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Alternate States of Consciousness

Dissociative identity disorder, DID, was previously known as multiple personality disorder. After more was known about the unique & complex disorder, it was understood that it was actually a dissociative disorder, not a personality disorder, which is why the name & classification were appropriately adjusted. In the basic understanding of DID, an "alter" is one of the personalities someone with DID has.

"Alter" is short for "alternate state of consciousness." Another term for alter in regards to DID is "part." Each alter has its own unique identity, characterized by a consistent perception, unique to other parts of the self—a particular way of thinking about & relating to the self & the surrounding world. This unique perception is different in each alter.


The internal family system consists of all parts of consciousness.

When a trauma occurs, or when a new need arises for someone who already has DID, one or more alters can be created within the family system.

There are two types of alters. Apparently normal parts (ANP) are in charge of day to day tasks, while emotional parts (EP) are responsible for holding trauma. Every alter has a particular purpose for survival in this life.

Each alternate state of consciousness is created for a specific purpose. When a need is not being met by the alters already in the system, another alter is "born" to fill that need.

More Great Links About Alters:

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