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Types of Alters: ANPs & EPs.

*Please note, I am writing from the perspective of my own personal experience with DID, dissociative identity disorder. Every dissociative identity, including details about ANPs & EPs, are unique & be very different from person to person. This is not necessary applicable for every case of DID, please keep in mind.

What are the types of alters? There are two types of alters: ANPs & EPs. Apparently normal parts (ANPs) are responsible for day to day tasks in external life. Emotional parts (EPs) hold trauma & are often more in charge of aspects of the internal world.

What are fragments? Fragments are partial alters classified as emotional parts. Fragments are 2-dimensional alters, rather than fully formed alternate states of consciousness that may appear, internally &/or externally, as alternate identities.

How do you identify the difference between ANPs & EPs? The key element in differentiating ANPs from EPs is discovering their specific purpose for existing.

Another factor in identifying different parts is observing the details of their presence. For me personally, ANPs are much more noticeable when present, while EPs are much more subtle. ANPs alter my perception of everything, including external/ physical senses. EPs, however, are more of an emotional experience, & it's far more difficult to notice their presence until they've full taken control & I'm spiraling & don't understand why or how to stop it.

ANPs are more obvious, while EPs are more harmful.

Recognizing the Presence of EPs. Everyone's parts manifest differently, since the internal family system of a dissociative identity are as unique as the (sub)consciousness that creates them. My emotional parts are quite clearly noticeable, though, by a few tell-tale makers: self-destructive behaviours (eating disorder tendencies, self-harming, substance abuse, suicidal tendencies/ attempts), limited narrow-minded perspective of life & the world (black & white thinking common in BPD & PTSD) causing a distorted sense of reality (often leading to/ feeding suicidal depression), & so on & so forth. Suicidal parts are likely to throw or give away personal belongings that I later on realize I desperately wanted to keep.

ANPs can be destructive too, but I experience their self-destructive behaviours in a more external sense. For example, Krystal will push herself working for endless hours without taking a break, & she'll give endlessly into helping someone who doesn't return that friendship, & she's terrible at caring for herself. Krystal refuses to believe she needs to care for herself, & this self-neglect is a form of personal abuse because she is not making sure her needs are met, she's setting unrealistic expectations for herself, & she's investing in unhealthy relationships.

Another example is Misty, who's extremely prone to promiscuity & using substance. These reckless impulses have led to extraordinarily self-destructive behaviours with dire consequences over the past ten years. Not knowing all of the drugs I've used or people I've slept with is yet another "side effect" of having this complex medical condition where dissociative amnesia is a constant battle.

Example of Alter Jobs. Here's some insight into the jobs of my alters, as I understand them thus far, beginning with ANPs & ending with EPs. (Please click here for an overview of my 15 alters.)

Kristin, the ANP host of the system, is the alter who is out most of the time. She helps us learn new information & make rational decisions based on all the information rather than our biased, emotional opinion. She matures with age, unlike most other alters within our internal family system.

Bambi is a little, a child in our system, who happens to be quite free-spirited. She keeps life exciting by appreciating the small joys of life & by viewing the world from a child’s beautiful perspective. With Bambi's help, we explore nature with great glee & thrill, allowing every tiny detail to add to the exciting drama of a story unfolding. She appreciates the details of bugs & other various aspects of nature. Bambi is easily entertained & prevents boredom from triggering us by keeping us entertained with adorable observations regarding our surroundings.

Krystal, the ANP caregiver, rules the domain of adulting responsibilities, such as cleaning, budgeting, planning, & organizing. She is also the teacher of the group, being gifted in everything from tutoring to public speaking. Krystal is the one who started our small businesses, the most successful ones being Animal Come-Along Petting Zoo in elementary school, & Kwin's Care for Kiddos when college began. She is our greatest connection with children & animals & allows us to fully & comfortably interact with them. Misty, the "partygirl protector," helps us socialize & release tension & stress at a variety of social gatherings. She is the wonderful reason we meet so many new people! Her lack of anxiety allows us to be more spontaneous than usual. Thanks to Misty, we can dance our worries away; we can even enjoy an intimate connection with no emotional ties to risk getting hurt.

Monika: responsible for managing pain & anger; helps us cope when things initially start growing dark by disconnecting us from the exhausting obligations of life, usually by binge watching television shows & eating junk food & taking naps; the perfectionist, workaholic, socialite, & emotional parts within us all get a break when she's out.

Ocean Eyes: the core alter, meaning the original part of consciousness, so I am guessing she holds the trauma of whatever originally happened to cause a dissociative identity to form, but nothing is known for certain in that regards; a very peaceful state to be in despite the disconnection from reality & the body.

