My name is Sarah& Clark and we live with dissociative identity disorder. We also self identify as Plural. Together with an amazing team, we run a facebook support group called AlterNation Plural Safe Space. Here we invite all sorts of Plurals to find community & support. We often talk with people there, who explain they do not understand the differences between Plurality and DID. Or how it is similar. Some people do not understand why we try to bring people together in one community & under one umbrella. We hope the following FAQ can clear up some of the confusion and questions (mostly DID) people have expressed.
What does Plural mean? Plural simply means People who are Many. It is an umbrella term that people may use freely, to self identify with. It includes all sorts of people & experiences. Including but in no way limited to how psychology explains multiplicity. Nor does it indicate how someone became Many or if they are disordered or disabled in any way. Plural is an identity, a community, an umbrella, a label. Not a level or destination to reach.
If you are curious about different types of Plurals you can look here for definitions of Endogenic systems, tulpamancy systems, Quoigenic systems and many more: http://astraeasweb.net/plural/glossary.html or https://tulpa.io/terminologies
Why an umbrella community? We truly believe people with DID & people who are Plural in different ways, can learn so much from each other. We choose to look at our similarities rather than our differences. And we provide an inclusive of all safe space where we can grow and learn together as ‘together we are stronger.’
Don’t DID people deserve their own spaces? Yes, they for sure do. I believe a great place for that is in a therapy setting. Or groups therapy setting. I think outside of that we can provide our own groups for peer to peer support, online or in real life. There are many groups on facebook for support for solely DID. (Albeit not for diagnosed DID, that belongs more in a therapy setting.) AlterNation is a Facebook group where we can come together and it is actively promoted to learn from each other. As long as we can do that in (the utmost) respectful way, i think it is an amazing opportunity.
Is Plurality something new? We know Plurality, as in being Many, has been around for ages. Long before psychology was a thing. Most often described as spiritual experiences by mystics not from the west. Denying Plurality exists outside of psychology is erasure and white washing. The umbrella term Plural has been around for as long as the general internet has and probably before that.
Is their a common cause for being Many? Back in the day we thought there was a common cause for being gay, trans or for example autistic. Turns out, that was not true at all. And that misinformation and stigma is something still being battled today. We choose not to make the same mistake when it comes to Plurality and to be open minded & inclusive of all instead.
What says the science? One highly debated topic is whether psychology is really science. As psychology is theories. We know we cannot prove spiritual experiences either. Consciousness can’t be measured and so much cannot yet be explained or proven. Psychology cannot repeat an experiment and always get the same results. They cannot because all people are different. Even the medication they invent does not provide the same results for everyone.
And the MRI study that shows switching? Alters/switches are visible on MRI scans in DID people and not in pretending actors. But that in no way equals non-DID Plural systems. As the same experiments are not done with Endogenic, spiritual or other Plural systems.
Does the DSM mention Plurality? Yes, but not with that word. The dsm-5 mentions cultural and religious cases of multiplicity often. It excludes it from a DID diagnosis. But it does in no way invalidate these people their existence or experience. So why should we?!
Does the DSM state that DID is caused by trauma? The DSM-5 describes that overwhelming experiences, traumatic events and/or abuse in childhood are associated with DID. It does not state it is caused by trauma. Nor is trauma part of the criteria for the DID diagnosis. Yes, research does show most (if not all) DID is associated with trauma as well. But people with forms of non disordered Plurality do not have DID and are not in therapy (for DID) and hence they are not researched/studied. Nor do (most of them) want to be studied.
What about the DSM criteria? Criteria A states we can self report signs and symptoms (parts.) Like explained above, trauma is not a diagnostic criteria. Which I conclude to, hence anyone can self report parts, DID or not. There is also no point in denying someone’s (internal) experience. It also explains in criteria D that spiritual or cultural experiences of multiplicity exclude a DID diagnosis. It however does not say, these people are then not Many or in their words, do not have self reported parts.
One could even argue (for fun) that criteria E implies one could experience parts only when intoxicated. But it of course also excludes a DID diagnosis. But again, that does not equal that they do not have parts when they self report them. Nor does it equal someone being disordered or disabled. Empower people, believe them and do not put labels on them that they do not self identify with as you are not their therapist. (If you are their therapist, kudos to you for reading this!)
