Interior Integration for Catholics

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Through stories, poetry, many examples, and an experiential exercise, Dr. Peter invites you inside yourself to much more deeply understand what it means to be blended vs. integrated, and the implications of blending vs. integration in loving yourself and others all in the service of having a much deeper sense of peace and well-being.

Show Notes

  1. Intro:  It is good to be together, thank you for joining me today in this podcast episode
  2. I want to take you back 40 years with me, more than 40 years, to 1981, and share with you an experience I had as a lad, share with you a story and images of that story that will help us understand the topic of today's podcast.  So, without any further delays, its Story Time with Dr. Peter 
    1. Its early July 1981, I'm 12 years old, really skinny, about 5 foot 5, 110 lbs, very nearsighted without my glasses swimming to the green raft with my swim buddy at Camp Onaway on the Waupaca Chain of Lakes, in central Wisconsin
    2. Taking on the challenge.  I'm the lowest form of life at Boys Brigade Camp 3, A first-year boy.  I'm a FLIC--  A FLIC is an acronym that stand for "Fat Little Ignorant Camper" the term of affection, a sweet, ironic endearment bestowed on us by our fearless camp leaders.  
    3. And I’m swimming out to the raft to test my mettle with the bigger boys.  The high schoolers. 
    4. The raft -- floating platform, 12 X 12, buoyed up by sealed 55 gallon drum, anchored in 12 feet of clear water and covered with green indoor-outdoor carpeting.  
    5. That is the place where the game "King of the Raft" was played by the camp 3 FLICs of all ages and body shapes.  
    6. The objective of King of the Raft was simple.  To be the only boy left standing on the raft, with all challengers in the water.  
    7. To do that, you want to push, pull, toss, hurl, lure or otherwise maneuver all the other boys off the raft.  A sparse game would have six boys, a real showdown might have 24, ranging in age from the youngest at 12 to highly muscled 17 year old incoming high school seniors with mustaches.  
    8. Very few rules and all of them were unwritten.  The primary one was no dragging another boy along on the raft, because that indoor/outdoor carpeting can tear the skin right off your back or chest very quickly, especially if the victim is struggling with all his might, as he should be, and as was the norm,  And no choking and no hitting or kicking anyone in the groin.  That was about it.  Otherwise it was a free for all, with shoving and pushing and lunging and clinging and teams of boys working together and alliances broken by Machiavellian tricks all for the great prize of being able to stand, alone, on the raft, with all your companions in the water and to beat your chest and yell with all your might at the top of your lungs, "I am the King of the Raft!"
    9. Now occasionally, a gargantuan 16 or 17 year old would dominate the raft and be obnoxious as king, and then two of the 20 or 30 something year old camp leaders would swim out to administer a form of camp justice and dethrone the obnoxious king by heaving him in a remarkable high trajectory to a watery landing many feet from the 144 square feet of green carpeted real estate. 
    10. Then the game changed.  Then it was get the leaders time and the game moved into another phase when all the fat little ignorant campers had a chance to take on the two leaders, and a battle royale ensued with the campers on one side and the leaders on the other.  
    11. I did this for seven summers.  From 1981 to 1987, five years as a camper and two years as a leader.  And I learned a lot of life lessons on the raft, both as a skinny, vanquished, frequently airborne FLIC and as king.  
    12. So I hope I was able to create a word picture for you, some images of what it was like on the raft at Camp Onaway on the Waupaca chain of lakes in the 1980s.  We going to come back to the images of king of the raft  later in the episode.  
  3. Intro -- Welcome to Interior Integration for Catholics
    1. I’m clinical psychologist Peter Malinoski and the reason this Interior Integration for Catholics podcasts exists is to help you toward  loving God, neighbor and yourself in an ordered, healthy, holy way. -- It's about tolerating being loved, and about loving.  This podcast and especially the Resilient Catholics Community is a training ground for overcoming your natural level impediments, your psychological obstacles to accepting love from God and others and loving God, neighbor and ourselves in the best ways possible.  It all about your human formation, all about shoring up your natural foundation for the spiritual life, all about training and equipping you to follow the two great commandments -- to love God with all your being, with every part of you, and to love your neighbor.  

