Petaluma Parts Work

Petaluma Depression & Anxiety Therapy

Multiplicity Within

Carl Jung was one of the first to recognize, contrary to the prevailing idea that we have a singular, unitary self, that we are actually comprised of a host of different selves, many of which can influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. From this perspective, our inner world is populated with multiple subjectivities that have their own perspectives, beliefs, and ways of experiencing reality, and often times, they stand in conflict with one another, and with the self we normally think of as “I,” sometimes referred to as the ego. Jung described these parts of the psyche as complexes, but other theorists have subsequently developed other paradigms for multiplicity. Among these are psychosynthesis, Voice Dialogue, and Internal Family Systems.

For Jung, and many other approaches to multiplicity, parts of the self usually develop in two ways. First, adverse and traumatic life experiences can lead to the development of a part. This commonly seen among individuals who experience PTSD. In PTSD, the individual develops a part that is easily activated by triggers that resemble the original incident. In this triggered state, the traumatized part of the same takes over and the individual perceives, thinks, feels, and behaves according to the story this part carries – often that danger is present and it is not safe.

Parts can also develop out of ongoing habit. For example, in childhood, if you learned to get your needs met by being a “good kid” and not “causing any trouble,” it is quite likely you will develop a “good kid” part of the self that is very concerned about what others think and about making sure standards of good behavior are met. This, of course, can lead to anxiety and relationship problems for the individual when this part takes over too often.

There is a lot more to say about multiplicity, various parts of the psyche, and how the varied agendas that our different parts carry can lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and trauma. If you would like to know more, or perhaps explore parts of yourself as they show up in your life, contact me to work with one of our therapists using a multiplicity perspective.

Sil Machado, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and psychotherapist in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County. Sil and his associate therapists draw from a wide range of evidence based therapy and time-test approaches to tailor treatment plans to the unique needs of each client. Issues we address include anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship problems.