Should we tell new people about trauma? Suggesting or worse demanding, that trauma has to be part of the Plural experience is unethical and really not appreciated in our communities as it is suggestive and gatekeeping. It’s something therapists are told and trained not to do. So who are we, to do so instead. In the case of DID, all these years protectors worked hard to keep it a secret. It is never up to us to disclose that information. It could lead to flooding and we can’t help people in crisis. It’s what the lawsuits in the 90’s were about. Let’s not repeat those mistakes. It could also very well be that someone joins a DID group but is Plural. So it is safest and most ethical to not make the assumption.
So some systems are trauma free? Not many people in this world are trauma free. Let alone ‘overwhelming experience’ free. Just because some Plurals say trauma did not cause their Plurality, does not equal these or all (sub groups of) Plurals have never experienced (childhood) trauma. To incline otherwise is just as wrong as demanding or suggesting trauma.
Do Plurals create alters on purpose? Although there are people who created or invited their alters and/or Plurality on purpose, most Plurals find out they are Many, in the same way, we found out we have DID. They can’t stop their Plurality or switching, yet do not experience it as (an) intrusion either, like some of us with DID. As their Plural experience is non disordered, they most often do not experience amnesia and/or do not experience distress or impairment in important areas of functioning. But just as people with DID, most of them can’t make their alters go away.
Is there a Plural Pride Day? Yes! It’s annually in the third week of July & celebrated during the Plural Acceptance Week. Everyone who is Many & our supporters are welcome to join! More information can be found at Plural Events.
How can allies help individual Plurals? Allies can best help Plural people by listening and asking appropriate questions to individuals in systems if and when they present themselves. Everyone is different and with that comes different desires and needs, that should be taken into account. Make sure you treat individual system members (age) appropriate. Be respectful and if they share this information, make sure to use the correct name(s) and pronouns. Realize that switching costs energy, accept no for an answer and don’t push for details.
Be kind, understanding, patient and helpful when you know someone is experiencing amnesia, loss of skills or words or is switching rapidly between members. Do not touch people without consent and help them remember where (location) and when (year) they are, in case you find someone in crisis. Remind them that they are stronger together and that they can keep each other safe best. Empower them and build their confidence whenever you get the chance. The main thing to avoid is making someone prove to you that they are in crisis, that it’s bad enough or that they really tried every other option first.
How can we help advocate for DID & Plurals? There are many things to do. You can help to spread correct information by sharing articles, infographics and resources from various activists & advocates. You can address stigma and misconceptions when they come up, even if you do not know if there are (other) Plurals in the room.
You can comment and leave feedback on articles, videos and other work by Plurals for maximum engagement and to boost their work on social media platforms. If you worry about outing yourself, it might be worth considering to make a profile just for Plural purposes.
You can engage in Plural acceptance week & Pride Day.
Or join the DID Awareness Day on March 5th. (Group edition for DID Awareness Day.)
A great thing to follow is the annual Plural Positivity World Conference by plural events.
Each year they have an open registration for new (Plural) speakers!
You could collaborate with (Plural) friends, encourage other Plurals, do something local or spread some Plural positivity in other empowering ways. Share other things people can do in the comment section and inspire each other! If possible, you can make a financial contribution to support this movement & community.
Three main points to address when talking about DID or Plurality with someone:
1. It’s real.
2. People with DID are not dangerous but instead the statistic is that people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. Plurals are not like the movies either.
3. Share something positive about (your) Plurality.
Are their other resources like this one available? Yes, we have many educational articles available and release new work frequently. We also have a resource section on our website that gets updated with new resources like this one.
There are also many other great Plural activists & advocates putting out amazing work. You can find some of their work here and of course elsewhere online and via the links mentioned in this FAQ article.
Thank you for investing the time to read this Plurality FAQ. Please feel free to leave comments or feedback in the comment section. We hope you learned something new. If you want to support our work, we accept donations. – Together we are stronger. Power to the Plurals!