    1.  This is Episode 74, 

    1. Released on June 28, 2021 and titled Internal Chaos and Blending vs. Internal Peace and Integration
  5. Internal Chaos vs. Internal Peace
    1. Psychotherapist Peter Michealson describes how quote the unconscious mind of adults is buffeted by gale-force winds of emotional chaos that originated as an infantile effect decades earlier. Emotional associations from our distant past now buffet our life in incredible, mysterious, spectacular, and frequently painful and self-defeating ways.
Emotions percolate and circulate in our unconscious mind with some degree of chaos. We all know what it’s like to be happy one moment, sad the next, with no conscious input from us. We also know how hard it can be to regulate our desires, impulses, and emotional reactions. Both neuroscience and psychology have established that our brain struggles mightily and often unsuccessfully to limit the effects of irrationality. Often we try to apply common sense and reason to moderate unpleasant emotions or to curb self-defeating impulses. Yet our emotional side, with a life of its own, can often be impervious to rational entreaties.  End quote
  1. Reimagine the raft battle
    1. But instead of generally good-hearted boys working on their developmental tasks of becoming men through struggling and wrestling with each other
    1. You have players that believe that they are locked in a life and death struggle, a deadly battle for supremacy. 

    1. Think of the raft battle now as a gladiatorial contest to the death -- or following the plots of the Death Race movie series -- Jason Statham, Frederick Koehler, Ian McShane.  Five movies.  

    1. That my dear listeners, is how it is inside of us for  most of us, whether we realize it or not. 
      1. The players are our parts, remember --  those Separate, independently operating personalities within us, each with own unique prominent needs, roles in our lives, emotions, body sensations, guiding beliefs and assumptions, typical thoughts, intentions, desires, attitudes, impulses, interpersonal style, and world view.  May seem to use like modes of operating
      2. Our systems may seem quiet in the moment -- maybe one of our manager parts has a really strong hold on the raft and is able to keep the others in the water, some of the submerged, drowning, in an attempt to hold on to some pseudo stability, and function in day to day life.  But the other parts are waiting and watching for an opportunity to leap on the raft, into conscious awareness and forcibly de-throne the blended part who was king of the raft.  
      3. But underneath, the other parts are waiting, watching. Looking for an opportunity to become the king of the raft, to drive the bus, to govern the system.  

  3. Because of original sin, the sins of others, and our own personal sins, that's what it's like inside for almost everyone.
  4. Blending
    1. What is the key word here?  Blending.  

    1. Most important psychological state is to be unblended.  Let me say that again.  This is absolutely crucial.  The most important psychological state of being for us is to be unblended -- what do I mean by that?  

    1. Definition of a Blend:  
      1. Richard Schwartz and Martha Sweezy Internal Family Systems Therapy, 2nd Ed. --   The act in which a part takes over a person’s seat of consciousness, or self.  
      2. "Blending in IFS" March 7, 2010 Blog post:  Modes of Blending in IFS In IFS a part is “blended” with someone when they ARE the part as opposed to being in Self. This could mean that they feel the part’s emotions, they hold its beliefs, or their behavior in the world comes from this part.
      3. Jay Earley October 17, 2018 Blog post:  A part is blended with you and has taken over your seat of consciousness when any of the following is true:
        1. Flooded with the parts emotions
        1. Caught up in the beliefs of the part
        1. Dominated by the perspective and worldview of the part. 

        1. More in depth: 
          1. You are flooded with the part’s emotions to such a degree that you aren’t grounded. You are lost in those feelings. For example, if the part feels resentment, you are fully caught up in its anger without having any reflective distance
            1. Example -- Guy dating a woman 3 months -- she offers a gentle rebuke, a little correction -- uncomfortable with certain ways he looks at her -- seems too sexually tinged, like she's a sexual object.  Activates her, she has had bad experiences in the past.  You are feeling the part’s emotions so strongly that there is no room for other emotions. For example
              1. Overwhelmed with shame
              1.  Overwhelmed with anger -- rebuttals, desire to break off the relationship, 

          2. You are caught up in the beliefs of the part so that you lose perspective on the situation. You see the world through the distorted perception of the part. In addition, you aren’t able to recognize that this is one of many perspectives—you simply see it as the truth. If the part believes that the world is dangerous, that is the way you see the world, without any thought that you might be projecting your own beliefs onto the world.   A person is identified with the part, in that they hold its beliefs and see the world from its perspective. 
            1. inadequacy -- I'm a bad, lustful man -- see the overgeneralization, lack of perspective, the global attribution.  Shrunk himself down to one dimension -- lustful man.
            2. This relationship needs to end -- I'll not be so condemned and rejected. You're hurting me., you're mean to me.  You don't get me.  
          3.  You don’t feel enough of your Self. You don’t have enough access to a place in you that is separate from the part from which to witness it and understand it. You have no center or ground.
            1. Caught up in being just one part 

            1. Jay Earley:  For example, because a woman is blended with a judgmental part, she makes contemptuous comments to people.

