3. The way SPs are formed: a hypothesis
I will propose some hypothetical ideas about the way SPs are formed in patients with DID. Perhaps the most mysterious and enigmatic in DID is the process in which some parts of a personality are formed in one’s mind which are experienced and observed as having autonomy and their own subjective sense. These parts are certainly somewhere in the individual’s psyche, but it might be questionable if they are in the individual’s mind, as some of them act as though they are strangers and antagonistic and competitive to the individual’s main personality state. Some might reasonably wonder if this process can be described in terms of internalization, identification, incorporation etc, as these analytic concepts are primarily applied for internal objects for non-dissociating individuals. Nonetheless, attempts have been made to explain and understand the mechanism behind the presence of various parts of personality. “The structural theory of dissociation” (van der Hart, et al, 2006) is one of the major theoretical systems to delineate how dissociative parts are formed in the context of Janetian theory.
In this paper I would draw mainly on Sandor Ferenczi’s theory in his attempt to describe the way some of the aggressor’s aspects get internalized in the children’s mind (Ferenczi, 1932-33, 1952). Current authors such as Frankel (2002), Howell (2014) and Schimmenti, A. (2017) base their ideas on Ferenczi’s concept of the “identification with the aggressor” and discuss their views on the way that persecutory parts of the personality are formed in dissociative patients. It was Ferenczi who introduced the term “introjection” as “the opposite of projection” and stated that “the neurotic helps himself by taking into the ego as large as possible a part of the outside world, making it the object of unconscious phantasies.”(Ferenczi, 1952, p40). In DID, this process of “taking in” occurs in a very distinct way, perhaps not quite similar to what “introjection” generally means as the opposite of projection. What is introjected in the dissociative process is not simply in the form of some representational “internal object”, but by far more “elaborated” and “emancipated” to the point of having its own will and acting as an agent.
Howell, E. (2014) Ferenczi’s concept of identification with the aggressor: understanding dissociative structure with interacting victim and abuser self-states. American Journal of Psychoanalysis. 74, (48-59)
Schimmenti, A. (2017). Traumatic identification. Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 11(2), 154-171)
Ferenczi, S (1952). First Contributions to Psycho-Analysis The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 45:1-331. London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis.