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I'm a we. Ask us anything.

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    I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by CloudedOtter » August 04, 2017 11:48 PM

    Last Edited: July 28, 2019 11:16 AM

    tl;dr: "I" actually am a bunch of people/otters pretending to be one person/otter, AMA.


    This is a thread I wanted to make for a while now, but didn't really feel up to until now. Namely: a little hybrid 101 and Q&A thread on a topic very near and dear to my heart: plurality, or being "more than one." I yelled about this subject here and there, including a thread about Split and why it sucks, but had never made a thread dedicated to the broader experience of more-than-oneness.

    So. Really don't know how to best introduce this topic, so I guess we'll just begin with a general infodump:

    Plurality is the state of multiple beings, persons, selves, etc coinhabiting a single body. It is an extremely broad and diverse spectrum of experience, ranging from the clinical diagnoses of DID and OSDD, to various experiences of spirit channeling.

    Some further terms: A system (or collective, household, etc) is the group of said conscious entities living in a single body. Switching refers to changing who's in control of the body. Fronting refers to being "up here" in the physical world instead of being asleep or in an inner space, whether you're controlling the body or not. Plurality is also sometimes used interchangably with another term, multiplicity. While they can certainly be used interchangably, they do have slightly different connotations - plurality tends to refer to the general experience of existing as more-than-one, while multiplicity tends to refer to more specific subsets of plurality. (Our group personally tends to use "plural" because we feel that it's more inclusive.)

    Some additional infodumping below.
    There are many, many different ways that plurality can manifest. In the vast majority of cases of DID/OSDD (where plurality is tied to disorder of some sort), severe childhood trauma results in plurality developing as a defense. In other cases, especially outside of DID/OSDD, plurality originates not from trauma, but from some other, yet unknown psychological mechanism. Still others experience plurality as a spiritual experience. There are also many, many systems who are a mix of these origins, or do not know their origins, or do not regard them as a relevant question.

    Plurality can be a positive, negative, neutral, or mixed experience. In DID/OSDD, plurality often comes with and is intertwined with various post-traumatic complications like amnesia - some DID/OSDD groups are unhappy with being plural and strive towards integration (the merging of all individuals in a system into one person), while other groups develop a rapport, come to love the company, and decide to continue living as plural. This is something seen in other plural origins as well - regardless of origin, there will be systems who love, detest, enjoy, feel meh, are enthusiastic, and so forth about being plural. And in many cases, the individuals within a system feel differently about their shared existence - some dislike having to share everything, some are happy they're never alone, etc.

    Plural groups have many ways of living their plurality. Some systems share control of their body evenly, whether through schedules or figuring things out on the fly; some do not have control over their switching at all and must adapt to it as they go. Some lose memories when switching and need to keep a group journal; some only lose memories occasionally or under certain circumstances; some do not lose memories at all. Some have a "primary" member who is out most of the time; some have groups of primaries who cycle out as the years change; some do not have primaries at all. And then, of course, there are groups who do not share body control at all - one person lives the whole of their outer life, while the others stay "inside" an inner space or watch and chat with the person "outside."

    There are many, many, many other variations we haven't even begun to cover. The takeaway, overall, is this: every single plural experience is different.

    For more information, http://healthymultiplicity.com is a great starter site to read. It has some 101 info on plurality, as well as self-help resources for systems trying to organize themselves. We know a bunch of different plural sites, some personal and some more general 101 stuff - we'll be glad to lay out a few more of them if people are interested.

    tl;dr there's a LOT of different ways to be plural.
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    Re: I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by CloudedOtter » August 04, 2017 11:48 PM

    Last Edited: August 04, 2018 02:47 AM

    Now, to introduce our group. Here are some FAQs! And please, if you have any questions, do feel free to ask them. That's why we made this thread, after all! We won't bite, and we don't take offense to any questions as long as they're asked respectfully.

    I always see you talking in the singular, as one individual. Why's that?
    (Update: we aren't doing this anymore, actually, hence the little bolded letters, but you'll see this on our older posts.)

    We originally didn't plan to be out as plural under this identity. A number of factors caused this to change - being frustrated with drama in the plural communities, anger over "Split" transforming into a desire to spread better representation and become a real-life, personal example of how the movie got so many things wrong, etc. And, of course, the loveliness and open-mindedness of the people we've met. :)

    In many cases, including in most places around TW, we still act and talk as if we were one person because we don't want to cause confusion, derail threads with explanations, and so on. This usually means that when one of us posts, they do so without their individual name and with all possible references to us being more-than-one obfuscated. We've been toying with the possibility of being more upfront about it, though.