    1. Blended part is now driving the bus with the self and all the other parts aboard
      1. Part that takes over your internal raft
      1. Example of Pixar moving "Inside Out" when Anger takes over the control panel
      1. Taken over by the passions -- 
        1. e.g. irascible passions, such as fear or anger.

      1. everything seen through the very limited perspective of the blended part. 
        1. If you're a hammer everything looks like a nail
          1. The earliest versions of the parable of blind men and elephant is found in Buddhist, Hindu and Jain texts, going back about 2500 years -- they discuss the limits of perception and the importance of a more complete context
          2. The rollicking American Poet John Godfrey Saxe 1872 -- The Blind Men and the Elephant Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs Fame  Leave Your Supper – 2010.  

IT was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me!—but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried: "Ho!—what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 't is mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"
The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
  1. Each blind man is experiencing something real about the elephant.  
    1. But vision is so limited
    2. Generalizations to the whole elephant are not warranted.  
    3. Devaluing each other, critical of each other
    4. Locked in conflict with each other, each trying to be pre-eminent.
  2. Three roles
    1. Exiles -- 
      1. most sensitive -- these exiles have been exploited, rejected, abandoned in external relationships
      2. They have suffered relational traumas or attachment injuries
      3. They hold the painful experiences that have been isolated from conscious awareness to protect the person from being overwhelmed with the intensity.
      4. They desperately want to be seen and known, to be safe and secure, to be comforted and soothed, to be cared for and loved
      5. They want rescue, redemption, healing
      6. And in the intensity of their needs and emotions, they threaten to take over and destabilize the person's whole being, the person's whole system -- they want to take over the raft to be seen and heard, to be known, to be understood.  But they can flood us with the intensity of their experience
      7. And that threatens to harm external relationships
      8. Burdens they carry:  Shame, dependency, worthlessness, Fear/Terror, Grief/Loss, Loneliness, Neediness, Pain, lack of meaning or purpose, a sense of being unloved and unlovable, inadequate, abandoned, 

    1. Managers
      1. These are the proactive protector parts.  They work strategically, with forethought and planning to keep in control of situations and relationships to minimize the likelihood of you being hurt.  They work really hard to keep you safe.
      1. controlling, striving, planning, caretaking, judging, 

      1. Can be pessimistic, self-critical, very demanding.  

    1. Firefighters
      1. When exiles break through and threaten to take over the system, like in Inside Out, remember the parts and the control panel?  So when these exiles are about the break out, the firefighters leap into action.
      1. It's an emergency situation, a crisis, like a fire raging in a house.
      1. No concern for niceties, for propriety, for etiquette, for little details like that.  

      1. Firefighter take bold, drastic actions to stifle, numb or distract from the intensity of the exile's experiences.  

      1. Intense neediness and grief are overwhelming us!  Emergency actions -- battle stations!   Evasive maneuvers, Arm the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!
      1. No concern for consequences -- don't you get it, we are in a crisis, 

      1. All kinds of addictions -- alcohol use, binge eating, shopping, sleeping, dieting, excessive working or exercise, suicidal actions, self-harm, violence, dissociation, distractions, obsessions, compulsions, escapes into fantasy, and raging.  

      1. Parts can take over the person

  3. Signs of blending
    1. Opposite of 8 C's
      1. Calm  -agitation, frustration, anxious, stressed, angry
      1. Curiosity -- indifferent, disinterested, seeing other parts and seeing other people in two dimensions, one dimension, or no dimensions -- Episode 72 -- nuanced vs. reductionistic understandings of ourselves and others.  

