Kerry Dawkins, 2011

Let me say this loud and clear: I hate integration evangelism.

Integration evangelism is the overzealous promotion of integration (that is, trying to ‘combine’ all system members into a so-called ‘single personality’) as a universal treatment for all plurality, regardless of a system’s actual functioning level. It’s the stance I’ve seen people take if they’re invested in the medical model of multiplicity.

Keep in mind that I’m not against the medical model as such; I’m against the medicalisation of all plural identities, and I’m against ‘normalisation’ as a universal treatment for mental difference, especially mental difference that doesn’t always cause an impairment in functioning. (And even if it does, I’m more in favour of accommodation in most cases.)

Integration evangelism shows no respect for the diversity of human thought. It assumes that healthy mental functioning only has one model, and that anyone who deviates from it can’t be healthy, regardless of what a system’s actual experiences might be. It’s one-size-fits all therapy; it’s not actually centred on us as much as it is an imagined ideal of what functionality looks like.

I understand that many of the people whom I deem to be ‘integration evangelists’ purport to have a vested interest in the mental health of the plurals they evangelise integration to. However, integration isn’t the solution for all systems, including ours. In our case, we are vastly more functional working as separate individuals than we would be were we to ‘integrate’. In any case, I don’t think you could integrate us, in the first place: we’re each separate individuals with differing tastes, values and opinions, and even where we do agree, we don’t do it in the same way. I’m not Hess, and he isn’t me, and it’d be pretty difficult, if not impossible, to ‘integrate’ me with him. We may use the same ‘hardware’, but the way we each use that hardware is different. It’s like running Windows, Mac OS X and Linux on the same computer. Each operating system has its own way of handling files, applications and system processes, even if they’re running on the same computer—would you claim that Mac OS is the same operating system as Windows, even though they’re being hosted on the same hard drive and have the same amount of RAM allocated to them? Definitely not. In the same way, ‘Kerry OS’ isn’t identical to ‘Hess OS’, and a hybrid ‘Kerry/Hess’ OS would be a mess.

When I see integration evangelists posting about how we all need to integrate in order to be whole and healthy, it reminds me of fundamentalist ministers telling queer people that they all need to be straight so that they can be ‘right with God’. Instead of embracing difference, there’s a wholesale shunning of it, more out of personal discomfort than out of an actual concern for health and functionality. I believe in self-determination, not self-destruction in favour of some imagined ideal of What Personhood Should Look Like.