Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Negotiating with Alters

September 7, 2010 Holly Gray

Dissociative Identity Disorder can leave you feeling like much of your life is out of your hands, subject to the varying agendas of your alters. Last week, in the comments to my post Love and DID: Sometimes More is Less, reader Dana offered an insightful perspective on the potential payoffs of greater system awareness and communication:

[caption id="attachment_396" align="alignleft" width="269" caption="Photo by ky_olsen"]Photo by ky_olsen[/caption]

"As an individual with DID gets to know their parts, learns to communicate effectively with them and works to become co-conscious and awareness increases, it is possible for things to stabilize and compromises to be made."

Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Understanding Alters

I'm still very much in the process of increasing my internal awareness and communication. Even so, I've had some dramatically successful experiences negotiating with alters. In this video, I want to share with you today one of the most important things I've learned about working with alters to reach compromises.

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APA Reference
Gray, H. (2010, September 7). Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Negotiating with Alters, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Holly Gray

January, 5 2016 at 4:24 am

how does someone get to know their alters? I still struggle with disbelief in spite of the evidence, diagnosis and therapy work. Not all disbelieve. This is my struggle and it gets in the way of knowing myself and knowing my alters. There are apparently many alters. Therapist at one time stated around 69. According to a map that was drawn. Anyway, nothing is really helping me to get to know them or myself better in a way that makes any sense that I can embrace and go with. As soon as i think I know what's up my view changes. It's like the system doesn't want me to know or it's my own fear block of some sort. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

lisa g.
July, 24 2015 at 5:46 pm

Thank you Kelly. I'll check out those online test(s). I hope the best for you & your son too. / Beth thank you for your response. Its awesome knowing theres other people with this disorder. I appreciate the uniqueness of your life and situations. Its tough to go through it. Im going to see my T July 28 and will talk about putting aside schizophrenia and to look at other diagnosis. I will mention that I know for a fact that schizophrenics (correct me anyone if Im wrong) are adamant in believing they hear and see things
not there and that others cant change their mind about it either. Thats not me. She told me that they can hear voices in their head. Well of course they can- what they believe they hear and see is registering inside their head as voices/things seen- because it IS inside their head- when in reality theres nothing outside their head to hear or see. Its how the brains chemicals fool/falter the senses. Its not their fault. However, it makes no difference for me cause its all silence in my head yet I know whats being said. My system is split up of multiple people inside one person and I cant please all these people all the time! So if i answer or say something outloud or by "mouthing" in response then does that make me schizophrenic? I dont think so. Really I am talking to myself- or my system so to speak. Switching is included in the package. I also have headaches and other behavior before switching. Its painful and uncomfortable. Im not even paranoid and paranoia is a big symptom of schizophrenia. I give my T different answers that change each appoint as I try to clarify my issues based on what she says and quiet possibly what my alters want/dont want said. I have Auditory Processing Disorder, which is not a mental illness. Im very hard of hearing. APD can about read about on Wiki. This disorder is also why its taking me so long to clarify things with my T. Plus I dont want to just cough up a diagnosis of dissociation; Im genuinely scared to talk. Thanks for such great feedback Beth. I will keep checking in here as I do need help/advise.

Beth R
July, 24 2015 at 4:11 am

Lisa, One thing I told my T was that I do not hear the voices outside my head (that is more common of schizophrenics--they hear the voices outside themselves), but I hear the voices INSIDE my head, talking about me, to me, or to themselves, and they are people, conversing, carrying on conversations, yelling, singing, whatever. Usually, they aren't talking to me, they don't command me to do things (this is also common for schizophrenics, the voices tell them to do things or say things). I should say it used to be that they weren't talking to me, but among themselves. Now they do talk to me because we are co-conscious (at least I am with most of the adults). Anyway, it made things easier for him to diagnose me. I was already diagnosed when I came to him, but it was easier for him to confirm the diagnosis, I guess I should say.
I'll check in here as I can, to see if I can answer some of your questions. I've been diagnosed and in therapy for well over 20 years, and I have made a lot of progress. I have identified my system (which is extremely complex and multi-layered) and have co-consciousness with most of the adults and teens. I still have occasional flashbacks (but they are very occasional now), and I do have anxiety and depression. But I don't often go off somewhere anymore and not remember it, or do things because I switch into alternate personalities and not remember doing it. Not saying it doesn't happen, if my parts think I'm being threatened, they still move into protective mode, and will do things I might not think are okay. But we deal with it.

