what is multiplicity? terminology controversy  
where is it from? group structures other / inner worlds
what is it like? multiple preferences resources
how do you tell if you are multiple?
  how do you know multiplicity isn't just moodiness?
how many people are usually in a multiple group?
aren't you unhappy?
  is it possible for a group to bring someone to the front or keep them away from the front at will?
  don't you have to see a therapist when you have problems?
  are the ages of people in households fixed and unchanging?
can two or more people be present at once?
can two people talk directly to each other?
  can two people be of different religions, sexual orientation, or race?
is it possible for some of the people in a multiple household to be nonhuman?
i want to be friends with you, but how am i supposed to know what all of you are like?

myths / statements

  when i talk to you, your 'angry alter' keeps coming out. could you stop this?
  your alter did something irresponsible and you just don't remember it because multiples can't remember what their alters do.
  doesn't every multiple have a core or host person who is at the center of it all?
  i want to be multiple. do you have any tips?


how do you tell if you are multiple? top

Gina of The Hondas describes it this way:

That is a very hard question to answer, particularly because it involves a lot of courage and a willingness to learn more about yourself, and question many things that you have taken for granted. What I would recommend to anyone who asks themselves this is -- above all, be true to yourself. Give yourself permission -- and time -- to find the answer. I doubt that there is one catchall checklist that can catch every group neatly in its safety net, but I can tell you what I found to be true for me.

Do you feel the presence of others, or catch traces of their own feelings and emotions? Do you ever have the experience of watching as your body acts, but being only a passive observer, not directly controlling it yourself? Do you hear the voices of other people, thoughts that you know don't come from you and you can't quite place? Have they ever spoken to you directly?

If you do feel that you have other people sharing your body with you, try speaking to them. Try asking questions, and opening lines of communication. It can take a long time for them to trust you, and you to trust them back. I know all too well how frightening this can be, but remember that, whatever you discover, you are not insane. You are not dangerous, and you are not damaged. And perhaps most important, you are not alone.

Also, remember that it's not at all uncommon for singlets to be able to to view things from different perspectives, using imagination. Just because you have characters from stories who talk to you, or have flashbacks of your aunt's voice berating you for not tying your shoes right, doesn't mean you are fully multiple.

how do you know multiplicity isn't just moodiness? top

Think about this:

Do moods have their own consistent pattern of thought and action, their own memories, their own sense of identity and, which is the most telling, moods of their own? Do moods have their own emotional and physical responses, which might be completely different from your own reactions?

People in multiple systems usually aren't just embodiments of compartmentalized emotions -- the "angry self", the "frightened self", and so on. It is true that there can be people who handle intense feeling in order to help maintain a certain level of social acceptibility. Some systems really do include persons who appear to be fragments, who have a more limited depth to them -- but these may also be persons who have full lives in their own worlds and choose comparatively little activity up front, in the body. If someone you think of only as your 'angry self' has the ability to be happy, sad, tired, upset, and afraid too, independently of your own feelings, then you should probably think twice before labeling that person a mere mood.

how many people are usually in a multiple group? top

As few as two. There is no prerequisite for a certain number of persons in a group. Also, there is no prerequisite for these persons to be of certain ages or dispositions.

The number of persons in the system shouldn't be confused with the number of frontrunners, people who routinely use the body to interact with the everyday world. There may be many more people in the group's other or inner worldspace. You might never meet everyone.

aren't you unhappy? top

We could ask you that.

Happiness is not a constant. It's a state of being that fluctuates like any other. It's relative. Whether or not a person is happy or unhappy depends largely upon a combination of personal attitudes, physical health, and general life circumstances. Don't make the mistake of judging whether or not happiness is possible for people based on how close they come to fitting the standard of so-called normality.

