phorei: (Default)
I was a huge fan of Digimon when I was a kid. I started watching it when I was 7 or 8 years old. By then, some of the worst elements of my abuse had been introduced, and I had florid PTSD and DID.

When I was a kid, I would inexplicably cry at this episode. I remember the first time I saw it, I kept crying off and on and I didn't understand why. Because of the amnestic barriers due to the DID and trauma, I was not consciously aware that I was being abused.

The episode is probably one of the best written ones in the series - it is about this character called Gatomon, who up until this point in the show has been a villain. She is working to kill one of the main characters named Kari on the show for her master, the evil Myotismon. In this episode, she realizes that she is supposed to be Kari's partner. She realizes this because a friend she met before she was forced to be a villain reminds her of her lost memories from before her life was shattered - that she was kind and not at all the person she has adapted into so that she can survive. The episode ends with Kari and Gatomon connecting and pledging to be there for each other.

Gatomon talks about how Myotismon hated how she would look at him with "those eyes." She (Gatomon) would get punished for the look in her eyes. I get it. The eyes show that she is still defiant inside. I was punished for this too. There is a lot of physical and other abuse implied in the brief scenes of Gatomon's past.

There are, of course, the themes of remembering lost memories... "You can remember your past without fear." Her friend, Wizardmon, spends a good amount of the episode trying to remind her of her forgotten past and encourage her to fight her aversion/fear that is stopping her from remembering her past and who she really is.

But I think what hit me the most (and what always did, even when I had amnesia for the ritual part of my life) is Gatomon's forced perpetration trauma. Gatomon is taken in by the evil Myotismon, and is changed from the kind hearted person who saved Wizardmon's life into his right hand servant, perpetrating evil in his name. In this episode, Gatomon reconnects with her self from before she was abducted and realizes that she is not evil. She reclaims her sense of goodness and her identification with who she really is. She's not a perpetrator at all. I can relate to this to an existential level; a lot of my journey of healing from ritual abuse (where I was forced to hurt others) has dealt with the exact same theme.

Gatomon and Kari at the end of the episode (where they connect with each other and vow to protect the other) reminds me of the feeling of my daily life alters and alters that were forced to participate in my ritual abuse-related double life coming together for the first time. When the trauma alters came out of the darkness and were accepted by the ones on the outside.

I can't believe that even when I didn't know why this episode affected me, it still got through to me in such a highly personal way. That episode makes me cry even now.

Did I just write an emotional post about Digimon? yes.
phorei: (Default)
So I realize that the theory of the structural dissociation of the personality is all about categorizing alters into either ‘apparently normal parts’ or ’emotional parts.’ These categories of ANP’s and EP’s definitely describe large portions of my system. However, I have come to discover that I have alters that don’t fit into that spectrum. I theorize that some of these alter types may work by different neural or cognitive mechanisms (that none-the-less result in a similar end result and are likely to co-occur together in traumatic situations by virtue of being mediated by different types of defense mechanisms; I am also going to argue here that psychedelic states represent a primitive defense mechanism.) I don’t know that any of this is empirically accurate, but I thought I would throw in a qualitative description of some interesting features of my personality system. Who knows.

Tulpas, Associatives and Internal Caretakers

These alters do not fit on the trauma spectrum for me (usually.) My accidental tulpas (and intentional tulpas from later in life) are generally very empathetic, concerned for the well-being of the body, and not particularly dissociative nor prone to PTSD. My internal caretakers, despite very rarely taking executive control, are similarly empathetic and seemingly removed from the trauma/dissociation spectrum (relative to an ANP; probably still more prone to those things than someone without DID/PTSD.) Some of these alters are what I call “associative alters,” which are alters that sprung up due to a powerful emotional experience linked to a concept – for instance, I have an alter that sprung up from how impressed I was from the intense experience of the color of a song, or from the rush of curiosity a certain concept evokes for me. This makes me wonder if synesthesia might correlate with multiplicity. I consider some of my fictives to be this – parsing the character’s personality was such a vivid experience that it caused the concept in my mind to take on prominence. I can create temporary alters out of the feeling of vivid color associations.

