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.

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Author: Sherry Polley

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Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

Danie
says:
March, 20 2016 at 10:00 am

Hey there ^^ I'm doing a presentation on DID at college and I'd like to ask a question: When do the alters appear for the first time? Like are they "created" during the phase of severe abuse or do the kid go through that then have a split of personnality resulting in very distinctives alters? Also I was wondering if you were aware of the difference with Europe, I'm not sure anymore if it's just France who consider DID as non exitant and claims it to be a symptom of Schizophrenia or if it's the whole Europe.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Crystalie Matulewicz
says:
March, 21 2016 at 5:49 am

Danie,

I know for sure that it is not all of Europe that considers DID non-existent. There are treatment centers especially for DID and dissociative disorders throughout Europe, and I have several friends in Europe that are treated for their DID. I am not entirely sure about France, but I can tell you that in any country, even in the US where I am based, there are people in the psychological/psychiatric community who do not believe in DID.

As far as alters, they can exist for a long time before the host becomes aware that they are even there. It really depends on the person. It is most believed that alters are "created" at the time of the abuse to hold the trauma, that is why people with DID have difficulty with memory.

Claire Clarke
says:
July, 21 2016 at 6:01 am

I am doing a presentation on DID and i was wondering as the dominant personality age do the alters age as well? For example does an alter who is a three year old child remain the same age or does he/she age.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Crystalie Matulewicz
says:
July, 25 2016 at 2:11 am

Claire,

There is no definitive answer to that - it can vary from person to person. In some systems, alters age along with the host. Other systems, alters can stay the same age forever. Then there are age sliders, which are alters whose age can change back and forth.

Ana M
says:
April, 18 2017 at 7:51 am

Question: I'm doing a project on Dissociative Identity Disorder and was wondering if people with DID ever "lose" alters. Like do they ever "die" in a way and never come back?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Cheryl
says:
April, 23 2017 at 4:30 pm

They do not disappear. The reintegrate to help make a stronger healthier you, It is like when you finally can deal with the issue that alter controls then they become a part of you again.

Karen
says:
April, 21 2017 at 2:17 am

I am not tecky so is this a blog? I have alters. I know some of them. I am 56 and just learned of them. Wow. After years of therapy several hospitalization and a long term psychologists of which non of them mentioned any of this. I like my alters. I have had a lot of abuse in my life. I have also been a very successful RN as a profession. The diagnosis that I've been with for 30 years is bi polar. Do you know if any therapists that nonwhat the hell they are doing in the Spokane WA area to help people with alters?

Vanessa Marquez
says:
February, 20 2018 at 6:31 pm

Hello im doing a project on DID and I was confused on how do the alters develop the different accent and languages ?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Crystalie
says:
February, 21 2018 at 6:23 pm

There’s not much study surrounding this. Some believe they were exposed to the other language at an earlier time, and the alter retained that language.

Dawn Michele Jewles
says:
April, 2 2018 at 1:29 pm

I have an alter who wants me dead, if I was to die, is it possible for her to fully live and dominate my body, without me?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Becca Hargis
says:
April, 4 2018 at 9:58 am

Hi, Dawn. Your question is very timely because I just wrote a post on alters/headmates wanting each other dead. I'll provide the link below. As to your specific question, it can be complicated. A simple answer to your questions is that If an alter was to kill the body, yes, you would die. It is not uncommon for alters to want other headmates in the system to go away. An alter can die by suicide, in which case the whole body would die, but an alter cannot just kill another alter. You are all interconnected. What I work on with my system is communication and negotiation. I journal to communicate and find out how everybody is, what is going on with the system, and determine how to meet everyone's needs in a healthy way. I encourage you to do the same with the headmate that wants you dead, as you say. There is a reason he/she is threatened by you. Try to find out what it is and then find some common ground with this headmate. I hope I have provided some answers into your question. Please read the link below. It might give you more insight into headmates killing other headmates and/or the body. Take care. https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2018/04/can-a-hea…

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