In episode 6, members of The Feathers discuss “Are Multiple Personalities Always a Disorder?”, an article by Tori Telfer that appeared on May 11, 2015 at Vice.com. (Read it at http://www.vice.com/read/when-multiple-personalities-are-not-a-disorder-400.)
The podcast will also begin to cover controversial subjects including the secret other worlds of multiples. Another controversy surrounds the words “multiple personality” — a phrase that is problematic and offensive to many groups, although remaining the most recognizable to outsiders. The second half of the show is dedicated to an interview with Yavari and Kerry of Plures House. Learn more about their group and philosophies on their website at http://www.exunoplures.org/. As always, your questions and comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support us by buying our stuff at our Cafepress Store, Plural Pride (http://www.cafepress.com/plural_pride) – and come join us on Yahoo Groups Plural_Activism discussion!
The transcript follows below.
Annie: Welcome to Multiplicity 101! This is an educational podcast of Plural Activism, a group devoted to dispelling myths about multiplicity, also known as plurality. Multiplicity and plurality refer to the concept of more than one mind in a body. I’m Annie, and this is Aisling–
Aisling: Hey there.
Annie: We’re from the Feathers system, and we’ll be your hosts today. Thank you for joining us.
Aisling: We’re always happy to hear from you and answer your questions. If you have any questions for us, please feel free to email us at email@example.com. We’ll try to answer them in a later podcast.
Annie: Well here we are, episode six of Multiplicity 101… the second episode since our reboot started.
Aisling: It’s kinda starting to feel like a habit already…
Annie: A habit recommended by four out of five dentists in our survey group.
Aisling: <chuckle> Working on this particular podcast had us peering into the very depths of our souls.
Annie: Heh, yeah.
Aisling: It doesn’t seem like a podcast would do that, but we spent quite a while thinking about conversation, voice, what it means to be a person.
Annie: And isn’t that really what plurality is all about? What it means to be a person.
Aisling: Yeah. I hope all that introspection … and an equipment upgrade! … means a better show for all of you, our listeners! But anyway, we’ve got some more basics coming up, and an interview with Plures House.
Annie: And it’s gonna be a lot of fun. But we’ve got a little news item first.
Annie: So back in April, several members of Plural Activism were contacted about doing a news article about plurality. And there was a little trepidation about it, just because media portrayals are so often off the mark.
Aisling: This one came out surprisingly good, though!
Annie: It did, it did. It’s for an online magazine called Vice. The title of the article is “Are Multiple Personalities Always a Disorder?” Several people related to Plural Activism were quoted in the article, and it’s actually rather respectful.
Aisling: We’ll put that link in the show notes.
Annie: Yes, definitely check it out.
Annie: Okay, let’s get going with the basics for today.
Aisling: And as always, these are just common usage of the words. Everyone works differently, and we’ve each got our own words and ways of being, and our own ways of using these words.
Annie: Right. So without further ado, let’s talk about other-worlds.
Aisling: We mentioned that term last time during the talk about systems.
Annie: We did. But I felt like it really deserved its own section, considering how common the notion is. There are many words for this concept, because there are so many ways to conceptualise it. Inner-world, other-world, headspace. If you’ve met five plural systems with an other-world, you’ve met five different kinds of other-world, too.
Aisling: Yeah, it’s a pretty diverse topic. Not everyone has one, either.
Annie: Indeed. As you said, many plural systems don’t include an other-world at all. But for those who do, it’s often a place that is experienced by system members when they’re not in front. Like we said in the last podcast, it’s like a dream that doesn’t go away when you wake up or stop thinking about it.
Aisling: It’s a place parallel to this one that has its own sense of being or permanence.
Annie: Mm hmm. Some examples of other-worlds might include anything from a house floating in the void, up to complete planets.
Aisling: Whole planets, with cities and countries and all. For example, we have at least one major city in ours, with thousands of people. We’ve never talked to most of them, though. For the larger gateway systems, the people of those planets are often counted as system members.
Annie: Right. And some other-worlds are purposefully constructed, while others were closer to discovered, something that was already there and simply had to be explored. Ours is somewhere in between.
Aisling: Yeah, we’re able to influence it and sometimes even create new parts, but a lot of it was also discovered as is, like the city, which we call Calafae.
