DID Glossary of Terms
These are in no particular order of importance. We have them ordered as logically as we can since some terms build upon others.
Is used when referring to all of the personas within one body/mind. We prefer to use “collective” when referring to ourselves.
Also commonly referred to as parts, especially in clinical spaces. Dissociated states of consciousness found in DID. More often than not can take full control of the body and view themselves as separate individuals rather than different aspects of one person. May or may not have different identifications than the body, e.g. gender, age, or species. We prefer to call ourselves “personas,” not as a reference to the old Multiple Personality Disorder, but that we see ourselves as individual people within one mind/body. Hence “Persona.”
The act of a new persona coming into being. This happens when a child or a pre-existing persona is too distressed by new information or experiences, so a new part is formed to deal with these ideas or memories. This is always caused by extreme stress, but what is determined to be extreme is on an individual level, as some collectives split more easily than others.
A persona being completely present and in control of the body. The front can also be split up between multiple personas, if necessary, which is referred to as co-fronting. We prefer to say “front of the house” or simply that an alter is “up front” to refer to this.
The same as co-fronting (see above). We also refer to this as “split-braining.”
When a persona takes control of the body. Can be forced, consensual, or triggered by an outside source. Often causes dissociation and external symptoms, such as headache or muscle spasms. For us, we get headaches if they are forced or triggered switches.
A subset of forced and triggered form of switching. This is generally when something an internal traumatic memory or an external stressful situation has destabilized the collective and leads to a lack of control over switching, perpetuating the switches further. We experience this occasionally, but it is not a daily or weekly occurrence, thankfully.
Complete unawareness of the events that have occurred while another persona was fronting. Often accompanied by extreme time loss. We don’t experience this all that often due to our high level of communication with each other, but it does happen during times of rapid-switching.
Partial amnesia of the events that have occurred while another persona was up front. Usually results in knowing the basic timeline of events, but not the details or emotional aspects of what has happened. We experience this occasionally, especially when one of us is protecting the others from what is happening in the real-world or after a forced or triggered switch (that does not lead to rapid switching.)
Also commonly referred to as internal worlds. A place that personas retreat to when not fronting, and when there they are often able to see themselves and other personas as separate individuals. Inner worlds vary wildly between collectives, and are formed based on the needs of each individual collective. As such, not all collectives have inner worlds as not all collectives need them. We use both “inner world” and “back of the house” or “out back.”
Persona who is most frequently fronting. Handles daily life and the stressors that come with it. Can also be used when referring to the main/core persona. In other words, the one whose been diagnosed with DID and is the owner of the body as a whole. For our collective, this is Alex. We also refer to him as the “Core.”
Persona(s) who is/are frequently fronting, either as much or almost as much as the host. Could also refer to any persona(s) that “take over” by default when the host goes dormant or becomes inactive for any reason. For our collective, these are Artemis, Des, Lex and Lyra. We refer to them as the “Mains.”
Personas that see themselves as animals, fantasy creatures, dead or undead creatures, or nonliving objects. May or may not be able to still communicate effectively. More of a modifier label than a functional label. There are quite a few of these within our collective.
Also commonly referred to as littles, occasionally middles. Parts that are mentally and functionally frozen in a childlike mental state. These parts often hold trauma or are clinging to the idea of living out an ideal childhood. May or may not be more mentally capable or mature than real children. May age with the body or at specific dates, or may age sporadically when integration or trauma processing occurs. More of a modifier label than a functional label. We use the term “littles” to refer to each of us that is not a teenager.
Also commonly referred to as middles. Might have served as an internal authority figure of sorts when the body was younger, in lieu of an external one. Also, may have acted as more mature than most children to avoid danger. May be mentally and functionally frozen in a stereotypical teenage mental state. If so, these parts often hold trauma or are clinging to the idea of living out an ideal teenage life. More of a modifier label than a functional label. We do not have any teen alters in our collective, and we just refer to this term as “teens” or “teenagers.”
Also commonly referred to as bigs. Might have served as an internal parental figure of sorts when the body was younger, in lieu of an external one. Also may have acted as more mature than most children to avoid danger. May be mentally and functionally frozen in a stereotypical adult-like mental state. If so, these parts often hold trauma or are dissociated from typical immature ways of acting in order to avoid danger. More of a modifier label than a functional label. For us, we just call these personas “adults.”
A persona that controls fronting, memory access, or inner world access. For us, the primary gatekeeper is Xavier. He remains at the back of the house most of the time, only coming out for emergencies.
Also commonly referred to as an ISH, manager, or observer. More aware about the collective, personas, and/or memories than other personas. May or may not be a gatekeeper, or work closely alongside gatekeepers. We have two of these. The first one is Xavier (a gatekeeper) and the other is Eva.
Personas who protect the collective from harm. Can be specifically split to deal with physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse, or can be a generalized protector. Artemis and Des would fall into this category.
Also commonly referred to as aggressive protectors. A subset of protector specifically split to be more assertive towards abusers. We refer to this as a “dark protector.” Des falls into this category as well.
A subset of protector focused primarily on taking care of other personas or the body. While not a protector, Lyra falls under this category since she makes sure the body is taken care of (exercising, eating right, sleeping, etc…).
Also commonly referred to as trauma holders. Holds either traumatic or positive memories away from the rest of the system, either to keep them safe or to preserve the purity of specific memories. We do use the term “trauma holder.” For us, certain memories are split between different personas. Most of the time, we are not aware of who is holding what until it comes up or we are reminded of it. Most of our early memories are repressed and we do not remember anything.