2 Techniques for Dialoguing with Alter Personalities
I've lived virtually my whole life with a vague but pervasive sense that somewhere there were people I couldn't see who knew things about me I didn't. When I was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, I finally understood that the information I wasn't privy to existed in my own head, guarded by alter personalities. I naively thought I could simply ask and all would be revealed to me. I quickly learned that developing internal communication isn't nearly that easy. But there are dialoguing techniques that can help.
Write Letters to Alter Personalities
This is perhaps the most oft recommended way of dialoguing within the dissociative identity disorder system. In my experience the suggestion is accompanied with the directive to offer comfort, acceptance, and gratitude to the alter personalities you're addressing. But it's also been my experience that faking it won't help.
The most dramatic shift I've had to date began with a letter in which I expressed my genuine feelings of anger and powerlessness. I felt no gratitude at the time. I had no comfort to offer, and I certainly didn't claim to accept things as they were. What ensued was a series of mutually honest letters that culminated in an agreement that quite literally changed everything for my system. I firmly believe no lasting change can happen without gratitude. But you have to start somewhere. And forcing yourself to express feelings that aren't sincere isn't the place.
Dialogue with Alter Personalities Through Art
I'm nothing short of amazed at the enormous potential for healing in any artistic endeavor. What's most impressive to me is the dialoguing that can take place without any conscious effort. If I create - through any medium - simply by following what attracts me without attempting to make sense of my choices, I am communicating with my system. I think this works so well partly because it bypasses cognitive reasoning, and partly because it creates a mild hypnotic effect, which can open a door into the dissociative identity disorder system.
While it's important not to impose any hard and fast rules, I get the most out of dialoguing through art when I:
- Avoid judgment. If I feel the inclination to paint a red lollipop on the side of a house, I do it regardless of whether or not it makes sense.
- Talk about it when I'm done. Even if I have to pretend my listener exists, I explain my artwork and creative choices to someone. Just by talking about the red lollipops their meaning becomes clear.
Dialoguing with Alter Personalities Gets Easier
I've discovered that utilizing these and other techniques regularly pays off in more ways than one. Not only am I more knowledgeable about my system, I also feel more connected to others in it and, therefore, myself. This increased awareness creates opportunities to learn and connect more, which makes communication easier and more efficient. It's a cumulative process and one that's essential to treating dissociative identity disorder.
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Gray, H. (2010, November 29). 2 Techniques for Dialoguing with Alter Personalities, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2010/11/2-techniques-for-dialoguing-with-alter-personalities
Author: Holly Gray
I’ve found this website so useful. I’m a transition worker for a charity and I am currently working with someone who has DID. She has virtually no support at the moment apart from me and she’s really struggling at the moment. I am the only person in my charity that has seen her alters and I mostly see the youngest one who is around 7 years of age. The woman I support is 25. She has a couple who are very angry and there is self-harm. I am extremely worried but I could do with some advice of how to converse with her alters, particularly the angry ones. I also don’t want to trigger or antagonise any of the alters.
Any advice or guidance would be greatly welcomed as the support in the UK for someone with this diagnosis is not great and the last thing I want is her getting sectioned (I think that would make things much worse).
When we want to tell something to the others, we just take a cassette recorder, record what we want to say and we carry it around with us. when one of us takes over the body, he or she just reaches for the recorder to check for new messages. at night, we hang the recorder from the doorknob, so that in the morning, whoever took over the body during the night sees it and checks it.
It never fails, at least for us.
And yes, we like to speak in plural. it's more fun and gets people even more confused.
At last I know I'm not crazy...
I had two alters inside of me...
I knew one to be female but I really couldn't place the identity of the other one though I think he's male...
The female one usually had a clash with the male and they'd be a confusing fight going on in my head but no one really knows just me...
For now, I no longer feel the female one's presence but instincts is still around..(instincts, that's what I call him.) ...He's awesome and I feel like only him really understands me...
He knows me like everything about me... Like everything I don't know...
I put on character masks a lot..
Like everytime I'm with people, its a different character....
I hate people cause I feel like they just want to judge me..
I'm great at pretending and I get confused a lot ..
I'm 17 and I don't have a boyfriend though most kids my age do but connecting with someone and having to share my everything feeling with them is what I can't do with anyone else except instincts cause he's my best friend and I love him...
He helps me a lot and he tells me stuff I should and shouldn't do...
I don't have a hard time switching character with my alters because we connect though we argue alot but we love ourselves and there's nothing better than that...
Being with them is better than being with people...
Right now it's a 100% controlled environment until I pick up a pen. A lot of forgotten trauma has come out and I question the truth in it, too. I would love your feedback.
First off, I wanted to thank you for sharing this post. Really. I don't have D.I.D but my mother does. I am also her caretaker. I was talking to her this morning and I asked her if I could try to communicate with them through letters (like she has before herself, in the past). She said she didn't mind but that it was up to them, of course, to respond to me or not.
