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Internal Landscapes or Inner Worlds

See also the Discovering Your& Internal Landscape New, InternalLandscapeFAQ New and Internal Landscaping. There's also an online course that adds to these materials, and walks students through with exercises.

What is an Inner World or Internal Landscape?

Most simply put, an internal landscape is a shared mental refuge for DID systems. An internal reality. An internal world. Inner worlds are not limited to specific types of plural systems; the author is speaking from personal and community experience as a DID system.

In some cases an inner world is a literal copy of external places, an internal adaptation of a known location in which the plural or multiple's system members can interact. There are some common models for an internal landscape's form: perhaps a room, a house, a vacant lot, a spaceship, another planet, a castle, etc. There can be furniture, and various props, areas with specific purposes, and much more.

This happens to be a very common trait for multiples. The persons who are not in Front tend to interact in their head as though their head is an actual location. The individuals can be walking around, doing stuff in the corner by oneself, or interacting with one another.

Popular sayings like "a corner of my mind" can be taken much more literally when it comes to DID. We really can have a corner of our mind, an "in our head".

Subjectively speaking, the internal landscape can be as real as (or even more real than) external reality. The internal landscape or internal reality can be used as a metaphor and is usually fairly easily adapted and modified. It can be a world all its own, open for exploration.

To find your internal landscape, one might ask "Where do I go when someone else comes out?" or even "Where are those other voices coming from?" Some headmaps describe the internal landscape rather than an organizational diagram of the relationships, the internal landscape can describe those relationships between those on the inside by where they live in what looks like a building diagram or a map.

More complicated systems can have entirely separated communities within their internal landscape, representing sub-systems. They may have emissaries, ambassadors between these distinct communities in order to communicate and negotiate agreements.

We Crisses have remodeled our internal house (which can be seen in our sub-site documentation) into a spaceship. Our population of known folk has grown considerably and now we have something like clans or families within our system, where a sub-group has its own section on our spaceship, some share quarters and others have individual quarters. We sometimes send considerations to sub-committees which are ad-hoc groups that go off into small meeting rooms to hash out specific issues and bring suggestions back to the general membership. We have 2 large "flexspaces" which are basically large rooms that can be set up at the "push of a button" for a variety of purposes. One's primary use is a test kitchen (we work on recipes internally, or while editing cookbooks and recipes we have folk inside following the directions and steps to see how it turns out "in our mind"), the other's primary use is as our all-hands meeting space.

By residents, in many ways we're talking about those who reside in your system's internal landscape.

Internal landscaping is the act of deliberately influencing or crafting your internal landscape for any reason. Sometimes in therapy, you'll be asked to create a meeting space in your internal landscape, so that you can invite other residents to a meeting. Or you may want to use or modify your internal landscape on your own as part of self-help, such as mentioned in these self-help articles on internal landscaping.

Features of Internal Landscapes

There are internal landscape "boundaries". These are structures that serve to segregate people &/or information in a system. These translate to fixed hard boundaries (for example walls), permeable boundaries (doors, windows, gates, fences, etc.), and broken boundaries (a demolished wall, broken door, etc.). These can be seen as metaphors, but working with them can be very effective in changing the relationships in the system.

Some things in an internal landscape are just "there" and have no function. They're cosmetic. Like wallpaper — it looks pretty, but it doesn't do anything. It's simply an ornamental fixture.

We have a pile of pillows. The pillows don't appear to serve any specific purpose (it's a place we go for respite in our internal landscape) and they could be simply ornamental. A fixture that has no part of our mental processing allotted to it. It's comfy, that's all. We don't count fixtures in our extended headcounts. There's so many of them (the floor, the ceiling, each chair in the meeting room, etc.), and they aren't doing anything but looking pretty. — The Crisses

Other things have a purpose. A telephone. There's some corner of a multiple's psyche that is activated when they interact with these items, so we consider them functional fragments.

In our case, a logbook which serves as a "recent changes" update book for anyone who needs to review current events and maybe go back over the last several days for recent information. Our logbook is an internal landscape functional fragment metaphor for short-term shared memory. — The Crisses

Then there are programmed constructs (think "appliances"), which serve to actually process and change something, or detect input and execute a reaction (see Implementation Intentions for research into temporary constructs).

Our most-used programmed construct is our Language Filter. We used to talk about it before we were even aware of being multiple or having an internal landscape. It's been there a LOOOooong time. A bunch of foreigners moved into our head when we were quite young, and someone (or some many possibly) must have fashioned/built/conjured this programmed construct to assist in language translation between folk in our head. We jokingly say "Garbage in, garbage out" with regard to our language filter — but mostly it works very well. It is certainly a functional fragment, but it goes further than that. It receives input and has output. — The Crisses

It is probably good to deal with inner world devices in a respectful manner. They may or may not be covert future headmates.

