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Integration Is Not What Anyone Thinks (020) Transcript

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<voices overlapping, music in background>
Oh! Good morning — oh! Do we have to get up?
Keep it down; I’m trying to sleep.
Yeah, we want to make that recording.
What are we going to record today?
What? What recording?
You know, the one about multiplicity.
You know, the usual — we’re trying to make a difference in the world or something.
Oh, yeah.
Well — I just really wanna help people!
I have no idea what to say.
I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who have really good questions, and need really good answers.
Why talk to them? It’s not like anybody gives a shit.
Well what makes us an authority?
I don’t really think it matters how long we’ve been multiple, or how long we’ve known we’re multiple — we’re multiple!
<Aliessa laughs richly>

Episode 20. Integration is not what anyone thinks.

Many times people will use the word integration. When you go to the therapist's office, they use it. When we're talking to each other, we use it. Unfortunately, there's a lot of confusion around what the word integration really means. Back in 1986, when I was diagnosed, it was pretty clear what people meant by integration. They meant full final merge. You slowly have all of the people in your head come closer and closer and closer together until you can't tell one from another and they blend together, and suddenly you're one person. Or a process of elimination. Don't need this one anymore, I'll just take their love of music, and I don't need that one anymore, I'll just take their fear of spiders. So there was like a mix and match kind of thing going on. But what happened? According to the books, according to documentation, a lot of people fell apart again. That integration final merge didn't work. So slowly, the industry started changing, changed their models of how DID works and how it develops. Now there's structural dissociation models, and the web has gotten much more mature since 1996-8 when I started interacting with multiples online.

So here I am. I'm surrounded with a bunch of people who've been in therapy in this big gap where I haven't been in therapy. So somewhere along the line, somebody changed something. Between 1986 -- and I saw the same therapist in 2001, but we didn't even talk about integration -- and now people are saying that integration doesn't mean that. There are people coming from a therapists office who say, "Oh, no, no, they don't mean full final merge. They mean by the word integration is sensory integration." So I got to look it up, you know. Like, okay, now I'm confused. Everybody's confused. There's people coming into the forum who have heard through movies and through tropes and books that they're reading, because some of the books are outdated. Everybody's reading different things. And then there's the words we use in the community. So everybody's confused. What does this word integration mean? My therapist said, it doesn't mean that at all, it means this then the other thing.

So I look it up. The word integration in the dictionary. So in terms of the dictionary definition, it says psychology versus psychoanalysis. Psychology versus psychoanalysis. Wait a minute. Okay, so even within the industry, as you'll see in a moment when I tell you what the definitions are, even in the industry, they can't decide exactly what they mean by integration, at least according to the dictionary. And then I did a little side search on merge, because I happen to know integrate and merge are synonyms. So here we get into confusion, even just in the English language, use of the word integrate, because they'll say full final merge for what used to be integration. Yeah, so this is why I'm saying integration is not what anyone thinks. And I'll get to what really integration is once I go through the definition, so here we go. Psychology says that integration is the coordination of processes in the nervous system, including diverse sensory information and motor impulses. Then it's got a nice little colon and says visumotor integration. Visumotor integration. So visual and motor coordination. Visual motor coordination, hand eye coordination. Yeah, that's saying that hand eye coordination is integration. Okay, so psychoanalysis. What is psychoanalysis in the dictionary, okay? I'm not going to psychology books. In the dictionary, according to psychoanalysis, it's the process by which a well balanced psyche becomes whole as the developing ego organizes the id and the state that results or that treatment seeks to create or restore by countering the fragmenting effect of defense mechanisms.

