The Core and Host Alters

Those of us with dissociative identity disorder have many different aspects of ourselves that have been compartmentalized to hold traumatic memories at bay. One of these alters is known as the host, and they fulfill a vital part of the lives of multiples.


This article will open a conversation discussing the host alter in a multiple’s system.


Where Do Alters Come From



The theory of structural dissociation also connects trauma with the lack of an associated personality in children and adults, such as is found in dissociative identity disorder, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and many other disorders.


The structural dissociation theory shows how trauma, dissociation, and separations of the personality come in three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary, each characterized by different dissociation levels.


Primary structural dissociation consists of one part (aka an emotional part or EP) focused on the trauma. Also, a different part of the system of selves is known as the apparently normal part or ANP, whose job is to focus on the activities of daily living. The ANP often avoids the EP and the trauma of the past while the EP still lives there.


Secondary structural dissociation usually consists of one ANP and multiple EPs, each holding a trauma response to different abuses that happened in the past. Emotional parts often hold our fight, fight, fawn, and freeze responses.


Tertiary structural dissociation is the most severe and is most commonly found in dissociative identity disorder. Up to this point, the alters have been simple parts, but with tertiary structural dissociation, the parts become more complicated and separate from each other, taking on separate names, ages, goals, and personalities.


Is the Core the Same as the Host?



The core, known as the original child, is considered by some as the firstborn into their body. This part has the most influence over the other parts and for whom all the other alters are created to protect. Some consider the core as just another self-state that started to integrate but failed.


Controversy reigns over the subject of the core self because it does not fit neatly into the theory of structural dissociation (TSD). TSD states that everyone is born without a cohesive personality, and as children grow, they pull their different parts into an interconnected whole.


On the other hand, the host is one of the alters in a D.I.D. system with responsibilities beyond that of the core. The core is most likely used to seeing themselves as the only part in their body having amnesia for the others.


The host is the alert part that most often uses the body or fronts by taking control of the front and conscious of the mind.


This alter might be used to viewing themselves as the only entity in their body and will likely at least at first view themselves as the core. This may or may not be correct. According to the theory of structural dissociation, all hosts are apparently normal parts.


Host alters have greater responsibility than the core, being responsible for daily living. Because the host has spent years, sometimes decades, unaware of the others and the trauma that caused them, they may have trouble accepting that they have D.I.D.

The Chaos of Healing



At the beginning of treatment, and possibly for many years in the future, chaos reigns as the D.I.D. system learns about what happened long ago after the amnesia walls are breached. The emotions, physical sensations, and memory of what happened flood back as flashbacks and bodily sensations.


This increase in chaos experienced by those with D.I.D. seemingly worsens after receiving their diagnosis. Many symptoms precipitate the chaos, including:


  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Body memories
  • Losing time
  • Fugue
  • Memory problems
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations
  • Living out of touch with reality


Because each D.I.D. system is different, one cannot definitively list all the symptoms.


Ending Our Time Together


I realize this article is short, but I wanted to discuss the differences between the core and the host in a D.I.D. system. I know I am the host of my system whose core was lost long ago and who still struggles after many decades of treatment.


The chaos that once ensued and ruled my life has died down considerably since the early days. I no longer lose significant amounts of time or experience fugue.


I am not an oddity or a unique person. I know you can heal and move on because I have done it. It took me many years in therapy and tears, but finally, my alters have decided to cooperate, and we are all moving in the same direction. Is this integration? The big “I” word looks different for everyone, but it is achievable.


I believe in you.


“As my sufferings mounted, I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.


“This life is for loving, sharing, learning, smiling, caring, forgiving, laughing, hugging, helping, dancing, wondering, healing, and even more loving. I choose to live life this way. I want to live my life in such a way that when I get out of bed in the morning, the devil says, ‘Aw shit, he’s up!”
― Steve Maraboli


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