Home | Projects & Writings

An Open Letter To The Rest Of The Inclusive Plural Community

By The Dragonheart Collective

Originally posted to tumblr 9/15/22, edited and put up here 9/22/22

This is a post thats going to ruffle feathers, but what else is new?

When you ask people in The Wretched Discourse, ‘Why are you doing this? Why is this your position, really?’ you are going to get a couple different answers.

The inclusionists just want the whole of the plural community to exist in the space they have been historically allowed to exist in and use the language they have historically used in the community they helped build. They fight only because this space they have been in and helped build for years is under threat.

The reasons system exclusionists, including the ‘endo neutral’ and similar exclus-lite positions believe what they do is significantly more varied, as is why they do. Obviously we are very strongly opposed to exclusionist views, and we want to be clear about this, but that isn’t the point of this essay.

The point of this essay is that there ARE criticisms of the inclusive plural community that exclusionists have that are fair and are true. We don’t agree with the conclusions they make regarding these criticisms, but there are problems that have merit that they have identified and are worth talking about. These problems are genuinely problems and they are things people just don’t talk about enough in strongly inclusionist spaces or actively perpetuate in these spaces.

The criticisms that we will be addressing with this essay:

If we didn’t mention it then we won’t be mentioning it at all- either because we think its a non-issue, that it can be rolled into the issues mentioned, or we don’t feel comfortable speaking on it at this time.

The Stigma Against Final Fusion/Unification/Full Integration

This is a very good criticism. For systems in which this is a healing choice they have given informed free consent to and for systems who are fusing/have fused by accident or otherwise against their will, it can be very alienating that so many people in the community are so aggressive about hating it. Sometimes this hatred extends to those who have underwent it, even.

Its an option that is rarely offered as a possible option in the plural community at large -particularly inclusive spaces- even in cases where it might be healthier for that system to try it out.

Its something that is often content warning-ed to even speak of in public plural spaces. So much as mentioning the option is seen as taboo.

It prevents people from considering it as an option that may otherwise have benefited from it because they can’t find good information about it and its so deeply discouraged. It prevents people who are in the process of unifying from speaking about their experiences or finding support. It especially alienates ex-systems from their former community- as they are seen as ‘betrayers’ for their recovery path or for things that happened against their will.

Its something that’s hot-button because its something that IS pushed on the community nonconsensually regardless of desire to take that path or without informed consent by many medical spaces. This is a legitimate problem, a legitimate thing that needs to be campaigned against; the forcing of FF on all systems as the must-try option that should only be abandoned for Healthy Multiplicity as a last resort if it seems to be impossible. If you talk to a therapist, the attitudes around FF are often entirely different than the ones in the community.

This is a open wound for the community, and thus people are a bit overzealous in rejecting anything to do with it.

There is balance to be had here, balance that needs to be emphasized more to solve this issue. FF needs to be treated with fairness as a valid option for some systems. While others may be triggered by it or firmly not want it or find it the opposite of healing for them and deserve to be allowed their space, there also needs to be space for those who want Unification, and it needs to be recognized as a valid option, and in the community right now, yes, many inclusive spaces strongly are against so much as discussing it as an option openly.

Simply changing the language people use about recovery and including FF as an option people can try when talking of recovery as well as how ones system may change over time would do wonders for this. Not being afraid to let people talk about their experiences with FF and giving accurate information on the risks and the process is another thing that can be done.

We as a community need to also check ourselves and stop viewing those who undergo FF or integration in general as ‘traitors to the cause’ or otherwise considering them less welcome in the community. It is a valid recovery path the same way healthy multiplicity is. While it has a low success rate, plenty of people do reach happiness after FF. It may very well be the best option for someone, and not allowing people the informed choice on choosing FF can hurt the community just as much as ONLY pushing FF.

Less Separate Systems & Medians Being Excluded

This is another valid point. There is a certain hierarchy in plural spaces that cannot be denied- those who are ‘more plural’ are considered more worth listening to, and those who consider themselves not singular but not all full separate people are ‘not plural enough’ (even systems with a paper diagnosis!) to some to be worth listening to.

This is wrong, of course. All those who have ‘more than one’ experiences belong here in the plural community if they wish to be. This is a truly important criticism, that those who don’t identify as all fully separate people, but are still having ‘more than one’ experiences feel excluded from the community, or don’t feel like they are ‘allowed’ to use our resources when they need them or to identify as they are. Some people with less separation/elaboration/etc feel pressured to force themselves to be more separate to fit in when that’s not right for them as well. They feel pressured to identify as fully separate people when it may not be helpful for them personally to do so.

