By Jack Dawkins. Originally posted on Tumblr in 2015; edited for EUP in 2017. Updated in 2023.
People have been talking about multiplicity/plurality outside a medicalised paradigm and DID/MPD treatment that isn’t integration-focussed for over twenty years. This contradicts the stereotype that non-pathological views of multiplicity originated on social media platforms popular among teens and young adults: LiveJournal in the mid-2000s, Tumblr in the 2010s and now TikTok. Amorpha System (amorpha-system) and Thomas of Collective Solipsism (iexistwow) have discussed this as well. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t systems that benefit from from the strict medical model, including integration, but that the discussion has happened for much longer than people think. There are systems who have been writing about their experiences longer than the teenagers on TikTok have been alive—including us.
Here is a list of links from personal sites and blogs by plural systems who have been active for a long time or don’t fit into the ‘spoilt white Very Online teenager’ stereotype. Some of these are trauma-based systems like the Anns and Phoenix Household, whilst others aren’t or aren’t fully sure of their origins.
- Astraea’s Web has a counter dating back to 1999. Astraea still update the site a few times a year. On an older version of the site, Astraea say they’ve been ‘changing minds since 1995‘, which means they’ve been doing plural activism for over twenty years. This seems about right, as I know they were involved in several mailing lists. We ourselves first encountered the site roughly eleven years ago in late 2005.
- The Pavilion activist group was created in the early 2000s. If you look at the ‘projects’ page you’ll see that all these dates are from 2004 or earlier.
- Amorpha’s Collective Phenomenon page has an Internet Archive version from 2004, but I’m fairly sure they started the website a few years earlier than that using a different host. Amorpha haven’t updated their website in some time, but they’ve posted occasionally to Tumblr as amorpha-system. They also have a series of blog entries on Dreamwidth.
- The Consortium ran the Disenchanted Forest website, where they rejected the ‘multiplicity is inherently disordered’ idea. They were also the creators of the ‘Multiple Code‘. The archive for their site dates back to 2001. They post sporadically to Tumblr as elstru.
- The Anachronic Army founded Dark Personalities, which was both a website and mailing list. As Amorpha have said in the past, the most innovative thing about Dark Personalities was the uncensored mailing list – most lists at the time were very therapy-centred and required strict trigger warnings, both for common triggers and personal ones as well. Like many of the other systems listed here, the Army rejected the MPD/DID label, especially the focus on integration and words like ‘alters’, ‘ego states’ and ‘parts’. The Army also hosted an informational website on multiplicity called the Multiplicity Gateway. I don’t agree with some of the Army’s attitudes towards triggers and survivorship, but their role was significant in the empowered multiplicity subculture. Dark Personalities was before our time, but we did know many people who were in the community longer than we were who told us about it.
- Most people, when they talk about Dark Personalities, refer to the mailing list. What is less known now is their website with a staggeringly large number of articles. There is, for example, a very good article about the unnecessary divide between ‘survivor’ and ‘natural’ multiples by Hijynx of the Volalupi system that I think is worth reading.
- Four and Twenty, the Blackbirds system’s plurality website, was last updated on 30th September 2004 – over twelve years ago. Four and Twenty was one of the first sites we encountered when we started reading about multiplicity outside sensationalised media accounts.
- Positively Plural was created by Doltaghey House, who’ve since changed their system name. The last update was from 2002 – nearly fifteen years ago.
- The Courts created No Apologies for Existing, a website that was focussed on affirming the validity of identities and different world-views. The language used on the site is similar to some of the discourse used to talk about social justice on current platforms like Tumblr and Twitter.
- Even this website, which is fairly new in comparison, was originally created in 2007. We’ve changed hosts a few times, but you can still find an Internet Archive capture of an early incarnation of the site.
- Ann Garvey& (the Anns) are a DID/trauma-based multiple system who have worked with other empowered multiples (both trauma-based and not) to spread awareness. They’re in their fifties and are not the ‘Very Online teenager’ stereotype.
- Phoenix Household‘s website is nearly fifteen years old. Phoenix are a trauma-based system with an extensive otherworld and strong connections to their individual identities. They’d gone through much of the classical therapeutic process, including attempted integrations, but they didn’t view themselves as disordered and found that the best way to deal with their multiplicity was to establish co-operation after re-organising their system.
- The Vicki(s) ran the ‘Wonderful World of the Mid-Continuum‘ website, about people who fell in between the ‘multiple’ and ‘singlet’ categories.
- House of the Moon ran a website about their multiplicity, with entries that are nearly twenty years old. They were a system who had a DID or MPD diagnosis and didn’t consider the multiplicity itself a disorder.
- Darktide were similar (website founded in 1997, updated sporadically in the early 2000s) – they had a traumatic history but viewed themselves as always being plural in some sense and rejected the ‘DID’ label in particular.
- The Shire’s website, Those That Walk, has an Internet Archive version dating from 2005. The original site was hosted on Tripod and has archives going back to 2001. The Shire have an MPD diagnosis (they refer to it as ‘MPD’, the ICD-10, the diagnostic guide used in many countries outside the USA, keeps the MPD name rather than DID, and the Shire live in New Zealand) but reject the ‘disordered’ label.
An addendum from LB Lee, about people with DID being openly plural or rejecting fusion-centric therapy for themselves:
Actually, this goes back EVEN FURTHER than the Internet. People with DID have fought against some of this shit too.
Truddi Chase and the Troops of When Rabbit Howls were fighting against integration and coming out multi in 1987! (This is why I can’t take anyone seriously who claims that it’s impossible fr anyone to live out as multiple. The Troops did it. Kim Noble does it. Chris Costner Sizemore has since integrated, but did it. Cameron West does it.)
Madison Clell and her system made the Cuckoo comics from 1996-2002. They had the DID diag, and ended up integrating, but her headmates were involved in the comic and were very insistent that they were people.
ATW, who published got parts? back in 2005, print things from Sidran and a shrink claiming system members are parts and not people. However, when they’re speaking for themselves, they write: “These other alters—parts—are every bit as real as you are… the goal of re-integration is to become aware of each other and working so seamlessly and cooperatively together…that you can live and function in the outside world with a minimum of distress…” (pg. 1-2)
This was enough of a thing for Matt Ruff, a singlet fiction author, to take it into account in his book Set This House in Order, which was published back in 2003, and he mentioned in his research that he hung around a multi mailing list to get these ideas. (I’m presuming either a Yahoo group or Dark Personalities.)
And this is just what I remember off the top of my head.
If you want to be critical of multiplicity advocacy that is not centred on fusion of system-members or the pathologisation of multiplicity itself, that is your right. If you’re going to criticise the phenomenon, however, you could at the very least stop spreading the myth that it originated on social media amongst teenagers with overactive imaginations.