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Memory ownership

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Memory ownership

Postby Shrike » Fri Aug 05, 2022 7:10 am

I'll preface this by saying I'm new, and have not been officially diagnosed, although my therapist is starting me on parts work and believes I have a dissociative disorder. I'm not sure what to think about it, everything I read is pretty accurate to my experience but I'm also excellent at convincing myself I have anything I read about. My apologies if this post reads like one long boring run-on sentence, I'm having a hard time putting words together, I'm usually a lot more lively!

I was speaking to my partner earlier today about memory, and the potential of switching, and how I have no idea how I'd identify a switch if they happened. I talked about how a recent experience (frantically looking for a lunch food) felt different in memory, like different parts of it belonged to very different people, and what I found important at the time I didn't find important mere minutes later. It felt like the memories were owned by someone else and this baffled my partner. Apparently, all of his memories feel his. Even the ones from long ago, with behaviours he no longer uses. There's a consistent thread of ownership in his memories to the point that it made no sense to him to describe it as ownership at all; his sense of self was consistent through all of them. This is not the first "what do you mean, surely everyone has this experience?" moment but it is one I'm not sure how to approach with others. My life is already riddled with amnesia holes, I didn't realise my memory could be even wonkier than that.

There's a whole other layer to this experience that is tangled up in my feelings about alters and identifying who is who, if there's a who at all, which I am... increasingly convinced there is, even if they seem reluctant to talk to me. All (most? I think?) of my life it seems I've been the 'host', blithely unaware of the extent of my dissociation, and I'm feeling more than a little lost and confused. Even typing this post feels like thinking through molasses.

What is your experience of memory like? Are your memories while co-con different to memories you have when you're 'just you'? Do you have any advice or words of support for a new (possible) system struggling with the early days of therapy and awareness? I'll take all I can get, tbh.
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Re: Memory ownership

Postby birdsong87 » Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:52 am

We have quite a bit of co-consciousness, so I can often see and hear what is happening, from what feels like a distance. But these things don't stick to my memory. the part who is front can remember it well and I can't, even though I have kind of been there. the sense of things not being 'my' memory makes a lot of sense.
welcome to the forum! Some of the best advice I can give is to take it slow. you really don't have to figure it out in a week. And to find some people with a couple more years of experience and ask about things. this is a good place for that.
Dx: DID cPTSD
host ; Asti (host 2); Annett (teen protector); Maya (child); Age (observer); Thamara (child); Danielle (aut. teen); Mike (caregiver) and others
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Re: Memory ownership

Postby ViTheta » Fri Aug 05, 2022 12:28 pm

Hi and welcome to the forums. I'm Vi.

Yeah, I can understand the confusion of being a newly realized system. It is a lot to take in.

As for memory, I've been co-conscious for most of my life, but everything has always taken on a surreal feeling when it's one of my alters taking over. As for knowing when you're switching, my only clue sometimes is my vision goes a bit weird or my alter's voice becomes loudest. There's a lot of times when I've found that I have had to ask one of my alters for a particular memory.

So, for instance, if I have to talk about my high school years, that's something Beth has held onto. Pippa has some of the trauma memories and we have to be careful around her even if she does front quite a bit.

It's complex and can be overwhelming. I've started to realize that those memories which are mine are the ones I see in first person and those that are my alters I see in third.

I hope this helps. I know it's going to be overwhelming, but we have realized how wonderful it is to know we're all here.
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Re: Memory ownership

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:35 pm

Hi Shrike,

Welcome to the forum! We definitely feel like different parts own different memories. And we also have a singleton handy (the husband) to ask questions about what's "normal." We did that when we first discovered the alters about 5 years ago.

Another thing we found out is that singletons don't commonly have the experience of doing something that they actively don't want to be doing, but can't really stop themselves from doing. I don't mean wishing they were doing something else, but intending and planning to, let's say, go outside--having that intention and wanting to do that, but actually, let's say, sitting down at the computer. That sense of watching yourself do something and being like, "why am I doing this right now? I really want to go outside." My husband never has that, and we have that a lot. He might spend more time playing a game on his phone than he initially intended, but he never feels like he already decided to stop and do the next thing, and is still somehow playing the game. He is always in charge of what's he's doing at the moment.

Seconding the advice from birdsong to take it slow.

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Re: Memory ownership

Postby Purplesky » Sat Aug 06, 2022 12:39 am

my memory is very fuzzy a lot. i have a mix of dissociative symptoms outside of DID, so that also can affect my memory.

dissociation in general (without DID alters) can distort memory details and timelines as well as cause time loss/memory gaps while under emotional stress/distress.

for me, when it's related to the DID, it gets more confusing. i will forget details after it, not necessarily during. it sometimes takes me a bit to understand what has happened, especially if someone says something inside and throws me off my line of thought if i'm having a conversation externally. i sometimes get pushed backwards inside my head and won't always have control over what is said and done externally or the opposite, internally, but have control outside. i feel the alters as separate usually, so that's how i know who is around.

it has taken years to learn things. it will probably take the rest of my life to learn more as things go along.
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Re: Memory ownership

Postby TheTriForce » Sat Aug 06, 2022 6:58 am

I have different experiences of memories depending whether I wanted to do it or not eg school i hated, 'some one else' went in my place I was not interested in having the memory they have the trauma of being bullied at school. I was not able to learn or even 'remain present' in that environment at all and left with no qualifications.

If I wanted to go somewhere but knew I'd find it overwhelming I would get the experience of 'watching another persona' doing it but feeling I was 'in the background' ..like watching an actor play my part but I could still learn from the experience or enjoy the sensory experience eg paddling in sea, feeling sand between my toes on a beach, visiting a zoo where there may have been other kids close by - L
Body - F 50+ yrs disabled/autistic

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(includes Kit & SG working as advisors in background)
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Re: Memory ownership

Postby ArbreMonde » Sun Aug 07, 2022 8:20 am

I think the phenomenon is called "lack of personification of memories" in technical vocabulary.

The "personification" of an experience is, how much the experience is recorded as a "me-experience" by the brain. Different alters can have different levels of "me-experience" for different memories. Consequently, some memories are recorded as "happened to this alter" and some others as "happened to this other alter" depending on which alter has the most "personification" of the memory.

Some forms of amnesia are actually caused by lack of personification! "This did not happen to me, therefore I cannot remember this, therefore, LALALALALA I DO NOT SEE THIS MEMORY LALALALALA"

Yeah, brain is weird.

I still have issues with some autobiographic memories myself. I have access to them all (okay, on-and-off, it's like Christmas Lights, memory version) but some I only "know" happened to "me" while others I FEEL happened to ME. The level of personification is different.

It's normal in DID.

I personally have stopped trying to explicitely name "who does this memory belong to" because, every memory belongs to the collective us that I am. So, everything happened to me-as-a-system and in order to better manage everyday life, it's important in my opinion that I recognize all the memories as mine-as-a-system.

Though I also understand that other systems need to properly sort out memories as "this one belongs to this alter" first. Because it's an important first step after all.
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Re: Memory ownership

Postby ViTheta » Sun Aug 07, 2022 12:51 pm

Another thing that I forgot to put in my earlier reply is that there are some memories where I have a 'report'. I know it happened, but I don't have access to the actual memories or the emotions of those memories; however, one of my alters does. For instance, there's a Bad Memory that I know happened because Pippa experienced it and has those memories. She told me about the Bad Memory, but when she fronts and gets triggered, those emotions flood us all, but the same triggers don't cause issues for, say, me as long as she's far enough back not to see them.

I do hope all of this helps.

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