Kingsley: carries a great deal of trauma so that it doesn’t weigh us down like it otherwise would; complete disconnection from emotions; rather than being completely empathic like Kristin, Kingsley is incapable of empathy, protecting her from all emotions threatening sanity; complete disconnection from body, which is why Kingsley uses self-harm to effectively manage the subconscious pains that threaten sanity.

The dark entity: abuser & punisher; verbally assaults other parts.

My first fragment: experiences PTSD episodes in the form of severely intense & terrifyingly awful physical body sensations, which often result in full body tremors that can appear like mild seizures; experiences fainting-type spells where I physically pass out while remaining mentally conscious, collapsing to the floor helplessly without any muscle control to break my fall; feelings of constant terror, never-ending fear, helpless anxiety, mental terror, & emotional torture overwhelm me, causing me to become overwhelmed with helplessness & hopelessness, feeling awful in every way, on all fronts, in every imaginable aspect.

An Aspect of My Dissociative Memory. In my experience, emotional parts hold all pain & block off memory access from ANPs so they can remain unaffected by all the pain, anger, & suffering happening subconsciously. The EPs take care of the darkest pains so the ANPs can continue to appear normal, to the outside/external world & even, often times, to myself, causing the root of the problem to remain a concealed mystery.

What do you by "spectrum of emotion"? Each alter has a unique spectrum of emotion.

EPs feel neglected, causing deep sorrow & anger. ANPs feel restless, often causing them to "break free" & come forward & "take over" (rather than compromising & working with me, since I failed to approach them in that manner).

How do alters work together? To super summarize, the ANPs come out & front in the body as needed to take care of external responsibilities, while EPs keep the emotional pain & effects of trauma at bay within the back parts of the brain. It's when ANPs do not surface & we need them, &/or when EPs surface & we don't want them to, that we experience chaos within the mind & the parts do not seem to be effectively working together as they'd hoped.

In my experience, EPs cannot function in the "real world" on their own, & ANPs cannot cope with trauma or any sort of emotional experience on their own. They are necessary for the other to exist. They are the yin & yang within my consciousness. If EPs are present without an ANP, I am disabled, bedridden as I ride endless waves of irrational emotions. If ANPs are present without an EP, I am disconnected from all trauma & capable of enjoying life in that moment, although I won't necessarily have access to my true identity (in terms of "staying true to myself," it won't always happen, but at least I'll be able to enjoy existence again).

How do you begin identifying various parts? It's all about observing personality discrepancies & taking notes in some capacity to later on piece together the puzzle fully.

  • the way I make eye contact with other people, strangers on the street or a loved one in conversation

  • posture of my body: even when I try to intentionally adjust it, it returns to this posture

  • taste desires: wanting to eat or drink a different snack or meal than usual, having a different tolerance for spicy/ sweet/ salty foods

  • music & movie preferences

  • sociability: introverted, extroverted, social anxieties, extremely outgoing, chatty, quiet, tone of voice I tend to use, volume level I tend to speak at ('indoor/ outdoor voice'), etc.

  • activity desires & how I seek to spend free time

  • emotional reactions & mental responses to stimuli; thought patterns in general

Examples of Alter Observations.

When I shift to an EP, my goals & to do lists & plans usually don't change, but my ability to accomplish those tasks does entirely, which often leads to suicidal depression & moments of, "How did I sink so low when I was doing SO well just a few hours ago/ just yesterday?!?"

When I shift to an ANP, my desires shift dramatically: I was content relaxing at home & now I'm getting ready to go be social quite sporadically; I was intently enjoying an adult television show when I randomly switch it to a kid's television series;

Effectively Coping with the Presence of Parts. Coping with ANPs & EPs is dramatically different for me since those types of parts appear & are designed so differently.

ANPs need to stay physically busy, while EPs cope best in a relaxed setting, often remaining in bed for days on end.

The Greatest Challenge. Above all, respecting each part is most important, regardless of actual feelings towards that part. Even if its upsetting & frustrating as hell that a part can't "grow up" etc., it is still a part of who I am, & treating it with anything less than respect will only hurt my own self in the end.

Authentic LOVE is "letting others voluntarily evolve," which means loving someone where they're at without demands or expectations & allowing their personal growth & radical transformation to happen naturally. When loved properly, with dedicated & authenticity, parts can't help but want to evolve & grow & heal.

[[A Work In Progress. To Be Continued.]]

beginning the meticulous process of self-awareness that will someday allow for better management of the EPs.