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Dissociative Identity Disorder Terminology

DID Terms and Definitions

This Dissociative Identity Disorder terminology list was partly compiled with some references to did-research.org, though mostly via personal experience or interaction with the DID community. These terms and definitions are not exhaustive and Multiplied By One Org will continue building this resource.

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Persecutor: A persecutor holds more anger and can exhibit self-damaging behaviours, which can be, or seem to be, to sabotage the host. Despite the sometimes abrasive presentation, the source of this behaviour remains trauma and struggle. As with anyone, anger is a secondary emotion that may mask fear or vulnerability, and be a genuine but misguided attempt at wellbeing.

Abusive Introject

An alter that is based on someone involved with their trauma experienced. They may or may not see themselves as the individual they represent and may play the role of a persecutor*.

Alter: A dissociated, alternate self-state with their own age, gender, sexuality, perceived appearance, wants, needs, desires, opinions, memories, skills, abilities and even psychological disorders and physiological reactions. They may also be referred to as Headmates, System Mates, Others, or Parts.

Age Slider

An alter* that can present as different ages, sometimes within certain ranges or specific ages, sometimes with a different appearance, personality, job or set of memories associated with each age.

Host: The Host is the alter who is fronting the most often. The host can change from one to another, depending on time periods. Due to a misconception that Internal Family Systems is for DID, some perceive there to be a "Core" person, however, all self states are alters to each other, including the host.

***

Role: Some system roles can be protectors, persecutors, gatekeepers, memory holders, hosts, Littles, Middles, Teens... etc. Roles, even that of the host, can change over time. Just as anyone, alters are more dimensional than a single role, and we do not fit into a specific box. Roles are not required for an alter's place in the system to be valid or important.

Alter

A dissociated, alternate self-state with their own age, gender, sexuality, perceived appearance, wants, needs, desires, opinions, memories, skills, abilities and even psychological disorders and physiological reactions. May also be referred to as Headmates, System Mates, Others, or Parts. An alter may be the Host*, or of another role* in the system.

Memory Holder: An alter that holds memories that are usually traumatic in nature. However, memories are sometimes related to childhood innocence or a caring family that could not be seen in the same light as if the memories were accessible at the same time as memories regarding abuse.

Amnesia Barriers

A loss of memory, whether partial or complete, that blocks an alter, usually the host, from remembering a traumatic experience. While the Host may not recall, another alter can be a Memory Holder*.

Emotional Part (EP): The alters that represent the dissociation or contain the traumatic materials drawn forth by reminders of the trauma. They can be experienced as various aspects of dissociative flashbacks or negative emotions and are often unaware of the present. Despite this, they may still handle some daily life functions in some cases.

Apparently Normal Part

ANP are less emotion-heavy than an Emotional Part (EP)*. They are present-oriented and grounded alters that handle aspects of daily life. Includes social interaction and attachment, taking care of others, work, play, exploration, learning and caring for physical needs. They usually display avoidant behaviour towards reminders of their trauma or stress, such as amnesia, dissociation or numbing out emotional intensity.

Switching: When one alter stops fronting or "being in control" of the body, and a different alter fronts in their place. 

***

Voices: Some people with DID hear the voices of the alters inside of their heads. Some hear children laughing or crying. They may pick up specific words, which can often be one alter speaking to another.

Awakening

A system awakening refers to an increase in symptoms such as switching*, hearing voices*, and time loss due to amnesia barriers. This presentation can become more pronounced following a traumatic event that awakens a link within the mind to the past. This can also occur within a period of feeling safety and stability.

Little: A term for a child alter. Their presentation and manner of speaking reflects their young internal age. They may feel small and out of place in an adult body. Despite their age level, Littles are more aware of the world than children are.

Big

A term for an alter of adult age; usually used by littles* in the context of someone who looks out for them. Ex. "That's my Big," or "My Big told me..."

Alter: A dissociated, alternate self-state with their own age, gender, sexuality, perceived appearance, wants, needs, desires, opinions, memories, skills, abilities and even psychological disorders and physiological reactions. May also be referred to as Headmates, System Mates, Others, or Parts. An alter may be the Host, or of another role in the system.

