Plural Questioning and Discovery Help
What is plurality?
Plurality is the state of having more than one person inhabiting the same body. This can take many forms: multiple people taking turns in the same brain/body, different parts or ages of a person that are able to act independently, voices within oneself that are able to influence or control one's behavior, multiple people that one becomes, sharing a body with spiritual entities, having many fragmentory selves that combine in different ways, and more. It encompasses a broad spectrum of experiences that are united under a common thread of being "more than one."
Plural people are not more dangerous than the general population, nor is plurality inherently disordered. While disordered forms of plurality do exist under the diagnostic labels of DID and OSDD, not all plurals meet the criteria for a diagnosis beyond plurality itself (criterion one), and not all that do meet the criteria choose to pursue a diagnosis or use diagnostic labels for themselves. Disordered plurality is just one specific experience of being more than one, and there's incredible variety both inside of that diagnosis and outside of it.
Non-disordered plurals are not self-diagnosing with DID or OSDD; oftentimes they are doing the opposite. They may have other frameworks for their experiences that fall outside of the medical model and may be entirely distanced from the psychiatric view of plurality. Even those that remain connected to the medical model are not claiming or using medical labels for themselves because a diagnosis does not fit their experiences. They are more than one, but they are not disordered; hence, they do not use disordered labels.
What is a system?
A system is a group of entities sharing one body. Systems come in all shapes and sizes, and every system is different.
- A system can have 2 members, 20 members, 200 members, or any number in-between or beyond. There is no size limit.
- A system can be all the same gender, all different genders, a mixture of a few different genders, or any other combination. There are no limits on gender distributions within systems.
- A system can have members of all different ages. Members can change ages or stay the same for years at a time; they can be younger than the body, older than the body, or even ageless.
- Systems can have nonhuman members, fictional members, spiritual entities, and more. Some systems are entirely human, some are nonhuman, and some are mixed species composition.
- Systems might have members that are very different from one another, members that are very similar to one another, or anything in between. Degree of separation also varies: some systems share an identity, while others do not.
There are several different words you can use when referring to the members of a system, and different systems prefer different words. Some common words include headmates, sysmates, others, and people. Disordered systems might call their system members alters. Some systems like to call their members parts, though the word is not universally liked and should only be used with consent. If in doubt about what word to use for a system's members, ask them.
I'm questioning- help!
Figuring out whether or not you're plural can be difficult sometimes, especially when you're only just starting to learn about the terminology and concept of plurality. It can be a lot to take in and a lot to think about, and you might be feeling overwhelmed. You might be struggling with feeling lost or alone in this. You might feel scared of having your life change, excited about what this could mean for you, nervous that you might be judged for being different, doubtful of your own experiences, or any number of other emotions. It's okay to have these feelings, and important to recognize them.
Maybe you recently came across the idea of plurality and felt like it might match up with your own experiences. Maybe you were recently diagnosed with DID or OSDD and are struggling to come to terms with the idea that you might not be alone in your head. Maybe this is something you've been wondering about for a while and still aren't sure of. Regardless of how you came across the idea of plurality and started questioning, it's okay to feel unsure or afraid.
There are a lot of different experiences that fall under the plural umbrella, and no one correct way to be plural. Don't judge yourself if you don't fit a specific type of plurality. Every brain is different, and yours is no exception. Instead of trying to find a particular label or box for yourself, pay attention to your own experiences and see whether the framework of plurality is the best explanation for them. If it is, take your time exploring whether it works for you.
The most important thing to remember when questioning is this: if the framework of plurality makes sense and is helpful to you, it's okay to try out the idea. What matters most is that your framework of choice helps you understand your experiences, and if plurality does that for you then there's no shame in saying you might be plural.
How do I know?
Figuring out whether or not you're plural can take some thought; it doesn't tend to be an instantaneous realization and acceptance, though it certainly can be. You'll want to look at your own experiences and notice what does and doesn't line up with plurality. Consider what led you to question in the first place: what led you here?
While all systems vary in experiences and presentation, here are some questions related to common plural experiences that might help you:
- Does the framework of plurality make sense to you? Did it seem to "click" when you came across it? Does something about plurality keep drawing your attention?
- Do you ever feel like there are one or more people sharing your brain with you, or like you have distinct aspects of yourself that behave more independently than typical parts of self? Do any descriptions of plural experiences seem relatable to you?
- Are you often confused or upset by your own actions after the fact because you wouldn't normally behave like that? Have you ever felt like you became a different person, or behaved out of character for yourself? Does your voice and/or body language ever change without explanation?
- Have you ever felt like you watched your body do something without you directing it, or felt like someone else was in control? Do you ever feel unusually detached from your body?
- Do you ever have an internal dialogue where you are not in control of what the other side(s) say, hear internal voices, or have non-distressing thoughts that don't feel like they come from you?
- Do you ever feel emotions that don't seem to come from you, or that don't seem related to your current situation?
- Do your skills and abilities fluctuate more than is normal? Have you ever found yourself suddenly unable to do something you normally have no problems doing, or vice versa?