The thing to do about this is to make sure when educating about plurality to mention the experiences of these sorts of systems just as much as those who are separate. To not exclude people who use parts language instead of people language about those in their system.

The community has to examine their attitudes towards ‘less defined’ systems and systems that don’t claim separate moral personhood if it is to become a better space than it is right now.

Stigma Against Very Separate Systems

Conversely, there is also a problem with acceptance of those who are very separate systems- who consider themselves fully separate people. Those who don’t want to be referred to as a gestalt and known as only the gestalt- who want a identity outside of ‘part of this system’. Many inclusive spaces also push these sorts of very separate systems to the wayside. These systems are often seen as unruly or unreasonable for wanting to be considered totally separate from their headmates.

This sort of dismissal of anyone who isn’t in a narrow band of acceptability in terms of separation is a huge problem in plural spaces. They need to be multiple, but not TOO multiple or they become what is viewed as a liability. They are accused of poor ‘system accountability’ and ‘dangerous blame dodging’ for merely asserting their personhood. All plural folks belong in this community and deserve to have their autonomy and personhood respected. They shouldn’t need to erase their expression of personhood to make others feel more comfortable.

System accountability does not need to look the same for every system. What is helpful and necessary to ensure the system reduces harm and can make adequate moves to make up for harm that was done and seek to do better in the future may be stifling as actively detrimental to another system. What is helpful and works for one system to allow freedoms while doing these things may encourage bad habits in another system. There is no one-size-fits all protocol for harm reduction, and the community needs to recognize this.

What must be done about this is much the same as what must be done to accept median systems better- be sure to respect the language people use in general and respect the personhood or lack thereof of each headmate. The community again needs to examine its attitude towards systems who wish to be considered fully separate from those who share their body with them and respect their desire to be considered fully separate people who just share a body.

Equating DID (and other dissociative disorders) to Plurality

Again another valid point. Having a dissociative disorder is not inherently plural. Plurality is a opt-in label and framework for those who have ‘more than one’ experiences, of which include but is not limited to those who have DID, p-DID, OSDD, or UDD. However people with these disorders should not be thought of as inherently plural if they don’t claim the label. They very much can be considered such as their experience is a ‘more than one’ experience, but they shouldn’t be forced to use the community term, especially if they don’t identify with the framework or doing so would hamper their recovery.

The solution to this is to again, try to shift the language to ‘more than one experience’ when talking about having headmates/parts/alters at all, and Plurality as a specific label some people with those experiences claim that has its own particular culture, framework, and attitude surrounding their ‘more than one’ experiences. People with dissociative disorders who do not want to be considered plural despite falling firmly under the strictest criteria of the word should not be considered plural if they don’t want to be.

It is also important when talking only about dissociative disorder experiences to specify that- as ‘plural’ is a historically broader term, and ‘more than one experience’ is even moreso.

Enforcing strict lines in the sand doesn’t help all of us who have ‘more than one’ experiences at large, but not respecting the language and frameworks people want to or don’t want to use is also harmful.

Being specific about the language and communities and experience being talked about is important to helping avoid miscommunication and conflict.

Endogenic Abusers

No one wants to admit their community has abusers, but yes, every community WILL, statistically speaking, have them. Yes, even survivor networks, yes even DID groups, yes even plural spaces.

Unfortunately many neo-internet communities and loose subcultures assume themselves to not have these kinds of people, and feel they can let their guard down. This is not the case. And because the community is ‘weird’, people feel like will not be taken seriously when they report the abuse. When abuse is reported, it gives ammo to trolls to attack the groups they belong to, and has very much in the past happened to other subcultures.

However it is VITALLY IMPORTANT to report this abuse anyway, if viable. Otherwise the missing stairs effect becomes a serious problem.

It is also tempting to blame the weird/cringe belief for the abuse, because saying ‘this person is a horrible person because they chose to hurt me’ is harder than saying ‘people who believe this non-normative thing are uniformly bad’, in part because brains like clicky patterns, and that’s a big difference compared to other people one may know, in part because it means avoiding putting the blame on the person instead of on the belief.

This is a problem in many alternative groups. The weird thing isn’t a problem, its what the person who abused you did with the weird thing that is the problem. It doesn’t mean the weird thing is fake/wrong/not real, it means only that the person did bad things with the weird thing.

The belief -no matter how bizarre- isn’t the problem, the abusive or otherwise harmful behavior is.