    So are you all parts of one person, personalities, or?
    Some plural systems view themselves as beings who are all aspects of one person; others view themselves as each separate persons of their own, not parts in any way. Our group is a bit complicated. Overall, we feel very very strongly that each of us is their own person and very strongly dislike being called "parts" or "personalities." We are each self-aware, conscious beings with our own thoughts, feelings, and ways of experiencing the world: hence, persons.

    The trauma-created people, who were all born from splits of the "original child," do feel that they share a common link - imagine many different candles being lit from the flame of the same singlar candle. However, regardless of the original source of their flame, each of those lit candles is still a candle all its own, and the same is true for the trauma-created people. Linked they may be, but their own persons they still are.

    Which of you is CloudedOtter?
    That's like asking the Artois family which of them is Artois. The answer: all of them and none of them. Artois is a shared name, a name that can refer to anyone in that family. CloudedOtter (and "Otter," and "Cloud," and all other derivations thereof) isn't quite our "family name," but it is a shared name for us!

    This is why we refer to each other as "that other Otter," "the other Otters," "a trenchcoat full of otters," and so on, by the way.

    If you're asking which Otter's been the one posting around on TW, it's been several of us masquerading under the shared name. Phosphor's been around most, but Bastion and Crescent have chatted with people as well, Laurel's come in here and there to share and comment on art, and Frost has poked his nose in and said a line or two as well.

    If you're ever curious about who's up front, feel free to ask. Likewise, if you want to talk to a certain one of us! We can't speak for every system or guarantee we can answer every request, but we don't take offense to such questions as long as it's not in a "THIS OTTER IS INSUFFICIENT, BRING ME ANOTHER" way.

    How should I refer to you guys?
    As mentioned previously, we'll all answer to CloudedOtter and derivatives thereof, as well as they/them. We all have our own names and pronouns, but we don't push people to remember them. In general conversation we don't mind people talking to/referring to us as a singular entity, provided they aren't explicitly referring to us as "Otter's personalities" or so forth. We also do what we can to be generous towards slip-ups - we completely get that this can be a hard thing to adjust to.

    All that being said, keep in mind that every plural group is different in how they want to be treated. When in doubt, ask them about the language and manners they prefer.

    What are your group's origins?
    Our group is a mixed system - over half of our group is the product of chronic childhood abuse and we have a DID diagnosis, but we also have members who neither originated from nor have any ties to trauma, as well as some members who believe themselves to be spirits connected to this body, as well as some members were to an extent deliberately created, as well as some members who blur the lines, as well as some members who aren't really sure where they fall.

    There are some differences in functioning depending upon people's origins, such as most non-trauma members not getting forcibly pulled to front by a stress-triggered switch, but overall origins don't mean much in the way of abilities, and everyone is valued, respected, and important regardless of their origin.

    Are you seeking integration?
    Heavens, no. The thought of integrating our system horrifies us, actually. In our system, being merged into another is a kind of death - a cessation of independent existence and being. We have had members merge before, but that is because they chose to. We give all of our members the option and are fine with other systems doing so, but believe strongly that it should always be something that is chosen for oneself(ves) and never forced onto others by outsiders - whether those outsiders are friends, families, or doctors.

    In any case, we did have problems in our past, but we've largely overcome them. We love our shared existence, enjoy each others' company, and strongly desire to keep living and learning as ourselves - plurality, in our case, has been a far more adaptive and positive experience than a negative one. We wouldn't give each other up for the world.

    What's your opinion on "syscourse"? (CW: discussion of intracommunity bullying and identity policing)
    For those fortunate enough to have not encountered syscourse: while a great many cases of plurality are caused or influenced by trauma to some extent, there are some who take this to an extreme and insist that ALL cases of plurality are the result of trauma and the only legitimate forms are those diagnosable as DID or OSDD. Some exclusionists claim that non-trauma systems are mistaken about their origins and need to be "educated" on who they really are; the others flat out claim that all non-trauma systems are faking and mocking "real" systems for fun and attention. Many of these individuals engage in various forms of bullying and harassment towards non-trauma systems and their "sympathizers."

