1. Multiple personality is real.
2. Multiple personality is not always the result of child abuse, and many people are naturally multiple.
3. Whether or not they have a background of abuse, multiples can and do live fully responsible, functional, productive lives without needing to integrate or even be in therapy.
4. There are lots of us. Walking around all over. We're just in the closet. But we aren't going away.
- S.W. of Amorpha
Our #1 Questions
"Do you believe Sybil, Shirley Ardell Mason, was really multiple?"
Yes, we do. We think her story was fictionalized for Sybil and that there has been a lot of controversy about it. People tend to take extreme positions either way; the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
To get a sense of what Shirley Ardell Mason was really like, you should read Sybil In Her Own Words: The Untold Story of Shirley Mason, Her Multiple Personalities and Paintings by Dr. Patrick Suraci, and Nancy L. Preston's wonderful memoir After Sybil.
Please don't base your judgement of multiplicity, or these pages, on Sybil the movie, Sybil the book, or on the real-life Shirley Mason. She was not a typical multiple personality, and many aspects of her case are controversial. We carry this information only because so many people have written to us asking for it.
"Are there any actual good books you can recommend? Are there any books written by actual multiples themselves?"
Try #plurality and #pluralityadults at irc.synirc.org. Run by another group, we don't own or operate these channels. Open discussion of multiplicity, not MPD or DID or abuse-survivorship oriented. If you don't have an IRC program (e.g. Trillian or mIRC) go to http://cgiirc.synirc.net/ and enter #plurality in the "Channel" slot.
"Are you affiliated with Divided Hearts, Mosaic Minds, Shattered Selves, Split Angels, Enchanted Wings, WeRMany..."
No. We are completely independent, owned and operated by us, and proud to be hosted on Namecheap, one of the foremost supporters of Net Neutrality.
We do not share most views of classic MPD/DID organizations, and have very little in common with them.
"You name a lot of other webpages -- by Amorpha, the Rhymers, the Jin'tari, Pagmies, etc. Are these members of your group or are these other multiples, having their own separate physical bodies?"
They are other multiples with their own separate physical bodies. They are not us. The only handle we use for ourselves on the website is astraea. We are AstraeaHome on tumblr and twitter, and KSOL1460 on Livejournal. Jay has taken over KSOL1460 on twitter and KSOL1460 on tumblr for the most part, to talk about political concerns. We are out plural in all these places, but mostly talk about other things of interest to us, rather than the usual multiple personality issues.
Andy has his own page here: Anthony's Page
What is multiplicity?
"What is multiple personality/ multiplicity?"
Multiple personality is the existence of more than one person or mind in a single body.
"What causes multiplicity? How do people become multiple?"
At present, there are a lot of views as to the origins of plurality, and a lot of multiples (and even some singlets) believe it simply doesn't matter.
Some people think it has to do with differing brain structures, and others with how the mind is conditioned by societal and cultural cues in childhood. Our view is that plurality, or the inclination, is something which is naturally present in everyone to some degree or another. The way in which it is experienced depends upon what the individual mind (or minds) choose to make of it. (thanks Amorpha!)
Note that we are not talking about "everyone dissociates", "highway hypnosis" and the like. This is a different issue. This is about a plurality of identities -- which may be very separate or more contiguous -- existing in and sharing one body.
The standard or classic psychiatric view is that being multiple is a disorder of the mind. To them, having more than one mind or soul is not just a sign of something wrong: it is wrong. This view has its roots in Christianity and in the philosophy of Rene Descartes (things are either X or they're Y, no in-between) which influences most branches of science to this day.
Cornelia Wilbur, the psychiatrist who treated Sybil, defined and described multiple personality for modern psychiatry. She assumed that multiplicity was always caused when a child suffers severe trauma and "dissociates" for protection. Doctors like Richard Kluft and Frank Putnam followed up on Wilbur's notions when they worked with multiple personality clients. They created an entire belief system around her views, subsequently attempting to fit all multiples into that narrow bandwidth of description.
Again, trauma-dissociation-splitting-amnesia is not the experience of all multiples, although a few report they know for a fact that's what happened to them. But there are multiples who were never abused at all; others who were and remember perfectly well. None of this is universal. Again, many multiples now believe origins do not matter; what matters is for the different selves in the group to cooperate, making a life for themselves in the present and working together to resolve past issues if any.
"If multiplicity is not caused by child abuse, why do all multiples in the literature have backgrounds of child abuse?"
Because they're the ones who have come to the attention of the researchers and mental health professionals who write such things. People come to therapists for help with all sorts of life problems. Many psychological problems are caused by some form of child abuse. Some of the people who come to therapy are multiple. Voiola.
"But these doctors are trained professionals. They know all about the mind and behavior. Don't they know better than a lay person what is happening with multiples?"
*sigh*... hate to break it to you, but even dedicated, trained professionals are still human beings and as susceptible as anyone else to theories, fads and just being wrong. During the 1980s and 90s, MPD and DID were very "hot" in mental health circles and in the media (which, then as now, fed off each other). Many doctors and counselors wrote journal articles and books, were interviewed in magazines and on television. They said over and over "So little is known". They confessed repeatedly that they really didn't know that much about it and were trying to find out. They went with the trauma-dissociation-splitting premise because it seemed to make sense. And still does, to some of them.
Being multiple seems so bizarre, so unimaginable, to many singlets, that they assume it must be some kind of attempt to escape reality.
Also, professional psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists are just as vulnerable as anyone to the line of thought that Y happened after X means X caused Y. Like, "A number of people went to the Methodist Church over a five-year period. During that time, several of the women had babies. Therefore, going to the Methodist Church gets women pregnant."
Mental health experts do not know you better than you know yourself. The best ones will tell you so.
Early researchers such as Theodore Fluornoy believed that dissociation and multiplicity were caused by societal oppression, but they had a slightly different take on what dissociation was. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, societal demands and expectations caused women (and a lot of men) to repress and deny parts of their mental and emotional life that had been declared off limits. The idea some professionals held at that time was that if a person had enough of these dissociated bits, they might reach critical mass and form a second personality.
This was not the only origin story being considered at the time. Spiritualist type phenomena, including spirit visitation, were taken very seriously by many researchers (see more about this at survivalafterdeath.info) (site is back online!). Persons in multiple systems who claimed to be spirits, were often taken at their word as being what they said they were until proved otherwise. Here, you can read about Margaret in The Doris Fischer Case of Multiple Personality (long PDF, entire text by Dr. James Hyslop and Dr. Walter Prince). There were also Oliver Sachs-like accounts of multiple personality manifesting after a head injury.
It was Dr. Pierre Janet who redefined dissociation in the early 1900s, as distancing oneself from reality following trauma. His writings formed the basis of Wilbur's definitions.
"Why do doctors say that a person has to be traumatized before a certain age?" "Does this have anything to do with having imaginary friends?"
An anonymous contributor writes:
"Most MPD/DID studies try to make their ideas correspond to relevant theories of cognitive development. That's where you get all of the seemingly random cut-off ages for becoming multiple [If you do not pass go before X stage, you fail.] The formation of imaginary friends occurs during the same stages where many of them think MPD/DID begins to form so they incorprate this into their ideas. They don't really think that imaginary friends are the beginning of MPD/DID.
"There is a patronizingly common belief that MPD/DID patients are living in a fantasy world hiding from reality. The repeated description is that MPD/DID is a creative coping mechanism by highly imaginative people. When hypnosis is added to the description it's taken a step further to mean highly suggestible people. It gives the connotation of MPD/DID as a maladaptive form of make-believe and what else can make-believe be but a cohort of imaginary friends.
"There's also the use of imaginary playmates to explain why the doctor finds herself holding a therapy session with Rainbow Brite."
(Jay says: When that happens, it's probably more about fictives.)
"Is it possible to know or discover that you are multiple without ever having been diagnosed by a professional?"
Absolutely! We were never diagnosed as multiple. No professional ever told us that we were. (Since 2009, we have been in therapy for other emotional and recent family issues. We were not out multiple to our first counselor, where we mostly worked on cognitive behavioral skills that could benefit anyone who took the front. The current one actually has a clue and thinks the idea of integration is ludicrous.) We know other multiples who were never diagnosed as having MPD or DID, and/or who have never been in therapy for it. These are self-acknowledged or self-identified multiple systems.
We have been playing around with a checklist for a long time, but really, at rock bottom, what you need to ask yourself is: Have you had the experience of sharing your body with one or more other people? That is really all there is to it. Multiplicity is about more than one person per body. Trauma and dissociation are not necessarily part of the package.
"What's the difference between being multiple and being fragmented?"
The word "fragmented" was made up by doctors (probably Dr. Richard Kluft -- he loves making up terminology) who mistakenly thought that every multiple started out as one whole person who fragmented into many. Some professionals use it to refer to people in a multiple collective (system, group, family) who seem to do only one thing when they are out front. (Sure, only one thing that the doctors ever see them do.) Or a kind of extreme form of compartmentalization of thought and action. This is controversial, and not everyone agrees. Some plural systems do experience some of their people as fragments only; sometimes they create them deliberately; they may call them shells.
Some therapists get very into the idea that every new action is caused by a new person or 'fragment'. We've had letters from multiples who have been through therapy with doctors who count a change in makeup or hair style, a new shirt or dress, or even a particular mannerism, as a new "part" or fragment. It was commonly done in situations where a client wasn't even multiple but was diagnosed with MPD by overzealous professionals. An example is given in Joan Acocella's book Creating Hysteria: Women and Multiple Personality Disorder -- in fact, it's in this online chapter from the book.
"I've seen the expression 'polyfragmented' referring to multiples. What does that mean?"
Again, this word was probably made up by Richard Kluft. It refers to the fact that some people in multiple systems are multiple in their own right. They have systems of their own. This is a very routine thing, but it seems that the more common and natural something is, the more the psychs have to make it sound like something incredibly technical and incomprehensible to the lay person. Some multiples approve of the term and some do not. A few people tell us that their doctors said 'polyfragmented' simply for large-population groups -- over a hundred.
"Please send me all the information you have on the genetic origins of multiplicity."
There's hardly anything. Most of what we have is anecdotal evidence. Most people doing research with multiples have not thought to ask for healthy, non-abused multiples; it's simply assumed they don't exist. There is brain-mind research going on now but it's in the very beginning stages.
"where I can find statistics about how common MPD is and what the most documented "persons" were within a person with MPD?"
Statistics are difficult to find. One of the most irritating things about the '90s recovered-memory movement in which thousands of people were misdiagnosed with so-called MPD is that there was little to no documentation. Following Dr. Cornelia Wilbur's lead -- she never published a scientific paper on her work with Sybil in any peer-reviewed journal -- statistical records were not kept on the grounds that it was more important to believe the clients' stories regarding past trauma. At one point some doctors speculated that about 1% of the U.S. population were multiples.
"Please send me the names of all the books on non-trauma multiplicity."
The only book we know of that discusses non-trauma multiplicity in ANY way, is Sandy Stone's "The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age." It's a postmodern but easy-to-read look at how the Internet is changing the meaning of words like identity, and how things are becoming more flexible as far as the idea that each person only has one personality, 'cause so many don't, any more. We can't recommend this book enough.
Sandy's piece on the Sarah trial, (Violation and Virtuality), talks about the idea of nontrauma multiplicity and its place online, although Sandy doesn't seem to know about SANCTUARY, which was very much around when she was writing this, along with places like Refuge that specialized in multiples' other worlds or "inner" worlds; she seemed not to be aware that multiples had ever interacted on a MUD, much less that there were several MUDS for multiples.
"Why don't you have any material on the diagnosis and treatment of multiplicity?"
"Everybody has multiple personalities -- for example, I'm a different person when I'm with my parents than when I'm playing with my kids or working at the office. Is it a matter of complexity or just a belief on the part of a part of someone that it is in some way "other"? Aren't you just being a little more creative with it and assigning those parts of yourself names and histories?"
Look at it this way. When there's one person who says "I'm a different person at the office than I am with my friends," that's more like one engine, just shifting gears. With multiplicity, there are several engines. (Thank you to our longtime singlet friend Steve G.)
"I still don't get it. One body means one person. How can there be more than one person?"
When babies are born, some are born single. Some are twins, or triplets, or more. Some are conjoined twins. Some people have more than one set of DNA in their body, yet live as a single person, in one body. Some people are born with a fragment of another person growing in them, that sometimes has to be removed surgically. Among the twins (or triplets or more), some are "identical" (yet separate), and some are completely different from each other. All of this applies to the physical bodies.
If there can be this much variation in how bodies are formed and how interconnected they are, then why shouldn't the formation of minds have just as much variety?
Twins don't think of themselves as being messed up because there's more than one of them. There is great variety in the way things are formed, more than most people imagine there could be. Human beings are not as "standardized" as people think; there are more variations than most people would expect.
Just as most people expect that one single baby at a time will be born, most people expect just one mind... there's no reason why either of those things should be true. And once a person realizes that there can be more than one body, there can also be more than one mind. Perhaps totally separate... perhaps interconnected. Connected to a greater or lesser extent. (Thank you, lj-nancy_nensi).
"I've heard of systems that number in the thousands. The Anachronic Army say they have over five thousand. Isn't that confusing?" "How do you possibly keep track of over a thousand different alters? The mind boggles."
