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Multiplicity: What and How?
House Hesson
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Post: #1
Multiplicity: What and How?
What is multiplicity?

Having more than one person, and/or fragments of people, in the same body. It can include Dissociative Identity Disorder (US/DSM-IV diagnosis), Multiple Personality Disorder (ISD diagnosis, former DSM diagnosis), possession, naturally occurring multiplicity from birth, and other varieties. It can be a healthy state or not - and whether it's healthy or not is not necessarily related to whether the multiplicity is a result of trauma. Headmates may have full access to each other's memories, or they may not.

How does it happen?

The official line in clinical psychology is that it is a misperception, resulting when a very young person is traumatized. The person isolates different parts of zir personality and each of these parts comes to perceive itself as a separate individual. Thus, there is an original core person, called the core or host, and one or more fragments, called alters. Multiples who do not fit this model of multiplicity generally consider those terms insulting, and some don't have a core or host at all - they were always multiple.

Our favorite hypothesis, in-system, is that the brain is not wired specifically to create a single consciousness alone, a single consciousness with fragments or variations that are dependent upon the core consciousness (called a median system), or more than one consciousness. The brain is modular, and mashes the interpretations of each module into a unified perception. The brain is analog, operating along many shades of meaning, rather than digital, interpreting in absolute yes-or-no terms. The analog operation of cognition, giving different weight to particular factors in interpretation depending on the situation, seems to lend itself to the possibility that it could support multiple consciousnesses, naturally.

Of course, depression and schizophrenia are natural too, and they're definitely not healthy. We believe that multiplicity can be healthy because it does not necessarily impair individual functioning. In fact, it can enhance functioning by allowing system members to specialize in handling different types of work. In trauma-based multiplicity, the original self splits into more than one to allow part of itself to escape the trauma or to allow part of itself to absorb the impact of the trauma. We would say that's inherently unhealthy, but if the system later works through the trauma, system members can work together in a healthy way without having to be re-integrated into a single person.

We believe that consciousness is a continuum, from single to multiple. Multiplicity can run in families, so some brains seem pre-disposed toward multiple consciousnesses. We fall back into single consciousness during severe depression, and we believed for a long time that we were one person. Integration of multiple consciousnesses frequently fails in the long term, though, and we can't say whether someone without a family history of multiplicity would be able to convert to a stable, long-term system. (Most healthy multiples hide, so it would be hard to prove the lack of family history, too!)

What should others call someone in a multiple system?

"People" is safest. "Headmates" is also generally acceptable, when talking to one system member about another. It's best to avoid calling members of a system "alters," "personalities," "souls," or anything else that implies they're less than a full person, unless someone in the system does that when talking with you.

Don't think "personality" or "soul" seems offensive? It's generally believed that each person has only one, but it could also imply that the speaker finds it easier to believe that one person could have more than one of them, than that one body could have more than one person in it. In general this goes for "consciousness" too, but I use it in this post to discuss self-awareness as seated in brain function. I hope no one finds this uncomfortable.

How do you know, and how is it some systems claim they were always multiple but didn't know for years or even decades?

Full multiplicity is the presence of more than one independent state of consciousness with its own personality. System members have different likes and dislikes, disagree with each other at times, and so forth. Median systems are less independent, with a single focal person and perhaps variations on that person, or perhaps others who can't function without the focal person.

We did not realize our multiplicity until our body was in the 20's because of denial. American culture assumes that there is one person per body, and that's what we grew up hearing. In societies where multiplicity is considered the norm, there are many multiples. Val began the process by attempting to create a thought-form more obedient than her, to take over for her when she was at work and in other situations she didn't want to deal with. In actuality, she just woke Beka up as an obviously separate entity. Others surfaced over time, and she came to believe that she was median...until severe depression stopped her from functioning on a day-to-day basis, and a mob of headmates restrained her from controlling the body. She then realized that they were capable of doing everything she could, and that she was no more necessary than any of them.

By that time, we also had three walk-ins (system members who originated outside the body and entered it after birth), including myself, but they'd all opted to lurk. (We aren't sure whether I was even capable of controlling such an unfamiliar system until its depression was treated.) Shortly before we were hospitalized for the depression, Eva began to surface as a blend between herself and whoever was controlling the body ("fronting") at the time. During the hospitalization, she separated fully and explained that she had been created to accept some of the trauma that the original inhabitants of the body faced while growing up. So, while some of the natives don't seem to have any traumatic origin, we know that at least part of the system is trauma-based.

