A split mind is normal rather than a unified integrated one.

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
Am starting to suspect that having two minds or two brains is normal and healthy. Because everyone is born in a framework with many opportunities for trauma and everyone has the potential to recognize their self as separate from those frameworks. So there must be a dichotomy. Before-after. Scared-confident. Young-wise. Before recovery-after recovery.

Integration is a direction, but I think there will always be a minimum of two minds, not one. The child has one mind. The adult has two because they carry the mind of the child with them.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i favor the theory that my one mind is capable of multi-tasking in more than one direction at a time. kinda like my computer's hard drive is capable of processing spread sheets and romance movies simultaneously.

by whatever theory, i solidly agree that to be human is to be a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction, taking every wrong direction on our lonely ways back home
 

Friday

Moderator
The adult has two because they carry the mind of the child with them.
I can definitely say that’s not the case for me… and I operate out of several different headspaces. No more than I have 2 bodies, my child’s body and my adult body.

I can very easily remember my childhood, including how I thought/felt, but I didn’t bring those things forward whole and seperate from me. The thoughts and feelings I had as a child, instead, changed into the the thoughts and feelings I have as an adult. Radical changes (excluding much later when I shattered) ceased at around age 14, and became change wrought by experience. Prior to that? There isn’t a single child’s mind I’d be bringing forward, but hundreds. The year I turned 2? I can very easily flip through about 20 very different ways of thinking/feeling, as I scan through my memories. It’s an incrediably easy year for me to remember, as so much change happened, I know exactly when/where those memories take place.

That’s not to say that as coping/survival methods go it’s not healthy, or uncommon, amongst survivors of trauma. Or that it is. Children’s minds are incredibly resilient & adaptive. I watched my own kid flick through 40 or 50 different possible “landing places”, & seriously dig into half a dozen, in the years after his father came into his life. That’s super normal for children in trauma (but not normal at all for children without trauma), but there’s also no way to know “where” they’ll land, until they do. Childrens brains are just too damn plastic.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
Helpful perspective—thank you! Makes a lot of sense that without developmental trauma a person wouldn’t need to experience a split mind.

operate out of several different headspaces.
Are headspaces kind of like the committee of feelings in the movie Inside Out?
but I didn’t bring those things forward whole and seperate from me.
Does that mean that the term inner child isn’t particularly useful for you?
when I shattered
During your recovery did you feel like you had a trauma brain and a normal brain? I heard that people without developmental trauma who experience trauma as an adult often experience regression to a childlike state; to me that sounds like splitting or dissociation from the core identity. But maybe it’s not carried forward once they have recovered, so they don’t experience a sense of split brain? Or maybe even while regressed it still feels like an integrated self?
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
Am starting to suspect that having two minds or two brains is normal and healthy.
I shattered as well about 15 years ago. I was placed solidly into a traumatized part of my brain that had been sealed away. It was sealed away because it was not particularly helpful to me as I was released from the traumatization of my first 2 years. I was so disoriented. It happened so fast. And nobody had told me that it wasn't all rainbows and fireflies while I was in foster care.

It took me a long time to figure it all out but the ultimate goal, I realized, was to have all parts of my brain accessible whenever I needed to. It took a lot of reflection, a ton of somatic responses that were insane, complete inaccessibility to the grown woman part of me, and a whole heck of a lot of help from healers. No, I don't believe a healthy brain has sections that are inaccessible. Not unless someone needs to tuck away trauma in order to function. I wouldn't use the word healthy for that though. It seems more like a defense mechanism.

and I operate out of several different headspaces
Not answering for Friday, but I would interpret this as a 'work me' and a 'mother me'. Both are accessible. Both can the switched seamlessly and on demand. Both are 'adulting' aspects of the psyche.

Not sure if you have read anything on the site about structural dissociation, but that was an awful big help to me when figuring out compartmentalization of the brain due to early trauma.
 
