I began the original discussion of my theory of multiple consciousness in a response to An Open Letter of Apology. To summarize, the theory of multiple consciousness stems from the existence of a conscious, thinking brain, a subconscious brain working in the background, and a third “extraconsciousness” that works somewhere in between.
This is not to be confused with the idea of paraconsciousness, or a consciousness that can be external to the person. It’s not dissociative in the way the way that a person becomes detached from themselves, as in depersonalization. Rather, this is a theory of the co-existant “personas” that perform different functions within the operations of conscious, subconscious, and extraconscious.
First, we’ll start with defining the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the third mind, which I refer to as the extraconscious mind. The conscious mind is the thinking brain, the one that interfaces with the world in a real-time way, and processes immediate information. This is the mind that takes in sensory information, begins the process of storing memories, uses cognition, and is the immediate persona, meaning set of behaviors and emotional responses based on external stimuli.
The subconscious mind is a mind that we aren’t immediately aware of. The information that is taken in by the conscious mind is usually stored temporarily in the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind then works at making sense of all of this information, and stores it where it belongs. In other instances, the information needs to be worked out for a solution, and instead of being stored, it is continually being worked on. These are operations that we aren’t aware of, until solutions and thoughts come out of nowhere. That is when our subconscious mind has paired with other operations of the brain (cognition, memory) and then passed it over to the thinking brain, even while the brain isn’t active in that function.
The third operation is a new concept. For me, anyway. It is the extraconscious mind, meaning the mind outside of the defined states of consciousness. This mind exists somewhere between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Sometimes, it operates as a bridge between the subconscious and the conscious minds, relaying information between the two. For instance, a person can feel vaguely aware of something, but not be fully aware. That information is retained in the extraconscious mind. Other times, it acts as a storage unit for the conscious mind and subconscious mind alike, until the information can be processed and passed back over. And in some cases, the extraconscious mind acts as a place where semi-dormant things exist, that would ordinarily exist in the subconscious mind.
Why the third consciousness? Why does a extraconscious mind exist? I’m not saying that it exists in all individuals, though it probably does to some degree whether it is recognized or not. The extraconsciousness exists for a number of reasons. First, to bridge the gap between the conscious mind the the subconscious mind. Second, in instances where there is repression of memories, thoughts, emotions, etc, the conscious mind is unable or unwilling to process that information and make sense of it. The subconscious mind cannot store it indefinitely, because the conscious mind is already aware that it exists. So, it becomes a part of the extraconscious mind. And lastly, the extraconscious mind exists to house semi-dormant constructs and concepts.
Now, this ties directly into my still developing theory of multiple personas as a part of splitting and dissociation. It is similar to Depersonalization Disorder, in that a person feels as if they are watching themselves from a place outside of the conscious mind. However, the feeling is not completely external from the body and mind. It is a vague awareness that the primary persona is not currently active or in control.
It is also similar to Dissociative Identity Disorder, which is that there are multiple “personalities”. However, in DID, full blown personalities are completely separate from one another and aren’t aware of the other. It produces states of complete amnesia. The theory of multiple personas residing in the extraconsciousness is slightly different.
First, the personas are not full-blown personalities. They are variations on the primary persona based on their function, which defines the predominant characteristics of the persona. A person may be, at least, vaguely aware of the existence of these personas, as they make themselves known through the extraconscious to the conscious mind.. They may even be aware when a different persona switches into the conscious mind, where the primary persona is forced back into the extraconscious mind, as a helpless bystander during the event. Typically, there is only a vague awareness of the events that took place during a dissociative state, where another persona resided in the conscious mind. It doesn’t produce complete amnesia, but there may be some haziness to smaller events, while larger events aren’t quite as detailed.
