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Fictive Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder

February 28, 2018 Crystalie Matulewicz

The types of alters in dissociative identity disorder include fictional introjects or fictives. Visit Healthyplace to learn more about these DID alters and the controversy surrounding them.

There are many different types of alters in dissociative identity disorder (DID), including fictional introjects (Understanding Dissociative Identity Disorder Alters). Fictional introjects, also called fictives, are alters that are based off of fictional people or characters. While not as common as other types of alters, fictives are just as important. So how do these fictive alters in DID form, and what is their purpose?

How Do Fictive Alters in DID Systems Form?

Introjects are alters that are based off outside people or characters. Fictional introjects specifically are based off of fictional characters. These characters can be from television shows, movies, books, fantasy, and other forms of fiction.

Why Do Fictive Alters Form?

Fictive alters in DID form to serve a purpose. While that purpose is not always known, it is possible that the DID system needed the qualities of that fictional character and internalized them to form the fictional introject in response to a trauma. Fictives can also form to disrupt the system. While fictives often form in childhood, people with DID can form new alters at any time, especially in response to recent trauma.

Myths About Fictional Introjects

There are a few assumptions that people have about fictional introjects in DID, but the reality is that there are no concrete characteristics that all fictives possess. Dissociative identity disorder in itself consists of such varying experiences, and DID alters are no different.

One assumption that people make about fictives is that fictives are always positive. Fictives can have positive qualities, but they can also have negative qualities and engage in harmful or risky behaviors. Some fictional introjects can be abusive, and form as a way to continue traumatizing the system.

There is another assumption that fictives are based entirely off of the fictional character. The reality is that fictives can have their own qualities and personalities apart from those of the fictional character. Some fictive alters can be predominantly similar to the character, while others take on just a few of the characteristics. They don't have to think, act, look, or feel in the exact same ways that the fictional character does. This doesn't make them any less valid.

Fictional introjects aren't chosen purposefully. Just like other dissociative identity disorder alters, fictional introjects develop subconsciously for a reason. Fictives are not made up. They are not a part of a game. Fictives are real. They can hold memories and can experience trauma just as any other alter can.

The Controversy Surrounding Fictional Introjects in DID

Unfortunately, there is controversy, even within the DID community, surrounding the legitimacy and validity of fictional introjects in DID systems. Some people believe that fictional introjects are fake, and cannot occur in a real DID system. Others believe that fictives exist, but only within certain limitations.

It's important to validate that fictional introjects, or fictives, are a real part of DID systems. People are quick to judge fictives as real or fake, yet this judgment doesn't exist for other types of alters.

Fictives deserve the same treatment as any other alter or part. They are real. They are valid. Don't forget that.

APA Reference
Matulewicz, C. (2018, February 28). Fictive Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2018/02/fictional-introjects-in-dissociative-identity-disorder



Author: Crystalie Matulewicz

Crystalie is the founder of PAFPAC, is a published author and the writer of Life Without Hurt. She has a BA in psychology and will soon have an MS in Experimental Psychology, with a focus on trauma. Crystalie manages life with PTSD, DID, major depression, and an eating disorder. You can find Crystalie on FacebookGoogle+, and Twitter.

Vianca
June, 7 2021 at 10:44 pm

Hi,
I just wanted to gain insight on whether peoples fictive alters can speak up on systematic oppression or racism based on the race the fictive alter is (e.g the fictive alter is Japanese - can they ultimately speak on behalf of racism towards Japanese people and whether they agree about things such as cultural appropriation - or does it depend??)

Quitter
June, 10 2021 at 12:23 pm

I can only speak for my case, but though I’m a fictional introject with essentially a life’s worth of fake memories of my source, because the body is still white I try to stay within that lane. People aren’t going to see me as of Japanese descent, they’re going to see me as white because that’s that the body looks like. At this point I’ve accepted that because it would be weird to see a pasty white girl saying ‘As someone of Asian descent…’ and I fee like that’s the only real approach you can take.