(The) Body

An alter* who does not identify with their external appearance or age, or who may take themselves collectively in consideration may use the term, "The Body." An example could be, "That happened when the body was 14," as that alter may have been a different age at the time.

Co-Consciousness: A state in which two or more alters are present in or using the body at once or are aware of the outside world simultaneously. Alters may have varying degrees of control when co-conscious and may be aware of each other and each other’s thoughts or feelings to varying degrees, depending on the alter and the system. This term is often shortened to co-con.

Blendy

Describing oneself as feeling blendy is associated with being unsure of which of themselves they are. The person may feel like two or more alters at once, which is distinct from co-consciousness* in that it creates a feeling of confusion on where the identity of one alter starts and another begins.

Little: A term for a child alter. Their presentation and manner of speaking reflects their young internal age. They may feel small and out of place in an adult body. Despite their age level, Littles are more aware of the world than children are.

Caretaker

An alter that looks after Littles*, or generally younger, weaker or more vulnerable alters, tending to emotional wellbeing and safety.

Co-Fronting: A specific type of co-consciousness in which two or more alters are in control of the body at the same time to varying degrees. Alters may be aware of one another or own each other’s actions to varying degrees depending on the alters, the system and the situation.

Co-consciousness

A state in which two or more alters are present in or using the body at once or are aware of the outside world simultaneously. Alters may have varying degrees of control when co-conscious and may be aware of each other and each other’s thoughts or feelings to varying degrees, depending on the alter and the system. This term is often shortened to co-con, and does not necessarily imply co-fronting*. Some compare the experience to observing from the backseat of a car.

Co-Consciousness: A state in which two or more alters are present in or using the body at once or are aware of the outside world simultaneously. Alters may have varying degrees of control when co-conscious and may be aware of each other and each other’s thoughts or feelings to varying degrees, depending on the alter and the system. This term is often shortened to co-con, and does not necessarily imply co-fronting. Some compare the experience to observing from the backseat of a car.

Co-Fronting

A specific type of co-consciousness* in which two or more alters are in control of the body at the same time to varying degrees. Alters may be aware of one another or own each other’s actions to varying degrees depending on the alters, the system and the situation.

Host: The Host is the alter who is fronting the most often. The host can change from one to another, depending on time periods. Due to a misconception that Internal Family Systems is for DID, some perceive there to be a "Core" person, however, all self states are alters to each other, including the host.

Co-Hosts

While the host* of a system is the alter who fronts the most often, it is possible for two or more to share more significant time caring for daily needs. This is known as co-hosts or actively as co-hosting.

Masking: The attempt of an alter to present as though they are another alter, usually the host,, is known as Masking. The purpose is generally to blend in within situations or surroundings where it's safer or preferable to go unnoticed, or appear to be their normal or usual self. 

Covert System

A system in which switches or the differences between alters are not obvious, so only people who know them well can tell when someone else is fronting. It is easy to mistake these systems as being rarer as they are seen less frequently, however, this presentation is far more common. The distinction can be less apparent due to Masking*, as an attempt to fit in and go unnoticed.

DID: Dissociative Identity Disorder is a diagnostic label for when a person experiences two or more identity states, each with their own likes, ages, genders, and sometimes symptoms. Those with DID experience co-consciousness as well as amnesia barriers during switches.

***

Blendy: Describing oneself as feeling blendy is associated with being unsure of which of themselves they are. The person may feel like two or more alters at once, which is distinct from co-consciousness* in that it creates a feeling of confusion on where the identity of one alter starts and another begins.

Dissociation

An internal disconnect from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories, history, body or actions or between one and one’s surroundings that manifests as a sense of unreality or as slowed, fuzzy, nonsensical or disjointed thoughts, emotions or actions. One might feel like they, or their surroundings are unreal. In the case of DID*, the spectrum of dissociation also involves all presentations of Switching*, including feeling Blendy*.

