How the Fragmented Self Becomes Whole Through IFS – Dr. Richard Schwartz – HPP 56
Inside each of us there always is a raging battle for control and security between parts of ourselves that oftentimes we simply neglect. Unbeknownst to us, the results bring significant impacts to our state of mental health. But what if we could get them to agree with one another? What if we could bring peace to the fragmented aspects of our Self?
In today’s very exciting episode, we are honored to be joined by the highly renowned founder of Internal Family Systems (IFS), Dr. Richard Schwartz and together we answer these very interesting questions and unlock the wholeness that we so need. Join us and learn how we can apply these effective principles and concepts of IFS in our everyday lives.
Discovering the parts of the Self – 03:02
“So As I got all that, I started to think maybe these parts are like kids in a family, because family therapy is big insight was, you can’t take an acting kid out of their family and expect them to just stop doing. You have to explore the network of relationships that kid’s trapped in, that’s forcing him into this role in the film, and then try to change that. Maybe the same thing is true with these parts”
Understanding the parts of the Self and how it can lead to trauma – 11:56
“Were playful inner children, happy, creative, delighted, or loving, have on intimacy get hurt, because they’re our most sensitive parts. They get the hurt the most by those traumas. And once they get hurt or terrified or feel ashamed, and carry that burden, we don’t want anything to do with them anymore because they have the power to pull us back into those times and make us feel as bad as we did them”
The exiled parts: Fragmented aspects of the Self – 15:17
“So, as a result, we all have a bunch of these exiles. So after the exiles, it’s an insult to injury, the injury was the trauma, and then the insult is our abandonment of them. So they’re really hurting, they’re really wrong. And we’re really scared of them”
Digging deeper: Taking a closer look at the nature of the Self – 19:24
“if I heard myself saying this, even 20 years ago, I’d be shocked. But yeah, it has become quite a spiritual idea for me”
The fluidity of personality and the Self – 21:40
“Yeah, so it’s more like maybe the sun with the planets as parts circling around, but also blending with and that’s part of the issue. Two parts can obscure”
Manifestations of the Self – 23:30
“it’s more something we all share, which is why it does show up pretty much in the same way throughout humanity, which is somewhat very profound”
Impacts of the IFS model in psychotherapy – 25:23
“it’s so much helps. If you understand these are protectors that come on, and you In fact, help the client stay in self and get to know whatever that is that came up, and then you prevent the backlash by working up front with protectors and and there’s a lot of unburdening that you can do when you’re in that state“
Indigenous ritualistic views of the Self – 28:23
“It did seem like simply by having a client focus on a part, you are entering the same world they took people into. And they do it through drums and chanting and you know, other methods, but all seemed like the only thing you needed was just to focus on a part, and boom, you’re in this world”
The fragmented Self: Multiple personality – 30:52
“I had a couple of clients who would talk about their parts as if they had a huge amount of autonomy, and could take over at any time. And when they did, it would be this totally different person, and all kinds of things to say. And so at first, I did get scared that maybe these these clients are sicker than I thought”
Learning to apply IFS through COVID – 33:42
“And, yeah, the meditations are a part of that. And there are people that do the meditations on a daily basis like you would if you were just meditating and in contrast to a lot of other forms of meditation”
Helpful meditation practices – 43:38
“they begin to experience more and more pure self or pure experience. where they’ll feel a sense of well being, a sense of everything’s okay. Sense of all the eight C’s, lack of any kind of self consciousness, and so on”
Full Episode Transcript
parts, clients, people, critic, meditations, exiles, curious, protectors, started, trauma, world, therapy, feel, role, mdma, meditate, schwartz, therapist, question, big
Dr. Richard Schwartz, Keith Kurlander, Dr. Will Van Derveer
Dr. Richard Schwartz 00:01
One of the problems I have with resources, if you work with very severely traumatized clients is they will, they will have parts that will fight it. There are parts of those clients who don’t want you to feel good about yourself, don’t want you to have confidence. They don’t want you to heal yourself. And if you just are trying to resource the client, they’re going to backlash. They’re going to fight against it. So that’s another reason why we work with those parts upfront to get permission to feel helped the client feel good or heal.
Keith Kurlander 00:31
Thank you for joining us for The hire practice podcast. I’m Keith Kurlander with Dr. Will Van Derveer and this is the podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health. Have you ever wondered about all the different voices speaking in your head and where those voices come from? And why are they saying what they’re saying and sometimes Why are they beating each other up and not getting along? And if you’re like me, you’ve probably thought, Well, if I can only get these voices to be friends, and allies and not enemies, and maybe I get a lot further in my life. Well that’s what this whole episode is about. Today we are going to speak to the founder of internal family systems. And that’s really all about parts work and parts work is about identifying different aspects and parts of the psyche and how to have those different segmented parts or we could say fragmented parts, isolated parts, start to get along and speak to each other and love each other. To in order to love oneself more and be more productive and efficient and healthy. Today we are interviewing Dr. Richard Schwartz. Richard Schwartz began his career as a systemic family therapist and an academic and grounded in systems thinking Dr. Schwartz developed internal family systems in response to clients descriptions of various parts within themselves. He focused on the relationships among these parts and notice that there were systematic patterns to the way they were organized across clients. He also found that when the clients parts felt safe or allowed to relax, the clients would experience spontaneously the qualities of confidence, openness and compassion that Dr. Schwartz came to call the self with a capital S. He found that one in the state of self clients would know how to heal their parts. As a featured speaker for national professional organizations. Dr. Schwartz has published many books and over 50 articles about IFRS let’s Get started with Dr. Schwartz. Hi, Dick, thanks so much for being on the show.