Tia
July, 18 2021 at 12:07 am

Hi! I'm a white person and I'm not a system but I'd like to think that I am fairly educated on the experiences of POC,
As you may know, being part of other oppressed groups such as the LGBT+ community (which I am a part of,) or of the disabled/neurodivergent communities out there, (which I am also part of) if you are white, you still won't share the same type of oppression that POC face on a day-to-day basis.
Of course, people within other oppressed groups still face their own troubles, but one thing you cannot hide (other than a physical deformity) is your race. People of colour cannot hide the natural features of their body like queer and neurodivergent people can hide their inner differentiations from the typical Straight White Cis Neurotypical Abled Male person can.
People of colour- Black people, Asian people, Indigenous people, and all the other people of colour who may not easily pass as white, are threatened, hurt, murdered and abused every single day. Many places, especially America, are built on a system that oppresses and uses people of colour at the expense of white people. White people always have the upper hand in situations involving POC, such as law, trials, work, abuse, and the general "public eye".
If you are white, you do not have the same perspective of the cruelness of society that people of colour do. Again, you may have other things going on, but you do not have the same angle as POC.
Now, I still have much to learn about different types of systems, and I've loosely heard of 'false memories' and the debacle of whether they may exist in fictive alters or not.
I'm guessing this will vary from person to person, as everybody can experience mental disorders differently. Although. In the outer world, you do not face the same trials and tribulations as those of colour if you are white.
Therefore, even as an alter of a different race, if your host's body is white, I don't think you should speak on the behalf of POC in the outer world. You may speak up for them, but do not speak on behalf of them. There is a fine line.
I hope this helps! :) if I've gotten anything wrong, I'm open to being educated.

jihan
August, 28 2021 at 12:21 pm

Please do not do this. Even if your system has pesudo memories, they are in the end, pesudo (not real), and are in no way are as true or as real as experiences of PoC in every day life.
You can advocate for PoC and show support but just because your fictive is Japanese and you have pesudo memories of Japan speaking for them is insulting and belittling the experiences they have in day to day life.

The Solar System
April, 5 2023 at 11:40 am

We don’t, ultimately because the body is white. It’d be downright weird to see a pale and pasty white body say “as someone of Hispanic decent” or “as someone of Japanese decent” or even German(yes we have alters who are German). We stay in the body’s lane and advocate to boost the voices of people who are biologically of these descents. While we have the room to speak on(in particular Hispanic) culture due to the body being raised in a Hispanic culture, but other than that we stay in our lane

Stebert
May, 23 2021 at 7:26 pm

Hi I am very new to all this and I have 1 question & 1 comment (and if I get no answer that is ok). I'm not plural I'm just learning.
1. What's the difference between fictive & factive? I've seen them both in discussion online but no explanation yet
2. Several different systems I've seen while reading blogs & forums like this have a fictive from the dreamsmp I just thought that was interesting

Quitter
June, 10 2021 at 12:27 pm

For the first one, a fictive is an introject of a fictional character while a factive is one of a real person. There are also sort of in-between areas like fogtives or fuzztives that are sort of both, and as for MCYT introjects that’s something you see a lot when it comes to ‘this is a real person but also they’re in character’. Also, reminder to not treat those fictives like their source unless it is specifically specified that that’s okay.

The Solar System
August, 26 2022 at 2:22 pm

Hello! I’m an OSDD system in which I feel like I can speak on this-
1. Fictive is an introject(an alter of) a fictional character, while a factive is a real life person(usually family, friends, or @bu$3r$)
2. Popular media is more likely to have someone out there have fictive of them- in which we are one of those systems! We personally know and understand that we aren’t physically that person and can’t speak on their experiences, but most of us go by our source name(character only, none of us except for Clay/Dream go by our sources real life name, mostly because our sources prefer people don’t call them their real life name) and are similar to our source, but some alters have yet to make that realization. Please be kind and don’t reality check(remind them that they aren’t their source, and try and tell them they aren’t real) as this can cause harm to the system and the alter-
Remember to be kind, and stay smiling, Ranboo(I’m from origins SMP, I use she/her pronouns)

