We are conditioned from an early age to believe that we have one mind, one personality, and that all our thoughts, feelings and behaviors emanate from that unitary person we think we are. This way of understanding ourselves leads to tremendous suffering, because the truth of who we are is a bit more complex…
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, is most famous for introducing the idea that our psyche is really a collection of parts, or different aspects of self (e.g., Id, Ego, Superego). But many others deserve credit for evolving the idea that we all have sub-personalities that more accurately define how we operate in the world (see Subpersonalites by Rowan).
One of the most recent depictions of this is seen in the hit movie Inside Out, where the lead character – a young girl who is uprooted from her Midwest life to live in San Francisco – negotiates the challenges of her new world through four internal personalities driven by the emotions of joy, fear, anger, and sadness. Herman’s Head was a television show also based on the same idea of subpersonalities.
It can be a bit strange thinking about ourselves as being different parts or personalities if we have never thought about it before. In times past, we used the term Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) to describe people whose parts became so extreme that being with them was like being with different people. Today, MPD has been replaced by Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), but very few people experience splits in personality so extreme that they qualify for a mental health diagnosis.
Understanding Parts of Self
For most of us, we experience or act out our different parts in context-specific ways. We have public and private parts, masculine and feminine parts, aspects that we freely share with others, and other parts that we guard vehemently inside and rarely share with anyone. We have parts that act different ages based on when they were formed in our psyche, and parts that perform various functions for us, like keeping us from getting overwhelmed, managing the administrative details of our lives, and carrying the burdens or hurts from our past. And we have parts that crave intimacy and sex, while other parts thrive on isolation and aloneness.
Living a life of parts helps us understand why we can love and hate the same person, diet one day and binge the next, and be a committed parent when around our children, but drink ourselves into oblivion once they fall asleep. While we are susceptible to letting certain parts influence who we think we are – particularly those parts of ourselves we don’t like – the truth is that no one part of us defines the essence of our being.
True Self, Soul, Heart
Most theories about parts and subpersonalities all include a part that is not really a part at all, but an aspect of ourselves that is the truth of our existence. This aspect of self goes by many names – real self, core self, seat of consciousness, heart, transpersonal self, true self, and soul – but whatever you call it, it’s our true nature. Unlike parts of self that are constantly changing, true self is unchangeable, timeless, and connected to all that is beyond who we think we are.
It’s our life work to awaken to the realization that we are not our parts, and that inside us resides the Universe, the Kingdom of Heaven, a Oneness with All Things, and an Enlightened state where all suffering ends. Of course most of us never reach this degree of awareness in one lifetime, but all major world religions have articulated paths that guide us to this end.
If this idea is even more strange to you than the idea of parts of self, read Aldous Huxley’s brilliant articulation of the Perennial Philosophy.
When Trauma Occurs: Parts to the Rescue!
The birth of our parts is a multifaceted and complex process that is beyond the scope of this post (again, see Rowan), except for one aspect that I want to touch on – trauma. Trauma by definition is an emotionally overwhelming event (or series of events) that results in our parts working together to protect our true self or soul at all costs. One part often takes the emotional burden of a traumatic event, while other parts jump into action and fight, flee, or freeze, depending on which strategy will best maintain our survival.
The fact that parts of self work together to protect our soul in the face of trauma is an endowed human trait that we all share (see Trauma and the Soul by Kalsched). And while a wondrous gift when we experience trauma, it comes at a cost – our parts never get the memo that the trauma is over. Instead, our parts remain organized as if trauma were still occurring.
As you might imagine, parts organized around protecting the soul at all costs can result in a part (or parts) acting in extreme ways. Usually behaviors for which people seek help – addiction, cutting, isolating, hoarding, being suicidal – all emanate from parts that use such behaviors to keep other parts from not having to feel the emotions of the original trauma.
