From Pluralpedia, the collaborative plurality dictionary
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system (n.)
Four interlocking circles.
The interlocking circles, a common symbol for plurality.
Other formscollective (n.), household (n.)

A system is the collection of people and entities, often called headmates, that share a single physical plural body.

Common Attributes[edit | edit source]

The experiences of plural systems are very diverse, and every system is different. However, there are certain attributes that are common among systems.

  • Systems often have a dedicated name, separate from the body's or members' names. It's common for systems to have names that are more like titles than given names, such as being named after flowers, or cosmic themes, with adjectives applied.
  • Members of systems may be co-conscious or not. Members may switch in and out, or they might always be active.
  • Systems might have a headspace, which is a place where members exist and can interact. Systems that don't have this might still have internal communication.
  • Members of systems might be able to share memories or emotions.

The System Functions and Terms that apply to systems categories list terms related to system attributes.

Term History[edit | edit source]

One of the primary theories of the origins of system as a standalone noun is the Internal Family Systems therapy model. In the first paper published on IFS used system independently as well as with adjectives. This paper identifies Multiple Personality Disorder as an extreme version of the natural multiplicity present in all people, an "internal system."[1]

The phrase "system of alters" came into use at least as early as 1988, in an article on treating complex MPD, where traumatized children are described as developing "a cohesive and comprehensive system of alters within which their further trauma could be managed" (49), and the term is later changed to "systems" (50) and then "systems of personalities" (55).[2] The 1993 book First Person Plural, also notable for its usage of multiple as a standalone noun, refers to "personality systems" (56, 127, 239), "systems of alternate personalities" (57), and "systems of alters" (54, 128, 226).[3] These are not unique examples, and these terms have continued to be used in the medical sphere.

The December 1990 edition of the Many Voices newsletter included an entry from a self-identified system called Terry and Friends, currently the earliest record of its usage in plural communities.[4] It was used again by Jessie and Helpers in 1992.[5] A 1994 FAQ in the online mailing list answered questions about "multiple systems," which also mentioned systems not formed by trauma.[6] The December 1996 issue of the Divided Hearts newsletter referenced that "some systems have rooms."[7] A 1997 issue used the term a few times in a guide for trauma recovery.[8] The 1998 test issue of the First Person Plural newsletter listed "System" in its terminology but does not define it or use it further.[9]

An article from at least 1998 on the Vickis website starts with a quote from "Elaine of the system Patricia,"[10] and they had a model of their system with a description stated as being written in 1996.[11] The term was used numerous times on popular empowered multiplicity sites like Dark Personalities (2000)[12], Pavilion Hall (2002)[13], and Astraea's Web (2003)[14]. It was used in LiveJournal's multiplicity spaces by 2001.[15]

This information was compiled from multiple posts detailing the history as they were able to uncover it, staying limited to only sources accessible to confirm.[16][17]

Formation[edit | edit source]

Systems can form at any point in life, through many different ways. Terms that describe how a system formed can be found in the system origins category.

Symbols[edit | edit source]

The plural rings were created by Tracee of ouregaiya and/or Iris of Astraea in October 2011 and was spread through Email and Livejournal.[18]

The ampersand was adopted by the community, and some systems prefer to be referred to as you& or similarly use ampersands in reference to themselves.

The treblesand was created anonymously and for the use of anyone under the plural umbrella.[19]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Related Terms[edit | edit source]

Fronting is when one or more headmates is controlling the body of the system.

The host is a member of the system who is considered the most active, or the most responsible for day-to-day activities.

The core is a member of the system with a direct connection to the body's pre-plural self. Though, not every system has a core.

References[edit | edit source]