Fugue: A dissociative fugue implies a change in personality presentation, memories, and self-perception or awareness and is accompanied by some form of travel. This travel can be as short as down the street, to another city, or another country. After what can be moments, to weeks or months, to years, the person returns to their previous self-state with amnesia of their Fugue.

Dissociative Amnesia

A state of unawareness or forgetfulness of varying periods of time that cannot be accounted for by ordinary memory processes. It is also an aspect of dissociative disorders that covers different degrees of amnesia, such as Fugue*.

Alter: A dissociated, alternate self-state with their own age, gender, sexuality, perceived appearance, wants, needs, desires, opinions, memories, skills, abilities and even psychological disorders and physiological reactions. May also be referred to as Headmates, System Mates, Others, or Parts. An alter may be the Host*, or of another role* in the system.

Dissociative Identity Disorder

DID is a diagnostic label for when a person experiences two or more identity states known as Alters*, each with their own likes, ages, genders, and sometimes symptoms. Those with DID experience co-consciousness as well as amnesia barriers during switches.

Front: The process of switching, becoming the person at the helm of the body, so to speak. The alter at the front is aware of the outside world and interacts using the body on a conscious level. After a switch, one might say they are at the Front.

***

System: The entire collection of alters within one body. Also known as a Household, Collective, Clan, or Crew.

Dormant/Dormancy

An alter that no longer Fronts* and is undetectable from the rest of the System* while unaware of the passing of time can be considered dormant, or in dormancy.

Apparently Normal Part: ANP are less emotion-heavy than an Emotional Part (EP)*. They are present-oriented and grounded alters that handle aspects of daily life. Includes social interaction and attachment, taking care of others, work, play, exploration, learning and caring for physical needs. They usually display avoidant behaviour towards reminders of their trauma or stress, such as amnesia, dissociation or numbing out emotional intensity.

Emotional Part (EP)

The alters that contain the traumatic materials drawn forth by reminders of the trauma. They can be experienced as various aspects of dissociative flashbacks or negative emotions and are often unaware of the present. Despite this, they may still handle some daily life or functions as an Apparently Normal Part (ANP)*, in some cases.

System Role: Some system roles can be protectors, persecutors, gatekeepers, memory holders, hosts, Littles, Middles, Teens... etc. Roles, even that of the host, can change over time. Just as anyone, alters are more dimensional than a single role, and we do not fit into a specific box. Roles are not required for an alter's place in the system to be valid or important.

Emotional Protector

An alter whose role* in the system is to take emotional abuse or comfort other alters to soften the effects of emotional trauma.

Abusive Introject: An alter that is based on someone involved with their trauma experienced. They may or may not see themselves as the individual they represent and may play the role of a persecutor.

Factive Introject

An alter with the form, personality, and possibly the psychological backstory e.g. memories of an outer-world person, whether a relative, a celebrity, or even an acquaintance. In the case of a base from an abuser, this would be further described an Abusive Introject*.

Source: A Source can refer to the inspiration behind an aspect or concept within an alter or the system as a whole, such as their name or system name. Source may also refer to the context of an Introject, whether Fictive or Factive, as the person or character they are based from.

Fictive Introject

An alter with the form, personality, and possibly the psychological backstory, e.g. memories of a fictional character, such as from a book or TV show. While they are distinct as their own individual from their Source*, they may struggle to come to terms with that distinction, or with feeling invalid and unreal.

Dissociation: An internal disconnect from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories, history, body or actions or between one and one’s surroundings that manifests as a sense of unreality or as slowed, fuzzy, nonsensical or disjointed thoughts, emotions or actions. One might feel like they, or their surroundings are unreal. In the case of DID*, the spectrum of dissociation also involves all presentations of Switching*, including feeling Blendy.

Floaty, Fuzzy

The words floaty or fuzzy are often used to describe the feeling related to Dissociating*. This can be like a floaty feeling inside the head, which is generally an unpleasant sensation.