    As a system of many origins and stories, we do not approve of these behaviors at all and stand firmly against exclusionism in the plural and broader neurodiversity communities. Our experiences in those communities, learning from people from many backgrounds, equipped us to stabilize our system and develop methods for resolving conflicts and coordinating ourselves. Those communities helped us develop a framework that proved invaluable when we did unearth our abuse history and our life began to fall to pieces. In addition, we are close friends with a significant number of non-trauma systems. Several of those systems gave us assistance when we were fleeing our abusive family. Others counseled us or gave us shoulders to cry on when we were feeling most alone. Again and again, they offered us mercy when we were at our most wretched, never asking a single thing in return.

    We could write several essays on this, but we're going to cut it short because it's a topic that's hurt us and the people we love many times and we would rather not stew in it. While none of us can tell others what to post or not post, we would strongly appreciate if people kept syscourse and other forms of identity gatekeeping/policing out of this thread. (Analogy: if someone makes a thread talking about how they were pansexual, it would be very rude to barge in saying that pansexuals are fake or lesser! So, don't do it with plurality, please.)

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    Re: I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by Sefria » August 05, 2017 04:35 AM

    Your timing is amazing, I was just talking to someone who resolves disputes professionally (on an international basis, specializing in water rights disputes) and thinking of you and wondering if the process of living so closely with others (as systems do by definition, right? Maybe I'm misinterpreting that?) leads system members to end up developing the same set of tools...
    And if it makes it easier or harder to utilize those tools outside of your collective?

    And then I started thinking about how in a typical healthy society of individuals, the historical pattern has always been specialization; societies under siege tend to generalize more (warfare conditions obviously lean towards everyone learning militarily-applicable skills, but still) and see more duplication, and societies that are peaceful and prosperous tend to begin to go into super-specializations and some really niche stuff.
    And so now I'm wondering... for a system it must vary the same way as societies vary, right?
    Would some systems tend to have members that specialize, and others have members that have more duplicate skills?

    I don't mean just individual inclinations... If you have a lot of people in your system who all want to learn music, that's just personalities dictating choices. I mean more like, every kid who grows up and wants to become independent usually learns some skills that everyone else also learns, like basic self-grooming or navigation (via map or GPS, whatever) or simple cooking... but the extent to which kids learn things varies widely, so one might only know how to microwave a frozen meal, and others could bake bread. And one kid might really know how to handle their own finances and invest and stuff and another might blindly turn everything over to a banker and only have a vague idea of basic budgeting. There's a base level of duplication of at least general knowledge, but how far you go is really individual, right? Only.... how does that hold up for a system?
    Some of the 'basic' skills every kid/adult ends up with to whatever degree is social skills.
    People with really good social skills tend to do better in society, and people with terrible social skills tend to have difficulty in social settings, right?
    But a system.... how much like being constantly around other people is it?
    How much would you end up developing people skills just because if you want to interact with the world at all it means dealing with other people in some form or another?
    (I have some cousins in really rural areas. They don't see anyone but each other (or anyone at all, in one case. He lives alone) for months on end, as a regular ongoing thing; their lives are lived for the most part without people, so they're a lot more concerned with how well they can read weather than how well they can read faces. They have some odd habits because they're not around other people enough to get the edges smoothed out, as it were, and whenever I go visit it's really obvious who went into town last supply run. The social skills kind of rust away. I'm mostly thinking about them, and about how *I* changed when I moved from a small town to a small city.)
    So... is being part of a system something that develops these inter-personal relationship skills more, do you think? To whatever degree?
    And would the conflict-resolution skills be something that nearly every member ends up with, or is it something that *can* be one of the specialized skills, and you end up with a handful (or however many) members who end up helping to mediate whenever there is intra-system (I hope I've got 'inter' and 'intra' sorted properly. I keep forgetting which one is internal and which one external, but since 'inter-national' is more than one nation, hopefully that's the right term) conflict?

    Ah, this is super long and confusing.

    I hope it makes enough sense to at least help me figure out the question, even if it's not readily answerable....
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    Re: I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by Hearticorn » August 05, 2017 12:57 PM

    I'm curious, is it possible for one Otter to be afraid of something, while another loves it? Like, one is afraid of dogs but another wants 59?
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    Re: I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by patience » August 05, 2017 03:00 PM

    I was thinking, as you mentioned a movie which got plurality very wrong, do have any books/movies that got it right? Especially (wellwritten) books seems to be my main way of learning about and understanding things that I have not experienced myself and would really like to learn more about this.
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    Re: I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by NoriYuki Sato » August 05, 2017 03:13 PM

    I just want to say it's brave of you guys to do this! Personally, I'm not a fan of any of the terminology, but we are also more than one! Are you familiar with Plurality Resource?
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    Re: I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by CloudedOtter » August 05, 2017 08:35 PM

    (mostly Phosphor typing, with input from others)

    Sorry for getting back to this a little late! Spent most of our day off just recovering from work, haha.


