Talking to Yourself – Totally Normal

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I read an interview of  Alexander Kirkham, a psychologist studying cognition. Of course, I can’t find the article, but this one by his senior co-author, Paloma Mari-Beffa, covers all the main points:

It’s about how people think by talking to themselves. Apparently everybody, multiples and singletons alike, have a constant conversation with themselves running through their mind. Sometimes it stays in their mind, sometimes they talk out loud to themselves.

Sometimes it’s a monologue. “If I make eggplant parmigiana, I’ll have to allow a good hour. But that would make dinner real late. I better think of a simpler eggplant dish. Those babies are going to rot if I don’t use them soon.”

Sometimes it’s a dialogue. “Should I get a latte?” “Sure, why not.” “No, lattes are expensive.” “But I deserve a treat.” “You have a treat almost every day.” “I deserve treats.” “it’s not a treat, it’s a bad habit.”

Now, I talk out loud to myself all the time. It’s more effective than just thinking: I pay more attention.

I’m writing this as I wait for my car to get serviced. I have promised myself that it will be the last time I drive, my swan song. On the way down, I talked to my Driving Fairy. “Please help me drive carefully. I’m going to drive carefully, cautiously, courteously. I’m going to watch for every car, every pedestrian, and bicycles and scooters and skateboarders.” My Driving Fairy is good to me and I got here in one piece.

Even though I am dissociative, it seems that my thinking isn’t much different from everybody else’s.

I’m not sure if everybody talks to fairies and furniture, but I have heard them talk to keys and computers and I don’t see the difference.

Kirkwood notes that when people talk out loud to themselves it slows down their thinking, which automatically makes them more attentive. Talking silently saves time because no muscles have to be moved, and because people tend to use sentence fragments when they think. I discovered by myself that telling the Driving Fairy that a traffic light is about to turn red focuses my attention and prevents me from having to slam on the brakes at the last minute. It also prevents highway hypnosis.

I often wonder what about me is “normal” and what is due to the aftereffects of the abuse I suffered as a young child. I keep coming across articles that suggest that certain ways of thinking or experiencing the world are not unique to dissociatives. I’ve come to think of us as being on a spectrum.

  1. Everybody talks to themselves all the time. No difference between us and others.
  2. Everybody has parts. No difference between us and others. BUT….dissociative people have amnesiac barriers between some of the their parts. Other people don’t.
  3. Some people who are not dissociative (or psychotic) occasionally experiences voices as coming from outside their mind. Dissociatives often experience voices coming from outside. Plus dissociative often see parts vividly with the internal eye. Other people don’t.

It seems to me that the difference between us and others lies in the characteristics of our parts. Some parts don’t know of each others’ existence. Some have specific, limited jobs – to perform certain acts on demand, to hold a memory or emotion, etc. The central issues, therefore, are amnesia and differentiation.  And that is the subject of three or four whole books!


Upcoming Holidays

Note: Additional information on the following holidays is available at
Lammas –  
August Ritual Dates –
Fall Equinox – 
Halloween – 
Halloween (more personal) –

8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh

8/15 Full moon
9/2 Labor Day (US)

9/5 – 9/7 Feast of the Beast/Marriage of the Beast

9/13 Full moon

9/23 Fall equinox
10/13 Full moon
9/13 Friday the Thirteenth
10/14 (?) Columbus Day
10/31 Halloween/start of Celtic New Year/start of the dark half of the year

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
9/1 Start of WW2
9/29 – 10/1 Rosh Hashanah (New Year, Day of Judgement)
10/16 Death of Rosenburg
10/19 Death of Goering
10/20 Hitler´s actual half-birthday
10/21 Hitler’s alternative half-birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday and half-birthday on 4/20 and 10/20. His alternate birthday is celebrated on Easter of the current year and his alternate half-birthday six months later.)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)

The Unconscious

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* Candlemas is right around the corner, on February 2. I always found that this was a hard Satanic holiday to remember, as it lives on only as Groundhog Day. I hope that all of you have remembered it is coming up and have made plans for safety and to minimize the amount of misery that flashbacks may bring.

You can read about the background of Candlemas at The history of Valentine’s Day is at


The idea of an unconscious has always seemed peculiar to me. How can I know something, remember something, feel something physically and emotionally, and not know I know, remember or feel it? When I think about that, it is really spooky.

