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Working with Alters

Do you know how many alters your system contains? Can you ever really know how many parts you have? It's important first to understand how our parts are created. According to the theory of structural dissociation, alters are created when an existing part cannot cope with the new trauma and stress in the system, so a new alter is created out of necessity. The first time the abuse occurred to you as a child, you did not automatically split into your current system of alters. You initially split into two, and, as the abuse continued, more parts were needed to handle the trauma. 
Alter switching and dissociative identity disorder (DID) are interdependent. The term "'switching" means simply to change, but, in reference to DID, it means to change a part, an alter, or a headmate, as they are called. Everyone has parts that comprise his or her personality. You might have remarked before, "Part of me really wants to improve my health." For someone to reference a single part of their personality is normal, but for those of us with DID, we experience more extreme parts of ourselves that have their own thoughts, opinions, beliefs, wishes, needs, etc. The switching of these parts is difficult, jarring, and disconcerting. If you have DID or know someone with DID, it is important to understand the signs of when someone with dissociative identity disorder is switching alters and what you can do.
Do we need to remember and process all traumatic memories in order to heal from dissociative identity disorder (DID)?  When it comes to the complicated disorder of DID, there frequently are more questions than there are answers, and the explanation of the above question is no less difficult.  Before I provide an answer, it is important to understand the way our emotional traumatic memories work and what it actually means to process and heal from them.
Managing dissociation when you have dissociative identity disorder (DID) is easier when you feel safe and secure. When the system feels safe, it is easier to function more effectively. But what happens when the environment changes and all of a sudden, that sense of safety is gone? Is it still possible to manage dissociation when you don't have a secure environment to live in?
Taking responsibility is a major factor in a dissociative identity disorder (DID) system. No matter how one views a DID system -- as individual entities sharing one body, or as a single person with multiple parts -- how to take responsibility for actions and behaviors of alters or parts within the DID system is important. Should each part be held accountable for his or her own actions, or should it be the responsibility of the DID system as a whole?
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?
Coping with internal conflicts in dissociative identity disorder (DID) when parts disagree with you or each other is an important DID coping skill. After all, relationships can be difficult. Occasionally, people have arguments with friends and loved ones which causes friction and disagreements. Often, the same challenges present themselves within the systems of those with DID. Parts can experience friction and conflict and have arguments with other members of the system. Without working to understand and meet the needs of other parts, an internal conflict in DID can ensue while each alter attempts to have his or her own wants met.
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?
The dissociative identity disorder (DID) host in our system has a job similar to the host of a party. When I think of a host, I think of a man or woman attending to the needs of the party-goers, scurrying about a table of guests, flitting from room to room, checking on food and drink to make sure each guest has what he or she needs. A host may wear many hats, including a manager, entertainer, presenter, and all-around overseer to make sure the party runs smoothly. In DID, most systems have what is also called a “host,” which, in some ways, is very similar to a traditional host whom might manage the surrounding environment.
It can be very difficult to ask for help for dissociative identity disorder (DID). People with mental health struggles, including people with DID, often need help and support from people on the outside, whether it be doctors, therapists, family, or friends. Sometimes, it is obvious to others that we need help (Dissociative Identity Disorder Signs and Symptoms). But what happens when we need help for dissociative identity disorder and have trouble asking for it?
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