Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

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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APA Reference
Polley, S. (2015, March 29). Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 24 from

Author: Sherry Polley

Tracy green
March, 15 2019 at 3:42 pm
Iv. Been diagnosed n 2017..i didnt believe it..
Its the hardest thing iv ever tried to live with
Id give anythng to be my old self...
February, 16 2019 at 9:32 am
Hello! I’m writing a play on a man with DID. I have a few questions so I don’t misrepresent the illness.
1) Would the main personality (the DID sufferer) actually recognise their alters by name? As in would they recognise if someone who had meet them as a different personality called them by the name of that personality and realise that they had taken over. Or would it just be like he wouldn’t know his alters by name at all?
2) Would it be okay if a persecutor alter killed the person that caused emotional distress to them? I’m not saying that this will be an evil alter of course not. But rather an Alter that believed that this was the only possible way to end the abuse as well as thinking it was the right way.
3) How long will a alter remain in control for? In the plan, an alter called Markus is in control of the sufferer body for two years. Is this too long?
4) Linking to this other question, would the sufferer remember what Markus had gotten up to since they share the same memories? Would the sufferer eventually remember what had occurred or not at all?
Thank you so much in advance.
Will G
December, 25 2018 at 4:02 pm
I believe I have D.I.D But I've been told by every doctor I see that I can't because alters can't know each other or the host. Is this true? I hardly ever have amnesia but I do dissociate from it. I feel an alter take over a situation and they won't let me handle it and push me out. Is that possible to be aware of being pushed out too?
Dawn Michele Jewles
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
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.
Vanessa Marquez
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)

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.
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?
Ana M
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)

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.
Claire Clarke
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
July, 25 2016 at 2:11 am

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 23 2018 at 5:05 pm
Several years later, but yes, in my experience the different personalities do age. It may require that they are recognized and have some chance to express themselves. I know an alter that was kind of wild when unrecognized. But know that he has a name and received acceptance he seems to grow up. His contribution to the full person has been helpful because he is very attentive to detail and the main personality is not.
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
March, 21 2016 at 5:49 am

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.

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