As the same with DID, the theory of multiple personas allows for an indefinite number of personas. Many of these personas take different stations within different consciousnesses. For instance, one or more may reside in the extraconscious mind, making the primary persona residing in the conscious mind vaguely aware of their presence. The awareness comes from subthreshold auditory hallucinations. Since the hallucinations aren’t external, then it is not considered a complete hallucination. However, the internal voices are still separate from the conscious mind, though not always active. Multiple personas often reside in the subconscious mind, almost completely inactive, save for performing functions related to processing information. This is how delusional thinking may begin, as misinterpreted information in the subconscious mind, colored by the multiple personas. However, it is uncommon that multiple personas exist in the conscious mind.
Sometimes, the extraconsciousness may be completely devoid.multiple personas. This is preferable. It means that the symptoms are largely inactive, since there is no persona to interfere with the conscious mind, and the information coming from the subconscious mind is less distorted.
However, in other times, the conscious mind may be completely devoid of personas, making a person largely catatonic. This usually means that the primary consciousness has receded into the extraconsciousness. Sometimes, this is to prevent psychic harm. Other times, it may be a struggle to see which persona prevails in the consciousness.
In the next segment, I will define the multiple consciousnesses, describe how they came to be, define their functions, and detail how they operate between the consciousnesses.
- Being Human-Consciousness (thementalshovel.com)
- What is the difference between the conscious and subconscious / unconscious mind? And why is working with the subconscious mind so effective? (neurowissenschaft.wordpress.com)
- Ego as the Self-Programmed Subconscious Mind (chiefkevinblog.com)
- Dissociative Identity Disorder & Multiple Personality Blogs, Websites & Support Groups, Forums, & Discussions (jeanettebartha.wordpress.com)
- Dissociative Identity Disorder (allaboutcounseling.com)
- What the Belief in Dissociative Identity Disorder or Multiple Personaltiies Teaches (jeanettebartha.wordpress.com)
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I excused myself to “put Trent down for a nap”. And I curled up in the bathroom, blanket wrapped tightly around me. A safe cocoon. A straight jacket.
The intrusive thoughts came in the silence. At first, they were indistinguishable from the rest of the noise. Then, one came out very plainly, rolling as a hardly audiable murmur from my lips.
“Why?” the sobs welled in my throat as the tears poured down my face. I smalled the sobs for as long as I could.
“I am so alone,” I whispered. My face contorted. My jaw tightened as my top teeth extended out. An enormous sob was lodged in my throat. With all of the power of will that remained, I silenced it.
“He doesn’t love you. If he loved you, he would have tried.”
“Your marriage has failed.”
The voices barraged me relentlessly with intrusive thought that had no real evidence. But the absence, the distance, was enough for me to formulate theories.
I was no longer slow dancing in the burning room. I sat at the piano, alone, playing out the most sour of melodies. This had been evacuated a long time ago. I took in a lungful of dark, black smoke, and now I was choking on it.
“You should runaway. Leave your phone and just hide. It doesnt matter that it’s 30F and raining. Leave this place.”
“I won’t give up my son.”
“Break shit. Starting with dishes and glasses.”
“And then take more of a shit storm than I can handle.”
“Take handfuls of pills to make you numb.”
The crying ceased, and besides the stirring, turning wheel in my head, I was tapped out.
Desperate, as people get before they die in a tragedy, I slinked back up the stairs and into the room. The house was silent, heavy with slumber. I reached into the back of the drawer. I took a vicodin, the drug that almost killed me the last time. I didn’t care. Come what may.
After I let the drugs settle in, I started the note. i explained the fundamental problems. No affection, save for the verbal foreplay. Disinterest and dismissal. Isolation and alienation. A communication block. Walking on eggshells to keep him happy and sane. Oppressive states of living, impossible expectations. All of the things I could never say to his face.
And that was only an overview.
I decided to move forward with my impulse to leave. I planned on leaving my phone and hiding away at the trestle. Alone. A place of refuge where no one would think to look. Save for Chris, who would be unlikely to consider it.
I went into the bathroom donning only a bathrobe. It was warm. I discovered a boxcutter I had hidden nearly a year ago. the temptation was irresistible. It was the only way to make these thoughts go away. To make it all disappear and usher in the empty mind born only from numbess.
