Can alters in DID split?

Answered by Ricardo McCardle

Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) can split or fragment. Splitting refers to the process in which alters divide or separate from each other, creating new alters within the system. This can happen due to various factors such as trauma, stress, or the need for specialized functions or emotions.

When alters split, they may take from one or more source alters, incorporating some of their characteristics, memories, or abilities. This can result in new alters that have more substance or specific roles within the system. For example, if a source alter holds a particular skill or knowledge, the new alter may inherit or develop that skill as well.

On the other hand, new splits often experience a sense of disorientation, depersonalization, hollowness, flatness, or a feeling of being incomplete. These alters, referred to as fragments, may hold only a single primary function or emotion. They might lack a sense of identity or a cohesive sense of self, which can contribute to their feelings of incompleteness.

Fragments can serve different purposes within the system. Some may hold intense emotions or traumatic memories that are too overwhelming for other alters to handle. These fragments act as containers for these experiences, helping to protect the system from overwhelming emotions. Others may have specific functions, such as managing a particular task or carrying out a specific role within the system.

It is important to note that not all alters in a DID system are fragments. Some alters may be more fully formed with a distinct sense of identity, while others may be more fragmented. The degree of fragmentation can vary among individuals with DID.

In my experience working with individuals with DID, I have witnessed the complexities of alters splitting and forming fragments. It can be a confusing and challenging process for the individual, as well as for the therapist or support system involved. Understanding and addressing these fragments is an essential part of the therapeutic journey in DID treatment.

To summarize, alters in DID can split or fragment, creating new alters within the system. While some new splits may have more substance or specialized functions, many initially feel disoriented, depersonalized, hollow, flat, or incomplete. These fragmented alters, holding single primary functions or emotions, serve various purposes within the system. It is crucial to acknowledge and work with these fragments in the therapeutic process to support healing and integration.