Working with introjects in a dissociative system is an incredibly difficult but absolutely important part of your healing. It might feel a bit triggery to learn about these insiders in your system because of what they are attached to, but it’s massively important to address them, especially if you’d like to achieve system harmony, internal cohesion and an overall sense of healing and well-being.
Our Email Consultant / Forum Manager, Laura, has written a very good explanation about perpetrator or abuser introjects. Hold tight to your seat while you read — it’s good stuff, and very well said. Do your best to read through the whole article.
I’ll be honest, you might feel some stirrings from within your system, so be prepared for that, and expect it. Even if you have already done a lot of work with your internal system introjects, they may want to have a closer look at what’s being said here in this article.
And so they should — just know to expect that. Let them read and learn as well, because they are a very important part of your team. Use this information to get a better understanding of your introjects. They really are valuable, even if they feel so hugely difficult at first.
ps: Yes, some introjects can come from friendlier places than the directly created abuser introjects, and “friendly introjects” are a whole topic on their own. There are multiple layers and multiple reasons for internalizing outside people / outside figures to be inside people or inside figures. The concept of bringing the outside to the inside is still the same.
WHAT IS AN INTROJECT?
Wren asked this question in the Comments section of a different post. (Thanks, Wren!) Since it’s a big question, and something that applies to most (if not all) dissociative systems, I decided the question deserved a post of its own to answer it.
So, what is an introject??
In simplest terms, an introject is an alter who resembles the original abuser. This alter will look like, act like, and speak like the original person. They may bully or terrorize other members of the system, or even abuse them internally, so that it feels like the abuse literally never ends.
Sounds scary, right?
These parts can be very difficult to approach as part of your healing. For each one of you, the introject in your system appears identical in every respect to the person who caused you so much pain and terror, and it can be confusing and frightening to find that your abuser has been incorporated as part your dissociative system.
So why are they there? If dissociation is intended to be a protection and a survival skill, how could it possibly help to have an introject? And what do you do about it??
There are two important keys to working with introjects.
The first is to remember that THEY ARE TRYING TO HELP.
They might not be choosing methods that feel helpful, but their intention really is to help and protect you.
Look at it this way –
Abusers often give some form of twisted logic for their abusive actions, things like …
“If you hadn’t…”
“If you had only…”
“You made me do this because…”
“I had to do this because…”
These statements, and others like them, are intended to make you feel complicit in and responsible for what is happening. They imply that you had some control, that there might actually have been something you could have done to change or prevent what the abuser is doing to you.
In truth, there was nothing you could have done. Nothing would have changed what the abuser did.
However, a child’s understanding would not be able to see the manipulation. A child would believe the suggestion that it was something they did or did not do that led to the abuse they were suffering. It is this kind of manipulation that typically leads to the creation of introjects within your system.
introjects represent how important it was, at one time in your life, to always be vigilant. Danger was always near you and you had to be careful of every move and every word, because your very survival might depend on not doing or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. introjects also represent the desperate hope that, if you could only do everything just right, obey all your abuser’s rules and anticipate exactly what was wanted of you, that it might lessen or even prevent some of the abuse from happening.
introjects take on the persona of the abuser in an effort to vigilantly maintain the behaviors and attitudes the abuser appears to want. This is vitally important for a child who is trapped in an extremely abusive situation. It might gain only a small allowance of protection, but when you were little, every little bit of protection mattered.
This brings me to the second key point about introjects: THEY ARE PART OF YOU.
No matter how they look or what they sound like, no matter how much they insist they are your abuser, and even if they do the same things that person once did, introjects are not the person who abused you.
introjects are not that person’s spirit or their ghost or a sliver of themselves left inside you to torment you forever. introjects are not directly connected to that person in any way at all.
The resemblance to your abuser is an appearance only, like an actor playing a role in a movie, complete with ugly personality and cruel behaviors.
However, the person behind the role (the real person) is actually a part of you, only and entirely you. They are not the abuser they appear to be. They are a part of your system who is locked into an old role and still playing by old rules.
You may be long out of your abusive situation, but introjects are often either unaware that your abuser is no longer part of your life or unable to trust the appearance of safety (because what if). They don’t dare relax their vigilance or let you fall away from the old rules that were once so important.
They are trying so hard to keep you safe.
Being an introject is a difficult and thankless task. This member of your system has spent all these years acting out a role that they dislike every bit as much as you do. They too are afraid of your abuser. They typically feel a huge weight of repsonsibility for trying to keep you safe from that person, and they also feel the weight of every time they failed in their job, and others in your system were hurt despite every effort to prevent it.
The introject in your system was there to help you when the stakes were very high and their job was deadly serious. It’s difficult for them to let go of that level of urgency, and they probably won’t be able to do it alone. They need help to understand and absorb that the abuse is truly a thing of the past, and they need support in the transition from old ways to new.
If you can accept and embrace the two key points about introjects outlined in this post, you might find that it’s a little easier to begin getting to know these very important members of your systems.
Think about how differently you might approach someone if you believed they were on your side but were still too fearful and distrustful to let go of their old beliefs, as opposed to approaching someone you believed to be like your abuser. That’s a big attitude change! And it can make a big difference in being able to connect with these system members.