- Do you have characters or muses that seem to take complete control of your behavior at times? Do you have "kintypes" that seem much more separated from you than is the norm, or that behave independently from you?
- Do your gender, sexuality, or other major identities change often? Do your opinions and preferences often change? Do you have a hard time figuring out who you are as a person?
- Do you ever find notes and drawings that you didn't create, find evidence of doing things that you don't remember doing, or have periods of time where you can't account for what happened? Do you have any gaps in your past and/or present memory?
- Do some of your memories feel like they don't belong to you, but to someone else instead? Do you feel detached from any of your memories?
- Does all of this require energy or effort to ignore, suppress, or hide? Do these experiences persist over time?
Not all systems will experience all of these things (particularly those relating to memory) and many of these experiences can have other causes. That said, if you're answering more than a few questions here with "yes" or "maybe" and it can't be explained by a medical condition or drug use, then you may want to further explore plurality.
If plurality makes sense for you but you're not 100% sure, it's better to err on the side of thinking someone is there when they're not. If someone is there and you assume they aren't, it can cause problems with communication and trust when they finally do get through to you. You can always find out you were wrong about being plural further down the road, but it's hard to undo the damage done by denying someone's existence when they're trying to make themselves known to you.
Okay, but how do I know?
If you think there might be others in your head, there are a few ways you can try to get proof.
The easiest way is often leaving a note: write a note explaining the situation and asking if anyone else is there, leave it somewhere that it's likely to be found, and wait to see if you get a response. It may take a while depending on how often someone else is in control and how comfortable they are telling you they exist, so be patient and give it time. This kind of external interaction can also be very helpful in combating doubt because you have tangible, external evidence that someone else exists; it's much harder to deny something when you can see it outside of your head.
Another option is asking inside your head. Talking inside your head is a lot like thinking, but directed at someone or something. Some systems compare internal communication to prayer in terms of how it feels; if you're familiar with praying, then this is very similar but directed internally instead of externally. Regardless of how you conceptualize it, ask inside your head if anyone is there and see if you get any responses. This method can be a bit tricky when it comes to knowing whether a response came from you or someone else, especially if you're not used to talking to others in your head, but it's relatively simple and can be very effective if your internal communication is good.
If you struggle to get a message to be heard in your head, you can sometimes circumvent that with visualization. Imagine something like a mailbox, a cell phone, a slot in a wall, or any other items that you associate with communication over a distance. Write a letter or text, make a call, push a message through the slot, or otherwise use the object to push a message through. If you can't imagine visually or use your senses inside your head, that's okay- the idea of the object and its use is the important part. You're using symbolism to get around a communication barrier by doing this.
If none of these methods are an option, you may be left working off your daily experiences. Look for signs that someone else was in control, and listen for any internal conversation, or for thoughts and feelings that didn't come from you. Notice times that you don't feel like yourself and write those times down, along with any other significant information about you. Keeping a log of your personal information over time like that can make it easier to spot any differences.
If you suspect you may have amnesia between system members, see if you can notice any gaps in your recent memory and try to find out what happened during those gaps; did you behave in a way that's not typical for you, or do things you wouldn't normally? Did you express opinions or preferences to anyone that don't match your own? It may not be that obvious since many systems make a point of hiding their existence, but it's worth seeing if it is. Sometimes this also shows up as littler things like finding objects aren't in the places you always put them.
If you don't think you have amnesia, try to notice when someone else might be in control. This might feel like watching your body do something, like you've become a different person, or like something else; the feeling varies from system to system. Notice any memories that don't feel entirely yours, or that feel like they happened to someone else. See if you can pick up on switches or influences coming from others in your head. It's possible that switches might not be noticeable for you; keeping a log of personal information can again help when it comes to detecting switches and influences.
Regardless of what method you use to try to get proof that someone is around, trust yourself. You know your own brain best.
I just found out I'm plural- help!
The first thing recommended for most newly-discovered systems to work on is communication: get talking with your system members. Getting good communication going between you and your headmates will make life a lot easier and can help you adjust to sharing your brain with others.
There are two main types of communication: internal and external. Both are equally good, and you're not limited to using only one. Use whatever method works best for you.
- Internal communication takes place inside your own head and involves thinking back and forth with your headmates. It can take the form of words, images, sensory information, emotions, and more. Anything goes if it can happen in your mind. Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to figure out where something is coming from; trust your intuition if you're not sure. If it doesn't feel like the thought is entirely yours, it might be coming from someone else.
- External communication is any type of communication that happens outside of your head. This can include leaving notes, talking out loud, sharing or trading control of the body and typing back and forth with each other, asking someone to move a part of your body, or any other method of talking to each other outside your head. It might take longer to have a conversation like this than it does to have it internally, but it works even when internal conversation falls through.
Once you've established a line of communication and gotten a response, it might be a good idea to make a list of all the system members you know about. Write down their names, pronouns, and any other information you think is important to know about them. Having this information is very helpful for keeping track of people and getting to know your system, and asking your system members about who they are is a good way to learn about each other. You want to establish good relationships with your system members, and getting to know each other is the first step of that.
