I received a question from a reader about healing from dissociative identity disorder (DID). She is reading a book about healing from DID, and that author recommends naming each alter part and holding “meetings” with the different alter parts to get them to work together. The reader asked if I agreed with this advice.
Before I answer the question, let me take a step back. As somebody over at the Isurvive message board once commented, DID is a “create your own disorder” disorder, so it manifests in different ways in different people. Some people might only have two or three personalities. In that case, each personality might have already named herself, and it would not be that complicated to “hold a meeting” that invites the input of all three.
However, DID can manifest in many different ways. In my situation, I had six layers of alter parts, most of whom were personality fragments but many of whom were full personalities. None of the layers knew about the other layers. I “guesstimate” that I had about 1,000 parts in all. I would have taken me forever to name each part and “hold meetings.” That simply would not have been feasible for me.
I am not saying that the author’s way is the “wrong way;” however, it is not the only way.
Because the traumatized child created the fragmentation, the fragmented adult intuitively knows the best way to heal. The key is figuring out how to listen to your intuition and learning how to trust it again. Severe abuse causes a person to doubt her own intuition. Learning how to hear and heed your intuition is a big part of healing from DID.
For me, naming the alter parts was not helpful. Healing from DID involved loving and accepting each part as “me.” Naming a part made it feel more separate. For example, the first part I “met” was named Irate. I integrated many other parts much more easily than Irate because Irate was my “friend,” and I didn’t want to “lose” her by integrating her. It took courage to follow my intuition and allow her to integrate, where she has become a part of me.
While I never held “formal meetings,” I did invite my alter parts to “come out” and express themselves. Once they expressed their memories and pain, there was no longer a need for them to stay separate, so they would integrate, and I would work through the memories and emotions.
When it comes to healing from DID, trust your own intuition. If another person’s advice sounds appealing at a heart level, then try it. If it does not, then try something else that feels like a better fit.
I know how scary it can sound to blaze your own trail with healing from DID, but try to remember that you blazed your own trail when you fragmented in the way that you did. Only you know the most effective way to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. You hold all of the answers inside of yourself.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt
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