ABSTRACT: The alter personalities experienced under dissociation
in Multiple Personality Disorder may form around “strange attractors” in
the psychobiological field of an individual attempting to escape or heal
traumatic stress in a self-organizing way. Generally, “personality
change” is a creative attempt at growth. However, in MPD it leads
to “divided consciousness,” where different aspects of self are isolated
by state-dependent amnesias or trances, mediated by characteristic changes
in neuroimmunologic response.
It is possible that through dissociation, the person is attempting to heal
in a self-organizing way, but the transformative process gets “stuck” at
the classical stage of fragmentation, which then recreates itself through
the dynamics of “infinite nesting” and “self-iteration.” Core psychological
patterns reinforce themselves by filtering sensory information about the
world and self, and automatically organizing the rest of experience around
itself in a way that further supports the basic pattern.
In shifting identities MPDs experience uncommon dreams, in an intuitive,
if misbegotten, attempt at growth and change. Experience of alters
carries the aura of a ‘waking dream,’ where things appear real, but not
quite ‘right.’ The Consciousness Restructuring Process fosters this healing
attempt, rather than thwarting it. CRP facilitates inter-modal shifts
between not only identities, but sensations, perceptions, emotions, imagery
and behavior. Thus, it offers a ‘positive outlet’ for a process trying
to self-correct the organism, but allowing that process to flow beyond
the state of fragmentation to the fully undifferentiated experience for
healing, dissolving old ‘basins of attraction’ in the mindscape.
The psychophysical channels of both the limbic-hypothalamus system (seat
of reward/punishment circuits) and the placebo effect are invoked to account
for positive results.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), commonly known as Multiple Personality
Disorder (MPD), was once considered to be extremely rare, but is now more
widely reported. It is characterized by uncontrollable shifting among
two or more alternate personalities which control awareness and behavior
in an attempt to protect the host individual from further exposure to traumatic
stress, or the residual affects of post-traumatic stress.
Therefore, by definition, MPDs can be assumed to also carry Post Traumatic
Stress Syndrome (PTSD), and its attendant psychobiology. Because
the person gets emotionally stuck at the point of the trauma, it is as
if the traumatic event is always “happening.” This creates a fragmentation,
as part of one’s self image stays stuck and dissociates, while the rest
of consciousness carries on. The fragmentation is always ‘happening.’
That frozen energy needs a way to rejoin the whole.
Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is a controversial diagnostic label
for traumatic dissociation, which leads to fragmentation or splits in the
personality which are often unknown to one another since they are isolated
by state-dependent amnesias. Thus, MPD patients may experience themselves
as several discrete alter personalities who do not share consciousness
or memories with one another. MPD patients differ from controls in
their ability to learn and remember, largely by compartmentalizing information.
However, they do not differ in overall memory level. There can be
particular relationships between alternates within the total personality.
Alter personalities have been defined in such a way that they simultaneously
describe single, presumably unitary personality.
“I have tended to define a personality, alter, or dis-aggregate self
state in a manner that stresses what such an entity does and how it behaves
and functions...A disaggregate self state (i.e., personality) is the mental
address of a relatively stable and enduring particular pattern of selective
mobilization of mental contents and functions, which may be behaviorally
enacted with noteworthy role-taking and role-playing dimensions and sensitive
to intrapsychic, interpersonal, and environmental stimuli. It is
organized in and associated with a relatively stable...pattern of neurophysiological
activation, and has crucial psychodynamic contents. It functions
both as a recipient, processor, and storage center for perceptions, experiences,
and the processing of such in connection with past events and thoughts,
and/or present and anticipated ones as well. It has a sense of its
own identity and ideation, and a capacity for initiating thought processes
and actions.” (Kluft, 1988).
Core psychological processes are synonymous with discret States of Consciousness
(Tart, 1990), and either has the ability to perpetuate itself. Core
patterns reinforce their own potentiation. Transition is often triggered
by psychosocial stress or idiosyncratic cues. A core pattern tends
to control other aspects of apprehension and perception of self and world,
automatically organizing the rest of experience around itself in a way
that further supports the basic pattern.
For example, deep-seated anger or jealousy can become an “altered state”
which magnifies the perception of annoyances. Anger, or any other
core pattern can become the dominant focus of our experience and automatically
(mis)interprets all sensory perceptions of the world and self in a way
consonant with the core pattern. When we identify with these patterns,
we become them completely, and accept this perception as “reality.”
