Shell Alters

* You can find more information on the following holidays at:
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2
Fall Equinox
Halloween {personal) (background)
Yule/Winter Solstice
Valentine’s Day
Spring Equinox
Easter: personal. (for background, see Spring Equinox)
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve:
Mothers’ Day:
Fathers’ Day:
Summer Solstice (corrected text)


I remember when I first learned about shell alters. It was so long ago that I had read all the books on ritual abuse that had ever been published. Imagine! I had just gotten a computer and had joined a couple of Usenet groups. My inbox received maybe two emails a week. 

I met a survivor, way back then, once upon a time. We found each other in ASAR (Alt Sexual Abuse Recovery), one of the groups I belonged to, and then managed to meet in person. We clicked immediately and started talking about how our minds worked and whether we were multiple or not. Neither one of us seemed to switch the whole time we were together.

She had figured out how her system worked. There was a front person, and other inner people used that person to talk through. It was sort of like borrowing somebody’s clothes; the front person’s personality and mannerisms were borrowed and passed around. This meant that switching wasn’t obvious – alters flowed into each other seamlessly.

I don’t know where she heard the term, or whether she thought it up independently, but she talked about her “shell alter.” By that, she meant that the front person was transparent and served as a shell to hold and display what other alters were thinking or feeling.

 I visualized a sea shell, but that doesn’t work. It is more like a shell that a lobster, one day, can shed. There is a real live lobster inside it, and the shell serves only to contained and protect it. 

No, that doesn’t work, either, because it’s one lobster, many shells, whereas, with this form of multiplicity, there is one shell, many lobsters. Maybe a snail shell used by many different hermit crabs in succession? I can’t find a good metaphor, but I think I know what I mean, and I hope you can figure it out. 

In Googling “shell alters” I came across this definition: (

“A shell alter is an Apparently Normal Part (host alter/front person) which handles daily life and is designed to hide the existence of other alters from the outside world. Shell alters do not exist in DID, they only exist in one form of DDNOS (now renamed to Other Specified Dissociative Disorder). The apparently normal part (ANP) is a shell through whom the inside parts/alters act. The inside parts can come near the surface, temporarily blending with the ANP. The inner parts are not regarded as separate, distinct states although amnesia may exist between them. If DDNOS is caused by ritual abuse and mind control, the shell alter is not supposed to know about the others.”

From this definition, it seems that if a person’s mind is organized with a shell alter, they will not know this and will think that they are a singleton. It is only when the programming begins to break down that they learn about the shell alter and those who come forward to interact with the world.

Many questions come to mind. Why doesn’t this system qualify as DID? Why can’t the alters be separate, distinct states, with their own names, ages, histories, etc.? And can there be more than one shell in the same system? Google was of no help. 

I see no reason why there can’t be more than one shell alter. First, programmers like to make backups in case something happens to the original. Why shouldn’t they create more than one shell? Second, being “out” or “fronting” for twenty-four hours, day after day, is tiring. Handling all the challenges that the world constantly throws at people, being available to dozens and dozens of inner people, some in conflict with each other, sounds exhausting to me. To survive, you’d think even the strongest shell alter would need a break.

I know that some complex systems have layers of alters arranged in different ways. It is quite possible that one or more of these layers have a shell alter, while other layers are designed in such a way that they do not need a shell.

I’ll offer myself as an example. I was used to test how easy it was to implant a system and how easy it was for the handler to use it once it was formed. I was sort of a lab to test prototypes.

The main way I interact with the world is through fragments that group together for a purpose and then go their separate ways. Other systems, which do not depend on fragments, were also placed in my mind.

One was a whole village with men, women, and children. There were groups of soldiers, priests, farmers, cooks, teachers, etc. As far as I can tell, the people in the village interacted with each other, but an interface with the outside world was never created. It was as if the programmer said, “Yup, works fine, but it’s sort of boring. Let’s shut it down and go on to something more interesting.”

Another was based on mathematical figures and was, basically, just a method of storing information. No part of this system had consciousness; all it could do was accept information for storage and display that information on command.

Three very different systems. Things can get complicated.

I don’t know, once a person has figured out that they have a system that uses a shell, whether the shell starts to reveal a personality and an ability to act independently of other alters. I don’t know whether the shell, from the beginning, thought of itself as “me.” If not, was “me” ever-changing, depending on who was interacting with the world through the shell?

I don’t hear a lot of survivors talking about shell alters. I can’t remember ever reading an article about shell systems, nor did I come across any when I did my Google search. Perhaps not has been written about it, and so therapists aren’t looking for it. They may assume that there are many teen or adult alters who come to the front in succession and have learned to act in pretty much the same way.

It’s also possible that there just aren’t many shell systems. It may be more difficult to create or work with. Or it may be less apt to break down than other systems and therefore doesn’t come to the attention of the survivor, therapists, or people close to the survivor.

It will be interesting to see if anybody who reads this writes in the comment sections saying, “Yes, that’s me. That’s how my mind works.” Hopefully, they will share some of the many issues I haven’t touched on in this short article. 


Upcoming Holidays

7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/3 Full moon
8/15 Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8/24 St. Bartholomew’s Day
9/1 Full moon
9/5 – 9/7 Feast of the Beast/Marriage of the Beast
9/7 Labor Day (United States)
9/22 Fall Equinox
9/29 Michaelmas/Feast of Archangel Michael and of all Angels

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
7/30 Tisha B’Av (Day of Mourning)
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)


Ritual Abuse and Polyfragmentation

Back in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, when I first started down this long, difficult, amazingly rewarding path, the word polyfragmentation wasn’t used in connection with multiplicity. Or if it was, it didn’t pop up in any of the myriad books about ritual abuse that I read at the time and so I didn’t know about it. Well, I knew about it intuitively, and so did many others, but we had no words to describe it.

