Co-Consciousness and The K’s
I want to talk about co-consciousness since I experience it so often. Co-consciousness is described as two or more parts (or alters) being present together and knowing it and cooperating with each other. It refers to the level of shared awareness of existence between the host personality and the alters. The host personality, for some people, is the same as their birth personality. For others, it is the personality which most often runs the body, handling the day-to-day functioning of the system as a whole. Some people have more than one host personality, or a sub-system of alters who function as host personalities, either singly or in groups. (I seem to have more than one host but we’re still exploring this in therapy).
Levels of co-consciousness vary from total lack of knowledge of others in the system to complete co-consciousness where every alter knows to some degree what each alter and the host personality are doing or thinking. Just hearing voices is a low level form of co-consciousness. I am lucky enough to have a high level of co-consciousness. I can very often hear and think and feel what my alters are experiencing at the same time as I hear and feel my own thoughts. I’ve been experiencing it my whole life, and so I am familiar with many, but not all, of my parts. I just didn’t realize any of this was abnormal until I was nearly 30.
I’m told that co-consciousness is an important part of healing and indicates progress in therapy. This is something we (those with DID) are all supposed to strive for more of. It’s true that the longer I’m in treatment for DID, the more I experience co-consciousness. (It often happens during a therapy session) But I’ve experienced varying degrees of co-consciousness for most of my life. In fact, it’s because of this that I sometimes doubt my diagnosis; I think that if I’m aware of the other K(s), then I’m not really a proper multiple. I’ve been told other multiples have these same feelings of doubt. I’ve struggled with denial of my diagnosis since the term DID was first attached to my name in 2004. I just seem to think I’m too aware of the K’s to actually have DID. I mean, they’re so real, can they truly be just pieces of my mind? Maybe I’m just very imaginative. And so the denial and the doubts persist.
Being co-conscious, for me, is a mixture of something scary and something reassuring, all rolled into one. I feel somewhat out of control, which is unnerving, yet there is someone with me, helping me or talking to me or just guiding me through the motions of the day-to-day, and that feels comforting. Once I was officially diagnosed with DID in January of this year, my other parts began to come forward. My psychiatrist says this is because we “opened the floodgates”, and now each of them wants to present herself (or himself!) and be seen and heard. Now that I’m more educated on the how’s and why’s of co-consciousness, I’m beginning to accept it and be comfortable experiencing it. To be perfectly honest, sometimes I even enjoy it-I’ve grown fond of some of the K’s. Each time it happens, it’s an opportunity for me to get to know one (or more) of the alters better, hence getting to know myself better, and it’s one step closer to understanding and acceptance of my DID diagnosis.