In light of that, what is a person with MPD then? Tart describes
the condition as someone who has two or more well developed core patterns,
constellation patterns, that can take over his or her World Simulation
Process (WSP) such that the person temporarily lives in a virtual reality
that constitutes an identity, a personality, a state of conciousness that
seems perfectly real. This is due to the fact that our internally
generated virtual reality is the only reality we know and experience.
The primary personality is often timid and passive, and may be diagnosed
A so-called “normal” personality believes itself to be unitary; but, in
fact, it consists of roles, conflicting ideas and beliefs, subpersonalities,
and archetypal motivations, etc. There can be considerable degrees
of multiplicity within apparently “normal” personality structure.
Neurotics suffer maladaptive functioning and anguish where normals thrive.
The ‘psychotic’ lives in a virtual reality so totally different from the
‘normal’ range as to be obviously different, even to the point of constituting
a danger to themselves (such as suicidal tendencies or self-mutiliation)
and others. MPD experience may include alters possessing different
names, histories, and personality traits. They may have different
genders, sexual orientations, even nationalities. Even non-human
alien alters have been reported.
Onset is almost always in childhood, even though most cases go undiagnosed
until much later. The disorder tends to be chronic and is exacerbated
by psychosocial and psychophysical stress. The degree of impairment
varies from mild to severe. One or more of the personalities may
function enough to be gainfully employed. In terms of functionality,
the number of personalities is secondary to the nature and relationships
Virtually all cases arise from repeated, severe physical, emotional, sexual,
and/or mental abuse in childhood. MPD is more common in first-degree
relatives of those with the disorder. It is three to nine times more
prevalent in females than males. The number of alters varies from
two to around 100, with ten being average in that 50% have less, and 50%
have more alters. MPDs have an innate ability to dissociate easily,
and probably lacked a supportive or comforting person to counteract abusive
A DYNAMICAL APPROACH TO MPD
All healing is self-healing, and self-healing first and foremost requires
self-love. Every thought is a biochemical reality effecting CNS,
endocrine, and immune systems. Therefore, in the treatment of any
psychophysical disorder, self-acceptance is a paramount issue. Our
therapeutic task is to be more sensitive, compassionate, and empathetic.
This translates into healing as characteristics assimilated by the client
toward themselves and becomes part of everybody’s self-fulfillment.
Therapeutic and transpersonal views emphasize the conscious control and
effort needed for some growth bifurcations; for example, making a commitment
A dynamical view emphasizes interconnectedness and self-organization. Obviously,
there may be several attractors of mind simultaneously active. Awareness
or sensitivity to blame is a control parameter that is subject to change--especially
the strength of self-blame. Self-organization creates new information
in a dynamical system with the development of increasing complexity.
There is growth potential in the self-control of bifurcations to novel
attractors. Anyone can learn to make choices to empower their future
and develop new selfs, to inhabit new attractors, to explore conjectured
attractors, and make informed choices concerning potential trajectories,
to affirm and create self.
In complex dynamics, divergent features are perceived as being as important
as convergent features, and this model is important in healing for people
constructing alternative models of their future. Confronted by the
choice of making their life more meaningful, an individual can make open-ended
choices to move toward more fulfilling attractors, and choose a path to
get there. This is an alternative to the fear, loneliness, and emptiness
that generates and perpetuates alters, and fosters derealization, depersonalization,
and identity disturbance.
The holistic mind is a complex dynamical system (CDS). The language
of CDS and Chaos Theory is now revealing a point-of-view, or metamodel,
which provides a universal language for psychology which is competent to
deal with the complexities of interactive change and yet is relatively
easy to communicate. The holistic unity involves phenomenology, mind,
brain, behavior, and environment. The dynamical systems’point of
view extrapolates to a world view: Healing occurs by immersion in the undifferentiated
state of chaotic consciousness and emerges via self-organization.
In treating MPD, the aim is to create a balance between the intrinsic benefits
of diversity and unification--getting them into perspective. The
value of unification depends on where the person is on the disunity-unity
dimension of development. Until holistic unity is approachable, there
is importance in the dialectical tension among disparate views. In
the course of treatment, CRP journeys are supplimented with conventional
Degree of awareness is related to the magnitude of attractors. An
attractor is simply the characteristic behavior of a dynamical system changing
over time. Jumps in magnitude result in jumps in awareness.