Once they have made some progress in their own healing, the introject who was a source of fear and confusion and conflict in your system can actually become a strong and helpful member of your internal community and one of your most valuable allies in your group’s healing journey.
[Note: The key points discussed here remain true regardless of whether or not mind control and programming were part of your history. However, connecting with an introject who has been purposely and purposefully created by a programmer is more difficult, and potentially more dangerous, than the process of connecting with an introject who evolved more organically, and it is all the more important to have a strong support system, including a therapist whom you know and trust, before beginning this work.]
For additional learning about Introjects, check out these articles:
Need more encouragement?
Read how one DID system achieved this goal after working with their perpetrator introjects. Their inside hurters became their system helpers.
Found in: Progress Made while Reading about DID at Discussing Dissociation
You can make these giant steps of progress with introject parts too.
And of course, I wish you and your whole system the very best in your healing journeys.
Copyright © 2008-2022 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
I am re-reading some of these articles because we have recently changed our system around quite a bit and I am back in front after many, many years.
I have been hiding on purpose for years, and I feel like I know almost nothing about how to handle the young, angry ones. Im better at sad/ crying kids.
Each day this week has been quite a challenge, and the days are long and go by really slowly. The young ones whom I am assuming are introjects are so angry, so loud, so violent, and have such enormous feelings. its quite overwhelming. Its a real challenge to handle them and their behaviors but I want to handle things well. I am trying to also get to know them a bit to find the best ways to help. I am feeling really overwhelmed. This article gave me a bit of info I was needing and I am planning on reading more of these.
And it also be weird that sins that boy got littler and he dont be yeling and scaring everybudy then this other girl her be free now to be bossy and mean cuz judah dont be there to hit her and yell at her. Now her be mean all the time. Her dont be as loud as him. But her always teling us bad things to try to make us feel like stupid nobudys that nowon care about.it be hard to not beleve her cuz of stuff that be going on in our life it sorta seem like her be rite. But it be weird that her can be big and loud now that shadowmean dont be in her face yeling at her all the time. And her keep being very mean. Her yeling at me again i got to shut up 😕
Hello Tuck! That sure must be a confusing situation! And being yelled at to shut up is not nice at all! We hope you can get to find out why she is so mean now and that things get better for you! And we hope that little boy who shrunk can find a way to feel safe and not have any more nightmares…..We hope you get some good rest!
We got a boy who did be a big mean man
He even had a scary name
Even i didnt like him and i like everybudy!
And then some how over the summer he got majict and he shrunk to a little boy.
And then last month he got really scard and he shrunk even more!
And he keep saying why do i beshrinking!? What be wrong with me?! And it freak him out
And he been waking up screaming at nite from nitemers
And he be scard all the time
And he dont talk and he been hiding
He dont be acting at all like the big scary guy he ust to be! It be so weird
It be weird all allong he did be a kid in a big scary guy body i guess?
And it be weird cuz now he be so triggerd and so worryd and scard all the time and he dont be at all like how he usd to be
we have had an alter for a long time, who we’ve come to call The Mocking Voice, who verbally denigrates us, often using the same voice and phrases the woman who calls herself our mother so often used. It is horrible to have to endure.
Our therapist says The Mocking Voice, in our childhood, served a valuable purpose, to keep us safe. During the very worst episodes of abuse, that could last an entire day, which usually began with us being accused of saying/doing something that we had no memory of we would become trapped in a period of intense terror.
What that meant was that we would be terribly confused and angry about it. This caused an enormous problem because we were expected to be completely compliant and genuinely remorseful for whatever it was we had supposedly done. But of course we weren’t, and she could see that we weren’t, which was why the abuse lasted so long. It became a battle of wills, if you will, but a battle we could never win, no matter what we did or said.
* * * Trigger Warning * * *
We can remember actually screaming at her, “I didn’t do anything!”, which was rare, for we knew not to defy her, but during these episodes we did, because we KNEW that we hadn’t done anything to deserve the abuse. we can recall actually trying to fight our way out of her grasp as she shook us and slapped us, yelling at her.
What she would do is demand that we admit what we did, but at the same time wouldn’t TELL us what exactly what we were specifically accused of doing.
She would say, “You can come out of your room when you’re ready to tell me what you did!” This, of course, was literally impossible, for we had no clue. We were trapped. That only made us absolutely furious, for we felt she was playing some kind of cruel game to justify her hurting us.
She would return, demanding we apologize, which we did, hoping that would end it, but of course it didn’t. “Tell me what you’re sorry FOR?”, to which we had no answer. That would only enrage her further, leading to more hitting, more slapping. This usually occurred several times throughout the day, getting progressively worse as time went on.
So, at some point, or at least we think this is what happened, we don’t actually remember, because those memories are blacked out, was that the introject part would take over and be able to express genuine remorse we guess, real sorrow or guilt. This must have served to satisfy her because the abuse would stop.
Our therapist says the introject would learn to anticipate her actions and act accordingly to pacify her, thus lessening the severity of her abuse. The problem is that the introject doesn’t know that the time of danger is long since over, in the past, so when we get enraged in the present The Mocking Voice will be activated. When we, not long ago, cut our family out of our lives, it became very active indeed because we were going against everything we’d been taught in childhood. It can cause us to feel great shame.