It's not a question of keeping track. Have you ever seen a beehive? Just as it's unnecessary to keep track of individual bees, so it is with persons in a system. They are free to come and go as they like, so long as all the earth-world stuff is accomplished, i.e., school, paying bills, &c. People who report having that many people (ourselves included) are likely counting members of their group who never take the front. This is especially true of gateway systems.
Healthy Multiples & Empowerment
"But this leads me to the question, what is a healthy multiple?"
A healthy multiple is a group of persons living in one body, who have established some form of communication or a way to keep track of what is going on in the world-at-large; who run the physical life in a responsible way; who are functioning reasonably well in terms of activities of daily living; who do not use their multiplicity as an excuse to mistreat or take advantage of other people. In brief, a group for whom multiplicity is not a problem, a disorder, or a sickness, but simply the way they are. Healthy multiples come from a variety of origins from trauma/splitting to natural/born that way.
Some people get healthy multiplicity confused with natural (non-trauma-split) multiplicity. Healthy multiplicity is that which doesn't interfere with the group's current level of daily functioning. It's not about dissociation, memory continuity (or lack thereof -- blackout multiples can use lists) or about having or not having a trauma-split origin.
"Then the fact that you are a multiple is not an indication that something is not healthy?"
Right. Well-meaning counselors often point to the fact of multiplicity as "proof of trauma" -- in other words, that being multiple, in and of itself, means that Something Bad Happened. Again, experiences that seem bizarre to outsiders are often assumed to be part of some kind of "escape from reality". (Until the late 1960s autism was assumed to be a response to abuse, a deliberate flight from reality.) It is a sort of prejudice, to assume that the body should be allotted only one mind, one soul, and that the presence of more than one indicates something wrong. ^Andy observes that the people who have documented multiplicity down through history must have been frightened by the idea, no doubt because they were observing systems that lacked communication and were, actually disordered -- and so might have come to believe that no one would ever want to harbor many souls or minds.
Or they might have seen systems that were doing well, and were frightened by witnessing something so alien to their experience.
"Or is this a healthy response to extreme situations?"
It can be. Some multiples really do fit the profile. They originated in some form of trauma (it doesn't have to be sexual abuse, and it doesn't have to have occurred during childhood). This doesn't prevent them from resolving their issues and living a healthy life together. What we object to is the notion that all multiples share a common (abuse) origin.
"I've heard the expression 'empowered multiple' used -- does that mean a multiple who has never been abused or has never been in therapy?"
No, although a lot of people mistakenly think that. The concept of "empowered multiplicity", coined by members of Shaytar group, was meant to refer to multiples who make their own choices and are not over dependent on doctors or anyone else. Again, according to Jade Shaytar's original definition of empowerment --
Taking responsibility for your own life, learning to care for your own collective/system/group/selves and self, building teamwork and cooperation, setting healthy boundaries and standing strong against those who would use or abuse you.
Making the best of life without being desperately dependent on outside support. It is ok to need outside support, but the true resources for healing come from within.
That's right. Any multiple system can be empowered. Empowerment is the ability to take responsibility for one's life and make conscious choices rather than simply going along with what someone else says.
Empowerment is for all multiples. It is not only for natural (non-trauma) multiples; you can be empowered and be a multiple whose group originated in trauma. In fact, if that's your situation, empowerment is a wonderful thing for you, and is something your therapist (if any) ought to be encouraging.
Empowerment does not mean rejecting therapy, or even medication, if those are helpful to the system. Empowerment is about choice. It is about making one's own decisions rather than becoming overly dependent on authority to define and guide one's life. Even a therapist -- even a good one. Empowerment also means the right to interpret one's own system, rather than automatically believing everything other people tell you about yourselves. Empowerment means the group members work together, to communicate with each other (whether through notes or directly), to organise themselves into a responsible operating system, and see multiplicity as a positive part of their lives -- regardless of how their multiplicity originated.
"If you are multiple, doesn't that mean you have MPD/DID?"
Many people still believe that all trauma-based systems have MPD or DID. Or that if you are multiple, period, you have MPD or DID. That is ridiculous. It's saying that your origins as a group define whether or not you have a mental disorder. This goes back to the psychiatric nonsense that being multiple, the presence of others, is itself a mental disorder or a symptom of one.
The way we see it: If being multiple doesn't affect your daily functioning, then you don't have MPD or DID.
Why do abused people have to be called disordered? Why can't it just be called "multiple personality"? Others can be called "traumatic stress" or "bipolar" or "schizophrenic" -- why does the "disorder" have to be added on? This feels like an insult to rape victims. They need to be empowered, and understand how their behaviors are a way to survive and heal. Healing can take a long time, but the stages can be temporary. Gay people got power from psychiatric labels of disorder. They aren't called disordered anymore. Rape survivors should get this power too. It's often the abusers that want the disorder label applied, because it discredits their victims. - Irene, commenting on NPR news story, 2007-10-03.
Myths & Misconceptions
"How can you be a multiple personality... you seem so normal."
You know how much nonsense there is on television... why should it be any different when it comes to multiplicity?
"All of the multiples on TV are crazy. That woman on The United States of Tara acts batshit insane ... if that's a misportrayal and multiples aren't crazy, why do scriptwriters do that?"
Because it $ells.
"Does that mean you have them under control?"
I should say not. I wouldn't be caught dead running this damn penny-ante outfi... oh! I see what you mean. You're asking if we have a responsible operating system! Well, most of the time, we do. (We have had some difficulties recently, due to communication failure.)
Having a coherent, responsible operating system is something all multiples can and should work for. It's something that can be developed even if your system is not co-conscious -- and even if you can't talk to each other. We know several systems who have very little co-consciousness. They use lists and memos to keep track of things.
The key is not necessarily communication, but cooperation and responsibility. The will to be responsible, to take charge of the body's daily life and run it in a way that benefits the group.
"I was just wondering about the relationship between multiple personality and schizophrenia. Are they always linked, because it seems to me that the intelligence resulting from multiple personalities can be directly linked to this."
Multiple personality has no relationship to schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a biochemical imbalance which causes disorganized thinking and inability to sort out and make sense of everyday sensory input. For more about schizophrenia, please read Schizophrenia: It's Not What You Think.
Multiple personality is the existence of more than one person or mind in a single body. It is not caused by biochemical imbalance; it is a matter of neurological hardwiring. It is not a thought disorder: it is a way of being in the world. It is a way of thinking and relating to one's other selves and to the world-at-large.
You might try to find a copy of Eugene Bleuler's original Dementia Praecox book from 1911. His description of schizophrenia as groups of psychological complexes or functions which take turns as the dominant focus of the personality is probably partly responsible for the misunderstanding. The first serious research into multiplicity was being done about the same time (Dr. Walter Prince was working with Doris Fischer for instance).
Having multiple personalities is not related to superior intelligence or creativity! It is not related to intelligence in any way.
It's not a matter of multiples being superior so much as that the combination of skills in any system/collective/group can make it seem like we're able to do and understand a whole heck of a lot more. - Shaytar^Romy
"I know multiplicity is not a disorder, because it takes a special kind of person to be multiple... it requires superior intelligence and creativity."
This elitist notion was propagated in the late 1980s by a group of therapists -- Dr. Ralph Allison among them -- who were so taken with the idea of multiplicity that they formed a sort of cult around the notion that multiples always start as hyperintelligent, psychically gifted children. This is probably due to a skewed sampling. These doctors worked with a handful of exceptional clients, became "fascinated", and decided that all multiples were. The belief that multiples are psychic goes back to 19th century Spiritualism (confusing multiples with mediums -- there was a lot of crossover between psychiatry and Spiritualism). The publicity around a few highly gifted multiples didn't help, and may have caused professionals not to recognize multiples of normal or below average intelligence. (PDF link)
While we can appreciate the overcompensation -- disorganized systems and even well-organized ones often feel they are crazy and stupid, because there's no cultural validation for their experience -- the myth of the gifted multiple is not helpful to us. It has no more validity than saying we are all deranged serial killers. It portrays us as a race of possibly dangerous superbeings.
Again, multiplicity is a group of persons sharing one body: they're capable of being just as smart or as just as stupid as anyone else. For instance, Billy Milligan^Ragen, Juanita Maxwell^Wanda, and Nira Nevins^Jimmy committed bank robbery -- which is among the most stupid of crimes.
Having multiple personalities is not related to superior intelligence or creativity. It is not related to intelligence in any way.
As for the idea that the mind can do anything if there is sufficient belief:
So even if multiples generate a larger biomagnetic field than singlets (there is no evidence yet that a bioenergetic field exists), it wouldn't be strong enough to affect material reality.
"i once suggested to a therapist in a group that specialised on mpd/did perhaps,, i used more then the 10 percent of my brain that most people used and was higher evolved then the average person, and that maybe they might consider that it was not an illness at al Well I bet you can guess how that went over"
We don't take too kindly to such statements either. We are not impressed by the idea that multiples are more highly evolved. That is a myth, and a crypto-fascist myth at that. It is an urban legend which is doing multiples much more harm than good.
"MPD is a recent phenomenon -- there were no cases prior to Sybil -- then an explosion of diagnoses in the 80s and 90s. Doesn't this prove that multiplicity is a fad diagnosis and a fraud?"
You will frequently hear that Sybil, published in 1973, was the book that launched the 20th-century MPD craze among doctors and therapists who suddenly started finding it "everywhere". This is simply not true. Documented cases of multiple personalities date back to the 17th century. In 1944, psychologists W.S. Taylor and Mabel R. Martin published (in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 39(3), 281–300) a list of 75 cases they'd found in American and European psychological journals. They were sure there were more, since there were other scientific journals they hadn't been able to get copies of.
There were many factors in the increased popular interest in multiple personality starting in the 1950s, and the increase in professional research and diagnosis starting in the late '70s. Sybil was not the first reported case, nor the first popular nonfiction book about it, nor even the first theatrical film.
Interest in MPD in modern times began in the 1950s with the publication of Shirley Jackson's 1954 novel The Birds' Nest, which she mostly based on Morton Prince's old Dissociation of a Personality along with consultations with a psychology professor at Bennington College. The film version, Lizzie, came out in 1957. At almost the exact same time, the book and film of The Three Faces of Eve were released.
Understanding something about the expectations placed on women in post-World War 2 America can help to explain why the idea of multiple personalities particularly appealed to women. Within the limitations of "homemaker", women were expected to assume a number of different roles. They were expected to cook three meals a day, keep the house clean, do all the shopping and care for the kids. Ideally, they must do this all without apparent effort and while looking perfect. At the same time, they often had to give up their personal dreams and ambitions. (Like Stephanie Coontz points out in her 2011 book A Strange Stirring, "'He's head man again,' the magazine House Beautiful reminded its female readers. 'Your part . . . is to fit his home to him, understanding why he wants it this way, forgetting your own preferences.'" Yeesh.) Women who tried to have a career alongside or instead of this (the analogy to the independent, trouble-making persona that all MPDs were supposed to have) were warned by "experts" that this could only lead to failure and possible mental breakdown. (Watch I Love Lucy with this in mind. There was even an episode where she faked MPD.)
The story of Chris Costner Sizemore, The Three Faces of Eve, by Corbett Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley, was rushed into publication right on the heels of Birds' Nest, and the film rights were immediately sold. A very well-produced film with Joanne Woodward and Lee J. Cobb came out in 1957. This was even more interesting than Shirley's novel in that it was a "true story". The only problem was that it wasn't true. Chris Sizemore had many more than three selves, and the doctors had falsified many aspects of her case to make it more like Birds' Nest and to make themselves look good. She wrote two of her own books to set the record straight.
Deluxe edition of the DVD. Commentary track by director Nunally Johnson.
Popular interest in MPD following The Birds' Nest/Three Faces of Eve had been preceded by increased attention to the idea of reincarnation as publicized in the case of Bridey Murphy. Alternative identities, whether they were past-life personalities or split-off parts of your own consciousness, became a "meme", as a subject of intense interest and discussion, along with humor. But your doctor wouldn't diagnose you with MPD or (with rare exceptions) suggest you might be remembering former lives. You would still be told that it was just stress and that everyone has many "moods" or "sides".
Multiple personalities were again in the forefront of popular culture in 1973 with the film version of The Exorcist and the book version of Sybil (which had the word "possessed" on the cover so it would attract the same audience). Public response to The Exorcist book and film was massive, and fear of vulnerability to demonic possession had people anxiously consulting pastors and doctors about themselves or their children. (Regan is repeatedly mistaken for having multiple personalities, even by the priest who attends her. In the book, there's a chapter where he researches MPD in detail, to prove it's what Regan doesn't have.)
Sybil was a novel, based (again very loosely) on Shirley Ardell Mason's real life and therapy, but many people took it at face value as a "true story". The 1976 film (deliberately coded, through lighting, music and cinematography, as a horror movie) caught on, as planned, with the same audience as The Exorcist. Perhaps people were reassured to think that thoughts and feelings that seemed foreign to them came from a second personality and not a demon. But this still didn't cause the uptick in multiple personality diagnoses: that started later. Most people who went to a therapist to find out if they had MPD were still told that it was very rare and the chances were virtually nil.
Increased modern interest in MPD for doctors as well as clients really began in 1980 with the Billy Milligan case and the book Michelle Remembers. William Stanley Milligan's story was front-page national news. It was covered in many newspaper articles and on television and radio. He definitely was multiple. While Sybil had been portrayed as bizarre and half-insane, Milligan was always portrayed as behaving in a normal and even competent manner, making him easier to relate to for those who suspected they might themselves be multiple.
