Recovering Memories: An Inside-Out Approach, Part 2

Last year I posted part one of recovering memories from an inside-out approach ( I wanted to give you an update because at that time, we were just beginning that part of the journey.

First let me be clear that I don’t fully understand how this works. My wife’s therapist/facilitator is not pushing Karen or the other girls to recover memories during their sessions, and I’m not pushing it with the girls as I “work” with them at home. But both of us have noticed what is happening.

Second let me reiterate that as with everything on this blog, this article is written from my perspective based upon my constant interactions with all my girls and what they tell me but also how I observe their progress. Some day I hope the girls will come on this blog and confirm or correct me if I’m not fully accurate in my descriptions here.

I don’t normally talk theory much on this blog since I’m not a therapist and I can only offer a perspective on dissociative identity disorder based upon one person, my wife. But as I watch how the various girls in my wife’s system (host and insiders) function, it is clear that each girl has strengths and weaknesses. Karen and Amy can swim like a fish; but Alley and Shelly sink like a rock in the water. Alley told me that she is not nearly as good at solving mystery stories they all love to read as Karen and Amy. Recently I watched Shelly who is the youngest of the 5 outside girls take a logical approach to a problem-solving issue that would leave most of the other girls including Karen in tears. I can read Sophia to sleep with a bedtime story whereas, Amy, who desperately WANTS me to do so for her is unable to fall asleep no matter how long I read to her. Even the girls themselves have begun to point out to me areas in which they are weaker than the others: they are beginning to understand their limitations. These inequalities exist because each girl doesn’t have complete access to all their mental faculties.

I would assume most of my readers have noticed the same phenomena in their own DID network.

This leads me to the subject of recovering memories. As I have talked with Amy and Alley extensively to gain their insider’s perspective and observed all the girls and how they function in their network, I have made some observations. For my girls, Karen, the host, is the “front” man. She is the person that everyone on the outside would recognize as my wife. However, as host, the inside girls consider Karen somewhat “weak” and “docile” (their words, not mine). This isn’t an insult to her, but it reveals a very important part of her functioning within the network and also the limitations of her mental faculties. I believe the host was never intended to deal with the trauma in a DID system and so she actually lacks the ability to do so. If we assume that DID, in spite of its limitations, actually has a logical design behind it, then each “alter” including the host would have the mental faculties that best help her/him in her place within the network. The host was never intended to deal with trauma, thus, anytime things became stressful on the outside, Karen, the host, would switch out with one of the other insiders and allow them to deal with the trigger while she “visited the seashore” (according to her). When things became calm again, she would return to the front, oblivious to the trauma that had just occurred.

So…if the host was never intended to deal with trauma, then forcing the host to recover the traumatic memories from the past is asking her/him to do something she literally does NOT have the mental faculties to do. And therein, in my humble and completely non-professional opinion lies the greatest weakness of the typical method and one of the greatest strengths of an inside-out approach.

Amy and Alley are actively working with their therapist to purge the old trauma memories of their emotional punch. And I actively love them and the other girls to satisfy the longings of their hearts to be safe and “belong.” As we have taken this approach, Karen still has NOT recovered any of the trauma memories. HOWEVER, the inside girls are rapidly recovering Karen’s memories of the past as their own.

Try to imagine 2 ends of a continuum. Karen, the host, is on one end while all the inside girls are on the other end. In the typical method Karen would be forced to recover the trauma memories the insiders hold BEFORE the emotions are purged from them. Imagine her moving toward the insiders in this scenario as she recovers their memories. But from what I read on all the other blogs, this is EXTREMELY painful to the host and necessitates the constant use of anti-anxiety medicine to cope from the mental anguish.

But the way that we are doing it is just the opposite. In our healing journey it is the inside girls who are moving toward Karen as they “recover” her memories for themselves. I could give you examples ad nauseum of Amy, Alley, Shelly and KA who each have owned more and more aspects of Karen’s life on the outside for themselves. They speak in the first person as they tell me about their experiences that only a year ago they would have said were Karen’s.