Dissociative Amnesia: A state of unawareness or forgetfulness of varying periods of time that cannot be accounted for by ordinary memory processes. It is also an aspect of dissociative disorders that covers different degrees of amnesia, such as Fugue*.

Forgetting About Forgetting

After what may be a short switch that included Amnesia*, the person may feel disoriented, but blush off the feeling and move on. Due to this, they are unaware of the missing time, and thus, have forgotten about forgetting.

Alter: A dissociated, alternate self-state with their own age, gender, sexuality, perceived appearance, wants, needs, desires, opinions, memories, skills, abilities and even psychological disorders and physiological reactions. May also be referred to as Headmates, System Mates, Others, or Parts. An alter may be the Host*, or of another role* in the system.

Fragment

An alter that is not fully differentiated or developed and may represent a single function, memory, emotion or idea.

Fronting/Front: The process of switching, becoming the person at the helm of the body, so to speak. The alter at the front is aware of the outside world and interacts using the body on a conscious level. After a switch, one might say they are at the Front.

Fronter(s)

An alter or group of alters that frequently use the body, or at the Front*, and are responsible for daily life. Some refer to this as "Main Fronter(s)," which can change over time as to which alter or alters this defines.

Switching/Switch: When one alter stops fronting or "being in control" of the body, and a different alter fronts in their place. 

Fronting/Front

The process of Switching*, becoming the person at the helm of The Body*, so to speak. The alter at the front is aware of the outside world and interacts using the body on a conscious level. After a switch, one might say they are at the Front.

Front: The process of Switching, becoming the person at the helm of The Body, so to speak. The alter at the front is aware of the outside world and interacts using the body on a conscious level. After a switch, one might say they are at the Front.

Front Stuck

An alter that is at the Front* and is unable to switch for another part to then be in control, but who wishes to, can say they are front stuck.

Dissociative Amnesia: A state of unawareness or forgetfulness of varying periods of time that cannot be accounted for by ordinary memory processes. It is also an aspect of dissociative disorders that covers different degrees of amnesia, such as Fugue.

Fugue

A dissociative fugue implies a change in personality presentation, memories, and self-perception or awareness and is accompanied by some form of travel. This travel can be as short as down the street, to another city, or another country. After what can be moments, to weeks or months, to years, the person returns to their previous self-state with Amnesia* of their Fugue.

Integration: Integration refers to the breaking down of Amnesia Barriers* or dissociative walls in communication. Integration is progress in or awareness of each other, which can involve hearing each other, feeling each others feelings, or finding alternative ways to communicate. The term Integration is often mistaken for Fusion, in becoming one cohesive whole. While distinct terms, it requires integration to achieve fusion.

Functional Multiplicity

To achieve functional multiplicity is to Integrate* to the point of having less amnesia barriers and increased communication between alters. This is often a goal to function in day to day life while remaining a system of alters, and together, as one whole.

Integration refers to the breaking down of Amnesia Barriers* or dissociative walls in communication. Integration is progress in or awareness of each other, which can involve hearing each other, feeling each others feelings, or finding alternative ways to communicate. The term Integration is often mistaken for Fusion, in becoming one cohesive whole. While distinct terms, it requires integration to achieve fusion.

Fusion, Fuse

Through the use of integration*, there are some systems who choose to pursue fusion, which is to become one cohesive self. Two or more alters within a system can fuse, or if someone experiences final fusion, the theory is that they are no longer multiple selves and live as an individual. Despite fusion, some still identify with having DID, or with a differentiation from the singular norm.

Inner World: An internal manifestation in which alters reside and can interact when not fronting This can range from a single room to an entire town or supposed world.

***

Internal Self-Helper: An alter that holds vast amounts of knowledge about the system, alters, trauma and/or internal workings. They may or may not also function as a gatekeeper for the system alongside this.

***

Caretaker: An alter that looks after Littles, or generally younger, weaker or more vulnerable alters, tending to emotional wellbeing and safety.

Gatekeeper

An alter that controls switching, access to the front, access to certain areas of the Inner World* or access to certain alters or memories. They may or may not also serve as an Internal Self-Helper* or even the Caretaker* at times.

