The Orchestra Analogy


The orchestra analogy was first proposed to me by my Therapist Paula McNitt. She wasn’t as elaborate about all the details as what follows, but it was a seed that brought to my understanding the true meaning of what co-consciousness, cooperation among the alters, and integration (the pulling together of the selves to cooperate and go in the same direction) means.

So with no further ado, I offer to you the orchestra analogy.

There was once a large orchestra.

All the players in the orchestra were excellent at using their separate instruments, but they all played different music.

Each player insisted their music was what all should play, and they stubbornly went on day after day doing their own thing. Some even despised and hated the others even though they were in the same orchestra.

Some would play Beethoven, while others played Mozart.

The result was chaotic noise that pleased no one and got the orchestra nowhere. They all dreamed of becoming popular and playing music that caused their audiences to weep with pleasure, but they could not agree what or how to play.

Then one day a trained Maestro arrived and took up the baton. This person began working with the members of the orchestra, teaching them how to work together. He encouraged them to agree on and choose one song, the one that would make them famous.

Slowly, very slowly, the orchestra members began to understand that they must do as the Maestro suggested, or forever be lost in the chaos of the past.

The Maestro also made one more demand of the players. If they were going to play after he was retired and moved away, one of the orchestra members would have to assume the lead and take up the baton.

One of the strongest of the members agreed to do just that, and slowly, with agreement from the others, took over the work of the Maestro.

Then one miraculous day the orchestra, following the new Maestro’s lead, began to play beautifully together.

They began playing before live audiences who gave standing ovations with tears streaming down their cheeks.

Together they had achieved their dream and thereafter were a success.

They had squabbles from time to time, and sometimes a member would decide to play their own tune during a performance. But most of the time the members relied on each other and worked together for the good of all.

This, to me, is what becoming co-conscious, cooperative, and integration is all about.

The members of the orchestra are the alters before treatment.

The first Maestro is a trained and caring therapist.

The second Maestro is the one alter that becomes the leader over the whole bunch.

The result of learning cooperation and co-consciousness (integration) is a successful future.

Shirley J. Davis



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