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finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This brief video overviews Q&A about personality subselves.
The video refers to eight self-study lessons in this Web site - I've
simplified that to seven.
This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 1 in
this Web site - (a) free your
to guide you in calm and conflictual times, and (b)
significant psychological wounds.
All six other self-improvement Lessons here are founded on this one.
A key premise in this nonprofit Web site is that
the personality of normal adults
and kids is composed of a
group of semi-independent
parts, like talented players in an orchestra or sports team. Thus
locally and over time, your personality can range from harmonious to
chaotic, depending on
who's leading your
subselves - your true Self or ''someone else.''
This concept is new to most people (like you?), and raises some
common questions. This article offers brief answers and links to more
If you're skeptical or curiousabout normal personality subselves,
read this and
try this safe, interesting exercise after
finishing this article.
What do people
think about this
subself concept? (a poll)
Are My Personality Subselves Like?
or personality parts are unique within us, and yet they seem to have common traits
between people. From the
reports of hundreds of people who have done
parts work (inner-family harmonizing), our subselves allseem to...
regions of our brain. As such,
they can'tbe killed, fired,
be benign: from its own
perspective, every subself means us
be well-developed or not, depending on inner and outer
events and environments;
be active or
inactive (quiet), depending on perceived current inner
and outer life conditions. And each subself...
has unique talents and abilities, and a
primary job (function). Typical subselves can be paralyzed,
overruled, and retrained. They're often eager to
replace outdated or harmful old roles (functions) for healthier ones,
once they trust this is safe and promotes the host-person's welfare.
And typical personality subselves...
have their own thoughts, ideas, feelings, and perceptions
of the inner and outer worlds, which can be based on childhood
perceptions and biases, and may be very distorted;
are able to quickly
changeto new inner goals and roles,
when they appear safe, useful, and viable;
need inner and outer recognition, respect, and appreciation
for their efforts, and respond to these "just like people do";
very protective of themselves and
their host person,
though paradoxically, their skewed ideas of protection may cause
the person (you) pain and injury.
And each typical subself appears
be of equal value to us.
As in any true team, there is no
one "best" subself overall. Each one excels in certain situations,
and can add to overall group effectiveness and success if it
lives in the present time and trusts your true Self to lead;
live in the present or the past. Those
dwelling in the (usually
traumatic) past, when feeling safe enough, can come to
live in the present. Until they do,
they cause us chronic "trouble"; and our subselves...
communicate with each other and with "us"
via thoughts ("inner voices"), hunches, feelings, images, visions, memories, day
and night dreams, and physical sensations (e.g. "tight" stomachs and throats,
neck and back pains, cramps, headaches, tinglings or numbness, "floating
anxiety", "panic attacks", warm or cool skins, thumping hearts,
"crawling" and "light" feelings, and many others);
be male, female, or neither,
regardless of the gender
of the body they live in;
And our subselves
may not know some
(or all) other subselves;
form loyal alliances with some, or they may misunderstand, fear, distrust,
ignore, and compete with each other;
can disguise themselves
and/or hide from "us"and each other, if feeling confused or unsafe;
have preferred names,
developmental ages (the same
or different than our body's actual age), and (sometimes) favorite locations in our
bodies, which can change;
perceive that they have their own body
parts (i.e. face, limbs, torso, etc),
which may be "lost" via real-life trauma and regained via
are able to
return to remembered real-life traumas, and - with planning and new
inner-family awareness, leadership, and alliances -
these events to experience better outcomes and reduce or end old fears and
are able to cause us, and relieve us of,
some physical and
emotional symptoms; and our subselves can...
can (eventually) function
team, led by our
(capital "S") or a trusted delegate in anysituation.
Here's a little more detail on some of these traits...l
our subselves vent, demand, whine, plead, question, request, listen,
interrupt, dis/ agree, hint, persuade, threaten, etc. with each other all the
time. Our conscious mind and our body pro-vide two ways to "hear" their rich, dynamic interchanges.
common conditions of "mind
racing" or "churning," "confusion," and "not staying focused" are symptoms
of several subselves trying to communicate at once without the
skillful moderation of the resident true Self ("HEY - one at a time!")
