In 2007, I was inpatient the majority of the year and, I was taught many different skills and exposed to different kinds of therapy. Nevertheless, no matter where I went all the therapists were pushing this containment thing.

I grappled with this idea of containment for nearly all of my hospitalizations.

I viewed containment like this: when “things” (I guess feelings/memories or whatever) get too big you should regulate the intensity of the “things” to a manageable level.

However, my first hospitalization occurred as a result of 15+ years of repression. So, truthfully my insiders were so tired of repressing things. I concluded that DID, I feel is a form of containment in itself.

I always wonder why if I lived life somewhat successfully as a multiple for 15+ years  and why now do I fall apart. I think that the answer for me is that my body and my mind could not contain my memories any longer. The containment reached a point where it did not suffice me any longer.

So, when most of the mental health faculties were telling/teaching me this idea of containment, my parts were totally against it. I think the reasons that my flashbacks were so intense for so long was because my therapists at the time were pushing this idea of containment.

I think that there is a good side to containment however when does containment turn into denial.

Pushing things down so much as to now, one does not know what they are feelings. And I’m not talking about being numb here, I’m saying more of identification of specific emotions and giving yourself permission to feel them.

I am all for being functional and pacing but I feel that there is a time and a place for everything. I think that some level of “un-containment”? (I can’t find a better word for the opposite for containment) is necessary for some people.


12 thoughts on ““Un-Containment”

  1. I totally agree. You Ned to be in a safe place of course, but sometimes it’s so helpful to just FEEEEL it when you’re not sitting jn therapy right? Our biggie is the rage. We go in the bedroom and beat our fists on the bed and throw/kick pillows around. Helps!

    • Yeh, you are totally right. I think that learning to feel whatever I was/am feeling is what made me unstuck. I think it also has to be the right time. And you need supportive people. I have a therapists that is way cool and she thinks different than anyone I have ever worked with. But I think that now most of my therapy takes place outside of sessions. But yes, a safe space is a must. Take Care.

  2. It do not believe I could have survived with out rejecting the pace and containment concept. I feel that it has been critical to my healing. I expect it is valid or the majority of people and that is why it is pushed so hard. Allowing that it it possible that those that practice the containment and pacing do so and can never heal.

    I am not as angry at the mental health field for not understanding. I have come to accept that RA is different and there is not much known about it. Mkultra is different as is the trauma being extrafamarial.

    I was very lucky to go to McLean’s Hospital. After the intake they were able to understand that I was working very hard and they did not understand.

    What I think is a great McLean’s story. My case worker was not able to work with me. She came up to me and told me so. I said you finally drew a long straw huh? She smiled. I said “Could you do me a favor and tell my treatment team I know what I am doing?” She replied “I already have.”

    To be clear there all lots of professionals at McLean’s that believe they understand. I told one doctor “I think the problem is you think you are the smartest person in the room and that may not be true.”

    I have spent the last 10 days figuring out the Rubic cube. Hours and hours. Would seem like this has no purpose. I can not explain it. It was very very important.

    As you are a student you may find this concept interesting. I call it the body of knowledge hierarchy or the foreign car syndrome. Foreign cars are only more complicated to those to whom they are foreign.

    With CPTSD/DID, I think, which is different than believing that the body of knowledge is biased toward females where the trauma started at the upper end of the age limit where CPTSD/DID can develop. A constructive criticism. I feel, which is different than thinking that strong psychoanalytic practices with expressive therapy negates this and all other biases. This is not a worse than thing, it is a it is different thing.

    I am proud of you for going your own way and it helps to know that your do and it works.

    Much of what the mental health field tried to teach me to do I already had accomplished by being multiple.

    • I could only imagine how much it helped when the case worker at McLean’s Hospital acknowledged your hard work. I think that “foreign car syndrome” is the best description of the misunderstanding.

      Rubiks cube, totally brilliant. Yeah, I think it could be the puzzle within a puzzle thing. But I think even when one solves the puzzle it only turns out to be a facade and then it becomes a puzzle again. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement to think outside the box. Take Care.

  3. Awesome post… Science and nature are filled with what are called tipping points… it’s natural for them to happen in psychology.

    As for the containment… it’s important, I think, to balance containment and uncontainment, and this is how we heal.

    • I think balance is so important in everything. Finding it though is not. I have this really awesome professor and his class causes me to question everything, totally made me do a re-eval of my where I am going and where I want to be. Take Care.

  4. I know I’ve said this several times to you, and I think I may have made a relevant comment about what you’ve called “un-containment”, but I think in my recovery, it’s necessary. I stuffed everything for so long that my other aspects of selfs were mere whispers. I had stuffed everything and also squished my insiders bc I thought I was going absolutely crazy. I wasn’t just avoiding absolutely everything, every trauma, every ounce of pain, I was stuffing into a pretty box w a beautiful crinoline bow. Funny, as you know, I talked to my step-mom the other day & let a lot pour out. I thought that I had created “the box”… but she told me, “remember when you were younger, and I told you to put everything in a pretty box and tuck it in the back of the closet? Apparently that works for some, and it worked for you for some time.” But not now.

    So I visually stuffed everything in a box as different pains came my way, until a few years ago the ugliness of what was in it became overwhelming. First it seeped, then it spilled over, and lastly it exploded. I’ve been dealing with the explosion for two years. But, at least I’m (for the most part) emotionally congruent, and learning how to feel my feelings whether they’re in the context of a flashback or not. The more I shove them away, the bigger they become. Since I checked myself into the hospital a few months ago, I came to realize that as absolutely horribly it hurt, I could ride out the wave of the flashback, and my feelings won’t kill me. They definitely feel like they will, but logically I have seen that they don’t. So, do I believe containment has its place? Yeah, sure. Does it play a large part in my recovery? Only when I’m in a public place. Otherwise, I’ve found that safely riding the wave and knowing I’ll come out the other side has been incredibly healing for me. Thank you for sharing what you did, Hope.

    Love, <3
    Joy, et al.

    • I agree. But I don’t like the idea of a pretty little box to hold feelings. If I going to put feeling in a so called box its going to be a really ugly box to match my feelings. My feeling aren’t pretty so why am I putting them in a little pretty box. I don’t get it, or I am just to angry to be rational right now. Either was I love you.

  5. Nothing lives in that pretty little box anymore. That pretty little box never should have been suggested to me or created. I didn’t know any better, I was little when it was made. Now I think my box would have thorns, soft velvet; and lots of other textures defining my feelings. No damn aesthetically decorated box with crinoline. And my containment box currently involves a bank vault with fingerprint and eyescan. It’s my anger that lives in there… and I don’t want it to consume my life & since it’s mine–I’m not too keen on sharing it with anyone, especially the source of the anger. I think you’re totally right and rational to want a box that matches your true feelings. If the pretty box still existed today, I would smash it and stomp all over it like a small child having a tantrum.

    I love you too.

  6. I hope you don’t mind, but I have linked to this post in my sidebar where i am collecting the similar stories of other survivors. As I’m sure you see even from the comments you have received here, you are certainly not alone in having been made to feel much worse by an invalidating therapy technique.

  7. Containment, yeah, that is the issue for me. I have known so many survivors who were coerced into containment when their whole life and whole system was a containment. Often I would hear how there had to be something else entirely to deal with what was coming up. Allowing feelings to emerge and to be, that is what helped me. Allowing the memories to come, instead of running from them. Allowing myself to be were huge, and then I was forced into DBT and got shut down, even though I was highly functional. I got shamed and judged and put into a box. I’m sorry that you went through such unhealing methods. Me too. Good and healing thoughts to you.


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