We love to hear about processing and insight….we look for and hope for that ability in our own selves and wait for the pieces to come together…..not understanding the “whys” or “how comes” can be so frustrating – leaving you feeling stuck where you are at….Glad that you shared that with us, Daria!…..
Oh and, Shadow is now Judah all of the time. He is struggling very much with memories too, but he hasnt done anything to hurt anyone in a while. He doesnt swear quite as often 🙄 and while he still loses his temper a lot, he isnt violent or come out swinging when it happens. As far as I have heard, he is apparently doing well in therapy also. I dont know how much he talks or Much of what he says, but when i do hear something, it is positive.
So that is awesome too,
Even MK, who is an introject of a couple of mean aunts and our dad, apparently had a good talk with our therapist the other day and she is actually less intense! Given the project that Asher and Judah have made, i feel more hopeful that MK and the others will make progress too. now we just have to get the Bully on board.
It is such a relief to see their progress.
We think we might have some introjects, too…..still learning about all that…not sure yet what all is what – but we keep trying to learn and understand….and to be able to hear their sides of the stories…..some are getting more comfortable with T – which gives us hope…. 🙂
Definitely have hope.
Our inside rough guys were simply AWFUL, horrible guys. They did not want to cooperate at ALL. But then… I am not sure how they started talking to our therapist, one of these days I need to discuss it with her…. but they started talking to her. And they very quickly (amazingly enough) bonded with her. It happened fast and I have no idea how. And then they very quickly started to change. All it took was for them to bond with her. I still have no idea. So be hopeful.
Thanks Caden….we notice, too, that after a session in which a young part talked to T, we feel different Inside….like we are not quite so tense and on guard – at least for a bit anyway…it is amazing how being “heard” can make such a big difference….We hope more “parts” can have a chance to be “heard” with her…..It may create some chaos with others – but we hang in there while it settles down – they will figure it out…….
Our problem is that we are not totally disconnected during the part talking….we are at varying distances – (sometimes way distant) – catching bits and pieces….we don’t know what is going to “come out” and it “scares” us…..we still don’t know if we are “making everything up”…..maybe it is “me” who is still “blocking” parts….this can be so confusing…..Yup! We are aiming for “hopeful”!…….
I already wrote this in an email to our therapist but i had to brag on one of our little guys here, too.
Two years ago we NEVER thought that Rage, a very angry and violent teenage, could EVER be on our side. Ever. He had a history of horrible violence with us and a very very bad attitude.
Let me tell yall about this little guy now.
Somehow, no idea how, he has transformed. Well, i do know part of it. He bonded with our therapist somehow and that made all the difference.
Now, he has transformed into a cute, red haired and freckled little 7 year old protector named Asher. He does not seem like the same kid at ALL 😮
We have a little one who is going through an incredibly difficult time of flashbacks and body memories.
He has not left the little one’s side even for a minute.
She is so terrified that she wont let anyone near her. But he is faithfully sitting as close inside as she will let him get. He gave her a blanket and pillow, and snacks.
She hasnt slept or calmed down, so he hasnt slept either.
He cant read, but he has tried to show her the pictures in a little book about a rainbow fish 🐠 and has made up stories for it,
Asher is completely exhausted. But he refuses to leave her side. so he just sits, and waits. She loves the Frozen movies, so he has sat and watched them 4 times even though he doesnt like “girly movies,”
How in the world is this even the giant, raging, terrifying kid from a couple years ago? Yet it IS. And it all started with him and our therapist being brave enough to work with each other and get to know each other,
It totally blows my mind. He was such a troubled and awful teenager a couple years ago, and now he wont leave a crying two year old ‘s side.
WOW, Caden! Thank you for letting us know that progress! Maybe one day I will get to find out who MY “Rage” really is….so glad for you!
Caroline – thank you for including God “stuff” in your comments….we are in that boat – parts that seem to have a strong God connection – parts that we just want to say “Who ARE you????”……What do you do with the “conflict”? ……your parts asking about God gives us hope….
Today is Mother’s Day and we don’t know what we feel….she could always sense when we were struggling and call us – but THIS stuff? We would have NO idea how to explain to her – it would probably scare her…..she has been gone for 10 years now anyway…..probably better that she didn’t know where we would be at…..
Sorry – don’t mean to sound “negative” so much….I “see” stuff going on Inside and am just trying to figure out why it is there, where it is coming from, what to do with it…but most of all – am I “making it up”?…..if I read that others get hit with the same type of stuff – then I don’t feel so crazy….Is this all a part of learning your Inside system – or am I different from everybody else??……
For the most part “Outside Me” “sees” it but can only “feel” varying degrees – depending on how bad the trigger is – but am aware that certain Insiders are more aware than I am…..not being “negative” here – just “objective”…..can’t figure out how to pretend it is not there….
Things that seem to be in the “spirit realm” are getting more common….or is that just “Inside realm”? …..Is “spirit realm” the same as “Inside realm” – or is it different?…both have a “Twilight Zone” feel to it…. Anybody know what I am talking about? Or is it just my sister and me?…..Just being blunt here….or being “weird”… 🙂
Thanks for letting me “babble-spew” ….. again …..