Two of Milligan's people committed armed robbery and rape (not murder). At a hearing (not a trial) in the the Franklin County Common Pleas court, he was declared not guilty by reason of insanity -- as his defense team had proven that he had multiple personalities. Milligan did not take the stand and did not exhibit different selves during the hearing. He was sent to the mental hospital in Athens, Ohio, then to a hospital/prison for the criminally insane, under brutal conditions, after numerous complaints that he was receiving "cushy" treatment in Athens.
Milligan's case brought multiple personality and legal defense to the foreground of American conversation. The idea that you could seemingly "get off" by entering a multiple-personality defense was not lost on other defendants such as the Hillside Strangler. However, Milligan did not "get off". He was never acquitted of his crimes by a jury of his peers, because he never stood trial. Moreover, Milligan's was a special case. Virtually all courts and juries trying similar cases have rejected Milligan-type defenses.
Milligan's story set the stage for a decade of recognition of multiples, both doctors and clients comparing notes over pre-internet computer bulletin boards, serious research, a number of popular books (most pretty badly written, but a few outstanding ones, especially When Rabbit Howls) and many getting real help. It also launched speculative overdiagnosis, exploitation (including on sensationalized TV talk shows), psychiatric abuse of multiples and insurance fraud. Some of the worst offenders, like Colin A. Ross, are still practicing. (In spite of the fact that he has gone right round the bend and believes in eye beams).
After Sybil's and Milligan's stories, nearly everyone took it for granted that multiplicity was caused by child sexual abuse. The story of how people became multiple was always the same. Feminists and the Religious Right thus latched onto the story of Michelle Smith, who during hypnotherapy supposedly recovered memories of years of intensive Satanic ritual abuse. (This sort of fused the Exorcist and Sybil narratives in a way.) Dissociated alters supposedly removed the physical scars she received from the abuse and helped her bury the memories. In the increasingly conservative climate of the 1980s, the idea of Satanic ritual abuse caught on like wildfire, with MPD used as the rationale why alleged victims didn't remember, or had to be hypnotized to remember. The book was discussed endlessly on religious television shows -- PTL Club, The Hal Lindsey Report, The 700 Club etc. Feminists saw it as a valuable document in their fight to stop child abuse. It was almost universally believed, until journalists from the British Daily Mail and elsewhere pointed out the inaccuracies and inconsistencies and finally uncovered the truth about Michelle Remembers.
Reports of multiple personalities -- not necessarily Sybil-type MPD -- have existed since ancient times.
The Greek belief in daemons -- spirits who gave helpful or harmful advice -- was actually a complex doctrine which, among other things, explained multiplicity.
Jesus is described as doing an exorcism for an apparent multiple who had epilepsy in Mark 5:1-20.
In 1646, the German physician Paracelsus wrote of a woman who said someone was stealing money from her. It turned out to be a second self.
Multiple personality used to be called Gmelin's syndrome after Dr. Eberhardt Gmelin who in 1791 wrote up a detailed report about a German lady with "exchanged personality". Her one other self spoke French and behaved like a French aristocrat. Gmelin wrote that multiplicity could be a "royal road" to understanding how personality was formed. He did not see it as a disability. As recently as 1993, psychologist George B. Greaves was suggesting a revival of "Gmelin's syndrome" as a name for this condition. He said: "It would be strange, indeed, were we to surmise that that in humankind's vast history, what we now know as multiple personality ... should not have existed prior to 1789."
Biologist-physician William James observed several cases of adult onset multiplicity: among them were Ansel Bourne and Mary Reynolds. In his 1890 book The Principles of Psychology, James dealt with the "everybody has more than one personality" idea which he said was characterized by continuity of consciousness and a "feeling of ownership" in regard to the different selves' feelings and emotions. He said the cases of multiple personality he had observed probably happened when the continuity and "ownership" were disrupted. He believed the experiences of different persons in the group would cause the shared brain's neurology to become different from singlets over time.
There is also the Dissociation Archives at Oregon University which has full records of cases dating back to 1831. Show this to the next person who tells you multiple personality was unknown and unstudied before Sybil.
Multiples who were well known in psychological literature prior to Sybil include:
Mary Reynolds, born 1785, a "second state" documented (not "diagnosed") beginning in about 1811.
"How are multiple personalities usually handled in court cases? Is it really true that a group's different selves can be allowed to testify on the witness stand?"
This has happened several times, and there is definitely case law precedent for allowing several people from a multiple system to testify in court. The 1990 Mark Peterson case in Wisconsin received much media publicity when Sarah, an Asian-American woman, brought rape charges against him for seducing a trusting young adult in her group.
Holding Space -- "for people still waiting to feel like someone understands them and they are not alone... a place where we can exchange ideas, talk openly about trauma, PTSD, and living with DID without the worry about security in social media" (so it will NOT be on Facebook!!)
A Life After Trauma -- "listings of online support groups, meet ups, conferences, helpful websites, phone apps, books, blogs and tools for you to use to begin to move past your trauma."
Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Holding Space, PO Box 51552, Bowling Green KY 42102
Founded in 1989, Many Voices was an independent newsletter written BY (not just for) people recovering from child abuse or trauma, dissociative disorder, PTSD or trauma -- multiples and singlets. It was the flagship publication for the voices of abuse survivors and multiples to speak up and be heard.
Lynn's daughter Diane says: "In January 2014, the following was found in minutes from a Board of Directors Meeting dated 9/20/2011. Lynn was nine months into Chemotherapy at this point.
"'ISST-D Liaison. I already contacted our liaison at ISST-D telling her to expect that we will have "contingency plans" to discuss with them.
"'I have had excellent contacts with them since MV began, and if we are not able to keep MV going, (when I am gone), this is the place I want to "take over", even if all they do is make back issues available on the web in perpetuity.' (THEY HAVE! Back issues free online now!)
Not in the popular sense of therapy and integration, as believed by some professionals, and as seen in the movies. From what we understand from integrated multiples, it is more like being "in recovery". One never stops being multiple, but one learns to think and react with a single behavior pattern rather than each person in the group having her or his own unique response.
"Are drugs effective in the treatment of multiple personality?"
This is controversial, and it depends on what you call treatment. According to Dr. David Caul, the psychiatrist who worked with Billy Milligan, many multiples tend not to respond well to psychoactive medications. He believed that neuroleptics like Haldol, Thorazine and Stelazine should never be given to multiples because it destroys ability to communicate with each other in-system and create a functional cooperative.
Today, some doctors prescribe these and other antipsychotics and even shock treatment for multiples, in therapy where the goal is to make the voices stop, to destroy the frontrunner's awareness of the others and return to so-called normal behaviour as a single person. This assumes that all people who claim to be multiple are actually delusional and only think there are others. It is not realistic to expect the people in a plural group to actually disappear forever as a result of drugging the body.
Some people in multiple systems (ours included), have done very well with a course of antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds to assist with stress or depression having nothing to do with multiplicity but simply ordinary life problems, Most people in multiple systems we know personally (ours included) do better with herbal medicines and nutrients. They also report good luck with life extension vitamins and alternative physical therapies (chiropractic, Rolfing) in helping their mental and emotional outlook as well as physical problems.
Bear in mind -- stress, anxiety, depression and other negative emotions happen to everyone. Being multiple does not necessarily cause these reactions, although living in an increasingly frenetic, violent, economically unfair and conformist society in which multiplicity is acknowledged only as a hoax or a mental disease can certainly cause its share of emotional suffering.
Negative emotions don't always mean you have unresolved trauma. They are part of ordinary life in the world-at-large. They come with the package. In fact, they can be very healthy and useful. (Think of the anger over injustice which led many to join the civil rights movement.) Your therapist, if any, should be helping you to find ways to express and release negative feelings, not merely to suppress them with pills or positive thinking.
Psychologists seem to feel that anger is a natural emotion and it's how we handle that anger that's what's important. That it not be allowed to be destructive without or from within. I mean, Anger can be harmful, yes, but so can other emotions; anger can lead you to strike someone or to stand up for someone. But love can lead you to be a better person, or it can fill you with jealousy or resentment. - SF Debris review of Babylon 5episode 1.
"Our therapist wants to integrate us. He keeps saying that we'll all feel much better as one person and that nobody really dies."
If you do not want to integrate, he has no business trying to talk you into it. Tell him this. You are paying him to help you guys, not to force you into some imagined standard of normal behavior. His business is to help you with life problems, and assist you to be functional in activities of daily living. These things do not necessarily require integration. If you and the others in your system talk it over and decide on integration, that's different -- it's your choice.
"I've been reading your website. Are you serious.. you mean I don't HAVE to integrate?"
No, you do not. There are multiple collectives (groups, systems) who live successfully in a cooperation of many. Some of them are natural multiples, others had a trauma/splitting origin. Any multiple system can do this; it is not just for natural plurals. To see some of their webpages, please visit: Links To Personal Pages Contact Resources
"You're pretty down on mental health professionals, and I've noticed this kind of attitude from other multiples. Why do many multiples advise against seeking professional help?"
Gina of the Hondas has this answer:
"We don't necessarily advocate against professional assistance for those who need and/or want it. If you are having problems dealing with your system to the point where you cannot function in everyday life, or you feel that you would be best served by seeking professional advice, then you should look into that. Your primary concern should be your own best interests.
"However, by that same token, if you are a functional multiple, it may not always be in your best interests to ask for a doctor's opinion. Many professionals simply refuse to believe that multiplicity exists, and more than one multiple has been misdiagnosed with conditions such as manic depression, psychosis, or schizophrenia. In fact, the DSM-IV (diagnostic code 295.x) contains a provision that allows one to be diagnosed as schizophrenic solely on the basis of "hallucinations [that] consist of a voice keeping up a running commentary on the person's behavior or thoughts, or two or more voices conversing with each other." Note that most multiples "hear" voices, but they are not external, auditory hallucinations; they are natural internal communication channels. People who are misdiagnosed are often given powerful psychotropic drugs that can cloud thinking, as well as make it very difficult for system members to communicate with each other."
And we would add the following.
From our correspondence, it seems that psychologists and mental health professionals today are inclined to diagnose as "psychotic" those who present for therapy stating that they know themselves to be plural -- not waiting for the diagnosis. Neuroleptic medications and often hospitalization follow. We have heard enough of these reports, especially from younger people, to convince us that it is unwise to disclose to any mental health professional today unless you are 1) over 18, and 2) completely certain they understand what multiple personality is and that it can be self-recognized.
"Does a diagnosis of DID automatically mean I have to be hospitalised?"
It doesn't automatically mean anything. Every multiple system is different. Why go to a hospital just because you are multiple? Psychiatric hospitals, stress care centers and DDUs are for people who have other problems which cause them to be unable to take care of themselves.
We hear far more hospital horror stories like like Delacroix's than reports of decent care and help for multiples. Many mental wards today are very behaviorist oriented, which means that improvement is judged by compliance -- doing exactly as you are told. If your doctor seems to be recommending hospitalization on no grounds other than that you are multiple, don't be afraid to question him closely on this. Find out what your options are, using a site like Shoshanna's Psychiatric Survivors' Guide.
No, these are not $cientology sites. Breggin is not a $cientologist. Please do not write to us telling us that he is. Believe it or not, there are doctors, scientists, reporters, and lay people who not $cientologists, who are very concerned about mental health drugs and their safety. Even if these drugs are helpful to you, be sure you are informed about how they can affect your body and mind.
"Could you explain the fact that multiples who 'switch' experience changes in visual acuity, allergies, etc?" "I am interested in the research which I have heard about. This research showed that MPD patients changed physiology as well as physical characteristics. There were reports of diabetic vs. hypoglycemic symptoms. Can you help?"
It is not always a "fact" that these types of changes occur, and there was little if any research. Drastic changes in the body depending on who was up front were reported by a few professionals in the popular literature (not peer-reviewed journals) of the 1980s. These men were very noncritical and did not do any type of controlled study. They were prone to making extreme statements in interviews -- for instance, Eugene Bliss in Omni called multiples "messengers of the gods", implying that we were the next step in human evolution. The reported amazing accomplishments of multiples are still claimed to be scientific proof that the mind can accomplish seemingly impossible things just by believing. The reader is supposed to assume that because a psychologist said something, that means it's been proved by Science. These extreme claims are invariably connected with the myth that severe abuse and dissociation are required to produce a multiple -- as if child abuse were a mystical initiation rite. (more about this in Amorpha's essay Sour Grapes). We are not skeptics, but we need to see more evidence, and we notice that none of these people are reported to fly, for instance.
That said: We are talking about different persons sharing a body. Brain/mind studies show that the holographic brain model is useful in understanding how people in multiple groups can have different brainwave patterns, eyeglass prescriptions, allergies, biochemistry, etc. (read more about holographic brain theory here). Each person in the system apparently develops his or her own neural net. Apparent changes in height and facial characteristics are caused by different people in the group holding themselves differently, with different amounts of muscle tension and relaxation. As far as the allergies and the so-called physiological changes; If each person in the group is feeling a bit differently, those feelings will affect the body's biochemistry. The most common physiological changes in multiples are changes in heart rate and blood pressure. (Thank you, Dr. Mohan Nair, for demystifying this experience.)
