Alter Types are used to refer to the different parts or personalities that exist within a person, most commonly developed due to trauma or abuse in early life. These different parts or alters may have different identities, emotions and behaviors, and tend to serve different roles in a person’s life. In this article, we explore whether these alter types influence a person’s personality.
What are Alter Types?
Alter types are different personalities or parts that exist within a person due to past traumatic experiences. These different parts or alters may have different identities, emotions and behaviors, and tend to serve different roles in a person’s life. Alter types are a common occurrence in people who have experienced intense trauma, abuse or neglect in childhood, such as those with dissociative identity disorder (DID).
DID is a disorder characterized by the presence of at least two distinct personality states that take control of the person’s behavior. The different personalities tend to have distinct memories, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are exclusive to them. They can also be referred to as alters, dissociative parts, or identities.
How Do Alter Types Affect Personality Traits?
Alter types can significantly impact a person’s personality traits. Because each alter has its own identity, emotions, and behaviors, the way a person acts, thinks or feels may vary depending on which alter is “out” or “in control” at the time. A person with DID may exhibit different personality traits depending on which alter they are currently experiencing.
This can make it challenging for people with DID to maintain consistency in their personality and behavior. They may also struggle to form lasting relationships because of the unpredictability of their personality traits. This is because one alter can have different values, beliefs or preferences from another, which can create confusion or conflict in relationships.
Furthermore, alters can also affect the way a person perceives reality. For instance, an alter may hold a trauma memory, and another alter may be unaware of it. This can create confusion, making a person believe that their reality is distorted because they cannot make sense of their emotions or experiences.
Can Therapy Help Alter Personality Types?
Therapy is a useful tool for people with DID to manage their alter types and discover ways to integrate them into a unified sense of self. The primary goal of therapy in treating DID is to help a person learn to manage and integrate their alters successfully. This process involves building trust and establishing communication between different alters to help them understand that they exist in the same body and that change is possible.
Therapists who treat DID may use various methods in therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, or eclectic therapy. Different therapy techniques are used depending on the needs of the person with DID, and they are often guided by the symptoms and experiences of the individual.
How to Cope with Alter Types in Daily Life?
People with DID and alter types can take several steps to cope with their condition in daily life. These include:
- Attend therapy regularly with a trusted therapist who is experienced in treating DID and dissociative conditions.
- Develop an awareness of the triggers that cause alters to switch and practice coping mechanisms to manage them.
- Practice having open and honest communication with both alters and people in their lives.
- Create a routine or a schedule that all alters can follow to help them maintain consistency in their daily lives.
- Find support groups for people with DID to connect with others and share experiences.
What Support is Available for Alter Types?
People with DID and alter types can receive support from various organizations, including:
- The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation
- The Sidran Institute
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness
These and other organizations offer resources, information and support for people with DID and other dissociative conditions, as well as their families and friends.
Alter types can influence a person’s personality traits and the way they perceive reality. DID is a disorder characterized by the presence of different personalities or alters that tend to behave, think, and feel differently from one another. However, therapy can help people with DID manage and integrate their different alters successfully, fostering unity and stability in their personality and behavior.
Common Questions About Alter Types and Personality
- Can alter types change personality traits? Yes, because each alter has its own identity, emotions, and behaviors, the way a person acts, thinks, or feels may change depending on which alter is “out” or “in control” at the time.
- What causes alter types? Alter types usually develop due to intense trauma, abuse or neglect experienced in childhood.
- Can alter types be healed? While there is no cure for DID, therapy can help people with this condition learn to manage and integrate their different alters successfully, fostering unity and stability in their personality and behavior.
- Ceccarelli M., et al. (2021). The personality variables of multiple personality disorders. Clinical Psychologist, 72, 39-47.
- Steele, K., & Boon, S. (2017). Guidelines for treating dissociative identity disorder in adults, third revision: Summary version.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2016). Dissociative disorders.