Subselves will often give us "voices" (thought streams) and/or
"images" of themselves on request: clear and accurate, or symbolic or
disguised.They (usually) want to be noticed and heard! Some distrustful
personality parts may hide until they feel it's safe to be known by other parts or outer
people. One protective subself may
block another from identifying itself. Some
"non-visual" people have different inner "voices," while other
have images, feelings, or a combination.
The inner "images"
subselves use can be
of real or imaginary children or adults; cartoon or fiction characters; males, females, or
neither; plants, animals, or objects in Nature; geometric or abstract shapes -
about anything. One client's subself chose the image of "a pile of black dirt."
Another used "a pack of ferrets."
Subselves can change their images
as they feel more trusting, or use alternating images, depending on how they feel.
Your subselves are probably brain-regions,
not the inner images they present
- so if
a subself "looks" or sounds like your Father, it's not him!
Timeframe:Some of your inner-family members live in
the present, while others may be stuck in the past. The latter are usually
young Inner Kids
Guardians who literally don't know or believe that the world is different than
when they started to develop. That may have in your mother's womb, or when you were four days, or three, seven, or 13 years old.
They pursue their goals
based on beliefs that are no longer true, but they minimize or don't know that.
who "can't let go" of an old
attitude, or event (like the
loss of a prized relationship or dream) often have one or more dominant
subselves stuck in the past.
Subselves may know they're in
the past, but can fear shifting to the present, or not know how to do so. In parts work, such
parts can tour
your present life with your Self, and can ultimately come here to live with
the rest of the inner team when
that feels safe to everyone. When parts come to live in the present, people usually
report feeling noticeably more "together" and better. Does
"get it (your 'act') together" take on a new meaning here?
Talents and gifts:
each subself brings you one or several special abilities, like compassion, wisdom, joy, humor, concentration,
playfulness, curiosity, creativity, patience, bravery, and so on. Building inner-family
awareness and cooperation lets these gifts be used in combinations that best fit any
moment. These gifts and the energies that power them can be directed to
harm or help you in any situation. When your Self is
in charge, the latter
is much more likely.
Flexibility: Our devoted subselves can learn, and change
their minds about themselves, each other, and the real world.
They can switch goals and strategies within us
quickly, and work cooperatively and peacefully with
each other. Like most team members who feel useful, challenged, and appreciated, they really prefer
this, once they believe it's possible. This cooperation can build over time, with
loving patience and intentional inner-family education, negotiation, and problem-solving.
What are you
thinking and feeling now?
Who's "speaking"? More common traits of personality subselves...
Intentions: Though some
subselves may seem "bad" or "evil,"
they all truly mean to help
inner kids and the host person in their unique way.Subselves believe that some
catastrophe will happen to you if they stop what they're doing,
even if it causes pain or harm.
who distrust or don't know of your Self and other
Manager subselves see no acceptable alternatives to their way of
keeping you safe. They also greatly fear losing their "job." When they learn of
believable alternatives, there's often
another inner-family role that they'd much rather do.
For example, a woman plagued by repeated "uncontrollable" failures at
work eventually found a
Saboteur (Guardian) part that was responsible. It feared that
if the woman was as successful as she was capable of being, she would "get a
swelled head," reap scorn and ridicule - and be
rejected again (as in the
woman's real childhood).
The Saboteur used the inner image of a
curly-haired five-year-old girl.
She acknowledged that by making the woman
"forget" things, procrastinate, and not propose innovative ideas she was
stressing her, but she saw no options to protecting her from certain rejection. After meeting the womans Self and some
negotiation and retraining, the Saboteur said she would rather be-come a spiritual director
for all the other subselves. With their agreement, she tried that out. The woman
reported feeling "different" about herself, and that her life changed "for
A controversial implication of this
idea is thatthere are no intrinsically "evil" or "bad" people.
There are deeply wounded people
childhoods, whose dis-integrated subselves live
perpetually in a distorted, terrifying, shameful inner past. These fragmented, tormented
souls do cause real pain and suffering to themselves and others.