Amorpha point out: "Brainwave changes and differing physical reactions can and have been measured and verified, but the degree to which physical reactions of selves differ is by no means constant between systems, and single persons can be taught to change physical reactions without any essential change in self (think of the yoga masters they sometimes show on TV)".
Many of the MPD clients of the 1980s were of an age where there are naturally a lot of changes in visual acuity. People at that age may need three or four eyeglass prescriptions in a year. This could also account for the "increased forgetfulness" experienced by many clients which was believed to be caused by switching but is a natural effect of aging. Many people go through this as young as thirty.
If you are a multiple who genuinely experiences extreme physiological changes, you can participate in Amanda Lynch's research project. She is collecting personal anecdotes from multiples and mental health professionals. Contact her at lynchlotus @ aol .c om .
"What about the severe headaches that are nearly always reported in articles or books on MPD?"
It's possible the headaches are caused by stress. If you suspected there were other persons sharing your body -- keeping in mind that modern Western culture forbids this experience by classifying it as a mental disease -- you might get headaches just from the effort of trying to block out this knowledge. (We personally believe it is likely the conflict caused by this forbidden experience of persons, much more than any "repressed memories of abuse", that cause stress in unacknowledged multiples.)
The classic MP headache or switching headache is also said to be caused by changes in cerebral blood flow during switching (formal study done by Dr. Frank Putnam and NIMH's Daniel Weinberger; their cerebral blood-flow studies (in which inhaled radioactive xenon is used to illuminate active brain regions) found clear differences between persons in multiple collectives). If this is the case, that could be why the headaches are reported to resemble migraines. If you experience this, you could try feverfew herb -- a lot of our correspondents have found a capsule or two every four to six hours to be helpful and there are some studies being done about it in England. Get more info about feverfew here, Feverfew for Migraine Prophylaxis and here: Helpful Supplements for Migraines
"I am multiple and have been formally diagnosed as such. Presently my doctors do not believe my chemistry changes and reactions to meds like insulin. I am having trouble convincing them. Is there any documentation that you know of available?"
The doctor who diagnosed you should speak to your medical doctors. Your best bet on the biochemistry of multiples is Dr. Frank Putnam. He can be reached at email@example.com, 513-636-7001 or through the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH. Or use this address:
Director, Center for Safe & Healthy Children
3333 Burnet Ave.
Dr. Mohan Nair has had a lot to say about multiples and biochemistry: try him at
Mohan Nair, MD
5212 Katella, #106
Los Alamitos, California 90720
What's it like?
"What's it like to be multiple?"
For us, it is a constant sense that others are present. For every person who is up front, running the body in the earth world, there are two or three others who may be hanging around observing, making comments, or just listening in. The feeling of manyness, of knowing there is always someone close by, is very comforting to us. We have had difficulties when this sense was lost (others may have been nearby, but the front-runner could not feel them). It can be emotionally painful to lose this sense.
"If a person does not define and accept that he has "multiples", this means he sort of gets "lost in space", doesn't it, because he has no idea what is going on?"
Yes, it can really feel like the Twilight Zone. It can feel confusing, disorienting, or downright crazy. Learning to accept that the other people are there, and that communication is possible, will help make it feel less crazy.
"Are alters really separate personalities?"
If they experience themselves as distinct individuals, then they should be treated with the respect that that is what they are. Always treat the persons in a multiple group as separate people unless they tell you otherwise.
Note: most multiples really dislike the term "alter" because they do feel that the members of their group are distinct and separate people. Professionals use the term "alter" specifically to emphasize that these selves are nonpersons. It's better to refer to members of a group as people or selves, unless the group you are talking to specifically tells you what they want to be called. Please ask if you are not sure.
"Should I interact with the people in a multiple system, or keep my relationship with them confined to the host or presenting self?"
You can talk to whomever talks to you. Get to know them as individuals. If they introduce themselves, if they want to converse and form friendships with you, they are showing their trust in you.
"Is it possible for someone with this condition to switch at will?"
Yes. In a group with even imperfect communication, whoever is out or at front can certainly ask for someone else to come out.
"Are there certain chosen ones for this task or do you choose by random?"
This was asked on a forum -- talking about how front crew are chosen. In our case, anyone can come up front -- in fact, we have little or no control over who takes the body. So, we have protocols in place so that those who wish to use the body are automatically briefed, so there is no "memory loss" or "time loss" (actually continuity loss). Other groups have other ways of managing frontrunners and front time. Some have a setup like a business, with offices and departments and people fronting in shifts. We know two groups who even employ temps.
"Can two or more persons be present at once?"
Yes. They can talk to each other, and to you, too.
When two or more persons are present, they may be co-running: both using the body -- or they may be co-present: observing what's going on without taking control of the body. The Troops (Truddi Chase's group) were the first to describe co-running and co-presence, though they never used those terms which may actually have been coined by Dr. Richard Kluft. He loves naming things.
Note from Jay: I can't overemphasize this. It was one of the key issues that kept us from self-recognition for many years. We knew about multiplicity, but did not believe it could apply to us because we co-ran and co-fronted, sometimes as many as four people using the body at once and communicating with each other.. (Singlets who think this is impossible should remember that the next time they catch themselves simultaneously talking on the phone, stirring soup, watching television and mentally planning the evening's activities.). Co-running and co-presence are real. Two or more persons can be present and use the body at once. People in a multiple group can and do communicate with each other.
"Can the host talk directly to an alter?"
Since both host and alter (terms we personally dislike and do not use) are both members of the same group, of course they can talk to one another just as easily as any other two members of that group. Again, some groups have no trouble with communication, for others it is a learned thing.
"Do people ever fake multiplicity?"
Unfortunately, yes, it's done all the time. Motivations can be anything from eliciting sympathy (I've got a tragic disease!), exhibitionism, sociopathic manipulation, excuses for irresponsible behavior (my alter did it!), or just in the course of seeking an explanation for something that is wrong but difficult to conceptualize and describe.
"Is it possible to have several people who use the same name -- either a birth name or other name?"
"Is it possible for persons in a multiple group to be older than the body?"
Yes. The people are not necessarily limited to the body's circumstances.
"Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple group to be the opposite sex from the body?"
"Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple group to be gay while others are straight, bisexual, asexual?"
"Is it possible for people within the group to have relationships with each other?">
Yes. They may form families, friendships, love relationships, even marry and have children.
"Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple group to be Christian while others are Jewish or Buddhist or pagan or atheist?"
"Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple group to be different races -- black, Asian, Native American, Caucasian?"
"Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple group to be animals?"
Nonhumans - Mythic Creatures - Otherkin
"Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple group to be members of races usually considered mythological -- elves, faeries, mythic animals, extraterrestrials?"
Yes, many multiples have reported this experience. The Chimera group consists of mythic animals and they have a good page describing their experiences and their personal world. Nsashaell is another system with some people who are animals and/or shapeshifters.
"Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple group to be vampires, werewolves, demons, and other creatures of Gothic horror?"
Yes! And like any other system members, they should be treated with respect. Powerful protective selves may take the form of terrifying creatures usually considered evil, often to show their opposition to restrictive cultural or religious systems. They can actually be life givers and some of the best of the good guys. They have been called "defiant self-helpers".
Children who are multiple are often punished severely for being different or crazy, and, in Fundamentalist families, possessed. Little children are routinely subjected to lengthy prayer vigils, and there are "deliverance activity" ministers who specialize in exorcisms for child multiples. With this kind of experience, a child is not likely to turn for help to the Angels, but to their dark counterparts.
"Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple group to be "walk-ins", that is, to come from outside the system?"
Yes, in fact this is an often-reported experience.
"Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple group to be spirits of persons who have died and subsequently taken up residence in the present body?"
Absolutely. It is not at all unusual for multiples to have this experience. There has always been a certain amount of crossover between mediumship -- the perceived ability to communicate with spirits of the departed -- and multiplicity. In fact, at one time the term "multiple personalities" actually referred to mediums who were used to letting spirits visit for a time.
Whether you (or we) believe in spirits, walk-ins, otherkin, etc. is of no account. What matters is that the experience should be respected. If someone says they have residents in their system who are spirits or otherwise come from outside this world, why not take their word for it until you have proof that it is not so?
"Is it possible for some of the people in a multiple group to be characters (historical or imaginary) from books, films, video games, television series, etc.?"
Yes. It is not uncommon to have fictive persons in a multiple system. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a recent development or a fad dreamed up by teenagers. Multiples have been reporting this experience for a good many years. Henry Hawksworth of The Five Of Me began as a multiple by, among other things, 'adopting' Peter Pan into his mental space, as a three-year-old child. That was in 1946.
Some detractors use it as a rationale or proof that multiplicity does not exist or that people who report this experience are not multiple but merely play-acting. Dr. George Ganaway believes that multiples who start out as dissociative victims of abuse or neglect internalize such characters in the process of creating "defensive and restitutional fantasies" to fulfill psychodynamic needs like having a loving family or having friends who respect you. Not being multiple himself, of course, this is Ganaway's attempt to explain something he can't really understand. Some abuse victims do this, but that doesn't mean that all fictives in multiple systems came about the same way, even if their group began as trauma-split.
More recently, some doctors are beginning to classify people with this experience as schizophrenic. If you have this experience, it might not be wise to disclose it to a therapist.
Again, our general attitude is to respect the experiences of persons who report the presences of such persons in their group. What matters is not belief, but responsibility. If the group's level of daily functioning is all right -- that is, if they're taking care of daily responsibilities, finances, personal hygiene, cooking, cleaning -- it does not matter who in the system is doing it.
Other Worlds/ Gateway Systems
"Some multiples on the internet have written about living in different dimensions or on different planets. I also hear the expression 'gateway multiple' or 'gateway system'. What do they mean?"
Some multiples experience living in another physical space when they are not up front (using the body). It's often called inner worlds, although we resist calling it that and prefer other or personal worlds. You might have a look at: Phoenix House The Shire: Those That Walk Cartaala Plures
It is important to understand that many people who experience personal worlds -- both multiple and singlet -- view these environments as subjectively real, not as therapeutic constructs such as analogising toward a "dialogue of parts", "visualising a safe place where your alters can talk to each other." That can be valid and helpful too, but are not true for everyone.
Multiples who experience living in other worlds when not up front may think of their earth body as a portal or gateway from their own world to the earth world or world-at-large -- that is, present-day physical consensus reality. That is where the expression "gateway system" came from. It was originally coined by Stardance : Shaytar and Bekaio systems to describe their personal experiences. We ourselves are a gateway system who experience a homeworld in a parallel dimension.
"Do only multiples have such worlds?"
No. Personal or subjective worlds and languages are often overlooked or dismissed as fantasy because Western society has a low opinion of subjective experience, but many people have felt that they perceived another world, or even that they belonged somewhere else, to a different place or time. Some have written about it.
Glasstown, Angria and Gondal: Brontë Juvenilia. Michael J. A. Howe describes the imaginary world chronicled by the Brontë children, revealing their sources of inspiration in the experiences of real people and the places they read about:
Here's the chapter from the official Brontë biography, where Charlotte describes how the plays got started. In their teenage years, they wrote a lot of what is now called "real person fanfiction", mostly about the Duke of Wellington and his two sons. Chapter 5 of Charlotte Bronte's Life by Elizabeth Gaskell
J.R.R. Tolkien meant his writing as a different kind of fantasy -- a mythology, or legends based on bits of English and German folklore and history. Middle-earth is not another world: it is supposed to be our own earth in very ancient times. However, his descriptions of Valinor and the special, separate places in which the Elves existed are definitely "Otherworld" as he would say.
Moonwise by Greer Gilman. A fantasy about crossing over into a fantasy kingdom of one's own creation, it's also a celebration of folklore and language.
Since we can't all be as lucky as the heroines of Moonwise, singlets would visit such places while asleep or in altered states of consciousness, while persons in multiple systems can travel or return to their home dimension while the body remains awake, being run by somebody else in the group (this is called a gateway or portal system). That would be the only difference.
"Why do you resist the term "inner worlds"?
Because characterising a subjective environment as inner or internal implies that it is not real but a fantasy existing only in the mind.
Terms like internal landscape don't apply to all systems, particularly gateway systems. It seems to imply that these environments don't really exist, or that they were created solely for the purpose of self-therapy.
As Shaytar have stated, "Our lands are not 'inside' the body, not created by, nor contained within the body's mind. To speak of them as such is both demeaning and unrealistic."
There is nothing wrong with having an internal environment, and lots of people (multiple and singlet) do. What we object to is the assumption conveyed by the word "internal" that subjective places by their nature have no reality. So we try to use terms which cover everybody, such as "other world" or subjective. There is no way to convince others to believe in our other-spaces because they have no objective reality that we know of -- no physical evidence to show their existence. We want to convey the idea that we may perceive a certain world or dimension, but it hasn't yet been charted on the Hubble Telescope. :)
"But you're saying this is real. Doesn't that mean you're insane?"
No, it means we experience a subjective reality. We do not expect people outside the system to believe that our subjectivity is in any way a part of the here-and-now, consensus reality. "If you experience it, then it's real in at very least that sense. It may not be real to other people, but when you're using your own brain as the universe of discourse ... that kind of reality is really all you need to be concerned about. In an individualistic sense, the boundary between imagination and reality begins to blur; as long as you can function in both, it's really not a problem." (Thank you Draegonhawke.)