Attractors of the mind may undergo subtle bifurcations or splits among
possibilities. Bifurcations occur when a system rests right between
two attractors. A tiny change in the system’s state can then push
the system in one direction or another.
Conscious control and effort can be invested in self-organizational control
of such bifurcations which empowers growth potential. The mutually
interactive features of the system also involve nonlinear features that
endow or summarize the ability of the system to show certain complex behaviors,
such as transformations (bifurcations) and chaos.
CRP goes directly to the primal self image, because trying to do therapy
on alters means forcing conceptual isolation of that feature despite its
strong embedding within a complex better considered as a whole. Complex
patterns emerge from the resolution of multiple tendencies or forces.
These patterns are characterized as attractive and convergent or divergent
from even very close starting points. Many aspects of mind are attractors
arising in a holistic system. These atttractors are combined in a
complex network. They keep each other alive.
Memory can function as a chaotic attractor. The tendency to live
in memory means depending more on memory than on the direct perception
of reality. This tendency is most serious in those whose lives have
been tense and conflicted since childhood. They have therefore fixed
relationships into specific old forms. This fixation leads to repetitive
Those fixated (no matter what “diagnosis”) consistently meet the present
with the past; the same mechanism is used to engage the present.
The memory image becomes a nodal point which demands that a new situation
becomes like an old one. Such foci force relating processes into
a vortex by insisting that the movement of relationship stay in its orbit.
The vortex fragments off from the whole, the system separates from the
larger whole. Fragmentation begets fragmentation. Such vortices
lead to separation, isolation, conflict, emptiness.
Without process work, such as CRP, to address unhealed emotions, the old
forms maintain themselves and there is no action by the brain to create
a more harmonious relationship with reality. Imagery empowers memories
of body-environmental interactions. Apparently the old solution has
provided pseudo-pleasure and security which is communicated to the brain
as more satisfactory than the alternatives memory promises beyond the repetition
of these outworn safety measures. Despite psychological conflicts
or psychosomatic illnesses, the security in the repetition is read as preferable
to any change. Creative moments are breaks in these habitual patterns.
Therapy permits and facilitates novel experiences of a wide variety of
self-simulations. The parameters of the system change, the variables
change, and the value of some constants change. The confusion that
ensues is a useful therapeutic technique. The transformations may
present as subtle, catastrophic, or as a sudden shift in the magnitude
of the attractor (implosive or explosive). These bifurcations are
crucial in memory packaging, storage, and retrieval. When the control
parameters of a system are influenced by the state of the system itself,
that is self-control, or self-organization.
“If a process of mind is a chaotic attractor, then when it slips away
from awareness to be packed away until recollected, that may well be an
implosive bifurcation; it remains pretty much the same but is a greatly
diminished, yet ongoing, dynamic process. Or there may be a subtle
bifurcation with implosive features. The reactivation of such a memorialized
attractor is the explosive counterpart. In terms of our awareness,
these implosive and explosive events seem like catastrophic bifurcations,
appearing and disappearing in and out of the blue, as when the whereabouts
of a misplaced object suddenly reveals itself, and once put back in our
pocket, is forgotten. However, there may be quite a life to the continued
dynamics of the processes of these attractors while they are hidden from
awareness.” (F.D. Abraham, 1992).
Awareness and consciousness can be thought of as on a continuum that depends
on how much of the relevant portions of the brain are brought into play.
From the dynamical concept of mind, this means how much of the mental,
neural, behavioral, and environmental activity are being brought into play.
Sudden shifts in awareness arise from the suddenness of bifurcations in
nonlinear dynamical systems.
There are also gradual changes in degree of awareness and the amount of
energy expended on a particular process. In general the expansion
of an attractor requires that more energy be devoted to it; increased forces
increase the magnitude; shrinkage of the attractor is accompanied by the
lessening of energy requirements by the system. In Chaos Theory,
the notion of psychobiological stability has been considerably liberalized
to include psychobiological periodic and chaotic attractors. MPD
is characterized by “strange attractors,” whose behavior appears random,
but is actually deterministic.