Other people have
genetic or acquired neuro-chemical imbalances and deficits.They do
"bad" things too, but (I believe) are not immoral or "evil" by nature.
Parts-work offers genuine hope of positive change to the former people,
while new psychotropic drugs and medical procedures can relieve some of the
20 years' study and experience, I now believe (a) there is an ongoing
dynamic interaction between our several minds
(conscious, unconscious, and pre-conscious) and
our body; and
that (b) emotional traumas and wounds can trigger or amplify physiological body changes, and
vice versa. See, for example, "Fertile Minds" in Time
magazine(6/24/01); and this sobering research summary
Recall - we're reviewing common
characteristic of normal personality subselves.
Control: When enraged, terrified, or deeply hurt or ashamed,
our subselves can try to
"take us over."
Like physical people,
subselves fight with each other regularly, each believing it's right, and wanting its
way with and for you. Without internal trust and leadership, these
inner battles often
and others. When they occur we feel torn, confused, "uneasy," and perhaps
buffeted by conflicting feelings about a person, idea, or event.
incidents are just like having a group of
passengers wrestling over control of a van or bus: one subself wants to go faster, another
to hit the brakes, a third holds their head and screams, while a fourth pulls on the wheel
and yells "We've got to turn, right now!" Ever feel anything like
this? Who "wins"?
Because our true Self is distrusted and
disabled at such times, we lose our ability to react calmly, make
wise, balanced decisions, and coordinate and use our subselves' talents wisely. A common
reaction at such times is "I don't know what got into me (or you)!" Parts who
take "emergency" control may only appear at times of great
Dr. Richard Schwartz
and some inner-family colleagues call these takeovers blendings. He believes (as I do) that
one or more overexcited parts can fuse with
our Self. We (the person) then feel and
think just as these controlling subselves do. It's not really us (our
Self and Managers), but one or several overexcited subselves. If asked "Who's scared in you?"
we reflexively answer "I am!," vs. "Jinx, my
abandoned, overwhelmed four-year-old inner child."
Someone living in
fear all the time (i.e.
constantly blended with a terrified
may never realize this is happening.S/He may have never experienced the serenity and power of having their
true Self trusted and charge! Without inner-family awareness, such people live life as
terrified and deeply unhappy children, guiltily masquerading as adults their entire
Parts work (inner-family harmonizing) helps people see their frequent
inner conflicts in a new way, and helps their Self and/or a competent,
trusted delegate to lead. This skilled team-leader subself considers the
advice of other subselves and people involved, adds it's own wisdom, and
calmly makes decisions that best fit short and long-term
needs and goals. The more this happens, the
more the other
subselves trust the Self's ability to value and listen to them, guide them, and keep everyone
Before doing meaningful parts work,
the average dis/harmony among your
subselves usually mimics the psychological environment
you experienced as a young child. A dominant
false self will create and/or seek similar conditions in
family and work environments, even if that's stressful. Until in meaningful
recovery, our ruling subselves often reproduce our real early-family
nurturance level despite conscious vows
Often these traumas are so shocking and painful
[e.g. abandonments (neglect) and sexual
abuse] that protective
subselves cause us to "forget" they
happened. The personality fragments (parts) that appear after these events seem to
never forget, tirelessly guarding us against similar wounding and
harm long after any real threat is gone. When feeling safe, subselves will usually tell or show what
"started" them, and when, via thoughts, memories, and/or
Inner Kids are the same age as we
were as real children when some great pain, shame, or terror occurred. Gently educating
them and their steadfast Guardians and moving
subselves to the present when all subselves
feel safe enough, can permanently end harmful obsessions, compulsions, and other habits.
For example: how does a child cope with the
searing pains of feeling repeatedly ignored, ridiculed, or beaten by an essential
caregiver? S/He can unconsciously develop a subself
which aims to guard her from ever really trusting and relying on, and being
shamed or hurt by, any adult male or female. Other subselves may oppose
this, and strive for healthy relationships with safe adults.