"I hear of people reporting they can travel from their own world to someone else's. Is this actually possible? Is it some form of astral projection?"
From the Layman's Guide to Multiplicity: People do report doing this, both multiples and singlets. In a multiple situation, one or more people could journey while others ran the body: for a singlet, it would most likely be something experienced during sleep or a daydreaming or trance state.
No one knows if it is "common" to do this, because so few people feel comfortable talking about their other worlds. It's not something encouraged in Western society. Also, it is a deeply personal experience, and often hard to describe.
The only source of information on traveling comes from the stories of people who experience it. One way to determine whether or not a person from X system has indeed visited Y's otherworld is to focus on a certain object or event, remember it upon returning, and confirm it with Y.
This is very difficult to do and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't necessarily mean that you haven't actually made the trip. Memory is slippery even in the earth world -- can you remember what you had for breakfast six months ago? -- and people often report that they remember little or nothing of their experiences journeying, or even in their own personal worlds once they come up front. (Statebound abilities and skills are also reportedly common.)
The wisest thing to do is to be certain you trust the other person or group enough to be able to be completely honest with them, and know they are completely honest with you. It's too easy to take advantage of the situation.
"If you are so fascinated with our world, why don't you try to be born in this one? Is it easier to inhabit another person's body?"
This question was asked on a forum and apparently directed towards gateway systems. In the first place, not all multiples are gateway systems. Second, not all gateway systems come into being because the inhabitants are "fascinated" with the earth world. That is a concept straight out of Theosophy, and much beloved by writers of comic books and a handful of authors such as Tanith Lee, but it is not true of all gateway systems, let alone all multiples in general.
Third, there are some groups where the others were invited in by an original person, but not all systems have an original person. We are not inhabiting someone else's body; it is cooperatively owned and operated by the group as a whole.
There are many possible origins for a gateway system. Ask.
States of Being
"Do two people in the same group ever fall in love or have a sexual or romantic relationship?"
"Can two people in different groups fall in love or have a sexual or romantic relationship?"
"Is it possible for a girl in a male-body group to have a romance or sexual relationship with a man in a female-body group?"
Yes. All different combinations are possible. And yes, they can be straight, gay, Lesbian or bisexual.
"Can people in a multiple system regard themselves as related --as sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers?"
Oh, indeed they can. They can have any and all of the family relationships you see in the earth world.
"Do any of the female personas freak out when they realized they were equipped with a penis?"
Okay, now we're getting into the prurient interest. Still, it's a legit question, let's try to keep the giggles down, back there in the peanut gallery. Originally, this question was posted on a forum and directed toward male-body systems but we'll speak about it in general.
The idea that a person of different gender from the body "freaks out" when discovering that the body gender isn't the same as theirs is probably one that should best be relegated to the Archive of Dumb Movies. There is no reason to assume such a reaction.
"Are the ages of people in multiple groups 'frozen' in time?"
Depends upon the person, their situation and their choices. Some people age slide, moving between a range of ages depending again on their choice and the situation.
"I have read that there is a correlation between multiplicity and ability to go into trances - would you agree with this?"
There's been a lot of literature and anecdotal information circulated about this. Some Spiritualist mediums and trance speakers (more at www.nsac.org/ and at survivalafterdeath.info) (site is back online!) may actually be multiple. Indigenous people the world over regard multiplicity as normal and think of it as a part of their spiritual belief systems. Probably the book you should read is (Suryani and Jensen's Trance and Possession in Bali).
Members of multiple systems who are involved with religions where self-induced trances are a normal part of devotional exercises probably know more about trances than we do.
"What are some of those other words you use? Why don't you like it to be called MPD?"
MPD stands for multiple personality disorder. There's a difference between having multiple personalities -- being plural -- and having multiple personality disorder -- in which lack of cooperation and communication are wreaking havoc with the life and causing chaos. Not all multiples have multiple personality disorder. There are disordered systems -- but many persons in one body, in and of itself, is not disorder. It's all in how it's managed. (And for the record, natural or non-trauma multiples are just as capable of being disordered as any other. We've known trauma-split systems who were fine, and born-that-way groups who were extremely sick.)
Switching is a word we have mixed feelings about. It can imply that there's only one real person who is putting on different masks, particularly the concept of "switching into" another self. "At the bar, there was a drunk, offensive guy harrassing me. I switched into Ruth, a 40-year-old Lesbian truck driver, and punched him in the nose." Using this type of language makes it look as if "I" was playing the part of Ruth, as in theater -- that "I" was "being Ruth". With multiplicity, what is more likely is that "I" stepped away from the front position and Ruth took my place.
That's what most "switching" is. Various people are coming up front to use the body, or moving back away from the front position. More like a change in shift at the office, or a radio station with a succession of announcers throughout the day. But when this happens in rapid succession under stress, or for whatever reason, "switching" can be an apt term to describe the feeling. Technically, if you use holographic brain theory to understand how multiplicity works, there really is a kind of switching going on ... the changeovers between the different neural nets. more about holographic brain theory here
"Why don't you approve of the terms 'host' and 'alters'?"
Host and alters imply that there is one real person and then a lot of alternate, non-real personae -- cardboard characters. (A multiple is "Mary and Ruth" -- alternate personae would be more like "Mary being Ruth".) This doesn't allow for the fact that persons in a multiple group are persons in their own right. We are not masks put on for your or our own amusement (viz. the "Ruth and I" example above).
Alter: Originally, if you were multiple that meant the people in your group were supposed to be one-dimensional, representing aspects of one person and (this was the theory right after Dr. Pierre Janet presented his ideas) specifically fitting the Jungian archetypal pattern: the Child, the Stern Protector, the Harlot, the Used Car Salesman and so forth.
The professional literature described them as cardboard characters, lacking substance, etc., and the more substance they did have the more it was supposed to have been drained from the "depleted host", the original person who had put so much energy into these imitation people. This is how the word "alter" came into use; it meant a non-person; two-dimensional masks, paper dolls that the host personality hid behind for protection.
Use of the term "alter" indicates a belief that one person in the group is real and the rest are not, or are less real. Even in systems where there is an original person the others came from, or where one person considers themself to be hosting the others, "alter" is an insult. It is roughly analogous to "white only" and "separate but equal" in the segregated South.
Sometimes, to note that we are especially talking about people in a multiple group, as opposed to people in general, we use the word "self", as the Troops (Truddi Chase) do.
Host: Generally, "host" is used in a medical context to indicate an organism that nourishes and supports a parasite; it does not benefit and is often harmed by the association. This is the context in which the term has been used in psychiatry to refer to multiplicity.
In some multiple systems, one or two front runners are deliberately excluded from communication with the others. Such a frontrunner is supposed to run things in daily life, believing that he is the one and only person occupying the body. This kind of setup can occur for any number of reasons. If the frontrunner becomes aware of the others, either by accident or by design, a situation can occur similar to what you may have read about in Sybil or When Rabbit Howls. In the past, people studying multiplicity have made the mistake of believing that ALL multiples run on this setup (perhaps because of the influential writings of Cornelia Wilbur, Richard Kluft and others, who were basically making it up as they went along).
In this sense, use of terms like "host" indicate their belief that a single real person is harbouring a number of parasitic alters. This is what you see in magazine articles that talk about "women with MPD" or "living with multiple personalities".
(The short explanation is that these types of systems are most likely to present for therapy (a frontrunner thinking she is crazy because "hearing voices" for instance), thus most likely to come to therapeutic attention, and that's why the preponderance of this type of multiple in the literature.)
Today, psychiatrists working with multiples might think of the "host" as "the most important (to therapeutic goals) mental entity ... often this is thought to be the root of the person's psyche, or at least a key figure for completion of therapy, whether or not it has integration as a goal." (click here to read more about 'host' in the psychological sense)
We are aware that some collectives use the word "host" in a different sense, more like "the owner or manager of an inn", or something like the way Victorian Spiritualists thought of multiple personality: a single human being who allows spirits to visit, or to move in for good. We have known one system who referred to themselves as "the host" as in "the heavenly host", meaning just a group.
"I was just diagnosed ..."
The Idian Shire have these words for the newly diagnosed:
"Although being told you are multiple can be a shock, it is important to remember you didn't just become multiple when you were diagnosed. You have all been living together for many years now, and probably have a personal style set up already that works reasonably well. Trust yourselves that you know what you are doing. This isn't to say there can't be improvements or you have all the answers. but the truth is usually you all (the whole system) knows what works best for you. Don't rush to believe what others say about multiple experience. It might be true for them, but there are no blanket statements, there is no "one way" to do things. Discuss, test, evaluate every bit of information you receive and decide whether it fits you, don't force anything to fit just because someone says it should.
"Try not to buy into what I call the "drama requirement" I often see on other multiple websites and email lists. You don't have to cut, have internal wars, fall apart in public, and countless other dramas to be multiple. If some of those things are aspects of your life then find a way to deal with them, to work through them, whatever. They can be challenging but they aren't insurmountable. They aren't just part of being multiple that you have to put up with. (More about the 'drama requirement' here...)
"I don't know how your system works, because well... I'm not a part of it. My last piece of advice, don't trust anyone that says they do, no one outside of your system can know that sort of thing."
Thanks to the Idian Shire for stating it more plainly than we ever could. You can visit the people of Idia at thosethatwalk.com.
And from Amorpha^Anthea:
"Do you feel that your therapist was correct? Do you feel that you are sharing your body with others? Keep that in mind as you're reading this or anything else on multiplicity."
"I have looked up info on the internet and dont really understand most of it. Im not sure what is going to happen to me now and Im really kinda scared."
Again from Amorpha^Anthea:
"The reason I do not recommend searching pages on the clinical model first off is because whether or not you split from abuse, many of them can give you the impression that you immediately have to become dysfunctional after becoming selves-aware. This is not something that anyone should be seeing when they are unsure, confused and frightened. It does not have to be like what you see on those pages.
"Take care of yourself, and remember that there are many systems who are living happily and healthily as groups, regardless of how they originated."
A word about self-harm: We shouldn't have to spend too much time/space here talking about self-injury, since it is a separate issue from multiplicity. However, unfortunately multiplicity has become associated with self-injury online and off.
It is NOT TRUE that all multiples harm themselves or try to hurt the body. In some systems that lack communication, one or more people may get desperate and cut or inflict self-harm in order to get the frontrunner's attention... "hey, we're in here too, pay attention to us." Once communication is established, the self-injury should stop. This, anyway, is what some groups have reported.
Many people, singlet and multiple, inflict some kind of self-injury to relieve stress or because they feel frustrated, or to call attention to other life difficulties they have that they're having trouble putting into words. It is a complicated issue, and above all today for young people who are allowed very little in the way of freedom of self-expression.
Self-injury is not always a problem but a form of prayer. Members of certain religious groups, including Islam and some sects of Catholicism, inflict mild to moderate self-injury as a sacramental, to feel solidarity with people in history who have suffered or been martyred for their faith. Again, this is a very complicated issue, and one with which we have very little experience.
However: If you DO have someone in your system who does self-injury, and it is a problem for that person or for you, here are some suggestions that we have heard are very effective:
Get a BIG, RED magic marker. Have her use it as she would a knife for cutting.
If it comes from a need to feel pain, put your hands in ice water or hold an ice cube.
Breaking glass: Freeze water in a tray and have it ready. Feels very authentic.
If you self-injure and you don't want to, and want help stopping, a really good self-harm resources website is Ellama Highly recommended. Another is found at focusas.
"We live in the ____ area. Can you direct us to a therapist who specializes in MPD/DID?" "we are hopeing that you would help us find a therapist near us that will work with us i feel that we need an evaluation with a proffessional that beleaves in the disorder and who will treat us with respect."
Try the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation which has a database of therapists who serve MPD/dissociative disorder/PTSD/trauma recovery clients, and are sensitive to the special needs of multiples.
Many Voices: Many Voices Press published a guide called Many Voices/Multiple Choices listing DID/MPD/trauma recovery therapists nationwide. With the death of Lynn Wasnak&, Many Voices shut down. However, plans are underway to build a new site for Many Voices under the guidance of Lizabeth Casada. All back issues will be digitized, there will be new issues and a new online support community. If you contact Lizabeth or Diane Wasnak, please remind them of the importance of Many Voices/Multiple Choices and encourage them to continue it also.
Other support sites for abuse victims (not centered on multiple personality but should be sympathetic to it) include Rainn and Survivors of Incest Anonymous: if you were abused by clergy, go to Snap.
DID stands for Dissociative Identity Disorder. You can't say you are a disorder. You are multiple. You're sharing your body with other persons, a condition which has received an unfortunate label.
From Amorpha^S.W.: "You're a disorder, or you have a disorder? Even if your multiplicity is disordered, you aren't your diagnosis. No one calls an anorexic "an anorexia" or a schizophrenic "a schizophrenia." Why not just say you're a multiple?"
We urge our readers to please not use the term DID unless it is your official diagnosis, or you feel personally that you are one single person who has dissociated aspects of yourself, or that you were prompted by a therapist to believe you were multiple when you were not. Please check out what a famous doctor says about DID vs. MPD. Note that some other doctors do not agree with what he says here.
If you have multiple personality disorder, you can say "I (or we, or my system) have MPD".
If you have dissociative identity disorder, you can say "I have DID."
