanks for the comment.
Paul from Mind Parts says
Thank you. But your advice about who to trust and your warning was very particular. I guess that just jumped out at me why you would focus on that point by using the majority of your words on it. When someone does something like that, it raises all kinds of flags and I immediately wonder what their motives are (none of which you stated). Talking about lures and presumptions of vast internal darkness of such people is really fear mongering. I don’t see why you have to go there. Why create fear in people and focus on something so negative when you could have used the same type of question to focus on something positive for readers?
Also, while I guess it’s not really important, have you considered that you haven’t seen true integrated multiples (much less safe ones) because they go on to live relatively normal lives and aren’t in the circles of hospitals and mental health care you apparently are embedded in? To lump them all and make blanket statements that they aren’t safe, sounds biased. You certainly do not have all the data to make such a statement.
Also, while you didn’t come out and say it, your argument on only this point may give the impression that people who have done a great deal of healing are also in that same camp and aren’t to be trusted. I know you didn’t say that and I may be reading into it. But what you said does give that impression to my mind, and I’m not sure that’s an impression you really want to give, right?
So, you asked how I would write… I wouldn’t have asked the question about are “integrated multiples safe leaders”. I think that’s such a narrow question. I would instead ask a more optimistic and less fear inducing question like “Do I think people who have worked on healing and internal collaboration and some degree of integration can be helpful to others who are at early stages of healing?”
I guess we just have different approaches.
In my mind, the practice of fear inducing by stereotyping a set of people you have limited data on as being unsafe, perpetuates a culture of victims.
In my mind, the practice of empowerment by focusing on helping people see safe qualities of many people who can enrich our lives and teach us about safety and give us hope, creates a culture of healed human beings… maybe even so healed that they are the ones you say are not to be trusted.
Kathy Broady says
Yes, I certainly have met DID survivors who have make enormous gains in their healing, who are very successful in their normal lives, who are and have been very much invested in their healing, who worked with such strength and gusto that it is remarkable and impressive. Absolutely, yes. Some of the people that I have in mind at the moment have truly “finished” their DID healing work, and have moved into a happy, functional lives that do not revolve around therapy or struggles with mental health issues. And yet, of those people that I know, none of those DID survivors have chosen to integrate. They work as very well connected systems, friendly internal groups, and demonstrate ongoing sharing and compromise. They are an inspiration, and yes, many of them have left the mental health world. Some of them are around helping other dissociative survivors, some of them have just gone on to other areas of life.
Obviously, there are thousands of DID survivors that I have never met, and I cannot speak to their stories, or their processes, or their healing, etc. I’m not even pretending to do so. I would be pleased to meet and applaud anyone who has felt successful in their healing journey, who has moved forward in their lives in any way that has felt positive and successful for them, whatever that looks like for them.
I don’t assume that the more healed survivors are reading my blog, at least not in great numbers. For right or wrong, I assume the opposite. I assume that more likely than not, most of the readers of my blog are dissociative survivors who are still busily working on their issues, and thus have a greater reason to read my blog in the first place. I also see that the people in the earliest stages of their healing journeys are like sponges, absorbing as much information as they can find, from wherever they can find it.
I mentioned the safety precautions because I have a responsibility, in particular, to teach these “newbies” about the dangers that exist out here in the mental health world. In my opinion, the people that are early or struggling in their healing journey are at the greatest risk of being tricked and mislead or confused by someone who deceptively alleges complete integration. They too easily assume that these other “more experienced survivors” have it all figured out… only to be lead down a very dangerous path. I have seen this happen too many times to not include it as part of the main issues that come into my mind when the word “integration” is mentioned. Is it scary? Yes! It IS scary. This is why it is important to make the distinction so all dissociative survivors are aware that “integration” is not synonymous with “automatically trust this person”. They gotta look deeper than just the surface words being said.
My motives are protective. Too many “newbie” survivors are not aware that there are predators out there even here, in the mental health “support” world. The sooner they know to watch for this, the safer they will be in the long run.
