From Otherkin Wiki
Four overlapping rings similar to a venn diagram
The Plural Rings, a common symbol for plurality

Plurality is the state of being more than one consciousness or entity in one physical body.[1] A group of entities experiencing plurality is most often called a system.

There are many experiences that can be called plural. One example is the dissociative disorders: Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), otherwise specified dissociative disorder (OSDD), and partial dissociative identity disorder (p-DID). There also exist various forms of healthy multiplicity[2] or systems who otherwise reject the medical model for various reasons. Some subcultures such as tulpamancy, soulbonding and daemonism can be considered plural experiences. However, many of these communities have separate origins and their own terminology, and many members do not use the plural framework.

Experiences[edit | edit source]

Many systems have the ability to change which system member is controlling the body, also known as switching. The member who is in control is said to be fronting.

Another common experience is the existence of an inner world where members not controlling the body reside.[3]

Some systems have members who are or are based on fictional entities or others in their system which are nonhuman.

Systems may or may not be able to communicate internally with each other, and may or may not have segregated memories or amnesia.[4]

Terminology[edit | edit source]

People have had various different words for plurality over time. Multiple or multiplicity was among the first used in the early community,[5] and is still widely used today. In multiple systems the members are discrete, while in median (or midcontiuum) systems the members are less so. "Plurality" is specifically used to encompass this full spectrum.[6]

A group of entities sharing a body is typically called a system, but other words such as "collective" may be used.

A person in a plural system might be called a system member, headmate, alter, or pluran.[7] Some systems may also come up with their own terminology. The term "alter" in relation to system members was coined by medical professionals and is short for "alternate personality" and therefore may be considered dehumanizing by systems.[8][9] However, the term still sees frequent use by systems who have DID or otherwise see their plurality through a medical lens.[9]

A person who is not plural is called a singlet.[1]

Types of plurality or plural subcultures[edit | edit source]

Plurality may be divided into several forms and as a broad experience also has several subcultures. People have attempted to categorize plurality based on origin or type,[10] which has been the source of some controversy.[11][12]

Median[edit | edit source]

Median (formerly and still sometimes called midcontinuum) describes a system, or members of a system, who are not fully discrete. They can be described as existing somewhere between singlet and multiple.[13][14] This is normally opposed to the term multiple, when the members of a system are separate and distinct.[15] Members of a median system are sometimes called facets. Fictional entities in a median system may call themselves fableings.[16]

Dissociative Disorders[edit | edit source]

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a disordered form of plurality. According to the DSM-V, it is characterized by two or more distinct personality states (alters) and recurrent amnesia. It causes distress or impairment and is neither caused by cultural norms nor external substances or conditions.[17]

When these criteria are only partially met, then a system may be diagnosed with otherwise specified dissociative disorder (OSDD) type 1.[18] The DSM-IV lists the subcategories of OSDD-1a and OSDD-1b. These are not present in the DSM-V but are still used by the community. OSDD-1a occurs with amnesia but either no alters or nondistinct alters while OSDD-1b occurs with distinct alters but no amnesia.[19]

Soulbonding[edit | edit source]

Soulbonding is the act of forming a mental connection with a fictional entity. Normally, the soulbond takes a form in one's mindscape or head as an autonomous entity. A soulbond of one's own character may be called a muse.[20][21] Soulbonds may have a permanent presence here, return to their world occasionally, or be permanently present in their world with a mental link to the soulbonder.[20] This is the subculture from which the term "fictive" originated.[22]

Tulpamancy[edit | edit source]

Tulpamancy is the practice of creating a separate autonomous, sapient entity, known as a tulpa, within one's brain.[23][24] The word 'tulpa' is an uncommon alternate transliteration of the Tibetan verb 'sprul-pa' (also 'sprul skul' or 'tülku'), which is used as a noun in Mahãyãna Buddhism to describe a manifestation of an enlightened being. The practice of tulpamancy itself has its roots in western theosophism and the latter's concept of thought-forms, entities created in one's thoughts.[25]