Where are all these things I don’t know located? It’s not like I have a giant filing cabinet in my brain stuffed full of things unknown to me. Or a library of microfiches, which would take up less room. Does it have its own little corner of the brain, or does it piggyback on a part that stores things that I am conscious of?

Apparently, the conscious and the unconscious mind are pretty much the same thing, so there is no separate place for information stored in the unconscious. When things happen, the same areas of the brain light up – and almost all the brain is active in processing sensory information and storing it, whether we later can access it or not. The main difference is that trauma memories are stored as blocks of sensory information, while non-trauma memories are stored as narrative.

We, can, however, direct our awareness only to certain things; what we are doing in the moment and what we can remember if we wish. The amount of things we can easily remember is quite small compared to all the things that we have lived through. I know what I ate for breakfast this morning and one marvelous breakfast in Italy comes to mind easily but that leaves about 29,000 unaccounted for.

We can stretch our minds and get access to some stuff that was previously inaccessible. For example, I studied calculus in high school. About the only memory I have of calculus is that I spent a year studying it and that I liked it. And the phrase “asymptotically approaching zero.” The rest is lost to me – it is in my unconscious.

Now if I start studying calculus again, chunks of what I learned in high school will come back to me and I will learn more quickly than I did back then. Part of my unconscious has become once more conscious.

But I still find it spooky. How do some things get forgotten and others remembered? How can we forget something even as it is happening? This has happened to me, in everyday life, when I lost control of my car on a snowy road. I remember the moment I lost control, then nothing until I found myself in a snow bank with no idea of how far I skidded or whether I had spun or not.

It gets more complicated when multiplicity is added to the mix.

Okay, I know the theory. Trauma causes the mind to split and, if the same trauma is repeated, that split continues to evolve until it appears to have a separate identity with its own history, memories, and its own unconscious. Alter A may not know a word of German and Alter B may speak German fluently. Alter C remembers going to college and Alter D has no memories of anything that happened after age six. And all these alters may have forgotten some of the same things and so, in a very real sense, they share the same unconscious as well as having their own unconsciousnesses.

Back to how one piece of information is selected for conscious recall and the myriad other memories are not.
I fondly recall knowing a young gay man named Bobby who called himself Sonny when he went out dancing.

No problem, very normal. He only began to consider that he might be multiple when Karen came on the scene to choose whether he went out clubbing and therefore was Sonny or whether he stayed home as Bobby.

So do I have a Karen that chooses what I can remember and what stays firmly in my unconscious? I doubt it. But even if I did, it wouldn’t explain how Karen chooses. Does Karen have access to everything that happened to me? Does she have no unconscious? And what would motivate her to choose one thing to share with me and not another?

And animals? Do they have an unconscious, or do they have access to everything that ever happened to them? How could we tell, anyway?

The more I brood over these things, the spookier it gets. Multiple or singleton, the mind is mysterious and will surely not give up its secrets in my lifetime. It’s best just to accept that some things are so without worrying about why or how it works.

Guess I am lucky to have a mind, lucky to be able to ask unanswerable questions, lucky to be able to live with uncertainty.


Upcoming Holidays

2/2 S Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/18 President’s Day/Washington’s Birthday
2/19 Full moon
2/25 Walpurgis Day

3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/5 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
3/6 Ash Wednesday/Beginning of Lent
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
3/20 Full moon
3/20 Spring Equinox
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan

4/1 April Fool´s Day
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/14 Palm Sunday
4/19 Full moon
4/19 Good Friday
4/20 Holy Saturday
4/21 Easter Sunday
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
3/20 – 3/21 Purim (Deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman in Persia)
4/19 – 4/27 Passover/Pesach (Deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt)
4/20 Hitler´s actual birthday
4/21 Hitler’s alternative birthday ((Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday and half-birthday on 4/20 and 10/20. His alternate birthday is celebrated on Easter of the current year and his alternate half-birthday six months later.)
4/30 Anniversary of Hitler’s death

(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)

The Dissociative Table

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The first time I heard the phrase “dissociative table” I was having dinner with another survivor/therapist. He asked whether I was familiar with the technique and I stared down at the dining room table and went blank. All I could think was that people dissociated, not tables. I covered my confusion by truthfully answering. “No, I’m not familiar with it.”