Thus, Karen is NOT forced to do something that she literally doesn’t have the mental faculties to cope with, and the inside girls are rapidly closing the dissociative gap between themselves and Karen. Eventually I foresee a time when Karen will finally have access to the traumatic memories, but by then the other girls will have thoroughly purged the trauma of their emotional energy and moreover, Karen will have access to the other girls’ mental abilities to cope with the events. It is a lower-anxiety method that capitalizes on the strengths of each person within the network as the dissociative walls are broken down (only 6 xanax taken in 3 years so far…)

So that’s the update. The insiders are the ones who recover the memories at this point and they are quickly closing the gap between them and Karen. It’s still a hard path for all, but no one is traumatized unnecessarily this way.


Sam, I Am.

(dissociative identity disorder, dissociation, multiple personality disorder)


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Attachment Theory and Affect Regulation: The Roadmap for Healing D.I.D. « Loving My DID Girl(s)
  2. Sandra (@SandraHeretic)
    May 26, 2013 @ 18:16:16

    I’ve been reading here for hours last night and much of today. I am fascinated by your innovative, but oh-so-intuitive, approach to healing the fragmented mind into a functioning holism. And this particular theory about recovering memory resonates so deeply.

    It is ironic that I have considered that I might be DID since the early 80s when I was a teen but only last year become aware that anything in my childhood might constitute abuse or that there might be more to my childhood than my active memory allowed.

    The “front-man” that the world knows as Sandra is a collection that we on the inside call the sisters–as in a convent of religious sisters who collectively take on responsibility for taking care of business. We consider them “the least” of us, created almost as drones to get the work done. (Although we are a little embarrassed at the lack of charity that thought encompasses.) So it would make sense that we would not want to upset that dynamic by sharing the memories we specifically came inside to bury.

    Before I recognized the plural function of Myself, I was pretty panicky about not having memories that I was realizing should exist. I was terrified both about recovering memories that had been hid from me for a purpose and about not recovering them, leaving them as some kind of toxic abscess festering in my psyche.

    In the few weeks since we came forward as a community of Mind, and those…parts?…characters?…people?…we prefer Egos…who hold the memories let it be known to the rest that those memories are being safely held in trust, I have had absolutely no fear either of recovering or not recovering memories. In the sense that it might (*might*) make it easier for other people to accept our claim to have been abused, I kinda wish there were more memories in active circulation in the community. But really, we could care less. The memories themselves seem so much less important than dealing with the psycho-spiritual fallout from the traumas themselves–the betrayals, the lack of trust, the PTSD, the physical ailments–and that needs only unconditional positive regard for a long enough period of time to let us learn to trust it. (Well, that might be a simplistic explanation of recovery.)

    As we of the Community meet in our roundtable discussions, we have considered what healing would look like, what is the holism of Mind that we seek to be healthy and functional. None of the pictures we imagine have included giving the sisters a higher “top secret security clearance” as it were. Much preferred is some form of standing down or retiring the sisters in favor of each of us “powers behind the throne” moving out to take up authority and power directly, not needing the sisters to “front” us anymore.


  3. Trackback: The Host of a Dissociative Identity Disorder Network | Loving My DID Girl(s)
  4. ccchanel41
    Aug 08, 2014 @ 03:48:11

    This is essentially to me what other parts, we call them others, do. We all hold pieces of trauma/memories. Our barriers are very thick. The way we have begun to understand it, we needed more than one of us many times to deal with one incident. But, with thick barriers, we have to learn to find each other before we can even begin to put the pieces of the whole memory back together. Your blog is amazing so far to me. The insight. The way you relate to each individual. Also, just a side note, we actually ended up realizing we had an “Inside/Outside System of Safety” as children..when one was out, there was no memory of the inside, and when you went back in, no memory was left of the outside…period. This was for safety, to stay sane, but it left barriers. I loved this post. Still reading.


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