July, 23 2015 at 4:39 pm

Dear Lisa,
I just remembered that one of my therapist gave me a verbal "test" about my dissociation. It is a real common one I am sure can be found on the internet. I would think your therapist would have one in her office. I hope for the best for you.

lisa g.
July, 18 2015 at 5:20 pm

Dear Kelly, Im so thankful for your reply. I totally agree with what you have said. I have switched repeatedly in front of my T. She did say though I believe Im not schizoprhrenic, that I may very well be. I told her Im not good at explaining what I want to say specifically all the time and that it takes me time to get it right. So, I repeated some things Ive mentioned to her a few times but with more detail. That "I dont feel whole, I feel separated into people. That this person does this, this one does these things and so on. And that when I say voices I mean people". This is when based on testing she had me complete; she asked me if I feel pushed aside. I said yes. She said are you paranoid? I said nope. My test reflects that truthfully for her. She said do you have a problem with anxiety? I said I dont have a problem with anxiety except when Im stressed- like when I was putting up with my friends negativity- (shes schizophrenic, paranoid, bipolar type 1 manic depressive with altered mental statis), my anxiety was thru the roof. So I said to my T- you want schizo I'll get Laine and then you can change the definition of schizo to Laine. (Im not friends with Laine anymore cause she dumped my friendship after 6 years of my running my butt off to make her life better. Im in no way bashing others who have this illness. She just hurt me badly. Illness or no illness I was given no reasons for her actions. I did tell my T that sometimes I dont recognize or know who she is. I guess those alters havent met her. She was glad I told her and stated she dont want me feeling that way.
So far her diagnosis is long term depression and intermittant explosive behavior (another personality that hasnt been mentioned yet cause we're just starting on this process).
Im taking your advice and Im gona ask her to hold off on that schizophrenic diagnosis and to explore other diagnosis with me. Other diagnosis' that seem similar to schizophrenia- D.I.D.
It never occured to me about another alter personality wanting a car. When I told her about the incident she called out my personality by his name as if to wake him up. She quikly put me under hypnosis & questioned very concerning/sternly "what are you doing today?!", "what do you think your doing calling"...(I have that co-consciousness but cant recall of of this conversation cause some alters only mouth words with no sounds. My alter wanted to lease a vehicle to get to an airport and fly to africa to see my friend "Hald". (Hald is actually a real person living in africa that I chat with at a worldwide chat site!) My T said, no your not! I think she put a harness on him. He was mad at her, my God! He cursed her in hindi. So Im confused at what shes trying to accomplish. Maybe sometimes shes testing me for fakery. It dont work cause I cant fake this. My eyes go black, blank, and I cant see. My eyes will blink repetitively. My eyes will sink in my lower sockets and I have no control over this. I have severe headaches for brief times. Shes seen all this.
You see Kelly, theres an indian family from India of my alters. Twin brothers. One is deaf (Im very hard of hearing) and he cant read english. The other brother is the biggy and helper/rescuer. Theres a mother, father, a child
and maybe an uncle. Theres a dog too. A scared child and other kids that Im not co-conscious with. They all have their mannerisms, voices, expressions, actions, fears & can speak hindi for Gods sake. They have an address in India. Theres a protector and a very abusive violent & threatening alter that memics the rapist. Some alters get mad at each other. One alter tried to physically choke out another alter by strangeling my own neck until the protector yank my hands off my neck- all in front of my T. I was blanked out but carried on a normal conversation (not connected to the choking), with my T while this was happening. Im a mess and dont know how many more alters there are. My anxiety is up because of all this. My T is a licensed masters level psychologist. She listens, watches and really cares. I need her help which Ive told her. We do need to explore further. I do make notes and Q's to take with me to appts. I will keep in touch with you cause Im so thankful someone else understands. I wana say Im sorry you and your son go through what you do and it is scary. I'll say prayers for you. - Lisa

