Astraea: Multiple personality and integration
Anthony TempleAs our page is specifically devoted to living multiple and choosing not to integrate, we don't have much material on integration.
As a matter of fact, there's no real consensus on what integration really is. Many doctors claim that it's the synthesis of all the persons in the system into one cohesive, unified being. It is difficult for me to believe that such a being exists. All human beings possess multilevels of consciousness and no such cohesiveness is required of singlets (non-multiples).
One will sometimes read accounts by former members of multiple households stating their belief that true integration only takes place when one's other selves actually die. I think this attitude grew out of the work of Dr. Morton Prince. I don't believe that you can kill off members of households merely by suggesting to them that they are dying and fading away. Furthermore, the very concept is atrocious.
In both cases, the therapist is in charge of the integrating process. Some one individual (often, but not always, the person who generally presents to the world-at-large) is chosen to be "the real self". This person is hypnotized, and the therapist directs other members of the household to merge, or join, or die, or disappear, or whatever it may be. For some particularly nauseating examples, take your strong protectors with you and read any book by Dr. Robert Mayer.
The entire idea that a multiple group must "integrate" in this sense is a product of social control through rigid definition, something I hope American society is moving away from.
It also doesn't work as easily as we are led to believe. Dr. Lucinda Harman, who worked with numerous multiples -- officially diagnosed with MPD -- at Dr. Cornelia Wilbur's Open Hospital for Multiple Personality, often observed persons having in-house discussions, where they arranged to -pretend- to be integrated to keep the doctors happy. She reports the following:
"Frequent stories about providing therapists and society with what they wanted to see, abound. I have never met an integrated multiple. However, some tried to convince themselves that they were -- the whole time that they were switching."
So obviously, it isn't as easy as it's been made out to be. You may wish to take this into consideration if you are thinking about trying to integrate.
Some who have gone through the integration process report that they can "still feel" the presence of their other selves, but it is unknown how long this lasts. A lot of intensive work has to be done with the newly integrated patient to school him or her in "normal" behavior, responding to life situations as a single being instead of each individual having his or her own unique response.
If, as I believe to be the case, multiplicity is not a pathology, this type of "integration" is analogous to training left-handed children to be right-handed, or trying to "cure" autism by forcing autistic children to imitate non-autistic behavior. This doesn't heal a disorder; it creates one.
Billy Milligan is an example of a multiple group whose members can integrate themselves at will. In The Minds of Billy Milligan we read that the Milligan household did attempt to live this way for a while, after having been officially diagnosed with MPD and undergone therapy with Dr. David Caul. The integrated being (calling himself The Teacher) was supposed to contain all the skills and gifts of the entire household. It worked for a while. Over time, The Teacher found that "his" skills and abilities were falling off or fading. Milligan still describes this experience by saying "the whole was less than the sum of the parts." In addition, in an extreme emergency situation, The Teacher spontaneously differentiated.
A few more enlightened therapists (and many alternative healers) encourage cooperation and co-consciousness. They are close to recognizing that plurality in itself is not a "disorder", but that some households find themselves in disarray from inadequate communication or the lack of a continuous memory thread.
The notorious memory gap -- actually not memory loss or amnesia, but a loss of continuity of consciousness between persons in a group -- has long been reported as the reason most households present for psychotherapy in the first place:
"But Audrey, you already scrubbed the floor this morning! You were talking kind of funny, and you asked me to call you Virginia..."
"I can't understand it! What am I doing in Detroit? Why am I wearing this red polyester pants suit, and why is everybody calling me Valerie? I don't even know these people..."
Integration is not necessary in order to solve this problem. Members of the household who are aware of each other can get acquainted, gradually introducing themselves to those in the group who are not aware of the situation. Most important is the establishment of a continuous flow of communicated memory, so that if one self must step back and another come forward, the one who's come forward will have full awareness of what's currently going on. In this way, gaps in memory don't interfere with everyday functioning. I'm convinced (and Dr. Harman's research backs me up) that many households establish naturally their own patterns of communication and continuity, and have no need for therapy.
I know of only one book that is all about the integration experience. It is called "Mending Ourselves" and it's published by Many Voices Press. It's a collction of essays by households that have integrated or are in the process of integrating. What I noticed immediately was the preponderance of comments such as "I sure miss Matthew," and "Today is the last day I'll ever see Josephine".
Is integration ever healing, or the right thing to do? Some report that it is. There are multiples who really did split due to horrific abuse, and who feel that they are actually one person -- that being multiple is not right for them, that it is a sickness, something wrong. Integration is truly a blessing for them.
Last update: Saturday, November 10, 2007 2:04:44 PM
Other Essays by Anthony TempleMultiple Personality and the Media Why are we constantly portrayed as freaks?
Multiple Personality Is Natural We have been sold a bill of goods about multiplicity being a "mental disorder".
No More.. A tirade on multiplicity as sickness.
Our Truth To those who would help us recover from denial.
Removing Diagnostic Labels Multiple personality does not belong in the DSM.
The Kaycee Nicole Thing On the Internet, you are who you say you are... use it wisely.
Validation and Language in Multiple Personality An answer to the often-asked question "Does this happen to anyone else?"
Why Activism? We strive to educate the public because other people tend to make it their business -- "You need HELP" -- when you come out multiple.
Multiplicity is not a
disorder -- Integration is Not the Only Choice by House of