Can a DID Headmate Kill Another Headmate?
Wednesday, April 4 2018 Becca Hargis
Is it true that one dissociative identity disorder (DID) headmate can kill another headmate? Every DID system is different, including the way the headmates address conflict and the dislike amongst each other. It is not uncommon for parts to dislike a headmate in their system. Some systems believe that it is possible and permissible to kill a DID headmate if they pose a threat to other alters or the system as a whole. Some might feel that it would just be easy if "X" headmate or "Y" part did not exist and that killing the headmate would be easier. Given the discord among many headmates, is it possible for one headmate to kill another headmate?
Living with DID can often be troubling and disconcerting. In any given system, you will find a variety of headmates with different personalities, backgrounds, memories, ideas, and behaviors (Embracing the Individuality of Alters in DID). Sometimes, headmates may not share the same goals as the system and they might be harmful, take control, and threaten the system, all the while being unwilling to compromise and negotiate. Would it not make sense, then, to rid the system of such a recalcitrant headmate?
Creating and Killing DID Headmates
The question of whether one can kill a DID headmate can be controversial. Ironically, if an adult system is faced with new, overwhelming trauma, they can create a new headmate to cope with the consequential emotions the rest of the system cannot handle.
For example, when my mother died this year, my system was too overcome with pain and mourning to deal with the resulting grief (How the DID Host of Our System Protected Our Lives). Unknown to me, my system created a headmate to deal with the grieving. My headmates gave her a name and I discovered her while writing in my journal. She suffered the heaviest of the grief and took over when I did not think I could endure anymore. So clearly, new headmates can be created, but what about killing DID headmates that do not work with the system?
When I ponder the question, I think of my own system and headmates. We have a part that insults us and calls us the same cruel, hateful words that one of our abusers formerly did. I do not know this headmate's function yet except to lay blame on the system for the abuse we endured. This introject, as they are often called, creates fear in the system and, quite frequently, the feeling that our abuser is still very close in proximity and threatening to us.
Given this knowledge, it is entirely understandable that my headmates would want to rid our system of this negative and hostile influence by killing this DID headmate.
Questions to Consider Before You Kill a DID Headmate
What if you could kill off a headmate? What might happen? Would that not leave your system unbalanced? All headmates are created to fulfill a role. Though sometimes an alter's function is unknown, it is generally to complete and protect the system from outside harm. If you kill a headmate, what happens to the headmate's role and function in the system? What happens to you?
Perhaps more importantly, what message would you be sending to your other headmates if you tried to kill one of their own? Other headmates might live in fear of being the next to die. Did not those same headmates live in fear against their abusers and perpetrators? Do you really want to retraumatize them?
How to Handle a Hostile DID Headmate Instead of Killing the Headmate
You and your headmates are a team. Instead of thinking how to kill off headmates because they are difficult or uncooperative, the headmates in your system would better be served by becoming each other's ally, trying to help the defiant headmate to understand you care and want to communicate, and, with work, encouraging all the headmates to show this singled-out one how to function in the system in a positive, healthy way.
Not only will the system be helping a troubled headmate, other parts who are fearful of being additionally hurt and are hiding in the shadows might take notice, be more willing to emerge, and be more likely to participate in the healing work that the system needs. Never give up on a headmate.