MULTIPLE PERSONALITY & STATE DEPENDENT MEMORY
The process of encoding, memory and learning, is modulated in the limbic
system (specifically in the amygdala and hippocampus). Hormones (the
same ones that create psychosomatic problems) released during periods of
internal stress control this encoding process. Therefore, memory
depends on the relation between neurohormonal and hormonal states.
These memories are integrated under normal patterns of arousal and memory
But when coded under extreme stress, the uniquely patterned brain state
depends on a particular pattern of arousal, the same one, for memory retrieval.
Thus, an isolated memory package continues operation cut off from the whole,
usually remaining below the threshold of awareness.
Pain and pleasure (or punishment/reward) are the great reinforcers of learning,
behavior, and how we experience and express ourselves. Alters can
dispense rewards and execute punishments, acting as both judge and jury
on an already stroke-deficient, shattered self-image.
What we formerly defined as a process of psychological dissociation is
now considered state-dependent learning, even divided consciousness.
Powerful emotional states act as inductions of altered states of consciousness.
This is how multiple existences become possible: by living from one waking
state to another waking state; from one dream to the next; from one creative,
artistic, religious, or psychotic inspiration or possession to another;
from trance to trance; and from reverie to reverie.
The apparent continuity of awareness that exists in everyday normal awareness
is, in fact, a precarious illusion that is only made possible by the associative
connections that exist between related bits of conversations, task orientation,
etc. We all occassionally experience “instant amnesias” when we forget
what we were going to say or do. Without associative connection,
awareness breaks down into a series of discrete states with little continuity
or integrity, as in dreamlife.
Therapeutic mind/body communication means facilitating the process of converting
words, images, sensations, ideas, beliefs, and expectations into the healing,
physiological processes in the body. This reverses the situation
of the childhood traumas, which generally include paradoxical communications--double
binds in the formative stages of life. Thus, the limbic system becomes
programmed by self-loathing and self-punishing patterns (victim-victimizer),
split off from the whole.
Multiple Personality takes root in a skewed learning process through early
childhood state-dependent learning. Trauma such as abuse or sexual
molestation induces a hypnoidal state where confusing messages are translated
into a trance state similar to shock. These states reemerge under
similar contextual cues, creating complications resulting from inappropriate
But the cues may become generalized so that virtually any situation provides
a cue. Knowledge is consciously available in one state, but not another.
The multiple has learned to concentrate totally on certain memories from
the past, and compulsively uses them to confront the present even when
they are grossly inappropriate. Perceptual distortions occur during
retrieval; this creates chaotic confusion. Patterns of associations
between emotions and knowledge seem random and jumbled.
Different subpersonalities can have different cognitive and psychophysiological
response patterns as well. Researchers have found that the only dissociated
functions among the different states of consciousness pertain to emotionally
laden information, skills, and activities associated with each specific
But, do the various personalities really respond to stimuli as though they
were separate and discrete individuals, as reported in subjective experience?
Or, does the apparent separateness stem from selective inattention, reporting
biases, and sometimes confabulation?
Multiples may experience as few as two alters, or so many they may be called
‘the troops.” The cast of characters each appear to be strongly role-bound
alters. Their types may include, but are not limited to, protectors,
nurturers, same and opposite sex opponents and comforters, vulnerable children,
wounded or ill sufferers, antisocial rebels, passive/aggressive manipulators,
drama queens, rage-filled sociopaths, licentious hedonists, religious zealots
or moral extremists, victim/victimizers and judges. We must assume
each comes complete with unique brainbody chemistry which is orchestrated
within the host, subverting emotional and thought processes.
Neutral information is not dissociated. The obvious analog for such
dissociative amnesias is hypnosis. Memories acquired during the state
of hypnosis are forgotten in the awake state but are available once more
when hypnosis is reinduced. Both originate in the psychophysiology
of a class of hypnotic dissociation. It has even been suggested that
MPD results from chronic autohypnosis, and the switch mechanism is the
Despite subjective claims of separateness and amnesia, there is considerable
leakage of information across states. Research reveals no evidence
of super-normal discrimination ability nor memory ability, but does show
enhanced compartmentalization. Yet, material learned in one state
influences processing in other states across personalities. Usually,
emotionally-laden words are processed differently between alternates, although
neutral material is processed the same. This generalization across
alters means doing therapy with any personality can potentially heal the
This points again to the functional involvement of the limbic-hypothalamic
system (and its agent, the amygdala) as the main mind-body transducer for
emotional processes. It is just this mind-body system and state-dependent
memory, learning, and behavior that are the two main processes of mind-body
communication and healing. Thus psychological factors can facilitate
healing, as shown in psychoneuroimmunology, shamanism, hypnosis, holism
and the placebo effect.