Dissociation: An internal disconnect from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories, history, body or actions or between one and one’s surroundings that manifests as a sense of unreality or as slowed, fuzzy, nonsensical or disjointed thoughts, emotions or actions. One might feel like they, or their surroundings are unreal. In the case of DID*, the spectrum of dissociation also involves all presentations of Switching*, including feeling Blendy.

Grounding

The act of grounding when Dissociated* implies an attempt to return to the present moment, sense of self, or surroundings, usually via activation of the senses. Grounding techniques can include listing things that can be seen, tasting strong flavours, stomping feet, or distinct smells.

Inner World: An internal manifestation in which alters reside and can interact when not fronting This can range from a single room to an entire town or supposed world.

Headspace

A conceptual space of the mind where alters are referenced as residing. One might say, "I heard them talking within the Headspace," or "The Headspace is really loud today." This is similar to Inner World, though not directly referencing structure. Consider the Inner World* as within the Headspace.

Fronting: The process of Switching*, becoming the person at the helm of The Body*, so to speak. The alter at the front is aware of the outside world and interacts using the body on a conscious level. After a switch, one might say they are at the Front.

Host

The Host is the alter who is Fronting* the most often. The host can change from one to another, depending on time periods. Due to a misconception that Internal Family Systems is for DID, some perceive there to be a "Core" person, however, all self states are alters to each other, including the host.

Fronting: The process of Switching*, becoming the person at the helm of The Body*, so to speak. The alter at the front is aware of the outside world and interacts using the body on a conscious level. After a switch, one might say they are at the Front.

Inner World

An internal manifestation in which alters reside and can interact when not Fronting* This can range from a single room to an entire town or supposed world.

Little(s): A term for a child alter. Their presentation and manner of speaking reflects their young internal age. They may feel small and out of place in an adult body. Despite their age level, Littles are more aware of the world than children are.

***

Outside Kids: A person with child alters known as littles who also has children in the external world may make the differentiation by use of the term Outside Kids.

Inside Kids

An inside kid is another term for Littles*, which is usually used by parents to distinguish from their children external to themselves, or Outside Kids*.

Little(s): A term for a child alter. Their presentation and manner of speaking reflects their young internal age. They may feel small and out of place in an adult body. Despite their age level, Littles are more aware of the world than children are.

***

Outside Kids: A person with child alters known as littles who also has children in the external world may make the differentiation by use of the term Outside Kids.

Integration

Integration refers to the breaking down of Amnesia Barriers* or dissociative walls in communication. Integration is progress in or awareness of each other, which can involve hearing each other, feeling each others feelings, or finding alternative ways to communicate. The term Integration is often mistaken for Fusion, in becoming one cohesive whole. While distinct terms, it requires integration to achieve fusion.

Voices: Some people with DID hear the voices of the alters inside of their heads. Some hear children laughing or crying. They may pick up specific words, which can often be one alter speaking to another.

Internal Communication

Refers to alters communicating with each other via various means, including speaking directly through Voices* within the mind, journalling, speaking aloud, or expression via thought that the others may hear.

Gatekeeper: An alter that controls switching, access to the front, access to certain areas of the Inner World* or access to certain alters or memories. They may or may not also serve as an Internal Self-Helper* or even the Caretaker* at times.

Internal Self-Helper (ISH)

An alter that holds vast amounts of knowledge about the system, alters, trauma and/or internal workings. They may or may not also function as a Gatekeeper* for the system alongside this.

Gatekeeper: An alter that controls switching, access to the front, access to certain areas of the Inner World* or access to certain alters or memories. They may or may not also serve as an Internal Self-Helper* or even the Caretaker* at times.

Little(s)

A term for a child alter. Their presentation and manner of speaking reflects their young internal age. They may feel small and out of place in an adult body. Despite their age level, Littles are more aware of the world than children are.

Host: The Host is the alter who is Fronting the most often. The host can change from one to another, depending on time periods. Due to a misconception that Internal Family Systems is for DID, some perceive there to be a "Core" person, however, all self states are alters to each other, including the host.

