This article mentions harassment with minor details.
My name is Amee, i am a protector in our system and I spoke about how therapists should call us by our individual names & on integration before in video format. (video at the end of this article!) After a recent experience, I felt the need to further clarify my point of view, in writing.
‘’If parts insist on being called by another name, the therapist may do so, but also should regularly refer to such parts as aspects of a whole person.’’ (Haunted self page 308).
The theory of structural dissociation tries to explain so beautifully that we are not broken, not split off by translating Putnam’s work. It’s one of the main reasons people with DID seem to like this theory. But if a whole person has aspects, it is really a whole person? Does it say we are not a whole person or that we individually are not whole? Or maybe that we because of the experience of separation cannot realize we are a whole person. As we constantly need to be ‘’reminded’’ that we are. I’m not a psychologist, so maybe i do not understand how something so contradictory can make sense to others.
We are still being treated as if we are broken, as if we need to be repaired, while claiming at the same time that we are not split off, not broken.
Many of us have been saying for years that it’s the trauma causing the problems that make us disabled, not the people or parts as we are still called. But the parts, who went through the trauma, carry that trauma everyday, keep it hidden from the others for many years in order to function, are not even individually heard in therapy, unless we force ourselves out to be there. We are then not called by our individual names unless we insist on it, with many therapists still outright refusing even if we show them things like the above quote.
From my perspective, calling me by my name does not make me any more or less real. I am real. I am whole. Whether they validate or invalidate that, does not change anything about my existence, my experience, my personhood or my individuality.
It just shows me if I am respected or not. If i am understood. If i should respect their opinion or not. If I should protect our more vulnerable system members, by not having them interact with such therapists.
Some therapists might think they are doing such a great job by only seeing the (one of the many) main ANP. But then one day we just do not show up to therapy anymore. And then they blame the disorder. It must have been some nasty part that self sabotaged and took them all away from the wonderful therapist. But actually it was Someone who realized they were being mistreated, deadnamed, misgendered, misunderstood, not heard and hence decided to protect the overall good of the whole system over the comfort of the ‘’one’’ main ANP. Would you not do the same, if someone mistreated, deadnamed, misgendered, misunderstood and didn’t hear at least half of your children? Would you not find a more respectful therapist for them? Where they can safely be themselves? Where they do not have to wear a mask? I certainly would and have many times. And I will again, if we ever end up in the same situation again. As we deserve so much better.
Integration & clinical observations:
When we met Onno van der Hart we asked him how he knew that final fusion integration, is the safest outcome for people with DID. His answer was that he knew that from his clinical observation. Personally we still cannot agree with him. Because we know many of those people do not go back to that clinician once they find out they are not integrated. We read about those horrors everyday. So from my observation, clinicians only see a handful of people who come back to the same clinician, after ‘’failed integration.’’ And the assumption is made that people who do not come back, live their lives happily ever after as an integrated person. And maybe some do. But to make the assumption a fact is not fair. Especially not when we know from a legit 6 year follow up study that the results for final fusion integration is 12.8%.
When someone leaves therapy actually integrated, but especially when they only believe to be integrated, once they get retraumatized and parts resurface, they will likely not go back to that same clinician. They come to the internet for support while they try to find a new therapist who won’t force or expect integration. Not only did they get retraumatized, they also realize they wasted 10+ years and a lot of money into an illusion of integration. And even if that is feelings over facts, our feelings are valid. Abuse, violence, mistreatment, harassment, trauma it is not avoidable. They worked so hard, for so long and someone retraumatised them and undoes it all. And although we try to see the good in the world, we also do not have to sweep the facts of violence under the rug. Not even talking about all other ways someone can get (re)traumatized.
The double edged sword of integration:
And then some of us have an even more painful experience. The realization that ‘’it’’ [the new trauma] might not have happened if the others had (still) been there. Luckily we had the opposite experience. And i feel the need to share it here. Because it shaped my vision on all of this even further. Right before our episode on the SystemSpeak podcast was released, we got harrased 3 times in a 20 minute time span, while doing grocery shopping. Now at this point of the story it is vital that you understand the difference between triggers and actual harassment/abuse etc. – Because the theory says we do not have to switch but the main ANP can translate what the others say inside. That we can learn to work through triggers, so we don’t switch when we get triggered. I do not think the theory actually supports the idea of not switching in an active abuse situation, but i might sadly be wrong and just assume the best in people. I’d like to know the answer to that question actually. And once someone has reached the ‘’final fusion integration’’ what is the answer to my question then? What should an integrated person aim for in an active abuse situation? To get out alive or to make sure their integration does not undo? I know we can’t ethically research that, i hope you get my point though.
How we worked together to stay safe without integration:
Anyway, one of our main ANP’s froze to the ground once the harassment became physical. Luckily we are not integrated in a final fusion kind of way, luckily we switch when ever we feel like it or whenever it’s needed. Luckily someone else was able to take over front, able to tell him to go away, able to grab our keys as protection and able to walk away from him.
Then luckily someone else was smart enough to dump our groceries in our bike and go to another store to win time, so he would not find out where we live. Luckily someone then thought of doing grounding techniques in that store. Luckily then someone was able to bike us home safely. Luckily someone was able to put away the groceries and make us a cup of tea. Luckily someone was able to go through all our safety reminders while listening to some piano music. Luckily someone was able to write it all down. Luckily, we were able to help each other. Because at first instance, we froze, not because of a trigger, but because of (physical) harassment. Freezing like that is not uncommon, especially not since we have CPTSD. But because we had different alters to take over, we got away safely. It was and is our best defense and coping mechanism. If we did not have other alters there, ready to take over, we might have stayed frozen or worse, we might have complied or surrendered, whatever you want to call it. We are convinced that we would have not been safer or better off by being an I.
So explain to me again, how it is possible that final fusion is considered the best and safest outcome for people with DID while at the same time saying that new trauma can undo integration while we live in our current society? Is the clinical community after all these years still in denial on how often trauma and abuse happens? Especially to previous victims? I went to the supermarket and got physically harassed. I was just a child and got abused. In both scenarios I was just minding my own business. In both scenario’s my plurality kept me safe and sane and most importantly, alive.
‘’If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!’’ – T. Bert (Thomas Bertram) Lance.
Amee’s video from March 2018:
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