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Fictive Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder

February 28, 2018 Crystalie Matulewicz

The types of alters in dissociative identity disorder include fictional introjects or fictives. Visit Healthyplace to learn more about these DID alters and the controversy surrounding them.

There are many different types of alters in dissociative identity disorder (DID), including fictional introjects (Understanding Dissociative Identity Disorder Alters). Fictional introjects, also called fictives, are alters that are based off of fictional people or characters. While not as common as other types of alters, fictives are just as important. So how do these fictive alters in DID form, and what is their purpose?

How Do Fictive Alters in DID Systems Form?

Introjects are alters that are based off outside people or characters. Fictional introjects specifically are based off of fictional characters. These characters can be from television shows, movies, books, fantasy, and other forms of fiction.

Why Do Fictive Alters Form?

Fictive alters in DID form to serve a purpose. While that purpose is not always known, it is possible that the DID system needed the qualities of that fictional character and internalized them to form the fictional introject in response to a trauma. Fictives can also form to disrupt the system. While fictives often form in childhood, people with DID can form new alters at any time, especially in response to recent trauma.

Myths About Fictional Introjects

There are a few assumptions that people have about fictional introjects in DID, but the reality is that there are no concrete characteristics that all fictives possess. Dissociative identity disorder in itself consists of such varying experiences, and DID alters are no different.

One assumption that people make about fictives is that fictives are always positive. Fictives can have positive qualities, but they can also have negative qualities and engage in harmful or risky behaviors. Some fictional introjects can be abusive, and form as a way to continue traumatizing the system.

There is another assumption that fictives are based entirely off of the fictional character. The reality is that fictives can have their own qualities and personalities apart from those of the fictional character. Some fictive alters can be predominantly similar to the character, while others take on just a few of the characteristics. They don't have to think, act, look, or feel in the exact same ways that the fictional character does. This doesn't make them any less valid.

Fictional introjects aren't chosen purposefully. Just like other dissociative identity disorder alters, fictional introjects develop subconsciously for a reason. Fictives are not made up. They are not a part of a game. Fictives are real. They can hold memories and can experience trauma just as any other alter can.

The Controversy Surrounding Fictional Introjects in DID

Unfortunately, there is controversy, even within the DID community, surrounding the legitimacy and validity of fictional introjects in DID systems. Some people believe that fictional introjects are fake, and cannot occur in a real DID system. Others believe that fictives exist, but only within certain limitations.

It's important to validate that fictional introjects, or fictives, are a real part of DID systems. People are quick to judge fictives as real or fake, yet this judgment doesn't exist for other types of alters.

Fictives deserve the same treatment as any other alter or part. They are real. They are valid. Don't forget that.

APA Reference
Matulewicz, C. (2018, February 28). Fictive Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, June 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2018/02/fictional-introjects-in-dissociative-identity-disorder



Author: Crystalie Matulewicz

Crystalie is the founder of PAFPAC, is a published author and the writer of Life Without Hurt. She has a BA in psychology and will soon have an MS in Experimental Psychology, with a focus on trauma. Crystalie manages life with PTSD, DID, major depression, and an eating disorder. You can find Crystalie on FacebookGoogle+, and Twitter.

kuu
August, 17 2018 at 6:25 pm

all the ones I run into say they are literaly that character. not a coping mechanism. they are really that person, or was them in a past life.
that the memories of being that character happen, that they have pstd from what happened in their story

Anonymous
March, 10 2020 at 7:24 am

That sounds like people who believe in kintyping and the alternate universe theory, not people with DID.

Louis
April, 5 2020 at 3:24 pm

I have many pseudo memories of what occurred in my life before this one as do many introjects. I feel as though I am my own self and I will not deny myself of that because of others' perceptions of me. Pseudo memories will often occur in introjects, other introjects may feel trauma from these, its otherwise normal things.

kuu
August, 17 2018 at 6:19 pm

being a cartoon character is real and valid

Lou
April, 11 2020 at 8:57 am

It's not "being a cartoon character". See, if you read the article with an open mind, or a mind at all, they're called fictives, and they aren't completely made up of a cartoon character and don't even have to be one. They share certain personality traits. Some more than others. And that's okay and that's valid

Reign
April, 19 2020 at 1:04 pm

It honestly makes complete sense to me, and I’m not sure why there’s so much debate around the topic of whether or not fictives exist or not. Seems completely understandable that someone, especially a child, could watch a cartoon or something, and take a character from that and wish that they had their super powers or whatever to get away. Like superheroes, for instance, it makes sense that someone, especially someone suffering severe trauma, would look at something like a superhero and either wish they had their powers to get away or actually have a real life superhero to come in and rescue them from horrific abuse. I know fictives can be a wide array of various fictional characters, but I just used the superhero as an example. Makes total sense how somebody with DID could develop these types of alters.