The dissociative table is a technique developed by George Fraser in 1991. It consists in inviting a group of alters, or inner people, or parts, or ego-states, or self-states, or whatever you like to call them, to come gather around an internal table and sit down and talk. Fraser’s goal is to get to know the alters and the system they belong to with the aim of eventual fusion into one state. With the information gained about the alters, he can help with memory retrieval work and, later in the process, allow alters to merge temporarily so that they can see that they do not die, that they live on in a new state.

I would be tempted not to embrace Fraser’s goal, but to aim to increase communication between alters, to have them get to know each other, and to have them develop social skills. With practice, alters with different points of view can learn to negotiate and reach a compromise. The goal is not integration, but increased communication and harmony. Partial or full integration may occur, if parts want it, but the desired end is simply greater cooperation and diminished chaos.

I would set up rules in advance, like only one person at a time may talk, people take turns talking by going around the table or passing a talking stick, no throwing chairs or other forms of violence by anybody, including me, etc. Once the alters are used to the set-up, I could invite all alters who were interested in a particular topic to come to the table and discuss about it.

I can also imagine people doing it themselves, as a form of self-guided imagery. It sounds like a simple technique, right? Well, a warning – even simple things can quickly get complicated. Think, for example, what it might be like if three adults, twelve littles, six robots, and a tiger all sat down at the same table, especially if not all of them knew English. You would need a way to gracefully end the meeting until you figured out how to handle such a diverse group. Better to prepare for problems in advance, rather than having to think on your feet!

Before starting, you could say, “Let me know if any part of you is uncomfortable with something I suggest. I can always think of something else.” For example, Fraser realizes that some people might have bad associations to sitting at a table and, if so, he substitutes sitting around a rock at the beach or meeting in an open field. If tables are okay, a round one might not be, but a rectangular or oval table might be fine.

Taking turns can be encouraged by passing around a microphone or a talking stick. If a part can’t communicate but has something to say – perhaps it speaks a foreign language, or is preverbal, or is non-human – there may be an interpreter present to help. Pre-verbal parts may be encouraged to draw. If a part doesn’t want to talk, you can give assurance that, although it isn’t yet ready, it can have a turn later on.

If you do want to try this by yourself or with a client, I strongly recommend you read all of Fraser’s article carefully. “The Dissociative Table Technique: A Strategy for Working with Ego States in Dissociative Disorders and Ego-State Therapy.” Dissociation, Vol. 4, No. 4, (Dec. 1991) pp. 205 – 213. You can download it for free at   There is also an updated version of the article, “Fraser’s ‘Dissociative Table Technique’ Revisited, Revised: A Strategy for Working with Ego States in Dissociative Disorders and Ego-State Therapy.” Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Vol. 4, No. 4, (Jan. 2003) pp 5-28. I haven’t been able to locate a free copy, only an abstract.

Fraser draws from different schools of hypnosis and often uses forced choices (“Would you like to speak to me with your eyes open or closed?”) He incorporates imagery that was widely used at the time and may still be in wide use in these days of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. He has the parts notice that there is a movie screen or a TV monitor in the room and invites people to project their memories onto the screen. This allows a measure of distance and also lets everybody else see what is being shown and described. And there is a remote with stop, pause, and rewind buttons to give control over the pace of sharing.

If there is a child in the movie who is in distress, he may ask the part who created the movie to step into the movie and comfort the child or confront the person who is hurting the child.

Fraser also suggests that there is a stage, with a mirror, near the table. A part can go there and change its age or gender, if desired. The new identity can be seen in the mirror. Fraser has alters fuse (what other therapists call integrate.) He can have two alters join in a partial fusion (that is, only a small part of the system fuses, not all the parts in the system,) and the others, who are watching, can see that nobody dies or gets hurt in the process. He can ask parts to consider temporary fusion. “I will assure them that they do not have to stay fused forever if they do not like it, but they should at least give it a chance for an hour or a few days, and then come apart and decide for themselves the advantages of fusion.”

The whole work of therapy has been done in this one internal room. And, at the end of therapy, all alters are fused and there is no more need for the room with the table, and stage, and movie screen.


Upcoming Holidays

7/4 Fourth of July/US Independence Day
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/26 Full moon
9/3 Labor Day
9/5 – 9/7 Marriage to the Beast (Satan)
9/7 Feast of the Beast
9/22 Fall Equinox

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
9/1 N Start of WW2
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)