Alter - In the original psychiatric view, being multiple meant the people in your group were one-dimensional, representing aspects of one person which had been split off. It meant naming the aspects of a single personality. Right after Dr. Pierre Janet presented his ideas on "dissociation", the "alters" were supposed to fit the Jungian archetypal pattern: the Child, the Stern Protector, the Harlot, and so forth.

The professional literature portrayed persons in multiple groups as cardboard characters, lacking substance, etc. The more substance they did have the more it was supposed to have been drained from the "depleted host", the original person who had put almost all her (it's always "her" in these reports) energy into these imitation people. This is how the word "alter" came into use; it meant a non-person; two-dimensional masks, paper dolls that the weak pathetic host personality hid behind for protection.

Use of the term "alter" implies that one person in the group is real and the rest are not, or are less real. Even in systems where there is an original person the others came from, or where one person considers themself to be hosting the others, "alter" is taken by many systems as an insult, roughly analogous to "white only" and "separate but equal" in the segregated South.

What should you say instead, to indicate you mean members of a multiple group, rather than one-person/one-body individuals? Truddi Chase & The Troops said "self" and "selves". Or you can just say people. If you feel you have "people in your head" you can say "headmates" (bearing in mind that not all multiples feel the others are "inside", let alone "in their head"). Some groups in the late 80s called them insiders.

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