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.

Treating Eating Disorders

Upcoming Satanic and Nazi holidays – sundown 6/11 to sundown 6/13 (Nazi) Shavuos (commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai): 6/19 Fathers’ Day (US, Canada, UK, and South Africa): 6/20 is both a full moon and the summer solstice: 7/19 S Full Moon: 7/29 (Nazi) Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party: 8/1 S N Lamas: 8/18 S Full Moon: 8/15 Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: sundown 8/13 to sundown 8/14 (Nazi) Tisha B’Av: (Day of Mourning)

Prior posts on eating disorders – 4/10 Eating Disorders (Introduction): 4/20 Over-Eating: 5/10 Ritual Abuse Issues and Eating Disorders: 5/20 Anorexia and Bulimia

Resources: The Eating Disorders Catalog site has a list of workbooks at http://www.edcatalogue.com/recovery-workbooks/. Something Fishy at http://www.something-fishy.org/ has helpful articles but some pages are under construction and other have mostly broken links.

Researched eating disorders, I found that there were two approaches to treating them. One is based on a blend of behavior modification and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The other is psychodynamically oriented and trauma-informed; it considers the eating disorder a result of and/or defense against dangerous feelings or memories.

CBT is based on the premise that our thoughts determine our emotions and behavior and that thoughts can be consciously changed.  If I think I am ugly, I slouch, dress without care, avoid mirrors and people. But we can think of a thought as a hypothesis and test it with facts. The new thought, or hypothesis, can then be the basis for our feelings and behavior until it is time for another reality check. If I think I am normal, I come out of my shell. If I look around and look at others my age, I may revise normal to pretty damn good-looking.

CBT is educative: the therapist teaches the client how to apply the techniques and assigns homework in the form of workbooks, journals, etc. The client sets the goal, and therapist and client together agree on a time frame for the therapy. Once learned, clients can apply those techniques by themselves for the rest of their life.

There are lots of variations on CBT; for example, DBT is Dialectic Behavioral Therapy and incorporates mindfulness and meditation. They all stem from Aaron Beck’s work in the late 60’s and early ’70’s. I remember reading “Cognitive Therapy of Depression” and “Depression, Causes and Treatment” and being very disappointed. Guess I wasn’t ready back then!

Behavior modification is based on B. F. Skinner’s work with animals and also with patients in a Massachusetts State hospital. Desired behaviors are reinforced with rewards and undesired behaviors are extinguished with punishments or lack of rewards (ignoring them). You can find examples of behavior modification in popular literature: every time you behave in the desired way, put money in a piggy bank and, after a set period of time, reward yourself with a movie or a piece of clothing – not a pizza.

Neither of these approaches takes into consideration where the behavior come from and what function it serves. When you look at it with complex trauma in mind, eating disorders can be seen as a protective mechanism, just like any other symptom.

The trust and stability of the therapist-client relationship is the basis for forming alliances with alters as well as the “apparently normal person” who came into therapy. In time, the alters will describe the meaning of the eating disorder. It can be an attempt to control one aspect of life, an attempt to disappear, or an attempt to become unattractive to avoid abuse, among other things. These beliefs can be challenged by teaching the alters about the passage of time and that there is no longer a need to use the eating disorder in this way.

It can also be a way of suppressing memories. “Don’t remember, don’t tell” programming is very powerful. Creating a serious present-day problem that takes up all one’s energy is a great distraction and all other goals and problems fade into the background.

If you have a therapist who is skilled with working with ritual abuse survivors, you will probably go back and forth between working on internal issues and attending to the eating disorder. If your therapist does not have this knowledge, see if they are willing to learn. If not, you might consider finding another therapist more tuned into the effects of trauma.

There are some things you can do outside of therapy. Probably the most helpful thing I did was accept the excess weight I had gained from antidepressants. Rather than feeling shame, I started to see my weight as battle scars – scars from wounds I never would have had if I had been born into a healthy family. Once I felt this in every part of my mind and heart, I could start changing my behavior. I am still working on it, and I am sorry I couldn’t have started sooner, but they were deep wounds and I believe they could have killed me without the antidepressants.

Trying to force yourself to give up a protective behavior before your system is ready will create internal chaos or lead to the substitution of another protective behavior. It’s not such a great idea to trade an eating disorder for an addiction to heroin or crystal meth. Communication and trust between alters has to come before an agreement to work on the eating disorder or you won’t get very far.

Journaling to increase internal communication can be extremely helpful. Alters can get to know and trust each other and learn to decide on mutual goals and co-operate in working towards them. Once everybody is on the same page you can turn to the techniques that non-dissociative eating disordered people use; CBT, nutritional programs, the Twelve-Step programs Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous or Eating Disorders Anonymous.

