Alphabet Soup - A View From the Pot
by Julia Fairchild
I’m learning that anything that is true is a divine dichotomy. (Neale Donald Walsch, in Conversations with God introduced the idea by that name.) For instance, take the concept of being "self-centered". In order to know what is in your best and highest interest, one must be centered in Self, centered in doing what is first and foremost for one’s own good. And yet, if one is only self-centered, thinking only of self, not much goes out to benefit others.
Another fascinating dichotomy is the idea that we are all one, and yet many. In all the cosmos, it seems there is only one Mind, one Collective Consciousness. . . .and yet to look upon the peoples of the earth, there seem to be six billion we can count. And looking again at an individual, there seems to be but one, and yet, looking deeper within we find a myriad of "mind states" or "parts" or "personalities" which tend to rule the heart and mind of the individual from places unexplored within. We all know that the chemistry created between people makes one behave as one personality with his boss, and yet another with his little child, and still a third with his wife. Add an extra lover to the mix, and find a whole ‘nother self! Many of today’s writers, (even many of yesterday) have addressed this idea of "multiplicity within." Freud taught of the id, the ego, and the super-ego; spiritualists teach of mind, body and soul connections; Thomas Gordon wrote
about interactions between the inner parent, children, and adult selves; religion even teaches of God as triune -- "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost"; Shamans practice the art of "soul retrieval", or bringing home
pieces of our Selves lost to the battle of life in the flesh; many have had experiences of past lives. . . .the examples go on and on.
In forming my own experiences, and in working with others, I have read many current authors who present the idea of multiplicity within in fascinating and helpful ways. One of my favorite is Susan Vaughn, a teacher and licensed hypnotherapist, who wrote Journey to the Beloved. The major thrust of her book is helping one to identify and sort through the many "voices" within to listen to the
"still small voice" of the Beloved, or higher Self. I especially love the concept that each of these voices belongs to a part who has noble intent, but who may be using self-destructive means to accomplish their purposes of guiding you to your best and highest good. She gives exercises and visualizations to help identify and transform these naysayers into coaches and cheerleaders.
Another favorite is Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who teaches at Northwestern University, and practices in Chicago. He has written many books; the two I am most familiar with are Internal Family Systems Therapy and The Mosaic Mind. His theory is that we are all "multiple" and he says he has to be sure, in his own work, that the parts of his clients don’t trigger his own internal parts. One idea I found most helpful in his work is his experience that regardless of how damaged any individual may be, they ALWAYS have an intact, whole and healthy Self. He explains that the Self may have been unavailable, having been protected by the parts acting like "secret service agents", but that it is imperative to find the Self and bring him/her back into leadership within the internal system. He further explains that anytime you find yourself over-reacting or triggered, you are not in Self, but are instead being ruled by a "part", and that it is necessary to remain in "Self" to maintain balance within. I think of the Self he describes as the higher Self, or as the director of the orchestra. The work he teaches and practices is to help the Self become effective in teaching all the parts to play harmoniously. Many of us have parts sawing away in off-key cacophony, as yet unable to blend with the whole. Other books which I have perused, though not had time to read are The Power of Your Other Hand, A course in channeling the inner wisdom of the right brain, by Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D., and Hal and Sidra Stone’s, Embracing Our Selves. Both of these books offer methods of dialogue with inner selves and Self. One manifestation of "parts" or "fragments" within a human system are those created by dissociation during trauma. Simply stated, dissociation can be described as a child imagining themselves to be someone or somewhere else while being hurt beyond the ability to endure. Depending upon the frequency, intensity and duration of the abuse or trauma, dissociative disorders present within a continuum of increasing severity and complexity. The continuum ranges from normal "differentiation" to the other extreme of "polyfragmentation" wherein alter personalities, amnesiac to the host and each other, perform acts or live periods of time for which the host has no recall, wherein one is defined as "losing time."
"Differentiation" can be described as feelings between parts, where "part of me knows I have to go to work today, but another part wants to roll over and go back to sleep, but if I have to get up, there’s a part that wants to go to
the beach." Of course these differentiated parts can have more serious conflicts, which polarize our energies within, as in the person who, on the one hand, loves her mother, but on the other hand, can't stand to be around her.
Understanding and de-mystifying "multiplicity" or "dissociation" for instance, could go a long way to allowing people to delve into their inner issues without fear of being labeled, categorized, and cast into hurtful molds. My personal experience with DID, and working since, with friends and loved ones who suffer its symptoms, has convinced me that DID is not the mysterious, ominous, debilitating curse that media and psychological politics has made it out to
Dissociation is the intelligent answer to the overwhelming trauma that causes it. When a child is faced with such trauma as causes her to split into other personalities, she has three choices: she can die, as many do; she can
become psychotic, or she can split. Splitting is the most creative, functional, and intelligent choice. Further, the intelligence, resourcefulness, and courage which allows a child to make this choice places her in excellent standing to
make a valuable contribution to society when she has had an opportunity to integrate and reframe her amazing abilities for more than mere survival. A thriving "multiple" is an awesome force for good!
This brings us once again to the concept of divine dichotomy. Those who seem to be the most injured, the most "crazy", the most disenfranchised among us may turn out to be the most courageous, the most noble, the most capable. . and having overcome their amazing odds, to become healers of themselves and others not only in spite of, but because of their very experiences. In every adversity there is a gift. . .divine dichotomy indeed.