Phoenix
March, 20 2018 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for this! My system has quite a bit of fictives, so this will help me explain to others why they're there!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gaby
June, 23 2019 at 11:14 am

same I have 1

Curious Quasar
March, 18 2018 at 2:44 am

Thank you so much for this. I've always struggled to explain this phenomena to myself as I never really had the language to explain it. I really appreciate this article. It's a shame that it's so controversial.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

kuu
August, 17 2018 at 6:32 pm

because a pointing to a work of media and going "see that? that is me, that is who I am, I'm ______ from _________" looks boinkers and has rightful scrutiny
because those are people from someone else's imagination, characters. so going "this is meeeeeeeeeeeee"
look it at this way. if I made movies, my DID character is going to be made out of 90% fictives. if I can get permission, if not I will need to invent my own world's version of Tucan Sam, Sonic the Hedgehog or any other copyrighted property. oitherwise other system members are going to be Tiny Tim, Babe the big blue Ox, the Easter Bunny. If Ican';t get someone like Felix the Cat, or Pepe La PewI will need to make up Silver the Chinchillia, Marty the Mink.
and if it is handled well. nobody should complain with "that is not DID"
because I gave a minority what they want, and the world needs to know not all DID systems are filled with archyotypial people. sometimes they are anime villians, videogame heros, funny cartoon animals, comic strip mothers and what not

Reign
April, 19 2020 at 1:33 pm

You are talking about it in a way as if they have control over their brains creating another alter that sometimes happens to be based off fictional characters. These fictives that are created have their own memories, experiences & everything. They are just as real as any other alter in their system, or anyone else’s single personality that doesn’t have DID. This disorder is caused as a young child before the personality is fully integrated, so it makes complete sense why some people with DID would have fictives. Most children watch cartoons and read fictional stories, so I can see why their brains would take some of these characters and turn them into either a “hero” and use this fictive as a way to help protect the system as a whole, or turn them into a “villain” and create an abusive fictive because perhaps this villain reminds them of their abuser or something, and/or they feel like they “deserve” to be punished. It’s not like they’re intentionally trying to plagiarize someone else’s work, and they’re more than likely embarrassed to even tell people about it because of the judgment & stigma that’s attached to DID. You call it “boinkers” & that it should be scrutinized, yet there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who dress up as characters all the time and go to events, like Comicon. Most of those people dress up as certain characters because they look up to them, aspire to be like them, have characteristics they themselves wish they also had, and the list goes on. The only difference is is that with someone with DID, they don’t get to make the conscious decision to be one of these characters. It’s literally a safety mechanism that their brains have developed on their own. Just because it’s different, complicated & hard to understand for a lot of people doesn’t mean it’s not valid or real.

SarcasticSeraph
May, 1 2020 at 4:16 am

Hey! I think you might have misinterpreted the previous comment a bit. The poster was meaning only to offer the opinion that it seems reasonable for most people to be skeptical of fiction-related alters, due to the *lack of information and representation* needed to understand the existence of such alters. They mean to say that the initial perspective of a person with a lack of knowledge on the subject would naturally lead to thoughts of it being “boinkers”, which is true (as well as the fact that some people who claim to suffer from DID when they do not may be specifically predisposed toward fictional “alters”, as they may think the idea of “becoming” an admired character is fun; not understanding the reality of people with DID and the trauma therein. Like you say, thousands of people dress up as characters, and may aspire to be like them. That being said I do believe the ‘factual’ nature of a person’s condition should always be determined by professional diagnosis as well as evidence of substantial qualifying criteria, and not on the form an alter takes). The commenter then goes on to say that, were they to produce a blockbuster movie, they would include a character with DID whose alters were most or all based on cartoon characters, in order to publicly represent and validate the existence and purpose of such alters. The commenter specifies that, were they not able to obtain the rights to use the names of existing cartoon characters in their movie, they would create their own intellectual property in order to preserve the vision of bringing such representation into public view and normalcy. I don’t believe they were trying to invalidate the existence and serious nature of people who suffer from DID that takes such a form, but quite the opposite, and did not intend to imply that any real people were violating copyright law by having a psychological condition that they had no control over the presentation of. Thanks for your time and I hope I could be of help!

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