In this study, the author presents ideas about what he calls “shadowy personalities (SPs)” i.e., destructive and aggressive, often masterminding parts of personality among patients with dissociative identity disorder.
This study demonstrates how these SPs manifest themselves, how they can be dealt with in various clinical settings and how this notion adds to the understanding and treatment of dissociative identity disorder.
The author seeks to conceptualize several types of SPs which manifest themselves differently in clinical settings. Review of literature demonstrates how this notion could be related to, and different from notions such as “persecutory parts of the personality” and “controlling EP” proposed by past authors. Then a case material is presented and implications of some psychotherapeutic approach are further discussed.
SPs are demonstrated to have following features; anger/aggressiveness; difficulty being identified, temporary appearance in critical situations and almost physically-felt presence. The author then demonstrates some prototypical SPs, such as SPs with aggressor’s voice, depressive and self-destructive SPs, SPs asserting themselves on behalf of the host personality, and competitive SPs. A hypothesis of the way SPs are formed is presented, primarily based on Ferenczi’s theory of the identification with the aggressor. Three types of situations leading to the identification with the aggressor are proposed: 1. a child identifies with the aggressive aspect of the aggressor (i.e., “becoming” an aggressor), 2. a child identifies with the internal image of oneself in the aggresor’s mind (i.e., aggression is directed inward), and 3. a child identifies with a bystander (both in reality, and fantasy) and aggression is used in support of himself.
The notion of SPs is descriptive for its own nature as well as in the way that they are perceived by other parts of personality. It was found that SPs were formed through different types of identification with the aggressor, but their clinical manifestation could be a mixture of features reflecting on all of them. The notion of SP is experience-near for the patients and it can be used as communication resources for the therapeutic couple in order to better understand each other and to focus on the therapeutic orientation and goals.