And this is where we are vulnerable to believing that a part of us – a part that acts out, feels shame, feels broken – is the essence of our being. But it’s not, it’s just a part doing only what it knows to protect our soul. This is why you are not your addiction; your addiction is behavior coming from a part of you.
If you happen to belong to a 12-step program, then you know that introductions include saying, “Hi, my name is Judy, I am an alcoholic.” This intentional language serves the purpose of helping those who struggle with addiction take responsibility for their behavior. But given our discussion above about parts, I hope you now understand the downside of language that confuses a part of someone with their true self. So Judy should say instead, “I’m Judy, and a part of me likes to drink a lot.”
Healing from Trauma and Addiction
How do we use this understanding of parts and our soul to heal from trauma and addiction?
We first must become aware of our parts and ultimately our true self by deepening our knowledge of our internal world. This happens by engaging in contemplative practices, mindfulness-based approaches, and the right kinds of therapy. It means we must value time inside ourselves like we do time in the external world.
One tool you may find useful in helping you understand and heal your internal world and external relationships is a website created by my friend Ruth Diaz called Returning to Compassion. On her homepage is a great Prezi presentation that walks you through her model which I highly recommend!
As we come to better understand our internal family, we can develop insight into the parts that hold the burden of our traumas, the one’s that act out addictively, and the parts that manage other aspects of our lives. And we can deliver to them the memo that they never got, that the trauma is over. We can unburden them from their need to act out any more to protect the soul, allowing our true self to lead life to the fullest.
Sound too good to be true? I know for some digesting all of this post may be challenging, and if that’s you, then please check out the work of Dr. Richard Schwartz, the developer of Internal Family Systems Therapy. It’s a therapeutic model where insights from family therapy are applied to the parts of your internal world. It’s quite an ingenious, creative, and fun way to help yourself heal from both trauma and addiction.
Haley Carlson says
In a philosophy class I am in, we recently read Descartes’ Meditations. I found them very interesting, mostly because he seemed to just be going in thought circles with himself to try and answer one of his main questions: what is my mind and its connection 9if it has one) with God? After much reasoning with himself, he finally came to somewhat of a conclusion. He decided that there is something deep inside him that does not doubt God’s existence. Everything else in the world is unsure in some way, however, what he feels in his core being is the only thing he knows for sure. I think this connects well with the parts of self and the true self, soul and heart you are talking about. People all have another part of themselves that is the true core, whether that be God or something else, it is the part of them that is never changing.
Kierra M says
The first thing I was reminded of while reading this was how we generally used the term “two-faced” and “hypocrite” to shame to and isolate ourselves from a person displaying contrasting personalities or specific behaviors we don’t like. In doing so we make those accused feel guilty for doing something we all do. (I heard the terms a lot as a kid and not so much now.)
Although it may not cause trauma, I do think instances like these contribute to us growing up hiding parts of ourselves from friends and family, like you’ve mentioned. It is unfortunate because it seems that getting to know the different facets of an individual gives us better understanding to their norms. It would also help us understand behaviors that are cries for help.
John Fitzgerald says
Yes, we all have shadow parts that we only get know through proactive effort. Getting know our internal parts is life long work, but critical if we are to make progress becoming integrated and whole. Thanks for the comment.
John Fitzgerald says
The late great William Stafford has a wonderful poem titled The Way It Is that beautifully captures the idea that we all have a timeless core, a thread that connects us all to that which is beyond the self. And we lead lives of quiet desperation that so badly need to find this aspect of self if we are to go beyond survival and thrive.
Samvel Nazaretyan says
This was an enlightening article, particularly because you introduced a concept of trauma and why we may find ourselves in unhealthy predicaments when it comes to dealing with trauma. In my Drug Education course, my professor once mentioned that addictive behavior (drugs or other harmful actions) are peoples way of running from the truth. To a high extent, I agree. However, the idea that you presented about our different “parts” coming to rescue us from trauma, is something that I can completely agree with.
