Creating Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder

April 26, 2015 Sherry Polley

Creating alters (alternate personalities) in dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a helpful way to deal with different personalities. I don't know exactly how to tell someone to create an alter, but it seems that when there is a need for one, it will come to be. One such time was with my little girl alter. Her name is Colette, and she is five years old. Colette taught me about creating alters with dissociative identity disorder.

Who Can Create an Alter in Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Alters in dissociative identity disorder can be created by other alters. How does this happen? Read about  what it's like when one DID alter creates another.

In this particular case, it was actually one of my alters who saw a need and therefore practiced creating an alter in my dissociative identity disorder. Being only five years old, Colette had a lot of neediness. She became frightened often and didn't like to be alone. Because of this, Colette created an alter. We came to call this personality, "Mother." Any one of a person's alter personalities can create a new alter.

Mother was just that, a mother. She was always with Colette and she held her. Mother would rock Colette and sing beautiful lullabies. Mother wore a white dress and had a gentle touch. She told Colette useful information. One time, when Colette was playing in a park, Mother told her that it wasn't safe to cross the nearby road. This information protected Colette, as she listened to Mother and did not cross the road.

What is the Downside to Creating Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder?

As helpful as Mother was to Colette, there is a down side to creating alters in dissociative identity disorder. When you create an alter, it is one more personality that you have to work with. Mother was a complete alter, with a full range of character traits, and some of them were unpredictable and unpleasant.

Mother would hold Colette, but then when Colette wanted to go play, Mother would not let her go. She would hold onto Colette, tightly and become aggressive. This always scared Colette and made her cry. She loved Mother, but Mother was not always good to her. Mother was one more complete personality that the rest of us had to work with. She helped in many ways, but she also complicated things, in ways. This is something to think about when you or one of your alters begins to create another alter in dissociative identity disorder.

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APA Reference
Polley, S. (2015, April 26). Creating Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Sherry Polley

April, 29 2015 at 9:02 am

Rarely are alters created with intention as described in this post. Most are created in moments of intense distress or need without conscious choice or thought (as implied by the last lines of the blog post)... In fact, most alters are created in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood to deal with the outside world and circumstances and these inside Ones can cause problems in the adult multiple/dissociator's life due to their very nature of being fairly static and not being adaptable and flexible to life's changing circumstances.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 2 2019 at 1:57 am

Speak for your own people Chris. One of us is making a new one as I’m typing this and has been for a couple of weeks. New alters are created through your life if they’re needed. [moderated] Don’t belittle others abilities. ?

May, 2 2015 at 8:01 pm

Thank you for your comment, Chris. I agree with you 100%. I am curious as to the point of posting this piece. Seems less than helpful and bordering on misinformation. Either way, it is in no way the norm, so why not post something that would actually help people? Sorry if I sound bitter; this piece actually made me pretty angry.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Sherry Polley
May, 3 2015 at 11:36 pm

I can only post about my own experience. I live with DID so I imagine that I am not the only one who has had these experiences. I am not a doctor, an author, or a professional in any way. I just write about what I've gone through. I'm sorry that my experience angers you.

May, 11 2015 at 11:51 am

I have a little girl alter also that is very isolated and often scared. As DID is relatively new to me I am trying to figure out how to comfort her when she is out....which right now seems impossible. But, something my therapist and I are trying to work on now.

Nicole pope
June, 2 2017 at 6:21 pm

Thank you. does alters usually have names? Or titles? I've been going to church and that it could be three major things that is causing my illness. People asked me, If I was schizophrenic, and I told them no. Except for the people who are close to me. I've told people that I am not schizophrenic. Ive realised that disassociation has a lot to do with the imagination and that you disassociate from yourself because of beliefs. Disassociation has nothing to do with the brain but your identity and who you are, and your understanding. Naturally as human beings we disassociate when we look at others and imagine them in our minds eye. When we think about others we disassociate. It's natural. Children often disassociate in imaginative play. We often disassociate in our creativity. But when we start to look at ourselves and disassociate it becomes unnatural. It all sarts with a thought......"this is not me." Then you start to question your identity and the whole works. I
It becomes a thing that we can overcome if we just accept every piece of the puzzle and remind our selves that nothing is wrong with us. That it's just a belief, and we can overcome and accomplish anything. We are beautiful creatures. With beautiful minds. We are wonderfully made and wonderfully set. Our minds were made to function in a way that allows us to disassociate. We were made to be at our best. The moment you believe that your disassociating and looking to the outside world to find your identity is the moment you fail in your recuperation and healing. You are taking responsibility for your healing. You are responsible. Another thing that causes disassociation is a lack of patience. You have to be patient. Being patient requires a lot of energy but it is well worth it at the end of everything.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Crystalie Matulewicz
June, 25 2017 at 10:50 am

Dissociation has a lot to do with the brain. While there are different theories on DID particularly, with some people believing we start as multiple and fail to form as one, or that we start as one and form parts in response to trauma, dissociation definitely has connection to the brain. It's not about imagination. There is a difference.

July, 30 2017 at 12:58 am

I have DID, I have a protector/persecuter who is increasingly difficult and destructive to other parts. Just as the therapist seems to make breakthrough with him, another more violent alter locks him away and creates a new alter with the same function, to be destructive towards the "other parts" and keep them in line and not talking. I'm very anxious about this. Does that happen or am I going crazy?

September, 13 2017 at 9:59 pm

My psychologist says i have a part DID. It supposedly affects my emotions severely. Sometimes i can't remember what happened until a few days later. And it may sound strange, but when I'm stressed to the max, i go off on my own to talk to myself. Not out loud, but in my own head. The voices that talk back are not my own, but i feel like it's something i honestly would think about. Am i crazy?

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