Learning to Control the Switching Process in Dissociative Identity Disorder

Well, my wife and I are in year 10 of our healing journey from her dissociative identity disorder. She and I have both come a long way in so many ways. And as I look back, I feel we were so fortunate in so many ways that we didn’t understand at first.

Today I’d like to discuss ‘switching.’ For anyone in the d.i.d. world we know ‘switching’ simply means when one ‘alter’ takes over executive control for another. It’s the big, flashing, neon sign that everyone knows is the hallmark sign of d.i.d. I’ve been on many, many d.i.d. websites over the years and have seen the fear and angst this phenomenon causes so many d.i.d. sufferers. I noted how it was portrayed on USOT in an earlier blog entry. And I wrote a brief article about switching here a long time ago. But today I want to explain how I trained my wife’s mind to easily switch from girl to girl so that the process was removed from the realm of the uncontrollable and thus none of them view it with the fear or angst I sometimes see in others with d.i.d.

The foundation of what my wife and I have done has always been attachment principles even before we understood what they were. Read here if you are unfamiliar with the basic concepts and how they apply to healing d.i.d. As such I am the primary attachment figure for all the girls. There are no ‘unwanted alters’ in my wife’s system. I love them each and have sought a relationship with each and they each love me as a result. The same goes for our 27-year old son, though he does not fill the same role that I do. But as such, being with me or our son was something every girl wanted. Time with me or him was ‘prized’ time, and so I used that desire of theirs to teach them how to switch ‘at will.’

Again, it’s not that I am so brilliant, but my wife and I just kind of ‘fell into’ some of these techniques that later proved so invaluable to her healing.

One thing that helped is I insisted on telling each and every girl goodbye when I left for my 2nd-shift job each day. If I had a girl who resisted and didn’t want to ‘share’ me, I would gently say, “Honey, how would you like it, if the other girls locked you inside and didn’t let you see me?” I never forced them inside, but this reasoning was always enough for the first 7 girls so that every day when I left for work, I would tell each of the 7 girls goodbye.

Eleven hours later when I got home, they were waiting for me, and I would go thru the same process and tell each of the 7 girls goodnight and kiss them how each one desired. Sophia wanted butterfly kisses. Amy, Tina and Karen wanted regular kisses. Alley and her little sister Shelley wanted to rub cheeks. And KA wanted ‘French kisses’ as she playfully called them: one on each cheek, and I playfully would suggest I’d give her a ‘real’ French kiss to which she exclaimed her horror, lol.

But I also sent every single girl a brief email each and every day that I was at work. These emails are ‘prized’ among the girls, and so once again it taught them to switch so that each girl could have her turn to read the note from me that was specific to each girl’s tastes. The 5 older girls always reply to these notes. The 3 littlest girls rarely reply, but I understand how important this is to each and to her healing and so I faithfully send them each day.

Another thing that I did that taught them to switch at will was have dates with each girl each week. For a couple of years, I would assign a day of each week to a specific girl and she and I would do something special together. The other girls were always welcome to be part of it, but the girl whose day it was got to choose whatever activity we did for our ‘date.’ I had to be careful though because some girls like Shelly were especially timid and the other girls would try to force her to do their bidding. So I had to protect her from their extreme influence. Yet I also realize that her role in the system was such that she didn’t always have her ‘own’ preferences because she was literally ‘wired’ to please her older sister, Alley.

Another thing I did when we first began this journey was to make a habit of ‘calling out’ each girl each day just to connect with her. Sometimes the one fronting would resist, and so I would get in gentle tug of wars to try to get her to release control so I could talk to someone else. Again, I never forced it. Sometimes the girl would flat out refuse, but usually she was willing to temporarily give up control knowing some other time she would be the one who got called out to be with me. Since I never played favorites and every girl knew she was deeply loved and wanted, this never caused the insecurities that it could have.

By doing these simple things each and every day, I taught the girls to switch, seamlessly, instantaneously, at will, dozens and dozens of times each and every day until the process became second nature to them. Yes, some girls took longer to learn especially Tina and Jenny who were completely dissociated from the others when they joined us on the outside. So, for these 2 the process was significantly harder and took longer, but in time I got both of them to be just as good at switching as the other girls.