Sigh….still trying to “understand” this angle of stuff…..still having trouble with the “snake” in my face at times…..and then Rage who seems to try to “protect” me – or is he just watching out for the parts because he will turn on me if I don’t take a stand in something…..and then there are times – usually after a session – or a strong triggered direction – there will be a young part chattering away Inside to a “part” who looks like T…..Sometimes she is telling “T” all about something and I am trying to listen….most of the time – after I disconnect from Inside – I can’t remember anything she said…..My Outside T asks me what the little girl said – but I can’t remember ANY of it…..The other day I saw the young part chattering away to T – but then the snake got right in her face and it scared her and she shut down….When I got back to Outside I can’t remember anything that had been said……
How did there get to be such a confusing mess in me….makes me feel like I am losing my mind….Rage has been glaring at me a lot lately…. It is exhausting .trying to NOT get in trouble on the Outside – AND not get in trouble on the Inside…..where do I go??????…..ugh…..
Your being is finding balance with the rage that helped preserve you thru harshest of times now that the most acute threat is the perceived criticism of doubt taking hold during less threatening, and in effect still protects you. It’s a play of literal and the metaphorical understanding you impose as meaningful to your existence in the present. One idea is to thank rage for having your back while affording yourself some slack when the alter is verbose. At the same time requiring enough distance (from rage) to function with a more developed set of tools for handling triggers. Good Luck
We have had several “introjects” (he starts swearing if i even use that term) who have changed and become one of us. It has made such a difference inside our head. Some of them, who were so Angry and violenr and abusive, are now sweet little boys.
We just have a few left, the Bully and Shadow, and MK.
And its so wonderful because shadow is actually changing. He has been watching a tv show about Jesus, of all things, and asking us questions about God. He does not have much understanding yet, but at least he is asking the questions. He still has a lot of bad habits to break, abusive ones, but now it does seem like in time he will learn to be a helper and not a hurter. Its such a relief.
One thing also that has helped is that they hAve taken on new names once they change. Shadow, once he crosses the line from dark to light, will become Judah as his name.
He still seems pretty tortured inside 😞 He is having a strong pull to do some bad things, because of that programming in his head. He is pretty miserable right now. But at least he is still making the effort to change.
Becca Phillips says
I thought introject were fictives and factives? Maybe I’m just confused…. but thanks for the help dealing with the abuser factives, or as i call them, persecutors.
Teresa Baker says
Wow. What a great article. My therapist and I have discussed this part many times. I always refer to her as the mean one. Once I started getting more familiar and comfortable with my parts, this one got worse. She was always saying the most mean and horrid things to me. When talking about her in my sessions, my T explained that she, too, was there to protect me. When I inquired as to how this could at all be viewed as helpful. She said to think of her as a danger sign. Her method of protecting was to make me feel bad about or scared of or unable to do certain things and that by doing this, I would then not do anything that she considered to be harmful. Definitely the wrong way to go about it, but still the same results ultimately. To try to keep me safe and out of danger. As I became more in tune with the insiders, it became easier for me to say “thank you very much for trying to protect me but I’ve got this”. She calmed down immensely. Not to say that she never rears up and goes back to her old ways, but I do not feel traumatized by her anymore.
WOW …thank you for sharing this Teresa. Important for me too hear as I struggle with an angry one!
I read through this article and through most of the comments….I am still not sure how to tell when a part is “scary” because it is bottom-line trying to protect me by not allowing me to do certain things (like talk) ….and when it is “scary” because it is actually an abuser to my Insiders in order to Internally continue the control and abuse that originally took place on the Outside (although I have no full concrete memory of it – just flashes)…..How do you tell the difference?
You said that an Introject doesn’t have to look like the abuser….can it look like something non-human – like a snake? I saw it “punish” a little one the other day when I did something “wrong” on the Outside….What do I do with that???
Soooo – if it is punishing a part for a step “I” took on the Outside (I told something) – then it probably means it is NOT a part that is bottom-line trying to protect me, but – instead – a part probably put in by an abuser, correct? ….It felt and looked more like “punishment” for what I did….she was VERY scared…….Sorry…I am trying to understand this….
I have seen this “snake” in my face (usually suddenly while driving) after times of gaining ground in therapy) ….but this time, I “saw” it “punish” this little girl after I “told” something – correction…I saw the beginning of her punishment and then her end result – I lost sight of her in the “middle” part…..
It seems like when getting in MY face while driving didn’t stop me – it turned to targeting little ones – OR maybe it had been doing it all along – only I hadn’t seen it before….I have seen groups of little ones Inside running in fear – but I didn’t know why…..I don’t know…..Any insight, anybody?????
I somehow stay disconnected from most of the feeling of it – like I am watching it through a window pane – am aware of the “feeling” that is there…..I’m just not feeling it…….is that good or bad?????
Wow, Laura! Thank you! <3 Great job writing this! We are working on this, right now, big-time! Your writing brought tears to our eyes, and moved someone to suck their thumb. It is more than interesting to witness these behaviors in me/us. We feel so supported by your words, by you and Kathy, and Claire. THANK YOU!!! <3
HazelE, thank you for bringing this article up. The timing is most appropriate!