And you don't have to say "I am MPD" or "I am DID" when what you mean is "I am multiple."
It is inaccurate and psychologically self-sabotaging to refer to oneself in terms of one's diagnosis. Even if one actually has a problem that makes one uncomfortable, phrases like "I am OCD" or "I was diagnosed as being ADHD" pander to the therapy culture and the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture and market psychiatric drugs. It reinforces the idea that one never gets better. This is one place we approve of controversial "person first" language. Try to say "I am a person who has (or with, or I have) OCD". "I was diagnosed with ADHD."
"can you tell me what i can do to separate the diffrent personalities more? sorry if im wasting your time"
There's some really interesting material at Sarah Reese's website, in the chapter on Mapping Your System. Never minds the "parts" jazz, she doesn't know any better, but she lists many good ideas for getting to know one another, communicate and keep track.
Here's what multiple/autistic artist Bob King says about internal communication:
"Well, we couldn't maintain a diary to save our lives. We need to have someone to talk to, about something. Newsgroups and email lists worked better for us, and before then, BBS systems and Role-Playing games.
"RPG's in particular, are useful for Protector alters; come to think of it, all of our protectors have played a bit, at least. Not always in their own persona - it's not just useful for individuation, it's useful for skill-building and reaction training.
"This may well be one reason why DnD has been condemned as an Agent of The Devil that places Demons in the heads of Innocent Children. (snarl)
"The other major thing for us was, and is, artwork. We have at least a half-dozen recognisable individual styles. Talk about a reality check...
"Storytelling. Often a good way to share memories too; less brutal than just handing over a memory chip and saying, 'here, deal with it.'"
Thanks Bob... you can read more from Bob & co. at www.graphictruth.com, primarily a political site but welcomes articles on multiplicity. Also check out his autism rights material.
"I don't think my multiplicity is due to abuse, because I wasn't abused that bad. My father beats me but only when I get bad grades or tell lies. I wouldn't call that abuse. I was molested by a cousin, but only once, not badly enough to make anything like that happen. I think I am just multiple anyway."
We get letters like this all the time.
This is abuse. Whether you are multiple or not, if the above is anything like your situation, you are being abused. Parents have no business beating their kids and nobody has any business molesting anyone even "only once". What can you do? Find some way to get out of the abusive situation. Abuse hurts you, and if you have other people sharing your body, it hurts them too.
Please visit the following page and read what you find there:
"If I get to know all my other personalities, does that mean I'm integrated and no longer multiple?"
No. Communication and cooperation are not integration. They will, however, feel "healing" in a lot of ways by helping you and your cohabitants feel that life is better.
"My doctor says there are few real multiples. He says that if the personalities can communicate with each other, it's roleplaying, not true MPD."
Your doctor's full of prunes. Specifically, he is operating on an old medical/legalistic assumption that a multiple personality is one whose selves are not aware of one another's actions at all. In legal terms, this definition is used to claim a multiple personality defense (while frontrunner Cheryl took a nap, Brute and Glob got out and robbed a bank).
As is often the case, what happens in court has little to do with reality. There certainly are multiples who have little or no awareness of each other at all, but co-consciousness and communication do not negate multiplicity. Do you merge with your co-worker or next-door neighbour if you talk to them? Do they become any less of a person? Course not, and it's the same for multiples, too.
Communication is healthy. It makes the whole system stronger, and it lets you find ways to handle Brute and Glob (if any) and perhaps give them something better to do.
"Do you think crimes commited while you are another person are your responsibility?" ("While you are another person" undoubtedly was meant as "while someone other than yourself is fronting".)
"What if I don't like some of them? Some of them are pretty scary!"
They may be less scary when you get to know them. Anyway, in every family there's bound to be a few relatives you don't get along with.
Am I Multiple?
"How can I tell if I am multiple?"
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell. Some people have only a vague idea that they are not alone.
"What about these lists I see on other websites? What about the Dissociative Experiences Scale?"
The singlet male psychiatrists who came up with those lists were constrained by their own experiences and privilege -- similar to the men who came up with IQ and achievement tests -- and they were not immune to the influence of Hollywood. Many multiples never experience amnesia or blackouts of any kind. Forget about finding slutty clothes in the closet or waking up in Albuquerque. The United States of Tara is not reality, nor is Sybil.
Sometimes all you have is a vague feeling that you're not alone. Direct your attention toward those feelings when they arise. Think of things you can do to make others (if any) feel welcome, as you would guests or family. Take some quiet time (turn off TV, computer, etc.) to relax and think inviting thoughts. When you are doing something you enjoy you can mentally invite them to share it.
"I become different people when my emotions get to be too much, but I'm not sure I'm multiple."
The definitions of multiplicity have been greatly exaggerated by mental health professionals, and especially by Hollywood. There are multiples who never lose time, never have headaches, never feel bombarded with voices or memories, never have any of the classic signs you see on TV. The only way to find out is to be open to the idea of others -- talk to them, or leave notes for them, and see if they reply. (And do not be afraid if they do.)
"I keep hearing voices but I couldn't possibly be multiple."
Why not? What do the voices say? Did you ever try talking back to them? Hearing voices really is a part of several different mental and physical conditions, not all of which are psychotic. You could be multiple. Click here to check out the Hearing Voices Factsheet
Scroll down to "Finding Meaning In Voices", and remember, there are non-western cultures which consider hearing voices to be normal and not a sign of pathology. More on hearing voices as normal:Check out the Listening Cure: If you hear voices which bother you, try talking back to them. Whether you are multiple or not, British doctors are finding that this is helpful.
See also Intervoice. Some people hear music!
"I feel as if there are others sharing my body with me. But I don't hear voices."
We don't hear voices. Lots of multiples don't. If you feel there are others sharing your body, you are multiple as far as we are concerned. But you have to be the one to decide for sure.
"I sort of feel like I might be multiple but sort of not. I feel like I'm somewhere in between." "Is there such a thing as borderline multiplicity?"
Some people describe that experience as "median".
"What is median? I also hear the word 'mid-continuum'."
To be median is to be neither multiple nor singlet. Many people feel the idea of a continuum from singlethood to plurality to be inaccurate, so are seeking a term to replace mid-continuum (which was originally about dissociation).
Probably the main characteristic distinguishing medians from singlets and multiples is the presence of more than one person in the body, but without the independence of persons in a multiple system. Persons in a median system may be dependent upon a single individual (who may have created them at some point), and unable to exist without that central person. Some people in a hosting situation might think of themselves as median. Others describe something like Kiya's situation. A median might feel that something like "there are many of us, but we are really all Karen" or "aspects of Karen" is close to an accurate description for them.
(Beware: many therapists will tell members of multiple systems that they have no independent validity but are really all aspects of the frontrunner or host, or whomever he (the therapist) believes to be such. "You're really all Karen, you know." If you do not feel that this is true for your system, be true to your experience before taking a therapist's word for it -- he is, after all, outside your system, and very probably a singlet, one who has never experienced multiplicity and doesn't know much about what it can be like.)
People often mistakenly think must call themselves median or midcontinuum because:
the frontrunner(s) is/are aware of what's going on at all times. That may just mean there's good continuity and communication between the frontrunner(s) and the others.
their system or group wasn't trauma-created.
the people in the group did not originate with one mind which split or gave birth to other minds.
the group experiences being a gateway system, or experiences everyone in the group as fictives or walk-ins.
This diagram by Lucas and Malik of the Blackbirds may help to illustrate the relationships between the multiple / median / singlet experiences. Note that it's fluid, not static -- you might move between various states at different times of your life -- and accounts for groups who feel they are both median and multiple, or median and singlet, etc.
"Median isn't sharing a common memory or the front having traits of its own or fronting through a body-based filter, that's just a common part of many multiple systems. Median is a fuzzy state between single and multiple, a single identity made up of multiple identities." -- lj-personasystem
If you're not familiar with the terminology used in this paragraph, look it up in the glossary.
"I've seen multiples on the internet and it seems like they all cut themselves. I don't want to think of myself as multiple because I would have to start cutting or otherwise injuring myself."
"I just found out my roommate / stepson / co-worker is a multiple - how can I help?"
Why assume they need help? Just get to know them as people. If they are in distress or having trouble organizing their system, your respecting them as individuals -- showing that you feel they're capable of rational thought and behaviour -- is probably the most helpful thing you can do.
There is a support board for friends and family of people with multiple personalities at Multorum Animos.
"If somone is in a system, does one normally date/mate all of them, or just the one... or is she the girlfriend to X amount of people?)"
This is controversial. Most people seem to report the experience that they are dating one person in the group, and the others are like getting to know that person's friends, roommates or family members.
"My girlfriend has multiple personalities. What do I do when we're having sex and the six-year-old comes out?"
What would you tell a six-year-old sister or daughter of your friend if she came in without knocking while you guys were being intimate?
"But the six-year-old wants to have sex. Isn't that inappropriate?"
Ask your girlfriend.
"If I am dating someone who is multiple and later become intimate with another person in his system, am I cheating on him?"
What kind of relationship did you guys agree you wanted to have at the outset... did you want to be exclusive, or did you agree to an open relationship in which it's all right to date other people? It doesn't matter if the other guy is a person in his system or a separate physical individual. All kinds of relationships can work... open, exclusive, whatever. The key is communication and agreeing on what kind of relationship you want and sticking to it. Or if you want to change it later, negotiation.
"I love my girlfriend very much. How can I relate to the people in her group with respect and compassion?"
By seeing them all as individuals with thoughts and feelings and attitudes of their own, some of them very different from your girlfriend's. By proceeding from the assumption that they are strong, capable and responsible human beings.
"Somedays it is frustrating for me to see the body of the person I love, but it is someone that hates me and wants to leave me or perhaps it is one of the littles and I see this adult playing with toys and acting like a 5 year old."
"In the first place, your adult SO cannot be said to be acting. If a five-year-old is up front, she is 5 years old. They are not all your SO acting like someone or something else. They are the people they are. Don't be confused by the fact that the body remains an adult one, that it doesn't change when the people do. Young persons in multiple systems are not pretending to be children. This is not a game; this is not "I'm bored, I think I'll act like a kid now." They are people.. being who they are."
Again, our thanks to the Idian Shire for their clarity of thought and language.
And this from Netdancer:
"If someone tells you that they are something, laughing at them or ignoring them or being rude enough to tell them that they aren't is also very invalidating. If someone says they are eight years old, treat them as a child. If someone tells you they are a vampire, or an elf, or a dragon or a demon, they are telling you that because that is what they are inside their Paradigm. They're trusting you with the information." Much more here)
"Everybody has different sides to their personality."
That's quite true, and it's true of persons in multiple systems also. People's different aspects can even have names. The difference is that in multiplicity we're talking about distinct and fully realised individuals. This is not just about behaving differently when you're with your kids than when you're at work. We are not talking switching gears in your head -- we're talking about separate engines.
"I think my daughter's therapist is just making her think she's got all these other personalities. I never saw her behave in any way that would indicate she had different people inside, until she started seeing this quack." (Yes, we really did get this in an email.)
Multiple groups are perfectly capable of pretending to be single people. It can be written into their personal operating system from an early age. Like all children, they'll conform their behavior to what they see around them. Your daughter's therapist may not be such a quack. He may be giving the people in her group permission to express themselves as individuals for the first time in their lives. Try getting to know them as people.
"my mother in law has dissociative disorder, and she has 10 personalities. In a few weeks they are going to begin to try to intergrate them ... 5 of them are heavy Satan worshippers, and the other 5 live by the word of God."
Diversity in religious belief is a cornerstone of many systems. As long as they're not hurting themselves or anyone else, what's the problem? (P.S. Are you sure they are Satan worshippers and not just pagans or Wiccans or something?) Why don't you visit the Ontario Centre for Religious Tolerance or BeliefNetand find out more about what your wife's selves believe? We also have a Religion Page that links to many world religions so you can judge what they have to say for themselves.
"We were also wondering if this obsticle could prevent them from joining together as 1."
Who knows? Ask them!
"I'm writing a novel where one of the main characters has MPD."
Mazeltov. We're writing one where one of the main characters is a singlet.
Please don't base your judgement of multiplicity, or these pages, on Sybil or on the real-life Shirley Mason. She was not a typical multiple personality, and many aspects of her case are controversial. We carry this information only because so many people have written to us asking for it.
http://www.sybilsfriend.com Sybil's friend and student Nancy L. Preston created this nice tribute site and wrote the book After Sybil. You will find that the truth about Shirley Ardell Mason is a lot more beautiful and interesting than the novel or films.
"What is the controversy about Shirley Ardell Mason, the real person on whom Sybil was based?"
After her death, some people came forth claiming that Shirley Mason had not really been multiple and presenting some dubious evidence that supposedly proved her therapist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, had talked her into it. From all we can ascertain, these men have heard some badly recorded audio tapes, and have decided that Wilbur was guiding or directing Shirley to be multiple. Actually, Wilbur was informing Shirley about evidence of phenomena and selves she had already witnessed in her counseling sessions with Shirley. She had already made tapes of Shirley's spontaneously dissociating during therapy sessions without hypnosis, and the voices of her other selves. Shirley was amnesiac for the others, but they had been coming front in the sessions and talking to Dr. Wilbur for a long time before the session which resulted in the so-called "smoking gun" tape.
"Do you have any further information on the proposed film about the real Sybil, Shirley Ardell Mason?"