To my dismay, it was dull. I had to tear at the flesh on my still shishy hip. Five lines. One for each year we have been together. I could have kept going. I stared at the bleeding cuts, satisfied with the pain and the amount of blood I had drawn.
And I looked up into the mirror at the red nosed, disheveled girl with the wild look in her eyes. Something primal existed there. That girl wasn’t me. I was staring at a loathsome stranger.
I got up, ready to sear my skin with the hottest water I could withstand. I was ready to shave every inch of my body. I scrapped and scratched away the flesh staining me. I wanted to wash this day away.
It didn’t end there. I returned to the upstairs to find him awake. I questioned, “Have you read my note?”
“No, I’ll read it later.”
“You really should consider reading it now.”
Another excuse, “I have to make dinner,” while he continued to surf Facebook.
“It’s really important,” I pressed.
“Not right now,” he protested.
I was pushing now, “Then when?”
“I don’t know. Later,” he dismissed some more.
“A later that will never come.” I thought of all of the unread emails I had sent that went straight to archive. Not even remotely close to a priority.
“Because I don’t want to ruin my Sunday. The only time I have to relax before I have to go back to working 50 hours a week!”
In my mind, I said, “Which you *CHOOSE* to do.”
“Fine. If you do not care enough about our marriage enough to take time to read this, then I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. it can’t go on like this.”
“If you want me to read this so fucking badly, then I will.”
“No, just X it out. I’m done.” I meant it. I was finished with this marriage.
He did read it, mocking some parts of it, as I expected. I knew it wouldn’t be well received. If I spoke these words aloud, I’d suffer more dismissal and rationalizations. I’d suffer more pain through his outrage, pointing out my selfishness, neediness, clinginess, and what he considered to be my inability to see beyond myself.
We fought some more downstairs. Not tearing out throats this time. But in a heated argument. He quoted, “regarded coldy like a business associate”.
“Yes. Not even as basic as friendship. I am not a part of your personal life. I am never let in. In fact, I am pushed away, even physically.”
“I was sick, you know, after drinking more than half a bottle of tequila.”
“You’re always sick. Headache, stomach ache, body ache, anything that can hurt does.”
Sarcastically, he said, “What am I supposed to do. Go to the doctor and say, ‘My wife is pissed that I have pains’?”
“Yes, something. No more excuses. I will not except them.”
“How is it that one of us is perfectly happy? i am completely content.”
“Because the other person bends over backwards to make the other one is happy! I walk on eggshells to take your feelings into consideration and not upset you. It’s suffocating!”
He paused to think. Apparently, I had touched on something.
I know he’s going through something. But, this is no excuse. I don’t deserve this isolation. I do everything to satisfy. I don’t ask for anything out of the question.
I just want to be shown love. Satisfaction. I want him to want me. All of me. To recognize my efforts. To be delighted by my displays. To feel warm.
We reconciled. But, it’s Monday. Back to business as usual. No emails, texts. I didnt want to talk to him after work. I wanted him to suffer. To question if I was alright.
I thought it could be made up. I’m sure another disappointing date is upon us. He did take the time to set something up, likely out of guilt that he didn’t in advance. I wanted to spend some time on the sofa. And I was asked to sit on the floor in proximity to the sofa he laid on.
Daggers. I expected it. I wasn’t devestated. I was despondent. i warned him I was close to shutting down, just a day earlier. When I shut down, it’s over. i’ve given up. It would only be a matter of time before someone calls it quits.
Once a person is out, they are out. A wall will go up, impenetrable. And i will spend my time doing what I want, without any regard for his wants or needs. he violated mine. I may end up done with all of that.
Two more days. I’ll give him by the end of Thursday, the actual day of our wedding anniversary. After that, he’s on his own.
No more threats. Action.
I cannot suffer many more disappointments and rejections.
Honestly, I find the words evaporating before they can come into focus in my mind. I grasp at them, trying desperately to hold to just one. Please, just one to represent this. Let me have only one.
So, here I write. My first stream of consciousness entry since the very beginning of this blog.