Your theory on people having different personalities can explain why we have hobbies, or passions, outside of our everyday life. It also indirectly explains why we can still love the many ‘shades’ of our partners, despite their flaws. I am glad that you wrote this article because it explains why addiction, or other self-harming habits, are only part of our psyche. They are not all encompassing. As a society, I believe it is our civic duty to learn to accept ourselves for thinking or feeling different.
Thank you for the great post.
Yes I definitely agree that we have certain things that we won’t share with anyone as well as there are things that we do share with others. As time goes by, we continue to learn more and get to know more about our body. Everyone obviously looks different and acts different, which describes what a person is really like. I don’t always share things about myself and if I do, there are very few things I share. For the most part, it is best for someone to get to know you as a person. Like you said, “the truth is that no one part of us defines the essence of our being.”
John Fitzgerald says
Thanks for your comment. I wish the post was based on a theory I developed, but that credit goes to many other brilliant people who evolved the parts idea.
Bianca Munoz says
There was a couple parts of this that really stood out to me. The first was that despite the different parts we consist of, there is one true nature. I think this true nature that we all have is pure and good. The article goes on to talk about our defense mechanism to protect our soul from feeling pain and this mechanism has the ability to shut down parts of us that are so important in who we are. At some point it is absolutely necessary to look within, look at your past and be able to say that although some things might have happened, it is time to heal and finally allow your true nature to flourish past the hurt and the pain. As Dr. Fitzgerald states, “It’s our life work to awaken to the realization that we are not our parts, and that inside us resides the Universe, the Kingdom of Heaven, a Oneness with All Things, and an Enlightened state where all suffering ends”. I agree with this completely, and in a way have experienced it for myself recently. It isn’t always easy, but with God it is possible and totally worth it.
Daniel Davydov says
The subsection on trauma really hit me hardest. I’m going through some serious physical trauma now due to an event from earlier this week and all people want to tell me is the stereo typical “it’s a blessing in disguise” type of lines. Well when is enough-enough? The person I will be 9 months from now will be different from who I am now, and it will be better than now. But it would also be better without the trauma. So I don’t know what to even think. Your piece on trauma says that the pieces of you will be working to protect and fix your trauma and when it is over you will be this new you because your body doesn’t know the trauma is over. That sounds like a positive to me, but at this point I don’t know what to think anymore, but in the back of my mind I still know that it has to be a part of a plan and something- hopefuly good, will come of it.
John Fitzgerald says
Daniel, sorry for what you are going through, life can be incredibly hard sometimes. Is what you have experienced a blessing in disguise? Only if the experience ultimately allows you to grow, learn, love, and deepen your heart to the nature of life. A monk was summarized his seventy years of monastic life to me by saying if we understand and embrace the realty of impermanence, then we are well on our way to becoming enlightened. You will be different nine months from now. Better? How do you know? Worse? It all depends on how you look at life, and what you do between now and nine months from now.
Traumatic experiences are overwhelming, and the post is about how trauma ultimately creates splits – between the head and heart, between parts of self, between what happened and the emotions, all to help you survive. But after trauma, what you do makes a difference! You cannot “think” your way to a better place. Instead, you must work with your body, emotions, and work to integrate what happened into the broader scope of your life. Don’t be afraid to seek help, read Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine, go slow, and if you believe something good with come out of your painful experience, it will.
Interesting read, one thing I do not think was highlighted on was how stress is related to addiction, and how things such as exercise can help overcome the stress as well as addiction. Speaking from personal experience i always found that exercise always allowed me to reduce stress and reduce my dependence on substance abuse. It was the one thing that i look forward to in the day and it lets me get all my anger and stress out. Having a addictive personality helped me shift my addiction from drugs into a positive addiction such as exercise. I know this doesn’t work for everyone but it had surprisingly good effects on myself and thought i would share some knowledge from my own struggle with substance abuse.