July, 18 2015 at 1:37 pm

Dear Lisa G.
It is so scary realizing that things are going on that you are not aware of and would not do under any circumstance. It is also scary to not be in control of our own thoughts and actions. Alters are completely separate from you and have their very own personalities, thoughts, actions, etc. You are very right that they do things that you would never do. I know that you wouldn't do these things yourself. You may have a child alter that gets scared or another alter that just wanted to buy a car for herself/himself. All of these things are very normal and common with DID.
I have a son that has paranoid schizophrenia. The symptoms can appear the same to some but one big difference I see is that there are no "black outs" with schizophrenia and no personality changes.
I wonder if you could ask your counselor to hold off on a diagnosis for a bit while the two of you explore more what you are going through.
I know when I told my counselor one time that I feel little at times that that was a first clue to him. Of course, switching in front of him the first time was really revealing to both of us. Things are different for me in that I have co-consciousness, which means I remember what happens when I switch.
I don't know if your counselor has already mentioned schizophrenia to you or you think that is what she may be thinking. I wonder if you could ask her what she is thinking in regards to a diagnoses and making it a topic of discussion. I know doctors are very cautious in making a serious diagnosis but your anxiety seems to be increasing because it hasn't been stated as a diagnosis yet.
Please stay in touch. Once you have a diagnosis there may be actual support groups in your area that you could meet with.

lisa g.
July, 17 2015 at 2:14 pm

Dear Kelly,
Thank you so much for your reply. I need assistance and want to ask you a few Q's. I hope you get this before my next appt with my psychologist on July 28th. Today in my appt with her things were mentioned for the first time. I know I do not have schizophrenia. Basically it was brought up because I hadnt been able to express these alters/people correctly to her and instead had been calling them voices inside my head which labels that as hallucinations. She told me I space out and act like Im talking to people in therapy. I was adament that Im not schizophrenic. Finanlly I said- I will give you an example- "the porn is back". (she knows about my occasional porn watching), I then said- "what I mean by that is "The Pervert" is back and its been there my whole life". Now please dont get me wrong Kelly cause Im not a pervert. Hes an alter personality..and a nasty one. She said "do you feel like you get pushed aside? I said yes. Then I reminded her of a few incidents I told her about that I have no memory of and that out of character for me. Btw Ive been telling her for a long time that I find things done in my apartment that I have no memory of doing. That I keep blacking/blanking out. That I end up places for no reasons. Ok so, one time I made a phone call from where I live in Kansas to Phoinex AZ to a car dealership at 5:15 in the morning inquiring about one of their vehicles. I found out about this because a guy from the dealership left me a voicemail asking me to call him back cause I inquired about one of their vehicles and to call after they open up. I was SHOCKED & CONFUSED. I dont need another car for any purposes! And I know nothing and need nothing in Arizona from Phoinex for goodness sakes! And I have nothing in my possesion any where including my cell phone of how I got the number! The guy let me listen to my voucemail which was just my cell number. Then I told her its almost impossible to do such a thing with no memory at 5:15 a.m. when Im sleeping at that time. Then I reminded her of when I told her of the time early one morning, that I obviously stood in front of toilet and peed all down my legs and remember nothing of it! I know this is personal but I need advise. I dont do those things for goodness sakes! I was shocked! So this is when she asked about being pushed aside. Well yea! I am not hallucinating. I want her to look at other diagnosis such as D.I.D. or multiple personalities, which I didnt ask her to do. Frequently people are diagnosed schizo incorrectly. Theres no meds for D.I.D. I have derealization, depersonalization and multiple personalities. I cant tell her Ive diagnosed myself! Help please anyone! I need her help. Shes great, smart and caring. But Im not schizo! How can I break this without her thinking Ive diagnosed myself?! Thanks in advance to anyone replying. Im very thankful to have found this blog!

July, 10 2015 at 5:01 pm

Dear lisa g,
Unfortunately, we no longer have a moderator for this website. I have been diagnosed with DID for about 7 months. My counselor was also slow in telling me about my diagnosis. He wanted me to be ready to tell him and ready to hear about it from him. I would encourage you to talk honestly about all that you are aware of. It sounds like you have a trusting relationship with your counselor. Whenever you feel comfortable talking out loud about it I would encourage you to go ahead and be vocal about what you know. From my experience it was difficult to say it out loud and difficult to hear my counselor give a definite diagnoses but we were about to make great strides afterwards. I hope the best for you!

lisa g.
July, 9 2015 at 8:41 am

Hi Natasha, thank you for the youtube video. I did watch it. As for my comment that I previously entered, Im hoping someone can make suggestions regarding; if I should or should not tell my T who one of my alters is as she has asked me. And how to go about doing so. Im really stuck on this. Thank you.