    That's quite the post! I'll try to answer everything, but please do let me know if I miss anything.

    Regarding skillsets and the development thereof, it's a bit of a complicated matter, and one that does depend heavily on the system. How they share body control, if they do so at all, and how their memories are shared or not shared, for instance.

    There's some skills that you're only going to fully learn by getting out here and practicing them using physical muscles and physical material. A lot of people can visualize something, but will be completely lost when trying to actually draw it - they won't know how to combine the colors to get the effect they're seeing, how to properly exaggerate motions and forms, how to hold a pencil, brush, or so forth in the right way to get the right strokes. We've yet to meet a single system member, in our group or another, who became a master artist simply by practicing inside their system's headspace/inner space. Even the metaphysically-leaning people, the people who have experiences of coming from "elsewhere," can't carry their skills from elsewhere here.

    Several of us prize external time for this reason. We can get ideas and work with them in an abstract way inside, and we can toy with headspace versions of a craft, but challenge, resources, and improvement are best found outside. This sometimes leads to unhappiness over not having the resources or time for certain skills. Music is very important to a few people here, but our group's not been able to focus on it.

    And when it comes to learning stuff outside, whether or not the raw knowledge carries to other people in your group or not depends upon how your memories are organized. There's a lot of different kinds of memories - memories of events (like eating dinner yesterday or browsing TW), factual memories (one's address, the first presidents of the US), procedural/"how-to" memories (how to use a screwdriver or drive a car), emotional memories (what feelings were felt during an event and the ability to reconnect to those emotions when viewing that memory). Probably even more that I haven't listed, and a lot of these overlap in some way - like, coding is a mix of how-to and factual and maybe even others depending on how you personally learn things.

    In some groups, practically all of these memories are divided up and accessible only to the people who were outside then. So if one person in that group learns a skill outside, anyone else is going to have to learn it again on their own. In other groups, only certain categories of memories are divided up. In yet other groups, everything is shared. And then there's groups for which stuff is shared, but it takes extra effort to access memories that aren't yours. Our group has divided event and emotional memory on top of poor memory and time perception in general, so we can remember facts and how to do things, but have difficulty placing life events or recent happenings unless they're tied closely to those facts/how-tos. Since we can communicate with each other internally and since there's a few people who are almost always at front, we can mostly get around this by comparing notes, so to speak; but there are groups who don't have internal communication or perpetual fronters, who have to keep detailed journals and leave each other physical notes instead. (And honestly, we've had to begin keeping physical notes as well in recent times.)

    But yeah, you can see how this would affect learning a particular skill? And even if you were able to access someone else's memories for a skill, having that knowledge doesn't always mean you'll know how to apply it, paradoxical as it might seem. Or that you'll be able to apply it as well, or in the same way, as that particular person. For instance, using art as an example again - Laurel says that he feels that one's art style is, to some degree, tied to one's personality, with certain styles and themes in art coming easily to one person and hardly to another, even if those people are otherwise matched in their understanding of art. Things like the boldness needed to go "out there" with a new style, how personal feelings and preferences guide one in a piece... those things aren't so easily captured in facts. I hope that makes sense?

    So, rather plain things without much subjectivity to them, like frying an egg? Those are pretty consistent across our system. But the more that personality and preference get involved, the more things branch off. And speaking to people, interpersonal stuff, that's a perfect example of a skill that's heavily dependent upon your personality and preferences, and not just some rules of thumb. You can't interact with people using the same exact ways that your friend does - or, if you can, it'll drive you nuts sooner or later, because you won't be able to say the things that you want, in the way that you want.

    I try to skirt around conflict as much as possible, scanning for potential future conflicts and smoothing things over in advance if I can. Bastion wades in, cautious but not avoidant, confident in his ability to navigate troubled waters. When confronted with someone doing something distasteful, Verse took an indirect position, speaking about the ways that showing regard for others enriched our lives; Frost, on the other hand, went right to the ethical arguments. I don't think any of these are less skilled or "better" interpersonal approaches than the others - they just have different reasonings, goals, and contexts they're helpful in. Do you want to end a fight, or do you want to avoid one altogether at some cost? To whom are you making a particular point? What aspects of an idea are most important to you? What do you believe?