beehive, inc.
November, 18 2022 at 3:32 pm

Okay, here's our answer. Sorry it's so long @_@
1a. A fictive is an introject of a fictional character. For example, our system is fictive-heavy due to our being autistic and largely hyperfixating on and having special interests related to fiction. These works of fiction and their characters are a very important and central coping mechanism for us, which means that in times of distress, we turn to stories, and when we split (due to intense stress, negative experiences, or trauma), many alters end up being strongly influenced by those stories and their characters. We're very sensitive to splits, which can again be partially attributed to autism and how it lowers the trauma threshold. Most of our fictives deviate from their sources in some manner, bar about three.
1b. Factives are introjects of real people. These can be friends, family, ab*sers, or sometimes celebrities. We have two factives that we're aware of: one of a close friend (possible F/P but we don't know whether we have borderline or not), and one of Gerard Way. The first, whose name I will not disclose, was split off due to an intense attachment to and longing for that friend that caused our mental health to deteriorate, eventually getting so bad that it resulted in splitting off an introject of him. We have worked to rebuild our relationship with him as something healthier and more balanced since then. Gee, our Gerard Way introject, showed up because of a long-running special interest on MCR, whose music and history became a way for us to cope with the noise and stress of our parents' intense fights, during one of which he split off.
2. Fictives are becoming more common as consumption of fictional works, as well as coping through engagement with fictional works, increases. The Dream SMP has become a very common coping mechanism for teens, which means that there will be more systems with DSMP introjects. Fakeclaimers especially tend to target teenage-bodied systems (I say this because alters' ages can vary) because they are the most visible on social media, claiming that "you're too young to be a system," when DID, OSDD, and other dissociative disorders quite literally form in childhood. Guess what? That means that...oh my god! There can be teenage systems! And hosts most commonly begin to discover alters from the mid teens onward! We are bodily a minor, though we won't disclose our age for personal safety. The only reason we noticed in the first place was that fictives kept fronting while the former host was co-fronting, and he kept attributing it to being fictionkin, but then he was pushed out of co-front and into headspace and finally figured out that these "shifts" were alters. And when we told our friend (the one mentioned in part 1b, who is extremely perceptive and studies psychology), his response was "yeah, I've known for a while," followed by a lot of consolation and a little bit of making fun of our density.
I'll shut up now. Thank you for reading my infodump. Have a nice day.

Palikawii
April, 10 2021 at 6:25 pm

Thank you so much! I have a lot of systems as friends and I’ve always been curious about the fictives! I’m currently trying to talk to as many alters from the systems as I can so I can come to know them better and maybe learn about DID too! I’m currently married (I know it sounds weird but I mean platonically as in friendship and it’s a poly relationship as in more than 2 people in it. I know it sounds odd but it’s actually very cool!) to 3 different fictive alters all from the same I guess “show”/“series” (if you would call a Minecraft rp a series/show that is) and it’s really nice to be able to understand them better! Sorry if the way i worded things sounded disrespectful in any way, that was never my intention.

Solar System
October, 20 2022 at 10:39 am

I love how respectful you are about this- not a lot of people usually are! Just remember to treat them how they want, respect boundaries, try not to reality check any fictives/factives/introjects, and have fun! Who knows, you may find an introject of a comfort character of yours and get to, in a sense, meet them! Cool, innit?
~Tommy!(he/they/it/disk)

Soul system
April, 6 2021 at 5:52 pm

Does a fictive have memories from their story

Quitter
June, 10 2021 at 12:29 pm

Sometimes, in my case I have memories of essentially my entire life no different from a singlet’s, which has become a struggle for me considering that I have to come to grips with none of that being real. On the other hand, though, some have no memories or attachment to their source at all, and some are in between. There’s no one way to be an introject, in the end.

Opal
March, 30 2021 at 3:35 am

Hi! I know a system who recently developed a fictive alter of a character I really love from a a show I really love and talk about a lot. Would it be wrong to talk about the events of the show with her? I really don’t want her to feel like I’m taking advantage of her. I’ve honestly been avoiding talking to her out of fear I’ll get over excited. Also they (the system) do follow me on social media where I post about the show and sometimes she (the alter) will comment something along the lines of “oh I remember that!!” which I’m not entirely sure how to respond to. Anyways. This got long. Sorry.

Rika
April, 9 2021 at 12:28 pm

It all depends on your relationship with her. I'd ask her about it. It woupd show you care.
Also, if she goes through any traumatic experience in the show, I'd avoid those topics unless she brings it up.