Where to start? Is there really a starting point? The perfect place to run along the thread, coursing up and down, and through the fabric of my life. Maybe. Maybe not. I seem to get the idea that there is no beginning, and respectively, there is no end.
So, maybe I can begin with a narrative, rolling around in my mind, each time it stirs.
I am not perfect. My flaws are becoming more visible each time I look at myself. Painfully so. Everything feels so forced.
I make mistakes. I succumb to those words, the ones that usually just make a dull buzz in my head.
In these times, the moments of darkness, it becomes louder, slower, more pronounced.
I. want. to. die.
A buried mantra, rising from dormancy.
My ears heard a beckon in my sleep. I rustled. I could sleep forever. Another summoning. In fact, I wanted to sleep forever. My eyes opened to dull grey haze, sunlight buried miles deep in cloud cover. And the words whispered to me, I want to die.
I had remembered my dream. It was a recurring dream, the same theme, different places, different faces. All but one. C.S.
In each dream, we are separated in some way, whether it be a wall or a world apart. We aren’t just separated, rather more like severed from one another. I am not whole. I feel that in the very depths of my shattered soul.
In this most recent recurrence, we were literally separated, not divorced, but not even living in the same place anymore. I shared an apartment with his ex-best friend. He was sick, and I took him to the hospital.
While there, I started to feel preterm labor. It was a child I hadn’t told C.S. about yet. Though we had T.D., I didn’t want him to feel obligated to stay in a marriage with me because of an unplanned pregnancy.
I just went back to the apartment. The same dingy, dark, trashed apartment that is always in my dreams. I must have done something really bad for him to discard and disregard me in such a way. I called him. I wanted nothing more than to be whole again. I needed him to come to my aid.
He refused. “Why would I want to come to that dump to see you?”
I begged. And he still refused.
I returned to the hospital, knowing that the labor would get worse. I just knew it wasn’t something that couldn’t be fixed.
Skip the labor scene. I don’t remember it, even if it did occur.
And, I went into a dark exam room, to lay on the bed with the paper sheet, in a paper gown. I saw a pad of paper sitting on an end table. I flipped through and it coldly read, “What seems to be your problem today?”
I threw it, and went to gather my belongings that were housed in a communal room, supposedly watched by a guard. Except when I went to look, they were nowhere in sight. I saw a woman sitting next to the man, holding my exact purse. I insisted it was my purse, and ripped it away from her. I pulled out my handmade keychain, looking for some proof I was who I said I was.
I got a nametag out and I had apparently been using a different last name since my separation. I went for my I’d in my wallet. A voice came from behind me.
“Her name is Em. I’m her husband.”
C.S. stood there, disappointed and disgruntled.
And I awoke, horrific feelings still intact. Worthlessness, abandonment, disappointment, heartache, soul-fractures, incompletely incomplete, with holes punctured through my being. I mourned that child. I mourned my broken marriage. And I wondered what lay in wait in my conscious life.
Noon. Lunch. Eggs and bacon for my son.
No excuses. Not, the infamous, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.” I poured myself a shot of Wild Turkey and nursed it. The next, I gulped. Sunday is a terrible day to drink in Pennsylvania. When you’re out, you’re out. So, I moved on to vodka.
Anything. I would do anything to erase that awful gnawing feeling. That feeling that you are being dragged into the pit, clawing and screaming as the inky blackness envelopes you, curling like vines upward, and strangling the very life from you.
I’m not going to launch into this speech about how embarrassed or downtrodden I am for my shortcomings. Not because I feel justified in my action as a result of a faulty rationalization. Because I am human. I have some permissible margin or error, right?
But, I will make certain admissions based on very stark realizations.
I was starting to get ready for work, when I realized that not all of my laundry had been returned to me. T.D. had clothes. C.S. was fine for the week. But only a few articles returned to me.
I started to get upset. Dressing for Pennsylvania weather is tricky. When the sun is shining, but it’s 30, and you know that you be out after dark later, it complicates things. Some of my classrooms are hot, and some are cold. I need layers. My sweaters were too hot.