Okay, so, in the same dictionary, we have sensory integration, okay, is the first definition according to psychology, but then in psychoanalysis, we have the classic version of integration. We have either the integration that takes place naturally as a child develops, and all the various ego states and id states fuse together into one or supposedly one person, right? Or one, psyche. One psyche. Okay, here we go. A well balanced psyche. Or the treatment that attempts to create that after the fragmenting effect of defense mechanisms, quote, unquote. So after trauma or being defensive causes the ego to remain separate. We're going to go structural model and assume that we start out, just like this explanation. Assume we start out with fragmented pieces to begin with, but that the defense mechanisms keep them fragmented. Arguing with this definition there because it says countering the fragmenting effect of defense mechanisms. But I think it's kind of like magnet, okay? If you have different ego states, different parts of the psyche, then it's like magnets. When the poles are correct, they get drawn together. When the poles are incorrect, they repel. Well, when the life is going okay, they pull together and merge, right? But when life isn't going okay, it's like something got flipped, and now they're being pushed apart, right? So rather than saying that the defense mechanisms fragment the parts, I'm going to say it actually causes them to repel, like to stay separate, to want to -- maybe we want to reinforce this polar effect, you know, and make it so that we stay separate. We might need these separate states, so let's keep them separate.

This has been the Crisses' with Integration is Not What Anyone Thinks. Now, for a word from our sponsors.

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Now back to the program.

When your therapist uses the word integration, do they mean sensory integration? Or do they mean the merging of your various ego states, which, if you're DID, they all developed into people eventually. So all of these different states became individuals in your system, Do they mean merging children? No, because that already hasn't happened. So then they either mean the process of helping you coordinate and get, say hand eye coordination type of thing, to get all on the same sensory page. And some of that makes sense. If you want to talk about sensory coordination, then maybe they should use that word. Do you mean sensory coordination? Do you mean like all of us sharing our senses with each other so that one person isn't controlling our hand while the other one's controlling our eyes? Is that what you're talking about? Or do you mean taking all the people in my head and smashing them together like magnets and making them cling? That's not such a great idea anymore. I did mention it before. When people would integrate, quote, unquote, integrate, often they fell apart again. So it's kind of a waste if you might just fall apart again. I, being the advocate that I am aspiring to be anyway, I say, argue with them. Do not let anyone use the word integration with you. Tell them to be more specific. Because the word integration is not what anyone thinks. It's now sitting in the center of this controversy, where definition number one argues with definition number two. Some may just be behind the times and they're using the word integration, which is kind of a warning sign in and of itself that maybe -- especially if they're asking at the beginning of therapy and saying, oh, yeah, this is what we're gonna do. We're gonna work on integration. They are so behind the times. Why? It's a process. It's a process. It's a long drawn out process, and the decision to integrate comes near the end of it, not the beginning.

Okay, so on to the other part of the dictionary. I went to the thesaurus, and I pulled up integration words, right? In this case, I looked up merge, because merge is the main entry and all of its synonyms are underneath it. So full and final merge. Right? So that's what we're going to talk about instead of using the word integration. Full and final merge. What are synonyms for merge, as in the company merged with a firm based in Peoria? That's what the dictionary said. Synonyms are join together, join forces, amalgamate, oo there's a tough one, unite, affiliate team up, link up. The opposite would be separate. So merge and then the opposite would be separate. That sounds okay. Kind of like teamwork, right? Definition number two. The two organizations were merged. Synonyms are amalgamate, again, that tough word, bring together, join, consolidate, conflate, unite, unify, combine, incorporate, integrate, link up, knit, yoke, and the antonym again is separate. And then the third one is the two colors merged. Mingle, blend, fuse -- sometimes you'll hear people call it fusion -- mix, intermix, intermingle, coalesce.

Definition number two, the two organizations were merged, and one of those synonyms is integrate. The word integrate in and of itself with no other dressings already means to take two distinct things and make them into one, or more than one thing and make them into one. That is what integration is. Does it always work that way? Heck, no. We tried that with schools back in the 1970s, and it didn't work too well. Whether it works or not -- And you know what? here's an as inside, so outside and vice versa for you. Episode 10, we talk about as inside, so outside and vice versa. So things inside of our system are very similar to things outside of our system. Forcing communities to integrate doesn't work well. Forcing people to integrate doesn't work well. Different cultures, different belief systems, different ideas, and also whether there's the willingness within two communities or more than one community will make a difference as to whether or not they can even merge in the first place.

So you have to work on the willingness first, before you work on the merging. Well, guess what? Same thing goes on inside of our heads. So if you are interested in a full final merge, and everybody in your system, you're hoping, will agree to that, you have to get to the agree to that part first, which means working on internal community and internal communication. Otherwise, you're putting the cart before the horse by kind of scaring everybody with this big question of whether or not you're going to merge and what's going to happen and what does that look like and how long will it take and everything else before you even said hey, can we sit around the table and have a talk?

