Full Merging, Unification, Alter Integration — Terminology, Controversy, & Issues
This article is a Stub and covers terminology issues, advocacy issues, & general debate over the process. There's a new page covering how to achieve unification and and overview of the unification process along with suggestions for therapists at Unification aka Final Fusion (FF), Full Final Merging, Integration, Alter Integration - an overview of the ISST-D Guidelines for treatment of adults with DID with much notes and suggestions New.
Note that this is a controversial topic in the overall plural, DID, multiple community. It is not an answer to abolish multiplicity or plurality from the planet (impossible), it is not for everyone, sometimes it is a phenomenon that happens without external intervention, and for some systems it is a goal.
Merging occurs when 2 or more residents blend with each other and leave their separated identities behind. A full merge means that everyone in the system has (usually over time) merged until there's only one entity left in the system.
Spontaneous merges can happen within systems. Usually a spontaneous blend occurs first, where 2 or more residents combine to create a new, unique, personality that consists of various traits from their combined identities. There is usually something "lost" as well, as there may be compromises on conflicting interests or identity markers.
Listen to Integration Is Not What Anyone Thinks (020) New for early arguments on the controversy of using the word "Integration" when treating multiple systems.
Note that there is now too much ambiguity with the use of the word "integration" by professionals to mean "full final merge" versus "emotional or sensory integration" i.e. coconsciousness.
This is not a mistake. The psychology community has no such ambiguity. It's not their lives at stake. For them THESE ARE ONE AND THE SAME. Because they already do not believe we are separate entities with our own rights to existence.
To psychology, we only perceive being separate; it's an extension of sensory dissociation. By encouraging sensory integration, they expect that by extension we will either merge on our own, or with some later encouragement. Stronghold system goes into an analysis of one of the more widely recognized and regarded books on how to work with DID systems that encourages pulling this terminology bait-and-switch on clients (offsite).
Thus encouraging "integration" in DID therapy specifically using that term is a willful singular-centric deception by some of the experts in the field. Read the Blue Knot guidelines glossary definition of "integration" (image &/or text excerpt above) — the term simply takes on this additional meaning when applied to DID. The concept of full merge is controversial, not the deliberate double-meaning of the terminology from the plural perspective. When clients directly ask about the treatment plan being handed to them by therapists, they are fed the first definition. The second (DID-specific) definition is willfully omitted.
If the singular therapist doesn't really believe in DID, then they are all one and the same. If they can sell "integration" to their clients under the guise of "sensory integration" then they can slip full merging in later on by extension simply by use of the one term with a double-meaning. This has happened to folk, and it's directly encouraged in the treatment guidelines as shown in Stronghold's article (linked above).
These ambiguities have created a very deliberate and deceitful communication rift between client & professional, and by accidental extension created hotly contested rifts in the plural community.
Many people in the world including much of the plural community overall still use "integration" in DID to ONLY mean full merge, while the official profession of psychology has generally moved towards the bait-and-switch of the broader and much more ambiguous "sensory integration" while, to them, this broader term still includes alter integration by extension. They just conveniently omit that fact when talking to plurals about it. (sarcasm)Why upset the bear?(/sarcasm)
Merging versus coawareness ("sensory (only) integration") are widely divergent concepts and the terminology used in a therapeutic environment should be clearly stated, so this site is being updated to only use "merge" for the concept of making blends between residents permanent, and "unification" "full merge" or "full final merge" for complete interweaving of all residents in an attempt to have only one person remaining within the system in question.
Note, this issue is besides the fact that they should not be discussing treatment goals they have for the client, but discussing what the treatment goals will be with the client as a team. There's already an inherent problem in therapy relationships when the decision on what to do in therapy is unilateral. That's an argument for elsewhere.
In addition, note that coerced or forced unification or full merges are not supported by statistics or evidence to be successful.
When is merging desirable?
Merging (by specific headmates) can happen when they are exceptionally close to each other, their perception of themselves becomes redundant, and/or they see how becoming one would be greater than the sum of the parts (synergy).
Merges frequently happen between fragments, parts, or parts and people. Sometimes there are fragments or parts that fit like pieces of a bigger puzzle, and they will spontaneously merge to become "more whole". Missing links, soul fragments (see Neoshamanic Perspective New), etc. bond together to become something more complete. One might not even be aware these merges are taking place.
How do you merge?
Most merges take place on their own, in the goings-on in the system.
Occasionally someone seems to be missing or to have "gone deep" but it's discovered that they are kinda-sorta still there subsumed into someone else.
Some folk make a deliberate decision and "will" it to happen, or probably more gentle and successfully, "allow New" it to happen.
Some folk do a ceremony, or make a bigger deliberate deal of it, although this is relatively rare.
The overall deliberate process is similar to coconsciousness: building up communication, getting into the Here & Now New as much as possible, gaining trust New, coming to an agreement & commitment with each other, then getting closer and closer until you cannot tell where one starts and the other ends, and finally allowing New or surrendering to each other in a trust that you can both coexist as an individual rather than separate entities. It requires an unconditional loss of the ego of needing to own and experience things for oneself alone. Beyond that, it's a mystery.
Many successful merges happen without having planned to do so from the start. During the normal course of pursuing healing, pairs (or more) of headmates will come to the realization that they've grown so close to someone that the idea of merging with them seems natural, practical, and desirable. It can happen to system members whether or not the plan is full merging or unification, or functional multiplicity.
For a full description of the unification process per ISST-D guidelines see: Unification aka Final Fusion (FF), Full Final Merging, Integration, Alter Integration - an overview of the ISST-D Guidelines for treatment of adults with DID with much notes and suggestions New
Arguments with Full Final Merges
Why don't you
integrate merge? Isn't that the mainstream way of dealing with multiple personalities?
Some multiples consider attempting to
integrate merge an act of murder/suicide, as in at least some cases, one of the people/personalities is subsumed by another. [Sounds cannibalistic. Eeeew. -- XES]
See also Merging Loss (was Integration Loss) for when you lose a beloved headmate or friend/lover to merging.
1 Blue Knot Foundation treatment guidelines (2019). https://www.blueknot.org.au/resources/Publications/Practice-Guidelines ⇑
- About Multiplicity: The Missing Manual
- Defining Alters in Multiple Personality
- Stuck Residents aka stowaways, lost souls, non-coaware identities, emotional parts, etc. New
- Unification aka Final Fusion (FF), Full Final Merging, Integration, Alter Integration - an overview of the ISST-D Guidelines for treatment of adults with DID with much notes and suggestions New