[ego-statesquib]

I was poised to tie together the dissociation of last week with the entrainment of last month with the Lawrence LeShan-style multiple worldviews and polyparadigms of last year, when I realised: I haven’t yet summed up the state of the art on the ego states/subpersonalities/parts therapy for practical investigators.

These systems heal psychological issues by seeing the person as multiple selves. As in: “I hate it when I do that” — these two “I”s are different ego states in the same person; you go in and talk to the individual parts and they start to have room to breathe, form different beliefs, act/interact in new ways, and heal. It’s good for inner conflict resolution and it also handles trauma very well since trauma creates separate dissociated selves which can be healed and reintegrated. That’s what “straight” psych is doing with it, although it’s just the beginning…

There are various examples scattered through the Glenn corpus, eg. little Glennie and the oatmeal (Path Notes p. 148) or that interesting young guy in Martial Arts Madness (p. 144-5) who wisely says he doesn’t know “anything about anything”.

I talked about Internal Family Systems here well over a year ago now, but I love and now prefer the wonderful Ego States work of Emmerson based on the older work of Watkins/Watkins. Emmerson’s site is small but excellent — those powerpoints at the bottom are worth the time. I prefer Emmerson to IFS because he is looser and because he uses hypnosis which is fundamental to this approach for me. There are other ways to access trance states but contact with deep selves requires non-ordinary, non-social states.

Terence Watts is halfway between IFS and Emmerson since he uses hypnosis but sometimes has a limiting framework on parts. But his methods are often nicely improvisatory in practice. I haven’t yet looked at Roy Hunter’s version but it will of course also be heavily hypnosis dependent. Another way the hypnosis approach can go is Yager’s idea of allowing subpersonality work to be done out of sight, subliminally. You can do it his way, which is very active, but I also do it Erickson’s way, triggering generative creativity. Often with this type of hypnosis you just realise three weeks later things are different and it doesn’t feel like the hypnosis had anything to do with it, because the cause-effect is more synchronicitous than sequential.

Then there’s the excellent Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy of Shirley Jean Schmidt which resolves attachment issues by putting a resource base of strength in place, then using it to heal other parts. (In fact all these systems see elements in the psyche which are not simply regular states, but which organise or understand deeper purpose, taking you out of the horizontal plane. Of course that doesn’t lead to ‘enlightenment’ all by itself but it is important.)

Schmidt’s resource base ego state is built by entraining nurturance, protection and peak experience. Good states; could be added to Glenn’s Secret Smile of achievement, adult love, and fun. This resourceful self is then used to fulfil early needs of child subpersonalities.

This means that an idea from commenter AngelaN waaaaay back in November last year is confirmed — the Secret Smile can indeed meet attachment deficits. Particularly useful in Schmidt’s account is the mirror-neuron derived maladaptive introject, which seems to be solved pretty much as are introjects in Emmerson but the explanation is clever and has a lot of truth.

In addition there is a nice-looking new book by Novicks I haven’t read yet, and the older systems that use subpersonalities such as Psychosynthesis, Gestalt and TA remain relevant, although the latter again has a rigid limit on subpersonalities which doesn’t really work for me.

But anyway you see how much of this there is. I count 8 systems or 11 if you count three old ones in the last para. There’s something in this folks! To use it for transpersonal development you can soup it up.

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