That's kind of why it's weird for a therapist at a first meeting or when they're very new to say, "Hey, do you want to integrate?" You know, "do you want to merge?" What, today? You know, like, that doesn't look very possible. Let me see if I can clear my calendar. You know, it's like, why are we even discussing this? Like, "Hi, I'd like to get to trust you first." So weird. That's just weird. Early in the relationship, the therapist shouldn't even use a loaded word like integrate, and certainly shouldn't use it in a vague way where they don't explain it. And I am going to empower you. I'm going to hand you a shield. Here we go. Okay, just picture a shield. You now have an integration shield. Okay? Anytime somebody points the word integration at you, deflect. Pull some Wonder Woman bracelet shit on that, you know, and block that and deflect it off somewhere else and say, "What do you mean? Can you find a better word for that, please? What exactly do you mean by integrate?" Especially when you're talking to your therapist or somebody on your professional team, because the loaded word shouldn't even be in the conversation. And I would say, tell them you don't want them to use that word with you again.

They may ask you if it's a trigger. You could say no. It's just a confusing word. That word has no meaning that applies to me. Why? Because it has too many meanings. It means so many varried things. It's almost like, oh, what do I mean for it to mean today, you know? And they can like pull a different meaning out of their pocket and just throw it down on the table anytime they want. So you don't even know what you're having a conversation about when they use the word. You know? And even if they turn around to you and say, "Oh, no, no, I only ever mean sensory integration." You can just say, "Well, I'm sorry. I have too many conversations with other people who use it differently. So I find that word very confusing. Can we say sensory coordination?" Can we all in our head like have some sensory coordination together? Can we coordinate and share our senses? Can we work on co-consciousness and co-awareness? These are all words that are very clear and very acceptable, have no ambiguity. In terms of talking about a DID system, we all kind of understand what they mean. And when you talk to people in the community or professionals, everybody's on the same page with them. Same thing if you say fusion or full final merge, becoming one person, these are very clear, ancient-style, you know, use of the term integration.

So I would insist, let's not use that word. Let's take out our shield like Captain America, or I know, this is a DC Marvel reference. I'm so sorry. Either you're Captain America with your shield or you're Wonder Woman with your bracelets, and you're gonna block that mofo and you're gonna say, uh uh. That's my advice, okay? You don't have to do that. You can accept your team's meaning. I'm just really, I personally would never be sure if they were pulling something on me if they were using an ambiguous word, and I would want them to be clear. That's what I'm encouraging. I'm encouraging you to stand up for your right to clear communication and ask for definitions of words that are being used. And don't just nod and say yes. I do that sometimes. We all do that sometimes. But let's, at least at our next session, go, Wait a minute. We nodded in said yes didn't we? We're going to sit down and address that. We're going to make a note in our little book, and we're gonna make sure that that gets addressed in our next meeting. We're not going to let this go any further. We're gonna sit down and have the talk. And the talk is the talk about integration. Because integration is not what anyone thinks.

You got to know. This is like the whole direction of your treatment plan with a therapist. And if it's too early to have the conversation, I want you to be able to say "I'm sorry, but can we back burner that whole idea? Because right now, I'm feeling out of control of my life, and you're asking me to make a major decision about people I hardly know. I don't know the people in my head. How do I know if I want to become one person with them? How do I know if they want to become one person with me? Can we meet each other first, maybe have a few meetings, you know, and start that discussion when we get to know and trust each other a little more?"

You know, and then you run, don't walk back to my podcast and learn how to do some of that stuff. But that's beside the point, you know. I know this is a hot topic. This may be your point of entry into Many Minds on the Issue. But even then, you can go back to Episode 9 and start the whole trust building process. There are six episodes on building system trust, and that's basically what I recommend for people to start with. I recommend for people to start with building system trust. So Episode 9, Welcome to DID: We Are Not Your Enemy, and then it goes through the next episode is As Inside, So Outside, and Vice Versa, which I mentioned earlier. And you go on from there to learn more and more about kind of the paradigm of what's going on in your head, why you're having disagreements and why things are kind of chaotic. And then what it is you're doing that contributes to that, and then how to fix it. That's basically the rundown of the six episodes.