1). The limbic-hypothalamic system is the major anatomical connecting
link between mind and body.
2). State-dependent memory, learning, and behavior processes encoded
in the limbic-hypothalamic and closely related systems are the major information
transducers between mind and body.
3). All methods of mind-body healing and therapeutic hypnosis
operate by accessing and reframing the state-dependent memory and learning
systems that encode symptoms and problems.
4). The state-dependent encoding of mind-body symptoms and problems
can be accessed by psychological as well as physiological (e.g. drugs)
approaches--and the placebo response is a synergetic interaction of both.”
Placebos work particularly well when stress, or more accurately, when distress
is the illness, such as depression and anxiety. They also work in
part by reducing the apprehension associated with the disease. But,
one need not take a “sugar pill” to benefit from the mechanisms at work
in placebo effect: any structured healing situation which inspires confidence
and a positive expectation in participants in their ability to ameliorate
their symptoms invokes this self-healing force. The immune system
falters under stressful conditions, and all therapeutic processes which
reduce that stress and anxiety can influence countless diseases, including
some we don’t usually consider subject to psychological influence.
Some types of people respond better to the suggestion of healing than others.
There is a correlation between open-mindedness, hypnotizability, and placebo
response. This has been well-documented in medical literature.
“...Good placebo responders, like good hypnotic subjects, inhibit the
critical, analytic mode of information processing that is characteristic
of the dominant verbal hemisphere. Good placebo responders will tend
to be individuals who are prone to see conceptual or other relationships
between events that seem randomly distributed to others. They will
inhibit the interfering signals of doubt and skepticism, which are consequences
of the more analytic mode of information processing, typical of the dominant
(left) hemisphere. . . .Minor-hemisphere functions include holistic and
imaginative mentation with diffuse, relational, and simultanous processing
of information; the tendency to “see” some relationship or “meaning” in
data, however randomly generated, would appear to be an aspect of creative
mentation that is posited to be a property of the nondominant hemisphere.
This explanation can account for the common features of good placebo responders
and good hypnotic subjects.” (Wickramasekera, 1985).
We have already shown that MPDs are excellent at producing self-induced
trance-states, and there is no reason this ability can’t be directed or
utilized in a positive way. The healing environment is a powerful
antidote for illness. The decision to seek professional assistance
retores some sense of control. The symbols and rituals of healing
CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT PROTOCOLS
MPD is initially misdiagnosed in many cases as PTSD, schizophrenia due
to patient’s reports of “voices,” panic disoder, borderline, or depression.
The core personality may indeed be depressed and benefit from antidepressant
medication. Physical conditions are first ruled out, and include
seizure disorders, head injury, substance abuse, etc. Screening is
done with a test called the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES), and
evaluation then continues with the Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule
(DDIS) or the Strucutral Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders
(SCID-D). Hypnotizability is measured by the Hypnotic Induction Profile
Treatment lasts from five to seven years in adults and usually involves
several different treatment methods. With treatment, prognosis for
recovery is excellent for children and good for most adults. Although
treatment takes several years, it is often ultimately effective.
Generally speaking, the earlier the individual is diagnosed and treated,
the better the prognosis. In conventional care some doctors will
prescribe tranquilizers or antidepressants because alter personalities
may have anxiety or mood disorders.
However, other therapists may prefer to keep medications to a minimum becase
these patients can easily become psychologically dependent on drugs.
A major consideration for CRP psychotherapy is to have a benzodiazepine-free
participant, since this drug class blocks the transformation process.
Since some alters tend to abuse drugs or alcohol, it can be dangerous to
combine them with most tranquilizers.
While not always necessary, hypnosis is a standard treatment for DID patients.
It may help patients recover repressed ideas and memories. Further,
hypnosis can also be used to ameliorate problematic behaviors, such as
self-mutilation or eating disorders. In the later stages of treatment,
the therapist may use hypnosis to “fuse” the alters as part of the patient’s
personality integration process. Alternative therapies include hydrotherapy,
calming herbs, therapeutic massage, yoga, art therapy, journal-keeping,
and meditation (but only after the personality has been reintegrated).
