Integration is a natural process of the brain that got and gets interrupted in the lives of those with dissociative identity disorder. It is partly why amnesia plays a role in DID.
Our natural process of integration got disturbed by trauma. Either there is no memory recollection at all or there is a memory but no attached emotions. Its dissociated away. Integration of memory, traumatic or otherwise is key to staying safe in the long run.
If we do not know who is a safe person and who is an unsafe person, obviously we will get in danger. If we have memories of a bad person but no attached emotions, we might feel conflicted or it might be difficult to see how bad the situation was or is. Besides dangerous, it is also painful. You are rejecting your own pain and the pain that the other alters carry. But most people do not have a problem with memory integration but alter integration.
The integration of alters, if it happens, does not mean an alter goes away.
Integration means to combine two or more ”things” in this case alters, in order to become more effective. All the alters have their own knowledge and skill sets.
When one integrates alters, that knowledge and those skill sets are combined.
The personality(traits) and life experience, including possible trauma they carry become your personality(traits), life experience, knowledge and skill sets.
Integration of alters should be the choice of the plural system. A therapist should only guide and advice. Integration does not equal healing DID. Healing DID means healing trauma and that happens before integration should even be brought up unless the system has questions. If integration is brought up, it should be explained what is meant with it by the therapist. Functional multiplicity or functional plurality (or what ever term you prefer) is a great goal to work towards. Often its the only possible, best outcome for a plural system. (Full) Integration of alters is not always possible as the in 2011 updated ISSTD treatment guidelines explain. (page 133 and up)
Working with the 3 C’s, communication, co-operation and co-consciousness is a great treatment outcome for any DID plural system! More about that in a next article!