lisa g.
July, 8 2015 at 6:12 pm

Hi Holly, I cant find a link or anything to clik on to view the video. Theres no picture or words either. Can you please fix this or send a link to my email. I would really appreciate it. Thank you!
Also, I really believe I have D.I.D. My alters come out during my therapy sessions and at home. I lack awareness of behaviors Ive done. I do things not appropriate for me without and with awareness (no control on my own part). I have no control over whomever shows up- so to speak. I have a partial awareness and other times no awareness. Ive even had lenthy conversations with my alters. I hear them in my head but theres no dialog. I believe my therapist is completely aware as she has even called out one of my alters. She types everything. I even blank out in therapy and cant see, smell, hear or feel anything. My THERAPIST IS VERY GOOD AND SMART. She has had me under hypnosis as well. But she has not mentioned a diagnosis to me. I think thats because she doesnt want to encourage anything negative along the lines of "therapist inducing their patients to believing they have D.I.D." And that shes waiting for the right time to bring it up. In my last session, I mentioned one of my alters and she eventually asked me who he is. I didnt have an answer. But inside me I know who he is. I dont know how to answer her. Should I just rattle off to her what I know about him? She may know more than I do cause she see's and hear's it all. I just dont know how to answer her or if I should. Any help would be great and with the video. Thank you and thanks for your website!

August, 9 2012 at 10:44 pm

Thank you

Alane Larsen
February, 2 2011 at 11:55 pm

I can't believe how articulately you stated that short but powerfully
insightful video about the gratitude thing. I am feeling very much at a loss
right now, because a pastor (who used to be a psychologist) at my church
was helping me with the DID issues once a month free of charge and now
he has informed me that this is no longer possible within their "counseling"
protocol. I don't have finances for finding a professional therapist who
understands the intricacies of this diagnosis, so these type things on the
internet are invaluable to my continuing to learn how to work with myself.
I don't feel an imminent threat of personal harm (that I know of) but I am
going to use that approach of trying to express how grateful I am to the
different ones I sense within me. It is all very vague, there are no
names, there are not distinct characteristics, just small, slight changes in facial mannerisms or tone of voice or writing - I am told this is a "closed" system. So I have been really frustrated trying to promote awareness and communication due to the seeming prevalent resistance at almost all times.

September, 10 2010 at 1:44 am

Hello Holly. Thank you for your video.
Two weeks ago I began a similar approach after an anxiety attack landed me in an unfamiliar doctor's office. Like you said, the response was almost immediate and there was such relief, as in, "Yea! She gets it finally!". That experience led to a flood of anxiety attacks, especially in the mornings, and it feels like many others inside want the same recognition and feeling of relief. I'm not sure exactly how to deal with this, and my therapist and psychiatrist are recommending using lots of coping skills as well as Xanax until it relaxes somewhat inside.
I wanted to say that this approach truly works and you may learn some very important things about how it works inside and how hard those parts have been working to keep you alive.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Holly Gray
September, 11 2010 at 12:28 pm

Hi Lisa,
Thanks for commenting.
"That experience led to a flood of anxiety attacks, especially in the mornings, and it feels like many others inside want the same recognition and feeling of relief."
That's an interesting (and frustrating?) result! It makes sense, though. I can see how offering recognition and gratitude to one system member might provoke a clamoring for more of the same from others.
Your last point is one I'd not thought to make. Approaching a system member with empathy absolutey creates more opportunity for learning about them, what motivates them, and their role in the system than resentment could ever allow for.

Darla M
September, 8 2010 at 2:24 pm

Hello Holly. I am currently struggling with a very depressed child part and though I have attempted to accept her in the past, right now I'm annoyed with her. I get what you saying...alters need to be appreciated for their /purpose in helping me survive childhood. I'm just not sure what her role was then or how it may change...yet.
My therapist is helping me develop some imagery for nuturing this child part. This is quite a strange exercise to me. But I'm open.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Holly Gray
September, 9 2010 at 6:14 am

Hi Darla,
I understand feeling annoyed. I get frustrated and angry and resentful too. And I think it's good to express that to those involved. It's hard to find any real gratitude when I'm stuck trying not to be angry.
"My therapist is helping me develop some imagery for nuturing this child part."
That's new to me too, and interesting. We communicate through imagery a lot. So using it as a healing tool makes sense to me.
Thanks for your comment, Darla.

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