Compartmentalization and DID

Compartmentalization. Everyone does it.  You have to. This is the process of setting aside parts or sides to one’s self in order to maintain a persona.  For instance, you might be in a meeting where your boss makes you angry.  Instead of jumping up and raging “You big buffoon!” you ‘compartmentalize’ those emotions, put them aside.

But where do they go?

Everyone has personas – the personalities you present at work with boss & peers, the ones for school if you’re going there. The ones for home: the ‘mom’, the ‘dad’, parent and friend. And the ones for friends which may vary depending on the social groups you’re in at the time – church goer, redneck, geek – whatever suits the occasion.  (And “suits” is a good word. You ‘wear’ those personas like clothes – putting them on, taking them off.)

For instance, you don’t mix that ‘part’ of you suited for redneck antics on the golf course with corporate heads.  I’ve made that mistake, of course.  They didn’t like it – said I was having “too much fun.”  Go figure.  I thought golf polo on golf carts – or skeet shooting golf balls – sounded like more fun than getting mad because you sent a shot into the drink.

Everyone has them. “Parts of you.”  “Sides to yourself.”

Some of them may be younger.  How many times have you heard:  “I feel like a teen again!”.  “I feel like a child.”  That kind of thing.  And you may remember when  you were a teen; how you behaved and felt.  But that’s it.  Most people subdue those parts in everyday behavior – when your boss makes you mad, you don’t burst into tears (I hope!) – or curse him within an inch of his life (unless he deserves it, of course – and you’re quitting, anyway).  You keep those things to  yourself, swallowing your emotions, nodding your head (or shaking it if the conversation calls for it.)

But what happens to those emotions? Those ‘sides’?  Do you think they “go” in normal people, “monominds” as I call them?  People with only one identity?

And what about emotional conflicts? Usually these arise when in issues involving emotions versus logic.  Some people give into one, others another.   Some people are torn in half – so much so that they give into paralysis of emotion, thought, decisions, action. I know I over-think things in an emergency!  It slows down my response – but I’m safer. And so is the victim. Sometimes.   Either way, what becomes of those emotions when you didn’t chose a particular action (or reaction) as an outcome? How do those ‘sides’ feel?  What happens to ‘them’?  Apparently they ‘go on’ in normal people (I assume).  But where do they go? Are they rationalized away? Accepted as ‘not so’?  Do those sides and/or parts feel grief they didn’t make this choice or that?  I’m thinking of parents who have lost children: never mind the choices they made, do they regret the ones they didn’t make?  Just a question to get an example, you understand.  Look at it as part of a scientific study.

Now lets get digging even deeper into this issue of ‘compartmentalization’ – and “DID versus ‘normal’ kinds of people.”

You were a child once. Can you feel ‘it’ or ‘him’ or ‘her’?  Same with ‘teenager’.  That still there?  Can you put yourself in that frame of mind?  I think normal people can – and do!  They just don’t label those ‘parts’ as different from them.  They don’t feel that great separation (due to compartmentalization?) that DIDers do.

What about – and you might have to use your imagination if you’re a monomind: what if, in each ‘phase’ (e.g. childhood, preteen, teenager – and adult,) – you were immersed in different societies and/or cultures with differing values & morals.  Would that be so much different than leaving home and going to work?  Would you ‘separate’ those personas you developed for each?  Wouldn’t those ‘masks’ evolve into different personalities?  ‘Parts’ of yourself?

Maybe if you wore them long enough you would.

Maybe if you were being forced to be something you weren’t, over and over again, even as a young child, and the consequence of failure were enough to enable you to want to get good at it – no matter what you felt?  Maybe even enjoy it?

Okay (taking a deep breath here): what if you were required to kill as a child, but  didn’t understand why, and a part of you (or parts) were into cherishing life?  How (as a child) would you deal with that?   What if on one hand you were disgusted (one part and/or side) while other parts were amused, enjoying them self, or fascinated?

What’s going to happen then?  IN that child’s mind?  How can one deal with it?  Shuffling some of those emotions aside (“Thou shall not kill,” versus “Cut this thing up, make its insides out – “) – how’s that gonna work?  How are you going to deal with it? On the inside?

You bury it. I reckon. I guess. (Sometimes you can’t.)  You ‘separate’ it from your ‘self’ – compartmentalizing.    But how deep are you going to be burying it?  What happens when you have to do ‘it’ (whatever set you off) again?  What does that? How can you maintain that bit of separation – going home and looking your parents in the eyes while keep some pretty deep secrets – and then going over to your friend’s house – and then school – and then social behavior out in public, being forced to conceal certain things about yourself . . .

Using those examples ‘I’ can see where, under duress & strain, and perhaps for a long long time – and being a kid – I ‘found’ this way out,a way of burying things but not truly forgetting them . . . because I might (or would) have to do them again . . . and again . . . and again . . .

I can see where I kept them on a shelf, so to speak, yanking them down and putting them on as needed: this set of clothes for this personality, emotions and thoughts included. Along with them went values of ‘mine’; whole packs of morals.  Thrown away, hidden down (with some “part”of me) while “the rest” went along with business.  And I mean ‘went along with it’.  When murdering people was my business (I mean in the Marine Corps, though I had learned before) it became my business, and I became good at it.  I loved ‘my’ life.  I cherished my aggression and bloody rages (tho’ cold as ice: calculating, too).  But then when I left the Marine Corps it was different again . . . and a different over and over again. Changes in morals, values, and social codes in large part forced my ‘compartmentalization’ of sides, parts, and ‘selves’.

I can see how this kind of path has stretched like a constant scene all my life, from the  childhood, with those deathbed threats and “I’m gonna kill you!” ringing in my ears – the pleasant greetings after I’d taken a beating, the way I ‘stood’ it.

Compartmentalization.  Extreme compartmentalization.  And then there’s the extremely extreme version . . . somehow I can kinda see where and why it takes a child to ‘do it’ – and then it just carries on.  For life.  Not a bad deal, just a different way of dealing with stuff – a child’s way, perhaps.

Useful.  But sad.


About jeffssong

JW is an adult childhood abuse survivor with DID*. He grew up in a violent family devoid of love and affection. He is a military brat and veteran. He no longer struggles with that past. In 1976 JW began writing "The Boy". It took 34 years to complete. It is currently on Kindle ( ), or if you prefer hard copy, on Amazon ( JW resides somewhere in the deep South. He is disabled and living with family. Note: Please feel free to take what you need; all is free to all. With that in mind, keep it that way to others. Thank you. We have 3 Blogs - One for our younger days, 0-10 (The Little Shop of Horrors); one for our Teen Alter and his 'friends' (also alters) with a lot of poetry; and finally "my" own, the Song of Life (current events and things)
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One Response to Compartmentalization and DID

  1. Marty says:

    The ego sounds like your culprit


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