Archive for March 19th, 2010

On my blog entry entitled DID: Which Part is the “Real Me”?, a reader posted the following questions:

Do alters always have a name? And does the person with it live separate lives?? ~ Mia

The short answer is no – alter parts do not have to have names. Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a “create your own disorder” disorder, which means that the variations of how to “split” are only limited by the creativity of the children doing the “splitting.”

I have seen a wide variety of ways to split. Some people split into only two parts, typically a child part (who holds the unmet needs) and the adult part. In this case, each part is more likely to have a name. Others fragment into polyfragmented DID, where they might have hundreds of alter parts. In this case, there frequently is not a name for each part. My own system was polyfragmented, and most parts did not have names. Many parts were only personality fragments, which means that they were one-dimensional, holding only one memory or emotion.

I have seen fragmentation that is not classified as DID but, instead, as dissociative disorder – not otherwise specified (DD-NOS). I have met a handful of people who fragmented into colors. One woman’s anger was held in the red, her sadness in the blue, etc. When she looked into the brown, she would lose time, so she avoided “going there.”

As for whether each part lives separate lives – Again, it depends upon the multiple system involved. In my case, the answer was no. I had a host personality that was “out” most of the time, and I viewed that part as “me.” I had a wolf alter part that took over at night when I fell asleep (and that part still comes out, but I stay co-present). That part never did anything but “guard me” while I slept. Other parts would come out as needed when I was abused or triggered into adulthood, but they only stayed out until the danger passed. Others, such as the famous people with DID (Sybil, Truddhi Chase, etc.) did have alter parts who would “take over” and lead a separate life.

Again, so much depends upon how the child chose to fragment and how “separate” you keep each part inside of yourself. In my case, there was always a strong “core” that ran the show, even though my host personality was completely unaware of this. The more you reject a part, the more “separate” that part will feel, and this is more likely to result in the leading of different “lives.” However, it can also just result in the “rejected” part popping out at inopportune moments.

This happened me. I had a part called “Irate” who (obviously) held some of my rage. My host personality was a walking doormat, but sometimes Irate would have enough and pop off at the other person. I would be as baffled as the other person was when I suddenly had a strong backbone.

When it comes to DID, pretty much anything goes. Your multiple system was only limited by your creativity as a child.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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