No, I am not talking about multiple personality disorder, well actually in a way i maybe am….
Did you ever notice that you act different at work then you do at a night club?
We all have many aspects living inside us and that’s perfectly fine.
But when different fragments of us create friction with each other, that’s when we start to feel un-easy, or even dis-eased.
How does fragmentation of the self happen?
It is long known that abused children, victims of violence, kidnapping victims and other people who experienced severe trauma have coped by dissociating.
That means that they split the part that experience of abuse from the part of them that experiences other aspects of life in order to be able to survive.
For example in the case of abuse by parents, who are responsible for the care taking of the child in form of shelter, food, physical protection and emotional support, the child learns to function in a dualistic way. The parent of the abused child is at the same time a threat as it is a satisfier of primary needs. In order to be able to accept that, the child fractures their personality into multiple parts.
Nowadays we know that it doesn’t need such dramatic conditions for fragmentation to occur. A child’s system can be overwhelmed by a moment of losing their parents on an overfilled beach, or during a period of parental divorce. Such a moment of despair and helplessness can create trauma and trigger fragmentation as a coping mechanism in the child.
When trauma happens, we split in the part of the vulnerable self and the part that copes with that vulnerability in order to be able to function in a frightening situation.
These fractured aspects were actually a form of protection, they allowed us to stay as far away from our vulnerability as possible so as to self preserve.
That means, we found a way to not have to feel these intense feelings at the time, because our system might actually not have been able to handle the whole emotional impact of the given situation.
We bury the emotion inside us. It doesn’t mean it’s gone, its still part of us, but now in the shadow of our consciousness.
As an adult, the exact fragments, once created to protect us, make us now feel, not real, not alive, inauthentic, detached and disconnected from ourselves and the surroundings. We feel not whole, but empty!
The emptiness we feel is the emptiness created by the parts of us we rejected, the disowned and missing parts of our being.
What we now see as our personality is often the sum of the aspects we identify with in order to stay safe. We reject, deny and mainly suppress the aspects that make us vulnerable. These suppressed, parked fragments of us become subconscious. They are now outside of our awareness, and often we lack even of the knowledge of their existence.
How do we get in touch with our disowned fragments?
In order to be able to feel whole again, we need to make contact with the aspects of us we rejected and denied. We have to bring attention to and take care of those aspects we suppressed at the time of distress.
Try to understand what the repressed parts stand for and what they are trying to communicate to you. Learn about their reasoning and engage in a deeper conversation with these aspects in order to uncover their origin.
For example, it could be that you have opposing parts regarding your desire for true, deep connections and friendships with trustworthy people.
Maybe a fragmentation occurred because this part of you was “burned” by someone in the past, so now this part makes you stay overly cautious in regards of trusting people. It is difficult for this aspect of you to believe there are people who actually may want the best for you. These aspects keeps defending you, and as much as it is a noble cause, this caution can take over up to the point of isolating you from people who actually could be compatible friends.
I see that clients mostly progress better in therapy when they have a good understanding of their fragmented personality – what caused it and what sustains it.
As long as you own just a few aspects of who you are, you lack the strength of your disowned parts.
People who learn a way of integrating repressed fragments generate more happiness and success in their life, because they are not afraid anymore to face their darkness. They go into their shadow and communicate with their deeper subconscious desires that shape their behaviour, often without them being aware of it, and so learn about themselves.
People who learn the way of integration of the fragmented aspects stop disowning the traumas they have experienced and the anger that often results from them. They know about the power of their shadow aspects, for example anger, and allow themselves to feel it and channel it into productive outlets.
The fragmentation looks different for each of us, but one thing we all have in common – the purpose is to find the way to reunify with our true essence and live from there…..