Out with Integration, In with Cooperation

I’m not sure there is a more hated word in the world of the insiders than that word: integration. Whether it is my girls, Amy and Alleylieu, or an insider friend of mine, or as I read other people’s blogs about DID, over and over, the insiders seem to be unanimous: integration is equated with annihilation and the thought of it is very traumatic. And yet we outsiders trudge on, determinedly using the word as we seem unsympathetic to the fear and agitation it creates in the very people we claim to want to help.

Moreover, our use of this word seems to reflect the assumption held by many therapists and even many hosts that the insiders aren’t real “people.” Thus, our use of dehumanizing language for them: parts, alters, etc. Karen called the other girls “aliens” for quite awhile at first. Ugh…. Well I, for one, am done using that word. I may be dense, but I do not want to be pigheaded.

Here is what Merriam Webster’s dictionary says of “integration”: a : incorporation as equals into society or an organization of individuals of different groups (as races) b : coordination of mental processes into a normal effective personality or with the individual’s environment.

It’s really not such a bad word if we would stick with the first definition. For in the first definition we can still see the idea of many working together as a unified group. However, in the world of DID, it is the second definition that is typically meant: many melting into a singular entity or personality typically that of the host.

And as I have talked with DID ladies, and insiders, and lived with my girls these last 2+ years, I’m not even sure the second definition of “integration” truly reflects how I, as a ‘singleton,’ always function. I can’t speak for all ‘singletons’ but I most definitely have various voices in my head at times. Sometimes they even feel like they are coming from different places inside me. If I am considering an extremely complex situation, I may have multiple “voices” weighing in on a decision I must make. It’s especially true when something is upsetting to me.

But the key difference between me and my girls is that for me there is a spirit of cooperation among the various voices. Unlike in a DID situation where at any given moment one voice or insider can ‘body slam’ the others into a locked up box on the inside, all my voices get to be heard if they so desire. And thus, any decision “we” make is based upon all who desire to have input in the decision.

And you know, my girls really don’t even like the lack of cooperation among themselves. I have repeatedly talked to Amy about this. She loves it when she is able to “lock” Karen and Alleylieu inside so that she, Amy, can do something on the outside all by herself. But when I say, “Honey, how do you like it when the other girls do that to you?”, she gets an embarrassed, caught-with-a-cookie-in-her-hands look on her face. “But that’s different,” she responds without conviction.

I could go on and on with examples to suggest my point. So I propose that we do away with all the triggering, emotional baggage attached to the word “integration” in the DID world by replacing it with the word “cooperation.” I believe “cooperation” should be the final healing goal of someone with DID. In a state of true cooperation all the insiders and the outsider in the network get to be heard if they desire to weigh in on a subject. In a state of cooperation, the continual fight for supremacy, as one person in the network seeks to lock the others up, ceases. And in a state of cooperation each person in the network benefits from the strengths of the others in the network while weaknesses are minimized.

Cooperation. I think it’s a healing goal the insiders and outsiders can live with.


Sam, I Am


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. undercoverdid
    Nov 16, 2010 @ 14:56:29

    Well said! I remember way back oh 10 to 15 years ago it was integration or cooperation and integration was supposed to be the right answer. I always said cooperation! I still go with that, but I think the word integration is quite interesting and wasn’t meant to be a cuss word in our community but the way it was used made it that way. I’m glad there have been plenty of understanding people to come in and realize cooperation is the key, not “getting rid of everyone but one”.


    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 16, 2010 @ 17:36:03

      Hi LH,

      glad this made sense. It’s too bad if they were discussing this 15 years ago, that they are still using a word so triggering to insiders. Karen read the article and thought it was good, but Amy and Alleylieu are terrified of the very word and even though I have tried to help them see otherwise, right now they refuse to look at this entry just because of the association it has with “integration.”


  2. serafina
    Nov 16, 2010 @ 19:45:44


    This totally made sense and is so what “we” are after and things are certainly moving in that direction. With cooperation then everyone gets heard everyone gets time out and gets to have a voice and with cooperation “we” can do many things at one time. One person can be doing on e thing and someone else something else and so on.

    Most say intergration doesn’t really stick or work anyway. I guess it depends who you ask but my insiders think of it as death, They have all served a purpose and all deserve respect and love and care for that.

    Anyway good blog post!

    Will send you a note tonight,

    The sisters!


  3. bet365
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 08:17:00

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  4. Sam Ruck
    May 18, 2011 @ 22:10:14

    I had another talk with Amy recently about this topic. To my wife’s insiders integration is MURDER plain and simple. Even Karen feels the same. We outsiders just can’t seem to grasp it though, can we, because we continue to push multiples toward integration regardless of how any of the personalities feel about the subject. I really think integration is a topic that should ONLY be brought up by an insider or the host(if the host wants to integrate into the core personality, not the host wants the insiders to integrate!!!!), never by a therapist or spouse.


  5. Sam Ruck
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 19:42:17

    I’m continuing to mull this topic especially as I watch Ben’s thread about the same topic over on his blog: Loving Someone with DID. I think my biggest problem with “integration” is that everytime I have talked to a therapist, one of the first things out of his/her mouth is “integration.” I DO believe that proper integration ought to be the goal of healing, BUT until we outsiders understand how the host AND insiders view integration in the beginning (my girls seem to see it as annihilation currently), all we do by talking about it is cause further distress and trauma. Integration really is something that shouldn’t be talked about by those helping someone with DID UNTIL those in the network are ready for it. Pushing them to “integrate” before they are ready is terribly unhelpful.



  6. Trackback: An Expert’s Opinion about Integration « Loving My DID Girl(s)
  7. Tommi of Erin
    May 15, 2012 @ 00:35:48

    Personally, the word “integration” has terrified me since the first time I heard it; integration is like a death knell. While my inside family’s goal is co-operation (or “Harmony” as we like to call it), even the possibility of naturally and permanently blending into another alter is worrisome and frightening to me.

    Someone told me that my inside family’s goal of Harmony was “empowering and innovative,” and it made me a little sad. I wish more people knew that integration was not the “only way” for people with DID. And I wish that the word “integration” wasn’t used anymore.

    — Tommi


    • Sam Ruck
      May 15, 2012 @ 10:28:49

      Hi Tommi,

      when my girls and I first started this journey, I talked to a couple of therapists and within 5 minutes they were pushing integration. Fortunately the one my girls see, does not. But I still have to regularly remind the girls that integration isn’t our goal. They read so much about it online. I’m not sure why the professional community has taken such a cavalier attitude when it scares the insiders so much. Is it patronizing, We-know-better-than-our-patients attitude? I don’t know, but I hope some day things change.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog!



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