Posts Tagged ‘personality fragments’

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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Healing from polyfragmented Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is possible. I know it is possible because I have done it. I had several layers of alter parts, which included mostly personality fragments but also some full alter parts/alter egos. I am now mostly integrated. According to my therapist, I will always have some residue and recover new memories from time to time. However, inside of myself, I now function as a “me” instead of as an “us.”

I am not going to lie and say that healing from polyfragmented DID is easy because it is not. It takes hard work and courage to face all of the traumas that caused the fragmentation in the first place.

The way to heal from polyfragmented DID is simple; however, simple is (unfortunately) not the same thing as easy. To heal from polyfragmented DID, you must do the following:

  1. Choose to remember your truths.
  2. Accept each memory as “mine” and as true.
  3. “Own” each accompanying emotion and feeling as “mine.”
  4. Love each part as “me.”

That really is all that there is to it. Of course, saying it and doing it are two entirely different things.

Polyfragmented DID develops because the child rejects his experiences and his reactions to those experiences as “not me.” The self-rejection is hard to overcome. The antidote is self-love. As you choose to love and accept each part, you are choosing to love and accept yourself. Even though each part feels foreign, it is all you.

For me, accepting my truths came easier than owning the emotions. Each new piece to the puzzle of my life explained why I was the way I was. Sometimes it was almost like being a detective into my own life and uncovering clues as I went along.

My struggle was with all of the emotions that came with those memories. I often feared that the despair would pull me under and I would never break through the surface again. I also feared that each new memory would be the one that put me over the edge.

Although it was excruciatingly hard to work through the traumas and process the emotions, I did it a little at a time. It is kind of like the old story that asks, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I frequently found myself just trying to get through this moment. Each moment added to the next, and before long, months and then years had passed.

The bottom line is that you must commit to healing and never, ever give up. No matter how hard it gets, you must continue to choose to heal.

Suggested Reading:

Safe Passage to Healing

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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This week, I am writing a series on polyfragmented Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). I am hoping that this series will educate people about polyfragmented DID as well offer hope to those with this diagnosis that healing is possible.

Polyfragmented DID can manifest in many different ways. What all polyfragmented DID multiple systems have in common is that they have many alter parts that work together to give the appearance of the person functioning as a singleton.

Roles of Alter Parts

Each alter part has a role. Some hold the fragmented pieces of the inner child, which feels like having many inner children. (An inner child is really a repository for unmet needs.) Others hold memories of various abuses, emotions, and/or feelings. Some are protector parts that come out to protect the inner children whenever the person feels threatened or gets triggered.


Some Polyfragmented DID multiple systems “cluster” their alter parts. For example, you might have an inner child who is protected by several protector parts. So, before the person can access and heal the unmet needs in an inner child part, he must first heal the pain of the protector parts that are “guarding” the inner child.


Some polyfragmented DID multiple systems have “layers” of alter parts, and the alter parts in each layer might be unaware that another layer exists. This is how my multiple system worked. One layer held all of the memories, feelings, and emotions associated with the mother-daughter sexual abuse. Those parts had names like Irate and Melancholy. None of those alter parts were aware of the other layers of alter parts. So, when I integrated those parts, I believed that I was integrated until the next layer of alter parts revealed itself.

I had several layers of alter parts. In addition to the one already discussed, I had a layer for the abuse by family “friends.” Another layer held the memories of the sadistic abuse by the couple who prepared my sister and me for the ritual abuse. Another layer held the ritual abuse memories. Still another layer held the memories of being raped by men.

Healing in layers was a blessing because I only needed to deal with one set of traumas at a time. If I had remembered everything at one time, I would have been overwhelmed and possibly committed suicide. Thankfully, the layers enabled me to focus upon and heal a little at a time, which made my healing process much more manageable.

Suggested Reading:

Safe Passage to Healing

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Encouraging One Another after Child Abuse, a reader posted the following comment:

I’ve read things on this page that discussed topics that I’ve never seen anyone brave enough to take on before and I am amazed. I am 43 and have been in therapy more than 2 years now but even my therapist, who is experienced with multiples, has trouble understanding my polyfragmented system and how it operates. I’m scared there is no place in this world for me. ~ Cam

I have not yet discussed polyfragmented Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) on my blog, so I thought this would make a good series, both for Cam as well as other people with polyfragmented DID who are reading my blog.

So, what is polyfragmented DID? Let’s start by talking about “standard” DID, and then I will tell you the differences.

People with DID dissociate to such a degree that they compartmentalize their memories, feelings, and emotions into different alter parts. People with DID might have only two alter parts, or they might have several.

The difference between standard DID and polyfragmented DID is a matter of degree. Rather than splitting into three or four alter parts, someone with polyfragmented DID might fragment into 100 or even 1,000 alter parts. Many of these alter parts might be personality fragments, which means that they are more one-dimensional than three-dimensional.

For example, an alter part might feel like a “separate personality” with more depth. A personality fragment might only hold one memory or one emotion. It is generally more challenging to integrate an alter personality than a personality fragment. The terminology “polyfragmented DID” simply helps to describe a more fragmented reaction to severe abuse.

While many people might assume that polyfragmented DID is harder to heal from, that has not been my experience. By being polyfragmented, I was able to heal a little at a time, whereas friends who only had two parts really struggled with the “all or nothing” integration process, which was excruciatingly painful for them.

I have been successful in healing from polyfragmented DID, so I know that it is possible. If you have been diagnosed with polyfragmented DID, you can heal, too. The key is learning how to love and accept each part as “me.”

Suggested Reading:

Safe Passage to Healing

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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