Integration, in terms of the DID/MPD process, is a state wherein some or all insiders blend or merge with each other to create a (more) unified vision and purpose. Partial integrations can occur throughout the long therapy process, as alters learn new goals and shed behaviors once life-saving but now understood as counter-productive. Above all else, nobody integrates who does not truly want to integrate. It cannot be forced or pretended.
Among the DID/MPD survivor base, there is debate whether integration should be a goal at all, much less, the only goal. The decision to integrate, or not, is one not to be made lightly, nor should it happen on a therapist’s timetable. Many survivors come to know and love the people in their system, and may believe integration is tantamount to killing those people. Some people with DID/MPD integrate into one unified person. Some integrate into, essentially, a committee of alters who represent the whole system and make life work better. Some people choose to never even utter the word “integration”, which is seen as a betrayal to those inside who saved one’s life and sanity as a child.
My own experience is that in either partial or whole integration, absolutely no one dies. If anything, they are more “there”, all the time, after their integration because they no longer need to compete for time outside. They already are outside. Even so, it’s hard to imagine life without some of them still separately in it. Literally, hard to imagine, until it happens.
My own goal was (and still is) always to achieve the highest level of functioning possible, in whatever internal structure is most conducive to achieving that outcome. I still believe I function better when “becoming one”. I experienced that state for several years, until the time when my father died, and I fell apart again.
In coming back from that dark period of my life, I discovered a different layer of alters whose presence only became clear after both of my parents had died. Each and every one had/has a purpose and goals in life, some of which were somewhat disturbing because (1) I didn’t understand them; and (2) I really wanted to skip all the hard work toward re-integration and go directly to “oneness”. If only.
I am now mostly integrated, save for three core people remaining who were essential to the process and remain so. Their internal cooperation is pretty much seamless and flowing. If this were the state in which I would spend the rest of my life, it would not be a problem. But I believe I am stronger and more resilient to transient shocks when I am one, which to me is part and parcel of high functioning. So I continue the work, knowing that regardless of the outcome I am growing stronger each day.
Life is good.