      1. Compassion -- cold, uncaring, unfriendly, hard, reserved, unsympathetic
      1. Confidence -- timid, pessimistic, doubtful and insecure
      1. Courage -- fearful, shy, faint-hearted, irresolute
      1. Clarity -- confused, muddled inside, things are obscured, dark inside, foggy, seems vague forms moving in a shadow world.  

      1. Connectedness  -- internal fragmentation, disjointed, distant, aloof
      1. Creativity  -- uninspired, inept, very conventional, repetitive futility, doing the same thing over and over again, with no different results
      1. Kindness  -- coolness, nastiness, roughness, internal violence to another part or external violence toward someone else even brutality.  

    1. Somatic signs
      1. Exiles use hte body to signal their need for help
        1. Exiles hide out in the heart or the gut and back
        1. Exiles often know of no other way to get the attention of the person

      1. Managers use the body to exert control
        1. Because managers contain, suppress, hold and freeze
        1. They tend to show up in the muscles and the fascia
          1. Joints
          1. Pelvic and respiratory diaphragms
          1. Throat and jaw
          1. Shoulders
          1. Lower back

      1. Firefighters use the body to distract from emotional pain or from overinhibition (constriction) from managers 
        1. Firefighters activate the central nervous system and the endocrine system.  
        2. Release stress hormones and are involved in hyperarousal and hypoarousal.

    1. Agenda
      1. Seeking a good end
      1. Need to control, manage outcomes
        1. Lack of respect for others' God-given freedom, their sovereignty over their choices. 

        1. Ends justify the means.

      1. Means are problematic
        1. Blended part may not know this -- unaware of its impact on other parts or other people
        1. Blended part may know that it's means are problematic, but still feels it's worth it
          1. To avoid a worse situation
          1. Can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. 

  4. Frequency of blending
    1. You might be saying to yourself -- but I am like that most of the time -- Am I blended with a part or parts most of the time
    1. Most people blended most of the time
    1. Many people blended continually for decades
      1. That's the norm.  

  7. Blending on a continuum -- more or less blended
  8. Multiple parts can unblend
    1. Sometimes one at a time
    1. Sometimes other parts leap in
  11. Unblending
    1. Defining unblending
    1. Unblended person is "in self"
      1. Being Self-Led:  Schwartz & Sweezy:  Describes individuals who have access to their self, and therefore have the capacity to hear, understand, and be present with her parts, acknowledging and appreciating the importance of their roles in the internal family system and with other people.
      1. Self is governing, leading the system, trusted by the parts.
        1. Amazing thing that parts can hold on to the intensity of their experience, they can suffer with their wounds without overwhelming.  
          1. Sometimes other parts don't know this -- highly polarized systems.  

      1. Natural recollection

    1. What being unblended feels like
      1.  8 C's
        1. Calm
        1. Curiosity
        1. Compassion
        1. Confidence
        1. Courage
        1. Clarity
        1. Connectedness
        1. Creativity
        1. Kindness

      1. Importance -- this is the start.  Then we can work on loving the parts, work toward the parts healing.  

    1. Imagine the raft.  Leader on deck, governing and directing, trusted by the parts.  Listening to them. Loving xthem, not calling them fat little ignorant campers and hurling them into the void, but really listening
      1. Parts sharing in the love and the acceptance that the self has for all the parts
      1. All parts really being welcome, accepted, no part left behind.  

      1. Meeting the attachment needs of the parts -- Episode 62, unmet attachment needs and unmet integrity needs.  Conditions for Secure Attachment -- Daniel Brown and David Elliott -- 2016 Book Attachment Disturbances in Adults -- emphasizes the subjective experience
        1. A felt sense of safety and protection, deep sense of security felt in the bones
        1. Feeling seen and known heard and understood -- felt attunement
        1. Felt comfort, reassurance
        1. Feeling valued, delighted in, cherished by the attachment figure
        1. Felt support for the best self

      1. Meeting the integrity needs parts
        1. All of the above.  Each one of us needs help to develop our sense of self, our identity
        1. I exist 

        1. my existence is separate from others --  I exist in my own right, a separate personIs bounded, has boundaries
        1. My identity is stable over time and across different situations -- there is a continuity
        1. I can regulate myself -- I have some self-control.  

        1. Is integrated -- coherent interconnections inside between aspects of experience -- self-cohesion
        1. Is active, with agency, can effectively function in the world
        1. Is morally good -- ontologically or essentially good and thus has intrinsic value and worth, apart from others' opinions.  