I certainly can't speak for @Friday, but I can't say I personally ever felt like I have separate brains, pre or post traumas or with childhood trauma and neglect. I can only identify a 'developing' brain- I can't know what I didn't know. And the development through experience (like the saying, paraphrasing, ~'Good judgement is necessary. Unfortunately good judgement usually comes from bad judgement.') And some of that development is just normal reality and maturing.

I do identify as feeling part child/ part adult- absolutely not a different brain, nor a different 'me', nor an inner child. I can only describe it as the part (not a 'part') of me that relaxes, that is not disillusioned, that is not influenced by despair or expecting the worst, and everything else I have experienced with ptsd. It is 'me' but forgetting not to crush hope, to be curious and aware and happy without expecting the axe to fall, trusting and believing that the possibility of good things/ people/ God exists, and simply thinking and living accordingly.

I do remember once hearing someone say, people are very slow to accept that their thoughts are their own. But we can be capable of great good or the opposite, and by our nature frequently (even usually?) hold at least some degree of conflicting feelings and viewpoints. JMHO though.

(Yes I shattered too, I would say more than once.)
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
I don't believe a healthy brain has sections that are inaccessible.
I don’t mean they are inaccessible—though I understand that parts are not available when a person is living in crisis. I mean that there are at least two parts that are opposed to each other in a way that is fundamentally incompatible.

I like how you say your goal in recovery was to have access to all your parts. That makes a lot of sense to me. Having access to all parts at all times sounds like a form of integration. So when I notice an internal panic, I can maintain awareness of my other parts which are not panicking, and when I notice internal bliss I can be aware that some parts may not be participating.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
A potential problem with this belief that I can see is accountability—which is why I posted in “Cognitive distortions”. Like an alcoholic who believes themselves inculpable from any behaviors when drunk, or a Jekyll/Hyde condition. And maybe that’s what you are picking up on, @shimmerz? If someone behaves from a perspective of being unaware of their parts then accountability can become a problem in relationships with self and others. And this is presumably not an issue in an integrated self, whatever form that takes.
 

Friday

Moderator
Not answering for Friday, but I would interpret this as a 'work me' and a 'mother me'. Both are accessible. Both can the switched seamlessly and on demand. Both are 'adulting' aspects of the psyche.
Similar, just one or two steps further down the scale.

Each headspace is still “me”… but also has its own work-me, play-me, friend-me, (only 1 has a mom-me, and that’s common but not required; a lot of my headspaces are the sole owner of a specific version/aspect of myself) codified divisions of behaviours/thoughts/ feelings/ expectations/ morals.

I can look (externally; as in I -often, but not always- walk/ talk/ dress/ act/ play/ work/ eat/ sleep/ like/ dislike/ etc.) like very different people might? As I appear to be goin about life in very different ways, but I’m not. It’s not a DID thing. It’s a rule book kind of thing; which rule book am I operating out of? Probably the best way to visualise it are those actors who essentially play themselves in every movie they’re in, as if this is who they would be IF this was the life they were leading, in these circumstances, with these people.

Are headspaces kind of like the committee of feelings in the movie Inside Out?
Nope. Essentially each headspace would have it’s own committee of feelings.

One of those things that can happen when you take someone who already/naturally compartmentalises very well, and then break them. I became who I needed to be. Several times over.

Does that mean that the term inner child isn’t particularly useful for you?
Exactly. There’s no child-me & adult me. The only way the term is useful to me, at all, is as a joke. Like a hot flash? Is my inner child playing with matches. 😉

((OMFG. Pregnancy hot flashes have me abjectly terrified of menopause hot flashes. 9mo vs 9years?!? Who the hell designed this system?!? I’m sorta midway between the 2 age-wise with another decade and a half to go, but seeeeeeriously WTFO))

- All of the playful/mischievous things people describe as their inner-child doing/wanting whatever? I just as cheerfully do as an adult. I just have a ginormous raaaaaaaaaange of playful/mischievous things I get to partake in. I can swing the highest on the swing AND race a car. Can pop up from behind a couch AND jump on an airplane to surprise someone, play make believe AND publish a novel. There’s no ceiling I have to stay above, no limits, as an adult. I get to do everything fun.