Dr. Richard Schwartz 03:04
Great to be here, Keith.
Keith Kurlander 03:05
Yeah, great. So we do tend to like to start with more of a personal question of, you know, how you got to where you are today. Kind of specifically, like, where How did you discover parts work? And, you know, just maybe five minutes of just like, where does discovery come from? And I know your backgrounds, somewhat in family systems and very curious about that.
Dr. Richard Schwartz 03:29
Yeah. So I stumbled into it. I was go all the way back to college. I was an aide on a psychiatric unit. In the hospital, my father had a medicine and it was an adolescent unit. So these kids weren’t that much younger than me. And I would get close to them and and hear about the kind of therapy they were getting, which was pretty psychoanalytic at the time. And then, during weekends, I was on the floor when their families visit, and I would see their families tearing into them. How could you do this stuff But none of that was being talked about in their therapy. I thought there’s something wrong with this picture. And so that’s what drove me to family therapy. And I became a kind of zealot of thinking we’d found the holy grail and there’s all these people to spend their time in the inner world of psychics, you know, psychodynamic world, wasting their time, because we could change all that just by reorganizing these relationships. And to prove that once I got a real job, I decided to do an outcome study and with a colleague named Mary Jo Barrett collected about 30 bulimic kids and their families in the early 1980s and did a straight what he called structural strategic approach that in many cases we were successful with, and so I was expecting these kids to immediately start bending to my chagrin, many of them Didn’t realize they’d been cured. And they kept discouraging. And then out of frustration, I began asking why. And they started talking about these parts of them. They would say some version of there’s this critics that taps me whenever anything goes wrong in my life. And then that brings up the part that feels totally bereft and empty and alone and young and worthless. And that feeling is so distressing that almost to the rescue comes the binge, and takes me out. But the act of the binge brings back the critic who’s now calling me a pig on top of the other names. And that brings back that empty, young, desperate, worthless, or so it sounded to me similar to the family sequences. I’ve been studying and intervening into and so I got curious, but at first I was making the same mistake that most therapy is making that most all our culture makes, which is to assume these parts were what they assumed to be. And when you make that assumption, then you’re going to try and get your client to fight with the critic and stand up for themselves or to control the binge. And those, that approach just makes them stronger. And my clients were getting worse, but I didn’t know what else to do. So I found a client that I knew had extensive sex abuse history, and cut herself on her wrist and decided that I couldn’t allow that to happen on my watch. So by then I was I learned the Gestalt empty chair technique, which means you could have a client sit in one chair and talk to an empty chair across from the imagining. They were talking to that part, and then shift and be the part talking back. And because I was hearing five and six parts, I would have lots of chairs and my clients are hopping all over. And so one session I decided we’re going to really browbeat this cutting part. Until it agrees not to do it this week. And of course, after two hours of harassing the party, her doing, it finally said, Okay, I won’t cut her. And then, of course, the next session, I open the door and she’s got a massive slice down her face. And I just spontaneously emotionally collapsed. And, and said, I can’t beat you that this, this is a dangerous game. And the parts, you don’t really want to beat you. And that was the turning point in the history of this model, because I shifted out of that course and we’ve got to control you without really getting to know you. Just being curious. Okay, so why do you do this to her, and the part proceeded to tell me about how, when she was being abused, it saved her life and it would get her out of her body and would contain the rage that will get more abuse. And so then I shifted again now I’m not just gonna When I have an appreciation, the heroic role it played in her life. And I can extend that to it and she has extended to it and it burst into tears because everyone had demonized it, and tried to get rid of it. And talk more about why it still needed to do this. But as it talks about that became clear to me that wasn’t living in the present, he was still living back in those abuses and thought, you know, her father was around to do this and any moment, and that it carried what I’m going to call burdens, which are extreme beliefs and emotions that came into her during those times of abuse. And, in my exploring became clear that these things were not native to the person they came from the experience these beliefs, emotions, that they attached to these parts, almost like a virus are these specialists and then drive the activity of the parts thereafter. So As I got all that, I started to think maybe these parts are like kids in a family, because family therapy is big insight was, you can’t take an acting kid out of their family and expect them to just stop doing. You have to explore the network of relationships that kid’s trapped in, that’s forcing him into this role in the film, and then try to change that. Maybe the same thing is true with these parts. Maybe this isn’t a cutting part. Maybe it’s the part that did try to stabilize was forced into that role. Maybe the critic isn’t just a nasty parental internalization. Maybe it is also trying to protect you in some way and so on. And so and then, the other big discovery, for lack of a better word is as I began to