I've just discovered something and I'm pretty excited about it. For anyone here who has resonated with my writing or the perspective of conscious masochism, then I have a feeling you might be fascinated by this system as well. It's called IFS Therapy, Internal Family Systems.
It is described as a new paradigm in how we view ourselves and each other through understanding and harmonizing the mind and its different parts. They say, "we believe the mind is naturally multiple and that is a good thing. Our inner parts contain valuable qualities and our core Self knows how to heal, allowing us to become integrated and whole. In IFS all parts are welcome."
It is a system and evidence-based model of psychotherapy rooted in compassion that aims to nurture curiosity, creativity, courage, clarity and connection within ourselves by acknowledging that all of our "parts" (such as our inner masochistic, inner sadist, inner critic, etc.) developed for a reason. That these parts serve a purpose in trying to help us and we don't achieve lasting healing or wholehearted integration by condemning, ignoring or eradicating these shadow parts of ourselves. That our more immature, reactive behaviors or thoughts are symptoms of those traumatized and underdeveloped parts.
This is a beautifully insightful and powerful video by founder Dr. Richard Schwartz, describing the IFS model in a bit more detail. I highly recommend giving it a watch if this interests you.
Our inner parts are not the burden. They aren't the problem that society has been conditioned and taught to believe that they are. These inner parts developed burdens - damaging or harmful beliefs and emotions that they felt were necessary to keep us alive - but they can be unburdened.
IFS sees all of humanity has having multiple personalities, stripping away the pathology of that concept residing exclusively within a disordered label. Some of these personalities or parts inside us get stuck in roles that they don't even like through trauma or fear during our development. They say, "The non-extreme intention of each part is something positive for the individual. There are no "bad" parts, and the goal of therapy is not to eliminate parts but instead to help them find their non-extreme roles."
This revolutionary perspective has been clicking deeply within me. It makes so much sense and has been helping to validate my own inner understanding of myself. This path is just one, there are so many different modalities available to us nowadays, but if more conventional therapeutic approaches have ever left you lacking or at a loss where your masochism was concerned -whether emotional, psychological, sexual, physical or spiritual - I have a feeling this may be an effectively supportive path of healing for many of us.
Being the research lover and eternal student that I am, I will be diving deep into IFS to learn as much as I can, both for my own healing and to help shape my work here. Moving forward, it's important to me that I'm able to equally provide an experience based, philosophical perspective on what masochism means to me, but also a well-educated and diversely informed one.
I will always strive to offer as many different methods to integrating our masochistic side as possible. There is no one size fits all approach. It's our own responsibility to try things on for size and look within to find what rings true for us, at least in the present moment of our journey. I will only share tools and systems that I personally stand behind and believe in, though I don't intend to support any one system as "the answer". I wish us all the best in finding our own true answers.