And what about the ones that bad people put there on purpose? They fit everything in that article (except they don’t look exactly the same), but they didn’t just happen.
At the end of the article it says to be careful with the ones that were created by other people. But it’s hard to know where to start, and how we’ll ever feel safe when they put someone inside of me who is always watching.
I am trying to understand “perpetrators” and “introjects”……is it possible for one to internally act like it is protecting me from others – like when I am around certain “head-gaming” Outsiders….and then turn around and turn that same attitude on me for reasons I don’t know yet……Is it the “same one”…or can there be two versions of the same type of “part”……one version acts like it protects you and the other version targets you…….
I just wanted to give a shout out here to let you know that your question has been heard. I, for one, am just at a loss to know what to offer in return as the topic of “perpetrators” and “introjects” just confuses the heck out of me. I am not sure if that is because I do not like the topic (i.e., that it scares me especially when I am currently in a six-month battle of understanding what I think is a perpetrator introject) or I just cannot sort it all out because I do not have a “textbook” example of a perpetrator introject or I have not met/found my perpetrator introject yet. Okay … just a whole lot of confusion that I am offering you right now.
What I can say that I have learned is this – there is no one-size-fits-all in DID so every one of our systems will have general similarities and a whole lot of uniqueness just like us and our stories. So, maybe your system does not fit exactly into the perpetrator introject definition. And, that is okay.
I can also tell you that the insider that I have that my T tells me acts out “as my parents or emulates my parents” (my perpetrator introject?) also helps to protect me from my parents. So, while she hates me, punishes me, thinks that I am weak and useless, etc. she can also take care of my anger at my parents and even act out on that with them sometimes. So, she is a mixture. She also usually distains the other insiders, thinks that they are weak and need to be punished to make them strong. But, on occasion she has been very sweet and caring with them.
Wow … I guess that the only thing that we can be sure of is that our systems are wonderfully complex and nuanced. At the beginning of my journey of exploration into my DID system, I was fascinated to know that there were different kinds of alters. Now, I try to avoid labeling my inside folks because they are all special and unique and beyond black and white definition.
How I think about it … my box of crayons are not uniformly coloured. They seem to have swirls of different colours throughout many of them. So, I just go with whatever colour they want to present when they come out of the box. Just surrendering to the flow of the picture that they colour unencumbered by definition or expectation has created some masterpieces of understanding.
I hope that this helps a little MissyMing.
Thank you for your response Me+We….it DID help…I am sorry if I went into a triggering direction for you…….My “brain” gets the “swirly colors” metaphor and to take each part as it chooses to be in that moment…It is just a bit hard to actually DO when you find yourself putting everything (Outsiders AND Insiders) into a category of “nice” or “not nice” so you know where you are at – meaning whether you are “safe” around them or not….”Mixtures” are hard for me to grasp right now….it can feel very confusing, overwhelming and “unsafe” …….Your description of the “parent” one helped also….I think that is where I am at….although not real sure…. I am still checking things out……Thank you…….
Firstly, I want you to know that you did not do anything here to trigger me — the “topic” can be triggering for me. Actually, some times triggers are a very helpful thing because they point us to the direction that we need to look in our healing journey. So, thank you for showing me the way.
Secondly, I want you to know that you are not alone in your feelings of confusion, overwhelm, and worries of being unsafe. I know these feelings well as do others here and DID certainly gives us all a LOT of opportunities to feel this way. I hope that you can find solace in the understanding that you have folks here who know what you are going through and are willing to help.
Now, I have found that the “nice” and “not nice” definitions of my insiders does not work well for me. Even though there are troublesome insiders and insiders who get into trouble, I am trying to treat them all with unconditional love and compassion. That does not mean that I am not trying to communicate with them to agree on “safe” protocols. But, I am approaching our interactions as one that requires loving kindness even though a firm hand at times. My personal belief is that these insiders have never known love and compassion and maybe that will be the key to have them hear me, want to communicate with me and build a working relationship that is built on cooperation, mutual respect and safety.
It takes time that is for sure. There is no quick fix. There will be big bumps along the way. But I personally think that love and compassionate acceptance will win out in the end.
Hang in the MissyMing. You are doing great work trying to sort this all out. Be kind and patient with yourself.
I will try and work on the direction you are taking…..to check it out…..I can see how it would require a lot of patience and definitely time….I will try to consciously see them from the angle of compassion even if it is only a few moments at a time…thanks for the tips….!
Gerri Bird says
Beautifully written and emotionally accurate. Inside of the poison is the antedote. Thank you for this piece of clarity.
thank you, laura! this was a well written post and very accurate. i know that covering all the things each of us experiences is and will be difficult, but don’t stop putting it out there. there may be one line in a post that explains things none of us can put words to. i know that as i read things here, its like clarification of what my T says or what I know is happening inside that i’m unable to express.
this topic is difficult because none of us want to consider the possibilities of this happening after what we’ve been through. however, it is real and as ME+WE said so accurately, “approaching her as gently and compassionately” as possible is all we can do. just like we’ve done with all parts, we must help them feel safe, allow them to speak, listen compassionately, and show kindness for healing to begin.
we are glad you spoke of programming, since this happens to be where we are right now. the brainwashing piece is one of the strongest issues we’ve had to deal with. it seems to bubble up when we least expect it and the introject parts play their role. as laura stated, “like an actor playing a role in a movie, complete with ugly personality and cruel behaviors” this is exactly what we are dealing with. although they are a very important part of us, it feels bad and scary. thankfully, we have a T who has years of experience with this and is incredibly helpful and know precisely what needs to happen.