Are we happy to be plural? To some systems, it is indeed a joy, something to be celebrated. To others, it's a mere fact of life, like having a large family or a lot of co-workers. Some are unhappy being plural. Can they change it? A lot depends on the individuals and the nature of their plurality.

is it possible for a group to bring people to the front or keep them away from the front at will? top

Yes. The concept of 'switching at will' is inaccurate in terms of a fully multiple group. Rather than one person switching between different parts of self, different people take turns using the body. Since some people are more strongwilled than others, their ability to do this easily will vary.

Sometimes in stressful situations, a certain person will come out specifically to handle the situation. The difference between the old-fashioned idea of fragments and triggers is that in multiple groups, those people aren't automatically required to show up if they don't want to. They might choose to, or get someone else to come in their place. Even if it is a matter of system government, where certain people are elected or appointed to take care of certain specific business, there is still volition involved.

don't you have to see a therapist when you have problems? top

Not necessarily -- not any more than anyone else would have to. Many people in groups learn how to work with each other, just as any other group out there in the everyday world has to. If we have problems, we talk them out among ourselves, or figure out together how we can get through them. Some groups get more done by reading resource management books than psychological ones, or by talking with others in the group and then with outside friends.

are the ages of people in households fixed and unchanging? top

Not always. People might stay at the same age for years, or they might jump from one age to another. Some people are "age-sliders", who go back and forth between certain ages. Ask. In general, respect the person's behaviour as indicating how old they might be at a given time.

can two or more people be present at once? top

Yes. The experience of being present also can vary. The second person might be extremely close, or only vaguely there. Think of two friends attending a class, one very engaged and asking a lot of questions, the other listening but idly doodling in his scribbler. More than two people can be around at once too, but generally at most you'll find only a handful of people directly reacting to outside events -- it gets too 'jumbled' otherwise, with everyone talking and trying to do things.

Co-running, in which two or more people operate the body (not as difficult as it sounds -- think about this the next time you catch yourself talking on the phone while stirring soup and watching TV), is a little different from co-presence, where one person runs the body but others are hanging around watching what is going on but not engaged in physical action.

can two people talk directly to each other? top

Certainly. It is a myth that people in a multiple group are necessarily hampered in terms of communications, or that they don't know about each other. In any even halfway functional system, they do know about each other, and if they find themselves unable to speak directly to each other, they communicate in other ways -- by leaving notes, for instance.

Co-consciousness and being able to control who's out front are a plus, but are not necessary to have a healthy system. Astraea have great co-consciousness and a subgroup of fairly consistent frontrunners, but can't control which of those frontrunners will appear at any given time. In this case, frontrunners rely on an internal database of common knowledge, accessible to all, and an external set of dolists and post-its just in case. The Consortium have very little co-consciousness and depend on notes -- including their own webdiary -- and cues from the people around them, many of whom do not know they are multiple. The key is to make sure that anyone who comes out is briefed in some way, knows what to expect, how to act, etc.

can people in a group be of different genders, religions, sexual orientation, or race? top

Can a number of people off the street at random be of different genders, religions, orientation, or race? Of course. And so can people in a multiple group.

Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple household to be nonhuman? top

Yes. It is not unusual to have animals in a group, and even inanimate objects. (Remembering the beliefs of some indigenous people concerning the consciousness of plants and rocks will help this make more sense.) Aliens -- people from other planets or dimensions -- are also possible. Sometimes the group will consider their personal world their real home.

A note to groups that include supernatural beings such as angels, and people who are royalty on their homeworlds, etc. Remember that when such people come up front, they should respect others and should not necessarily expect to be treated with the deference they may receive at home. The Jin'tari are a wonderful example. Many Jin'tari say they are angels -- who are just as easy to get on with as anyone else, and enjoy ordinary earth pleasures. What makes them special is their compassion and caring towards others, and their responsibility in the earth world as well as toward their own people -- something that singlets as well as plurals should seek to emulate.

i want to be friends with you but how am i supposed to know what all of you are like? top

You're not expected to know automatically who is around or what they do. If a group manages itself in a mature, responsible fashion, they won't be offended if called by the wrong name, or things of that nature. They'll usually correct honest mistakes without a problem. No doubt along the way, someone will take offense at something, and that's our own business to handle. But that's not an excuse to treat us any differently than you'd treat any other group of people each of whom had their own bodies.