Trauma can be something you might have to deal with for the rest of your life depending on the situation. Some people may seek help for it. I like how you described the different ways a person may have trauma.
The example given about the people who take the alcoholic classes and have to say ” “Hi, my name is Judy, I am an alcoholic.” This is not helpful to the person. It just adds more trauma to their life. There are always many other ways people can say it and not have that stuck in their head for the rest of their life.
Sybil VanderHoff says
I liked how you incorporated the hit movie inside out I think that is was a really good way of explaining how our minds can be made of different parts. Especially to youth, I think it is important from a young age no learn what emotions are and how they work. “No one part of us defines the essence of our being.” That makes since because we have different sides depending who your with at work or with your kids are usually different on how you act. Addiction and cutting are ways for us to keep distracted from avoiding pain. People should be educated on how their mind works at a young age and what drugs and other addictions can do to our bodies. If kids are taught at a young age on how to deal with trauma or how our bodies fully work. Do you think that would lower the issues occurring?
I think the 12 step program is great but if it never deals the source of the trauma that started the destructive behavior in the first place then I do not get how it anything more then a social support group.
Jaclyn Butler says
I appreciate how this touches on numerous diverse and sensitive topics in a way that allows the reader to really step back and take a look at the bigger picture (or one’s self). Going through my own mind and digesting these words as I apply them to my “true self” and “sub selves is not only affirmation that sometimes the way we feel may seem hard, but it is not permanent. My main question I have is whether or not our “true self” can be made up of sub selves that are also unchangeable? I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we have a TRUE core that cannot be influenced by outside sources. Mind boggling. Thanks for the read!
John Fitzgerald says
Jaclyn, thanks for the feedback! As to your question, I am not really sure. I believe what the mystics say is that we have both changeable (finite) and unchangeble (infinite) aspects to our being, and our life work is to integrate all of it in a way that opens us to a realization that we are connected now – in the past – and in the future – with a force beyond our self. Call it God, Atman, Allah, The One… it makes no difference. The important point is spending time during our life in contemplation, so we can awaken to what is inside in the same ways that the outside world influences us. Not sure that helped, but I tried :)
Ngoc Tran says
“This is why you are not your addiction; your addiction is behavior coming from a part of you.”
This quote gives me a lot of thought. I like the ideal how you use the movie “Inside Out” to talk about the subpersonalities, it is also a great movie too. I feel like everyone has their own subpersonalities. Hobbies, learning, positive thinking, negative thinking and other miscellaneous stuffs are just a part of me. Sum up everything together, it will be me. It is so interesting.
I also like the trauma topic; everyone has their own trauma, depend on the situation, which made them who they have become. I think that trauma is also a part of me, is it more like a memory or a disease that affect the body in a long term. So when you help someone to treat their traumas, to relieve the pain, Will the trauma still be a part of the body or will it disappear and no longer a part of the body?
John Fitzgerald says
Ngoc, thanks for the comment. Trauma can impact health over the long-run, so getting treatment is advisable. The overarching goal of intervention is to “integrate” the head (story of what happened) with the heart (the emotions trapped in the body). By integrating the experience, you will still remember what happened, but the unhealthy energy linked to the trauma will be greatly decreased. Read the Body Keeps the Score for more details.
“We can unburden them from their need to act out any more to protect the soul, allowing our true self to lead life to the fullest.” I agree. Great article, very interesting.
Wilson Guo says
There are many theorists that attempt to explain self actualization, however, I never thought about it in the perspective that there are parts to ourselves. It makes sense however, because people do have parts of them that come out at times but does not reflect their true selves. A interesting thought that came to mind when reading this post is that parts of our true selves are the creation of our experiences and environment. For example, the partying side of a person may be developed when they are exposed to an environment of partying. Or a person may develop a violent side to them if they are exposed to violence around them. That being said, I wonder if we are born with our “true selves” or is it also a creation of our experiences and environment. Thank you for your insights.
