As mentioned earlier, a very helpful tool which assisted me in my initial attempts at integration was a book entitled The Mosaic Mind by Regina A. Goulding and Richard C. Schwartz. This book was published in January of 1995, and was written by an attorney. The attorney was obviously cognizant and wary of the controversial impact of her subject, and cited every source available to back her material and conclusions. This caution on her part makes for cumbersome reading, but well-documented and solid information.
Having worked extensively in the legal aspect of child abuse, she contracted to write the book with Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., after discovering that they had a client in common who suffered from DID. She was so excited by Richard Schwartz’ treatment model that she agreed to do much of the writing and research of the book, if he would teach her his Internal Family Systems treatment model. The result is a pioneering effort into the puzzle of multiplicity, as well as a straightforward and solid guide for anyone seeking their way out of the maze.
Though I struggled with the ardent documentation of much that I already knew from experience, I learned a great deal from reading this book, and was given more hope for healing than I had ever before possessed. By applying what I learned, I made more progress toward wholeness than I had ever hoped possible.
The concept that helped me the most was Richard Schwartz’ findings around “The Self.” He explains it thus:
"The first major principle underlying the IFS model is the existence of a system of individual parts. The second major principle is the existence of a healthy, intact Self who acts as a binding force for the parts. This healthy system leader exists, no matter what level of trauma the person has sustained." (emphasis mine Page 77).
He goes on to explain, on page 82:
"The most frequently asked question by therapists and survivors alike is, “What if she doesn’t have a Self?” They wonder if, destroyed by trauma, fractured by terror, the Self of an abuse victim can be annihilated or wounded beyond repair. The IFS model wholeheartedly rejects this possibility. Without exception, clients who have participated in therapy using the IFS approach have revealed a Self (though sometimes not without a prolonged struggle from protective parts). These clients include many who were severely abused as children and who could be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, or major depression, or multiple personality disorder. What some therapists might characterize as an absent or weak Self is actually a hidden or blended Self. In severely abused systems, it may be difficult to differentiate the Self, but it is present.
This portrayal of a highly competent Self within all of us may seem idealized and unrealistic. How is it possible that people who have been tortured and betrayed as young children could have developed or maintained such an internal leader? The answer lies in our capacity to protect the Self. In the face of severe trauma, the Self tends to be hidden by protective parts.
All parts invest a great deal of energy in protecting or hiding the Self. ‘When any human system—a family, company or country – suffers some kind of threatening or overwhelming trauma, the system organizes to protect its leadership. In the face of danger, the tribe moves the Self to a place of safety and certain parts come forward to deal with the danger’. The Self may be forced into concealment even when it does not intend to acquiesce to the demands of its protectors (Danger! Get down!) The Self is shoved aside by protective parts, like a president thrown aside by secret service agents who willingly put their bodies between the bullets and their leader."
This chapter goes on to address how to differentiate the Self how to recognize when the Self is being “blended” with more extreme parts. He assures of the “deep-seated integrity” of the Self. On page 90, he explains,
"The Self does not merely parrot rules such as “honesty is good.” It explains to each part the underlying purpose of the rule and how it relates to the vision shared by the Self and the parts. It also defines guiding principles of the system. In this way, the Self reminds parts of the possibility of making moral choices in the present. The Self does not pretend to be the source of all answers to questions of morality. Rather, the Self explores questions and problems of morality and seeks answers with the help of the parts. It also poses moral questions when parts are extreme and brings them back in touch with their own morality."
There is much work involved, of course, in differentiating, informing, replacing the Self as the leader of the system. The authors assure us, however, that the Self CAN become the capable leader every system needs and seeks. On page 107, they write:
"We have seen, then that the Self seeks what is best for the person and for the parts, keeping in mind a shared vision of the future. Seeing our potentialities, continuously adjusting to the normal rhythm and flux of life, the Self both glides toward the future and fully experiences the present. One of the Self's unique qualities is that, despite the leadership challenges, it always remains stable, predictable, purposeful, with unfaltering intent and goals. (emphasis added) No part (even a non-extreme part) consistently exhibits this type of stability. In fact, the Self cannot be selfish; it cannot be concerned with only its own desires or pleasures, for unlike the parts, the Self cannot separate its needs from those of the system as a whole. When differentiated, the Self consistently displays courage, compassion and curiosity as it leads this internal system of subpersonalities. It emanates a sense of wholeness, integrity, and oneness. The Self alone always maintains a feeling of being intact and autonomous. It is sure of its boundaries. The Self understands its value and respects itself. Thus, the IFS model assumes that a natural, healthy leader exists within each person and guides the therapist, who may confront difficulties in locating and differentiating this internal leader.
The error of believing that trauma has destroyed the Self, if the abuser is successful enough and the damage severe enough, results in severe consequences. The survivor and the therapist will not try to locate and use the Self as a vital resource; instead, the client may become highly dependent on the therapist. The clinical experience underlying the IFSA model consistently reveal that all individuals have a Self-reference. The Self may be buried under layers of defensive protection; it may be out of the body; it may have to be repeatedly and painstakingly differentiated, perhaps at first only for a few minutes at a time -- but it is present, a well-hidden resource buried under layers woven together by creatively protective parts. The Self is present, naturally competent, a 'born' leader, and a valuable asset to the entire internal system. What many severely abused people have lost is not the Self, but trust in the Self. (Goulding, 107-108).