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In the last section, we discussed resistance to treatment. We examined manifestations of resistance as fugues, trances and depersonalizations, acting out, internal uproar and acute regressions, flights into health, and techniques for overcoming resistance.
In this section, we will discuss mapping the personality system. The idea of mapping the personality system of DID clients is not new; both Morton Prince and Walter Franklin Prince published diagrams of their understanding of how the alter personalities of their patients fit together. Bennett Braun expanded the idea of mapping into a useful therapeutic technique.
George, a colleague of mine mentioned in a previous section used Braun’s technique of mapping the personality system when he treated Rob, age 37. George asked Rob’s personality system to produce a map, diagram, or schema of the alters’ best understanding of how they fit together or their sense of their inner world. The steps of mapping the personality system that George used were choosing a form of map, identifying useful information, and using maps as final integration tools.
As you listen to this section, consider your DID client. How might you begin the process of mapping your client’s personality system? Can you think of ways to gain your client’s interest in this technique?
♦ #1 Choosing a Form of Map
In some cases, however, your client can create a useful document that can tell you a great deal about the dynamics of the personality system and indicate areas of further therapeutic work. The form of the map also provides information about the personality system’s internal metaphor, which can be used in working with the system. One DID client, Rob, age 37, for example, likened his body to a house in which the alters lived in separate rooms. The map of Rob’s system resembled a blueprint with the alters’ rooms opening into a central hall. Rob’s therapist used this structure to locate the alters, set up lines of communication, arrange meetings, and so on.
This alerted George, the therapist, to the existence of hidden alters who must be met. The juxtapositions of alters on Rob’s map were also potentially useful data and can help identify which alters were likely to be able to fuse easily during the series of partial fusions that build toward final integration. George used Rob’s map as a source of metaphors for generating images and explaining concepts to the personalities.
For example, two specific alter personalities had adjacent rooms on Rob’s map. George used this close proximity to convince the two alters of their inherent similarity. This technique of using the map as a source of metaphors to explain concepts led to better internal communication between the two alters. George stated, "Rob’s alters began to realize how they were interconnected and not just that they were interconnected. After that, much uncovering work was done due to Rob’s better internal communication." Think of your Rob. What type of useful information would you like to gain from mapping your client’s personality system?
♦ #3 Using Maps as Final Integration Tools
Think of your Rob. Does your client’s personality map indicate a particular level of therapeutic progress? Can the map be useful in designating future interventions?
In this section, we discussed mapping the personality system. Three steps to mapping the personality system are choosing a form of map, identifying useful information, and using maps as final integration tools.
In the next section, we will discuss therapeutic resolutions. In my practice, therapeutic resolutions generally consist of four main areas. These are techniques for fusion and integration, assessing fusion stability, therapeutic interventions for fusion failures, and post-fusion treatment.
Matz, S. C., & Harari, G. M. (2020). Personality–place transactions: Mapping the relationships between Big Five personality traits, states, and daily places. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication.