If you’ve done any research on Dissociative Identity Disorder, you’ve definitely come across the term “integrate” or “integration”. After research and thinking it over, both of the systems that run this site decided not to integrate. At first glance, this seems counterintuitive to healing and recovering. What we found is that not only do we believe not integrating is a viable option, we found that becoming a team is likely the BEST option for living our best life. If your system is on the fence about integration or team work, here are our personal reasons for not integrating. Let’s jump right in!
WARNING AND DISCLAIMER
Because of the nature of D.I.D., it’s possible that something in this article could be triggering to your system. Please use caution and your best judgement when reading this article. Safety first!
Disclaimer: We are not doctors, therapists, or mental health professionals. We’re just a bunch of alters that are speaking from personal experience to help other systems live their best lives.
So What Is Integration Anyway?
As it pertains to DID, integration is the attempt to merge all alters into a single being. It’s based on the idea that an individual with DID is like a vase that has shattered. Integrating is equivalent to trying to glue all of the pieces together.
In order to do this, trauma memories must be worked on and alters must choose to meld together. In theory, the end result is a singleton that has been healed from their DID. So why would any system not want to become “whole” again?
It May Not Even Work
What seems to actually be happening is that the alters become so coconscious that they appear as if they’re a single being. With the onset of any significant stress, they’ll split apart again and the whole cycle starts over.
Since stress is just a part of life, it made far more sense to our system to brace for future stress by becoming the best team possible.
**Pro tip: If you’re curious to learn more about this, check out this therapist’s opinion on integration.
We Are Not “Parts”
Another foundational belief behind the concept of integration is that each alter is a part of a whole person. In fact, therapists are trained to use the word “alter” and “parts” interchangeably. With this belief, one of you is the “happy alter” that handles happy things and one of you is the “sad alter” that handles sad things and so forth.
This is absolutely not true. When given the tools and resources to grow beyond our trauma, each alter in our system has bloomed beyond being the “sad/happy/mean alter”. Each alter is more than capable of feeling and expressing a wide range of emotions as well as handling varying life experiences. Attempting to integrate would mean each of us would lose ourselves in the process.
We Each Enjoy Living Our Own Separate Lives
After being given the ability to truly express themselves, each alter has refined their likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams. We’re all so different and we each enjoy getting to use our fronting time to live life to the fullest. While some of us enjoy quiet nights in with a good book, others are excited to meet up with friends for new adventures. We each have found what makes our little heart sing!
In addition to enjoying our fronting time, each of us have our own internal and external friendships, hobbies, and goals. While we love each other, we’re not so similar that we could just mesh together without losing ourselves.
We Quickly Came To Value And Cherish Each Alter
While there definitely was an adjustment period, every alter has developed a deep love and respect for each other. Everyone is so different and they all bring something different to the table. The idea of mushing anyone together sounds more like a death than an improvement. Now that we know, love, and respect each other, the idea of losing any of us would be very much like losing a beloved family member.
We Believe That Strengths And Weaknesses Are Two Sides Of The Same Coin
One way a therapist explained integration to me was like this: “After two or more alters have healed from their trauma, they won’t have a purpose anymore. Then, you can take the strengths of both alters and put it together and get rid of the weaknesses.”
We do NOT believe this to be true or logical. Rather, we believe a weakness can not be separated from a strength because a weakness is just a strength that is not properly balanced. Here are some examples of weaknesses that are imbalanced strengths:
These are just some examples and they’re not true in every case. If you think about yours or anyone else’s weaknesses, you’ll often find that the weakness is directly related to one of their strengths. If you removed the weakness entirely, the strength would disappear, too. Many times, a strength is just a weakness that is under control.
Because of that, the idea that a system could keep the strengths of two or more alters but eliminate their weaknesses seemed ludicrous and impractical to us.
Feels Wrong After Previous Therapy We’ve Done
Prior to being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, the system had been in and out of therapy for over 10 years. During this time, a majority of our therapy revolved around our depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Because of that, we’ve been told for years (from multiple therapists) that:
After years of being told those things, integration felt so counterintuitive. How is it that life means something until you’re “part of a person”? What makes them think that because we’re a “part”, we’re less deserving of life? None of this seemed logical or fair to us. Having survived traumas shouldn’t mean that someone is expendable.
The Benefits of Being A System Outweigh The Cons
While I wouldn’t wish DID on anyone, there are some undeniable benefits once you already have it. These benefits in no way undermine the trauma it took to get them. Rather, since they’re available to you, might as well make the most of it.
Some pros of being a system are:
If you’ve decided not to integrate, what is the best thing your system can do to develop team work? You can start by meeting your headmates! Check out our course, Meet The Alters, to get started!