Anyway, what I hope to convey to you thru these simple examples is that switching is not uncontrollable. Yes, it can still be caused by triggers, just like it can be in all of us non-dissociated people when we get triggered and soft switches happen in our minds. But because of my relationship with each girl and her desire to be with me as a result of it, I was able to use that to help each girl learn to switch at will. I never force, ever. Sometimes I beg and plead, but coercion with a trauma victim always backfires. Don’t do it. But using positive things is a great way to teach your loved one’s brain to easily switch and overcome the dissociation that once divided everyone in the system.




9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mrmarshall03
    Mar 28, 2018 @ 11:19:27

    Wow. I am glad to see your posting again. I do understand what you are saying and how this can work well. I understand how falling into ways of coping happens. I see it in my journey also.


    • Sam Ruck
      Mar 28, 2018 @ 11:24:26

      Hi Mr. Marshall,

      it’s good to see you, too! I don’t know if I will be back ‘regularly’ but there have been some issues that have come up in my correspondence with other SO’s that I thought I ought to address here on the blog.

      I hope your journey is going well since I haven’t heard from you in a while. Shoot me an email if you ever want.


  2. Zara Ali
    Mar 28, 2018 @ 23:57:33

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us Sam. This is incredibly helpful. I have always wondered if ‘the four people in me’ were actually a sign of DID. I never took my alters, as I now call them, seriously until I started reading about CSA and DID. To be honest even until reading this I was not too sure if that is the case with me because I have always been able to swtich alters at will. We are four… two girls and two boys… but it does appear all are pretty integrated. We kind of work together and help each other in figuring out ways to handle life so to say… anyway thank you again. Wishing you and the girls all the best…


    • Sam Ruck
      Mar 29, 2018 @ 06:08:57

      Hi Zara,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience. I’m glad our journey has given you a little insight into your own. You are most fortunate to already have that kind of cooperation between the 4 in your system. The 8 girls in my wife’s system are slowing getting there, but Jenny and Tina were so deeply separated from the others that it’s been a very slow process for them, and Karen still holds back from fully embracing the others, too, for some reason…sigh…
      Wishing you well, too,


  3. stoner on a rollercoaster
    May 04, 2018 @ 08:23:01

    Hey, hope you are doing well.

    I invite you to read a post of mine where I am gathering links of warriors facing mental health challenges 1st hand to educate people, to raise awareness and acceptance.

    I need help from you in fighting stigma.

    Here is the link to post..

    Your participation can change life of someone.

    Thank you 🙂


  4. stoner on a rollercoaster
    Apr 01, 2019 @ 17:12:33


    Hope you are doing well.

    Not sure if I have sent this request before.

    I am scheduling Mental Health Awareness re-blogs for the month of May, can I share a blog post of yours that’s related to the subject in any way.

    Your words can help educate the readers on the subject and give validation to the ones traveling in the same boat.

    Thank you! 🙂


  5. Charmaine
    Jun 25, 2019 @ 14:17:04

    Thanks for this information Sam! I very much ascribe to attachment theory principles and though I’m currently challenged in that there are not enough days in the week to have a date with each of my husbands alters (literally as there are over 20) and he has alters that are angry, resentful, and feel hateful towards me (their words, not mine) I will nonetheless look for opportunities to connect with each of them individually. I read a DID workbook once that talked about having a communication journal for messages to be shared with the system and individual alters and I love the idea. I did purchase a journal type of workbook and a filled a pencil case with all sorts of crayons and markers, pens and pencils (hoping that the younger alters would be able to colour and those who would prefer to write could). I was very gentle in the suggestion and the resistance was so great that the journal and entire pencil case were tossed into the garbage. I share this though not in a defeatist attitude but rather with the continued belief and faith that just because something doesn’t seem possible or workable in the moment doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea – it may just be that its time has yet to come 🙂


    • Sam Ruck
      Jun 25, 2019 @ 14:31:18

      Good luck and you might enlist any child who is willing to help make contact every day with each person. Our son was a huge help: you’ve got potentially 11 helpers depending upon their maturity level and ability to cope with a less-than-normal parent-child relationship. Even the angry alters will be reachable IF you are patient. My wife’s defender HATED me at first. She said such vile things about me that the other girls wouldn’t repeat them. Now she is the first of the girls to become engaged to me. I had to amend my ways and apologize where she had legitimate issues, but once that was done, I slowly overcame her hatred by unconditional love and gentle persistence. I talk about ‘defusing the anger of the defender’ in one of my much earlier posts.


  6. Trackback: The Nature of Dissociation, Part 1 | Loving My DID Girl(s)

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