It’s possible to give up a small part of the eating disorder temporarily, as an experiment, so that all alters involved can see what happens. If you don’t die and the abuse doesn’t escalate, everybody inside may be reassured. (This is assuming you are not still being abused.) A different approach is called for, though, when alters react to the experiment by flooding everybody with memories or threats because they are petrified that, without the eating disorder, the system will be destroyed. You need to calm those alters, strengthen communication, search for still unknown alters, and find out what everybody thinks will happen without that protective shield.

This post seems quite abstract to me. I think I was hoping to find something spectacular that will work tomorrow no matter what is going on internally. Instant relief! Of course it doesn’t exist. Dealing with eating disorders requires time, dedication, and a lot of hard work and courage. There is no magic wand and not a lot of helpful short cuts, either. It does help to know it isn’t your fault and that you aren’t the only one. If I do come across a magic wand, you guys will be the first to know!

Ritual Abuse Issues and Eating Disorders

New Book! Jade Miller’s “Attachment and Dissociation: A Survivor’s Analysis” in e-book form. About intergenerational dysfunctional attachment and Jade’s healing process. (Jade is the author of “Dear Little Ones.”)  http://www.amazon.com/Attachment-Dissociation-Survivors-Jade-Miller-ebook/dp/B01DPX76YQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460054531&sr=1-3&keywords=jade+miller

The eating disorders series started on 4/10, 2016 (Eating disorders and genetics,) and continued on 4/20, 2-16 (Over-eating.) The issues discussed in this section apply to anorexia and bulimia as well as over-eating.

Hard as these conditions are for people who were not abused as children, they are far harder for those of us who had to live through ritual abuse. Genetic factors and social pressure, of course, apply to all in our society.

Parents can set their kids up for eating disorders in lots of different ways. Many parents equate food with love, and since they love their kids, they over-feed them or give them candy and other goodies to make their children feel appreciated. Some cult parents act this way because they love as well as abuse their kids; others because they were raised this way and they continue the tradition without thinking. In any event, these children often grow up turning to childhood comfort foods whenever they are hurting. Which, if you are a ritual abuse survivor, is pretty much all the time.

Abusers also use food as a punishment or torture. Children can be deprived of food for a long time and then made to eat (even force-fed) rich foods, which will make them very sick. Most Satanic cults drink the blood or eat the bodies of sacrifices and often make children eat things which were never meant to be eaten, like excrement. They can also be starved for days because it is easier to program a child who is food-deprived and sleep-deprived.

Many adult survivors buy large amount of food or hoard food in reaction to having been deprived as children. Others are afraid of many foods, especially those that are unfamiliar or that remind them, consciously or unconsciously, of “bad” foods used in rituals, in training, or as torture.

It makes total sense that ritual abuse survivors often cannot eat meat, for example, and may even have trouble seeing others eat meat. Remember, though, that the opposite can occur, and some survivors will eat raw meat. This is a form of “acting out” – re-enacting a part of the repressed ritual, probably in an effort to trigger the memory and gain more information about the past. It’s not uncommon to swing between the two extremes, acting out and total avoidance. Being drawn to food can be the basis for over-eating and being repelled by food can be the basis for anorexia.

Then there is the issue of alters. Different alters may have very different attitudes, beliefs, and needs around food. If one alter wants to stop eating in an effort to disappear entirely and another alter wants to gain more and more weight in an effort to become sexually unattractive there is going to be chaos inside and out. And if one of those alters is out most of the time, the other will be seething in the background trying to figure out how to sabotage the alter in control.

Some therapists do not know a great deal about dissociation. They may believe that the eating disorder must be under control before dealing with the DID. That means that no communication between alters is established and no agreements are made inside before working on the eating disorder. This can easily lead to a battle for control between the survivor and the therapist and between the survivor’s inside people.

Even if therapists are familiar with working with alters, they may be frightened by the severity of the eating disorder, get flustered, and make mistakes. Or they may be working in a setting where they cannot make all their own decisions or where others higher up do not believe in RA, MC, or DID. There are all sorts of problems that can arise in therapy that have nothing to do with the client but which have great impact.

(There is another issue which I almost forgot because it is my issue. Survivors are often prescribed meds which cause weight gain which is very difficult to take off. I had eighty extra pounds thanks to various antidepressants. (With much effort, I have lost sixty of those pounds – hooray!) I can assure you that the meds did not increase my appetite because of the speed with which I gained weight. They wrecked havoc on my metabolism. This doesn’t belong in this post because it isn’t really an eating disorder but I thought I would mention it anyway.)

Next will be a discussion of anorexia and bulimia and then on ways of dealing with the external –  the actual eating disorder – and the internal – the relationships between alters who experienced the parts of the abuse that led to the eating disorder. As always, I could use all the help I can get, so if you have ideas, please be generous and leave a comment.