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On my blog entry entitled Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): Are Any Alter Parts “Bad”?, a reader posted the following comment:

Where I have problem with what you write is when you say this: “every single [alter] part split off out of love”. This is true for most parts, but there are parts who internalized the abuse and that is all I currently know about them. I don’t know how to deal with them yet. Mostly they don’t cause me trouble; except at religious holidays mainly. A part can be a part because they were forced to be a part. If that’s the case, then there’s no love involved. It could be manipulated by the abuse. This is very true in RA cases, and so I’m very interested in taking a look at that book you mention. ~ Paul

My experience has been that every single alter part originated out of love to protect the child. Some were manipulated after the fact to be cult-loyal (like my part that had suicidal urges when I began recovering memories of the ritual abuse), and other were split off to hold the really painful traumas. Regardless, the original purpose for all stemmed out of love to protect the inner child. I would not have survived without my alter parts.

Here are some excerpts from Chrystine Oksana’s book, Safe Passage to Healing, that explain all of this a little better. I strongly recommend reading this book for anyone who has suffered from ritual abuse and/or has alter parts:

Regardless of an identity’s name, description, or personality, its main and common purpose is always to protect the child. Alters can manage extraordinary feats in their determination to keep the child safe. ~ p. 108

The identities keeping cult messages and dogma active inside the survivor can be thought of as maintainers. Sometimes these alters are created to emerge only during cult rituals, never in the “day” world. Although they may seem hostile and to behave in opposition to a survivor’s best interest, they believe it’s the only way to keep the survivor or themselves alive. By “maintaining” the cult rituals, no one dies. These are parts who enforce cult commands. They may prevent a survivor form going to therapy or, once there, create havoc and confusion in order to sabotage recovery. These selves may hurt a survivor or attempt a suicide, sometimes without the conscious knowledge of the survivor. They may appear to be genuinely cult-loyal and appear to enjoy hurting themselves or others. But … they were created under conditions of extreme duress.

These inner kids initially almost always feel frightening, both to the therapist and to the survivor. Some identities may posture and appear threatening and so are often rejected and ignored. But it is these selves that need healing most. They are the ones who contributed so much to rescuing a survivor from unbearable circumstances and today need rescue from those circumstances themselves. After all, most of them are only kids. ~ p. 142

Your maintainer parts suffered the worst of the abuse. While your other parts (including your inner child) fled, your maintainer parts are the ones who endured the very worst of the abuse. Then, you have spent your life rejecting these parts out of fear, which only compounds the isolation and pain of your most deeply wounded parts.

I found that loving and embracing these parts, even though they were frightening, was immensely healing. They truly were my most wounded parts. When I chose to love and accept them as “me,” I experienced very deep healing.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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