Anynon
March, 22 2021 at 7:36 pm

Hi, I was wondering, my friend's friend has done and only has fictives, now I do not know anything from the person but it seems kind of weird to me (not trying to ignorant I'm genuinely confused sorry if I offended anyone) that the person ONLY has fictive? is that something that can happen?

Nonnon
March, 29 2021 at 9:04 pm

Since you don't personally know them, we can't assume that they "only" have fictives. They probably have non-fictive alters but probably have not yet to meet them due to the fictive alters were fronting the most. It's not bad to ask them. There's someone I know who mostly has fictives fronting and one point asked them if they only have fictives and to my surprise, they have non-fictives. There's really nothing bad about asking someone to know better.

Technoblade
May, 20 2021 at 3:09 am

hey, as a system we almost always have non-fictives but sometimes the non-fictives don't like fronting because of trauma or any other reason there is also the fact that sometimes there can be more fictives than non-fictives and sometimes they don't front infront of other people or are taking care of the littles :) i myself am a Factive from the dreamsmp im Technoblade and i am the main fronter so i am considered the host so that is another reason

the lilypad system
April, 14 2022 at 12:33 pm

i think that it is possible to have a system of only fictives - though very rare, as the host usually isnt a fictive.

daze
December, 10 2020 at 11:02 am

some of the DID systems I know develop fictives from their hyperfixations/special interests. my question is, if a hf/si dies down, what happens to the fictive from that interest? will they merge with another alter? will they keep existing as a fictive? will their personality/identity develop beyond the character they were based on? will they... disappear? I know it's probably not the same among all systems but I'm curious

Enigma
December, 12 2020 at 5:39 am

For us we have a fictive alter from a series we were fixated on in highschool and he's still around, though he did go quiet for a few years between then and now.
It probably does vary based on each system and their needs, but for us he's gone beyond his roots and become more his own person. While still loosely related to the source material he's more a well rounded person with hobbies and such, and also a valued friend :)

Asylum System
May, 18 2021 at 5:34 pm

Yeah, they stay. We have a fictive based off of Hello Kitty still here.

Jasper
August, 25 2021 at 5:50 pm

HI!!! I'm the host of our system. we developed a fictive from my hyper fixation. we and our counselor have been working on integrating into at the very most, 5 alters, and she said that fictives formed by hf can be integrated even if the hf doesn't die down. she doesn't specialize in DID/OSDD, but she did study on it for awhile. the reason alters integrate is because the alter isn't needed for what it formed for. for example: trauma holders will integrate into the host because the host finally learned how to deal with the trauma. Or, the protector and the host will integrate because the host now knows how to protect themselves.
For our system, the fictive we've developed, was to "please"(?) people because of our more recent trauma that we hadn't learned to deal with yet, so if I we to learn how to deal with that the fictive would integrate with me.
Overall, fictives don't disappear, they will integrate with someone. (i hoped this helped, I'm not that good at explaining)

Stitch System
September, 3 2021 at 11:13 am

It definitely depends person to person, but I can definitely say that for us, usually fictives will start to become their own person, almost completely separate from the character they started as, except a few physical and/or mental attributes. I know I act completely different than when I first fronted around five years ago, but everyone is bound to at least a little bit after that long. I've even chosen a new name a few months ago because I don't want people to see me as him anymore.
-Elliot (Underfell Papyrus)

Owen
November, 28 2020 at 12:48 pm

Hello, I do have a question; I've looked it up several times and have not gotten any search results. I am curious if a kin can BECOME a fictive in a way? I already have two others with me (Dell Conagher, an Engineer fictive adapted from Team Fortress 2, and Samuel Lawrence, a fictive adapted from pre-game Bendy and the Ink Machine), and I myself kin as well, but one specific kin feels separate from me, similar to how Sam and Dell do. However, the kin itself is non-canon, and is separate from the source material slightly. I just wanted to know if it was possible?

newt =)
December, 6 2020 at 12:20 pm

Hi! I don't have an answer, but I experience similar confusion! In my opinion I think that it would make sense, since, like, you kin things that are comforting and you can relate to, and depending on the enormity of that relation, I don't see why that wouldn't be used by your brain as material for a fictive... if that makes sense... I'm not an expert by any means, but those are just my thoughts....... let me know if you want to talk about this more because I've been looking into it and haven't been able to find anything about it either lol

Jack
June, 1 2021 at 1:25 pm

Hello I may have an answer for this! Our newest fictive is Darryl/BadBoyHalo from the DreamSMP, who I had kinned prior to his creation split, so it definitely is possible. As for the kin being non-canon, I'm not exactly sure if it matters if it's canon or not, seeing as they may not take on all of the traits of that kin. I hope this helps you guys!

