Alter: Alternate State 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.)
For someone with DID, an alter is one of the alternate states of consciousness, which may present externally as an alternate personality. These alters may also be referred to as parts.
Every alter has their own unique identity, characterized by a consistent perception—a particular way of thinking about & relating to the self & the surrounding world. This unique perception is usually different in each alter, which is why allowing them to co-exist can prove extremely challenging.
Each alter has its own identity: its own body image, self-worth, talents, abilities, hobbies, personal preferences, thoughts, feelings, emotions, ideas, perceptions, instinctive responses, & even memories.
Someone with DID has an internal family system that consists of the collection of all parts. It is the culmination of all their states of consciousness.
To clarify something:
Because I have dissociative identity disorder (DID), I have multiple states of consciousness, rather than one like most people.
If you do not have DID, you do not have multiple states of consciousness.
If you do have DID, then you do have multiple states of consciousness that cause some degree of dissociation.
When either a trauma occurs or when a new need arises for someone who already has DID, an alter can be created by the subconscious within the internal family system, expanding the number of parts to the consciousness & therefore adding either personal abilities or harmful memories to the mind.
There are two types of alters: apparently normal parts (ANPs) are in charge of day to day tasks within physical life, while emotional parts (EPs) are responsible for holding trauma & managing those memories & emotions & the effect they have on the person as a whole, both mind & body.
Every alter has a particular purpose in life, a reason for existing, a job within the system, a responsibility to carry out for the sake of survival.
There are many types of alters, the classification of its identity revolving around its primary job, or why it was created in the first place & still exists now.
The core alter is the original part that existed within the internal family system, the first part of consciousness that was there before there were other parts. Not everyone has a core alter, but I believe I do.
The host is the dominant alter who is present, the one who has executive control more often than the rest. This part spends the most time being "out." This title may shift from one alter to another depending on life's circumstances, unlike other titles of alters.)
An introject is an alter whose identity is based on an external character, either a real person (past or present) or a fictional character. Examples: a family member, past president, or Peter Pan.
Protective alters & abusive parts exist as well.
There are other types of alters, but these are the primary ones that typically exist within a dissociative identity.
When a different alter comes out & takes control, or executive function, of the person, both mind & body, they may or may not be aware of the shift. The part of consciousness previously “out” goes into "hiding" as another alter takes over.
Some people, such as myself, will have a system that works less identifiably than that, though, as several alters will be present at once, causing even more chaos & confusion & dehabilitation than a shift to one alter might cause.
I will work to write more in depth about what alters are & how they operate in the near future. I am also working on more posts going into further detail of each of my alters, including photographs of them. Stay tuned! & feel free to contact me with comments & questions in the meantime!
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