Few people realize that health and healing are all about becoming more whole. When the body falls apart, its health falls apart. The same is true for the mind. That’s right – sometimes the mind doesn’t develop into an integrated state in the first place or it’s wholeness gets broken apart by hardships and traumas of life. Most people don’t understand what “wholeness of mind” actually means or how to restore it once it becomes divided. But it’s not difficult to understand, so I’ll explain.
In many ways, the subconscious mind is just like a family. Consider a family of five in which there are two parents, two teenagers, and a younger child. Imagine that this family embodies not only differences in age and gender, but also in personality, sexuality, spirituality, political views, and other values. Such differences engender enormous potential for conflict. If their conflicts become serious enough to divide and alienate themselves from one another, then we would call this a broken family, which by definition is an unhealthy and dysfunctional family. However, if all the members of this family learned how to express mutual understanding, respect, empathy, compassion, acceptance, and cooperation, they would become united and function as a collaborative whole. Thus, the family would become more integrated, functional, and healthy.
Healing is the process of restoring wholeness to things which have broken apart. When it comes to healing minds, it’s necessary to understand how they are made up of different parts, how they can become divided, and how to restore their wholeness, just as we would with a family. So it’s time to brush up on our Freud.
In the late 19th century, Sigmund Freud and his fellow pioneers of psychoanalysis shared their revelation that the subconscious mind is made up of multiple characters, each playing a different role in the psyche. Freud’s model identified three characters that he labeled the Id, Ego, and Superego . Psychologists today refer to the characters in the subconscious as subpersonalities, and since the 1890s numerous subpersonality models and therapies have evolved into mainstream psychology. The most popular of these models today is called Internal Family Systems, developed by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D, in the 1980s.
The differences between subpersonality theories is less important than the two things they all share in common. The first commonality is the understanding that when the mind’s subpersonalities are in conflict with one another, mental health suffers. In other words, internal divisions are harmful to mental health. The second commonality among subpersonality theories is their understanding that the restoration of mental health requires bringing conflicting subpersonalities back into a state of integration and harmony. In doing so, the mind becomes more whole, healthy, and functional.
Subpersonality families break apart in the same way that conventional families and all other relationships do. The most common cause of damage to relationships is the expression of condemning judgments . Such judgments are threatening and hurtful, causing fear, guilt, shame, anger, defensiveness, hostility, and opposition. And the part of our minds that judges others also judges ourselves, often more harshly that it judges others. Freud explained that the Superego’s harsh attempts to control the primitive Id (ie. lust and aggression) causes neurosis. He stated that a rational Ego was necessary to peacefully mediate the disturbing conflict between the Superego and Id, and this peace-creating intervention by the Ego would cure neurosis.
Unhealthy minds and families both need to become whole by repairing their broken relationships. When relationships become broken by judgment and divisive conflicts, these judgments need to be replaced with understanding, respect, empathy, compassion, acceptance, and cooperation.
Healing broken relationships, either between different people or different subpersonalities, requires learning how to apply the skills of love . Healing with love is not something that most people know how to do, but anyone with an open mind and a caring heart can easily learn how to do it. The magic of healing all takes place through loving, heart-to-heart dialogues, and can be learned from either quality therapy or a quality book. Once the skills of loving dialogue are learned, the next step is learning how to have conflicting subpersonalities dialogue with each other.
Subpersonality models have different numbers, names, and descriptions for their subpersonalities. They also have different techniques for managing the relationships between them. The technique that I’ve used for 30 years is my favorite because of its simplicity, effectiveness, and the fact that people can do it independently. The method involves a journaling exercise in which both hands are used. Each hand represents a different subpersonality and they take turns creating their dialogue in writing. In essence, your two hands are creating the heart-to-heart dialogues that bring about healing.
There’s nothing new about the idea that love promotes healing and wholeness. Every major religion and culture in the world has possessed this wisdom for thousands of years. In the West we refer to this wisdom as The Golden Rule . This universal truth tells us that we are all members of the same human family, and therefore we must use the same love skills with others that we wish for them to use with us. What is new is the realization that we can apply these love skills to the healing of our own minds. And once your mind learns to become more loving, healthy, and whole, you will become more able to love and heal your relationships with others.
If you’re interested in learning more about the process of healing your mind and loving yourself more fully, check out my newly published book, Whole Mind Healing (Kandle 2020), available on Amazon
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