NPD “alter” in a DID patient.


I have to admit I know next to nothing about this, but I found this fascinating and wonder if anyone else ever heard of anything like it or knows anything about it. Someone who comments on this blog described a woman they know who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Like C-PTSD and the personality disorders, DID is caused by abuse during childhood. If you’re not familiar with DID, it’s one of the Dissociative disorders. It used to be known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). DID is when a person has one or more “alters” in addition to their base personality, and switches from one alter to another, usually in response to a trigger. The core self usually has amnesia for the the time spent as an alter (many people with DID present because of frequent “blackouts”–gaps in memory where the person can’t remember anything they did as an alter), but there may be some awareness among the various alters of each other’s existence.  Each alter may have their own name, set of interests, likes and dislikes, etc.  They may even have opinions about the other alters as if they were actual people. Adopting different alters is how the DID person copes with trauma-related stress. DID usually first presents during childhood.  It’s a fascinating disorder in its own right.

Like almost everyone with DID, the woman this commenter described had been horrifically abused. One of her alters had Narcissistic Personality Disorder, maybe more than one. I don’t know how many alters the woman had, and I don’t know whether or not she was NPD at her core (usually the core personality is a rather passive and victimized character, and I would think that adopting NPD as a dominant coping mechanism would negate the “need” to develop DID). I found it fascinating that one of her alters had NPD and she was able to switch it off whenever she left that alter. The human mind is an amazing and mysterious thing.

16 thoughts on “NPD “alter” in a DID patient.

  1. My dad was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder in the 1960s, before the name was changed to dissociative identity disorder. My father’s core personality was my “good daddy,” a conservative fundamentalist minister. One of his alter personalities was a pot smoking, acid rock loving, hippie Buddhist biker, who ran around with women barely older than me. And one of his personalities was terrifying. Very narcissistic, sociopathic, abusive, homicidal. Just… evil.

    My dad’s core personality told me that he blacked out when his alters were in control. He also told me that his mother sexually molested him when he was a little boy. I believe that was probably true. She touched me, her own granddaughter, in an inappropriate way once.

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    • That is very scary! I can’t even imagine how terrifying it would be being raised by a father like that, who you never knew “who” he was going to be from one day to the next. DID (MPD) used to hardly ever be diagnosed in anyone, but I read that now it’s being overdiagnosed, especially in the United States. A lot of people fake DID too, especially in the criminal justice system, to avoid going to prison. They can just say “my alter did it and I can’t remember.” That’s not fair to people who actually do have this disorder, because they’re not believed.

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      • Yes, it was scary having a father like that. But my momster, who only ever had one personality, was much more terrifying and abusive than my dad.

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  2. Hello. In response I would have to say that yes…an alter can have NPD. Many decades ago when I was a young woman I dated a man who I now understand was DID. I remember when one of his alters took over and how much his face changed and how sadistic he became. He looked like he had aged and hardened by at least ten years. It was quite remarkable to witness.

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    • That’s how my dad was, when his evil alter took over. His face changed, his voice changed, his eyes changed. Some people thought he was demon possessed. Although he was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, my dad told me once that he believed his alter personalities were demons.

      As for me, I don’t know what to believe. I only know that it was very scary to grow up with a father like that.

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        • A couple of years ago I met a local woman who had just published a memoir about her child abuse and DID. She invited my husband and me to come to a small dinner party she was having at her house.

          During the dinner she told us about how she had managed to function in life just fine as an airline stewardess until she reached retirement age. Then, with no more job and world travel to focus on, her long-ago abuse memories started preying on her mind and she began to dissociate and lose track of time. So she went to a therapist and discovered, at the age of 60+, that she had DID and apparently had had it most of her life.

          My husband said he could understand that, because after being in combat in Vietnam as a very young man, he had kept his PTSD issues at bay by working 100+ hours per week, until 2001, when 9-11 happened…

          I knew what my husband was going to say next, because I have heard him tell this story before. He was going to say that seeing the terrible images on TV of our country being attacked by terrorists, caused him to flash back to Vietnam, which caused him to have a heart attack. After his heart attack he could no longer work all those long hours, and with nothing but time on his hands, his PTSD took over his life.

          But my husband did did not get a chance to say any of that, because as soon as he mentioned 9-11, this woman suddenly turned into a totally different person. Up until this point, she had been lovely, warm and gracious. But suddenly she was practically yelling at my husband across the dinner table, ranting on and on about how she “cannot care” about the victims of 9-11, because their suffering was nothing compared to her suffering!

          “They only had to suffer for a couple of hours, if that, and then they died and their suffering was over! But *I* suffered every single day of my life, from my earliest childhood until I finally turned 18 and was able to leave home!”

          It was.. really ugly. We were shocked. My husband did not say another word. We left shortly after that.

          By the way, her book is one of the worst books I have ever read in my life. I was tempted to leave a very well deserved negative review and tell about what she had said at dinner. Her book claims that she is all better now thanks to therapy, but no, she is NOT! However, I did not leave any review at all because I figured that the poor woman has already suffered enough. 😉

          Anyway, I would say that the alter that screamed at my husband was very narcissistic.


          • Wow.. after I wrote my comment about the woman author I met who has multiple personalities, I looked at her book on Amazon to see what kind of reviews it has and I was amazed to see 47 reviews, and every one of them are either 4 or 5 stars! There isn’t a single critical review. I don’t understand it. Either all of the reviewers are being generous because of her painful trauma history, or else the book isn’t as horrible as I thought it was.

            It is possible that my judgment was skewed, because I read her book after she was so rude to my husband and so callous about the victims of 9-11.

            I also realized from her author’s bio that I was mistaken in saying that her DID symptoms did not become apparent until she reached retirement age and no longer had her work as an airline stewardess to focus on. It was when her father died, when she was in her fifties, that she took time off from work and, feeling overwhelmed by his death, she began to dissociate and then was unable to return to work.

            Memory is a funny thing. 🙂

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      • Super scary.

        My dad was very moody and unpredictable, although as far as I know he didn’t have DID. I never knew what to expect from him on any given day. Most of them time he was a very angry, irritable, vile-tempered man that you wanted to stay clear of at all costs… but every once in a while he was really nice and funny and fun to be around. He really did seem like a different person then, to the point where it was almost hard to remember what he was like when his other side took over.

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  3. True, as bluebird of bitterness points out, someone can be very moody, so, I then ask myself, where does extreme moodiness cross the line into DID? I guess the presence of other names, names of alters. I’ve heard where people with alters will use their middle name at times or a different form of their first name. I don’t know much about DID. I will bet its popularity grows soon. At least borderlines and narcissists seem to be getting plenty of attention.

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    • Yeah, I think you would have to have blackouts or amnesia for your alters, and they actually seem to have completely different personalities, so it’s much worse than just a mood.


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