The problem isn’t that the person believes in endogenic systems, or system hopping, or fictives with ‘canonmates’, but that the person does things like ‘insists that any amnesia or dissociative experiences or trauma signs are nothing to worry about and you shouldn’t ever explore that’, or ‘insists they can alter your memories by traveling to your system or can steal your headmates’ or ‘insists that they are your headmate’s loved ones from their exomemories and that means you can, should, and MUST trust them’.

These are signs that should be spread around and can actually help to reduce abuse. When people are new to the community, they should get this kind of warning sign help. This is something that isn’t currently done but should be, and is something that can materially help with the problems some people have experienced.

The solution is clearly twofold- making sure that the community can and WILL hold people accountable for abuse AND to spread knowledge of the red flags of abuse and plural-specific abuse warning signs.

It is also worth noting when speaking of making the community safer that DARVO is a common tactic and callouts often are a tool of harassment and abuse with fabricated evidence to further harm a victim. It is important that the community learns to distinguish the most obvious of the fabricated ones and responds to more legitimate looking ones constructively (ie- not with anon hate dogpiles, which do not fix the actual problem, merely harm someone to make the people doing it feel better).

One needs to look beyond kneejerk disgust and discourse positions when examining who is the ‘bad guy’ in the situation. Many a callout post has been made to fabricate someone on the other side of a petty intracommunity wankfest as an abuser, sometimes even including doctored screenshots.

It is worth reading [THIS] and other related texts of people who were DARVOed with callouts and internet mobbed by communities who believed the abuser before deciding to spread any kind of callout.

Again- there ARE endogenic abusers. There are inclusive spaces that are deeply toxic and harmful and deserve to be talked about as problems. This does not make the wider inclusive community inherently abusive. This does not make the inclusive belief inherently abusive. One can talk about their shitty actions without deciding their politics are bad, or without implying they are bad because of their politics. And it NEEDS to be done. Circling the wagons its not helping anything, least of all victims.

The inclusive community very much needs to become more receptive to fairly hearing out the testimonies of those harmed or excluded within it, even if it was the mod of their favorite discord chat who was accused, as well as able to discern obvious DARVO or petty revenge callout posts from true accusations and then only do constructive things about it.

“I didn’t recognize my trauma (because of inclusive places) and this hurt my recovery!”

This is unfortunate. However the fault does not lie at the feet of non-trauma-based multiplicity existing in of itself. One can hold the belief that these kinds of systems exist AND that identifying this way for that person personally was harming them. To make this claim is the same as when people were saying ‘I IDed as ace because of internalized homophobia so the label of ace is inherently harmful.’ While the statement that they personally were harmed by ID-ing that way directly may be true, that does not mean its inherently harmful for everyone to identify that way and exist.

The problem was where the environment didn’t feel safe for them personally to explore that other identity, the problem was they may have had not had correct information and resources available to them about trauma symptoms and what ‘distress or impairment’ means, the problem is that they felt like they couldn’t touch resources that could help problems they had previously because they were labeled for certain kinds of systems only.

Its possible that some may never have found the path that led to DID without the endogenic community as a stepping stone- this the the actual truth for plenty of systems we have seen. The inclusive community and the endogenic label allowed them to start unpacking everything and have a place for themselves until they were ready to see the trauma. Without this they would not have gotten to that point. Not everyone who thought they were endogenic at first but realized they were trauma based had a bad experience with it. And indeed, we know of a few systems who started with the assumption they were fully trauma-based, but found they were fully endogenic as well, and spent years harmed by the notion that they HAD to have hidden trauma to have ‘more than one’ experiences.

The environment not providing knowledge or safety to question is a genuine problem. But it is not inherent to believing a system’s self-reported experience. Unfortunately, many plural spaces are NOT receptive to the notion that one’s understanding of their origin can change over time.

People do not spread knowledge that one’s understanding of one’s system can and often will change over time. People do not spread knowledge nearly enough that because dissociative amnesia is the way it is, one can forget they have amnesia and that is common to do so. People do not spread knowledge that anything that makes their life difficult or bothers them relating to plural traits, memory, or dissociation counts as ‘significant distress or impairment’ for a dissociative disorder. People do not spread knowledge that stress is a type of trauma, sensory distress is a type of trauma, chronic pain and illness is a type of trauma, neglect and isolation is a type of trauma- and many other things about the many dimensions of trauma and dissociation.