get clients to, to start to dialogue with these parts, and I’m, you know, I’m a family therapist, so I’m trying to have people talk to each other. I’m trying to have parts Talk the person talk to the parts. And now I know they aren’t what they seem. So I’m trying to help the person, get curious about them rather than fight with them or shame them. I’m trying to do that. And maybe I’m having my bulimic talk to her credit. And suddenly she’s furious with the critic. And I found that there was I was taught to look around the room and see if somebody isn’t covertly siding with that kid against your critical mother. Then maybe the same thing is happening in the center system. Maybe as she’s trying to get to know this critic, some part that hates the critic has come in as doing the talking. I began saying, could you find the one who hates the critic? And just get it to step back in there? And to my amazement, clients would say okay, it did. So now how do you feel toward the critic it would be entirely different, was like a different person who had come up, come forward and released who was calm, who was curious and confident, and would say some version, I’m just kind of curious about why he calls me names all the time. seconds earlier hated it, or they’re terrified of it. And it’s like this new person just popped out. And actually, as they stayed, knew how to relate to the critic, other parts to in ways that will allow them to tell their secret history of how they got forced into their roles. And then from that point, we could actually start to begin to help them change. So that’s if that was five minutes or not, but that’s, that’s the history.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 11:36
Thank you. That leads into our next question about what are the most common it sounds like the critic is one of the parts that you see almost universally, I mentioned, what are some of the other things for therapists to look for in terms of types of parts that you see time and time again with trauma?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 11:55
Yeah, so you know, the critic and the other names I use Aren’t the important point they aren’t the essence of the part, the role the part is forced into. And so at some point I got curious about is there a map to this territory? Are there common roles across people, especially people with trauma. And so we do have a map now, I actually was driven to create it, because I learned the hard way, the mistakes of not having a map, because these are delicate ecologies, as you know, that you’re entering. And so when I was interviewing people about their parts, only hear about parts that were very vulnerable, and carry burdens of terror or emotional pain or sense of being totally worthless, and seem to be stuck in dreadful places in the past, and it made sense that that’s what we needed to heal. So I would work to Get there as soon as I could. And there are techniques that can do this really quickly, like EMDR, and things like that. But I would find that my clients were having pretty dreadful experiences immediately after our sessions, had a client get into a car wreck and said she just didn’t see the car, or, like 104 and 103 fever. And at some point, I started playing two together, and there’s something I’m doing wrong here. And this is dangerous, you know, I come from a medical family, which is first do no harm. So I almost backed away from the whole phenomenon just, you know, quit. But then I got curious. I started asking, What am I doing wrong here. And I was taught by my clients that I was going to these what I’ve come to call exiled parts of them, without permission from the parts that didn’t want them or anybody else going to these parts and they were being punished by those what we call protectors are the violation of the rules. And once I got that, then, you know, as a family therapist, it all made more sense. It’s like going into a family and throwing open the closets and getting all the dirty laundry. Yeah, right away without any, you know, carrying or connection to the parents. So that’s what we find that we’ve all had experiences, that before the trauma or before the attachment injury. Were playful inner children, happy, creative, delighted, or loving, have on intimacy get hurt, because they’re our most sensitive parts. They get the hurt the most by those traumas. And once they get hurt or terrified or feel ashamed, and carry that burden, we don’t want anything to do with them anymore because they have the power to pull us back into those times and make us feel as bad as we did them. And so to avoid that He will lock them away and enter basements or business or caves and try our best to just move on and everybody around us, including therapists often tell you to just move on, you know, don’t look back can’t change what happened. Let it go, don’t be so sensitive. So, as a result, we all have a bunch of these exiles. So after the exiles, it’s insult to injury, the injury was the trauma, and then the insult is our abandoning of them. So they’re really hurting, they’re really wrong. And we’re really scared of them. And so then we have all these protectors, before they became protectors, were just doing their fun, valuable roles, sometimes their advisors and their, you know, their, their sort of sentries and so on. But once you get a bunch of exiles, they’re forced into becoming protectors in a big way. And some of them are going to manage your life. So that nothing ever triggers the exiles. So they’re big into control. They’re big. It’s not letting anybody get close enough to trigger you not letting people you depend on get to distance. They’re into controlling your appearance so that you don’t get rejected, controlling your performance. So you get a lot of accolades. And because of all that, and they’re because there’s so much to control, they often become these critics inside because they don’t know what else to do, but to yell at you to try and get you to behave. So