It’s ok that we have different approaches. Variety keeps the world interesting, yes?
Thanks for the comment.
We agree with everything you said. Theres absolutely no desire to integrate here despite what husband thinks would be for the best. :/
But this post makes me think of a few things:
What happens to the ones that get integrated? Where do they go? How do you smush separate people together? Do they die? Who gets to decide who gets voted off the island? It sounds totally unfair.
Not that i wouldnt mind getting rid a few of the little ones who cause so much trouble. BUT- itd be completely weird without them.
What’d be funny is blending a few people together– like jadie+ the bully= ?? Me + Blue. Tuck + rachel. What sort of bizarre creatures could we end up with??!! Yikes! I can only imagine the horrific possibilities.
Ps feel free to edit this if i got too mouthy.
Kathy Broady says
No, chicka, you weren’t too mouthy. I’m glad to post your comment. 🙂
To me, what you are referring to is when the internal people become so very distinctly different from each other, and those individual lives are important and significant, each on its own, and it’s been that way for a very, very long time. This is where I don’t see the need to make one single person out of all the very distinct people that you can be. Nor do I see it being viable, or realistic. I don’t know how to make that happen either.
What is important, to me, is that you all become (or stay) friends with each other. It’s important that you all support each other, help each other, talk together, understand each other, RESPECT each other, and treat each other in very healthy and positive ways. It’s important that your internal world is / becomes a happy, kind, sharing environment, and not a place that represents ongoing trauma and conflict between each other. It’s important to not hurt each other, and to not have to hurt yourselves, in any way.
This is what healing is about. It’s not about becoming a singleton. It’s about having peace, resolution, safety and healing on the inside. It’s very ok to be as multi-faceted as you want to be. The numbers of people don’t equal healing. Who cares about how many you are? To me, the quality of life and the ways you all treat each other is what is significant.
Does that make sense?
Thanks for the comment – please keep reading!
When I first began working with DID (then known as MPD), the goals were to vet the memories, and come together as one person. This was twenty years ago.
I strongly support your ideas of blending and developing cooperation, internally. I think it’s the closest, most realistic concept I experience, overall.
I cannot remember thinking in a united way. My first experiences with severe abuse happened before language and other, initial developmental stages began. My mind understands, here and now, that it must work in a cooperative way, that some “parts” are no longer “parts,” and that therapy related more toward finding release for trauma, learning that it’s no longer present, and I’m not “wrong” for having a mulit-faceted mind.
I have integrated memories over time, some distinctions have dissolved, but the best part is being able to plan a day and just go about with my plans.
I’m not sure I’d know whether my mind is fully integrated, having never remembered a time that performed in such a way.
Good for you for giving words to this! Warm, warm fuzzies to you for the rest of your whatever!
Kathy Broady says
Thanks so much for your comment — you really made me smile, lol. I very much like the idea of having warm warm fuzzies for the rest of my whatever, lol. So funny… thank you. 🙂
And thank you so much for sharing about your experiences with healing. I liked the phrase you used — “some distinctions have dissolved”. That’s well said. It perfectly describes so much of what the healing is about. Time distortions need to evaporate and the huge differences / conflicts between insiders need to soften and dissolve, as you are saying. Everyone can still be who they are, but working together with developing cooperation.
Well said. Thanks!