These are actual concerns and they are serious ones! The community has a huge problem with not providing this kind of knowledge when introducing plurality or just in general- this is something we-the-authors are rather outspoken about when we talk of it. The community has a huge telephone game problem where people learn of being plural being a thing from a mutual who explains it poorly and they never get pointed to any resource collection besides a term hoard wiki. They never pass out any history compilation, any real FAQ that isn’t just 500 definitions of words that are unimportant in the grand scheme of what one actually needs to know about the experience, any symptom list of dissociation or c-ptsd.

Some parts of the community see someone claim an origin while experiencing some very clear signs that they might want to reexamine this judgment and instead encourages never looking into anything else or working on the problems they have. Yes believe people, but sometimes we do take that too far and loop back around to enabling when we could gently suggest they look into some other things.

This again, can be solved by circulating this kind of information and putting it in the FAQs people make instead of a bunch of origin microlabels (which are cool to be clear but not necessary information for newbies the way other things are). This can be solved by making an atmosphere where people feel ok to question their origins and understanding when they gain new information. This can be solved by not just pointing at a barebones term-hoard website as the only important source of community information.

This leads into the next problem.

The Forced Microlabeling

There is a massive problem in the inclusive community where there is a strong pressure to have your entire system figured out from the getgo and put on a carrd. Every headmate with pronouns/orientation/gender and other identity labels and front triggers and how they individually were formed exactly listed, your exact origins via some incredibly unintuitive -genic label, your switching style(using only the popular community framework and not any other), your level of amnesia, and your disorder status. We constantly see people apologize for not having this information and not making a incredibly detailed intro post when they have known of their plurality for less than a week.

This is undeniably a problem.

This point is not to say microlabels are inherently bad. Because they are not- they are fun shiny things for people to use and help express themselves and do no inherent harm in their use.

The problem comes from the fact that they are all but forced on people and end up becoming very strict lines in the sand that prevent people from recognizing their own community and similarities. The problem also comes with the fact that that is sensitive information being given out and a LOT of it, which is dangerous. Especially when people feel pressured to do so.

Its worth reading this article on microlabels and sexuality which also talks of this problem but in the queer community: [LINK]

A quote that is of note in particular:

“Having a plethora of specific atomized sexualities discourages broad alliances and forming solidarity over shared experiences. Instead, it forces people to over-analyze themselves and focus on how they’re different from others rather than what they have in common with them.”

This is geared for sexualities, but it very much applies here as well. People have become so focused on making smaller and smaller boxes to put themselves in that they forget we are all plural and we are not all so different.

Its apt that plural spaces have this problem too- as the process of microlabels becoming so prevalent in system spaces comes from MOGAI microlabel ‘coin every super specific experience with no consultation with others who also experience that beforehand with a flag and everything’ culture, for lack of a better way to put it.

Many plural folks are queer, possibly because the outcast effect ends up allowing people to question and express other parts of their identity that are not accepted by society when they are already ‘outcast’ from it. Thus a lot of people came to plurality from queer spaces, MOGAI ones specifically.

Because MOGAI culture so informs the culture of the inclusive plural community, genuine critiques of that culture tend to by-and large apply to many corners of the plural community as well.

Again to be clear- This is NOT saying microlabeling and MOGAI culture in general is uniformly inherently bad, its that some of the downsides and negative aspects of the culture are also present in plural spaces and remain problems.

The hypercoinage of unintuitive microlabels and unrecognizable expensive-to-make flags by coining blogs who dont even experience or have much investment in the thing coined clogging up ‘need to know’ glossary lists with terms few people use is one such valid complaint.

The extreme possessiveness some people get over an identity experience they only coined a word for and intended said word for community use to the point that one must follow their ever-changing 1k+ word DNI to have that experience or use the label is another.

The sort of unstated vibe in the air that you HAVE to use those words, with people descending on you after you describe something with the word all but saying you should be using that label instead of the one you were using is very much also another.

These problems are undeniable- microlabel culture causes a lot of drama and divisions in the community that simply do not need to be happening. The labels themselves aren’t bad, but there is a lot of toxicity and inconsiderate and irresponsible behavior going on surrounding them that needs to be worked on by the community.

In system spaces people experience a lot of anxiety over having to choose a ‘genic label right off the bat, over saying their switching type and disordered status and level of separation while using the frameworks that are popular in the community and those only. They feel great pressure.

Many discord servers require you to do a introduction where the intro template lists these things, implying you NEED to have a ‘genic term per headmate and one in general, that you NEED to have a million other labels in the popular frameworks to describe your experiences, that you NEED to disclose any of this if you do know it, and that those labels have no overlap with others EVER.