Psychotherapy by an experienced specialist in dissociation includes rules
or contracts for treatment that include such issues as the patient’s responsibility
for his or her safety. Therapy takes place in stages: an initial
phase for uncovering and “mapping” alters; a phase of treating the traumatic
memories and “fusing” the alters; a phase of consolidating the patient’s
newly integrated personality. Therapists recommend further treatment
after integration to teach and anchor social skills. Family therapy
is often recommended for family-of-origin and the patient’s nuclear family,
to foster understanding. DID is also helped by group treatment, if
that group is limited to those with dissociative disorders.
TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS AND MPD
The concept of dissociation suggests that a system of thought can be split
off from the primary personality and can congeal over time as another personality
that is unconscious, but which can be accessed via hypnosis. There
are various degrees of this fragmentation of the self which can be thought
of as lying along a continuum extending ultimately to MPD, (Price, 1988).
The unity of consciousness is illusory; we are all covert multiples.
Research has revealed hidden observers representing subordinate systems
or roles which can lose communication with one another because of a process
of dissociation. Each of us is split into varying parts, roles, and/or
ego states. The mind must be viewed as a complex whole, constituted
of multiple part selves.
These parts in turn combine to do what each does best given a certain set
of circumstances. Difficulties arise when there is an impairment
of the organizing executive function such that dissociated part selves
come into existence. The etiology of MPD is usually located in childhood
in a context of extreme physical, sexual, and/or psychological abuse --
psychological trauma ranging from incest and rape to suicidal despair.
MPD represents an attempt by the child to deal with overwhelmingly negative
environmental circumstances, in which to maintain some sense of integrity
of self, the self must split. To develop MPD, the individual must
(1) have a biological ability to dissociate, and (2) face overwhelming
life experiences in childhood which result in his or her using their dissociative
abilities as a defense that (3) becomes linked to the formation of a split-off
part self structure which (4) becomes persistent due to a lack of healing
nurturance from significant others before the dissociated part of the self
These relics of childhood can exhibit spontaneous activity in the normal
waking state where ego states can manifest themselves in one of two ways,
as either completely cathected states of mind experienced as the “real
self,” or as intrusions, usually covert or unconscious into the activity
of the current ‘real self.’ MPD represents a disordering of normal
transition between alternate ego states; boundaries are permeable, but
also impermeable to information exchange, resulting in state-bound amnesias.
There is no experience of a temporal continuance of events between alternating
aspects of self.
Alters are encapsulations of those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors which
are remnants from childhood, the fixations from the past. There are
four main categories of alters: persecutors, rescuers, inner helpers, and
Persecutors in one form can be typified as angry children alternatives,
and can also appear as critical, malevolent others who functionally represent
Prejudicial Parent manifestations. These are active in form because
they function similarly to the parental figures after which they were patterned.
Rescuing alters often appear as conciliatory, nurturing figures who function
in the system as nurturing parental elements. They are often wishful
idealizations of figures from a grim reality that had little in the way
of good enough parenting to offer the child.
Inner self helpers can be viewed as detached, problem-solving alters, identifiable
functionally with the Adult. They can relate information, give guidance,
but have little or no ability to act within the system.
MPD AND THE CONSCIOUSNESS RESTRUCTURING PROCESS
One of the main characteristics of complex dynamical systems in Chaos Theory
is known as “sensitivity to initial conditions.” All the future convolutions
which emerge through the chaotic unfolding are seeded in these holistic
beginnings. In terms of human behavior patterns, this means looking
back to the point of conception, if not further into the psychophysical
and environmental givens of the parents.
According to the “butterfly effect,” a small perturbation in the initial
stages of unfolding can “pump up” into a disproportionately large result,
the analogy being a butterfly flapping its wings can eventually kindle
a storm as strong as a hurricane. Even in a simple organism a set
of neural connections may be able to generate many and variable attractors.
Some will be adaptive to environmental demands, while others will not.
Appropriate responses are not selected by the attractors or a centrally-programmed
neural structure, but by the process arising from the continual interaction
with the environment.
