Newcomers are invited to an orientation call Saturday January 8th, 1:00-1:55pm Pacific Standard Time (4pm Eastern, 9pm UTC) as an onramp to connecting with the community.
Internal Family Systems (henceforth IFS) has come up more and more recently in my world, and the “parts” model seems to be “in the water” in developmental spaces. Several other Intentional Society participants have similar energy/interest, and in this Sunday’s session we will explore this model and play with how it might be useful to us.
The phrase “parts work” seems to have two pieces, to my eye. The first is just that we (our mind/personality/consciousness) are made up of distinguishable parts that can be in conflict with each other. There is something of this in common vernacular: we say “part of me wants X, but another part wants Y” easily and frequently. The second piece embeds a claim that we can mentally model these parts as coherent agents and interrogate them about their values, motivations, and reasoning.
(Hopefully my usage of neutral “pieces” vs mental “parts” there is clean? The originator of IFS, Dr. Richard Schwartz, says “we call them parts because it’s the most user-friendly word. It’s not the best word, in the sense of being descriptive…”)
So yeah, that we can feel parts seems fairly intuitive. I was exploring the non-coherence of our ego stories before I had even heard of IFS, calling them “shards” to convey a “broken-apart pieces of some whole” frame:
If you detach from the concept of a single coherent self, then you no longer need to shame yourself for being a hypocrite. Be compassionate towards all your shards of self.
How we can usefully interface with these parts seems like an open practical question to me. IFS, via Dr Schwartz, makes direct comparison to DID/MPD personalities as merely more extreme versions of what we are all born with. Can we talk to them, ask them things that we don’t already know, and receive useful answers? I say yes — I think we could argue the semantics of “real” or “true”, but I’m already solidly on board with this being quite useful.
I see this modality as a form of “inner oracle” questioning, which is so useful that it’s worth explication: This is my label for a question of the form, “I don’t know X. But if I did know X, what would it be?” as a prompt for us to access a combination of A) embodied knowledge that our ego/storyteller aware of, and B) creative synthesis integrating a new perspective on known evidence. I have found this to be a remarkably, surprisingly effective technique in my tool kit, and hopefully it can serve you as well.
The above is very much a novice, layman’s explanation of IFS and parts work that doesn’t even touch the common “types” of parts or the capital-s “Self” concept, though I don’t know if we have or need more expertise in order to usefully apply it. Do you have any experiences or expertise with parts work that would be useful for us to know as we explore? Then please do share — you can reply directly to this email.