By observing ourselves, we can now see the shift between one person and another. Sometimes it happens without our awareness, because of outside stimuli. We find it fully credible that this brain has always supported multiple consciousnesses, but that we were unaware of it.

Some of the terms used to describe multiples' experiences and day-to-day functioning aren't exactly household words. What do they mean?

Fronting: being in control of the body and aware of the body's actions as one's own
Front: the person fronting, or the "location"/feeling of being in that role
Co-Fronting: more than one person sharing the front
Co-Conscious: more than one person being aware of what's going on, but not necessarily all fronting
Shotgun: our system's term for someone who is co-conscious but not fronting
Middle or Middleground: our system's term for the "location"/feeling of being in shotgun position
Middling: another term we coined for being in the middle
Back: "where" system members are when they're not conscious at all
Switching: one frontrunner leaving and another coming in - considered by some systems to be insulting
Blurring or Fuzzing: a feeling of not being self-aware, possibly mixed up with other system members' thoughts and traits...usually unpleasant
Blending: two or more system members feeling that they are mixed up with each other's thoughts and traits...often unpleasant, but sometimes comforting depending on who's in the blend

Where can I learn more and/or get support?

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.kinhost.org">http://www.kinhost.org</a><!-- m --> is specifically for multiple 'kin and their headmates. Not complete, but good information.
<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://community.livejournal.com/multiplicity/profile/">http://community.livejournal.com/multiplicity/profile/</a><!-- m --> - the community has been overwhelmed with drama and we can no longer recommend it, but the profile also has several good links and I see no need to reinvent the wheel.
<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://more-than-one.dreamwidth.org/">http://more-than-one.dreamwidth.org/</a><!-- m --> - a much smaller but more civil community on an LJ-like site (which unfortunately requires either invite codes or buying paid time to start an account - try <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://dw-codesharing.dreamwidth.org/profile">http://dw-codesharing.dreamwidth.org/profile</a><!-- m --> for a code if you need one)
<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://community.livejournal.com/fragmentedminds/profile">http://community.livejournal.com/fragme ... ds/profile</a><!-- m --> - a general community for both multiplicity-positive and pro-integration folks.

Unfortunately, we can't recommend a good pro-integration-leaning community as we haven't been in one. We do not recommend LJ's "didsupport" community; its founder behaved very poorly on "multiplicity" while she was there and has not shown any signs of improving.

This post was prompted by a question about how others knew they were multiple, so I hope other systems will share their experiences in replies if they feel comfortable. While I do not mind this post being made an article, I ask the mods to please keep the replies viewable to board members only, so that others feel more secure in sharing.

-Shainin

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"Everything has a price." -Jaenelle Angelline

"I think if you try, that's being your best." -Echo
2008-01-24 1:58
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niku
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Post: #2
Re: Multiplicity: What and How?
Thank you so much for posting this, and for the links as well.
2008-01-24 3:11
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Deros
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Post: #3
Re: Multiplicity: What and How?
Does it still count if one of your headmates has told you that she is the mental reincarnation of a memory of a past self? That's mostly what's bothering me currently with the idea...

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2008-01-24 4:19
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BlissfulIsis
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Post: #4
Re: Multiplicity: What and How?
What about headmates that you are not quite sure what they are, but they remained caged and out of the way the vast majority of the time and only come out for certain experiences?

There is nothing more uncommon than common sense. Frank Lloyd Wright

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. Albert Einstein
2008-01-24 14:52
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Post: #5
Re: Multiplicity: What and How?
Thank you for sharing this it was very interesting!

I do have a question for you though. Would some therians, if not all of them, then be considered "multiples" as they often have a human side and an animal side? While the human side is obviously present during shifts, the animal side is usually in control and vice versa when it comes to everyday, human actions. Would such switching of points of view be considered a multiple system?

While I refer to myself as human side/wolf side, the two are not separate entities and I simply make the distinction for clarity sake. As far as I know I don't have two spirits/personalities/etc. inside my human body, but merely a wolf soul that has been conditioned to understand and live as a human.

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2008-01-24 15:11
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Xanthus
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Post: #6
Re: Multiplicity: What and How?
BlissfulIsis Wrote:What about headmates that you are not quite sure what they are, but they remained caged and out of the way the vast majority of the time and only come out for certain experiences?
Well, if they're unimportant or generally don't matter, I suppose you could refer to them as 'headmoots' <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue -->
Ha!