Masking

The attempt of an alter to present as though they are another alter, usually the Host*, is known as Masking. The purpose is generally to blend in within situations or surroundings where it's safer or preferable to go unnoticed, or appear to be their normal or usual self.

Co-Consciousness: A state in which two or more alters are present in or using the body at once or are aware of the outside world simultaneously. Alters may have varying degrees of control when co-conscious and may be aware of each other and each other’s thoughts or feelings to varying degrees, depending on the alter and the system. This term is often shortened to co-con, and does not necessarily imply co-fronting. Some compare the experience to observing from the backseat of a car.

Memory Barriers

Barriers in awareness or memory between alters experiences, feelings or intentions are common even for those who may be Co-Conscious. While the host may sense an alter, or communicate with them, there remain barriers that keep their individuality separate.

Alter: A dissociated, alternate self-state with their own age, gender, sexuality, perceived appearance, wants, needs, desires, opinions, memories, skills, abilities and even psychological disorders and physiological reactions. May also be referred to as Headmates, System Mates, Others, or Parts. An alter may be the Host, or of another role in the system.

Memory Holder

An alter* that holds memories that are usually traumatic in nature. However, memories are sometimes related to childhood innocence or a caring family that could not be seen in the same light as if the memories were accessible at the same time as those regarding abuse.

Switching/Switch: When one alter stops fronting or "being in control" of the body, and a different alter fronts in their place. 

Micro Switching

Micro switching describes very quick Switches* that can be a word, a sentence, or even an expression, then returning to the previous alter.

Alter: A dissociated, alternate self-state with their own age, gender, sexuality, perceived appearance, wants, needs, desires, opinions, memories, skills, abilities and even psychological disorders and physiological reactions. May also be referred to as Headmates, System Mates, Others, or Parts. An alter may be the Host, or of another role* in the system.

Middle(s)

A term for a pre-adolescent age Alter*. Some definitions place Middles between the ages of 8 and 11, though some people with DID hold varying viewpoints on this range.

Alter: A dissociated, alternate self-state with their own age, gender, sexuality, perceived appearance, wants, needs, desires, opinions, memories, skills, abilities and even psychological disorders and physiological reactions. May also be referred to as Headmates, System Mates, Others, or Parts. An alter may be the Host, or of another role* in the system.

Non-Human Alter

An Alter* that presents as an animal or fantasy creature due to their formative environment, specific traumas, function, purpose or disposition.

Inner World: An internal manifestation in which alters reside and can interact when not Fronting This can range from a single room to an entire town or supposed world.

***

Headspace: A conceptual space of the mind where alters are referenced as residing. One might say, "I heard them talking within the Headspace," or "The Headspace is really loud today." This is similar to Inner World, though not directly referencing structure. Consider the Inner World as within the Headspace.

Non Playable Character (NPC)

An NPC is not an alter, but is the imagined product of the need of an alter within the Inner World*. The host of a system will not hear the voice of the NPC within the Headspace* like they would one of their alters. The NPC allows unmet needs to be fulfilled, such as interacting with a significant other, a child, or even a pet.

DID: Dissociative Identity Disorder is a diagnostic label for when a person experiences two or more identity states known as Alters, each with their own likes, ages, genders, and sometimes symptoms. Those with DID experience co-consciousness as well as amnesia barriers during switches.

***

Dissociative Amnesia: A state of unawareness or forgetfulness of varying periods of time that cannot be accounted for by ordinary memory processes. It is also an aspect of dissociative disorders that covers different degrees of amnesia, such as Fugue.

OSDD1a

Other Specified Dissociative Disorder (1a) is a diagnostic label given when the full criterial for DID* is not met. With OSDD1a, Amnesia* barriers are experienced during switching, but the alters are less defined and distinct in characteristics.

DID: Dissociative Identity Disorder is a diagnostic label for when a person experiences two or more identity states known as Alters, each with their own likes, ages, genders, and sometimes symptoms. Those with DID experience co-consciousness as well as amnesia barriers during switches.