Behavior doesn’t begin at birth. It begins in the womb and develops
in predictable ways. One of the most important influences on that
development is the fetal environment. Developmental psychologists
note that the fetus gets an enormous amount of ‘hormonal bathing’ through
the mother, so its chronobiological rhythms are influenced by the mother’s
sleep/wake cycles, her eating patterns, and her movements.
Stress hormones have a crucial effect, and highly-pressured mothers tend
to have more active fetuses, which become more irritable infants.
Those with irregular sleep/wake patterns in the womb sleep more poorly
as young infants. Fetuses with high heart rates become unpredictable,
A client, whom we can call Margo, is a long-term therapy participant, with
over 100 CRP journeys. Her case is a poignant example of how dysfunctionality
can begin even before birth. Her mother also had MPD, therefore,
Margo’s “in womb” sensory programming included exposure to the chemical
stew of a highly dysfunctional individual.
Behaviorally speaking, there is little difference between a newborn baby
and a 32-week-old fetus. The fetus can taste, feel, and hear, and
spends hours in REM--the rapid eye movement sleep of dreams. During
REM, the fetus’ eyes move back and forth, dreaming about what it knows--the
sensations they feel in the womb. Between frequent naps, there is
something like an awake alert period.
The fetus also has been shown to have the capacity to learn and remember.
This activity can be rudimentary, automatic, even biochemical. For
example, a fetus, after an intitial reaction of alarm, eventually stops
responding to a repeated loud noise. Thus, the fetus displays the
same kind of primitive learning, known as habituation. The fetus
can listen, learn, and remember at some level, and likes the comfort and
reassurance of the familiar.
In utero, the baby is being prepared for life, learning psychological and
coping mechanisms important to survival, sharing the parent’s REM dreams,
and hopefully experiencing the healthier chemistry of conflict resolution
and the resolving of traumas.
Neural patterns are conditioned in the womb during REM, which occupies
much of the activity of the fetus. Attractors form which are goal
states that act to constrain the system’s internal degrees of freedom.
The entrainment phenomena, two closely related systems synchronously
oscillating at the same frequency with one another, may be the mechanism
through which brain waves synchronize.
We propose that brain waves can become synchronous when in proximity, particularly
in REM, as reports of “shared dreaming” suggest. Lending further
support to REM fetal programming is information about the chemical environment
of the womb, stress and neuroimmunological chemicals, as well as effects
of foreign substances (alcohol, tobacco, drugs) the mother ingests.
Margo’s REM experiences as a fetus were of having no one single set personality
model from which to program her personality, nor of a stable chemical environment
in the womb. It is known that MPD often results in different body
chemistries for different personalities. Moreover, her mother was
addicted to both tobacco and alcohol in some personalities.
The mother was also having extra-marital love affairs, of which the father
knew, and he was greatly disturbed by them. The mother had also been
raped shortly prior to Margo’s conception, and was still affected by this.
These events were extremely disturbing to both of her parents. It
seems likely that they would have been processing much of it in their REM
or dreams. By our concept, all this would have been absorbed by the
fetus Margo during her fetal REM experience.
Various personalities expressed several of these symptoms. For example,
one personality expressed insane jealousy with respect to the various men
in her life. Yet she picked men for relationships who were unfaithful
in relationships. At the same time she used sex as a means of manipulating
men, from another of her personalities, in part as a result of her childhood
sexual molestation by her father, and in part because this was also how
her mother operated.
She had been in several situations where she was, in fact, raped.
One of her personalities was addicted to alcohol while others were more
temperate. One had symptoms of schizophrenia, two others in concert
exhibited a bipolar disorder. None were in communication with all
of the others, although some were aware of one or two other personalities.
In working with Margo and hearing stories about her early life and experiences,
it was apparent that she had literally come forth from the womb already
strongly programmed to this disorder. She was born fully prepared
to create alternate personalities as a coping mechanism or a response to
trauma or threatening situations.
The first personality was created during the first few months of her life
and was the source of the first split and alternate personality.
We had to go back well into the earliest fetal and pre-fetal consciousness
structures for her to reach the source consciousness of her disease.
Only then could she begin to release and heal her disorder rather than
merely putting a superficial fix on it.