And if they're just parasitic and never do anything good for you, they'd be 'headmites!'
Just kind of airy and lighty and don't really mean much? 'Headmotes!'

Tada! Enjoy my humor. <!-- s8-) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8-)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8-) -->

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2008-01-24 15:28
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BlissfulIsis
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Post: #7
Re: Multiplicity: What and How?
Xanthus Wrote:Tada! Enjoy my humor. <!-- s8-) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8-)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8-) -->

Enjoy your humor, no thanks....Shouldn't you be WORKING instead of posting horrible, horrible jokes?

There is nothing more uncommon than common sense. Frank Lloyd Wright

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. Albert Einstein
2008-01-24 15:53
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House Hesson
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Post: #8
Re: Multiplicity: What and How?
Deros Wrote:Does it still count if one of your headmates has told you that she is the mental reincarnation of a memory of a past self? That's mostly what's bothering me currently with the idea...

Some people consider past-life selves to be separate individuals. Personally, I'd say it depends on the degree of independence, regardless of origin.

BlissfulIsis Wrote:What about headmates that you are not quite sure what they are, but they remained caged and out of the way the vast majority of the time and only come out for certain experiences?

Asking and observing would be my recommendation. They could be fragments, which are not as developed as a full person and may not have a full range of emotions. Or they could just be specialized, like the Beast in our system, when he started out. He tended to come out to smash digital enemies when we needed to blow off steam or to demand food when the body really needed it, but that was all. (But now he's taken interest in this "having a life" thing...hehe.)

Elinox Wrote:do have a question for you though. Would some therians, if not all of them, then be considered "multiples" as they often have a human side and an animal side? While the human side is obviously present during shifts, the animal side is usually in control and vice versa when it comes to everyday, human actions. Would such switching of points of view be considered a multiple system?

While I refer to myself as human side/wolf side, the two are not separate entities and I simply make the distinction for clarity sake. As far as I know I don't have two spirits/personalities/etc. inside my human body, but merely a wolf soul that has been conditioned to understand and live as a human.

That's a good one...and we haven't run into much therian discussion on the multiple communities we frequent. It could be different "ego states," as psychologists call it - different sides of the same person coming out to handle different situations. With the way you feel, that's what I would assume is happening for you. Given what I've heard from therians and from other 'kin who talk about having a "kinside" as if it's a different person but don't act like there's a real boundary between that and the human side, I'm guessing the furthest it would go is a sort of median-like arrangement where there are two balanced aspects of the same self.

But that's pure theory on my part, as we don't have any therians and we haven't heard from a lot of therians about how exactly their mental processes work with respect to their therianthropy.

Xanthus Wrote:Well, if they're unimportant or generally don't matter, I suppose you could refer to them as 'headmoots' <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue -->
Ha!

And if they're just parasitic and never do anything good for you, they'd be 'headmites!'
Just kind of airy and lighty and don't really mean much? 'Headmotes!'

Y'know, I was originally going to reply with something heavy on the asterisks, but I'd really hate to ruin the system's good day by making the mods come and scold me for posting slurs that I'd consider comparable. So I'll just say that speaking to a singlet in equivalent terms would be verbal abuse.

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"I think if you try, that's being your best." -Echo
2008-01-25 3:16
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Xanthus
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Post: #9
Re: Multiplicity: What and How?
I don't see how any of those could possibly be offensive unless you identified with any of the descriptors.

I mean, basically I did the equivalent of going:
Mean people suck!

Yeah, if you're mean you could possibly be offended, I guess.

I mean, they're fairly innocuous little idiocies I came up with. If you're truly offended by them, perhaps you could inform me as to why so that I don't arouse your ire in the future?

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2008-01-25 3:23
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Deros
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Post: #10
Re: Multiplicity: What and How?
The Garnet Host Wrote:
Deros Wrote:Does it still count if one of your headmates has told you that she is the mental reincarnation of a memory of a past self? That's mostly what's bothering me currently with the idea...

Some people consider past-life selves to be separate individuals. Personally, I'd say it depends on the degree of independence, regardless of origin.

*nod* Then I guess I'm a multiple. Kraela was the one that told me that, but I once spent a few hours in the back, and she documented what happened. I don't think she feels very comfortable in this world. She had a shot at staying in the front all night, but she gave it up. *still a little confused about the classifications involved*

And Xanthus- using mock-terms IS disrespectful, especially when approaching a subject that is difficult to explain in the first place.

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2008-01-25 3:24
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