This creates a draining inner tension s/he
may not be consciously aware of. It can cause the growing child
to "endlessly" feel exhausted, irritable, depressed, and to have
relationships "over and over"...
Meeting all subselves respectfully and
patiently, bringing any "stuck" parts safely into the present, and making peace
between conflicted subselves to let the wise resident Self (capital
guide them offers potential healing for
such painful, depressing, unconscious struggles.
seems devoted to keeping themselves and their host person safe from pain and harm -
define "safe." They strive fiercely to keep their roles or
"jobs" intact, and to be free to use their gifts productively.
Typical inner-family members long to be recognized, trusted, respected, and appreciated for what
they're trying to do for us. In early
parts work, some
subselves typically fear that other
parts or an external person will misunderstand and dislike them, and
want to "fire," kill, or banish them.
Such anxious parts can resist your meeting or disclosing
your inner teams (inner voices: "What stupidity! A real waste of time!
Don't be a jerk! You're weird! This'll never work! Stop! You'll uncover a horror you
can't handle! You'll flip out!") Or they can try to hide themselves by
blocking any thoughts, sensations, images, or inwardly saying "I won’t talk
to you or let you 'see' me!"These are normal defenses, which subside as
subselves come to trust that they and you are really safe.
Protective subselves can also be terrified that if you explore
your inner world you'll find and "free" a paralyzed part they see as
very dangerous to you or them. Patience, empathy, and safe risk-takings
change this. Other inner-team members, specially young ones, will welcome you
("I've waited SO long to be noticed and cared for! Please don't leave me!")
If I Have All These
Who am "I, Myself" -
first, inner-family terms can be
confusing.Me, my self (little
"s"), and I each can mean all your physical, emotional, and
spiritual parts together: the whole person called by your name. Those titles may also
mean (a) your Self (capital "S" - your resident inner-family leader);
or (b) the subselves who have locally blended with (taken over) your Self.
Recall: when anxious, distrustful subselves
merge with your Self, you may experience their
feelings, thoughts, and goals as "me."
They are not you as a whole. If
another subself controls your Self, "I" and
"Me" refer to the controlling subself,not your Self or you as a
whole person. Confusions subside when your Self is
free, trusted by all other parts,
and consistently in charge
Manager subselves can take over your Self just like
and their Guardians.Know anyone who's "always in their head"? Their
is probably controlled by their distrustful
and a protective
Numb-er (Guardian) who may fear that allowing emotions would be disastrousto
the whole person. Can you think of someone constantly obsessed with others'
opinions and being "right"? Their Self may be "always" controlled by an alliance of
their hyper-anxious Critic, Perfectionist, and
your self (little"s")
refers to [ all your subselves + body + spirit or soul ] together.
your Self (capital "S") has special abilities. S/He is notmore powerful or
worthy than any other subself. Your Self's main natural talent and
is to be an effective leader for all your subselves, in most
situations. As such, her or
his gifts and goals are to...
current situations realistically in light of your knowledge, major
abilities, limitations, and short and long-term goals,
Seek and evaluate the counsel of inner and outer advisors as time and circumstances
delegate and coordinate other subselves in making clear, wise decisions from a
wide-angle, long-term perspective; and then...
acting on the
responding effectivelyto the environment's reactions.
Your Selfis like a naturally talented musical conductor, drama director,
jet pilot, congregational leader, or athletic-team coach. S/He decodes
sensory information - perhaps with help from other subselves, skillfully
clarifies and communicates goals, resolves
impasses, delegates responsibilities, and
builds morale and teamwork.
Your Self can give recognition and praise, coach, and make
artistic, complex, and tough judgments well, in most situations. When trusted by all
other parts and free to lead, s/he can reliably counsel, encourage, and empower
other confused or overexcited parts in all kinds of life situations. As s/he
does these, s/he feels the full range of human emotions like all other subselves.