I was wondering if you had any advice for someone like myself. Anything I should try to stray away from saying/asking? Maybe anything I SHOULD say or ask? I just don't want to do anything to set her balance off, I don't think anyone else has ever tried to communicate with them like this before but her. So I am not sure how they will react.
I do also know they love to come out and play with my 2 year old daughter. If that helps at all. They aren't afraid to talk to me, sometimes they do try to trick me into thinking its not them and she hasn't switched, but I can usually tell. This is really the only reason I'm not 110% sure. I don't think it would upset them at all, since I'm one of the only people they are comfortable coming out in and being in front of, but at the same time, I am not sure.
I really want to do this though. It is probably just as much for myself as it is for her, I do have questions myself, but I really just want to help my mother. Help her understand more of herself and her other personalities and the reason 'why'? If this makes sense. I just want to help her.
Thank you. So much. For everything. Sharing this post and what you've gone through and helping others as well as any possibly help or advice you have for me. <3 <3 <3
It's impossible to tell you the right or wrong way to go about this, but I think it's great that you are trying.
Just as you try to get to know a person first as you meet them, try to get to know her alters. You can ask basic questions and see how well they respond to that. Remind them that you are a safe person. I wouldn't purposely go into anything trauma-related, as that could make things worse.
I do not have DID but the one I love does and it terrifies her. I am trying to understand how best I can help her, whether and how I should communicate with her alters (they do sometimes suddenly talk to me), and just generally how not to make things more difficult for her.
Thank you again for the guidance and help you share.
Just found this blog- glad to hear others with DID.
I'm not officially diagnosed yet- but with all the research I've done and
insights into the bizarre behaviour of my past (& present) I am already
concluding that I have at least a dissociative disorder.
I am in therapy now- very lucky to have found a good therapist- he uses
the Internal Family Systems approach- which I find very helpful.
I'm taking a few pills just to help "take the edge off" - for anxiety & depression.
I do feel very chaotic and am changing my stance on things from day to day.
I don't know what will happen with my relationship. There's A LOT of pain inside- been there for so long. I get overwhelmed with trying to comfort that pain.
I bought some journals to give space for each part.
Just feeling overwhelmed today.
Hope to hear more from others with DID...
Thanks for the space to post.
I was diagnosed with DID (then Multiple Personality Disorder)in 1992, by an expert in the field. She was fantastic and we worked together for 6 years. unfortunately there wasn't much scope or opportunity for her to develop further in the country where we live, so she went to Holland to do research and work. After that we just bumbled and stumbled through every day,pretty much.
In this country, there is little or no real support for DID and the few therapists who treat it are very expensive and we have not yet found one who has much experience at all. I can identify with the bloggers who have posted on all your blogs and have / have had similar experiences an symptoms. We are pretty much in a good space as far as internal understanding and communication is concerned but there every now and then the system is put under pressure and de-stabilised again and new 'members' reveal themselves / demand body-time etc. For me, it is about unconditional acceptance, trust, nurturing, trust, understanding, trust, consideration of the needs of others, trust, caring and more trust. Trust is the hardest thing to do and to gain and the easiest to lose!
We are in a crisis situation with huge decisions to make and it was in the search for support and an understanding ear or two, that I came across your Blog.
I hope someone out there sees this and connects to help alleviate this feeling of 'aloneness' and being overwhelmed by all that's going on.
I know there is a place on this website to help locate good therapists, but I'm not sure where. I started out with a very good one that has experience with DID. I'm from Ohio in case u r too. You can join some DID groups on this site & there might be some help there. Lots of good info.
Thanks for your responses,
Thank you for your comment (and for reading!)
The site will not send an alert when there are replies, no. I apologize for the inconvenience.
I have a very good therapist, yes. I can understand why parts of you would be reticent to enter therapy, but I do believe it's incredibly difficult to do much healing without aid and support. If you decide to consider looking for a therapist, I recommend checking the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation online (see their Find-A-Therapist feature) and the Sidran Institute's website: isst-d.org and sidran.org respectively.
There are no medication specifically for Dissociative Identity Disorder. Many people with DID do take medications to help manage some of the symptoms and problems that often accompany DID, e.g. depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress.
I hope to see you again, Adrienne.
I feel like screaming. Hiding, sleeping. make it all go away.
I let very few people close to me & no one for long. My children are used to me. I'm good at covering things, so they just think I'm a "ditz" sometimes. They do know I'm in therapy though & they know I have some issues...just not labeled DID.
It will come out at some point...I'm just not ready for that hurdle yet.
Thanks for your comments. I also do not like to hand write anything. My handwriting is so different at times. Sometimes it looks so childish. I just don't like my handwriting.
Right now I'm suppose to be somewhere and find it hard to leave the house. Don't really know why. Do you have that too. It seems that I have to be 'late' to push myself out. Then when I'm out I want to go everywhere and can't seem to make myself stop. This is where the Fibromyalgia comes in and I crash in pain from that. I started Cymbalta about 2 months ago and it has helped with the pain so that it is not so harsh on me. still get tired and hurt. Well I was suppose to meet a friend at her house right now so I'd better go. talk later.