Chances are, you will probably only deal with a few people in any given group. We are not Borg-minds. We talk to each other a lot, but we go out and do our own things. The thing that is most likely to annoy is the assumption that we're textbook-traditional and are always-in-contact or never-in-contact.

OR: when i talk to you, your 'angry alter' keeps coming out. could you stop this? top

First off, they are not "my alter". No one is an "alternate" to myself. We are a group of people.

Second, unless you are specifically told otherwise, it may not be that a different person has "come out". It's very likely that I myself have become upset. Thanks to Hollywood, many people have the impression that any change in mood automatically means someone else has come forward. The truth is, we have full sets of emotions and reactions unto ourselves.

If you think a different person has come to the front, ask. Most groups don't really have separate persons to handle separate emotions; that's real, but relatively rare.

MYTH: your alter did something to me (or did something irresponsible) and you just don't remember it because multiples can't remember what their alters do. top

Again, please avoid terms like "alter".

Multiple personality has been unfairly characterised as a disorder of memory. This originated as a misconception by mental health professionals trying to understand disordered systems and assuming that all multiple groups were afflicted with memory loss and lack of communication. In fact, they believed that for a "true" multiple to have a functional memory, years of therapy and abreaction of trauma were required. This has proven not only to be untrue, but detrimental to some systems.

It is possible for multiple groups to have continuity of consciousness between persons -- a memory as good as anyone else's. In a responsible, healthy system, if something important happens, people will be told one way or another, even in systems with little or no co-consciousness. If we need to remember something, we will ask other people about it and obtain that information. If someone in my system has done something irresponsible and I appear not to know about it, tell me. It is my problem: I will take the necessary actions.

Andy Temple of Astraea adds:
This brings up the issue of criminal responsibility. Many notorious cases have occurred involving people who try to obtain a lighter sentence by applying the concept that since another person in their system did the deed, the "main person" wasn't in control and thus was not entirely to blame.

Even where co-consciousness is non-existent and there's no control over who's out front, responsibility is possible. Such groups need to be more vigilant, not less, and if it takes therapy to help get a working operating system in place, so be it (although most therapy for multiples is designed to eradicate people, not to help establish functional operating systems).

Any singlet or group seeking to use a multiple-personality defense should think about what this is going to do to closeted, healthy multiples who have to suffer through yet another sickening court case on television and the accompanying comments of friends and co-workers.

Being treated as separate individuals for the purpose of testifying in court is a separate issue. In such situations, there is one body, but many minds, persons who may have observed different things. The multiple-personality defense should be abolished; if one person in a system commits a crime, if the others are no better able than that to prevent it, the body goes to jail. Period.

As with any ordinary person, normal forgetfulness can occur, but we don't appreciate being "gaslighted" --being told something happened that did not, or being blamed for actual events we had nothing to do with.

MYTH: doesn't every multiple have a core or host person who is at the center of it all? top

Not necessarily. Some groups do begin with a single individual and accrue others as time passes. Many do not, in fact having a core person seems to be relatively rare. It's something that may happen more often with median or midcontinuum people, because they're usually organized around one person.

MYTH: i want to be multiple. do you have any tips? top

If you believe you want to be multiple, please consider carefully why you want this. Plurality is not a game, and it is not a way to garner attention and sympathy from others around you. In fact, plurality has been misused so extensively that it is unlikely most people would even believe you these days if you try to get attention by proclaiming yourself multiple.

Remember that being multiple means working within a group. You may not like everyone. It presents a lot of the same problems as having a group of co-workers at the office with widely diverging habits, opinions, mannerisms, etc., not all of which you may like. It also means taking responsibility for the actions of others in the group, and working out an operating system in order to be functional in daily life.

Unfortunately, since so little is known about the actual origins of multiplicity, we can't say for sure if there are any guaranteed ways for a singlet to become multiple.