We count functional fragments and permanent programmed constructs in our extended headcount; they require mental processing and are part of the package deal with our dissociation (dis?)ability. Note that most of these were not made deliberately, and they don't appear to have any self-awareness. Also, these are not servitors or thoughtforms, tulpas, etc. as in they're not to our knowledge (nor the test of time) capable of acting on their own. They're all passive (even in terms of leaking thoughts or feelings into the system they are silent). We don't consider identifying these mental devices as fixtures, functional fragments and programmed constructs as derogatory. Any could show signs of sentience some day, claim a name, become a differently-designated headmate. We believe all objects have various levels of sentience (we even talk out loud to belongings, name them, and respect them), so these are non-derogatory interim designations in our inner world. — The Crisses


Many features of inner worlds are metaphors for mental mechanisms, internal communication, self-comfort, thinking, processing, handling information or memories, etc.

It can be very helpful to simply deal with the inner world as having many of the same interactions and mechanisms of the external world. Systems are systems, whether it's a school system, a belief system, or a plural or DID system. Resources (information, commodities, people) are moved around, interactions happen, resources are transformed, transferred or transmitted between systems, both internal and external.

What the inner world is — whether the inner world is a pocket dimension or an elaborate mental metaphor — doesn't really matter (in a material sense) so much as recognizing that what happens in the inner world matters. And that y'all can be deliberate about how you& interact with the inner world, shape it to work for your system members and ease suffering, or help you& recover from issues faster.

Selves-Help and the Internal Landscape

The inner world could be the place where many mythical journeys took place in times of lore. There are many ways that inner worlds can be used for selves-help and selves-improvement, therapeutic work, and working with both trauma and trauma-holders.

First keep in mind that plurals & folk with what is now called DID have been around much longer than therapists, and drawing inner worlds, dealing with our internal denizens in internal landscapes, existed far longer than therapists have. Indigenous cultures undoubtedly leverage the inner world in healing journeys and recognize the value and importance of these natural tools of humanity.

As an adjunct, therapists also have come to recognize the importance of self-maps, inner world landscapes, and the selves-help potential of embracing these features of plurality and leveraging them towards health rather than suppressing them or vilifying them.

When using the inner world involves changing or altering it, that's is explained under the internal landscaping article. It's an art unto itself to actually change the inner world itself to create a healthier internal environment, or foster skills and healing.

Here are some ways to use what is there already. If you need to add in these features or change features in order to attempt any ideas here, see internal landscaping.

Internal gatherings
From meetings to internal parties, it's possible to have internal gatherings in your headspace. All-hands meetings and voting, committee meetings or sub-committee meetings to discuss specific things to bring back to the main meetings, classes to teach skills to others in the system, get-togethers to get to know each other better, hang-out time, movie-night (can watch a movie externally together as a group), etc.
Sharing or Broadcasting information
Using any of the internal features to project information or share information system-wide if possible so all that can get the message do. Can share ideas, info, appointments, memories, etc.
Comforting headmates
Folk do not have to front to be comforted. Someone can go join them and listen or comfort a headmate who is upset or bothered by something.
Locating lost headmates
From just discovering folk to rescue missions where you deliberately liberate stuck trauma holders, the internal landscape can prove to be a very useful ally in finding and rehabilitating headmates.
Internal conversations with folk you're having trouble with, negotiating truces, coming to the table together to discuss differences and find compromises.
Caring for System Kids
Kids can get many of their needs met internally so that they don't derail external life and ruin careers or relationships. (As mentioned in our re-parenting materials, you can make an inner world nursery, or you can build a teen recreation center for the middles and teens, etc. - this crosses into Internal Landscaping if you're actually creating areas for this, but it's simply possible to use the space you already have to take better care of headmates, especially the kids.)
Rather than holding debates or arguments, it may be valuable to hold brainstorming sessions where everyone looks at how to best solve a problem or issue, rather than argue about it or take sides about it by way of coming up with as many creative ideas as possible for how to resolve the issue before voting on the best idea(s) that come up.
Idea Testing
This can go hand-in-hand with brainstorming or other situations - and it's important to be careful about emotional reenactments. However, you can play out scenarios such as how to hang a picture on the wall, what tools will I need? what are the steps to take? in the inner world. You don't want to have an imaginary argument with someone, but you can imagine how to wrap a gift or coordinate an outfit. There are of course some limitations; wearing an outfit in inner space may not work out with your external body. But perhaps things like tattoos — if everyone inner world has and likes the same tattoo inner-world, then maybe it's time to consider getting it outer-world too.

- to be continued. Sorry

See Also

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