I'm suprised you haven't told anyone. Don't they see something different in you?
I sure can relate to the spelling thing. It happens all the time. I want to invent a pen w/ spell check in it!!! That's why I prefer to just type things out, so I don't have to worry about it as much. "WORD" can correct me.
Finding this site has helped me not to feel so alone. It is hard when those around you don't know how to relate. In my case no one knows I have DID but my therapist, so they really can't even try to relate. Being here has helped me be able to share what's inside with those who know and understand, but I'm still able to hide. For me, that's very comforting.
Thanks for your comment.
DID certainly can make navigating life a confusing endeavor. I do think internal communication helps to ease that, but it doesn't make the confusion go away entirely. Not for me anyway. Still, next to educating myself about my disorder, internal communication has been the most important factor for me in easing all manner of DID related problems.
Good luck with the journaling. I hope you find it as helpful as I have in my own life.
My journal looks like one big jumbled up mess. Total chaos! But at my very core, I like to be an organized person. I may try this to see if it works. I hope you will let us know if it is working for you as well.
Thanks for the feedback on the headaches. They have been a constant part of my life for as long as I can remember. I've had the MRI scans, and tried all kinds of medication, and nothing works. It just seems that they are a part of all this. But maybe if we can quiet some of the internal chaos, we will eventually get some relief.
Headaches are a regular part of my life.
I have just recently discovered this in me and I'm still very in denial which has also cause the "normal" chattering in my head between them to be absolutely deafening quiet. They can make me feel absolutely cut off if I'm not acknowledging them or am convincing myself it's all in my head.
Those techniques are wonderful. If I feel a little stuck it helps to begin writing with my non-dominant hand, too.
If I know an alter's name I write it down on colored index cards, too, along with their ages, purpose, and anything else they may want to share about themselves.
Thanks for the words of encouragement. I realize now that I was on a bit of a rant, and I'm feeling a bit embarrassed.
"It might help you to know that the fear, need for isolation, and feeling like a freak that you describe is classic."
This is so very helpful to know. I will remind myself of that. I am so glad I found this blog, and can read the experiences of others. Reading about carla's experience with isolation, and your feelings of desperation, chaos, and confusion after your diagnosis, really helps me to make some sense out of what I'm feeling. I am not glad that you have gone through these feelings, but I find comfort in knowing that these feelings are normal.
I promise you that your blog is not misleading. I actually find it very down to earth, real, and heartfelt. I come here because I know that I have so much to learn, and I need these tools that you are offering. I really am soaking it all in.
I wholeheartedly agree with carla that what you're describing sounds like fear, not laziness. I also echo her message that it does get easier.
It might help you to know that the fear, need for isolation, and feeling like a freak that you describe is classic. Not long after I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, I called an acquaintance that also had DID. I was terrified, lonely, and desperate. I told her about my diagnosis and stuttered my way through a panicked description of the chaos and confusion I was feeling. She asked me when I was diagnosed. I told her ... it had been a few months but no more than 6. She responded with a knowing "Aahhhh," and said, "Yeah you're in the really rocky stages now."
I've since learned how right she was. It can be misleading to read blogs like mine or books written by people with DID who seem calm, stable, happy, etc. Know that no matter how "together" we may appear and quite possibly be, we have all been through those terrifying, confusing early months and years and they have derailed us all. I don't think I've done the overwhelming confusion, fear, and desperation of learning you have DID justice yet here at Dissociative Living. I will try, though. Because over the years I've heard from people newly diagnosed with DID many times and without fail they all say the same things I did on the phone that day. It's important to me for you and others with DID to know you aren't a freak - you're a human being struggling under the weight of a heavy duty diagnosis and trying to make sense of yourself and your reality. It's not easy.
All the best.
We have actually had a couple people letting us down and slowly cutting relationship with us because they say we're just faking it or that we're the devil's creation, but f***them. We mean, if you love yourself and your headmates, what else do you need? Don't say food, water and air. This is actually one of the bes motivational speeches we've ever heard, although it's that simple and face-to-face style.
Thank you anyways.
A hug from Mexico.
-Riz, Aguilar, Rian, Mashie-
My first step this year was to keep a journal, which lead me to acceptance of my DID.
The last couple of days have been rough as I've been bouncing between anger, and a refusal to believe this is even real. I deep down know that it is real, but you know... There is like this huge argument going on inside my head right now.
All I want to do right now is isolate myself. Literally....isolation is what I really want. I want to stay locked inside my apartment, and not deal with any of this. I know it sounds lazy, and I'm sure I will snap out of this.
I also know that I will refer back to this post and use this to help guide me when I'm ready to try to communicate. So, thanks Holly for putting this out here. I'm listening, and soaking it in. I really am. Sorry for the rambling. :) -- Mareeya