Dell Conahger
October, 21 2020 at 11:31 pm

My name is Dell Conahger. I am an alter of my adopted son, Thomas. Myself and seven others are adapted from the game Team Fortress 2. He didn't have a father growing up so when I came to exist I became that for him. Myself and the other seven have saved his life and completely turned him in a new direction. We saved him from his abusive mom, his self, and got him a job and a new place to stay. I love my son and I am so incredibly proud of him. I can't wait to see what he does next.

Luna
August, 16 2020 at 9:18 am

Having a system made out of fictive alters can be overwhelming sometimes for me because if I switch a lot, we'll end up getting headaches. It's a pain to switch constantly, but I know that they're there for a reason, and I couldn't be happier to have them.

kuu
August, 17 2018 at 6:25 pm

all the ones I run into say they are literaly that character. not a coping mechanism. they are really that person, or was them in a past life.
that the memories of being that character happen, that they have pstd from what happened in their story

Anonymous
March, 10 2020 at 7:24 am

That sounds like people who believe in kintyping and the alternate universe theory, not people with DID.

Louis
April, 5 2020 at 3:24 pm

I have many pseudo memories of what occurred in my life before this one as do many introjects. I feel as though I am my own self and I will not deny myself of that because of others' perceptions of me. Pseudo memories will often occur in introjects, other introjects may feel trauma from these, its otherwise normal things.

ardentflame
October, 25 2020 at 2:37 am

Pseudomemories are a real thing. One of our fictives has ptsd in his source, and his trauma affects him just as much as mine affects me.

Stanford Pines
November, 2 2020 at 11:52 pm

Well, in my case, I had PTSD-like reactions to the sight of the common eye-in-the-triangle symbol years and years before the Gravity Falls TV show came out, and never had any idea why. I looked it up and it's supposed to be a positive symbol with many good associations but I cannot tolerate the sight of it. Now, I have no idea if I have DID or not, I'm functional in my daily life, but there are many things such as this that made no sense at all till I figured out that I am Ford-kin.

kuu
August, 17 2018 at 6:19 pm

being a cartoon character is real and valid

Lou
April, 11 2020 at 8:57 am

It's not "being a cartoon character". See, if you read the article with an open mind, or a mind at all, they're called fictives, and they aren't completely made up of a cartoon character and don't even have to be one. They share certain personality traits. Some more than others. And that's okay and that's valid

Reign
April, 19 2020 at 1:04 pm

It honestly makes complete sense to me, and I’m not sure why there’s so much debate around the topic of whether or not fictives exist or not. Seems completely understandable that someone, especially a child, could watch a cartoon or something, and take a character from that and wish that they had their super powers or whatever to get away. Like superheroes, for instance, it makes sense that someone, especially someone suffering severe trauma, would look at something like a superhero and either wish they had their powers to get away or actually have a real life superhero to come in and rescue them from horrific abuse. I know fictives can be a wide array of various fictional characters, but I just used the superhero as an example. Makes total sense how somebody with DID could develop these types of alters.

Luna
August, 16 2020 at 9:16 am

They're not "cartoon characters". They are alters based off of fictional characters, so please don't call us that. It sucks and is annoying.