    Granted, you CAN learn things from how someone else does things. Just as how you can observe how the people around you act and pick up clues from them, you can do that with the folks in your system as well, and sharing memories can make it an even more visceral form of learning. We've learned both prudence and confidence from each other, along with a number of tricks. But ultimately, weaving in what you learn from that with your own observations, and adjusting it to fit who you are and what you want to express and accomplish - that's something that you have to develop yourself. And it's true for every person in our group as well. This isn't even going into more personal skills like emotional regulation, coping with stress, etc, which are also very individually dependent things.

    Also, whether one can hone their interpersonal skills by talking just to the people in their system... we're inclined to believe that it CAN help, but not in a complete way. In the same way that talking to people on text over the Internet can absolutely help with communication skills, but won't cover everything that face-to-face communication experience will. And also in the same way that talking to the same group of people exercises some skills but doesn't cover everything - I feel like the term "echo chamber" is misused a lot, but it is true that talking to people with very different life experiences, communication styles, beliefs, etc develops skills that you might not otherwise get from just talking to one insular group.

    In short, there's a lot of stuff that can be learned from fellow system members, whether through memory sharing or just working with each other, but you are not going to get a Complete Balanced Breakfast(TM) just from interacting only with your system or only in headspace. Like anyone else, meeting new people with new ideas and learning new things from them is very important! And for some skills, even if you have the raw data from someone else, you're only going to use them to the fullest if you learn your personal way of using them, which is something gained only by practicing yourself.

    I DON'T KNOW IF I MADE ANY SENSE. But yeah, the takeaway is that skills are super complicated! They aren't just raw data, knowledge isn't the same as application, there often isn't a One Right Way, a lot of skill/expression is dependent upon or at the very least heavily influenced by personality... This is a really cop-out answer after that whole spiel, but what skills people in a system develop, to what extent they develop, and how much they overlap will be very much a matter of environment and personal circumstance. A system full of people who are unhealthy, with unhealthy dynamics, isn't going to learn much in the way of healthy interpersonal stuff from each other; a system with some healthier members can see the healthier members helping the less healthy members up, or be at a complete loss at how to communicate, etc. A system with highly controlled switching may not see the need to teach everyone how to drive and have only one "designated driver"; a system with uncontrolled switches will go out of their way to individually drill everyone on driving and safety procedures or avoid driving altogether. And so on and so forth.

    So we're not really comfortable giving any answer on skills that's more specific than "it really depends." Generally, we find that trying to make models about the abilities that plurals possess or don't possess from being plural just distracts from understanding people's individual lived experiences, creates too many ideas of what a plural "should" be like.

    Hope that all makes sense!

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    Re: I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by CloudedOtter » August 05, 2017 08:35 PM


    We can't think of any cases of this in our group - most we can dig up are things where one person's afraid or anxious and others are just vaguely annoyed or indifferent. Or things that one person likes and another person hates.

    But we do know a system where one person completely loves moths, tarantulas, and other assorted creepy-crawlies, and another is freakin terrified of all of them. So... yes, it is possible, haha.


    We used to have a list, but much of it's slipped our mind. The only thing that comes to mind right away is a series of stories a fellow system wrote that involves a plural superhero. For more, we'd have to go scrounging and poll some other plurals on the topic, haha.

    Most of the stuff we had didn't name plurality specifically - it was just stuff that involved there being more than one in a body, without actually mentioning the word "plural," "headspace," etc, or incorporating experiences from the plurality community. And much of it is written by (as far as we can tell) non-plurals, and thus doesn't cover many of the nuances of everday more-than-oneness. Basically, it's fantasy plurality, if you get my drift? Which isn't to say that it's bad or not worthwhile! Just that it probably won't be entirely accurate.

    DID... that's an even more thorny area. Most every fiction we've seen that names it devolves into stereotyping at some point. If there isn't an axe-murderer evil alter, then there's others like the sultry sex alter, the scared alter, the angry alter, etc - shallow cutouts, rather than people with their own minds and interests beneath the veneer. Sometimes this just happens even if DID isn't named, but we've seen it most with DID.

    But yeah, if you're interested in such a list, just say the word and we'll poll folks! Do your reading interests extend to autobiographical stuff, by any chance? We can probably get a lot of stuff there, if so.

