Since the question of multiplicity recently came up, I'm cross-posting Chimera's helpful FAQ about the topic.
What is Multiplicity?
Multiplicity can be cut down to a most basic definition as being when more than one person and/or fragments of people share the same body. A group of people sharing a body are often referred to as a multiple system. A more complex and detailed explanation can and does vary depending on the unique multiple system. How someone ended up being in a system can vary greatly not only from one person to another even within the same system let alone other systems. Plus, the relations and connections between various members, or ‘headmates’ as they are called, within a system and the body they share can also range greatly for every system. Not to mention the numbers involved in any given system can range greatly from two into hypnotically infinity; however most systems tend to range from two to 20 or so people.
Does Someone Who Is Multiple Have Dissociative Identity Disorder?
The phenomena of multiplicity can often be likened to Dissociative Identity Disorder (which was formally called Multiple Personality Disorder until the DSM-IV was published in the mid 1990s), and by definition DID can be labeled under multiplicity; however they are not mutually the same things nor do all multiple systems necessarily have DID by default. DID is a serious disorder and not all multiples in one means or fashion have many if any of the characteristics of being disordered in the sense of it causing stress or potential harm to a person or the people around them nor having the disorder itself by way of official diagnosis. Not all multiples even fit all the criteria or symptoms of DID even.
Are Multiples A Kind Of Otherkin?
No, or at least not by default. Being multiple means one body is being shared by more than one individual persons. Those individual people may not be or identify as human themselves, but they just as easily might still identify as human. So not all multiple systems are inherently full of people who would be or do identify as otherkin or therian. Some systems might have all human members, some systems might be all nonhuman, while any system could be a mix. Multiplicity is a phenomena unto itself and has a whole separate community though there can be some overlap due to some members in some systems who might identify as therian or otherkin.
What do I call People Within A System?
Some don’t mind being called alters, but others do. One common phrase often used is “headmate” though not all systems care for this word as it is sometimes used broadly to mean any entity within one person’s mind whether they are another person or not. Some prefer the word “members” or simply “people” and “persons.” It all comes down to personal preference, and so it’s best not to assume what one system is comfortable with will be the same as with what other systems are.
What are some things that could explain “not being alone in your head” without being necessarily multiple?
There are actually a number of possibilities. Auditory hallucinations, according to some studies, appears to effect otherwise completely normal and healthy people. (1) There is actually a support and advocacy group called The Hearing Voices Movement which is a group for people who hallucinate voices, but do not otherwise show signs of mental illness or impairment. For more information see - The Mental Health Foundation’s article on Hearing Voices, The National Empowerment Center’s article “Hearing voices that are distressing: Self-help resources and strategies”, and Inter Voice a website about and for “voice hearers”.
Other possibilities to explain “not being alone” include the concept of dæmons. A dæmon is a personification of some part of a person’s mental dialogue that usually takes on an animal form. (2) They are basically mental constructs (or possibly even thoughtforms if you believe in such things) which have been formed or have naturally occurred within someone’s mind. A daemon is a part of a person rather than being another individual.
Other possibilities could also possibly include having a very talkative and/or present spirit guide or guardian angel (if you believe in such entities). A set of other possibilities include they could be simply very prominent muses or characters you have created within your mind similar to an imaginary friend.
What Are Some Resources For More Information on Multiplicity?
Resources and Information
Multiplicity: What and How? By House Hesson <!-- l --><a class="postlink-local" href="http://forum.otherkinphenomena.org/v...php?f=27&t=274">v...php?f=27&t=274</a><!-- l -->
Healthy Multiplicity.com <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.healthymultiplicity.com/">http://www.healthymultiplicity.com/</a><!-- m -->
Layman’s Guide to Multiplicity <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.karitas.net/blackbirds/layman/">http://www.karitas.net/blackbirds/layman/</a><!-- m -->
Astraea’s Web <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.astraeasweb.net/plural/">http://www.astraeasweb.net/plural/</a><!-- m -->
Cartaala <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://cartaala.dreamshore.net/">http://cartaala.dreamshore.net/</a><!-- m -->
Ex Uno Plures <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.exunoplures.org/main/">http://www.exunoplures.org/main/</a><!-- m -->
Collective Phenomena <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.dreamshore.net/amorpha/">http://www.dreamshore.net/amorpha/</a><!-- m -->
Multiple Personalities Support Group <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.mdjunction.com/multiple-personalities">http://www.mdjunction.com/multiple-personalities</a><!-- m -->
Social Networking Sites
Plurality Resource <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.pluralityresource.org/forum/">http://www.pluralityresource.org/forum/</a><!-- m -->
Multiplicity Community <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://multiplicity.livejournal.com/">http://multiplicity.livejournal.com/</a><!-- m -->
Multorum Animos <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://z15.invisionfree.com/multorum_animos/index.php">http://z15.invisionfree.com/multorum_animos/index.php</a><!-- m -->
Plural Living <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://livingplural.tumblr.com/">http://livingplural.tumblr.com/</a><!-- m -->
1. <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.livescience.com/7177-hear...es-people.html">http://www.livescience.com/7177-hear...es-people.html</a><!-- m -->
2. <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://daemonpage.com/introduction.php">http://daemonpage.com/introduction.php</a><!-- m -->
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