Some people who experienced significant childhood disorder go on to develop dissociative identity disorder (DID) which causes the different aspects of the person’s personality to be poorly integrated and fragmented which leads to them operating relatively independently of one another.
These fragmented aspects of the personality are often simply referred to as ‘parts’ by psychologists who treat those suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID).
These parts are often in conflict with each other and may not accept or even acknowledge one another but, nevertheless, influence one another to some degree. They are NOT separate personalities (though may feel like they are) but different facets of the person’s personality which have failed to mesh smoothly together into a cohesive, cooperative, whole personality system.
These different parts of the personality vary according to the particular individual suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID) but usually have the same basic functions. According to the psychologist and expert in DID, Boon, a typical example of the fragmented parts the poorly integrated personality of person suffering from DID may be made up of are as follows :
– the ‘daily functioning’ part
– the ‘young’ part
– the ‘helper’ part
– the ‘angry’ part
– the ‘ashamed’ part
Let’s briefly examine each of these five parts in turn :
The Daily Functioning Part:
This is often the main part of the personality that operates in order to allow one to function on a day-to-day basis.
The Young Part:
This part of the personality may be ‘stuck’ at the stage of infant, toddler, child or adolescent. It contains traumatic memories and may experience feelings of dependence, the intense need for protection, safety, security and comfort, distrust of others and extreme fear of abandonment and rejection.
This part may also be in conflict with other parts, which are repelled by its neediness and vulnerability.
The Helper Part :
This part attempts to soothe and calm the traumatized ‘inner child.’
The Angry Part :
This part developed at the time of the trauma for the purpose of self-defence and self-protection. Again, it is in conflict with other parts which find it unacceptable.
The Part That Imitates The Abuser :
This part behaves in similar ways to how one’s abuser used to behave towards one and often, like the ‘angry part’, expresses rage and hostility
The Ashamed Part :
This part comprises emotions and behaviours that the individual has labelled as ‘shameful’
N.B. It is theorized that these parts arose as a result of arrested emotional development and are -stuck in trauma-time.’
According to Boon, these relatively independent parts remain fragmented and dissociated as they are in conflict with one another and some parts find other parts unacceptable.
The individual needs to come to an accommodation with each of these parts and empathize, in a self-compassionate way, with the reason why they developed (ie in response to early life trauma). Only then can these parts become reconciled with one another, amalgamated and healthily integrated into a cohesive personality and start to express themselves in helpful ways (prior to successful integration they can often generate unhelpful and self-destructive behaviours).
Source: Treating Trauma-Related Dissociation. A Practical, Integrative Approach Published by Norton Professional Books (2017) by Kathy Steele (Author), Suzette Boon (Author), Onno van der Hart (Author)
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).