Ritual Abuse and Polyfragmentation

Back in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, when I first started down this long, difficult, amazingly rewarding path, the word polyfragmentation wasn’t used in connection with multiplicity. Or if it was, it didn’t pop up in any of the myriad books about ritual abuse that I read at the time and so I didn’t know about it. Well, I knew about it intuitively, and so did many others, but we had no words to describe it.

Now most all survivors know what polyfragmentation is and feel a lot less lonely and crazy. Which is great!

But do they really know? Poking around, I found that the term seems to be used in several different ways. Just knowing that the word comes from poly = many and fragmented = the state of being broken off, detached, or incomplete doesn’t help a whole lot. (from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fragment)

Here are some of the ways the term is used:

1. More than 100 alters. I assume that means alters with names, ages, personal histories, etc. Some may be more fully formed than others, but basically they are all like people. That’s a lot, but it seems to me that it’s more a crowd than a group of fragments. Though I suppose if you consider that all alters either come from the original personality or from alters that have already split off, you can consider all the alters fragments. But wouldn’t that be true of people with 79 alters, or 5, or 3?

2. Parts with only one function, or formed during one specific instance of abuse. These parts might not have personalities and probably would not appear too often. They were split off from an existing alter and, because they are so limited, could be considered a fragment.

3. Parts arranged in layers throughout the system, generally isolated and not in communication with other parts of the system. Here I start getting confused: I can see that the system could be considered fragmented, but I can’t see the parts as fragments. They seem to me more like “sleeper alters.” I think my confusion has something to do with the type of system organization: it generally indicates government/military programming, which I always have trouble understanding. This pattern may co-exist with either or both of the other two described.

4. And then there is my kind of fragmentation, which I don’t consider confusing at all, of course, because it is normal for me. There are little bits of things floating around with no consciousness or purpose, sort of like dust particles in the air. When I want to do something, a number of these things coalesce into what might be considered an alter, or a group of alters (for more complicated tasks.) It’s not necessarily the same particles each time. All this is very logical and simple to me…except…who/what decides what to do? who/what picks the group of fragments? who/what decides when the action is complete and the particles can disperse?

The mind is never simple, is it?

In a sense, we don’t have to know how our mind works. We have been doing what we do for years and years and by now it is automatic. It takes no effort for me to assemble an internal crew to do the dishes (once I stop procrastinating) and being able to describe it as clearly as I can makes no difference. I still can’t decide if I am a proper multiple or not; I’ve just stopped worrying about it. I have better things to do with my spare time.

I have to end this post by telling you about a man I knew years ago whose mind was totally different yet remarkably similar to mine. I think it is so fascinating.

He said his mind was a slide rule. He lined up all the components of an action, and if he got it right, it went smoothly. If one part was missing, he froze until he could find it and put it in place. And if he picked a wrong part, he risked acting inappropriately.

Here’s an example. Phone rings. Select ‘phone.” Select “answer phone.’ Woman says, “Hello, may I talk to Bill.” Select ‘woman.’ Select ‘identify self as Bill.’ Woman says, “Would you like to join us for dinner Thursday?” Select ‘mother.’ Select ‘find excuse.’ You get the idea.

It all happened at lightning speed. The only way he could analyze what was going on was to further dissociate and have a part look at the process as it was happening. After observing it many times, he found a simile for how his mind worked and was able to describe it to others. But, like me, he had no idea who or what was observing the process or who or what made the decisions – who selected ‘mother’ rather than ‘bill collector.’

I wonder if there are others like him out there. And I wonder if others truly understand polyfragmentation.

9 thoughts on “Ritual Abuse and Polyfragmentation

  1. This concept of snowflake programming, I have never heard of it before, but when I was little my system was described as one of those paper chain girls. This was in reference to a rhyme that went along with my name specifically because you could also do the same thing with a snowflake where if you leave one edge intact, the snowflakes will become a chain.

    I was shown that this was part of some sort of replication process. I assume this process of replication is why I have retained some degree of linear memory as an adult. The same is not true of childhood. I have huge black holes throughout childhood. Anyways, what you are saying and the comments made a lot of sense to me. Thanks for sharing even though I know this was from a couple years ago. It was a redirect suggestion from your current post that led me here and I’m glad it did.


  2. On the snowflake/blizzard thing- I can see that. Well, I mean I have…

    though- it’s seemed to me in direct exposure to you that there are- either some recurring states, or- *some* more “regular” alters- that are- recognizable from the outside. not sure how that works but…

    on polyfragmentation in general- i don’t like having the strict “must be a hundred or more parts”- partly because it seems- arbitrary, and i’ve met polyfragmented systems who aren’t- clearly aware of that exact amount of parts but seem clearly to be polyfragmented.

    one thing i’ve found very common- if not universal- in polyfragmented systems is- having sub-systems/seperate systems, and parts going in groups- that’s certianly true of me. i think that polyfragmented systems are much more *likely* to have a fair amount of fragments/very limited parts- i have seen them in other systems, but not nearly as commonly.

    in terms of the layers/sepeartions- well, that’s part of what i’m talking about with groups- but yes, it’s also usually true of govt/military etc. programming. those parts aren’t neccesarily fragments- tho some of them usually are. it’s- much more complicated with that- but i would call most of those systems poly-fragmented.

    (also, to note- the term “poly-fragmented” came out in a period when systems beyond say, twenty were considered “unusal” and “large” so…)


    1. Hi! Good to hear from you. And especially on this subject. I hope you are doing well.

      Do you have any more info than I do on blizzard/snowflake programming? It would be very welcome.

      I do have more regular times/states. I can “feel” that I have been here before. But then, let’s take driving. There are many things I do the same each time and some that vary, like how well I concentrate and whether I see red/green lights and whether I speed or poke along. So I might have a basic framework of the same parts and slots that can be filled with varying parts. Does that make sense?

      I am having trouble finding the right words these days and I chose layers as a substitute for subsystems, which wasn’t coming to mind. It is a case of “I know it when I see it” but I haven’t found the exact words I like to describe it. Makes me nuts if I think about it too long.

      In my mind polyfragmented has more to do with the organization of parts and less with the actual number. Like you don’t make the grade if you have 99 alters? Doesn’t make sense.

      And my guess is that some of the cults have adopted gov/military techniques of programming and also the organization of internal systems. If so, it would be harder to tell the origin of certain programmed systems in younger survivors.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your system sounds a lot like snowflake programming to me, but I don’t know your back story or anything and of course there are other metaphors (and thus names/programming types) for the same thing. I’ve heard of it before. I use polyfrag to just mean 100+ alters but I see your point about how the literal definition should pertain to all multiples no matter how many parts they have. 😉


    1. When Svali was public, we were friends and she said it was called blizzard programing and had been developed and was used in Europe. It’s the same thing: snowflake is more descriptive, I think. The water molecules come together and form a snowflake and when it melts they disperse and cannot be reassembled into that same snowflake, altho the water might evaporate and be part of a cloud and the molecules from the snowflake could be part of another one.

      I have several other systems inside, but they were placed in me between the ages of 6 and 12. This one must be much earlier because it’s the way my mind works and there is no other way available to me, that I know of. The 6 to 12 ones are just there and are never used in my everyday life.

      Liked by 1 person

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