Multiplicity is a very complex situation for anyone involved and it can get very confusing to those who don’t know what they’re looking at. This is a very basic guide to understanding Plurals.
So what is Multiplicity?
Multiplicity is the state in which a person shares their body with another being/soul/headmate etc. There are many names for what people call those beings that they share their body with. Usually, in the kin communities you will see the term headmate. You may also see alter/spirit/soul and other names that are unique to that particular system. An umbrella term for those with Multiplicity is Plurals. However, you may see that Plurals and Multiples are used in the same context.
How long has it been around?
Multiplicity has been around for longer than the otherkin community. There are cases of demon possessions in history those scientists now believe are earlier cases of Multiplicity. In the 18th century more detailed accounts began appearing. There was a case of a woman who suffered amnesia with a split personality all the way back in 1646 written by Paracelsus but it wasn’t until 1791 that an account was written in great detail by Gmelin. Ever since then, the only known account of multiplicity has been a disorder called Multiple Personality Disorder but now referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder. It wasn’t until rather recently did the term Natural Multiplicity or Natural Plural occur in Western Society and is not exactly accepted by a large number of psychologists. There are many people trying to push for non-trauma based Plurals to be recognized but at the moment, it is simply a thing such as otherkin.
What does it mean to be a Plural?
Anyone with more than one person sharing the body is considered a Plural and there are terms under it that describe the type of plural they can be.
What are the different types?
- There is a multiple system, which you see many people call themselves. The headmates are distinct, separate beings with their own personalities and thoughts. Usually it incorporates the headmates sharing time in the front and cooperating with each other.
- There is a median system. These plurals are in between singlet and plurals. They share their body with fragments of themselves i.e. past lives or emotions personified. There is usually one sole fronter and the headmates are not always as distinct as with a multiple.
- There is a gateway system. It is believed these plurals have a headspace in another dimension/plane/reality and the headmates use the body as a gateway to interact with the world. These tend to have a very large number of headmates that come and go as they please.
What are some troubles a plural may deal with?
There are moments a Plural may have difficulties, especially if communication is not established. They can suffer time loss. They can deal with dissociation at times. If a headmate is in distress or upset about something it may influence the rest of the system and cause the person in front to act a little differently than they wanted to. For example, if a headmate is very angry about something it can cause the one in front to grow angry too even though nothing has happened to make the fronter angry. This occurs more with those who do not have good communications with their headmates. Communication is the key to a healthy system
How should one treat a Plural?
Well, the worst way to address a Plural would be to act as if they have some kind of disease or disorder. Even if the Plural is trauma based, there is no reason to treat them any differently than you would someone else. If you are unsure of who is fronting, do not feel as if you cannot ask them. Plurals understand that it can be confusing for people talking to them and so they do try and make it easy for everyone to know but sometimes, they can forget and at this point it is perfectly okay for you to ask who is fronting. If you find that the Plural gets upset when you ask, well then that person has a few more issues than they would like to admit. It should not be a problem for them to say who is out. To Plurals, it would be the equivalent of someone asking us if we happen to have the time. If they do happen to get upset, for whatever reason, it may be best to just take a step back and give them a moment to breath, just as you would with anyone who was upset.
You said something about natural Plurals; what are those?
A Plural can be one of three things. There are trauma based Plurals. These are those who are more likely associated with Dissociative Identity Disorder. These Plurals were not born this way. They suffered from some kind of trauma at a young age that caused their mind to form these ‘masks’ that the person could hide behind until the trauma passed. These are typically called alters and they don’t always find their way to the kin communities. You have natural Plurals which are Plurals who didn’t have to suffer any trauma to become the way they are. Usually they are born that way or later develop it through the use of a tulpa or walk-ins. Then there are your mixed Plurals. These Plurals may start with trauma based headmates and develop headmates later on that are not born from trauma such as walk-ins or tulpas. It can also work in reverse where a natural Plural gets headmates based off trauma or stress.
When do headmates develop or are discovered?
This can also happen at any time. Once one develops multiplicity, there is a possibility of the system growing larger for no real reason or from stress of everyday life. A headmate could develop simply because of a new job that none of the other headmates are good at. The role becomes open and the headmate appears to fill it. However, it is usually unrealistic for a system to develop a large number of headmates in a very short period of time. It can happen with trauma based Plurals but it is usually only one or two discovered at a time. However these headmates did not develop then. They have been there for a while and they are only now discovering them. This is acceptable. However, if one discovers a large number of headmates, usually starting at four or five and increasing in numbers within a short period i.e. a week, it is usually not a good sign. If they are indeed discovering these headmates at the same time than it could show an underline problem that they have yet to discover. Headmates may also take a very long time to develop (in the case of tulpas) or can happen suddenly.
If you wish to look up more terms on Multplicity a good source is Plurality Resource. There you can find a glossary with basic terms and links to other glossaries as well.