Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
Sunday, March 29 2015 Sherry Polley
Alters (alternate personalities) are something people with dissociative identity disorder (DID) may have. Alters are separate identities. Some of these alters may communicate with each other and some of them may not. When I was first diagnosed with DID, my alters did not communicate with each other at all. I was only aware of the current personality state that I was in. I wasn't aware of any other alters in my dissociative identity disorder.
I began having suspicions that I may have alternate personalities when I started noticing that I had voices in my head who argued with each other but who didn't sound like they were my own voice. I also noticed that people who were close to me would accuse me of doing things that I didn't feel like I had done. Eventually, I called a suicide hotline while I was in an emotional crisis, and finally admitted to the woman that I thought I had multiple personalities. She said, "You might." Hearing her say that changed my life. She believed me and it gave me the courage to tell my therapist.
Getting To Know My Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder
I told my therapist that I thought I had multiple personalities. I learned that a dissociative identity disorder "system" refers to the individual person who has DID, and all of the separate alters that make him or her up. My therapist began doing work with me to help me communicate with my alters. She had me focus, and try to gather all of my alters at a roundtable. There we had discussions and I got to know my system.
Bringing Alters Together in Dissociative Identity Disorder
Some of my alters wouldn't come to the table, and some of them wouldn't stay. It was still a helpful tool to begin the reintegration process. Communication between the alters is an important part of getting better with DID. Having communication helps the whole situation to be less scary and painful. It also helps a person to be aware and conscious of who he or she is when he or she splits from one alter to the next.
A person's system can be made up of few or many alters. The more a person can learn about each of the alters in DID, the better. At the roundtable, I asked for the alters' names and how they felt that day. I told my therapist what they said. Together, my therapist and I gained information and awareness about each alter. This has been very helpful in my journey with DID.
More on Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder
Watch this video for more on alters in dissociative identity disorder.