Aliese Poole says
I love Inside Out! It was great to see these different senses of self played out in a way that was so accessible. Something tantamount in the movie – and that I think happens in the addicts brains – the lose their sense of self, or pieces of it. A trauma occurs, and it lingers, the physical wound heals much faster than the emotional ones. If your sense of self is damaged, you try to put things into place to hold this together or shut something out, but it is only temporary. Until you find your sense of self and a foundation to sit that self on, there’s no telling what a person will choose to keep them stable.
Andre. T says
To start off, I love that film Inside Out it really shows how we tend to be happy and angry more often than sad or worried. Currently I am taking a lot of Psychology courses so I understand Freud’s concept of personality becoming interchangeable after the age of five. Personally I agree our personality is conditioned and made at our early ages but I believe that it can be changed over time. There is a way to reset the brain and this has worked for those who were trying to lose weight and diet.
So what if trauma causes people to turn over to developing an addiction problem. With proper help I believe that person can reset themselves and live a life without their addiction problem. I like your five action treatment to motivate, evaluate, resolve, manage, and create. It really covers all corners to treat an addiction. Most importantly I like how it breaks down an addiction problem so that we can actually discover the underlying problem behind an addiction which most of the time could have been caused by a strong case of past trauma.
I believe that trauma can impact an individual’s life for a long term period of time. Having support from family and friends they can overcome the difficult times that they are experiencing. After reading tweak for class, I learned that addiction can be a long battle to fight for, and it was first caused by previous trauma a person had experience in the past. If a patients has overcome their trauma that they were experiencing for a long period of time, then some new event comes up and impacts them will the previous trauma impact them even more than before?
I visited a 12 step program, I learned that people there talked about what had happened in the past when they were under the influence or how they felt or did while being intoxicated. Some stories that were told seemed unreal. Being there people weren’t being judged, and it is a safe place to be with other who are there for the same reason. It a place where people keep each other motivated for recovery.
Brendan H says
What really caught my attention reading this post was the section discussing the language used in 12 step programs. If I understand the purpose of the program that greeting line is used to help people in the program reinforce the idea that what they are doing isn’t beneficial to themselves and it is a problem. I think that it is a very important portion of the program but I also feel that it is very negative towards oneself like you said. The suggestion that Judy should say that part of her likes to drink a lot seems like she is distancing herself from the issue. Maybe she could say “Hi my name is Judy and to cope with my pain, I drink” this addresses the issue of drinking while also acknowledging the fact that there are underlying issues and is very careful with the use of language.
Adna Hergic says
In a Human Development class, we learned about Gardner’s Eight Frames of Mind. This is the first thing that popped into my head while reading about Inside Out. Gardner educates us that he believes intelligence is split into 8 or 9 different sections. Likewise, I believe our mind is split into different sections as well.
For example, I take myself and my different personalities into play. I have a different personality when I am at work speaking with corporate staff than when I am at a friend’s house. This is not Multiple Personality Disorder; however, I might have been diagnosed that way in earlier times.
I enjoy reading your blog posts because you connect current trends (such as Inside Out) to your posts. This is especially important because it provides us with an example we can easily apply in today’s world.
Hello Dr. Fitzgerald,
I enjoyed reading this post. I didn’t learn about trauma in relation to addiction until I was an adult but I wish that I did at an early stage. I feel like it would have provided me with a better understanding of addiction and why people use drugs to cope. Being from a Muslim faith, I often get the cold shoulders when it comes to drugs or any form of addiction. However, trauma is more understood in my family because of our background of escaping war. Many women who migrate to America from Somalia are on pain and antidepressant drugs. They suffer from PTSD and do not feel like themselves without their medication. With this, they often abuse their medication, to the point that they become addicted to it. However, this form of addiction is not spoken about in my community, rather it is hidden under the rug. I believe it’s because we don’t feel comfortable or do not want to admit that we are taking drugs to cope.