Fantasy-driven Alters: Immersive and Expressive

I have alters that appear to be driven by the fantasy defense mechanism. They are not entirely free from the trauma response, though they feel different than the ANP/EP alters. Rather than feeling strictly dissociative when they front (at least in the same way the ANP’s do,) different weird feelings occur; these feelings translate readily into creative expression or immersion. Rather than feeling nothing like the strictly dissociative parts, dream-like translations of disowned affect are experienced by these parts. Some of these parts are based in the immersive experience of another world – for instance, some of my alters are based on the feeling of being from a different fictional world or being a fictional character, which came about from using media to escape encroaching traumatic feelings. More complex parts are the embodiment of metaphorical translation of real, underlying trauma (however, these parts themselves do not contain the actual literal knowledge of the memory – a different part that is nearby truly contains that) and can create complex story or other artistic narrative expressions of the underlying trauma.

Altered State-based Alters and Spiritual Alters

There are several different altered states that have led to distinct and surprisingly well-adjusted personality states within my system: near death experiences and religious experiences, psychedelic experiences, intense dreams (there is a possibility that dream alters represent alters that are regular alters that are connected to things I do not yet have conscious access to,) and trance states associated with spiritual practice.

Regardless of one’s personal feelings on mysticism/spirituality, religious experiences, near death experiences, and trance states are regularly observed and established phenomona. I do not mean to imply there is some sort of magic to being multiple or dissociative. Rather, I would like to argue that spiritual experiences and near death experiences are a type of defense mechanism, another way in which to make the world more bearable.The alters left over from altered-state type experiences of this nature tend to have a less linear thought process than my alters of other types, however they tend to also be highly resilient to external circumstances and stressors, experience the world vividly (albeit sometimes in weird/novel ways, such as by experiencing a new vocabulary word as a vivid spiritual experience,) and do not particularly dissociate. However, depending on the circumstances of the altered state personality’s creation, if they were created around a traumatic experience there tends to be another alter(s) that holds the horror/pain of the experience and sometimes these altered state alters experience a dream-like translation of these PTSD-related affects.

What's everyone else's experience?
phorei: (Default)
Hello, world.

We have polyfragmented dissociative identity disorder, and one thing that came fairly naturally to us after a little less than a year of treatment is the integration process. We don't see a lot of writings on how to do it, so we thought we'd write about it here. We don't intend to fully integrate, like ever, but when you have over 3,000 alters (most of which are fragments, but still,) it gets a little...impossible to manage? We have good internal relationships inside, but not being able to be present long and strongly enough to be oneself, and navigating time sharing between so many parts is very hard on us.

A few notes -
I don't know what it's like to be less fragmented, but I hear integration is much slower and harder for people with smaller systems. Since for us, many of us are very small fragments with only a small piece of a bad experience or behavior, so it's very piecemeal and in some ways that makes it a lot easier to integrate since everything is in such small packets.

Onto our integration process!

So there are a few components this boils down to for us -

1. Holding the association- the feeling- of two alters together, imagining what the two look like together. For us, since we experience our alters as colors, we hold their colors together. This is probably the hardest part to explain, there's definitely a feeling of integrating together.

2. Reviewing the two alter's traits, trauma, and current life. For instance, if alter A holds CSA trauma from the age of 8, and alter B is a daily life alter that is passionate about their scientific job, then the two take responsibility for each other. Like alter A admits that their life moved on and that they now have a job and friends that they love, whereas alter B admits that they went through CSA when they were 8. At this point, feeling as mutually appreciative, accepting, and loving of each other is critical.

In fact, I would say that is literally what it boils down to. Loving the other alter (and vice versa) and accepting them as yourself.

It's actually very simple when you get right down to it. For us, we can still feel the individual alters inside, but after doing this they always present as a mixture of each other, and work in synchronicity. It's really interesting how the traits combine into someone slightly new, but clearly still based on the alters involved.

It can take a few hours to a few months for the integration to really settle. Neither alter dies; rather they become both at once.

Be warned that the trauma of each alter involved will start posting, if that makes sense. Both alters will gradually become aware of each other's trauma memories. In our case, since many of our alters are integrating between subsystems, this also opens up the subsystems of each alter involved (if only to the integrated alter) and more memory bleed through and contact with deeper alters happens. This is a beautiful thing, but if you like to take things slowly or are easily destabilized by system work, it is good to plan this out very carefully and account for potential short-term destabilization (though of course we find that we re-stabilize very quickly, and usually have some sense of being better than we were before.)

Note - in our experience, this is completely reversible if need be. A few of our integrations like this eventually broke apart because the alters involved were more needed elsewhere, and that's okay too. Not all of one's integrations will stick, and may not stick in the long term, but that doesn't mean anything bad. Just having been able to work together- even if temporarily- like that can reveal so much about your system and can promote self-love among parts, which is never a bad thing.


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