***

Switching/Switch: When one alter stops fronting or "being in control" of the body, and a different alter fronts in their place.

***

Co-Consciousness: A state in which two or more alters are present in or using the body at once or are aware of the outside world simultaneously. Alters may have varying degrees of control when co-conscious and may be aware of each other and each other’s thoughts or feelings to varying degrees, depending on the alter and the system. This term is often shortened to co-con, and does not necessarily imply co-fronting. Some compare the experience to observing from the backseat of a car.

OSDD1b

Other Specified Dissociative Disorder (1b) also describes when the full criterial for DID* is not met. With OSDD1b, Switches* are experienced with Co-Consciousness* and without amnesia. The alters are defined and distinct in characteristics.

Little(s): A term for a child alter. Their presentation and manner of speaking reflects their young internal age. They may feel small and out of place in an adult body. Despite their age level, Littles are more aware of the world than children are.

Outside Kids

A person with child alters known as Littles* who also has children in the external world may make the differentiation by use of the term Outside Kids.

Switching/Switch: When one alter stops fronting or "being in control" of the body, and a different alter fronts in their place. 

***

System: The entire collection of alters within one body. Also known as a Household, Collective, Clan, or Crew.

Overt System

An overt system experiences Switches* between self states that are more obvious. The differences between alters are more pronounced and more difficult to brush off as a quirk. Only approx. 6 percent of Systems* are considered overt.

Alter: A dissociated, alternate self-state with their own age, gender, sexuality, perceived appearance, wants, needs, desires, opinions, memories, skills, abilities and even psychological disorders and physiological reactions. May also be referred to as Headmates, System Mates, Others, or Parts. An alter may be the Host, or of another role* in the system.

Owned Thoughts, Actions, Feelings

An "Owned" thought, action, or feeling is one that the person with Dissociative Identities identifies with as their own, rather than belonging to another self state/Alter*.

Host: The Host is the alter who is Fronting* the most often. The host can change from one to another, depending on time periods. Due to a misconception that Internal Family Systems is for DID, some perceive there to be a "Core" person, however, all self states are alters to each other, including the host.

***

Fronting/Front: The process of Switching*, becoming the person at the helm of The Body*, so to speak. The alter at the front is aware of the outside world and interacts using the body on a conscious level. After a switch, one might say they are at the Front.

***

Blendy: Describing oneself as feeling blendy is associated with being unsure of which of themselves they are. The person may feel like two or more alters at once, which is distinct from co-consciousness in that it creates a feeling of confusion on where the identity of one alter starts and another begins.

Passive Influence

Passive influence is the experience of one alter influencing the Host*, or whoever is Fronting*, in actions, words, thoughts, or way of speaking. This differs from the term "Blendy*" in that this feels less like there is a duality of alters and more like being ones-self while experiencing the influence of another.

Host: The Host is the alter who is Fronting* the most often. The host can change from one to another, depending on time periods. Due to a misconception that Internal Family Systems is for DID, some perceive there to be a "Core" person, however, all self states are alters to each other, including the host.

Persecutor

A persecutor holds more anger and can exhibit self-damaging behaviours, which can be, or seem to be, to sabotage the host. Despite the sometimes abrasive presentation, the source of this behaviour remains trauma and struggle. As with anyone, anger is a secondary emotion that may mask fear or vulnerability, and be a genuine but misguided attempt at wellbeing.

Physical Protector

Physical protectors might become aggressive in presentation or try to prevent physical trauma via self-defence.

System: The entire collection of alters within one body. Also known as a Household, Collective, Clan, or Crew.

Plural

A System* who identifies as plural may use this as a descriptor of their plurality of self, or sometimes to remove the concept of a disorder from general terminology. Plural can relate to a community of those who relate, and to embracing diversity.

Alter: A dissociated, alternate self-state with their own age, gender, sexuality, perceived appearance, wants, needs, desires, opinions, memories, skills, abilities and even psychological disorders and physiological reactions. May also be referred to as Headmates, System Mates, Others, or Parts. An alter may be the Host, or of another role* in the system.