Oh so well said partsofme. I especially appreciate you saying – “there may be one line in a post that explains things none of us can put words to. i know that as i read things here, its like clarification of what my T says or what I know is happening inside that i’m unable to express.”
Bang on target. I find myself reading, rereading and reading again blogs and comments (even my own) and, all of a sudden, I will have a new insight or understanding of something deeply important for me. I can read it a million times and then that teachable moment just pops out and I will finally get it. That is why I find this website such an important lifeline to my being and healing. I keep coming back and rummaging around and I never fail to find an important nugget of understanding. Then, to hear the voices of others who are walking the walk and truly understand – well, that is a treasure beyond worldly measure!
With sincere regard for the special world that Kathy has created and the wonderful inhabitants who have made the pilgrimage to share here.
i totally agree, ME+WE! it’s good to research and understand, when we are ready, of course. this place kathy and laura have created is one of care, compassion, kindness, knowledge, insight and mostly safe.
I would be interested to hear what others have to say about this as well. What I would term my “introjects” are 16 year old girls – NOTHING like the real abusers in looks but EVERYTHING like the abusers in personalities, attitudes, and perspective. Although, since they are a part of me, there is hope that they can and will change (READ: not want to kill me or punish me all of the time). I see subtle changes so there is hope!
I never understood Anastasia’s purpose until reading this. I do have a question, however. Does the part have to look like the abuser? In our case, Anastasia is a ghost. Otherwise, everything else in this post fits. ✌🏻💖🐝
Laura from DD says
Hi B –
Looking like the abuser is common, but it’s not necessary. If everything else about your situation seems to fit, then the above article can still apply and be helpful to you and Anastasia.
I apologize for my generalization that excluded Anastasia. Exclusion was certainly not my intention!
I am just beginning to learn how difficult it is to write for such a large audience. It’s not easy to cover everyone’s situation in a single post! I’ll keep working to improve my ability to communicate the important points in my blog posts.
However, I’m afraid this might be a hard skill to perfect. There are not a lot of things that apply to every single dissociative person. Each one of you is unique, and there are as many different ways for dissociation to look as there are people in the world affected by it.
As a writer, it’s hard to account for all possible options in a blog post. Even if I were writing a whole book, it would be hard to do that!
For you all, the readers, that’s an important thing to remember.
I will do my very best to present the information clearly, but there’s so much I want to say! Unfortunately, the more detailed I get with the information I provide, the less general it is, and the more people will find exceptions or exclusions that make them wonder if the post applies to them.
I appreciate questions like this that give me a chance to clarify. I hope your question and my response allow more people to apply the information in this post to their work with their own groups of insiders.
I also hope you all will continue to have patience and keep asking questions if something I’ve written is unclear or not as broad as I meant it to be. I may not get it right the first time, but I’m always happy to have a dialogue about the subjects in my posts. This way, we can all learn a little more. 🙂
– Laura from Discussing Dissociation
Thank you for touching base again. I don’t expect you to write a perfect one size fits all article and suspect others feel the same. We just so appreciate having another person in addition to Kathy who “gets” DID. Having conversation about what aspects of an article might fit and what aspects don’t are part of us learning to understand our own truth.
Thanks for being here.
hahaha … if you try and cover all possibilities in your postings then indeed you will be writing a huge encyclopedia for each and every subject!!! I am sure that I am not alone in my appreciation that you cannot possibly cover all of our unique circumstances. I want to thank you for trying to be as distinct as possible.
My experience here is that this is an open dialogue on all of the topics and we all have a responsibility to be as clear and respectful as we possibly can. But, sometimes things do not come out as planned or sometimes they are just not read as planned. That happens. No harm done. We all have each other’s best interests in mind when we write here (or, most do).
I say this for my postings and it certainly can be true of all of our postings here – if something that I say is not clear or you take issue with it folks, just ask me about it. Same can hold true for Laura and Kathy’s postings. It just makes sense to ask for clarification and to give the original poster a chance to explain what they have written.
With respect to all,
Like all of us, they are parts. Categorising parts into the “worst”, “hardest”, whatever like many seem to (ie- in this post) is so damaging. ‘Introjects’ are children who need love and care like any other child (part). They absolutely don’t need to be blamed or held responsible for how and why they exist.
