This tip is designed for people who have identified that they have Dissociative Identity Disorder and want to get to know their alters better. This tip will assist you with 1) gathering basic information about your alters, 2) identifying each alter’s functions, and 3) determining the strengths and weaknesses of each alter. Knowing your alters will help you to 1) increase internal communication among your alters, 2) increase cooperation among your alters, and 3) pull from each of your alter’s strengths to help you best complete daily tasks.
People with DID can have any number of alters. Their alters may differ in their age, sexual orientation and gender. Typically with DID there are core types of alters that each host (the dominant personality) usually has.
The three major personality types that are typically present for people with DID are:
The Child or Children: These alters often hold traumatic memories that occurred to the host at that corresponding age. Child alters usually present according to their developmental stage. When a child alter is “out” the host will act and might even appear more childlike. Some child alters age and while others do not. When these alters do not hold traumatic memory, they may have developed from childhood fantasy. Their identity may have formed on what the host wanted to believe about themselves or their family. These alters are often idealized.
The Abuser(s): These alters have characteristics of the host’s abuser. These alters develop from internalizing aspects of the abuser or responding to the abuse. While some of their behavior may be destructive or disruptive, they are usually only trying to protect the host but are doing this in an inappropriate way. Sometimes they try to protect the host from feelings of shame, guilt and inadequacy. These parts may encourage or engage in self harm to keep the host from revealing their secrets of abuse.
The Manager(s): These alters are often in their teenage or adult years. They often have good insight about the other alters and the host. Typically they care for the child alters. They are similar to “good parents” and are usually mature and caring.
Creating Your DID Role/Roll Call Sheet
The goal is to familiarize yourself with your own alters. To create your role/roll call sheet you will record various types of information about each of your alters. Below is a list of the information you should record about each of your alters and why this information is important.
Name: Typically alters have something they call themselves or what others call them. If one of your alters is nameless, it is important that you prescribe them some kind of label even if it just a descriptor like “baby girl” so that you and the other alters can identify them and communicate about them.
Gender: Alters can be the same as the hosts gender or a different gender. Knowing what gender your alter identifies as and how they relate to this gender may reveal themes among your alters about assumed gender roles and feelings about femininity and masculinity. An alter’s gender and their attitudes about their gender may also be related to the traumatic memories that they hold.
Age: It is very common for people to have alters younger and older than their current age. An age or age range could be an indicator of the time period that the alter holds traumatic memories from. The age or age range could also be more representative of their role.
Role/Function: Each alter typically has a role or function which corresponds in some way with their gender and age. Think about what the alter’s role is in relation to 1) yourself, 2) each individual alter and 3) the system as a whole. When thinking about roles and functions consider both daily tasks like cooking or cleaning, as well as relational tasks like helping younger alters or being the “bad” child.
Strengths: Think about what each alter is successful or good at. These could be related to their role or function but not necessarily. Knowing each alters strength can help you to better manage your daily life and cooperation among alters by knowing who to assign what task to.
Weaknesses: Consider what each alter struggles with or feels as though they are a “failure” or “bad” at. Weaknesses could be an indicator of what each alter needs to work on therapeutically or could simply be part of their personality.
To begin making your role/roll call sheet, find some blank paper you can record the above information on. For each alter remember to record the following information: name, gender, age, role or function, strengths and weaknesses. Make sure to include yourself, the host personality too. Realize that you will probably not have all the information about all of your alters. Try to think of your roll call sheet as a starting point, which you can add more to as you learn more about yourself and your alters. See example below of a Role Call Sheet:
Katherine: female. 19 years old. Role/Function: The host personality. Strengths: book smart, reading body language, college athlete. Weaknesses: being assertive, listening to my gut feelings, healthy boundaries with men.
Alice: female. Pre-verbal stage. Possibly 1-2 years old? Role/Function: A Child alter. Holds memories of abuse and neglect that occurred to me around that age. Is the “baby” of the system and need care from the adult alters. Strengths: comforting self with thumb sucking. Weaknesses: communicating need for help.
Katie: female, 4-5 years old. Role/Function: A child alter. Contains the memories of sexual abuse that happened to me at that age. Holds feelings of fear and helplessness. Often timid and shy with others including other alters. Strengths: unsure. Weaknesses: hides from others instead of getting help, gets paralyzed in fear.
Kitty: female, 7 years old. Role/Function: A child alter (possibly idealized). Acts as a “people pleaser.” Is a “good girl.” Does not hold traumatic memory. Has a “perfect family.” Strengths: generally very positive, very social, a good helper with chores and taking care of Alice & Katie. Weaknesses: extreme need to please others can lead her to being taken advantage of, does not express emotions or experiences perceived as negative.
Mary: female, 8 years old. Role/Function: A child alter. Holds memories of abuse and neglect that were ongoing even after sexual abuse ended. Holds feelings of rage and angry. Often irritable and upset. Picks on the other child alters. Demands a lot of attention from the other adults in the system. Strengths: Not being in denial about problems. Weaknesses: expressing anger appropriately, relating to others, comforting self.
Matt: male, 15 years old. Role/Function: The Abuser alter. Although different age than the abuser, he is the same gender and encourages other alters and host to engage in self-harm. Often threatens other alters to keep secrets. Usually angry. Strengths: Very smart, is a planner, can be assertive with other men. Weaknesses: inappropriate expression of protectiveness (encouraging self-harm), mean towards the child alters.
Angela: female, 18 years old. Role/Function: The Manager alter. Takes care of the child alters. Mediates problems between other alters. Strengths: Very nurturing, a good communicator, patient, smart, takes care of many daily life tasks. Weaknesses: Unsure.
Norah: female, 26 years old. Role/Function: The Manager alter. Takes on more a protector role. Keeps Matt in line. Tries to keep the scary man away. Usually knows what is going on with all the other alters. Strengths: has an “all knowing” kind of power, emotionally very strong and mature, assertive. Weaknesses: too busy being a protector to be much of anything else.
“Scary Man”: male, adult, specific ages unknown. Role/Function: The Abuser alter. Faceless. Appears as a dark figure. Threatens to harm the other alters and host by stabbing them, including Matt. Seems to desperately want to keep secrets of abuse. Most similar to my actual abuser. Aggressive and mean. Strengths: Unsure. Weaknesses: violent, mean, threatening, distant.
Hints for completing your Role/Roll Call Sheet:
-Keep in mind that this is a starting point. You can add to your role/roll call sheet over time.
-Its okay and normal to not have all the information. Take note of the information you need and work towards gathering this information over time.
-Ask each alter to look at the call sheet. Have them each make any edits or changes to themselves or others.
-If you have friends or family who are aware of your alters ask them for information.
-Take role/roll call every few months. Some alters grow-up and change over time just like any person.