***

Fragment: An alter that is not fully differentiated or developed and may represent a single function, memory, emotion or idea.

Polyfragmented

A person who is polyfragmented has 100 Alters* or more; many of which can be Fragments*.

Protector

Protectors are alters that protect the body, the system, host, or other specific alters from experiences they hope to shield the others from. Protectors might feel more equipped or confident in being assertive when others may not.

Pseudo Memories

An alter who remembers detailed events and history as their real life experiences despite reality to the contrary may carry pseudo memories. This might occur due to a vivid inner world prior to awareness of the system or external surroundings.

Rapid Switching

Rapid switching can be described like a rolodex of several short consecutive switches between different alters.

Rolodexing

Rolodexing refers to a condensed sequence of micro switching.

Sexual Alter

Sexual alters may be created to handle specific forms of trauma, and to keep that knowledge away from other parts.

Somatic Symptoms

Somatic symptoms are physical symptoms that are due to sources of stress and impairment. An example of this concept is when we experience a headache or stomach ache due to high anxiety. These symptoms cannot be explained within the medical system, though, their sources are linked to duress such as childhood trauma.

Source

A Source can refer to the inspiration behind an aspect or concept within an alter or the system as a whole, such as their name or system name. Source may also refer to the context of an Introject, whether Fictive or Factive, as the person or character they are based from.

Subsystem

A subsystem is a system within a system. There are two types of subsystems. The first one is an alter with their own alters. The second type is a group of alters who are not in contact with the main system. They aren't dormant, but are not in contact or communication.

(The) Surface

The surface is a metaphor to describe being the alter in control of the body. This indicates not being inside the mind, but on the surface of consciousness.

Switch/Switching

When one alter stops fronting or "being in control" of the body, and a different alter fronts in their place.

System

The entire collection of alters within one body. Also known as a Household, Collective, Clan, or Crew.

System Discovery

System discovery implies finding out that the person has alters, or is part of a system. While some are informed by others, there are those who come to the realization on their own.

System Name

Some systems have a name to refer to the entirety of their system. This is comparable to saying that a person is a member of a specific city. (New Yorker)

System Responsibility

One alter may make a mistake or act hurtfully towards someone, but the others in their system did not. The concept of System Responsibility entails that everyone needs to work to make amends and avoid excusing the behaviour. This creates less barriers to conflict resolve and adds to alters working together toward functionality.

System Role

Some system roles can be protectors, persecutors, gatekeepers, memory holders, hosts, Littles, Middles, Teens... etc. Roles, even that of the host, can change over time. Just as anyone, alters are more dimensional than a single role, and we do not fit into a specific box. Roles are not required for an alter's place in the system to be valid or important.

Teen

An alter in their teen years.

Trance/Spaced Out

Someone who is in a dissociative trance, or spaced out, may feel disconnected and unfocused, or hyper-focused into a sort of mental void. They may be aware to a degree of their surroundings, but their capacity to interact or process is diminished.

Trauma Holder

Some alters are unaware of the traumas they experienced. Though, those memories that certain members are unaware are held by others who may identify with being the part who lived the experience. These are trauma holders.

Triggers

A trigger to switch can be positive or negative. An example of a positive trigger is something that an alter likes, such as seeing candy or a toy followed by a Little fronting. A negative trigger can be a memory or present occurrence where another alter may be more equipped to handle the situation and comes to the surface.

Vision

Visions of seeing alters can sometimes be perceived as hallucinating. Seeing alters is less common than hearing them and are the result of dissociative experiences. Some describe this like a projection of their alters in the room in front of them.

Voices

Some people with DID hear the voices of the alters inside of their heads. Some hear children laughing or crying. They may pick up specific words, which can often be one alter speaking to another.

We/Us

As plural pronouns encompassing two or more, or all alters, the use of "We" and "Us" define referencing beyond the self within the whole of the system.

Whole

Referring to the entire system of alters as "One whole" implies that all individuals, when considered together, make up one complete whole.