    [@NoriYuki Sato]

    Aw goodness, thank you!

    We are in fact familiar with PRF! It's one of the first communities we went to when we began investigating the broader plural experience. (We originally started with tulpamancy.) We aren't as active anymore in the forum, or in the community at large. I think the place that we usually hang out these days is Dreamwidth?

    If you don't recognize us, it's because we use separate names between here and there. We used to be very anxious about keeping this identity separate from our plural one. We don't stress about it anymore, but we still keep our separate names.

    And yeah, I actually chatted with a plural friend who does education and advocacy about labels in the plural community... he's mentioned being rather frustrated with how people are convinced that inventing more terms and making them mutually exclusive will solve all the issues in the community, when really it's just making communication more difficult. That, and many of the labels are obtruse and made to sound "scientific" at the cost of understandability. Apparently it's not "psychological" anymore, it's "neurogenic"? Ugh.

    Needless to say, there's a reason we avoided as many of those labels as possible when writing our little 101.
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    Re: I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by Sefria » August 05, 2017 09:45 PM

    Hmm. Yeah, that helps, thanks for taking the time to go into it all so carefully!

    So, speaking for yourself or yourselves, do you think any of the things you've developed (tools/skills/tricks/call them whatever) to deal with the other members of your system end up being useful dealing with other people outside your system?
    (If you wanted, for instance, to concentrate on learning ways to be a sounding board for someone -can you practice that internally to your system and have that transfer later? Or are the communication forms so different that it doesn't really help, and you end up learning it twice, once for other system members and once for other people outside your system?)
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    Re: I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by patience » August 06, 2017 09:41 AM

    Thanks for this answer. You don't have to go out of your way to find - it was mostly if you already had something on hand. I don't usually read much autobiographical stuff (or at least not the celebrity varity), but I have found that blogs can be a pretty good way to learn about personal experiences.

    I might keep coming with more questions and even though you said we could ask anything, I just want to say that shouldn't feel obliged to answer my question if you don't want to.

    With that out of the way here's another question. I'm a bit curious as to what happens when you switch control. I suppose there isn't much to do about a broken limb or something of a similiar physical nature. But what would happen if one person was drunk or otherwise influced by something, and there was a change in who was in the front? Who that new person still be drunk because alcohol does physical things too, or would they be sober because alcohol partly does mental things? Or would be something else entirely?
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    Re: I'm a we. Ask us anything.

    by CloudedOtter » August 07, 2017 06:48 PM

    Last Edited: August 07, 2017 07:10 PM


    [Phosphor] The things we learn from interacting with each other... hmm, I feel like they can definitely be extrapolated to outside, though I also feel like there would be limitations? And not necessarily ones tied to being plural specifically, but like - there's some general abstract rules about social interaction, but no one singular golden method that will resolve every single conflict. Something that can quickly calm one person will enrage another.

    [Crescent] To use an outer metaphor once again, knowing how to resolve conflict within one's family does not necessarily mean that one knows how to resolve conflict with others outside of one's family. This is especially true the more insular one's family is, and the more its dynamics differ from outside.

    For instance, in an abusive family, one may learn that the only way to resolve a conflict is to surrender and to go along with whatever one is ordered to do. Clearly, this is not a sustainable approach in the outside world. Similarly, if a system is dysfunctional and the members are used to "resolving" conflicts through force, intimidation, or other such things, that clearly does not bode well for their interactions outside. I do strongly believe that as within, as without - regardless of one's beliefs about the nature of their fellow system members, whether as parts or as persons, the way one treats them will to some degree reflect how they think about and subsequently treat those who don't share a body with them.

    Even in non-dysfunctional cases, there are nuances that don't carry over to all outer social relations. When interacting with one's family or close friends, one does so with the advantage of knowing their communication styles. Different people use the same words in different ways; the same applies to their body language. When one spends enough time with someone, one learns and applies this knowledge almost instinctively, like another sense. This is not something that someone has with strangers, especially strangers from a very different background, who possess modes of communication that might not only differ from one's own, but clash with them.

    [Phosphor] It's a lot like playing a very actiony game with sound on, and then suddenly switching it off. You aren't totally lost, you still remember how to play, but you're definitely more uncoordinated than before and at a disadvantage compared to when you could hear all the cues.