All articles about Shirley Mason on our website, including information about her life, the controversy surrounding her multiplicity and therapy, the documentary film, and sales of Shirley's art are at our section on Sybil. When new information comes to us, we post it there immediately.
Please note that Shirley Mason was not a typical multiple personality and that her case remains controversial. We provide this information only because we have been flooded with email requests for it.
To get a sense of what Shirley Ardell Mason was really like, you should read Sybil In Her Own Words: The Untold Story of Shirley Mason, Her Multiple Personalities and Paintings by Dr. Patrick Suraci, and Nancy L. Preston's wonderful memoir After Sybil.
"Do you have any photographs of Shirley Mason showing her different selves?"
The only photograph we have of Shirley Mason is the one at the top of each of our articles about her. Nancy's got a couple more on her website. Other than common publicity shots, we have no photographs of other multiples.
"Where online can I read about the childhood of Shirley Ardell Mason? Is there a site to find info on her dramatic events?"
There is not much online about Shirley Ardell Mason. Her childhood as described in the Sybil DVD, Sybil book and film, may be loosely based on fact, but much has been added or embellished for dramatic effect.
"Did you know Shirley Mason or Dr. Wilbur personally?"
"How can I contact Dr. Cornelia Wilbur?"
Unfortunately, Dr. Wilbur died in 1992.
"I understand that the personal papers of Dr. Cornelia Wilbur were opened in 2005. Will they be open to the public?"
Not to our knowledge. However, there is no reason to believe that the general public will be allowed access to Cornelia Wilbur's personal papers. There is still no word on when or if Cornelia Wilbur's professional records will be opened, and it is likely that this will not happen anytime soon due to issues of client confidentiality. Additionally, it is our understanding that Dr. Wilbur kept very incomplete records, and sometimes did not keep charts or records on her clients at all. Any information we gather on Shirley Ardell Mason and Dr. Cornelia Wilbur will be posted to our section on Sybil.
Interview with Truddi& -- Partial transcript of one of their interviews with Oprah Winfrey, including a summary of their lives at the time of interview: The Troops Today.
"Do Truddi Chase & the Troops have another book?"
Yes. The book is called The Creature of Habit and it is out now. Their daughter Kari (Page in the book) worked for two years to prepare her mother&'s manuscript in a format for publication. "I joined the Rehoboth Beach Writer's Guild to build insight on how one even goes about these things. I contacted Penguin, who published When Rabbit Howls, and found myself chasing my own tail trying to get this beautiful book into the hands of someone who could help me fulfill my mother's dream."
"Is there any way I can locate and view the video of therapy sessions with Truddi Chase& and Dr. Phillips? If not, is there any video out there I can view on MPD? I know enough about the disorder, I would prefer to see a patient or the changes that take place when switching to different personalities." (Yes, we really did get this inquiry in an email.)
According to the Troops, the videos that were made of the group's therapy sessions were meant to be shown to members of a class or classes that Robert A. Phillips taught, probably one of the following. He taught "Diagnosis and Treatment of Sex Offenders" at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Office of Continuing Education in Baltimore, February 21-22, 1985; "Sexual Assault: The Psychology of the Offender, Assessment and Treatment" at Forensic Mental Health Associates in Baltimore, November 25-26, 1985, and a workshop on "Difficult Problems in Sexual Abuse Evaluation and Treatment" at the Harborview Sexual Assault Center, Seattle, and at the Chesapeake Institute, Kensington, Maryland, September 8, 1986. None of his taped sessions with Truddi Chase have ever been released to the public. A very short clip was shown on Oprah. We have no contact information for Dr. Phillips. There is a fan website for Dr. Phillips, however.
In our experience, both as a multiple and having known ten other multiples personally (five of them extremely well) -- that is, not on line -- the concept that there are perceivable changes that take place when there's a change of frontrunners is cinematic rather than fact-based. When Joanne Woodward was preparing for Three Faces of Eve, she viewed NIMH films of multiples and could detect no discernible behavior indicating a switch. She chose to bow her head to indicate a change, but this is a theatrical gesture, not based on reality. It might be very difficult to find what you're looking for. If you get to know a multiple personally, and if they trust you enough to let you see different people, you might be able to distinguish one from another, but you may never see discernible behavior at changeover.
Also, dramatic presentations such as Three Faces of Eve, Sybil or United States of Tara should not be viewed as educational: that is, you should not be watching these pictures to learn "how a real multiple acts" or as modeling behavior characteristic or desirable for a multiple.
"What is Billy Milligan doing now?"
Billy Milligan (& group) died December 12, 2014 in a Columbus, Ohio hospice. He had lived a quiet and reclusive life for the past six years. After his mother passed two years ago, he was diagnosed with aggressive sarcoma cancer and decided against treatment.
We knew Milligan & group slightly, mostly through email, and they were/he was always kind and courteous to us.
For many years, Milligan& were working on a film called "The Crowded Room", based on their life story. They worked with Danny DeVito, and at one time hoped to cast Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy.
To the best of our knowledge, Milligan& remained multiple their entire lives and learned to handle it successfully. As their therapist, the late Dr. David Caul, said: "It seems to me that after treatment you want a functional unit, be it a corporation, a partnership, or a one-owner business".
"What's the status of the movie about Billy Milligan?"
2021: Tom Holland has been cast as Billy in a streaming-TV version of The Crowded Room, but this is not the same as the long-planned film version. It is part of an Apple TV+ series, with season one based on Billy Milligan's story, written and produced by Akiva Goldsman and described as "a gripping anthology series that will explore the true and inspirational stories of those who have struggled and learned to successfully live with mental illness." Season 1 is ten episodes presenting Billy's story (or what's left of it after the usual show business mayhem).
Unlike previous actors who prepared to play Milligan, Tom Holland never met Billy and was not trained by him to play a multiple.
Even those of us who knew Billy Milligan & group, and knew that their multiplicity was real, recognized that they could be aggressive, sometimes violent. Members of that system were gifted painters and musicians, but also had a reputation as con artists. Again, this series will reflect on every multiple in society. If you want to speak your mind about whether or not this film should even be made, please answer Aynetal's "A Crowded Room" Questionnaire:
Joel Schumacher, according to Variety, has signed on as the latest in a long series of directors. Todd Field, James Cameron, Nick Cassavetes, Gus Van Sant, and Steven Soderbergh also wanted to direct this. In February 2015, Leonardo diCaprio announced that he would be producing and starring in A Crowded Room. DiCaprio was trained by Milligan to enact this type of role.
As of April 13, 2010: Billy (himself) told us he is arranging to self-publish The Milligan Wars online as a free e-book. This is probably still going to happen sooner or later, if his sister decides to go ahead with it. When it goes up we'll let you know.
"Where can I buy multiple personality, dissociative identity disorder books and films? ....."
Please buy your books on multiplicity through our books page!
"Please add my book to your book list."
If your book is about trauma, crisis, survivorship and dissociation, and doesn't focus on being multiple, there are much more appropriate book lists than ours for that kind of thing, including an excellent professional one, http://www.sidran.org.
"Are you a health care professional?/ Are you a mental health professional?"
No. Our education mostly consists of English and American literature, folklore, anthropology and American history. We have a bachelor's degree in English. We have an extensive background in volunteer radio, audio production, and amateur journalism. Andy has some paralegal training. Our work experience is about evenly divided between clerical positions and self-employment. See our note on occupations below.
"When were you diagnosed?"
"If you have never been diagnosed as a multiple, how do you know you are?"
Because we've been aware of each other -- even if only as vague presences -- for our entire lives.
"I find it very strange that someone who has never been in therapy and never been diagnosed as a multiple is claiming to be so knowledgeable about it and has so many STRONG opinions about the subject."
Why is it so strange? Do you really think the mental health system has the patent on multiplicity? Or on strong opinions for that matter? Do you place so little value on personal experience?
We find it very strange that mental health professionals who may never have been in therapy themselves and have certainly never been diagnosed as multiple are claiming to be so knowledgeable and have so many strong opinions on a subject of which they have had no personal experience.
Take our word for it. We're here, we're multiple, get used to it.
"Are you saying you've never had any psychological problems or hangups? That you've never needed help from anyone?"
Absolutely not. Everyone in this world has psychological problems and hangups, and we are no exception. These problems did not have to do with our being multiple. We didn't enter psychotherapy because we couldn't afford it and because we had friends and family and each other, all better listeners than any mental health professional for the issues we were experiencing. As stated above, we are still in talk therapy. We said nothing about being multiple to our first counselor but came out to the second one. Currently we have a counselor for stress management who is very good with practical advice and we have had no need to come out to them.
"What gives you the right to speak on these issues?"
We are multiple. We are a group of people sharing a body. We have our own experience to draw on plus that of friends and others who have corresponded with us. The information in this FAQ is taken from those sources.
"You act like you have all the answers."
If we thought we did, we wouldn't link to other pages or sell all those books (most of which we don't agree with).
Seriously, we are still learning too. This faq and the whole Astraea site have evolved over the 20 years (OMG!) we have been doing it, both to reflect our own experiences and those of the people who contribute to our knowledge by writing emails to us. Even the site design has changed as we try to reach different audiences with different approaches. (For people who remember the old design with the dark background and capital letters, CONTROVERSY and so on -- that was the suggestion of a singlet friend! He thought it'd remind readers coming in from, say, Mosaic Minds or WeRMany, that multiplicity wasn't something that could be boxed, labeled, packaged and pigeonholed, but had many unknown factors.)
Eeww! "Are you an anti-vaxxer? Your whole site seems kind of 'out there'.
Absolutely not. GET THE VACCINE. DON'T RISK YOURSELF OR YOUR LOVED ONES, COWORKERS, OR ANYBODY ELSE. GET THE DAMNED VACCINE. There is plenty to distrust about the medical establishment (for one thing, the way women's serious illnesses and pregnancy complications are discounted or dismissed as hysterical or "just stress" -- especially black and Native American women) but at the same time there are risks in everything. And for the record, vaccination doesn't cause autism. Make your doctor explain things to you in plain language. And if he doesn't, or dismisses your concerns, go to another doctor who will take you seriously.
"It doesn't make any sense. All multiples experienced some kind of abuse in childhood."
Did we say we were never abused? No. Never assume that "not created by trauma" = "has no experience of trauma."
Many multiples report that they were multiple before any abuse took place, and some were abused more because they were multiple-- being punished/sent to mental wards/drugged for 'inconsistent behaviour,' 'lying,' 'inability to tell fantasy from reality,' etc. Chris Costner-Sizemore was never abused as a child until she began trying to explain to her parents that another person was responsible for bad acts seemingly committed by herself.
All PEOPLE have experienced some form of abuse or trauma in childhood. American society is inherently brutal, particularly towards women. Much of Western culture is based on violence and violation. If trauma caused multiplicity everyone would be multiple. Read about our truth before deciding we are in some kind of denial.
Our difficulties came from several things: the way multiples are treated by society, and spending years trying to ignore each other (trying to become "normal") instead of acknowledging each other's reality and working together in cooperation.
Another source of childhood difficulty was undiagnosed autism. We were finally recognized as being mildly autistic (not "Asperger syndrome") in the 1980s. (Our diagnosis was unofficial and came from Dr. Bernard Rimland.) Our shared brain is autistic, and anyone who comes front has to work with that. Some of us are more affected by the autism than others, and some are more successful at coping with it than others.
"I am afraid you have allowed yourself to be exploited by unethical therapists who have talked you into believing that you are multiple."
No professional has ever told us we were multiple. We are persons in our own right, answerable only to one another.
"Please be careful, through this web site, you could be open to further abuse by others."
Why do you think we don't give personal information about ourselves?
"My biggest fear is that you may really be in denial and someone or something may come along and snatch this rug from up under you."
Your -biggest- fear? Check your priorities.
"I think I can help you."
"I don't believe in MPD."
A lot of people don't, and you're perfectly entitled to your opinion. With all the misconceptions, half truth and mind rot out there, we can easily see why people do not believe it's possible for many minds to share a body.
However, think about this: If we were merely roleplaying or acting, pretty soon we'd get tired of it. Nobody can go on acting out a role forever. Actors periodically tire even of method acting, yet neither singlets nor persons in groups are known to tire of being themselves. Also, watch a multiple system over a period of time. You will see that persons in the group are complex persons in themselves. This would be very difficult to fake. The most convincing characteristic of multiplicity is the effortless lifelong persistence of selves.
"Is the body you are in male or female?"
"How old is your host?"
We don't have one. We don't run on that kind of operating system. We have a lot of what the literature calls presenting selves, people who take turns frontrunning. Our body was born in the 1950s.
"How many alters do you have?"
None. People in our group are not alters. To us, the word suggests alternate, and therefore less valid, not to be taken seriously. Not every multiple system starts out with one original person. (See the Glossary for more on this and other terminology:
"Alright, how many people in your system"?
We stopped counting at fifty. With larger-population groups it seems to matter less how many people there are than what they are like in general. At any time in our group, there are anywhere from five to twenty people who take turns doing most of the frontrunning. You will find that a lot of larger-population groups have a kind of frontrunning "staff".
"I remember when you called living multiple a 'household'."
The frontrunners in this system, for many years, experienced each other as having a lot of friends who lived in large rooming houses. When we were in college, we had friends who were members of the Creative Anachronists and these people called such an arrangement a "household". That is where it comes from.