- All of the dysregulated/ little-to-no-self-control/ etc. things people describe as their inner child doing? Are things I deal with because that’s just how PTSD works. Whether someone has childhood trauma or not, complex trauma or not, a series of traumas or one off trauma. I honestly don’t know which would be more difficult to deal with, dysregulation-wise, or if they’re just differently difficult, or if there even are degrees of difficulty. Shrug. PTSD sucks. Full stop.

During your recovery did you feel like you had a trauma brain and a normal brain?
Nope.

There’s a definite spectrum -or series or spectrums?- depending on HOW symptomatic I am, and in what way(s).

At my worst I usually describe it as worlds colliding / as different headspaces are all attempting to live different lives, in different years, at the same time. It’s a total clusterf*ck. Then & Now don’t have any boundaries between them. Which leads to a whole helluva lot of internal arguments, and no unified vision/clarity of purpose, and quite often the total lack of ability to parse… anything… much less understand, act, react, respond.

At lower levels it’s more a question of organization; like an earthquake has shattered all my dishes/silverware/glassware across the floor, and the stove has fallen into the basement, and I’m somehow supposed to cook dinner & go about normal life, without first cleaning things up. My compartments are starting to break down, and everything (or some things) are extremely difficult, but worlds aren’t colliding… yet.


I heard that people without developmental trauma who experience trauma as an adult often experience regression to a childlike state; to me that sounds like splitting or dissociation from the core identity. But maybe it’s not carried forward once they have recovered, so they don’t experience a sense of split brain? Or maybe even while regressed it still feels like an integrated self?
I can’t really speak to this one… I’ve seen far too many people regress to that state, for too many different reasons, and come out of it (or not) in too many different ways. PTSD is just one of those outcomes, and even that looks wildly different on different people, ya know? So I couldn’t really say.
 
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I heard that people without developmental trauma who experience trauma as an adult often experience regression to a childlike state; to me that sounds like splitting or dissociation from the core identity. But maybe it’s not carried forward once they have recovered, so they don’t experience a sense of split brain? Or maybe even while regressed it still feels like an integrated self
I never had developmental trauma and experienced trauma only as an adult. I never regressed to a childlike state in any way, although I have experienced both depersonalization and derealization in the past. I did IFS for awhile so I did do some inner child work, but I don't think that's the same thing, and IFS didn't really work for me anyway in the long term.

I've never heard much about those of us who have only experienced adult trauma regressing in the way you're describing. I'd be interested to know where you heard this, if you recall.

I feel like I have a single brain with one ptsd-damaged personality.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
I'd be interested to know where you heard this, if you recall.
I heard it from someone on here talking about… I think it was veterans with combat trauma? Or adults who had been in car accidents? It was in reference to episodic traumas happening in discreet highly intense events rather than complex relationship traumas happening over time and varying in intensity.

I spoke to someone at work who did not have developmental trauma but had a tbi as an adult and she said she never experienced a split mind, even though she experienced significant temporary losses in executive functioning (which she did not consider a regression.)

She said the closest to a split mind she experienced was masking when she worked at a university level. She said in that environment there is a lot of posturing which led to her feeling the need to mask, but it still didn’t feel like splitting.

Interestingly (to me), I’ve been reading about Freud, and his concepts of Ego and Superego seem like a kind of splitting. The child is merged with the parent until the ego develops and then they separate but the child still carries a part of the “lost parent” inside them. (The aim of therapeutic re-parenting is to recreate this dynamic, which is why the separation with the therapist is so critical.). So Freud’s ego theory, from my understanding, is kind of like a split (merged with parent first, then individuation) except it is generally experienced as seamless. So perhaps the disruption of developmental trauma creates an environment in which the split is more tangible.
 
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