A Working Theory of Human Personality

How do I posit a working theory of human personality? I am just a husband who had only a smattering of psych discussions in classes more than 25 years ago on the subject (so reader beware! lol). And yet after 6 years of helping my girls heal from the fractured personality that dissociative identity disorder gave them, I have struggled to provide myself some kind of framework to use as I help them and figure out where to point them toward final healing. I’m still struggling how to conceptualize what I have learned as I have lived with their disorder 24/7 for over 6 years, but here it goes.

I think when we are born we have a large portion of the personality traits and abilities spectrum available to us. I do think there are other factors that determine our relative strengths and weaknesses in areas (which is outside the scope of d.i.d. and therefore this entry), but we start out with a full slate of personality traits available.

But trauma and choice and upbringing and experiences seem to chip away at our ability to access that full spectrum of available traits. I think people whom we would call “far right” and “far left” have over the course of their lives moved into very narrow positions within their possible personality ranges. They are then held captive from being able to see multiple perspectives at one time. Not only can they no longer see multiple perspectives, but they feel threatened by others who do. Hence, not only the religious wars against the un- and anti-religious and vice versa, but also our political and cultural wars between left and right. The more polarized one becomes, the smaller the amount of choices that are left to him/her within their personal paradigm.

We regularly use the language of multiples in our daily lives, and yet the stigma of hearing voices in our culture is such that we shun the value of holding multiple perspectives on a single issue. Our mind is trying to provide us with multi-layered and complex perspectives so that we can make the best possible decisions and experience life fully, but our cultural tradition upholds the ‘clarity’ afforded by simplistic, single mindedness over the more complex and mature ability to be double (or multi-) minded. Here are just a few of the terms that we use that hint at the multiple nature we all have within our brains: “fully engaged” vs. being on “auto pilot”, “on the one hand…, but on the other hand…” being “double minded”, “part of me thinks”  etc. just to name a few. I wonder if Freudian slips can be better understood in light of multiplicity and recently experienced it myself when I had intended to buy a certain flavor of coffee to please my girls, but when I got to the front of the line, I ‘found’ the flavor I preferred in my hands… More

Final Healing(?) in Dissociative Identity Disorder

Nearly 6 years ago my wife and I embarked on a healing journey together concerning her dissociative identity disorder also known as multiple personality disorder. She wanted to be healed, but she repeatedly told me, “I don’t know what healing looks like.” I became her de facto guide on a journey neither of us had traveled before.

But what DOES final healing for someone with d.i.d. look like? Her statement has haunted me the years that we have traveled together. I closely observed her and the other girls. That gave me insight how I work as a “non-dissociated multiple.” It’s a term I coined to describe the fact that I recognize the “multiple” language we non-d.i.d. people use to describe ourselves (though we would never say we have voices in our heads or people would think we are crazy….shhhh!). Instead we say “on the one hand I think this, but on the other hand I think that…” Or “part of me feels this way…” Or “I’m divided…” etc. We use the language of multiples to describe the many facets within our own personalities. And so as I watched my wife, my girls, I realized how similar I am to them other than the fact that I’m not dissociated.

But as we’ve gotten closer to the end, I’ve even had to recognize that we non-d.i.d.-ers use dissociative language to also describe our inner workings. We talk about compartmentalizing things, blocking out unwanted thoughts or feelings, going on “auto pilot” and various other ways we use to describe how we naturally disengage parts of our mind from various things in our lives.

So, what will final healing look like for my wife, for my girls? I’ve tried to answer that for them over the years, but the more I learn, the more I continue to tweak my answers, my description to them. Then recently Tina got a new room and that changed the inside landscape of my wife’s mind. Then unbeknownst to me, she and Sophia put a door in between their two rooms and they announced to me they were going to experiment by “leaving it open” part of each day.

So I talked with the others and struggled to come up with an analogy to depict to them what “final healing” might look like, and I think we finally have something we can aim for now. We are now aiming to put French doors in all the girls’ rooms to connect their inner rooms with each other. Our goal is for these doors to typically remain open, but they will have the ability to be “locked” (compartmentalized) if a girl feels the need to do so. We will not “install” the doors until both girls on either side of the wall express her desire for the door to connect her to the other girl. More

Best Friends

As Karen and I have traveled the last 5 years together on a journey of healing from her dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, we have been joined by 6 other, delightful girls. The last girl, Tina, joined us two January’s ago.