What else do I want to say about integration? I had a really old episode in 2005 where I talked about integration, and now so much has changed in the industry, I don't think I want to like re up that episode and clean it up like I've done some others because it's going to be so out of date, and it had spoilers for movie in it and everything. So, you know, I'll just leave that alone. But one of the things I wanted to say is another danger about integration is that the media, that people on the street, that our friends, our family, everybody has this misconception that the only way we can get treatment, those of us who are multiple, that the only way for us to get well is to integrate. That's actually this whole, you know, meme, thought virus, contagion, that's running around in society. It's in the movies. It's everywhere that the only way for us to ever be whole and healthy and functional is if we're only one person again. That whole idea that we were one person at one point and we fell apart or were split somehow is a false conception. I mean, the psychology definition right there. The first definition of the psycho analysis, where it says that the process of a well balanced psyche is when all these ego states merge together in a process of integration in normal development. That's the structural dissociation model, which says we all start out separate. So DID is the act of staying separate, not falling apart.

So these media images are based around an assumption that integration in terms of the final full merge is the only solution to what ails us, to what our issues are. And you see it in movies and stuff. You see it in any movie where there was a resolution of the splits or the multiple, depending on what language they were using and stuff or if they used language at all, is that some had to be sacrificed in some way or merged in to become part of the whole. Minor, very, very minor spoiler for Heroes, for example. Okay, so you got Jessica, Tracy, and Niki. Niki is quote, unquote, the original. Jessica was her sister who died. And Tracy was some alter ego who used to come out when she was a teenager and go party, or something like that. So she had always been at least Niki Tracy. And then when Jessica died, I guess she had an introject personality from Jessica, if she's DID. Well, she goes into a treatment facility for just a matter of weeks, by the way. She goes into a treatment facility and comes out one person. I have no idea what magic wand they waved to cure Niki in Heroes, but, you know, her son didn't grow older, you know, and blah, blah, blah. Well, frankly, full final merge is not a process of going into a hospital for a couple of weeks. Not for the overwhelming majority of folk like us. So that's a falsifcation, probably to move a plot along. Thankfully, it's a minor plot sideline thing. Doesn't ruin heroes for you, but it does point out that this is like a common trope that for her to be well, she had to get rid of -- Niki had to either get rid of Jessica and Tracy or become one person integrating parts of Jessica and Tracy into herself, which since she got Jessica's powers probably means that's what happened. And that's really a very minor side point of her plotline. So it's not ruining much at all.

So one of the things that I'd said today that made me think this episode was relevant and important - this has come up constantly in forums where a therapist says something and now the person comes back to the forum and is confused. What did they mean? Why did they say this? Why did they say that? First meeting with a new therapist, why did they say that they want to work on integration? Or they said, no, that's not integration. Integration means this or that. So somebody said something like that. And I said, if they mean sensory integration, then they should quit confusing people and find another way of saying it, like co-consciousness, and change their language to suit the customer. The customer, that's you, is always right. Have a conversation with them about merging. Tell them that you're not interested in merging right now, and that you don't ever want to hear the word integration in your meetings again, because it's too vague, and ask them to be specific. So that's basically what I said that gave birth to this episode.

I encourage you to use your shield, use your bullet deflecting little bracelets, and make sure you defend yourself from vague language, from not understanding what your purpose in therapy is. This is your time. You know, it's your therapy. It has nothing to do with them. They're handing you an agenda? Then you need to correct them. You need to say wait, who's the customer here? I'm the customer. I want to discuss my therapy with you. I want to discuss my goals with you. I don't want you to set my goals for me, or tell me what I need to do. I want to know what my options are. What are my options? Here's hoping that everyone listening to this has a great therapist who has made all of this perfectly clear to you already and who is willing to change their language to suit your needs. That they are always willing to take your input on your goals of therapy, and that your therapy goes exceptionally, extraordinarily well. Thank you for listening to this episode, and please take good care of yourselves.

Thanks for joining us for this episode of Many Minds on the Issue. Your Patreon support will keep this podcast coming. You can find more information, resources, and our Patreon link at K-I-N-H-O-S-T-dot-org