In patients with DID, it’s common for an “inner world” to exist. This is often a place that is known to be where the alters live out their own personal lives where as in the external world they are living the life of the body or host(s).
What is an Inner World?
Inner worlds and what they look like vary greatly. Some systems with dissociative identity disorder don’t have inner worlds at all. Systems with an inner world describe them as a place that alters live and interact with one another. Inner worlds can be complex with different sections, one simple room or not exist at all.
Inner worlds are not real – per se – but to alters who live there the inner world feels just as real (and in some cases MORE real) than the external world. Some inner worlds have complex workings and structures while others just provide a space for an alter to control the body and for another alter to wait for control.
A more elaborate inner world does not have any correlation to trauma endured or size of the system as far as anyone can tell. In fact, there isn’t a lot known of inner worlds except that they vary greatly and they exist.
Can what the inner world looks like change?
Inner worlds are malleable for many systems. Some systems can change their inner worlds while other systems just adapt to changes as they come. When new alters begin to front, someone takes on a new role or an alter goes dormant, it’s very common for small changes in the inner world to occur. For us: their stuff disappears when they are not around.
Inside our Inner world it’s always the same temperature and rains once a week. Some inner worlds see a ton of rain or catastrophic events like floods or earthquakes. In those instances, the dramatic changes in the inner world are almost always a result of something traumatic occurring in the external world.
Does everyone in the system have access to the inner world?
Not every alter has access to every part of the inner world, commonly known as “headspace.” Often, long term hosts can’t access the headspace and often certain alters only have access to certain parts of the inner world. Some systems can control what alters do by what they are allowed to access in the headspace.
For many systems, some alters have a difficult time entering the headspace and others have a hard time leaving the headspace. Access inside the inner world is often based on role and access to memories or other functions of the body. Usually, these accesses are also trauma-related or designed to prevent triggers.
What is inside an inner world?
This also varies. Some systems live in the forest and forage inside their inner world. Some systems have elaborate mansions and pools with everything they could ever want. Some have trees and some have flashing lights. Some systems live in apartment buildings and some systems all sit in one room or just don’t have an inner world at all.
Inner worlds can contain things the body actually possesses in the external world or things that the body once had. Other things that the body does not own or has never owned may also be present. NPCs (or non-playable characters in the gaming world) are common inside DID system’s inner worlds as well. Alters can either barely interact or not interact at all – this can also vary based on alter.
There is no list of what makes up an inner world or what an inner world must have. Much like the trauma that caused the need for inner world as an escape for parts, they are unique and can not be standardized by a list of criteria.
What does the inner world look like for our system?
We have a fronting area, a waiting area, a forest, a field of wildflowers, the black space, the river and the rows of houses, some permanently occupied and some temporary spots. A long path and a big gorge extend around the outside perimeter.
What does your inner world look like? Tell us in the comments!