Annie: And some singlets also have an other-world. In particular, some authors have one or more other-worlds.
Aisling: Yeah, places where their characters live, and where they can set their stories.
Annie: Yes. And there are some cultures that hold that these other-worlds are separate places that are being visited through spiritual means, sometimes even a more true or real world than Earth.
Aisling: In any case, they are typically not just fantasies, but places with a sense of realness and emotional connection.
Annie: And very important to the system — to be taken as seriously as system mates!
Aisling: We want to thank Astraea’s Web for some of the source material in this section.
Annie: With the Vice article’s title being what it is, we figure it’s probably a good time to talk about the phrase “multiple personality”.
Aisling: I guess an obvious question is, why do we not use that phrase ourselves, in this podcast? After all, it’s part of the show description.
Annie: The reason we don’t use it is that it has been conflated in modern times with the term “Multiple Personality Disorder”. Mainstream culture tends to think of more than one mind in a body as a pathology or disorder. And calling us “personalities” implies that we’re just fragments of another person.
Aisling: Some systems do identify that way, too. But many are just people who happen to share a body, so using the term for everyone isn’t accurate.
Annie: We’ve been told that the term was in use before “multiple personality disorder” became a thing, and that back then, it referred more to personalities like radio talk show personalities.
Aisling: Like us.
Annie: I suppose so, yes. For better or worse, though, the modern association within the community is more with “Multiple Personality Disorder”. So most people don’t use the term anymore.
Aisling: It’s good for search engines, though. Which is why it’s in the show description.
Annie: If you’d like to submit your own suggestions for this section of a future podcast, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you’ve heard a term that you don’t understand and would like to hear more about it, feel free to do the same.
Aisling: We have with us today, Kerry and Yavari from Plures House.
Aisling: Can you give us a quick introduction to yourselves?
Yavari: Okay, I am Yavari, and I’m one of the main fronters of Plures House. We are a sort of medium sized system. We have about, you know, six or seven people who come here regularly and several more that either used to come here or come here occasionally. We kind of consider ourselves a gateway system in that we have like a detailed headspace and a detailed… like, everybody’s got like detailed backgrounds and everything like that, but I personally believe that it’s something our brain sort of created, so I guess we’re sort of like… have psychological or neurolog– neurally generated origins as well.
Kerry: Yes. We happen to be… I don’t think that we were created through classic traumatic splitting, in the sense that we all have the characteristics of an original, though we don’t know what our ultimate origins are. So, ah, yes, that’s a brief overview of who we are.
Aisling: Okay! Anything you want to say about yourselves individually?
Kerry: Well, I’m Kerry, and I am 26 years old. And I happen to be… I like language, and graphic design, and sociology, and cultural studies, and community activism, all sorts of things that are sort of connected either to art or social justice or language.
Yavari: And… I am Yavari, and I’m 27, and… I like… well, computers and technology, and I, like Kerry, I like language as well. Um, I happen to be really interested in like science as well– I really like science, too, although I kind of wish that we as a group did not suck at math so much. Otherwise we would’ve gone into like a hard scientific field. <laugh>
Aisling: Do you guys have an inner world?
Kerry: Yes we have, ah– actually several. So, in our headspace, there’s sort of a portal called the wood between the worlds that connects all the worlds together, and… for example, there’s one that’s sort of a futuristic world–it’s in the distant future in relation to this world–and it’s where most of us live. And we can perceive quite a lot of things in the world at our best days. But when it’s difficult to perceive anything at all, it gets very fuzzy, but we sort of know what we’re doing enough to pay attention to it.
Aisling: You guys think of anything else?