Your statement, “This is why you are not your addiction; your addiction is behavior coming from a part of you” is an important to understand because it provides us to understand ourselves. This part of trauma can help us become healthier but also not to ignore what’s really bothering us. I hope that my community can become better at this, so the trauma can be healed and the addiction can become something of the past.
John Fitzgerald says
Thanks for the feedback and sharing.
John Fitzgerald says
Nice link to Gardner, thanks!
John Fitzgerald says
Thanks for your comment!
KaleahLynn O says
Until very recently in my life, I had a difficult time separating addicts from their addictions. My mind was swollen with misconceptions of violence, crime, intense outward emotion, and danger in relation to addicts and their actions. I could not see that under the surface of drug misuse and abuse, was indeed a person; rather than some mangled, worn ghost that I’d reclassify them as. It wasn’t until after my sister was released from rehabilitation that I’d put two and two together. My sister was not the dangerous, devilish fiending creature, that I’d been improperly educated to see her as. The reality is that she was a person who had fallen to a serious health problem. She is a person who lives to sing songs at the next highest octave; not an addict. She is a person who can fill a room with vibrant laughter, with just a simple anecdote; not an addict. She is a person; NOT an addict. I appreciated the correction you made above; changing “Hi my name is Judy, I am an alcoholic,” to “I’m Judy and a part of me likes to drink a lot,” This article has resounded with the part of me that knows my sister is not her addiction
John Fitzgerald says
Well stated… may your sister engage in the creative pursuit of music more powerful than any addiction.
Leah McRee-Krim says
“This is why you are not your addiction; your addiction is behavior coming from a part of you.”
I have a dear friend who struggles with this concept because she believes her entire being is addiction. This saddens me to know she feels that horrible about herself to resort to characterizing her self as one thing, addiction. This may have come from years of shame and guilt or the abuse she dealt with as a child. She is currently in rehab and reassure her of her strength, bravery and beauty. I will send her this article in hope she will see the bigger picture. This article reminds me that we are not one thing but a collection of emotions.
“And this is where we are vulnerable to believing that a part of us – a part that acts out, feels shame, feels broken – is the essence of our being. But it’s not, it’s just a part doing only what it knows to protect our soul. This is why you are not your addiction; your addiction is behavior coming from a part of you.”
I think I really enjoyed this statement. I think when it comes to addiction, a lot of people believe that addiction is their own fault and blame themselves. This then becomes an issue of self-hate and insecurities. A lot of times, people do not know how to ask for help when it comes to addiction. Often times, they are surrounded by people who start judging and criticizing them for their problems.
Currently, I am taking a class on Drug Education. In one of the books that we are reading, trauma or past histories of abuse are one of the many contributing factors for addiction, and shame is one of the many forms of punishment given to these people. The book also mentions a care center for people with addiction. In it, the woman states how people with addiction who come from traumatic pasts need to be understood and loved. They need someone who will listen to them and comfort them. They don’t need to be judged or ostracized just because of their behaviors.
John Fitzgerald says
Thanks Leah for the feedback and passing on my post!
Cathryn Anna says
This was a very intriguing post to read. One line that especially resonated with me was “Living a life of parts helps us understand why we can love and hate the same person…” I have been struggling with this myself, I experienced childhood sexual abuse at the hands of my brother. There are days where the thought of him makes me so mad, and then there are other times where I think to myself how much I miss him and would like to see him again. I have struggled with these thoughts because they don’t match up with each other and have felt that it doesn’t make sense to love and hate someone at the same time. However, I need to remind myself that their are many parts to who I am and that they won’t always feel the same things.
Another line that really stood out to me was when you said “It means we must value time inside ourselves like we do time in the external world.” It is important for everyone to find a way to feel comfortable with themselves.
Thank you for this post.
John Fitzgerald says
Thank you for sharing your experience about parts, glad the post resonated with your experience.