Can you imagine having such a
leader in charge of your Life? Can you
feel when s/he is in charge? At any moment, your
Self may be...
overwhelmed or paralyzed by other
distrustful or over-excited subselves.
talented coach, CEO, or musical conductor, your true Selfs/he can't fire or
sanction rebellious team
can't stop other parts from interfering or taking control. There is no board of
directors or police s/he can appeal to. S/He needs
trust and willing co-operation from your other parts to be really effective for them and
Other subselves can come to believe in the judgment and leadership of your Self only
from experience. They then want to follow her or him from respect and trust rather than fear,
resignation, or duty.
As an eye can't behold itself
without a mirror,
can't "see" itself in an inner image. S/He is the
see-er.So if you work with your inner family and image "your Self," know
that it's another subself. If
your (unblended) Self says "I," it may refer to your whole person or
your Self alone. This gets clearer as you do more inner-family
that we have an inner
family or "cast of characters" without a leading Self.Our
momentary thoughts, feelings, and actions are a blend of all our parts, who get along by
group consensus as some communes and organizations do. Leader Self or inner-family
consensus - which concept fits better for you? From doing
I believe that we each do have a skillful and dedicated executive
Self. Once aware of the concept, most of my clients have agreed intuitively,
and later from inner-family experience.
Have you ever
belonged to a harmonious team of people with a common purpose and a leader you all liked,
respected, and really trusted? How did you feel in that group? When this happens in
their inner family or team, people spontaneously say they
mix of calm or serene, centered,
grounded, light, "up," clear, firm, alive,
alert, aware, compassionate, strong, resilient, focused,
open, sure, decisive, positive, and purposeful
- even in a crisis.
These feelings are sure signs your Self is trusted
and free to lead.
Do you have periods of feeling some of these? How often do you get
them? Would you like them more often? Many
psychologically-wounded people have rarely or never experienced a
clear-minded period of time when their true Self was solidly in charge.
Understandably, such people may not relate to, or defensively scoff at the
idea that such inner harmony is an actual option for them or anyone.
Another way to judge who's leading
your or another person's personality is to look for telltale attitudes and
behaviors like these. For more detail on behavioral symptoms of
psychological conditions that indicate
dominance, see these Lesson-1
A 30-something single Mom with a very responsible, stressful managerial job began to
develop severe back pains that woke her up in the middle of most nights. As she tried to
fall asleep again, she usually experienced "mind racing," obsessing on the chaos
at work, and the difficult situations she faced both there and personally. Her doctor and
a chiropractor could find nothing physically wrong. Meditation, aspirin, and prayer didn't
She was becoming more and more exhausted,
irritable, and distracted both at work and with her early-teen daughter and friends.
Respectful inner-family inquiries revealed a subself who said clearly it was responsible for
the back pain and mind-racing.
It gave her the image of a hulking teenage boy. He said he
knew he was causing the woman dis-tress and pain, but saw no other way to ensure that she
had enough time to carefully think through the next day's activities.
"Hulk" only vaguely knew of her Self,
and had no trust that it or any other subself could reliably protect her against
"failing"and being humiliated and shamed at work. It developed that the
woman had a very young part that believed she was "no good," and the
"Hulk" was devoted to protecting that
When respectfully acknowledged, "the Hulk" was willing to meet with the
woman's Self and other competent
subselves. Over time, Hulk said he was willing to try to
let them prepare adequately for the day's work. Her back pains stopped immediately, and
At first, your Guardians and Inner Kids may feel alarmed and distrustful, and strongly
resist.As they gradually come to trust that your intent is to learn about,
and help each subself use its gifts fully and effectively, and to
reduce inner and outer conflict and stress, their resistances shift to
enthusiastic co-operation. In ignorance, our (wounded) culture links
"personality fragmenting" (protective subself formation) with
"mental illness," "sickness," and "craziness." Wrong! -
unawareness at work...
People who show extreme
("Multiple Personality Disorder") are usually misunderstood and feared. The idea that we
all have a group of "subselves within" is not yet commonly considered, much
When first hearing the idea, many people are naturally
scornful, or amused by the idea (how about you?). This may be one or more of their scared
parts doing their defensive job well. It also may be that such people truly
"have it (their inner family) together (harmonious)."
