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Common Questions that DID Clients Ask in Session


Clients often ask me certain questions throughout their therapeutic journey. There is not much easy-to-read, reputable information out there, so I will attempt to answer some questions based on my experience with clients, research I have read, and general information I have picked up. I will try to add to this as I realise more questions, but if you have anything you want answered please comment below.


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b. Fusion

4. How can I increase communication?


Do I have to integrate? What does that mean?

In short, the main goal of therapy with dissociative identity disorder is integration. However, what you mean by integration can vary greatly and should be discussed with your therapist. If you are sitting there thinking the therapist wants to "erase" parts, you won't trust the therapist or want to move forward, so this is important to be clear from the start.


To bust some myths, I will explain what I have seen as the two most common meanings of integration, so people know these terms and that they have choices.

Fusion

Functional Multiplicity

Fusion includes joining two or more parts to create one part that shares a mix of the original part's interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Some therapists aim for this end goal, which is possible for some systems; however, the client must decide. Therapists who try to push fusion before the client is ready can increase amnesia and separation.

This type of integration is when all parts work together and communicate in a way that allows the system to complete their daily life with as little stress as possible. Many people with DID work toward functional multiplicity and find it easier to achieve and less scary throughout therapy.


A Final Word: It is important to note that communication levels can fluctuate between parts and within the entire system. Dissociation and separation have kept people with DID alive in situations where many would have died or been seriously hurt, so it is a powerful coping mechanism that might be returned to at any point. This shouldn't be disheartening news but something to be aware of and not feel bad if communication occasionally decreases.

Integration should mean what the client is comfortable with, but please know a therapist with some experience may push you outside of your comfort zone at times to move toward increased integration.


The client must recognise that integration is about moving toward less amnesia, less separation between parts, and increased system cooperation. This does not mean that the person has to merge parts; it does, however, mean cooperation for every part with every other part for much of the time (not everyone gets along with everyone always).


Am I the original part?

There really is no original part, as the sum of the parts makes up the whole. People aren't born as a part of themselves, they are born as a whole. They then learn what their whole self is and means through their caregivers and important people in their life.


When something then happens that is too overwhelming to have an awareness of it all the time, the person separates what happened off and puts it into a part of them that they have no access to so they can get away from the trauma and they can live daily life.


Admittedly, many systems have a "host", which is the part that typically spends the most time fronting. Although, some systems may not.


Should I be able to communicate with all of my parts?

Communication between parts often takes time. How much time depends on how many parts and how separated they are.


Systems that have a lot of parts may take longer to be able to communicate between all or many of the parts. Additionally, some systems can only communicate through parts, meaning part A can communicate with part B but not part C; however, parts B and C can communicate, so part A gives a message to part B and part B passes this on to part C.


This acts as a sort of filtration system. Part A may have minimal awareness of the trauma they went through, and part C may hold the majority of trauma details, meaning communication between A and C could be overwhelming. Part B then acts as a protective messager with a middle level of knowledge for trauma and can determine if the information being communicated may be harmful.


Complicated right? Well, to suppress intense, consistent, overwhelming trauma, many hoops are created to keep the system working, and this is why DID often takes a long time to be diagnosed and recognised.


In summary, right now you should be able to communicate with as many parts as you can communicate with right now. However, there are ways to increase that communication in the future, and when done with a knowledgeable therapist, system-wide communication (even if it's through parts) can be achieved by many.


How can I increase communication?

If you don't have a therapist with experience in dissociative, then: Very carefully. Very slowly.


Opening up communication with a part can open up the communication of both day-to-day things and past trauma. If this is something you are not prepared for or in a safe space to learn of, it can be very dangerous.


I will give some tools that some of my clients have used below but tread carefully if you don't have therapeutic support. If you do have therapeutic support, ask your therapist first if it may be detrimental to you or therapy, and at the very least, let them know what you plan to do and when.

Tool

How to use this

Communication book

You could place a notebook somewhere accessible for all parts to read if they want. When you open the door and tell them you want to talk, you might be surprised who responds.

Post it notes

If there are parts that maybe get halfway through things and switch out, eg Cooking, they could leave a post-it note somewhere other parts will see to turn off the oven or check the microwave, etc.

YOUR PHONE

Nearly everyone has a phone. Set reminders, and alarms, write on your notes app, use your calendar, use Google and Siri for when you have your hands full ("Hey Google, remind me to do X at X time"), utilise your phone in whatever way is helpful.

Some good note apps

Evernote, google keep, Goodnotes, and OneNote

DID apps

Additional to your phone in general, there are DID apps out there that include system mapping tools, part profiles, tracking of fronting and co-consciousness, etc. However, there are not many that I am aware of (any apps or tools I've missed, please comment). Simply plural is the main app I'm aware of, however, many systems use Evernote and apps such as that.


What does it mean if I rarely have "blackouts" or "come too"? Does that mean I don't have DID?

Full blackouts are uncommon; often, people experience what is called grey outs. Grey outs are where you remember some details but not all, and it's very difficult to think of the memory. When reminded of things that happened, you may remember some and not others. My clients usually describe this as when you have a big night of drinking and remember some of what you did but not other things. Grey outs are far more common than blackouts, which still count as a dissociative experience. Additionally, people can go years without memory loss and still have DID. You don't need to have full blackouts for a diagnosis.



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