you’ll stay say, we call them the managers, they’re trying to manage your life so that your exiles don’t get triggered. And so they stay contained. And some of them are these critics, some of them are caretakers, for example. They just take care of everybody else and don’t let you take care of yourself. There’s a whole wide range of common manager roles. Sometimes they’re the hyper vigilant ones, sometimes you know, those kind of things. So long a bunch of managers they got us through graduate school. You know, they have their role. And then because they can’t always protect us, because the world has a way of bypassing or getting through those defenses and triggering the exiles, there’s another set of parts whose job is to handle that emergency. And they’ll go into action immediately. If an exile gets triggered, to either douse the flames or get you higher than the flames of emotion or distract you until it burns itself out. We call them firefighters because they’re fighting this fire of emotion. And they, you know, often are that you might expect the parts to get into rage and take you into addictions or all kinds of compulsive behaviors, and they don’t care about the collateral damage to your body or to your relationships because they know they’re just got to deal with this or you’re going to die. That’s the thing. Thank you. So we all have managers and firefighters. So that’s The map is pretty simple. There are these protectors, one class of which we call manages the other firefighters based on whether it has their what whether their role is designed to preempt the trigger themselves or react to it after it’s happening. And they’re both trying to contain and protect exiles. And then we have this self, which I forgot to mention the name, I came to call that person who kept popping up with all these great qualities. But for many people we work with initially that self has been totally obscured by these parts who would take it over? Because they don’t trust us anymore. Because stuff couldn’t protect you when you’re young. And they’re like family therapy. We used to call them prettified inner children. They’re having to take on the responsibility of running your life, despite the fact that they’re just little kids, most of them. So long answer your question.
Keith Kurlander 19:00
really helpful. Thank you. You said the word trauma a number of times, particularly, we’re talking about these exiled parts. And I’m curious, like, if you if you see IFS as a trauma modality,
Dr. Richard Schwartz 19:12
it’s become a trauma modality. Yeah, it’s very popular in the trauma world. But for me, it’s, that’s not all it is. It’s much bigger than that. Yes, it’s become a very popular channel now.
Keith Kurlander 19:24
And that let’s unpack the self, a good amount of had a good amount of exposure to your work. I’m very curious about the concept of the self with the capital S. And so is this a spiritual concept for you? Is it a metaphysical concept for you? Is it a personal concept? I’m curious to hear more about your thoughts about the self?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 19:47
Yeah, you know, if I heard myself saying this, even 20 years ago, I’d be shocked. But yeah, it has become quite a spiritual idea for me, when I first stumbled onto it in the process. I described earlier, I struggled because I’d been taught like probably both of you that for anybody to have that those kind of resources inside that kind of ego strength, they had to have a certain kind of parenting critical stage in their development as an attachment theory. And absent that they had to get in from some external relationship. They’re not you’re not born, basically. Right. And here, I was working with people that not only didn’t have good enough parenting, but had been tortured on a daily daily basis, and still in enough parts, open spaces the same down south and show up. I couldn’t square that with traditional psychology. So, you know, I come from basically an atheistic scientific family. So, but I had some students that would say, you know, this sounds kind of like, Buddha nature. This sounds kind of like, online and Hinduism was kind of the soul Christ consciousness. And so I started to look into those other traditions and found that not only does it sound like but the basically describing the same thing in different words every, every especially the contemplative sides of every legit tradition, have words for this and describe it physically exactly the same. And so then I did start to think maybe this is more of a spiritual thing that can’t be damaged. It turns out a champion damage is in everybody. And as you unpack it, it just starts to appeal. And so that’s what I see now.
Keith Kurlander 21:40
Is this in your framework for the visual people out there is the self at the center of the personality structure, is it just another part in a wheel? How do you frame that now?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 21:51
Yeah, so it’s it is more like maybe the sun with the planets as parts circling around, but also blending with and that’s part of the issue. Two parts can obscure. So, I will be called blending so that there are times where if I get really angry with my wife, for example, there goes compassion, there goes curiosity, there goes courage. There goes all those agencies. I’m left with this sort of seething, angry part of me that and that parts eyes, she looks ugly to me to let her hear this. So that would be that angry part, having blended with me so thoroughly that it obscures myself. And I, you know, used to think oh, my God, my stuff is gone. But it turns out, it’s sort of like the eclipse of the sun. Once the moon moves past it, self still there’s shining brightly. So that’s the idea that it’s always there. And just beneath the surface of these parts, so unlike a lot of those traditions I mentioned, you don’t have to meditate 20 years to get to it. All you need to do Convinced these parts it’s safe to open space for.