I lost all confidence in any choice, and became flustered. T.D. screamed in the background and C.S. preached at me on the phone. I wasn’t going to make it in time. I wasn’t going to make it.
How could I even walk out of that door like this, without any guarantees that I could make it intact?
My parents pounded on the door. I carried T.D. down the stairs and set him down. I was shaking so badly, it caused tremors in every single electrified muscle. Halfway through the living room, my legs gave out. My whole body fell limp, and I could no longer live in my mind. I crawled to the door, and opened it.
I pulled myself onto the sofa and curled into a ball. And I cried, “I can’t do it. I can’t go to work like this.”
“Get yourself together,” my mother advised.
I wasn’t talking anymore. I was on autopilot, hyperventilating, “I can’t. I can’t. I just can’t, I have to call off.”
I did. My boss could sense the extreme distress in my voice. I lied. I told her the sitter called off because she was sick. I couldn’t bear to tell her the truth.
I’m in no mental state, because I’m having a nervous breakdown related to a recent bout of ultradian cycling that hurled me into a long awaited depression. You’re better off without me today.
And my mother asked, “Did something happen?”
“No,” I answered in a fractured voice, holding back tears, “this is just the natural course of things. This was three months in the making. Three months, almost symptom free. And now this.”
The grand herald of my depressive episode, here to announce it’s presence. And to present a list of events, in no particular, predictable order, that will push me further into this hell. This hell. This is mine. Of my own making.
And I have to face it alone. Because as of today, everyone in my life has made it abundantly clear that they are, quote, “Tired of my shit, because I’m always like this.”
That’s me. Like this. Fucking up since the mid-eighties.
This post brought to you by Tallulah, my Blackberry Bold.
“The Voice” may be experienced uniquely for each individual. It may just be a whisper, a buzz, or a feeling. No matter, each person Dx or not has “The Voice”. In my personal experience, “The Voice” is literally that, a voice. It comes from within myself, as if I am host to two conscious minds in one physical being. It is not a hallucination, as I recognize the existence within myself. They coexist and are more than aware of the other “personality”, if you will.
I am familiar with my own conscious mind which produces these monologues that I translate to print. It forms the words milliseconds before they come to life. It repeats important information to commit it to short-term memory. It can take on a physical manifestation to transport me into the past, with all of my senses intact.
“The Voice” was born from the same conscious mechanisms that produces monologues. Suddenly, dialogues existed. These two conscious voices in my mind would deliberate everything. Sometimes, they would viciously argue. The noise was deafening. I was a woman divided.
“The Voice” fueled the fire. In depression, it perpetuates incredible delusions. It whispers, “You know you are worthless. Look at all of your failures. That’s why no one loves you, not even your family. Everyone is better off without you.”
It blames my action or inaction for all of the woes in the world. It convinces me that I am responsible for creating misery in and burden on my loved ones. All of my greatest fears are realized. My delusions are reinforced and substantiated as being reality.
In hypomania, it overcomes the other conscious voice. It is strong enough to occasionally be the only voice. It rationalizes each decision and refuses responsibility for the consequences. “I am the most awesome person in the world. They are only jealous, because I am superior. I am amazing at everything and have nothing to prove to everyone. This should be common knowledge by now.”
I become above the rules, because I alone am the exception. I am invincible, and “The Voice” reminds me at every impulse. I explode when enraged and it’s the other person’s fault. “We were having a good time and they had to be a jerk. Give it to them!” I go on a rampage because people have personally wronged me.
At one point, in the worst of the fits with The Voice, I deemed the dialogue as having three participants. The Voice had split and fused with a portion of my moral, conscious mind. And in between, there I was, watching the battle rage almost totally outside of my physical being.
My physical form started containing a world of it’s own. Everything from the outside went through a perceptual filter. It often came out too distorted to make heads or tails of what the truth actually was. How can one possibly know the reality of their own life when it Is completely relative?