This is a very helpful article, and I appreciate its clarity. It took nearly ten years for one of my two interjects to come out and speak. He is making progress, has stopped the harm and is doing his healing work now. I have to remember that he is a victim too!
i read and read and i recognize everything. i just came home from a 4 weeks stay in a clinic. i just needed more therapy then was possible at home and i couldnt wait any longer to find somebody to take over from my former psychiatrist. in the clinic they know me, i’ve been coming there for years now. i knew there are people there who are willing to help me through the very though bits. and this was though.. extremely though.
one of my alters was constantly trying to break away from me and the others inside. i learned these past few weeks that he just couldnt cope with not hearing any voices from the past, something we all longed for and worked hard for to happen for years. but he just fell to pieces the day i could understand the memories behind the voices and say no to them. i never heard them since but he has been searching for them every moment of every day. we all tried to calm him down, to let hem play with the dog, let hem read comic books with his twin brother inside but nothing helped. i learned that for him time had stood still. he missed over twenty years in our life and he just couldnt understand life now. all he knew was that those really bad guys were still haunting him and that he had to do whatever to obey them. even if that meant taking our own life. constantly obeying was his way to protect us. he just couldnt understand that they were gone and that they couldnt hurt us anymore. so he wandered the streets to find them, he hurt us badly just to repeat everything they made him do for years. we managed to work through that part with him before now but still… he was very tired and he kept asking to please let him go. so we did. we had a meeting together and decided that the kindest thing to do was to let him go. we allowed him to give every memory he had to one of the other kids who was part of the memory too. once we told him that it was okay, that he didnt have to search anymore, that we understood how difficult it was to live in this life and that living in an adult life was just too much .. he actually smiled and i never saw him do that ever before. i knew then that we made the right choice. everything he held for us is still with us, safely guarded by one of our children. but he doesnt exist as an alter anymore. i had to go through extreme physical and emotional pain to let that happen. but things have also calmed down inside. that constant struggle we were living in is gone. the memories are still here and even now i’m home i can feel the constant tension and the energy it costs to just get myself through the day. his twin brother still misses him but he loves his new task of protecting the girl that guards the memories. but even if i knew then what i know now… i still would have done the same thing.
i guess im telling this because i read and i read everybodys struggle and i know thats my struggle too. i just wanted to offer some hope by telling this story. we all follow a unique road. my road took me on a twenty year long walk and it will take even more time to be able to say that yeah i’m alive and actually living it and walking it freely and by my own choice. the impossible can be possible, im discovering that every step i take and i so hope that i can encourage others to just keep walking.
Oh wow Tirza. Thank you for sharing this amazing life transition. I cried when I read how your fellow passed on his knowledge to others, smiled and now is gone. It was just so beautiful and touching in so many ways. Please know that, your story of hope lifted my spirits and made me smile through my tears.
With sincere gratitude,
Well, that is quite the incredible article/blog and responses. Thank you for such a clear and illuminating understanding of introjects and their importance to our systems Laura and Kathy. Sure does take one’s breath away thinking about it. Also, very timely as I am in the midst of some difficult work with one of my ‘angry ones’.
I hear you friends and certainly understand the fear of interacting with such insiders. And, it does rather feel like a betrayal that we should have insiders that mirror the abusers in our lives. But, as Kathy and Laura have said, they were (are) necessary to our systems to protect us in their way. We need to address them with the same welcoming, compassionate and loving spirit as we do all of our insiders. As frightening as they may seem, they are just doing their jobs for us. I believe that what we have to try and do is understand why they are in our systems, what they feel that they are doing for us and how we might come to some dialogue and agreement on what we need now as a system as a whole (them included). Then, I feel that we need to model new behaviours for them, as we do for ourselves, that is not trauma-based or driven by the actions, wants and needs of our abusers. In other words, rebuild who we want to be from this point forward as a collective.
To confront our introjects and deal with them openly, interactively and honestly is certainly scary beyond comprehension some times. But, ignoring them will not make them go away. We all know what it has been like to live alone and in silence in our pain. Our introjects can feel the same rejection, desperation and abandonment. We may not like the way that they choose to act this pain and loneliness out, but I believe that change starts with compassion, kindness and an open, welcoming heart for all of our insiders – even the most angry, destructive and injurious ones.
For me, I have to remember that, although my most angry introjects are a reflection of my abusers THEY ARE NOT MY ABUSERS! The image in the mirror is not the real thing. They have simply tried to mimic the actions, attitudes and perspective of my abusers in an attempt to survive. Ultimately, they are me at their core. And, that person is a kind, loving and compassionate person. Then, so too are my introjects. I have to be mindful of this at all times and try to show my introjects a new way of being. That means that I first have to heal their wounds so that they do not want to act out in their old ways. And, to do that, I need to communicate with them, let them have their voice, hear with compassion and acceptance, see the wisdom in their ways even when I do not like what they are doing, be fearless in confronting their truths, be courageous in vulnerability and loving in attitude.
Okay, so much easier said then done. Right now I have an angry one that hates me, thinks that I am a useless wimp and wants to harm/punish me (even sets plans to kill me at times) all of the time right now. I am approaching her as gently and compassionately as I can knowing that much of what she is doing is crying out for attention, help and healing. I do not want to push her pain away as mine was all of those years ago. If I did so, I would be no better than the abusers that helped to create her in the first place.
We cannot be whole and cooperative in living forward in the light of understanding if we choose to leave some of our selves hidden in darkness.
Just my thoughts.