Speaking of, that's likely the next thing you'll want to work on. Do your best to really get to know each other and work on creating a positive internal environment; be respectful of each other and try your best to be understanding of any problems or flaws. Everyone has a reason for acting the way they do, and it's worth remembering that people aren't perfect. Even if someone's being truly horrible to you, they have a reason for doing so, and it's important to figure out what that reason is so you can help them through it. After all, you're all sharing the same brain.
It might be worth setting up some house rules or an internal government to ensure people treat each other with respect. You can find an excellent article on making rules and/or a system government here and a sample set of system house rules here.
Above all: don't stress out too much. Everything is going to be okay, and there's no rush. You have plenty of time to learn how to live together, and you'll figure it out as that time passes. There's no right or wrong way to be plural. Your experiences are real, and you know your own brain best. Trust yourselves and give yourselves time to work things out.
You're not alone in this either; you have your system members. Don't be afraid to ask them for help, and do your best to help them in return. You're all in the same metaphorical boat here, and you can work together to figure things out.
I want to become plural- help!
Before reading this section, it would be a good idea to read the section about questioning plurality. A startling number of people that want to be plural already are, and it's common for these people to inexplicably want to be plural or feel drawn to the idea. If you happen to be one of these people, it would be best to find and meet the headmates already present before deciding to make more.
What's a tulpa/parogen?
A tulpa/parogen is an intentionally or accidentally created headmate. Anyone can create one regardless of plural status, brain quirks, or other factors, though it takes dedicated time and effort and is a serious commitment that should not be undertaken lightly. A detailed overview on what a tulpa/parogen is can be found here.
People that create tulpas/parogens are not giving themselves DID or another disorder. Plurality is only one criterion for DID and OSDD, and many systems created in this way do not meet the other criteria. That said, it's possible for any system to become disordered if functioning degrades to a point where there's significant distress present.
So you're considering creating someone.
Before you go looking for resources, it's important that you understand how major a change in your life it is to create an entirely new person. You're going to share your brain and the rest of your life with the person you create, and you won't be able to take a break from that; they'll always be there in your brain in some capacity once they're solidified. They will be privy to even your most private moments, and you to theirs (and yes, that includes the bathroom). It's not entirely unlike having a child in terms of how seriously this decision should be taken.
You're undertaking this with the intention of rewiring your brain and building someone from the ground up, and it's your responsibility to teach this person about the world and treat them with respect for all the years to come. They're going to think, have feelings, have their own opinions, and live as their own person. Take a moment and really, truly think about why you want to share your head with someone else, especially if you haven't done so before. What's your motivation for doing so, and is it good enough of a reason to pursue a serious and lasting life change?
Being plural can involve a lot of compromise, teamwork, and collaboration, and it won't magically fix your problems or let you foist them off onto someone else. You'll be in this together. Will you be able to balance your own needs and wants with a headmate's? Are you willing to find compromises and work through disagreements if you ever have conflicting opinions? Are you willing to support them in their own endeavors and let them pursue their dreams as well as yours?
Tulpas/parogens can deviate from how they're created, meaning that they might not have the traits, appearance, or personality you want them to have. Are you okay with that possibility? Are you willing to accept them regardless of what they look like inside or who they choose to be? Are you able to treat them with kindness and respect regardless of their identity?
Sometimes, creating one person leads to more showing up; you may or may not end up with more people in your head than you'd intended to have. Walk-ins are headmates that just "walked in" without one intentionally creating them, and they're common enough among tulpamancers to be a notable phenomenon. While it doesn't always happen, it is a possibility. Are you willing to accept the possibility of sharing your head with more people than you anticipated?
All of this isn't intended to dissuade you; it's meant to make you think about why you want to pursue tulpamancy/parogenesis and make sure you're prepared to handle an enormous and lasting change in your life. It can be a wonderful thing to share one's head with someone else, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows either. Creating another person is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly and you should take your time considering this. If you can't keep up with the time and effort required to change your brain and create a new person, you should reconsider whether creating a headmate is the right decision.
Plurality comes with its own benefits and downsides, and it's worth talking to plural people about their experiences if you're not already plural yourself, particularly systems with tulpas/parogens. Plurality seems to be one of those experiences that you don't truly understand until you're living it yourself, but it would be wise to get the best idea of it that you can before deciding to create a headmate yourself. Ask them what they wish they knew, what their experiences are like, and what advice they might have for you.
If you've thought it over for a while and are still convinced, a large number of guides are linked here. Look through them and find methods that work for you- there are many different ways to go about creating someone to share your brain with, and some will work better for you than others.
If you decide you're not sure yet or don't want to pursue tulpamancy/parogenesis, but you still want to experience a similar phenomenon, you may want to look into daemonism. It's the practice of giving a part of yourself a bit more independence while still keeping them as part of you, and it's not permanent.
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