Abby Kelley says
This was truly a powerful post that I learned a lot from. Growing up watching my little brother struggle with his addiction to drugs and alcohol was extremely difficult. However, at his young age he was finally able to turn his life around and make changes for the better. To this day he has been sober for 2 years and counting, and we are all so proud of him! However, this addiction has not left him without his demons. He still wallows in his past quite often feeling consumed and overwhelmed by his past (depression).
This was such a breath of fresh air form the typical “families coping with addiction” articles I come across. After reading this post about your addiction being a PART of you, rather than you as a WHOLE, I passed this along to him. For the first time in a long time I heard a smile through the phone (he is 3000 miles away), that made my day. He said he had never thought of it like that, and that he will carry this message on with him. Hoping that he does just that, and has many brighter days to come.
Thanks for posting such an intriguing message about addiction.
I appreciate that you bring up the need for one to reflect and find appropriate therapy, as you say value time within ourselves. If we understand that we are complex human beings and not fixed to be one certain way, then we can appreciate that we can nurture what we wish to see within ourselves. I think it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a process and not be intimidated by that; one day at a time. My dad struggles with a gambling addiction. He has mentioned that he wants to leave his addiction in the past; I think that his goal lies in him finding peace within himself that will empower him to deal with the things that stress him out in ways that aren’t self-destructive. It’s not always easy for one to confront what bothers them deep down, it can be painful. Given that addiction can be taboo, it makes it that much more difficult to open up. However, if an addiction is a way of coping with distress, then it seems necessary to address the pain in order to heal the addiction. He recently had a relapse, and it was overwhelming. It is a difficult road to travel for everyone involved, but reading this post is a reminder that it’s possible to get through this. Thank you for this post.
John Fitzgerald says
Thanks Lucy for the feedback, well said about the challenges of doing the work necessary to find ones self.
John Fitzgerald says
Abby your feedback made my day, thanks for passing on to your brother, glad it resonated with you and him.
Julia Liu says
The concept of trauma was interesting, and how it affects our mind in a psychological standpoint, and not biological as the emotions are dealing with the action (physically or mentally) that is occurring. It states that the parts that take in more of the burden during the event, never completely understand that the trauma is over – and it continues to protect the soul like the trauma was still happening. It sounds similar to PTSD, however, I wonder about the triggers and the aftermath like panic attacks, like if the one part was constantly on a fight or flight strategy. I thought it was interesting that what was connected was help and addiction. I know that with most addictions, people use what they are addicted to, to escape from reality, numb the feelings, or to just be away. It makes sense to why those two are connected, but it never occurred to me that it was also helpful, not always necessary in a positive or negative way.
Jennifer Tran says
One thing that I felt it stood out to me the most is saying language has its “downside” that makes people confused and misunderstood the meaning of a sentence. I have learned that we always have to use appropriate words when talking to someone who is an addict or having trauma. I believe that no one chooses to live this kind of life, they just cannot find a way to get away their pain by using drugs.
Understanding parts of self is also a good point to touch on. Each of us has many parts that sometime we forget and don’t know if those parts ever exist. For example, for those who usually use social network, they might not know that the comments they make, post they update, feedback they give their friends or a chat with someone who they don’t know are not expressed by their true self. One of my friend once told me that “the person who talked with online is not real.” I think this can be related to addicts. Many of them may admit that they get addiction and try to seek for help, but many do not recognize that they get addicted and always lie to themselves that they never get that far.
Thank you very much for this beautifully well written insight. I am an art therapy intern working with a group of women experiencing addiction, some in recovery and some in active addiction stages. I am planning a directive involving depicting the different parts of the self and was searching for a comprehensive way to explain the idea of the parts of the self and how this ties into addiction. Your writing articulates this perfectly and sensibly, I believe my group members would find this article helpful and inspiring and I would love to share it with them.
Kelly Fitzgerald says
Thanks for your nice comment, please let me know if I can be of further help. Sorry for delayed response.