The noise in my brain was overwhelming, sometimes to the point of maddening. Always, even when The Voice didn’t have an observation or remark, there was the background static of a detuned radio. Occasionally, it would pick something up, but it was always like being on the edge of a broadcast zone. Outside sounds would echo, a biting remark, a provocative line in a song, etc. It made focusing nearly impossible.
Eventually, these dialogues passed through my lips, as if they could no longer be contained in such a small space. I attempted to channel it into my writing, but I would have spent my entire day with my head buried in a journal. Sometimes, I did. I would allow these dialogues to exist in tangible world if it meant my head would be a little less noisy.
I made sure it always occurred while I was alone. At least I had that much control. I was always on foot in those days. Many of these conversations came to life en route to and from work – a brisk mile walk both ways. And I’m kind to call them conversations. Often, they were confrontations and / or arguments.
Sometimes, I, or at least some version of me, would beg it to shut up. Leave me alone!!!
How can I go away when I AM you?!
When I started Lamictal, my mind was suddenly silent. No static, or echos. I could actually fully be present in the moment I lived in. And The Voice suddenly disappeared. Oddly enough, I was scared. All of those things had been present for so long, I felt as if my brain had been deadened.
The Voice couldn’t be stifled. When I found myself engaging in silent dialogues once more, I knew something was amiss. More medication, and it was silent once more.
Today, The Voice plagues me occasionally. Typically, it is during a depressive episode, as it began before. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen during a hypomanic episode. But, The Voice has a low volume at best.
I now have clarity if thought and quality of reason to beat The Voice at it’s own game. You are not real, and I am not listening.
I am the placeholder in my own life.
Tragically, circling the bastard love child of Monopoly and The Game of Life.
I walked the line before and after my surgery. I shuffled and wobbled. Would I fly though the air or land on my head? Carefully inching forward, I teetered into a four. I edged on a six. But, I always am able to keep one foot steady on that five we all strive for.
I am in between. I have a difficult time believing this is what stable is. This is some kind of limbo. It’s an indefinite layover on the way to who-knows-where. Or, perhaps, Lulu has already skipped town and left Em behind. Maybe the shell of someone, something. My existence is nameless at the moment.
I decided something important throughout the last five months. Lulu is not the alter ego. Em is. Em, the woman, who walks through the streets of Pittsburgh, with a stone face. Em, the woman limited by her physical existence and what it represents. She is the one who dashes on half-truths and skims denial. She created Lulu to free herself from that cage.
Lulu is the Belle. Em is the Thimble. What’s the difference? Think hard.
Honestly, I don’t feel like either. In limbo, some kind of dimensional fold, a crease in the fabric of time. It’s almost as if someone put my real life on pause and created a film loop of a typical week in my life. As if there is such a thing.
I’m not that girl. Who am I? What does it all mean? Why…? What if…?” *STOMP* Been there, done that, named it after me, then got the T-shirt. Puh-leaze.
How can I possibly ramble for 500 more words and still keep your attention?
Pin the tail on the donkey. Who can tell me what psychological term fits the scenario? No sarcasm, I’d like some opinions. This might be my strangest mood ever.
I’m almost fluidic, but my emotions are dampened. My mind wants to be let off it’s leash. It wants to roam freely, but report nothing. I have plenty of kindle and not enough spark. I am easily swayed along shallow emotions, enthusiasm, hostility, endearment… It should be excitement, rage, and love. I don’t feel, I experience.
I could describe it as apathy, but it’s even less shallow than that. I am almost detached, but holding by frayed, semi-conductive thread. I care enough to want to go to work, care for my son, and engage in my everyday life. I am interested. But, I am incredibly deficient in motivation.
I am distracted by nothing. Literally. I cannot focus. I am not motivated enough to want to. It is taking every last ounce of discipline to –
What was I saying?
Scavenger hunt. Today, I was photographed to be a poster girl for Luden’s Cough Drops. It will be up on the website. Correctly identify me, and you win. Win what? I guess my extreme surprise at your attention to detail. Ruby is automatically disqualified to keep this fair.