And many warm fuzzies to your whatever as well. 🙂
I would like to help ‘me thinks’ explain herself a bit more. She jumps in a bit forward sometimes. 😉 I think what we are trying to say is that this is probably the most controversial subject in the land of DID. To make a stand in either direction will have people disagreeing with you. I’ve been on the DID journey for some time now & I started out with the ‘total integration’ idea. I was believing that once I was ‘integrated’ my depression & my worries would go away. Sadly, my “EXPERIENCE” told me quite a different story. However, being from a Christian/Spiritual approach to healing – I don’t need to tell you that there is more than one Christian Therapist out there whom will beg to differ with you. i.e. “All things are possible” yadda. I believe that. But that has not been the case for me. I tried “Total Integration”. It didn’t work – the parts of me seemed ‘watered down’ versions of an alter & not the strong package deal that was sold to me in the beginning. As I ask myself ‘why’ & look from extended experience with therapy now – I realize – they weren’t integrated – they may have blended but were far from truly integrated. When under pressure – it all came apart – time after time. And my Religious/Spiritual friends & counselors would try to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. A few rounds of that & I was DONE with therapy. I continued on with life at hand & kept my thoughts to myself. I learned to cope ‘compartmentalized’ and let people believe what they would. That worked for me. However to this very day – I have therapist that will get in my face about “Well you could be healed if”. Been there – done that. Don’t need to waste any more time there. I do believe all things are possible. It just didn’t happen for me & I know others where this didn’t work either. DID work is long, tedious & exhausting – not to mention expensive. Insurance isn’t going to pay for it over the long haul. I do agree that we have to find a ‘workable’ plan for DID & that is probably going to look different for each client. A realistic goal is a must. I just wanted my depression to go away. It didn’t. Now I muster up all the strenght of my parts in agreement to keep me alive & from self harm as other parts continue their healing. I’ve had to close my ears & mind to people who are all or nothing. My journey is my own & I have to stay focused on what works for ME. Finding a therapist that works with DID like that has been more than a challenge for me. So I have gathered here & there the insights that helped & continued on my way. After all – it’s my life. And it has taken me a long time to realize just that: What do I want, because this is ‘my’ life.
I appreciate you Kathy & agree on most all of your points. I just hated to see the conflict blatantly stirred up. It has been a most pain filled journey for me. I won’t argue with others on their journey. I choose to respect their healing & move forward with my own.
me thinks & The rest of the story. 🙂
Sam Ruck says
Well said, Kathy, on a number of points.
It’s good to hear your thoughts. After 3 years of therapy we agree with you. Kind of sad to agree because this was not our hope but through therapy what Kathy talks about is what has happened naturally within us. More awareness and working together. I can’t say I like it personally (me , Haley) but I am working on acceptance. Overall I feel really sad now that walls are down and awareness for some of us is fairly high. I don’t know why I feel sad though. I miss the way things used to be.
Lily Rose says
Hi Kathy this is really good. I am not sure if you have already done a blog about internal perps. If not would that be something you maybe could do? Just some we are struggling with. Thanks, and your dog/s are so cute.
Me thinks our Hero stepped in poo.
Kathy Broady says
lol… hmmmm, not sure what you are saying, Me Thinks… Care to expand on your thoughts?
And thanks for your comment J.
It’s good to hear from you.
We agree with you.
surprises me that you say you doubt intergetion is beneficial? I have merged some of my insiders and it has been very helpful, I have a very big system. I am curious as to why you say you doubt it is beneficial?
Kathy Broady says
Hi bjscrowd –
Thanks for the comment.
Let me say this right upfront – you and I don’t know each other, so I can’t speak with any authority in regards to your specific situation and what has been helpful for you. As far as I am concerned, anything that is helpful is a good thing! Keep up with the good work. 🙂
I’m going to reply to your question the best that I can from what I think you are saying. From what I’m reading, if I understand correctly, it seems to me that you are referring to the blending situation I mentioned, and not the “total integration” concept. Those are two very different places, in my opinion. Blending / Merging some parts into a workable group can be beneficial, and very helpful, I agree. And survivors with very large systems, especially polyfragmented systems with bunches of insiders scattered around here and there, very often can experience an improvement in functioning when there are merges and blendings into larger, more rounded internal parts instead of numerous fragments.
Integration, to me, refers to the ENTIRE system blending into one single “singleton” person. Becoming one and only one creates a lot of conflict and needless pressure. That’s the difference. To me, if you can merge your insiders into functional groupings, and also develop really positive teamwork between the inner peoples, that is absolutely as functional as “integration” claims to be. You don’t have to lose the benefits of being multiple in order to function in some very positive ways.
Is that a little clearer?
Thanks for reading!