What Are Facets?

Hi! I realized today that I’ve never seen a post concisely explaining just what a facet is/how they’re different from alters. 

I don’t have DID/am not a multiple system, so I’m not suuuper qualified to talk about alters, but essentially they’re what many people consider “multiple personalities” although this term is offensive to many and should not be used. I have friends who have them, and it basically just means you have two or more people living in the same body (often called the vessel). The main/core person is often called the host. Sometimes alters come out when the host is stressed or anxious. Alters can form either naturally or as a result of trauma (or other reasons too, I’m sure). 

Facets are sometimes considered a more minor variety of alters. While alters are entirely separate people with their own thoughts and memories, facets are more like distinct personalities within the same person. For some people they can be created on purpose and can be switched between voluntarily. The way I tend to explain my experience with facets is that it’s like my personality is fragmented, and different aspects of it come out at different times, but they’re still connected, I’m still aware that I’m the same person when different facets are active, and I don’t experience memory loss like some (but not all) people with alters do. People with alters often call themselves multiple systems, while people with facets often call themselves median systems. Facets can exist for a lot of reasons— like alters, they are often a result of trauma, but not always— and seem to be pretty common in people with BPD. 

Some people don’t bother differing between their facets, even if they’re aware of them switching, and some consider their facets completely separate people. Many peoples’ facets have their own names and pronoun sets. Any way your facets manifest and any way you choose to handle them is completely valid and okay! 

Please feel free to reblog or link to this post and add more information/your own experiences if you want to! My askbox is always open if you have any questions! 

A developing fruit fly eye

Quite different from vertebrate eyes, insects possess compound eyes made up of hundreds of tiny repeating facets called ommatidia. Each facet is basically an eye in itself, consisting of a single lens with light-sensitive cells. The facet is fixed in position such that it can only detect light coming from a narrow, single area in space. By combining all of the facets together, insects see a “mosaic” image of the world made up of tiny light and dark dots rather than a sweeping field of view like we see. In this image, a developing fruit fly eye shows the retina (gold) and axons (blue) transmitting light information to the brain (green). Recent research using fruit fly eyes has uncovered novel properties of the retinoblastoma protein, the causative factor in patients with cancer of the same name.

Image by Dr. W. Ryan Williamson.

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