Phoenix
March, 20 2018 at 5:38 pm

Thanks for this! My system has quite a bit of fictives, so this will help me explain to others why they're there!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gaby
June, 23 2019 at 11:14 am

same I have 1

Curious Quasar
March, 18 2018 at 2:44 am

Thank you so much for this. I've always struggled to explain this phenomena to myself as I never really had the language to explain it. I really appreciate this article. It's a shame that it's so controversial.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

kuu
August, 17 2018 at 6:32 pm

because a pointing to a work of media and going "see that? that is me, that is who I am, I'm ______ from _________" looks boinkers and has rightful scrutiny
because those are people from someone else's imagination, characters. so going "this is meeeeeeeeeeeee"
look it at this way. if I made movies, my DID character is going to be made out of 90% fictives. if I can get permission, if not I will need to invent my own world's version of Tucan Sam, Sonic the Hedgehog or any other copyrighted property. oitherwise other system members are going to be Tiny Tim, Babe the big blue Ox, the Easter Bunny. If Ican';t get someone like Felix the Cat, or Pepe La PewI will need to make up Silver the Chinchillia, Marty the Mink.
and if it is handled well. nobody should complain with "that is not DID"
because I gave a minority what they want, and the world needs to know not all DID systems are filled with archyotypial people. sometimes they are anime villians, videogame heros, funny cartoon animals, comic strip mothers and what not

Reign
April, 19 2020 at 1:33 pm

You are talking about it in a way as if they have control over their brains creating another alter that sometimes happens to be based off fictional characters. These fictives that are created have their own memories, experiences & everything. They are just as real as any other alter in their system, or anyone else’s single personality that doesn’t have DID. This disorder is caused as a young child before the personality is fully integrated, so it makes complete sense why some people with DID would have fictives. Most children watch cartoons and read fictional stories, so I can see why their brains would take some of these characters and turn them into either a “hero” and use this fictive as a way to help protect the system as a whole, or turn them into a “villain” and create an abusive fictive because perhaps this villain reminds them of their abuser or something, and/or they feel like they “deserve” to be punished. It’s not like they’re intentionally trying to plagiarize someone else’s work, and they’re more than likely embarrassed to even tell people about it because of the judgment & stigma that’s attached to DID. You call it “boinkers” & that it should be scrutinized, yet there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who dress up as characters all the time and go to events, like Comicon. Most of those people dress up as certain characters because they look up to them, aspire to be like them, have characteristics they themselves wish they also had, and the list goes on. The only difference is is that with someone with DID, they don’t get to make the conscious decision to be one of these characters. It’s literally a safety mechanism that their brains have developed on their own. Just because it’s different, complicated & hard to understand for a lot of people doesn’t mean it’s not valid or real.

SarcasticSeraph
May, 1 2020 at 4:16 am

Hey! I think you might have misinterpreted the previous comment a bit. The poster was meaning only to offer the opinion that it seems reasonable for most people to be skeptical of fiction-related alters, due to the *lack of information and representation* needed to understand the existence of such alters. They mean to say that the initial perspective of a person with a lack of knowledge on the subject would naturally lead to thoughts of it being “boinkers”, which is true (as well as the fact that some people who claim to suffer from DID when they do not may be specifically predisposed toward fictional “alters”, as they may think the idea of “becoming” an admired character is fun; not understanding the reality of people with DID and the trauma therein. Like you say, thousands of people dress up as characters, and may aspire to be like them. That being said I do believe the ‘factual’ nature of a person’s condition should always be determined by professional diagnosis as well as evidence of substantial qualifying criteria, and not on the form an alter takes). The commenter then goes on to say that, were they to produce a blockbuster movie, they would include a character with DID whose alters were most or all based on cartoon characters, in order to publicly represent and validate the existence and purpose of such alters. The commenter specifies that, were they not able to obtain the rights to use the names of existing cartoon characters in their movie, they would create their own intellectual property in order to preserve the vision of bringing such representation into public view and normalcy. I don’t believe they were trying to invalidate the existence and serious nature of people who suffer from DID that takes such a form, but quite the opposite, and did not intend to imply that any real people were violating copyright law by having a psychological condition that they had no control over the presentation of. Thanks for your time and I hope I could be of help!

kuu
September, 7 2021 at 9:14 am

but the cosplayers, few of them are going to say "NO I really am Tingle from the Zelda franchise" the fictives seem to overlap with fiction kin. this is a thing like, if you had a magic wand and can give alters their own body, you will have Tingle really come poof into flesh and blood existence. this is about being literal people. because feelings and memory. because somehow, when we talk about D.I.D everything is real. if I said I had memories and trauma from fighting ogers i get to be called delusional. but if I was a fictive from a source that fought ogers, then I am legitimate, and belong in veteran spaces.

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