Keith Kurlander 23:03
That’s one more follow up question and I’m gonna pass the mic to will about the self. I’m assuming that the other individual parts we’re speaking of are unique to the human being in terms of the way they speak. And there’s a uniqueness, a unique quality to each part to that person. Is that is the self, actually a collective self? That it’s not unique at all to any individual? Or is it unique to the individual?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 23:30
Yeah, it’s a very interesting question. So first of all, when they’re in their extreme roles, they’re far less unique. So critics basically say the same thing across people and so on and so on. But what’s released from those roles once unburdened and they can be who they’re designed to be, yes, there’s a tremendous amount of uniqueness, which is beautiful. It’s really wonderful. What’s the basis, human and different and then there is the self that is more collective thing because it does show up in the same way and everybody pretty much. And for me, it’s a kind of field, if you can think about it that way where it can be Particlized, it can kind of be in one of us. And we’ll have boundaries and feel like we’re separate. But if you meditate certain ways or take MDMA, or you know, ketamine or something like that, you’ll enter this wave state, where you lose your individuality and your non dual. And for me, it’s the same self, it’s just a different manifestation of self. There’s the particle in the way like a photon, quantum physics. So, again, it’s a long answer to the question. It’s a bit of a complicated question. But yes, it’s more something we all share, which is why it does show up pretty much in the same way throughout humanity, which is somewhat very profound,
Dr. Will Van Derveer 24:57
you know, it’s interesting that you brought up ketamine and MDMA, because Keith and I run a clinic in Boulder, where we do a lot of ketamine assisted psychotherapy. And the kind of protocol that we run for the therapy is largely based on being mentored by Michael Midhoffer and the maps protocol for MDMA psychotherapy,
Dr. Richard Schwartz 25:21
That’s great. Michael teaches some IFS, right?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 25:23
Yes, he wrote the protocol for maps for the MDMA psychotherapy, and there’s a large amount of IFS in there and I as an MDMA therapist, I found it incredibly effective to work with parts in this kind of view. We’re talking about this kind of transcendent, wave like place of resource. I’m curious if you where you see the future of, I would say maybe psychedelic psychotherapy with IFS,
Dr. Richard Schwartz 25:50
you know, my goal is for IFS to become the map to that territory. Because I don’t think there really is a map at this point and IFS has many advantages. So I felt very, very validated when Michael started doing this work and show me some of the videos because As you’ve seen, probably without any cueing from therapists, people just start doing IFS they just started working with their parts. Absolutely. The actual stuff and they just start doing it spontaneous, totally spontaneous. So it really reassured me that I had just stumbled onto something that everybody knows how to do, if they can get certain parts out of the way and the medications, psilocybin and I mean, the MDMA and ketamine access a lot of stuff, they help protectors relax for some reason. You’re doing two different ways. ketamine, you kind of leave your body. Coming back, you’re in a lot of cell and then MDMA you just in your body and a lot of self, hugely open heart. And then your parts feel welcome. And that’s why they pop up and Michael can track that in his early studies and found over 70% of this clients spontaneously started doing well. So, yeah, I really want it to be the map to the territory, partly because it’s so much helps. If you understand these are protectors that Come on, and you don’t panic when somebody has a panic attack or has a psychotic break, or something like that, and you In fact, help the client stay in self and get to know whatever that is that came up, and then you prevent the backlash by working up front with protectors and and there’s a lot of unburdening that you can do when you’re in that state. So anyway, that’s one of my big goals and I’m not sure I’m glad Michaels support
Dr. Will Van Derveer 27:40
Yeah, that I mean, ever since I came across your work about 20 years ago, it It felt like almost like a homecoming for me because as a younger guy in college, I was studying ritual and cultural anthropology and how altered states and indigenous culture seem to accelerate the processing of grief and trauma on things and, and I was wondering, I’ve always wanted to ask you this. I’m so happy to have this opportunity to ask you. Were you aware of the shamanic sort of perspective on healing and soul retrieval, soul soul loss? Was that a part of your thinking in the beginning?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 28:23
Not at all in the very beginning. So yeah, I was, you know, I didn’t know from parts, I didn’t know anything. So I really just learned it from my clients, but I don’t know how many years into it, maybe three or four years into it. I attracted a student named Michi rose, who studied in shamanism. And she started pointing out these parallels and first I thought, oh my god, I just saw on there. We discovered their wheel. Then I started now there are some differences and I you know, I read Sandra was work and several of the other writers at the time. Yeah, it did seem like simply by having a client focus on a part, you are entering the same world they took people into. And they do it through drums and chanting and you know, other methods, but all seemed like the only thing you needed was just to focus on a part, and boom, you’re in this world. And they would describe it in a fairly similar way in terms of what they encountered. Although, you know, they would talk about soul retrieval as a piece of your soul that was, you know, that’s an exile. But they didn’t have similar words for protectors that are more or transmitted. And they, when they did the soul retrieval, they would rely on what they call the spirit guide to do it rather than on so. Right. So one of the big distinctions I’ll make is that, uh, one of the big goals of our class is what I call the restoration of trust of the parts in self leadership. comes when the self is the one who goes into the scene and takes that little kid and brings them back and holds them song. So that’s one big difference. And there, there are a number of others. But yeah,
Dr. Will Van Derveer 30:13
I think that’s a really important difference in terms of the agency, and the self wholeness that comes with doing heavy lifting of that hurting child or
Dr. Richard Schwartz 30:26
Keith Kurlander 30:28