Some people (i.e. their
Child and Guardian
subselves) fear that doing parts work will unleash some awful "force,"
"demons," indefinable, destructive "things," or overwhelming feelings. In
years of doing inner-family therapy with scores of men and women
and some kids, I have
neverseen this happen
heard reports of it from clinical colleagues.
subselves clearly believe your Self is strong, wise, and trustworthy enough, repressed experiences and the memories and feelings attached to them can be safelyexperienced and released. Such recall often signals breaking old,
protective emotional denials, and thawing long-frozen grief.
These are tolerably
uncomfortable healing instances. From
23 years' experience, I believe that over time, such releases can free
many people from unconscious bondage to some (not all) physical conditions like chronic
pain, asthma, headaches, and insomnia; emotional states like panic or rage attacks,
depressions, "hyperactivity," "seasonal affective" and
'"bipolar" disorders, or
"numbness"; or destructive habits like some obsessions, compulsive pessimism
or idealism, addictions, over-isolation, and self-sabotage. Some of these do involve organic factors and genetic predispositions - and there is clear evidence that
subselves interact with our body's organs, cells, and functioning.
Doinginner-family ("parts") work
is fail-safe: you (your parts) control it. You do only what you wish, when you
wish, and how you wish it. This work is not magicor
a cure-all. It is often an effective way for Self-motivated people
to grow more serenity, confidence, productivity, and enjoyment in their life, over time.
can often help explain and reduce some vexing
relationship problems, including
conflicts, and parent-child struggles,
when both partners use it cooperatively and respectfully. Partnerswho help each other
harmonize their respective inner teams can have an exceptionally strong,
rich relationship. So can co-parents and kids!
All the time! My
subselves and their
are regularly activated by perceived threats of attack or rejection by "you"
(your subselves), and vice versa. People with a history of relationship
struggles may have seldom or never experienced a steady pairing of (my
and (your Self is in charge) with a friend, lover/partner, or ex
In their useful paperback
Embracing Each Other, psychologists and inner "voice-dialog"
pioneers Hal and Sidra Stone explore this topic in depth. After many years
study, they propose that people with
disowned (repressed or denied) parts are compulsively drawn to
successive partners who have a very active similar part.
These repressed inner-family members are
often self-judged as unlikable or repulsive, selfish, profane, brazen,
dishonest, preachy, lazy, or the like. By consciously meeting and
compassionately accepting our disowned parts
and not letting them dominate our Self, our relationship compulsions (e.g.
approach-avoid cycles, codependence, and over-controlling) fade.
From an inner-family
perspective, all local and chronic
relationship problems have three parts: (a) conflicts among my
subselves (inner-family conflicts), (b) disputes among your subselves, and (c)
clashes between your subselves and mine.
Imagine you and other people cooperating to resolve all three concurrent
Notice your self-talk (thoughts and feelings)
of the stressful "automatic" communication patterns we have with special
kids and adults become clear and can improve when seen via parts
work. For instance: Jack is attracted to Anita emotionally (Adult Man,
Needy Boy, and Good Father parts) and sexually
older-teen part). Anita responds unconsciously to each of these with
four complementary parts: her Adult Woman, Good Mom, Lonely
Girl, and Sensual female parts.
If Jack seems to
pull away, Anita's Lonely Girlgets scared and sad (based on early real emotional abandonment
by her father). One or several distrustful
quickly activate in response. They blend with her Self, and "make" Anita be
shaming, seductive, rejecting, abusive, controlling, and/or
Jack can respond to these behaviors in
many ways. If Anita's Protector-part is a
Guilt Tripper, Jack's
sensitive Shamed Boy will feel awful. His People-Pleaser Guardian will spring to life, and has Jack apologize to Anita
and become attentive again. Her Scared Girl is reassured, so the Guilt Tripper stands down, freeing
Anita's Self. His Shamed Boy gradually feels better, and his
Pleaser gives way to his Adult Man and true Self.
sequence might take five minutes or two weeks.Without
awareness of their parts' complex interactions and their respective
Selves being disabled, Jack and Anita's relationship goes on until
the next version of this (or another) avoid-approach cycle repeats.
