Glossary


Community Terminology

There's a lot of language that's been developed by the plural and alterhuman communities to describe common experiences, and people outside of those communities may not be familiar with the vocabulary. We've listed some basic terms here for easy reference. We don't use many of these terms ourselves, but we felt it was still worth listing them to help people understand resources we have linked or to teach basics to people learning about plurality and/or alterhumanity.

Our personal terminology is listed below these terms. Click here to jump to our personal terminology.

Alterhuman:
Someone with an identity that goes beyond the traditional idea of being human. Examples include otherkin, therians, copinglinkers, plural people, and other groups that either don't identify as human or have an unusual relationship with species and/or existence.

Alters:
Members of a DID or OSDD-1 system; this is the psychiatric term for system members. Not used by systems that aren't disordered.

Blurring:
A state in which multiple system members are fronting, but it's difficult to tell who's who and where the lines between system members are. Also called blending.

Co-conscious:
When more than one member of a system is aware of the world at the same time or is otherwise conscious.

Cofronting:
When more than one member of a system is controlling the body at the same time.

DID and OSDD-1:
The medical diagnoses relating to some experiences of plurality. Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID, is characterized by amnesia and distress in addition to plurality. Otherwise Specified Dissociative Disorder, or OSDD-1, is like DID but doesn't require amnesia or clear borders between system members. Not all systems have DID or OSDD.

Fronting:
The act of controlling the body. Being "in front" means being in active control.

Headmates:
Members of a system. See also: sysmates, parts, alters, others, etc.

Headspace / Inner World:
A place inside of a system's head that the system's members live in, use as a communication tool, or otherwise interact with. Headspaces can be pre-existing, intentionally created, or a combination of the two. Not all systems have a headspace.

Introject:
A system member based off or identifying as something from an outside source; for example, a system member that is based off Superman is an introject of that character. Includes fictives (fictional characters), factives (real-life people), and f*tives (doesn't fit neatly into fictive or factive). The person or media that an introject comes from is called their source.

Littles:
A word for children in a system. Can also refer to age regressors in general. While some use this word in a sexual sense pertaining to kink and ageplay, it's not usually used in this sense in plural circles, instead only referring to children and/or SFW age regression.

Median:
A type of system where the members are not fully separated or distinct, but are still more separate than a singlet's ego states. Median experiences vary considerably and may or may not involve a shared identity. Check our resources page for more information on median plurality.

Multiple:
A type of system where the members are fully separated and distinct.

Otherhearted:
A person who identifies with, but not as, a nonhuman entity or entities. This might feel like having a deep connection to that entity, seeing yourself in them strongly, or otherwise strongly relating to them without feeling you are one inside. The species or entity an otherhearted person relates to is called their kithtype or hearttype. The words synpath and fictionhearted refer to this sort of connection with a fictional character or identity.

Otherkin:
An umbrella term for any person that does not identify as human, instead involuntarily identifying as an animal, mythological species, fictional character, or other nonhuman entity. These species identities are called kintypes. Otherkin are fully aware that their body is human but nevertheless identify as something else. This can be psychological, spiritual, or both in explanation and varies from individual to individual. In recent years, the word has taken on the additional connotation of voluntarily chosen nonhuman or fictional identities in addition to involuntary identities, but this new meaning is the subject of considerable discourse.

Parts:
Members of a system and/or subdivisions of oneself (depending on context). This word can be highly divisive and some people strongly dislike it; only call the members of a system "parts" if the system in question has asked you to.

Plurality:
The state of having more than one self in the same brain/body. There are many different experiences of plurality, but they are all united by being "more than one."

Shift:
A word used by otherkin and therians to describe times in which their kintype more heavily influences their behavior, perceptions, feelings, thoughts, or other areas of their lives. There are several different types of shift, but it's important to note that physically shifting into one's kintype is impossible. Claims of physically shifting (p-shifting) are heavily denounced by the alterhuman community and more often than not are internet trolls.

Soulbond:
A fictional character that someone has an abnormally strong connection to, often to the point of feeling that the character speaks to them or directly interacts with them. Some soulbonders share their body with their soulbonds in much the same manner as a plural group, while others do not share their body and merely have a strong internal connection to the character(s). More information on soulbonding can be found here.

System:
The entire group of entities in one body.

Singlet:
Someone who has only one entity in their brain; a person that is not plural.

Splitting:
The process of a new system member coming into existence as a result of stress or trauma.

Switching:
The act of changing who is in control of the body. May or may not be voluntary.

Syskids:
A word for children in a system.

Sysmates:
Members of a system. See also: headmates, alters, parts, etc.

Thoughtform:
An intentionally created member of a system. Also called parogens or tulpas.

Tulpamancy:
The practice of intentionally creating a system member. The word itself is subject to some discourse regarding cultural appropriation, but the practice is quite different than the term by the same name. Also called parogenesis.

You&:
A second-person pronoun that can be used to explicitly refer to all members of a plural group. Usage example: "I really like talking to you&."

-genic:
The -genic terms are words used to describe a system's origins. There are many of these words, but most fall into two main camps: endogenic, traumagenic, and quoigenic. Traumagenic systems are those created by trauma or to cope with trauma. Endogenic systems are those not created by trauma that instead attribute their existence to something else. Quoigenic systems are those that don't fit the other labels, don't know their origins, or don't want to share their origins. Some systems are mixed origins, meaning that they have multiple origins. We prefer not to use these words at all when possible because they tend to create a divide in the community that we'd rather not encourage, and we've only put their definitions here because many other plural groups tend to use them.

Personal Terminology

We're not happy or comfortable with using a lot of the common plural terminology for ourselves, either because petty internet arguments have left us feeling sour or because those terms simply don't work for us. As a result, we've chosen our own words to describe ourselves and would greatly prefer that these be used for us when possible.

Brainfolk:
Members of our collective. See also: peeps, headmates, etc.

Collective:
The entire group of entities in one body. Synonymous with "system."

Dominant:
The state of holding majority control when cofronting. We often front in groups, and dominance decides who makes decisions at a given time.

Lower Executive:
Our unconscious mind; the entity in control of headspace. It typically communicates via internal symbolism.

Peeps:
Members of our collective. Can pertain to both groups and individuals. Not to be confused with the Peeps.

Shadows:
The parts of ourselves that have been repressed, suppressed, or otherwise cut off from us. May also refer to headspace manifestations of these parts.

Upper Executive:
The consciousness of the body. We blur with the upper executive to front. It's capable of blocking us out of front as needed, acting as an internal gatekeeper. When we are not present, the upper executive lacks any sense of identity and acts as an autopilot to keep us alive.

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