Integration vs."Healthy" Multiplicity

Hello friends.

Today I want to talk about integration vs. "healthy" multiplicity. These are just some initial thoughts on the topic, and I'm curious to hear feedback if anyone wants to discuss.

The other day I was talking to someone about the fact that multiplicity in and of itself is not necessarily dysfunctional. There are many people who identify as multiple, or plural, or DID, who lead fairly functional lives. The aspect of Dissociative Identity Disorder that's the actual problem is the "Disorder" part of it... and you know what they say: disorder is as disorder does.

I was thinking about the old school way of thinking: the concept of personality as this singular cohesive entity, and that trauma somehow "breaks" it, like one would break a vase. Therefore, in this line of thinking, the solution is to somehow stick all the parts and pieces back together with the "glue" of psychotherapy with the end goal of integration - turning many back into one again.

Some things that CAN be dysfunctional aspects of multiplicity when present, in my opinion, are these:

  • parts that don't communicate with each other, so that what is done in the external world through the body is not known/understood by any of the other parts; this can cause a lot of chaos and confusion in daily life (e.g. looking for car keys or items that have been moved, being forced to jump into situations or conversations they were not adequately prepped for, having participated in things via the body that are not agreed on, etc)

  • parts that need or desire things that are intrinsically incompatible with what other parts need or desire (e.g. parts that identify as gay and desire a same-sex partner while other parts are straight and desire an opposite-sex partner, parts that want to pursue a specific career path that other parts are not interested in, etc)

  • amnesic barriers - which can also be the cause of the first point, but not always; there's a difference between choosing not to communicate and not being able to

  • a lack of sense of self, which makes sense, but what I mean is a lack of pervasive sense of who the person is - individually and collectively - and a lack of understanding of what's happened in their life, what their story is.

  • a lack of knowledge about what healthy boundaries are and how to enforce them

Can anyone add to this list? I'm thinking broadly about multiples here - not necessarily traumagenic or endogenic, specifically.

So, with those things in mind, what is integration, other than one path that tries to solve these problems?

I think it's important to recognize that these problems can be solved without integration, and that integration itself might be (probably is) a myth that doesn't necessarily exist... at least not in the way traditional thinking says it does. If a person's ego states never achieved that seamlessness during the original developmental time period it was supposed to, how does anyone actually know for sure it can be done later? What if the only feasible option later is closer to some form of neurodiversity that looks an awful lot like plurality, with or without acknowledging the individuality of different parts?

What if integration is very similar to healthy multiplicity - but keeping everyone - where the insiders are just working as a functional team, cooperating and compromising, which sometimes necessitates adopting a nonconventional way of life in order to try to make life as fulfilling as possible for all parts who want to participate? (This is what I help systems with.)

I am not seeing a huge difference between the goals of integration and the goal of healthy multiplicity - just the method.

What do you think?


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