Curious about in the early days, where did you have any concern that you were sort of dancing in the Multiple Personality realm? I mean, I know it’s called something different now. But are you concerned you might be colluding with the separation of parts or and then how do you frame that now in terms of parse work, and the spectrum of DID and how do you frame all that now?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 30:52
Yeah, so I was in those early days at a place called the Institute for juvenile research, which is part as part of Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois in Chicago, which was a very psychoanalytic department at the time. And initially, when I when I started talking this way, and I had a couple of clients who would talk about their parts as if they had a huge amount of autonomy, and could take over at any time. And when they did, it would be this totally different person, and all kinds of things to say. And so at first, I did get scared that maybe these these clients are sicker than I thought. And then I started listening inside myself. Oh my God, I’ve got them too. And so a minor is extreme about food and other issues is theirs that calmed me down and then I and I did try to present this to the Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds several times and got just attacked around that issue that you brought up because this was a department that was very collusion. You know what that Coca Cola had this big fear of fragmented people. And that was the big accusation by having having clients focus on these parts. You’re further fragmenting. And one of the leaders tried to get me fired and a lot of scars from those days. And so yeah, I had to confront that too and point out how people come in pretty fragmented. You know, they’ve got they know their parts, and they know their parts are pretty polarized and pretty out there. We’re going to these parts and rounding them up and bringing them back home, which is integrative, not fragmented. Now, in the process, I looked, as I said, I learned the hard way, you can further fragments people, if you don’t, if you’re not respectful of the ecology. And I suspect that that’s part of what it happened. They weren’t and so they did fragment people more. And so then they thought, just mucking around with the idea. Vigo states will fragment people.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 33:01
know, as we were preparing for this conversation, I watched a few videos of you on YouTube. And one of the things that jumped out at me as something that I didn’t know about is was this, this concept of doing meditations. That was not a part of the model that I was familiar with and wondering if you could elaborate for the audience of the part about, I guess what I’m specifically interested in is, in this world that we’re in right now, with COVID and social distancing, and therapy happening remotely? Are there ways that IFS needs to pivot or ways that people can use Fs concepts to empower themselves?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 33:42
Yeah, and we are fully with that. So let me say a couple things. First, one of the things I like best about it is that it does become a kind of life practice. And I have clients, for example, will do a intense piece of work in my office. They’ll go home. And then the next session, first 20 minutes, they’re just telling me everything they did on their own between sessions. And then we’ll pick up the laptop and take the next round. And so there are people who can do a huge amount on their own. Or there are some people who can only work with protectors, it’s too scary to it. But I’ve found myself as one of those people. I need somebody there with me when I go to an exam. But there’s a whole lot of work you can do with just with protectors that will actually change enormous things about your life. So we are wanting to bring it more to the general public. And so we’re struggling with some of that, how to do in the safe way and, and make sure people have backup if they need it, and so on. And, yeah, the meditations are a part of that. And there are people that do the meditations on a daily basis like you would if you were just meditating and in contrast to a lot of other forms of meditation. DNS respectful because there are so many meditations. I’m on a soapbox about this, this is writing that this now actually so many spiritualities that have an attitude about the ego or the monkey mind, or you know, whatever it is derogatory term they have for the parts of you that do want you to think and remember things to do and, or do have attachments to, to things in the world and material things and so on. And they really get a bad name in the spiritual field. So what I find is that once you see them as sacred inner beings, which is why I see them, and you treat them with that kind of respect, they don’t mind giving you 20 minutes to meditate, they actually can enjoy too, but if you’re dissing them and you’re fighting with them, they’re gonna fight to come back and then you got to work your ass off to be able to have this 20 minutes to yourself.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 36:06
It’s a practical matter. Kindness is so much easier. Yeah,
Dr. Richard Schwartz 36:13
You know, it’s all parallel the way you are And the inner world is the way you’re going to be in the outer world. So if you, if your mean to your parts, then you’re going to be that way to other people.
Keith Kurlander 36:23
I’m curious about the, you know, there’s a lot of therapeutic modalities out there that might have you imagine protect us, for instance, to create an inner resource during the heartbeats of work and just sort of a process of let’s imagine who might come in right now to help you and with parts work in IFRS Are you ever creating something from the imagination that maybe wasn’t there already, or is parts work really about identifying aspects of the psyche that are ever present
Dr. Richard Schwartz 36:54
is much much more of the latter. And part of this is because we don’t find the need for Those kind of, I think they called resources, because of so so those systems, don’t know about self, don’t know how to access it. But when you when you know about self and can access it, that’s pretty much all you need. You don’t need extra people coming in or anything like that. So, you know, that might sound arrogant, but that’s been my experience. And the other let me just say one other thing. One of the problems I have with resources, if you work with very severely traumatized clients, is they will, they will have parts that will fight it. There are parts of those clients who don’t want you to feel good about yourself. Don’t want you to have confidence don’t wants you to heal yourself. And if you just start trying to resource the client, they’re gonna backlash they’re gonna fight against it. So that’s another reason why we work with those parts of trying to get permission to feel the client feel good or heal whatever they do.