Dæmonism[edit | edit source]

Dæmonism or daemonism is the act of creating a representation of ones own subconsciousness or inner dialogue in the form of an animal.[26] This subculture was inspired by the book series His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. It is common for daemonism to involve finding a specific animal form which represents one's personality. Both personal and animal analysis is common.[27] This is also the subculture in which the term animal-hearted was coined.[28]

History with otherkin[edit | edit source]

Plurality has a long history of overlap with otherkin and similar subcultures. A number of older resources describe "otherkin multiples" - systems with members who identify as otherkin.[29][30] The term "otherkin host" (or simply "kinhost") was also used to refer to this, with "host" describing the entire system as opposed to the primary fronter.[31] Lupa describes multiplicity as an origin and type of otherkin in A Field Guide to Otherkin,[32] as does Jay Johnston in his paper On having a furry soul.[33] The term otherkin is still used by systems today, particularly those who dislike the term extranthrope or who are comprised entirely of nonhumans. 'Otherkin' has also appeared in certain DID glossaries as a borrowed term.[34]

Early fictive communities by soulbonders also overlapped with fictionkin, especially on LiveJournal.[22] The two communities continued to be adjacent to each other with 2010 kin networks and chat rooms often being advertised to both fictionkin and fictives.

Theories of origin[edit | edit source]

Plural systems may have theories as to why they are plural. Trauma is popularly considered the most common origin, although spiritual explanations also exist, as well as non-trauma neurological reasons. Many systems assert that they are simply naturally plural. System origins, medical status and trauma history have been used to divide the community, and some dispute how relevant they actually are.[11]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "More Than One"
  3. The Blackbirds. "Other/inner worlds" The Layman's Guide to Multiplicity.
  7. kinarchist. (September 15th, 2019) "Hey so I keep using it in posts and swearing I’ll make it A Thing and see if it catches on, so [...]"
  8. The Blackbirds. "Multiple Preferences" The Layman's Guide to Multiplicity.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Faith Formation, House of Chimeras. "Glossary - Plurality Resource"
  10. emmengard. (April 4th, 2019) "Plural Positivity"
  11. 11.0 11.1 LB Lee. (Aug 31, 2020) "Quick'n'Dirty Plural History, part 4 (LJ, the Genic Slapfight, and THE END)"
  12. Kerry Dawkins. (2007) "Divisions in Plurality, 1.0"
  13. Vicki(s). "Welcome to the Wonderful World of the MidContinuum!" (Archived version)
  14. "Medians"
  15. "Multiples"
  16. flock-of-changes. (January 29th, 2018) "Proposed New Term"
  17. "DID in the DSM-5-TR"
  18. "DID Versus OSDD-1"
  19. "Spectrum"
  20. 20.0 20.1 "soulbonding: an introduction"
  21. "About our Site" (Archived version)
  22. 22.0 22.1 LB Lee (via headmatesfaq). "The history of the term ‘fictive.’"
  23. "What Is A Tulpa?"
  24. "Introduction"
  25. Natasha L. Mikles and Joseph P. Laycock. (August 2015) "Tracking the Tulpa: Exploring the “Tibetan” Origins of a Contemporary Paranormal Idea" Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. pg. 91, 93. University of California Press.
  27. "ANALYSES"
  28. House of Chimeras (liongoatsnake). (August 17th, 2014) "The History of the Term Animal-Hearted"
  29. The Crisses. (February 8th, 2001) "Otherkin Multiple FAQ Beta 2/8/01" (Archived version)
  30. The Consortium. "Consortium FAQ" (Archived version)
  31. The Crisses. "Hosts"
  32. Lupa Greenwood. (March 1st, 2007) "A Field Guide to Otherkin" Megalithica Books.
  33. Jay Johnston. (June 27th, 2013) "On having a furry soul: transpecies identity and ontological indeterminacy in Otherkin subcultures" Animal Death. Sydney University Press.
  34. "Glossary of did terminology"