Thank you for writing this article. Yes, it sure did touch a nerve. I appreciate your willingness to help with the hard topics. This is certainly a difficult one, at least for me. Difficult seems like such an anemic word for all this…
Thank you so much for your very kind and thoughtful response. It helps explain some of the internal chaos and perhaps some self harm issues. And maybe why pulling back these curtains and exposing what was feels so risky.
Some things I cannot speak aloud even though I want to. When I try it’s feels like all hell is breaking loose inside. Somebody knows what happened. I don’t have all the pieces but someone does. Someone sits like a scribe writing down this history….all the births and transactions and things of note.
This work is exhausting. And painful in the extreme. All the kings horses and all the kings men…
I so appreciate the insight you both share and the time you spend doing so and the thoughtfulness in helping so many people take such steps as we are able toward peace and safety.
Wren, who sometimes wishes she’d never cracked her shell
Kathy Broady MSW says
Another way to think of introjects — Wren, this might help, hopefully — is to remember that someone in the DID system had to remember all the stuff the outside person (in this scenario, the abuser) said and did and required.
Typically, most abusers don’t allow much room for kids to make mistakes, and it can be very dangerous and painful to not remember or “obey” what the perpetrator tells you to do.
SO…. one of the functions of these introject parts is to help remember the rules that were being given by the abuser, because, of course, one can get into even more trouble if they don’t follow the rules of the abuser, especially when there is no other safe place to be, and no one else helping you.
It’s complicated like that, but in joining in and following along, and having an insider contain the memories and enforce the rules, that can help the dissociative system to be able to do what was required of them with less external punishment.
It helps particularly when dissociative systems are not free or away from their perpetrators.
Years later in life, this “assistance” loses it usefulness when the DID person wants freedom from the perpetrator and wants distance and safety away from the abuse / abusive ways. Teaching the introjects to remove the loyalty to the perpetrators, and to defend and protect the DID system in healthier ways is extremely important system work.
Of course, you don’t want perpetrator introjects to say in the role they originally have. They DO belong to the DID system they are in — they are not the outside person they represent. So… helping them to find safety and separation from the abuse, reconnecting them with the system, and teaching them how to be an all-round protector is important work.
Everyone in the system deserves safety, healing, comfort, and freedom — even the ones who had to walk side-by-side with the perpetrators.
That makes sense I think I understand better now.
Rage and Missy and the Bully i think theyre like this.
But they be learning to be on our side better. They dont have fought for 2 days. Well the Bully she still grumpy. But Rage and Missy they be thinking. And it feel like they want to be on our side. And Missy been thinking real hard which she ushally dont do for this long. But we dont trust her yet. But rage he be acting different like not nice yet but he dont be being mean and that be a big deal for him.
Thank you for this article. It touched a few nerves, so it clearly was important for me to read. I am so grateful to have such great teachers about DID on this healing journey!
I was just thinking can an introject be someone you know now? Do they have to be a bully/mean part? I am having some transference issues and one of my parts resembles my therapist. Is she an introject or something else?
Kathy Broady MSW says
I think there are a variety of ways and reasons that introjects can be created, purposefully or organically. And of course, once your system know how to introject someone, and internalize them within, they can do that with anyone who is needed in their internal world.
I’ve known some DID systems to be filled full of lots of introjects — some helpful, some abusive, some carrying out varieties of internal tasks based on what is seen or learned from people holding similar external tasks.
Check with the others in your system, because yes, it’s possible that your people knew how to create an internal introject of your therapist. Have some good discussions with your therapist about this, because this can have a variety of implications in your therapy process.
The more you know everyone in your system, the better, so well done you for learning about this inside part as well.
Hold tight, and take care,
Kathy, I guess this leaves me a bit confused. Part of me thinks it is good that I have a person in my life (through therapy) that I would want to become- a warm, caring person, for example. My T is also mentally tough, strong-willed in many ways, and doesn’t take “crap” from people. Part of me are not strong at all, and I think that why I created a new part so she is tough, and less vulnerable, less emotional about her husband. She has the guts to leave her husband while all my other parts don’t. She gives me the courage to make something of myself; go back to school, work towards working full time. So is it a good or bad thing? We are both learning about DID systems at the same time. I have urged my T to come to this site for information as well. She is aware I am posting on here, as you (Kathy) have urged us to let our T know we come here for support. I guess I am having anxiety about this now, and I will talk to T about this next week.
Lots of thanks for this article. It makes sense of a lot of what’s going on right now. Everytime i try to make a new friend, there’s an uproar inside. I bet it’s this introject thing trying to protect everybody from getting into a dangerous situation.
This is really very helpful. Thanks
This is absolutely the most horrifying thing I can imagine. It is worse than horrifying. It’s horror wrapped in chaos with a serving of despair and a side of terror.
Torture has a name? Then it will consume me from the inside out.
There is no peace.
Wow, this actually makes me feel so much better! My “angry” part is so scary so that’s going to be my focus going forward. I have so much anger towards my abuser and my system is only just now allowing me to talk among my parts. I didn’t know they were there before. So it’s been quite a ride and quite a year. The next months are going to be hard as she comes out. She hates everyone and everything. We are staying with the therapy and meds. Working on a better support system as well. You guys are all helping me to feel so much less alone!! Thank you for all the comments on this blog! Let’s keep it rolling!