Seen this way, there is no
"Jack and Anita."
There are over 10 normal subselves interacting together to create a
complex and dynamic relationship between "two people." If not
controlled by other subselves, true Selves are often adept at
managing all this with respect, humor, patience, and wisdom, to help
each person fill their current primary needs well enough.
cycles occur in allrelationships: friend-friend,
clerk-customer, parent-child, boss-employee, student-teacher, and so on.
Larger groups like physical families become stunningly complex, if members'
Selves aren't regularly in charge. Few of us are aware of the amazing
interactions that happen at lightning speed within and between us. Does this
make sense to you?
This article overviews how to identify.
negotiate with, retrain, and harmonize your talented team of personality
subselves. This exercise shows how to have a
dialog between your Self (capitol "S") and a subself of your choice.
The Lesson-1 Web articles
propose what happens to typical kids raised in a low-nurturance environment: they automatically develop
a set of semi-independent personality subselves to survive.
The articles introduce the idea of an inner family of personality
or subselves, which probably correspond to discrete interactive brain regions.
Other researchers call these alters,
aspects, (personality) sides, ego states, moods,
character flaws, minds, subpersonalities, potentials,
and many more. Our inner-family dynamics strongly affect our
thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and often our bodily health, moment to moment
and over time. These steadily shape and affect our key relationships.Most of us aren't aware of our
resident family or team, often leaving it chaotic, leaderless, and very
ineffective - even self-harmful.
Each person's subselves are unique, yet they perform common functions
for typical people. The functions fall into three or four groups:
Managers, Inner Kids
- and probably
Spirituial Ones.All our parts mean us well,
though some can be misinformed, untrusting, and fiercely rigid, until they
get help. Some subselves live in the
past, unaware that their original danger is long gone.
So far, there are relatively few lay
publications on our inner family. One excellent, clear paperback is "Embracing
Our Selves" by Hal Stone, Ph.D. and Sidra Winkleman, Ph.D. (New
World Library, 1989). It gives clear, thorough, absorbing descriptions of
"voice dialog" work with our inner parts - and those in important other
people in your life. An early classic about personality subselves is "I'm
OK - You're OK," by Dr. Thomas Harris.
Another helpful, more basic paperback is
The Family Within," by Robert Subby (1990). See also the 1992
To Love Yourself When You Don't Know How - Healing All Your
Inner Children," by Jacqui Bishop and Mary Grunte.
powerful true chronicle of extreme false-self dominance - true
multiple personality disorder -
is in Truddi Chase's extraordinary paperback "When
Rabbit Howls" (Jove Books, New York, 1987). Not for the faint
For more serious
readers, I highly recommend Dr. Richard Schwartz's pioneering works "Internal
Family Systems Therapy" (Guilford Press, New York, 1995); and "The
- Empowering The Tormented Selves of Child Abuse Survivors" (with Regina A.
Goulding - W.W. Norton, & Co., New York, 1995). Schwartz's
book for lay readers is very clear and reader-friendly: "Introduction
to the Internal Family Systems Model;" Trailhead Publications,
Oak Park, lL; 2001; See his Website
for helpful publications and resources.
John Rowan provides
a compelling historical look at how many researchers and therapists,
including Carl Jung, have concluded modular personalities and parts
are common, in "Subpersonalities
- the People Within Us." (Routledge, London and New York,1990). He
also gives us "Discover
Your Personalities - Our Inner World, and the People in It" (Routledge,
1993). Rowan documents 25
different clinical terms for what Schwartz calls "parts."
authoritative book is
The Search for Our Real Self - Unmasking the Personality Disorders
of Our Age, by James F. Masterson, MD (Free Press, reprinted 1990).
that most of these books have been published since 1990.
These and other
recommended titles are listed
(for lay readers)
and here (for
If your true Self isn't usually
guiding your Life… ? How do you like the results so far?
If you want to meet and harmonize your amazing team of subselves,
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relating well-enough to significantly-wounded adults