        1. I can make sense of my experience and the world around me
        1. Mission and Purpose in life
        1. We also need to make good choices -- seek what is good, true and beautiful in life

    1. Unblending doesn't resolve all the burdens -- but it's a necessary prerequisite.  It doesn't heal the effects of trauma all by itself, but it creates a frame when that work can be done.  

    1. Advantages
      1. Peace and calm inside
      1. Ability to relate inside -- parts understanding other parts. Like the blind men and the elephant, sharing in the vision, the perspective of the self.  

      1. Ability to relate much better with others -- understanding them, seeing them in  five dimensions like we discussed in episode 72
      1. Opens to the door to loving self, neighbor and God is a much more focused and deliberate way.  

  13. Experiential exercise
    1. All right you've been listening to me tell stories and lecture and yabber away here in the podcast and that's all well and good, but now
    1. We're going to take it up a notch, up to an experiential learning.  Experiential exercise around unblending.  We're going to learn by doing and learn by being.  All the conceptual learning in the world will do you little good if you don't experience these things.  That would be like a psychologist who studied love in the books and research articles and thought about love, and theorized about it, and wrote abstract articles about it but never had a loving relationship with anyone.  What does that psychology really know about love?  So I want you to have much more than just the concept of unblending.
    1. I want you to experience something of being unblended.  Major part of IFS work. 


  16. Closing:
    1. Does this podcast really make sense to you, do you really grip on to what we're working on here?  Do these experiential exercises really resonate with you?  Do you want more?
    1. Do you want to be with likeminded Catholic who are serious about not only our Catholic Faith but also human formation -- who want to learn more about loving God, loving neighbor and loving self is a psychologically-minded way, drawing from the best of our understandings of the human person from both the spiritual and the natural worlds?
    1. Resilient Catholic Community at Souls and Hearts, grew up around my podcast Integration for Catholics -- a place to do that -- registration is open each year in June and December  You have until June 30 at midnight  to register -- $99 to register, and $99 per month to really engage in a deep dive in an IFS-informed approach to human formation -- lots more experiential exercises, office hours, a companion for daily connection, weekly small group work in your company, your own personalized human formation plan, tailored to your individual needs and based on your responses to our initial measures kit.  
      1. IIC 74A  Experiential Exercise on Protector Parts' Resistance to Unblending
      2. Check it all out at

    1. If you are committed to this podcast, I want you to learn about the Resilient Catholics community.  Come with me, come with us -- be a pioneer together with us on this pilgrimage.  Come with us, join us on this adventure on this hard road to life. read about it.  37 have already applied to join the dozen of us already in the community.  More listeners are considering it.  Registration is closing on June 30, and won't reopen until December 1 for the next cohort.
    1. Questions: Conversation hours -- 317.567.9594  -- email  Our community is small and personal.  I am looking forward to meeting you.  People are surprised when I answer the phone in conversation hours.  

    1. Go to -- check out the community.  

    1. If you are a Catholic Therapist, check out the Interior Therapist community where 55 Catholic Therapist are learning all about IFS grounded in a Catholic anthropology -- check that out at
      1. So many benefits
      1. Premium episode IIC 74T  The importance of unblending within the Catholic Therapist

    1. Tune in next week -- Episode 75 when we get into how unblending is so important for the spiritual life, for a life of prayer and connection to God and to our Mother Mary.  All the spiritual dimensions around unblending.  

  20. Blurb for Transistor:  Through stories, poetry, many examples, and an experiential exercise, Dr. Peter invites you inside yourself to much more deeply understand what it means to be blended vs. integrated, and the implications of blending vs. integration in loving yourself and others all in the service of having a much deeper sense of peace and well-being.  

What is Interior Integration for Catholics?

In the Interior Integration for Catholics podcast, together, we seek fundamental transformation in our lives through human formation, via Internal Family Systems approaches grounded in a Catholic worldview. Join us as we sail through uncharted waters, seizing the opportunities for psychological and spiritual growth and increasing resilience in the natural and spiritual realms. With a clear takeaway message and one action in each weekly episode, you can move from dreading what is happening to you to rising above it. Join us on Mondays for new episodes. You can also check out the Resilient Catholics Community which grew up around this podcast at