Keith Kurlander 37:58
Yeah, I think of a lot of things. different modalities, you talk about presence as a part of the healing agent and itself, itself a mindfulness of presence that’s occurring. Is that what self is?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 38:10
Yeah, that’s a reasonable question. So, for me, mindfulness is a good first step in the sense that as you separate from your thoughts and emotions, which are, you know, from most of those perspectives and thought to be ephemeral, as you separate from them, you’re accessing more. So now, my position is, in contrast to most Mindfulness Therapy, or therapy, it isn’t compassionate, to watch suffering beings parade by without trying to help. And yet, most of those approaches, basically do that you become a passive witness, who are watching your thoughts and emotions pray, why because they don’t think of them as suffering intervene. So that would be the difference. The second step is to Follow your compassion and actually engage with them and try to help them and hold them and comfort them. Give them a lot of love and help them transform.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 39:08
And that perspective really resonates with me in terms of the bystander role in trauma, which feels kind of in this conversation about mindfulness feels connected in with tenancy, I’ve noticed in myself as a meditator to sometimes dissociate rather than meditate. I’m curious about is meditation part of the integration process with an NFS?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 39:31
Yeah, although it needs to be integrated. So you got me on these rants that I’m on these days, spirituality, but there are too many people use meditation or other spiritual things, as what john Redwood called way back in the 80s. Spiritual bypass. Yes. And so it becomes just another firefighter activity or manager activity to keep you away from the zones. It might be that when you were meditating, and as I was starting to come up, and so the spiritual bypass meditating part took you out associated you. And I’ve had that experience. I’ve done a lot of have lots of patients who have meditators. And as we head toward their exiles, suddenly this thing, I just feel peaceful. I feel really good. I feel happy and calm and I get that part to step out doesn’t have to take you there right now.
Keith Kurlander 40:33
What are some of the signals you’re looking for? imparts work along this concept of we could say spiritual bypassing where we could sort of sophisticatedly dissociate from the part or the experience. What are some of the signals you’re looking for to see if somebody is actually working the part or they’re actually sort of disassociating from the process?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 40:56
Yeah. So you know, we have this question. If I was to have you focus on a part, my next question would be how do you feel toward it? And an answering that question, you’re going to tell me how much of yourself is present. So it’s not just the words, it’s also the tone of voice and expression on your face. So, South has a kind of signature. It includes those hc words and other other qualities and kind of tone of voice and a kind of look. And so I’m watching for that all the time. And there are what we call self like parts, some of the, you know, spiritual bypass parts of that, but there are other kinds who are managers, and they’re just trying to keep you one degree removed from your body and your feelings. Because they’re afraid that you can’t handle it. But they, they can talk a good game, they can kind of seem like a lot of therapists do therapy from that place, right. So believe we’ve come to get a pretty good nose for when those parts are doing it for you and the other, like, if I were to say, Keith, I’d like you to go into that scene and be with that little boy, the way he needed somebody, which is the first step of the retrieval. And you said, okay, they’re there. So what do you mean? You see yourself there. If you see yourself that’s not yourself, at some part, trying to do it for you. So ask them to step back and tell me when you are there such that you don’t see yourself. You see the boy and your surroundings but you’re there. So self is your seat of consciousness and that sense you can’t see yourself.
Keith Kurlander 42:43
I’m curious on one of the this meditations concept for you know, getting this out more to the public. And if you’re designing the type of meditation that gets a person connected to self and their parts, what types of Things would you tell people to do for a meditation practice? And there’s so many right in terms of meditation practices, or somatic meditations, there’s more visual meditations. I’m curious, what would be useful for this type of work?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 43:15
Yeah, well, I have a, I used to be a CD, I guess now you downloaded eight meditations on our website. So they all have different purposes. Some are designed to help you find parts, some are designed to help you access. So actually, some of those we just gave inside timers, so people can actually access that for free now, I think some of it, and I forgot your original question, but
Keith Kurlander 43:38
Well, I guess you’re speaking to most of it, and then just maybe some specific meditation practices you’ve designed here to get more in contact with self. Let’s start there.
Dr. Richard Schwartz 43:49
Yeah. So basic one like that we call the trail meditation path meditation. So I would say to you put yourself at the base. Have a path and have all your parts be there with you. And then ask them to let you go out on the path and they stay there days. And just wait for you to return you promise them you will return you organize things. So the ones that are scared and taken care of by the ones who aren’t. And then you head out on this path. Again, not such that you watch yourself, you’re just there on the path. And people find that they’ll catch parts as we go and ask them to go back to the maze. But increasingly, they begin to experience more and more pure self or pure experience. where they’ll feel a sense of well being sense of everything’s okay. Sense of all the eight C’s, lack of any kind of self consciousness, and so on. And then when they get a real good hit of that and we’ll have them go back to the base and and be with their parts from there. This place and parts always respond in a really good way. Have you come back more differentiated? So that’s just one example.