In the beginning each girl established herself in my wife’s network as an independent person. It was extremely critical to each one that I love her for herself, and NOT because of Karen. Each girl was also extremely concerned that I could easily differentiate her from the others, and when I could discern the switches between girls, even if she didn’t say anything, she would be both amazed and delighted that I knew “my girl”.

But the goal of healing d.i.d. is to tear down the dissociative walls that separate them from acting as a normal and healthy unit. And so this year we have seen a natural coalescing of the 7 girls.

Originally we had Karen, the host; Amy the 6 year old who took care of “her little girl” Sophia; Alleylieu the defender; and KA the inside mother of Amy. Shelly was the little sister of Alley. And last of all, Tina joined us to complete the network of girls comprising my wife.

But last year the girls began to change how the network was aligned. First KA began to gravitate toward Alley. They both were the oldest girls. They both wanted to be my girlfriend. And they began to act more and more in tandem with each other. They still wanted me to differentiate them, but often their voices would blend. They did almost everything together. And they became “best friends.” More

An Expert’s Opinion about Integration

Of the professional therapists that I read on wordpress, Kathy Broady’s blog about dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, is the one that I find most interesting. She recently did a post on integration that I wanted to provide a link to:

http://discussingdissociation.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/integration-a-new-category-and-nine-quick-opinions/

I briefly covered this topic in a past post here:

https://samruck2.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/out-with-integration-in-with-cooperation/

For those spouses and loved ones who have followed my blog, let me state that I find “integration,” as it is often presented to multiples, to be a deceptive goal. I don’t know about you, but I am a singleton and I still have voices in my head. And yet, integration is often presented to the host of a multiple network as a way to rid themselves of the unwanted voices. I hate to break it to my multiple readers, but having lived with my girls for the last 4 years, I now see “singletons” more properly as “non-dissociated multiples.” That realization has actually been quite enlightening about my own inner workings. I’m not saying there’s a cacophony in my head all the time because my voices have been working together for 45 years. But sometimes it IS noisy inside for me, too!

My girls HATE the word integration. In fact, I’ve never read any other insider on wordpress with a different opinion. Integration only seems to be embraced by hosts and therapists. Insiders, however, seem to see it as annihilation, and so I always assure my girls that I have worked to damn hard bringing life and healing to them to allow them to disappear. No integration for my girls!

So what is the goal we have for my wife’s healing? More

Recovering Memories: An Inside-Out Approach, Part 2

Last year I posted part one of recovering memories from an inside-out approach (https://samruck2.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/recovering-memories-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. More

Facilitating Co-consciousness

When my girls and I first began this healing journey, I focused on the needs of each girl individually and without apology. Because of the dissociation each girl saw herself separately from the others. So I met each girl where she was at as I helped her heal.

But as my girls (host and insiders) continue to heal, they are naturally becoming more and more co-conscious on numerous levels. So sometimes I get a little frustrated when one girl will still ask me to ask another girl (typically Karen) a question. Huh? “Can’t you ask Karen yourself?” I’ll ask exasperatedly.

But I’ve found that a far more therapeutic way to encourage co-consciousness is to find those things in life that naturally attract most or all of the girls and focus on those things. So last year I made Karen, Amy and Alley a dedicated craftroom for them to scrapbook in. When they are scrapping, all 3 naturally work together co-consciously. There’s no forcing or lecturing them to do so.

Then for this past Christmas I found a gift that all 3 of them were delighted to share: a handmade jewelry armoire box. Again all 3 girls were thrilled to share this extra special gift together. Also for Christmas KA, the insider mother, began to join our family on the outside and she LOVED to cross stitch. So I bought her all the supplies she needed. At first Amy and Alley weren’t too sure about this craft, but as Karen and KA worked on cross stitching, the other two girls decided they liked to do it as well. So the girls now have another craft that they will consistently work together co-consciously.

And then just last weekend, it was brought to my attention that we had never finished decorating our bedroom when I had done some work on it a couple of years ago and painted it last year. So I took the girls to Hobby Lobby on Saturday and invited all 5 of them to help pick out the decorations to complete our room. The look in their eyes was enough to tell me that I had hit a home run with them. They each picked out decorations individually and then Karen wove them into cohesive displays of beauty.

These are just some of the things that I have done to encourage greater co-consciousness among the girls. We have a spoken goal that we are working towards: we emphasize things they all like to do and are slowly discouraging things that only some or one of the girls like. I don’t INSIST on total unanimity among the girls recognizing that they aren’t at that point yet, but our goal is to move in that direction. More

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. More

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