To integrate or not to integrate – that is the question for many people diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID) or other forms of dissociative disorders. Is there a right or wrong answer to the question, “Should I integrate?” You will likely get a different answer to this question depending upon who you ask.
Before I answer this question, let me share a metaphor of how I view DID. Imagine that the soul is a pond. The abuse freezes it over. The continued abuse causes the ice to crack and eventually split into a bunch of different pieces. This is how I see DID. All of the alter parts feel separate, but they are ultimately all part of the same pond.
Now, imagine that that sun warms the pond. Each separate piece begins to melt and then merges back into one pond. Nothing is lost or “killed off.” Instead, the pond is restored to the state it was in before being frozen. This is how I view integration, with the sun being self-love.
I believe that internal self-harmony is a step toward integration. As the parts become aware of one another, they begin to melt through self-love and recognize that they are part of a system. Some people with DID fear integrating their parts because they do not want to “lose” any part of themselves. My experience has been that all of the parts are still there but experienced in a different way, just as the part of the pond that was once frozen in ice still exists, just in a different way.
My goal in healing was always integration. I joined an email list serve where most of the people with DID did not have this goal. We chose to respect each other’s choices. Each person must find what works for him or her.
In my case, I still have some parts that remain separate, even though I have “invited” them to integrate for a long time. I have come to recognize that this is okay, too. I still feel unsafe when I sleep, so I still feel the need to have a separate alter part watch over me as a sleep. I love this part dearly, and I welcome integration, but I guess that I still feel the need for this part to exist in the way that it does. I do not view myself as any less “healed” because of this.
I do think it is extremely helpful for the host personality to integrate into the core. Until this happens, you might still continue to lose time, which is scary. I found integrating the host personality to be transforming in many wonderful ways.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt