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I'm bouncing off of this post in particular as just one example of many IFS posts. But not disrespectfully. Hopefully.

I think one possible branching is that the "head" self is the one that sees itself as lasting for the duration of ones biological lifetime. What I mean by this is, in the eyes of the head self, all these other parts have their identity mostly encapsulated within one or another cell of experience. "I need my partner to do X"-part, may "heal" into, "I need to feel X kind of safety"-part.....but on either level the part is parted around a discrete situation.

The "head" feels a compulsion to reframe the other parts' violent or destructive goals into integrative goals. It can do that in a way that is patronizing and reductive. For example, part A calls part B a fascist and wants to set part B on fire. The head steps in and says "part A I think you really don't want to set part B on fire, you really have a deeper desire that is compatible with being one living system, now given that, I'm going to try to get to know you and listen to what you have to say."

Honestly I think that psychoanalyzing can be a way of killing these parts if only by petrification. When you tell a part of you, "you exist FOR x desire or, you are moving FOR x fear" it is reductive, parts are alive and thus are moving with such complexity that any "for" is going to be a petrification. (Like, as a metaphor that is not isomorphic, saying a cow in a factory is "for" milk does not actually describe the cow's intentions and movements and reasonings. Metaphor ENDS THERE.) So essentially the head is saying " I believe all parts need to negotiate nonviolently" but hypocritically so, since any part that doesn't perform integration gets for-ed.

The alternative is that you allow the reality of violence. Let one part set another on fire. I think that can be OK honestly. I think that we all know that parts can actually die and can actually kill each other, but (regardless of whether we are modeling IFS or don't even psychoanalyze at all) we keep a narrative that all the fighting is play fighting, or maybe just the tone of the narrative. If we accept that the violence is actual real violence then we can feel the actual pain and damage (and relief and freedom of movement from other parts), and loss of predictability, which is progress.

(Interpersonally I'm hugely against the type of "I feel angry and hurt that I am not being cared for in x way" and more for the "you are being selfish and disrespectful". To me the second will carry the emotions in the voice (covering the first) and also recognizes that we are actually affecting each other and, imo expresses higher regard for the listener). Sorry if that doesn't make sense.

To me, I do model the "nonviolent" bossy, narrativizing, resistant to change, part, as living in my big forehead, while other parts live in other parts of my body. They make emotions that get narrativized by my forehead, but are usually more precise in the emotional form, and sometimes they just move without emoting. They don't like getting paralyzed (for example my forehead stops my ears and nose from moving freely, and locks my eyes) but the paralysis struggle is not all or most of what they "think" about, and even the paralysis struggle can be layered in with day to day movements that don't have anything to do with the forehead.

Hello! I've been feeling a separation between my dissociated and non-dissociated self that feels in some ways and not others, similar to what you describe.

  • movement: dissociated, I move myself like a marionette; I get feedback, but its binary (efficient/futile); if anything original comes up its like it comes from a brute force search; pretty much like you wrote about moving through the territory with all the movement's goals being on the map level. The actual manner of my movement is really sprite-like; like those joggers who run like they're half-bouncing against an invisible wall in front of them, I move in a really repetitive way that accepts no feedback on how I'm feeling or what I'm moving through or around.

Non dissociated, every motion is completely free of the past. My ears wiggle around like a dog, no movement or body part has a definitional purpose, much stronger body-level intuition of physics, each motion feels like one of those sped up bean plant videos rather than something to which repetition is even relevant, however the need for comfort that the repetition grants my dissociated self, is already satisfied somehow. There's less doubt even though there's more confusion.

Memory-- dissociated, my memory is very much based on narrative and language. I also have developed an awareness of when my narrative is occluding reality, but the tools I have to defeat the blinders are very insufficient. When I'm trying to understand what is happening or what happened, I'll usually feel like I'm playing the peg game Mastermind where your guess of a secret four-color sequence gets scored on positionless and positioned accuracy. I try one thing, it feels vaguely wrong in a vague direction, I try another thing that might illuminate that direction, etc-- there is no sense to the path.

Non-dissociated, everything clears up, but NOT in the way of a mystery novel. Interestingly, it feels like my non-dissociated self was there living through all the stuff I was living through dissociated, and understanding it deeply and realistically (I mean, with a visceral knowledge that my actual body is doing these actual things on this actual planet) but I just wasn't connected to that part of me, so I was off wandering around in sky castles. In this writing you can guess which state I'm in by which one I call "I". With your stairs example that you wrote about, my dissociated self would not remember and be making guesses between ten and sixteen. My non-dissociated self, without needing to go up the stairs one more time, would be able to say how many stairs there were, although maybe not by using a number (maybe by imagining walking up the stairs and then you get a feeling of fulfillment at the end). And I do feel like there's communication with my non-dissociated self when dissociated, bit it feels very jointed and mystical, like when you try to remember the name of a song, give up, and four minutes later thinking of other things, the name pops out into your brain. It feels like I'm tracking the footprints and broken branches left behind by the non dissociated self, using my imagination to understand how they are moving, and translating their movements by the limitation that the translation had to traverse imagination.

There are other picks besides movement and memory, but I've been typing too long.

The obvious path to write toward would be " how do you transition between dissociated and 'present'"-- my friend who is a high school teacher says schools are really giving classes in embodiment, which is weird. I've seen and heard a thousand people talking about embodiment in the past decade in a manner that is eager in an disturbing way. I think embodiment in a way that dissociates yourself from, the parts of your body that are actively, intelligently, and compassionately choosing "disembodiment", is not good. When I tried to do it that way, I ended up trying to narrativize those parts as "moving from trauma, moving from fear, moving from fear of confusion, moving from fear of despair"-- all narratives that were patronizing toward the decision in a way that occludes the actual reasoning and life behind "disembodiment"/whatever to call it, castle in the sky building, virtualization. I think the fad embodiment is weird because it kind of gives a narrative that all you need is the right teacher or the right will or the right experience, which ignores the way that, when you're "in", it feels natural and free, you should be born living that way, and part of you, the part that knew how many stairs the whole time, is living this way currently. So its less of something to learn rather than a " break loose from the chains that are causing you pain", but on the other hand, its not something to break loose from, its you, and calling part of you a chain is going to keep you disembodied on some level.

Its hard to pull history out of narratives, but I think the idea of map vs territory, imagination vs embodiment, narrative vs reality, is formed by the coercive view of life and planet that came from colonialism. Colonialism is a narrative but it also like, extractively pulled and carved the territory into a statue of the map, in a manner so that when you look at parts of the territory, your mind jumps to the name that has been extracted out of it. The word territory, is pretty hard to divorce from territorialism, I.e. the person with the most manipulation power over the land is the person with the clearest and most reenactive map. And being mapless doesn't make land not territory; if its unknown /confused/dissociated territory, its potential territory, and if its potential territory, its territory. Which we can't separate from the way we territorialize our own bodies and imaginations.

Thank you for writing about this topic