|shell (n., adj.)|
|Applies to||headmates of median systems, system functions|
|Origin||Psychiatric term (tentative)|
A shell is a type of system member through which all other members act, front, and (possibly) blend through. Shells may never leave the front. They have been compared to windows or doors, a piece of clothing the other system members wear, a conduit, or a mold other system members slot into. They can serve multiple different purposes, but many revolve around masking things amnesia barriers or differences between system members.
Occasionally, there may be more than one shell, who each serve different purposes.
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"Shell" within specific trauma histories
The term shell may also describe a type of member in programmed systems that is meant to hide the system's existence, dull out the emotions/urges/etc. of the other system members, or make it more covert. Shells in this context are often less elaborated, lack agency, do not know about the other alters, and may be fragmentary. They may be described as "clear" when color is relevant.
History[edit | edit source]
This term has been used in several contexts, though pinpointing its origin or exact uses is difficult. The term does pop up in more psychiatric perspectives, but reference trails tend to go in circles, lead back to a handful of sources that are either in some ways problematic or contested, or have lacking or even inaccurate definitions of collateral terms.
Most places point to Allison Miller's book Healing the Unimaginable as a main source on shells, but she is is in turn quoting very unreliable source. Additionally, the most accessible source, the "Types of Alters" list on the traumadissociation website, is inaccurate in some of its definitions. Therefore, it is difficult to come to any definite conclusions.
However, shells are most commonly associated with OSDD-1a and specific trauma histories.
Related Terms[edit | edit source]
Shells are often used to described members in orbital or non-switching systems, in this context it may be similar to a core, masker, or blanket self. A shell may be frontstuck or even a part of front and serve as a sort of "interface" with the outer world. Shells may be a form of ANP.
- Healing the Unimaginable, p. 33 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZxBPAnHw4NEZULKiketk8HmWbWA4ikvn/view