Keith Kurlander 45:10
It reminds me some of the sort of concept of hypnotic induction of it. Do you ever frame that there’s there’s sort of a hypnotic state, unnecessary and suggestibility, but there’s a narrowing of the focus and creating a relaxation in the brain. And is there an element of hypnosis in this world?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 45:33
You know, people would say, you’ve got somebody in a trance, but like you said, We don’t use any suggestions or it’s not like classical hypnosis at all, many ways. For me, it’s much more akin to the shamanic stuff we were talking about. Cuz for me, and this might sound weird, awesome, but for me, this is a literal other world kind of alternatives, world that literally exists. Since you’re entering, it’s not a creations not a magic place. And what you do in that world has a big impact on what happens in this world.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 46:11
So more of the shift into a different mode or attending to the inner landscape. Is that rather than nodding?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 46:21
Yes. And rather than provide direction directives or suggestions, we’re just kind of along for the ride we’re following. There are times where I’ll provide some guidance. But more and more stuff is more and more present. People just start telling me what they’re doing many of my sessions. No good. 70% of the session, I’m smiling. My client is just telling me everything they’re doing on their own. And at the end of the therapy, they say some version of you know, you’re a pretty good therapist, but I healed myself. And that’s what we’re shooting for. You know, I had, especially in the beginning, I had something to do with it, but afterwards, it’s mainly my presence. And, and you know, because I can access a lot of stuff as a therapist, my presence is powerful. It’s like powerful medicine like MDMA, something, you know, protect you relax, and they pulls out there. So and so that’s, you know, that’s a whole nother topic, because that’s the presence of the therapist. Now, if this works with that,
Dr. Will Van Derveer 47:33
well, it’s, I think, probably as a purely as a scientist, I would say it’s probably mediated by similar signaling in oxytocin. Right, another powerful presence of a therapist. The effects of MDMA both are really creating a field effect that where the oxytocin allows for more trust and bonding and receptivity and openness. Whole nine minutes
Keith Kurlander 48:01
Yeah, well as we wrap up, Dick, how can people learn more about IFS? And anything that’s operate now you want them to know about?
Dr. Richard Schwartz 48:11
Yeah, on our website IFS, hyphen, Institute com (ifs-institute.com), and all our trainings and other events are on it, as well as a store where you can get that meditation CD I mentioned that. Lots of books and other things. We have now converted all of our trainings online, and, you know, with some trepidation and turns out, it’s going very well so far. So I’m really relieved about that. And, you know, it may, you know, I think there’s a lot of things that are going to change because of this, this crisis. And, for me, that’s one I used to travel. I would say between 65 and 70% of the time, I was on my home. It turns out I like being at home. I like being with my wife. So I’m committed to doing more of this kind of stuff. Rather than being on airplanes all the time.
Keith Kurlander 49:09
It’s great. Well, we always end with a question that you might find interesting, which is, if you had a billboard that every human being would see at one point in their lifetime, and it just has a message on there you go, you know, we’ve got your paragraph, your one message that every person would get to see once, what would you tell them? Oh, that’s
Dr. Richard Schwartz 49:28
a good question, um, would be a combination of self heals, and there are no bad parts.
Keith Kurlander 49:35
Great. Well, Dave, thanks so much for being on the show. Again, just so appreciate the value brought to my own professional work and personally to dealing with a very fragmented psyche over time and your work has been instrumental in my own personal journey of getting oriented into a state of order. So again, thanks so much for everything you’ve done.
Dr. Richard Schwartz 50:00
I’m honored to hear that Keith and I’m honored by both your and Will’s interest in this work. This has been a delightful conversation for me and I’m so happy to do it again anytime.
Keith Kurlander 50:13
Well, that was a great deep dive into the human psyche. And it’s so interesting just the way that the mind can split up into islands. That where our personality becomes fractured, and not whole and injured. And how cool though, is it that there’s an entire system out there and a very knowledgeable human being on Well, how do we get these fractured parts of oneself these fragmented parts, these isolated parts, these very alone parts, these angry parts, these broken parts, these hurt parts to communicate with each other again, To come around a central identity called the Self and to begin that journey and healing process. Now if you want more information from us on really great cutting edge material, videos, newsletters, audios, all kinds of stuff on how to optimize your mental health visit email that’s psychiatry Institute calm, but email dot psychiatry’s calm and that’s where you can leave your email address and we will immediately start sending you some really great information to help you further along the journey whether you’re a provider, or you’re an individual just interested in this work of living a more optimal life. We look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the higher practice podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.