Kerry: Hmm, let me think. Well, I suppose that one of the things I wanted to mention was this sort of debate in the plural community over origins. I don’t think that it’s really necessary to judge people based on their origins. What really matters is that you’re here, you’re plural, and know how to deal with it. I can sort of understand– well, I can understand the focus on origins for systems of… systems that have had a traumatic history so that they can find help dealing with whatever trauma caused them to split or gain other system members. But I don’t feel that it’s always necessary to focus on it, especially when one type of group thinks that their origin is more valid than others. I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think it’s fair. We, ourselves, don’t actually agree on what our origins are. Some of us believe that we were sort of created within the brain, some of us hypothesise that we may have originated through traumatic events. While some of us think that, you know, we came in through a sort of portal that exists in a sort of parallel, or even a sort of metaphysical or spiritual conceptualisation of our plurality. So, it’s very complicated. And it’s a complex and subjective experience. I believe it’s counterproductive to act as though it is our place to police others’ origins. We don’t know how these sorts of things come about. There is no conclusive proof that– there’s no conclusive, scientific proof that we may have originated one way or the other. So I feel as though it’s a sort of […] to sort of police or constantly, you know, to speculate constantly about others’ origins.
Aisling: Yeah, it kind of seems like the wrong focus. I always felt like the Plural Activism group was more about trying to build a harmonious relationship with the rest of world for plural systems, no matter what their origin was.
Kerry: Exactly. But, in some plural communities, there seem to be just constant debates about origins, especially recently.
Aisling: Yeah, I noticed that there’s been a lot of discussion lately.
Kerry: Oh! Well, we’re metaphysical, we’re therefore more valid and real than those of you who think that your plurality came from sort of neurological processes, or through traumatic splitting, or the other way around.. Oh– we are a trauma based system, we are more valid because we have a diagnosis.
Aisling: Right. Well, trying to think if there’s anything else to talk about.
Yavari: Oh, I wanted to mention something. Like what Kerry said about origins, I think that kind of tails into something, ties into something that I was thinking about, where some people will act as though, if you’re neurally generated, then you must be like, identical to the front body, you must look like the front body, you must sound like the front body, and you must be like identical to it or whatever. And I don’t think that’s actually the case– I believe we’re neurally generated, I don’t have any metaphysical or spiritual beliefs at all, like I am pretty sceptical and atheistic. However, I have a strong belief in subjective identity, and you know, I, myself look very different from the front, my background is different. You know, I have my own parents, I have my own siblings, I have my own history and background, and my own set of parallel memories.
Yavari: For some reason, I guess our brain found it sort of convenient to generate this whole set of– this whole history and background for me, and it sort of makes sense in a way that just identifying with the body doesn’t. I’m just me, Yavari, and it sort of makes a ton of sense. Although… you know, there are people who would just say, oh, this just means that you are, A) a really complex character, or B) you are really from metaphysical origins, and I don’t think that’s actually the case, because, you know, if I was just like some kind of made up character, you know, we’ve known we were plural since… 2006. That’s like… nine years… or almost nine years. You’d think that we would’ve gotten tired of pretending after nine years. <chuckle> You know, that we would’ve grown sick of this game and given it up, you know if it was a constant role play, you know, and like, if we’re alone, it doesn’t go away. We are still separate people, even if we don’t interact with people who don’t know who we are. We’re still separate people. This isn’t just some role play for other people’s benefit. And, about the whole “you’re really metaphysical” thing, going back to what Kerry said about origins, it is not your place to sort of speculate about what people’s origins are. And… anyway, it’s just… You know, it’s just, like, it’s just the way things came about. Like, I think it is happen in our brain, I didn’t have any conscience choice over it. It’s just who I am. Like, my history as to who I am.
Kerry: Yes, exactly. You know, my own personal background is very different to the front’s as well, and, you know, I look very different. I sound very different. But, that doesn’t mean that I exist because we hate who we “really are”, who we’re supposed to be. It’s just, I am who I am.
Yavari: Yep, exactly.
Aisling: Something kind of interesting that’s come up lately for us is reading about people’s relationships with their bodies.
Aisling: Do you– do you guys have anything interesting in regards to that?
Yavari: I dunno, it’s kind of interesting, like we kind of perceive our body as just being this kind of… well, it’s either like… it either feels like we’re piloting a big mecha, or… it’s like… we’re just kind of like overlaying ourselves on top of it when interacting. It’s just, or we feel like we’re on autopilot. And the autopilot feeling often happens when we’re interacting with people who don’t actually know we’re plural.
Aisling: Right. It kind of, it seems to be a theme that I’ve noticed lately that a lot of people’s bodies have some kind of instinctual… presence… that’s not just the same as, you know, piloting a mech or whatever. They… they have like a– I dunno, we call it Body OS.