Now most all survivors know what polyfragmentation is and feel a lot less lonely and crazy. Which is great!

But do they really know? Poking around, I found that the term seems to be used in several different ways. Just knowing that the word comes from poly = many and fragmented = the state of being broken off, detached, or incomplete doesn’t help a whole lot. (from

Here are some of the ways the term is used:

1. More than 100 alters. I assume that means alters with names, ages, personal histories, etc. Some may be more fully formed than others, but basically they are all like people. That’s a lot, but it seems to me that it’s more a crowd than a group of fragments. Though I suppose if you consider that all alters either come from the original personality or from alters that have already split off, you can consider all the alters fragments. But wouldn’t that be true of people with 79 alters, or 5, or 3?

2. Parts with only one function, or formed during one specific instance of abuse. These parts might not have personalities and probably would not appear too often. They were split off from an existing alter and, because they are so limited, could be considered a fragment.

3. Parts arranged in layers throughout the system, generally isolated and not in communication with other parts of the system. Here I start getting confused: I can see that the system could be considered fragmented, but I can’t see the parts as fragments. They seem to me more like “sleeper alters.” I think my confusion has something to do with the type of system organization: it generally indicates government/military programming, which I always have trouble understanding. This pattern may co-exist with either or both of the other two described.

4. And then there is my kind of fragmentation, which I don’t consider confusing at all, of course, because it is normal for me. There are little bits of things floating around with no consciousness or purpose, sort of like dust particles in the air. When I want to do something, a number of these things coalesce into what might be considered an alter, or a group of alters (for more complicated tasks.) It’s not necessarily the same particles each time. All this is very logical and simple to me…except…who/what decides what to do? who/what picks the group of fragments? who/what decides when the action is complete and the particles can disperse?

The mind is never simple, is it?

In a sense, we don’t have to know how our mind works. We have been doing what we do for years and years and by now it is automatic. It takes no effort for me to assemble an internal crew to do the dishes (once I stop procrastinating) and being able to describe it as clearly as I can makes no difference. I still can’t decide if I am a proper multiple or not; I’ve just stopped worrying about it. I have better things to do with my spare time.

I have to end this post by telling you about a man I knew years ago whose mind was totally different yet remarkably similar to mine. I think it is so fascinating.

He said his mind was a slide rule. He lined up all the components of an action, and if he got it right, it went smoothly. If one part was missing, he froze until he could find it and put it in place. And if he picked a wrong part, he risked acting inappropriately.

Here’s an example. Phone rings. Select ‘phone.” Select “answer phone.’ Woman says, “Hello, may I talk to Bill.” Select ‘woman.’ Select ‘identify self as Bill.’ Woman says, “Would you like to join us for dinner Thursday?” Select ‘mother.’ Select ‘find excuse.’ You get the idea.

It all happened at lightning speed. The only way he could analyze what was going on was to further dissociate and have a part look at the process as it was happening. After observing it many times, he found a simile for how his mind worked and was able to describe it to others. But, like me, he had no idea who or what was observing the process or who or what made the decisions – who selected ‘mother’ rather than ‘bill collector.’

I wonder if there are others like him out there. And I wonder if others truly understand polyfragmentation.

Book Review: Dear Little Ones

Dear Little Ones: Dissociative Identity Disorder for Young Alters. Written by Jade Miller and illustrated by Germán Zaninetti. CreateSpace, 2015. Available from Createspace and Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

Jade is a blogger and an artist. She is a polyfragmented Satanic ritual abuse survivor who wrote this book to help all inner children who are lonely and scared.

Germán Zaninetti is an illustrator living in Argentina. He prefers to work on mythological themes (mostly Greek and Egyptian), but also feels comfortable with child themes.

It’s hard for me to review this book. I would rather just quote the whole thing so that you can see how gentle and loving it is. Frankly, it brings tears to my eyes.

What I like best about the book is that it empowers child alters. Often decisions are made for them by more powerful alters, by the part currently in charge, or by a therapist or other helper. Hopefully those decisions are made with love and caring, so that the child alters can experience some healthy reparenting. But their lack of power when other people are telling them what to do can’t help but be a repetition of a large part of the cult experience.

Jade takes a really different approach. She starts by telling the child alters that it wasn’t their fault. “No matter what happened, no matter what anyone told you, it was not your fault.” And she tells them how wonderful they are.

She then explains the creation of alters. “But because of those things that happened, other people needed to be born on the inside in order to help the body stay alive.”  Some stayed young, others grew older. She tells the child alters they get to choose whether they grow older or stay the same.

Jade suggests that they explore inside and see if they can find other children to be friends with, older people to help them and explain things to them. She tells them she might find scary people inside, too. They are trying to help in their own way. She suggests that the children be kind to them because they are hurting, too. “In time, as people are nice to them, they will feel better and learn other ways to help and how to be friends.”

That’s true. If inside people are nice to parts that frighten them, those parts change. But I have never heard (that I remember) anyone telling child alters that they can do this, even without a PhD. Talk about empowerment!

After explaining outside people who are helpers and giving the child alters suggestions on how to stay grounded when they feel overwhelmed, Jade comes back to the theme of choice. They get to choose things that make them feel better.

The ending is like a blessing: “I wish all and only good things for you as you continue to take steps that will bring you into a life of truth and joy and peace.

I am with you in my heart, and I am cheering for you.

Love, Jade”

Jade and friends
Jade and friends

You can get to know Jade at her blog:  and her Facebook page:  If you want to write her, her address is

You can email Germán at