One Body, Many Selves

What We Can All Learn By Understanding Structural Dissociation

One Body, Many Selves

What We Can All Learn By Understanding Structural Dissociation
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Chances are that you have you at some point stared longingly into a showroom or boutique window admiring something beautiful. Cast your mind to that time. Reflect on the ‘selves’ within you who were present in that moment. If you are anything like me many distinct selves will have offered their perspective on the prospect of purchasing the object of your attention: Perhaps one was urging you on with “Go on - You deserve it! You would look great in that. Do it NOW”. Perhaps another is highlighting the importance of conservative spending “Now, remember that you are saving for a holiday. This purchase does not fit with your larger goals”. Perhaps another yet is concerned for possible social fallout “DON’T! Your husband will be furious!”; or social competitiveness “Sarah would be so jealous!”.

If you can relate to this scenario (or one like it) – then you have observed and experienced your own many-selfness without possibly even realising it at the time.

Consider also your current height, weight, hair colour, knowledge base, experience level, health status, favoured clothing choices, role in the world – you haven’t always been this ‘Self’, have you? Many previous ‘Selves’ have carried the baton through chapters of your life to have you arrive at this point. They have all existed within the same body, but they each have had distinct preferences; perspectives; ways of making sense of the world; access to varying levels of knowledge, skill and experience; a different stage of physiological and neuro-biological development; and ways of being and responding.

These many ‘Selves’ are referred to in many different ways across the literature, psychotherapeutic models and techniques: Emotional Parts; Ego States; Parts; Perspectives of Self are a few.

Structural Dissociation Model

The Structural Dissociation Model (reference xxx) provides a framework for understanding our many ‘Selves’, their function and origin. Originally developed to help understand the experiences and clinical presentations of those who have experienced extreme trauma, the model also holds relevance for non-disturbed persons or those experiencing more moderate emotional disturbance or inner conflict.

The model outlines a framework for understanding how we subconsciously organise ‘modes’ of thought, perception, body sensation, emotion and motivations around key survival functions, and stage of life. These survival functions and corresponding “Parts of Self” include:

  • Alarm Parts :
  • Fight Parts :
  • Hide / Escape / Distancing Parts :
  • Submit Parts :
  • Attach Parts :

Extreme Events leads to Extreme Roles for our Parts and Sometimes Deepening of Fault Lines Between.