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Please make yourself at home - Part 1

June 23, 2011, at 03:06 PM

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Today I want to talk about being more clear about whether you have an internal landscape or not, and whether your internal landscape needs any deliberate work. It's a big complicated topic, and has many layers, so I'm going to probably spend several days on it.

An internal landscape is an "imaginary" internalized representation of any type of structures, props, landscaping or scenery that helps your residents & guests interact with each other when they aren't front. It also includes what our internal headmates "look like" to themselves or one another when it deviates from what our body looks like.

In other words, let's use some 3rd person pronouns here. You are front. If you are busy doing something in the physical world, you may have your "back" to the world behind your eyes. Let's say that a man & woman -- a guest and a resident respectively -- are having a discussion. At first you might say they are "inside" and you're "outside" and that they are "behind" you. You would refer to them as being inside having a conversation with each other, and you are busy interacting with the outside world.

And that's probably how easy it is to start having an internal landscape. The word Front used in the psychiatric world already implies that multiples have an internal landscape. The implied question is "in front of what?" The answer really is, "In front of the internal landscape with respect to your eyes/body/face." We also refer to "inside" and "outside" -- again concepts borrowed from everyday spacial living.

At that point, there's no structure or design to the internal landscape. It's just "there" and there's no visual interpretation. In the US we are culturally visual. There are individuals who are exceptions to this rule, but our technology and our entertainment are mainly visually focused. That really implies that our language and our thoughts work best when we have a visual framework into which we put the experiences we're trying to either think about or communicate about. If the focus of this program is to encourage internal communication, that communication will generally work best when given a visual framework.

So first, do you have an internal landscape? Strictly speaking, probably -- I think many of us naturally at least go as far as front or out vs. back or inside.

I believe that, for some of us, internal landscape is something that evolves with time and maturity in our system (in terms of the 10 Factors of Multiplicity that I've identified, more about that in other posts later). It starts as the amorphous and unformed back/front or inside/outside and evolves into a sense of movement within an internal space, and eventually may be accompanied by structures that define the limits of that space, areas that sub-divide the space, and mental representations of objects or features that reflect our internal needs or experiences. This may also come with internalized "self-concepts" like what each guest or resident looks like, how they express themselves, and what they are "doing" inside.

Apparently -- and I've only just heard of this -- there's some controversy about the internal landscape. So let's address this right now. Does my internal landscape encourage me to remain multiple? Is it a coping mechanism crutch? No and no. At least I don't think so.

As real as it may seem at times, it's still a figment of our imagination. When we hug each other, console a little, have a meeting, or anything else in our internal landscape, it doesn't take the place of living outside our head. With an internal landscape, it's easier to do a roll call (look around and take attendance), even if someone is temporarily distracted or busy -- often it works even if the person is not yet co-conscious or co-aware. Also, it's real-seeming enough that it cuts down on internal competition for Fronting by a whole lot. That makes our life far more functional and livable.

Should you have one? Well, you're welcome to be on any side of the controversy, but I think my internal landscape has been enormously helpful. And as I go into aspects of internal landscapes (and "internal landscaping" as coined by Bob King, a multiple who contributes to you may realize you've got some type of internal landscape. Just like almost anything else in the world, your internal landscape and its aspects are going to be unique to you. And that's how it should be.

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