Identity development and Identity development sessions
Identity Development and Identity Development Sessions (I.D.sessions) are derived from “constellation” theory and clinical work, first developed by Bert Hellinger (Family Constellations) and refined over the past 27 years by Dr. Franz Ruppert (Identity Constellations) at the University of Munich.
Professor Ruppert’s Identity Constellations are based on IoPT (Identity-oriented Psycho-trauma Theory) and use what he terms “the intention method." Five of his books have been translated into English and can be purchased here.
Here is an example of an I.D. session, shot in Oslo Norway at the International IoPT Training 2017.
As with Prof Ruppert’s Identity Constellations, The Institute’s I.D. sessions take roughly an hour during which participants explore one person’s current burning need (as described in detail here).
It has been the Institute’s commitment to introduce Prof. Ruppert’s work as safely as possible. Prof Ruppert is clear - healing only takes place when a subject feels safe. Here is Dr. Gabor Mate discussing safety surrounding Prof. Ruppert’s sessions.
Nonetheless, in regards to safety, many of the issues that challenge our ability to develop healthy identities have been caused by a lack of safety during gestation, birth and early infancy. Understanding the scientific underpinnings of an I.D. session is important. Current research in bonding and trauma theory has made clear that a child’s developing biological and psychological identity reacts to an overwhelming shock (or trauma) by “splitting”.
Here Prof. Dr. Ruppert discusses psychological/biological splitting - and its implications for the rest of our lives:
Over the past fifteen years, this form of splitting has been uncovered in many scientific fields including biology, neurobiology, psychology, epigenetic, genetics to name a few. One term used to describe the result of this split in the developing child is that s/he is imprinted. A clip from our film, In Utero, may bring further clarification:
It should be noted that In Utero was made before we encountered Prof. Dr. Ruppert and IoPT. Prof. Dr. Ruppert has deepened the existing discoveries, noting that “being imprinted" (or traumatized/shocked while in utero or in early infancy) is a circumstance that pays no attention to individual identity, and the cost to the child is a loss of self, a loss of identity. This is why The Institute’s work focuses on identity processing and integration.
Below is a simple illustration of the splits of the psyche:
Two Kinds of Early Trauma
Prof. Dr. Ruppert further notes that there are two traumas that dominate this very early time of life, the Trauma of Identity (existential) and the Trauma of Love (relational). Both of these have to do with the basic emotional environment of the child, which is dominated by the baby's bond (or lack of bond) with his/her mother.
The child survives the Trauma of Identity by giving up her healthy identity (her autonomy) in order to have some bond with her mother, without which she cannot survive. She is forced to identify with her mother's wants and needs, where her own wants and needs are ignored, misinterpreted or punished (often because of frustration) by the mother.
This, then, brings up the psychological question: "Who am I?". And this question is automatically followed by: "What do I want?", because in order to know what I want I must have a reasonable sense of who I am.
In this short video Prof. Dr. Ruppert discusses the power of the mother’s bond:
The Trauma of Love happens when the connection that the child does manage to maintain with his mother after the Trauma of Identity is not a clear, loving connection, but rather a connection that is painful, unfulfilling and bewildering.
This clip from In Utero quickly shows the power of the mother over the child (even though this child is older and less fragile than a child developing in utero or in early infancy):
The Trauma Biography
We all have a history of trauma (our trauma biography), in which the original traumas have a major impact on who we become, how we manage later traumatizing events and relationships, and how we reach - or don’t reach - our potential.
All later traumatic experiences have within them the seeds of re-traumatization of the original trauma, when we were most vulnerable and easily shocked, i.e., in utero, during birth, in early infancy. The Intention Method, developed by Franz Ruppert, offers a way of exploring these issues of trauma that is safe, effective and containing.
Here is Prof. Dr. Ruppert discussing his current use of the Intention Method:
Finally, it should be noted, that each of us also has a bonding biography as well as a trauma biography. We would not be alive if we did not. As the work uncovers our trauma history, it also uncovers our history of bonding which helped us survive and gave us hope.
It is this experience of bonding within us that is nurtured and grown as we do this work, integrating our healthy parts, which can then guide us safely into the darker corners of our trauma biography, releasing us from its power.