The strategy was to transform the fetal programming responsible for the
propensity to create the alternate personality structures as a primary
means of coping. She also carried both her parents’ pains and burdens
experienced through fetal REM into birth and up to her present, and was
incapable of separating them out even in later life. Reaching these
diseased consciousness dynamics through REM and the journey process was
crucial to releasing and transforming them.
Using the wakeful side of REM was necessary to the process for several
reasons. Margo’s dreams were superficially not about these earliest
and deepest memories and consciousness structures. Dreams, on the
surface level, most often reflect recent experiences and only through deeper
work in the structure of the dream itself touch on the deepest consciousness
structures, which in turn determine our reactions to these recent experiences.
Thus to work at only the surface level of a dream is inadequate for deep
transformation. For examples, dream interpretation or analysis, operates
at intellectual and occasionally emotional levels; gestalt dream work works
at the emotional-experiential levels, and lucid dreaming works at ego-experiential
levels. None are sufficient to completely reach the actual early
and most deeply held experiences and consciousness structures needing release
CRP follows and deepens the natural tendency toward depersonalization seen
in MPD experience. Clients report feeling that his or her body is
unreal, is changing, or is dissolving. CRP lets that dissolution
take place in a therapeutic setting, but also fosters emergent self-organization
of the primary personality.
In the wakeful REM consciousness, using the imaginative sensory nature
of the journeys, Margo was able to reach the “primal consciousness structures”
that formed the basis of her multiple personality structure. The
ego minds (twelve, in all) were able to follow the process without
directing or controlling it to allow their eventual transformation and
emergence of one whole self. This was necessary in order to transform
the coping mechanism of creating other personalities when in pain or threatened.
The coping mechanism is that which she had been programmed with while still
in the womb.
Because self-imagery is part of a nonlinear dynamical system, even slight
changes in this imagery can have powerful reorganizing effects on all other
‘parts’ of the self. The self can use information it captures to
drive its own evolution in unpredictable directions. A change in
the number and layout of goal states (attractors) will result in a change
in the field, which manifests as a qualitative shift in behavior mode.
The actual structure of the many personalities came from post-natal traumas,
but the sensory mechanism of developing them was programmed into the fetus
from sharing the mother’s MPD experiences while in REM. Margo now
reports only one alter remains, the one which has been with her the longest,
and she continues her therapeutic journey.
The CRP journeys seem to trigger natural healing, whether at the genetic,
cellular, neural, or psychoneuroimmunological level. It activates
the same consciousness dynamics as the placebo effect. We have consistently
observed that chaotic, unstructured or complex consciousness is the dynamics
required for consciousness restructuring. This restructuring of the
primal existential sensory self-image, in turn affects neural patterns
(the existential hologram). Changes in the firing patterns affect
the entire body’s chemistry.
It is also necessary for therapeutic success to be at the initial conditions
of the system for this restructuring to have maximal effect, and REM consciousness
seems to be necessary to these processes. This provides a plausible
mechanism through which dreams, historically considered the source of great
healing and spiritual power, do their healing and regenerative work.
In CRP Journeys, we infer that the chaotic, implicate or complex consciousness
is the dynamic in which the healing biochemical transformations are initiated
by changes in the primal existential hologram (Swinney, 1997). This
model suggests that a similar process may account for the healing effects
of placebos. We take a placebo with the perception that it will help.
Taking this perception into sleep and REM, the neural patterns are also
changed which in turn affects the whole psychophysical organism.
REM consciousness is the most chaotic or complex state of consciousness
dynamics measured in the brain. It is a well-known phenomena that
both physical and psychological diseases are reflected in dreamlife, often
as the first sign that something is amiss. Thus REM consciousness
with its access to mind/body communication is of prime interest with regards
The emergent properties of the network include evolutionary adaptation.
From the dynamical processes of attraction, chaos, bifurcation and autopoiesis
(self-creation), emerge webs of mutually inter-adapting entities.
Superceding any outworn notions of psychosomatics, is David Bohm’s concept
of “soma-significance,” that the physical body and its significance or
meaning are not separate, but two aspects of an overall indivisible reality.
Abraham, Frederick D., “Chaos, Bifurcations, & Self-Organization: Dynamical
of Neurological Positivism & Ecological Psychology,” PSYCHOSCIENCE,
1(2), 85-118, 1992.
Brown, Walter A., “The Placebo Effect,” SCI.AMER. Jan. 1998, pp.90-95.