    [Crescent] This principle applies to systems as well. Some systems have the privilege of being able to transmit raw ideas to each other rather than needing to rely purely on words as a conduit. Other systems can review a shared memory together. While these methods are not without flaw and still leave room for miscommunication, they can certainly streamline the process quite a bit. We don't have these abilities when interacting with people who don't share a brain with us, and the issues I've mentioned in the prior paragraph apply as well.

    What I've described can be extrapolated to various degrees for any particular group, actually: systems, families, friend groups, one's nationality, one's race, and so on and so forth. Each social group has beliefs and practices held by a majority of its members, that its members often take for granted. And thus, being able to communicate with others outside of one's group, others who do not possess these taken-for-granted aspects of communication, is a special skill all its own.

    So, while some skills can be learned and practiced, once again, there is no replacement for interacting with a great diversity of people, and possessing both a penchant for adaptation and an open mind.

    [Phosphor] Different subject, but another thing is: there's also an element of, well, what's at stake. Being in a system kind of pressures everyone to get along and work together regardless of their differences. Because, well, we all share a body and a life out here. If someone causes shit and everything goes south, they'll be caught in the chaos as well. An outer-world example would be something like... a workplace versus an internet forum, though I think the "at stake" factor is higher in a system than in any physical institution.

    That's a far cry from working with someone who's far removed from you, who won't be directly affected by any harm they cause you, who can walk away from you whenever.


    [Phosphor] There's certainly a number of blogs we can think to recommend from the community, though I think most of the ones we follow are DID-oriented.

    Off the top of our brain:

    - Nsashaell System's website
    - Autobio/educational/self-help comics by LB Lee
    - Sarah K. Reece's website
    - Plures House's website
    - cedar's website
    - FreyasSpirit's website

    Most of these sites are education-oriented, talking about various plural experiences and issues faced by plurals, though there's also stuff about how their systems personally work and specific experiences they've had.

    [Crescent] You are correct that switching cannot heal a broken limb. It may enable us to bring in someone who is more capable of coping with the pain and panic, but the limb itself remains broken.

    As for alcohol, the answer actually lies between your speculations. The alcohol will affect anyone who is in front. However, the specific effects it has may differ per person in a system. Some may be inebriated, but still remain sharper and more alert than another person in the system. We know a system with a member who can drink a jug full of whisky and only become slightly tipsy, while others in her system would be knocked out. We also know a system who has all members except one go unconscious under anesthesia, with the lone member remaining slightly awake through procedures. Doctors have, in fact, observed him moving and talking when the body was supposed to be unconscious.

    [Phosphor] To be specific, there was a moment when their body's heart stopped for a bit under anesthesia. The person in their group who was still awake said, in a deep voice,

    Death detected
    System restarting

    and scared the fuck out of everyone present. The system's wife said that when the doctors came out, they all looked like they'd seen a literal ghost and refused to say anything about the operation. I should mention that apparently that particular system member has a very dark sense of humor.

    To say the least, they've had to warn doctors that weird things happen when they go under. :P

    There's also a lot of weird stuff documented in formal research. Psychs have observed differing reactions to medication across system members - a low dose sedating one member and a high dose doing barely anything to another member, doses affecting child members of an adult-bodied system the same way they would affect physical children, medication calming one system member and causing another to panic, and so forth. Some system members might have an allergy and be unable to eat something while a different member can eat that same thing with no issues. One member may be left-handed while another is right-handed. One member might be blind, even, while another might be sighted.

    So basically, many physical things can't be bypassed - but sometimes it's hard to tell which things fall in what category in what way.

    [Crescent] And, as always, it depends upon the system as well. Some systems have extremely high dissociative barriers between members and will be more likely to experience more drastic changes between members. Some systems do not, and will experience very little shifting.

    [Phosphor] Our group doesn't seem to have extreme differences, though we also haven't tested ourselves that much. We do know that, for whatever reason, Bastion has a much easier time with heavy objects than most of the rest of us do. It isn't massive, but he's been able to lift some stuff that the rest of us couldn't, and... for lack of a better word, it feels less stressful on our body when he does it? So we've called him in a few times when work required us to move something especially heavy. We also get a "refresh" on our energy levels, a second wind if we switch cleanly. It doesn't make it so we don't need to sleep or eat, but it can help if something really needs to get done and the person who's in front is mentally done.

    And please, feel free to ask anything, anytime! This thread will probably be open as long as we're on TW, which will hopefully be a very long time, haha.
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