Recently we've taken to calling it a group instead. Other people use words like system, clan, collective, group, colony, formation, collection, family. Whatever works.
"Do you have memories of your childhood, or are there periods you can't account for?"
We have quite clear memories of our childhood, good and bad, which have been confirmed by relatives. Jay and Jason kept careful records of everything, much of it in diaries.
Rather than forgetting, when anything bad happened in our lives, we always felt that the key was to remember. We actually told each other never forget. And we never did.
"Can you remember things that other people in the system do?"
Yes, we have a common memory pool where everything important is stored -- especially important events and common skills of daily life. As we get older physically, our access to the pool sometimes goes off, and for the first time in our lives we are having to keep do-lists and calendars instead of carrying it all in our heads. We probably need to do this more than we already are, as some of us are having senior moments.
"What is it like in your head -- lots of conversations?"
Yeah, and music. A lot of the conversation does not take place in words but in whole concepts and thought-images.
"What are the characteristics that most distinguish each of your selves that would indicate a different self is out?"
Body language and vocal mannerisms.
"Do you have any selves that you don't like or wish didn't exist?"
"What about the constant struggle for dominance, the inner wars that are common to multiples?"
That experience has been oversold by the popular literature, which is highly tarted up so that it will sell (including Sybil -- in fact, especially Sybil). One reason our frontrunners didn't believe we were multiple is that we never experienced a struggle for dominance. We didn't have inner wars. We cooperated, we were friends, even loved each other, and that was simply not documented at the time. Get rid of the "struggle for dominance" concept now; many groups who claim a high amount of in-house conflict do so in order to fit the mold and be believed by therapists and others.
Iris once commented that "in our House, it is more likely to be an inner pillow fight, then cocoa and marshmallows all around."
"Do you have a diverse group of friends, interests, or occupations?"
In general we have a very wide range of interests and occupations. Our friendships are few, but strong and deep.
"Do you have any/many non-multiple friends?"
Yes. Not many, however. We like to be out to our friends whoever they are, and there are not many singlets that we can trust enough to be out to them. We very much cherish the ones we have.
"Do you have family... parents, significant other, cat, dog, goldfish, job?"
Yes, to all except the dog and the goldfish.
They wouldn't get along well with the kitties.
"Is one of you more ever present than the others?"
Some of us are more used to being present (up front, fronting) than others. At any given time, there are about ten frontrunners -- that is, ten people who are available to use the body and be present and run things. There are others who like to kind of hang around right behind the frontrunners and kibbitz, tease, offer suggestions, etc. (a "peanut gallery"). Others never get that near the front but spend all of their time back on the homeworld. That doesn't mean they're not concerned about what goes on -- some are and some aren't. They can send messages from there.
"When you are in a public setting, could anyone tell you are multiple?"
No. They might think we had kind of an expressive or creative presentation if they heard our different voices. Or they might simply think we were very fond of a lot of things. People who know about us can tell who's up, mostly by changes in body language and vocal mannerisms.
"Is there a main you, YOU there to whom you retreat to be more "centered"?"
No, a subjective place, our homeworld. We have no host or core self.
"Do your clothes change with the presence of one gender or another?"
No, we all wear jeans and shirts. Actually the men are inclined to dress up a bit more than the women. Back on the home planet, there are many places where men wear a straight skirt, a long gown over trousers, or a sarong-like wrap, so if you see us wearing a skirt it might be one of the guys. Jade has an old hat that is often borrowed by some of the others, and she jokes that she wears it the least even though it's hers.
"Are you all there simultaneously or are you all manifest at different times? If different times, how long do they stay present for?"
It's pretty loose. See our answer on frontrunners. Some people are better at handling certain tasks and situations than others.
"How long has each person been with you-or, in general, were you all there when you were a child, or have people come on board since?"
Since there's a homeworld and people come and go, we assume at least some of them have been around. We have six people that we know of who did come aboard later (Davey, Andy, Iris, Colin, Katra and Jermaine). There are probably a lot more.
It isn't hard to keep work -- our self-employments and contract jobs. But for several reasons, not all of which have to do with being multiple or autistic, we don't fit well in the conventional jobplace and as a result, rent income is a problem -- just as with many creative or unconventional singlet people.
"when you are outside at work or something do you have to change your voice to sound like the person they expect to hear?"
Quite often, we have to use a "public voice", which we've tailored over the years to sound like an inoffensive generic female. The men have to remember to lighten it up so they don't sound like a truck driver.
"Is it hard to keep relationships outside the body?"
Not really. We've got friends, both singlet and multiple, some of whom we are out to and others we wouldn't dream of telling. We're pretty much loners anyway. We've had enough of outside people around us, mostly singlets, telling us what to do, trying to control us and get us to behave in what they consider to be a normal fashion. We'd prefer to live alone or with someone (singlet or plural) who gets it about us and cuts us a certain amount of slack.
"Do you also have an exceptional IQ?"
"Do you get lonely?"
We have periodically experienced communications loss and cannot feel or "hear" one another, which can become very lonely, especially if one person becomes stuck at front and cannot return to the homeworld, giving control of the body to someone else.
When things are working properly, we don't necessarily depend on having other physical persons around all the time. We do, after all, have one another... we are real presences to each other, so you might say we have never been alone in our lives. So it becomes rather restful to be physically alone. Physical privacy is valued by us. On the other hand, we cherish our friends deeply, and we are in a committed relationship. It means a great deal to us to know that our significant other (who is also plural) is there.
"How long does it take to cycle through 'persons'?"
Take the quotation mark from around "persons", and we'll like it even better. In this group, we employ a good deal of co-running and and co-presence -- two or more people sharing the body or watching what is going on at the front. Under these circumstances, an actual change from one main frontrunner to another may be a matter of a second or two (usually longer these days). If the person who comes up front next is further away from the front at the time, there may be some time lapse. No one observing us would notice a thing.
"Can you travel astrally to someone else's body?"
We have experienced traveling from our own subjective reality and visiting the worlds of others, but it's all subjective and there's no real way to verify any of it. We don't think of it as "astral" since that means something specific to us which we don't believe any of us have experienced. See the section on other worlds for details.
"When you become 'someone else' do you know what's happening? Are you the one speaking or is your body taken over as if you were watching a movie... or do you just black out?"
Chris Costner-Sizemore talked in her book I'm Eve about blanking out to the point that she sometimes feared she might disappear or die. We don't have that, and it's one reason we did not believe for years that "multiple personality" could describe our experience.
As we don't have a main person or main front (some groups do - ask), it is not any one person's body but is shared. The "watching a movie" effect occurs, for us, when someone is co-present and the mental data recorder for some reason picks up the perspective of the co-present person rather than the actual frontrunner (person using the body). There is also a sensation of being oneself, with one's own body and appearance, "looking out through the body's eyes", when things are going well. The frontrunner is the one speaking and identifies as him- or herself. He or she may receive messages from other people who are not at front -- messages to whoever is front ("Gabe says don't forget to take out the trash") or to people outside the body. There is no blackout for us, and we rarely have the sensation that the body is being "taken over" by the next frontrunner. We do remember what happened, even if we're not always sure who it happened to.
"How many multiples have you seen in a single body?"
By "multiples" you probably mean persons. We've known several gateway systems, two with connections to several inhabited planets or dimensions, but we have not actually met every single person in those groups. So.. theoretically, several billion. Frontrunning? Perhaps thirty.
"What do you think of the book series K-Pax (also was turned into a movie)"
"From the sites I've been reading, it seems many of you are upset that you are mislabled and misunderstood.. besides doing websites, why don't you try to do something about it? I can't imagine how it feels to not be accepted by todays society... oh wait, what am I saying... it seems none of us are accepted, but you all especially so."
Astraea is an online handle -- it comes from the fact that we had to have a username on the anonymous email service we were using in 1995. We wanted to use "star" because it's sort of generic, but "star" was taken and a friend suggested "astra". This reminded us of Astraea, Greek goddess of justice and self-respect, whom we admired in a long-ago painting, so that's what we used. It is not how we think of ourselves.
Being multiple is one of the most healthy things about us. We don't fit the profile. We knew we were us at an early age. If we exist, other multiples like us exist. Thus the writings, which begat the website. Sure enough, they came out of the closet.
The booklist is Iris Nicholes' creation, and is constantly being updated, so check back frequently.
Any article written by Jade or Jason Greenwillow, Anthony Temple, Faith Christophe or Iris Nicholes or any other member of House Astraea are public domain and free to be used by anyone. That includes this FAQ. You'll see a notice about this at the bottom of articles we've written. Please credit the authors and mention our URL, http://www.astraeasweb.net/plural.
For articles written by anyone else, you'll have to contact them directly. Email addresses are given as often as possible, look at the beginning or end of each article.
"Wow, this all sounds awesome! Being multiple must be really cool! You're lucky!"
Being multiple and being singlet probably have the same number of advantages and disadvantages. The really difficult part about being multiple is not being able to be honest with others about it, because of misconceptions and negative views of multiplicity. Healthy multiplicity is rarely heard of, likely because most healthy multiples are in the closet and would lose jobs, families, etc. if their multiplicity were discovered. Swiped from shadowechoes house -- thanks, guys.
"So what is Astraea's Web really about?"
Mostly, we want to let people know that there is an alternative to the DID/MPD, trauma/dissociation/splitting model; that being multiple is not always a serious mental illness; that functional and happy multiple lives are lived, hence livable. We hope to make a difference to the public view of multiplicity also.
"In an ideal world, how would the public view of multiplicity change as a result of your influence?"
It's not just our influence. There are other multiples on line now who have views similar to our own and speak out on these issues. In fact, we believe that the most influential independent multiple web-presence ever was the old Dark Personalities site and discussion group run by the Anachronic Army. While the Army have moved on to other things, former members of the discussion group continue to speak openly about their experiences online and we host a few of the Army's old articles.
Ideally, the words written by these other groups and by ourselves will represent a revolution in thinking about multiplicity. In the not too distant future, people will recognize that multiplicity is a natural state of being. Many of us will choose to be out of the closet as recognized, empowered members of society; as rock singers, newscasters, students, artists, journalists, ministers, statesmen, policemen, firefighters, teachers, mothers and fathers. You will hear positive references to multiple systems on radio and television news. The names of out groups will become like the names of rock bands. People will begin referring to "Joyce Brown, of the Stewardship household" or "John Smith and Melanie Jones, of the Mandala system."
It will happen in your lifetime. Get ready.
How Can I Help?
"Oh, I get it...You're real people just like me, who just happen to be in the same body."
"How can I help explain this to other people?"
Oh, we love it when people ask that! Have some chocolate!
There are several things you can do:
You can speak to people, when appropriate, clarifying what multiplicity is and isn't.
You can direct people to The Layman's Guide to Multiplicity as well as to this FAQ. The Layman's Guide
The Blackbirds have provided a simple brochure giving brief facts in clear fashion. Download this, print as many copies as you like, and leave it where people will find it. You can also give or send it to mental health professionals. The Layman's Guide Brochure (PDF)
You can join Plural Activism, a discussion group for multiple personality activism in the real world. Open to singlets, multiples, median /midcontinuum people, and the unsure and in between of every variety, the only requirement is the willingness to act in support of respect and equality for multiples. Plural Voices (PDF) is the official newsletter.
You can give people the http address for this FAQ.
You can link to it from your web page (we'll give you a cute little sticker for it). Copy the text in the textarea and paste it to your web page.
link to: http://www.astraeasweb.net/plural/faq.html
Right-click on this image and save it to your own computer. Upload it to your photobucket account or whatever, and link it from there.
Use the code in this box.
The Layman's Guide to Plurality: A substantial booklet by the Blackbirds, with guest appearances by people from other systems. Very much under construction. You may contribute to the Guide by writing to pavilion at karitas dot net, or use our mail form . If you use the mail form, you can be anonymous. It is not necessary to know HTML to contribute to the Guide. Layman's Guide
If you find this doesn't answer your questions, please feel free to send us mail at use our mail form . Thanks!
We appreciate that many of our readers wish to be anonymous. But if you have a question for us, please provide us with an email address so we can answer your question.
Andy Temple, Jay Young, Gabe Ragland, John Shaobek
HTMLized by Jordan E.L. Chen, who is up way too late.
I AM INTERN3T KING AND I WIN
All writings by members of House Astraea are COPYRIGHT FREE. Permission to link to, manipulate, publish and/or mention in print (paper, electronic, etc.) any material written by members of House Astraea is granted. Any re-broadcast, reproduction or retransmission of the pictures, descriptions, and accounts of this game without express written consent of Major League Baseball is encouraged. Please credit Astraeasweb.net as the source.
And in my mind I still need a place to go, All my changes were there. Neil Young
Astraea's Web. Information by, for and about healthy plurals. Changing minds since 1995.
All writings by members of House Astraea are COPYRIGHT FREE. Permission to link to, manipulate, publish and/or mention in print (paper, electronic, etc.) any material written by members of House Astraea is granted. Any re-broadcast, reproduction or retransmission of the pictures, descriptions, and accounts of this game without express written consent of Major League Baseball is encouraged. Please credit Astraeasweb.net as the source.
Created on... September 19, 1995
This version created on ... September 14, 2007
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natural multiple personality, MPD/DID, multiple personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder, multiple personality, sybil, milligan, united states of tara