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2 Techniques for Dialoguing with Alter Personalities

I’ve lived virtually my whole life with a vague but pervasive sense that somewhere there were people I couldn’t see who knew things about me I didn’t. When I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, I finally understood that the information I wasn’t privy to existed in my own head, guarded by alter personalities. I naively thought I could simply ask and all would be revealed to me. I quickly learned that developing internal communication isn’t nearly that easy. But there are dialoguing techniques that can help.

Photo by Adrian Clark
Photo by Adrian Clark

Write Letters to Alter Personalities

This is perhaps the most oft recommended way of dialoguing within the Dissociative Identity Disorder system. In my experience the suggestion is accompanied with the directive to offer comfort, acceptance, and gratitude to the alter personalities you’re addressing. But it’s also been my experience that faking it won’t help. The most dramatic shift I’ve had to date began with a letter in which I expressed my genuine feelings of anger and powerlessness. I felt no gratitude at the time. I had no comfort to offer, and I certainly didn’t claim to accept things as they were. What ensued was a series of mutually honest letters that culminated in an agreement that quite literally changed everything for my system. I firmly believe no lasting change can happen without gratitude. But you have to start somewhere. And forcing yourself to express feelings that aren’t sincere isn’t the place.

Dialogue with Alter Personalities through Art

I’m nothing short of amazed at the enormous potential for healing in any artistic endeavor. What’s most impressive to me is the dialoguing that can take place without any conscious effort. If I create – through any medium – simply by following what attracts me without attempting to make sense of my choices, I am communicating with my system. I think this works so well partly because it bypasses cognitive reasoning, and partly because it creates a mild hypnotic effect, which can open a door into the Dissociative Identity Disorder system.

While it’s important not to impose any hard and fast rules, I get the most out of dialoguing through art when I:

Photo by laffy4k
Photo by laffy4k
  • Avoid judgment. If I feel the inclination to paint a red lollipop on the side of a house, I do it regardless of whether or not it makes sense.
  • Talk about it when I’m done. Even if I have to pretend my listener exists, I explain my artwork and creative choices to someone. Just by talking about the red lollipops their meaning becomes clear.

Dialoguing with Alter Personalities Gets Easier

I’ve discovered that utilizing these and other techniques regularly pays off in more ways than one. Not only am I more knowledgeable about my system, I also feel more connected to others in it and, therefore, myself. This increased awareness creates opportunities to learn and connect more, which makes communication easier and more efficient. It’s a cumulative process and one that’s essential to treating Dissociative Identity Disorder.

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29 thoughts on “2 Techniques for Dialoguing with Alter Personalities”

  1. I was just diagnosed a month or so ago. Oddly, I had zero clue until my therapist and I started non-dominant hand writing inner child exercises…and then I was writing with three alters and a fourth just showed up. I don’t lose time and have had a fully functional life but obviously “pockets” of trauma are still harbored in these alters. They don’t dialogue in my head, the only communication is art or writing. My therapist said they need to start talking to each other. Part of me thinks, no writing, no diagnosis, but really this is where the healing lies, I know. She would like to communicate with my parts but they remain nonverbal but will write in response to her questions. Do I really want these parts to communicate in my head? I think not.
    Right now it’s a 100% controlled environment until I pick up a pen. A lot of forgotten trauma has come out and I question the truth in it, too. I would love your feedback.

  2. I’ve typed this out three times now, just to have my computer take me a page back and delete everything I had written so I’m gonna try to make this quick this time.

    First off, I wanted to thank you for sharing this post. Really. I don’t have D.I.D but my mother does. I am also her caretaker. I was talking to her this morning and I asked her if I could try to communicate with them through letters (like she has before herself, in the past). She said she didn’t mind but that it was up to them, of course, to respond to me or not.

    I was wondering if you had any advice for someone like myself. Anything I should try to stray away from saying/asking? Maybe anything I SHOULD say or ask? I just don’t want to do anything to set her balance off, I don’t think anyone else has ever tried to communicate with them like this before but her. So I am not sure how they will react.

    I do also know they love to come out and play with my 2 year old daughter. If that helps at all. They aren’t afraid to talk to me, sometimes they do try to trick me into thinking its not them and she hasn’t switched, but I can usually tell. This is really the only reason I’m not 110% sure. I don’t think it would upset them at all, since I’m one of the only people they are comfortable coming out in and being in front of, but at the same time, I am not sure.

    I really want to do this though. It is probably just as much for myself as it is for her, I do have questions myself, but I really just want to help my mother. Help her understand more of herself and her other personalities and the reason ‘why’? If this makes sense. I just want to help her.

    Thank you. So much. For everything. Sharing this post and what you’ve gone through and helping others as well as any possibly help or advice you have for me. <3 <3 <3

    1. MommaKay,

      It’s impossible to tell you the right or wrong way to go about this, but I think it’s great that you are trying.

      Just as you try to get to know a person first as you meet them, try to get to know her alters. You can ask basic questions and see how well they respond to that. Remind them that you are a safe person. I wouldn’t purposely go into anything trauma-related, as that could make things worse.

  3. Thank you for sharing this.

    I do not have DID but the one I love does and it terrifies her. I am trying to understand how best I can help her, whether and how I should communicate with her alters (they do sometimes suddenly talk to me), and just generally how not to make things more difficult for her.

    Thank you again for the guidance and help you share.

  4. Hi-
    Just found this blog- glad to hear others with DID.
    I’m not officially diagnosed yet- but with all the research I’ve done and
    insights into the bizarre behaviour of my past (& present) I am already
    concluding that I have at least a dissociative disorder.
    I am in therapy now- very lucky to have found a good therapist- he uses
    the Internal Family Systems approach- which I find very helpful.
    I’m taking a few pills just to help “take the edge off” – for anxiety & depression.

    I do feel very chaotic and am changing my stance on things from day to day.
    I don’t know what will happen with my relationship. There’s A LOT of pain inside- been there for so long. I get overwhelmed with trying to comfort that pain.

    I bought some journals to give space for each part.
    Just feeling overwhelmed today.
    Hope to hear more from others with DID…

    Thanks for the space to post.
    M.

    1. Heartbroken bird on a wire. Heaven need make me stronger or take me home. So very tired of existing in a sea of grief. So very epically ashamed of ugly crying. Bless those humans who know and double bless those free from knowing a road like this. People care for me, or used to. Patches of a quilt do not a woman make. God forgive us all.

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