About DID

Here's a basic glossary of terms which are unique to the DID or mental health community. This is a work in progress and I will continue to add to it as time allows. If you come across a term or phrase that you don't understand, feel free to comment the entry and ask. I'll post the definition here.

Alter: My term of choice for others in the System. In the psychiatric community, an alter is defined as an alternate personality, personality state, ego state or identity with its own unique perspectives, abilities, memories or other traits that differ from the Host or Executive personality.

Anniversary: Aside from the common understanding of the word, for trauma survivors, anniversaries of specific events can often create problems. This can range from a heightened emotional state, anxiety to fully reliving the event in detail.

Being Out: The experience of being in control of the body, interacting with those outside the system or the world in general. Also known as Fronting.

Body Memory: While it's the brain and not the body that remembers... body memory describes reliving an event though physical pain or other sensation. For instance, if a person has been raped, retelling the event even years later can bring with it all the same physical sensation felt during the original trauma. Body memories can sometimes offer clues to the source of a present stress.

Co-consciousness: When two or more parts of a system share awareness of the inner and outer world and sometimes control. They are not always aware of it (as in the case of some of the first posted writing). Some prefer to call it Co-presence. Co-consciousness can be a valuable tool for learning to work together, however more and more multiples believe it is not a necessary part of recovery.

Borderline Personality Disorder:  This diagnosis can be the bane of a Multiple's existence. Until the last 8 years or so, BPD was a throwaway diagnosis for self-injuring females who didn't react well to stress. This diagnosis followed me for more than 10 years and helped muddy the waters toward the right diagnosis. However, what it really is...

(BPD) Borderline personality disorder is best understood as an attachment disorder. "The essential feature of Borderline Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts," as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

•    Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
•    A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
•    Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self- image or sense of self
•    Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self- damaging
•    Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self- mutilating behavior
•    Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood
•    Chronic feelings of emptiness
•    Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger
•    Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.
In Borderline Personality Disorder, there is a likelihood of a trauma history: "Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, hostile conflict, and early parental loss or separation are more common in the childhood histories of those with Borderline Personality Disorder." Adapted from DSM-IV, pp. 650-654.(from the sidrin foundation)

Delayed Memory: This term is often used interchangeably with Repressed Memory or False Memory, though they are not the same thing. Delayed or Repressed memory is when someone remembers an event or period of time for which they have previously been amnestic. There is a lot of controversy around the various terms as many believe delayed memory to be an understandable and normal reaction to traumatic events with others believing them to be planted by therapists of falsified by the patient.

Dissociation: The separation of ideas, feelings, information, identity, or memories that would normally go together. Dissociation exists on a continuum: At one end are mild dissociative experiences common to most people (such as daydreaming or highway hypnosis) and at the other extreme is severe chronic dissociation, such as DID (MPD) and other dissociative disorders. Dissociation appears to be a normal process used to handle trauma that over time becomes reinforced and develops into maladaptive coping. (source: sidrin.org)

Flashback: A type of spontaneous abreaction common to victims of acute trauma. Also known as "intrusive recall," flashbacks have been categorized into four types:
•    dreams or nightmares
•    dreams from which the dreamer awakens but remains under the influence of the dream content and has difficulty making contact with reality
•    conscious flashbacks, in which the person may or may not lose contact with reality and which may be accompanied by multimodal hallucinations
•    unconscious flashbacks, in which a person "relives" a traumatic event with no awareness at the time or later of the connection between the flashback and the past trauma.
(source: Putnam, Diagnosis and Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder, pp. 236-237.)

Dx: Shortened term for Diagnosis.


Grounding - is the process of disrupting a dissociative episode and is accomplished by tugging on an earlobe, rubbing the hands together, or shuffling the feet back and forth. This type of physical stimuli can bring the survivors mind back to awareness of their surroundings, and helps to make them feel less animated.

Host: is the alter personality who dominates the control of the body most of the time and is often unaware of the other personalities. The host is usually the alter personality who will initiate after experiencing symptoms of mental distress, such as , anxiety, triggers or recovered memories.

Inner (Self) Helper: is usually the alter personality who has a good understanding of the system and how it works. The I.S.H. is also among the typical group of helpers or protector personalities.

Integration: is the final stage of blending or integration when all of the barriers of the conscious mind have been broken down completely and the whole system is united into one personality and can function "as one" on a long-term basis.

Losing time: Also known as a Dissociative Fugue, is the period of which an alter personality is in the subconscious mind and has no recollection of the time that is being utilized by the alter personality who is occupying the conscious mind. Therefore when the alter switches into the conscious mind they realize that minutes, hours, days, or even months and years have passed since they were last aware of time.

Switching: The process of an alter coming out from the subconscious mind into the consciousness mind while the other alter (who was already in the consciousness mind) slips back into the subconscious mind.

System: is the structure of relationships between the alter personalities who live within the internal world of a survivor with D.I.D.! Every system is created and operates in it's own unique way, just like every family living in their own homes run their households different from the next door neighbor.

Trauma: An episode or event that overwhelms the mind's defenses and causes lasting emotional harm. Psychological trauma include natural disasters, accidents, or human actions which cause the victim to be terrified, helpless, and under extreme mental and physical stress.

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Here are some links for basic information. I'll add books, articles and other resources over the next few months.


These links are personal websites of those with DID or are specifically related to issues of interest for multiples, their family and friends.

The Definitive Manual for the Significant Other: I found this in 1999. Aside from affirming the need for a sense of humor, it let Charlie know he was NOT alone.
Astraea's Web: This is one of the longest running site devoted to issues of multiplicity. It's an invaluable resource that also acknowledges the debates over DID vs. MPD and Integration vs. Co-existence. This site endorses the growing idea that multiples are born multiple. I do not personally believe this, however I do agree that empowerment and personal responsibility are vital to living a healthy life.
Restoration in Christ Minitries About DID page: You don't have to be a Christian to find value in this definition and view on DID/MPD.