Trigger Warning: Mention of death (of an Alter)
This is a topic that has been on my mind for a while now. I speak to many Systems and see many other Systems discuss this in forums and I've noticed that a lot of people get the two mixed up. So I want to break it down into simple terms and clarify the difference between them.
Some Systems are terrified of the integration process because they are worried they will "lose" the Alters. The good news is that this isn't the case. Let's look at what Integration actually is and compare it to Fusion.
Integration is the first step towards healing. Integration is when the amnesic barriers between Alters that formed out of necessity in order to protect the person from the painful and harmful memories begins to break down. This is a good thing, but for obvious reasons can be quite scary too. Integration does not mean the Alters will disappear. It is the first and necessary step towards becoming a whole person, but it does not mean you have to be a whole person. If what you all most desire is Functional Multiplicity this is perfectly okay and acceptable and reasonable. If you want the amnesic barriers to come down between Alters but do not want to completely merge to form a single personality, that is entirely your choice.
Integration and Fusion are very closely linked within the D.I.D. terminology. They are very similar, but they have differences.
The dictionary defines the word integrate as two things combining to form a whole, and I believe that's where the confusion lies. But in the world of D.I.D. integration is more about those barriers that separate two Alters breaking down so that both Alters have shared memories and experiences, and that is very much like forming a "whole" but with differences.
When people talk about integration in a D.I.D. context, they usually are referring to Fusion.
Fusion is when two or more Alters merge into another Alter (or Host/Core) or merge together to form a new Alter. It's interesting to note that in order for Fusion to be successful, integration must first occur, however, Fusion does not have to happen for integration to occur. The Alters can remain as they are; separate identities.
It's interesting to note that Alters can re-split in stressful situations, so in essence, de-fuse. This has happened to us. It wasn't a pleasant experience, but we survived it, and although it takes some adjusting, or readjusting, it's not the end of the world and shouldn't be seen as a step backwards in your healing.
Jess from Multiplicity and Me explains integration and fusion really well in one of her videos, which I will link down below. It's well worth watching.
In our System, we have experienced both Fusion and Integration, and they have been very different. We have had the amnesic barriers between Alters break down, but the Alters remained as individuals. And we've had two Alters fuse together to form a new Alter. We've also had a large number of Alters fuse into our former Core personality. Lots of manoeuvring within the System on our journey towards healing. There is no right or wrong way for healing. It's a personal journey and yours alone.
I want to touch on the topic of death here. Some people are worried that an Alter has died or that a Persecutor wants to kill another Alter. This simply is not possible. Alters cannot die. Period. They can fuse or they can go dormant, but unless the body dies, the Alters cannot die. Sometimes when an Alter goes dormant or fuses, it can feel like they have died. But rest assured, they haven't. The only way an Alter can die is if the body dies. References:
verb verb: integrate; 3rd person present: integrates; past tense: integrated; past participle: integrated; gerund or present participle: integrating
combine (one thing) with another to form a whole. "transport planning should be integrated with energy policy"
combine (two things) so that they form a whole. "the problem of integrating the two approaches"
(of a thing) combine with another to form a whole. "the stone will blend with the environment and integrate into the landscape"
Integration vs Fusion - Multiplicity and Me
As always, thanks for reading :)