Yavari: Yeah, ours is like that as well. We call it the front, but the term “the front” has so many different uses that we should probably think of a different word. <chuckle>
Aisling: Right. Umm, anything else?
Kerry: Sometimes we get a bit frustrated at people who act as though we don’t need to do any plural activism at all. And that you know, people may or– people may not benefit from being open. I think that it’s a matter of choice. I think that some people would do well being more open, whilst others may not need to be more open.
Yavari: Yeah. Like, I don’t like the whole, “well, like, I don’t like… you know, I don’t feel like we need to be more open, so none of you need to be more open”. I don’t think it works that way.
Kerry: No, it doesn’t.
Yavari: In our case, it’s kind of a need to know basis thing. But we’d like to be more open than we currently are, but we don’t want to tell, like, absolutely everybody.
Kerry: Yes, we’d like to have a bit more freedom of choice. Just more freedom of choice. Without being automatically assumed to be incompetent, or completely unstable, because we happen to be plural. Because there are lots of things we can do and be plural. In fact, being a system has helped us over the years. We can collaborate and work together on projects. And if one of us is having problems, we can, one of us can take over for the other, or talk to them, or, you know, work out a sort of compromise. And I think that being plural has also taught us quite a bit about socialisation, and how to deal with several different people’s desires and interests, and share and build a life together. I’m not saying we’re perfect, I’m not saying we don’t struggle at times. I think that’s the case for any group of people. But I’m saying it has been beneficial, and it’s something we wish we could talk about more openly without worrying about reprisal, without worrying about, oh, your boss is going to find out and you’re going to lose your job, you are going to have your career ruined, because of this revelation, you are, you’re going to be less likely to start a family, you’re not going to have the respect that you would have otherwise. Which is really depressing, because for us, we see our plurality as a reflection of neurodiversity. We see it as the way our brain happens to be wired, it happens to support several different people, it happens to have several different, you know, recognisable cognitive patterns that we consider to be separate people. And you know, we– this is something that we’d rather be able to, you know, be open about, to some people, without worrying that it’s going to get us considered mad or incompetent, when our struggles are not from our plurality; as I said before, it’s beneficial.
Kerry: And I do understand that, but there are people who do struggle with system functionality, who don’t get on very well, who need the help. And I don’t want our experience to invalidate the needs of systems with classic DID or trauma-based origins. I want them to be able to get therapy, I want them to be able to work on system functioning. You know, if they need to integrate in order to be healthy, then I support them in that. I just want to– and that disclaimer because I know some healthy multiple advocates will sort of throw DID systems under the bus. They will dismiss them; they’ll go on about how we need to be active– plural activists, and be happy about who we are, but we also, as a group, need to support those who aren’t as happy, who need more help.
Aisling: Right. And I think that positive treatment for everyone is still a good goal.
Kerry: Yes. I think that cooperation tends to work better than integration in the first place, with trauma based systems.
Kerry: That’s what I’ve heard.
Aisling: Seems to be the common wisdom even in the– the psych community these days.
Kerry: Yes, that’s what we heard from– we had a therapist a few years ago who actually knew about us, and that was what she had heard.
Aisling: So, uh, thank you both for joining us.
Kerry: Thank you!
Yavari: Thank you for talking to us.
Aisling: You can find the Plures House web site at http://www.exunoplures.org/.
Aisling: That URL will be in the show notes.
Annie: Thank you for listening to Multiplicity 101. And a big thanks to everyone who contributed to this podcast, including our interview guests, Plures House.
Annie: You can be a future guest on Multiplicity 101. If you’re interested, please contact us at email@example.com. If you have any questions or comments, please email us also.
Aisling: This is an educational podcast of the group Plural Activism. Come join our discussion group on Yahoo Groups, called Plural_Activism. The URL will be in the show notes. [https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Plural_Activism/info]
Annie: You can find show notes and other information at our web site, multiplicity101.com, or at our Dreamwidth page, plural-activism.dreamwidth.org.
Aisling: This podcast was produced with Audacity, a community-built audio editor, and the music was provided by GarageBand. The podcast is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives licence, which means that you can copy it freely as long as you credit us and you don’t modify it. For all other uses, please contact us.
Annie: See you next time!