People insist traumagenic spaces cannot overlap with any other origin type, excluding those who have different mythos but have incredibly similar material experiences that are helped by the resources in those spaces and those who are edge cases.

Consider those who feel their from-birth inherent neurodivergence traits are what made them plural but later trauma is what caused their dissociative disorder, or those who believe they were born with multiple souls but then trauma split those souls, or those who aren’t sure if they chose to create an entity or if stress got so bad they ended up splitting a headmate, or any other number of systems with blurry lines.

Where do these people go when the lines are drawn? They have to choose one ‘side’ or the other in the current climate but will never fully fit in wherever they go.

People insist disorderly spaces cannot ever overlap with subclinical/nonmedical ones, even if that system is only disqualified from diagnosis because they are not impaired or distressed but fit the criteria and popular medical theories perfectly. Even if they experience all the same things but don’t find those things impairing or distressing.

There are those who identify as not formed from trauma(partially or fully) who are officially diagnosed. There are tulpamancy systems that became disorderly later after trauma. There are diagnosed systems that don’t consider themselves to fit the ToSD and instead feel they have more similarity in their workings to endogenic frameworks. These systems fall through the cracks of this heavy divide.

It is these heavy lines in the sand that are the root of why being in certain spaces can hurt people.

People are told that if you identify as anything but traumagenic, you cannot and should not EVER use resources meant for disordered systems, regardless of if they can help you. That if you are a disorderly system, tulpamancy guides can NEVER help you learn any system skill ever. That if you are diagnosed you can’t EVER consider any other framework for your plurality than the one that is most popular in the psychiatric field or you are hurting your recovery.

Eroding these lines and giving help based on symptoms experienced rather than origin or diagnosis allows people to access help and frameworks that they may need.

These sorts of heavy lines prevent people from seeing how we are alike, how we can help each other, how some of us straddle these lines and help bridge the gaps between our differences.

If one had access to these resources, if it was accepted to use a resource if it helps you regardless of who its for, then perhaps one wouldn’t have had the problem where they ‘thought they were endogenic and thus never worked on their problems’- because they would have felt ‘allowed’ to use a resource that could help them with any problems they were currently experiencing regardless of their origin.

They would be encouraged to read articles talking of things that may let them recognize they are having problems in the first place. They would know they had memory trouble or somesuch and used the resources for that and started their recovery. They would have had access to others who also experienced that particular issue and might have noticed their experiences actually lined up more with a dissociative disorder. And if they didn’t take that help, then that’s because they weren’t ready to face it regardless.

It is our firm belief that these drawn lines in the sand in the plural community based on disorder status or origin cause the plural community significantly more harm than good and are the cause of many of the genuine problems within it.

Much of the genuine problems exclusionists have with ‘endos’ (‘hurt my recovery’, ‘people not realizing they have issues or trauma’, ‘people not knowing the level of suffering people with DDs can and often do have’, etc) can be solved with making these lines less deep, by making resources and guides accessible and welcoming to all who experience that particular symptom but not necessarily the rest, by making a community where all experiences across all origins and disorder status can be heard and valued.

This doesn’t mean that dissociative disorder spaces for people with DDs only need to go away, but that the barrier for entry needs to be less steep for those questioning and the wider plural community needs to make nonspecific symptom-focused resources available more.

But this requires changing the framework for viewing what a disorder even is. And this scares people. People are used to thinking of disorders as concrete things that are or are not happening. However all the psychological disorders are not like things like tuberculosis or strep throat- they have no concrete yes or no bacterial test- they are only collections of symptoms commonly seen together which were codified for insurance purposes.

Changing the framework of thinking of a disorder as a coherent thing to a collection of symptoms that line up with a common cluster of symptoms is necessary to accepting that people without a specific disorder may experience a symptom from it and may need and be helped by that support, wether or not the THEORY or rest of the symptom list for that disorder holds for that person.

In order to help the most amount of people, one must accept that sometimes people who don’t claim to have a particular disorder should access those resources and spaces meant for those with those symptoms in order to get unique things that help them they cannot get anywhere else.

This DOES NOT MEAN that spaces only for those diagnosed shouldn’t exist, merely that there should be spaces that are more relaxed about this so that people may get the help they need.

In order to feel less uncomfortable about this, thinking about disorders as clusters of symptoms that can be helped individually by different things and framing the help for these things as not by disorder but by experienced symptom without assuming certain frameworks or diagnosis can help shift the narrative from ‘people without x invading a space and using our resources’ to ‘people experiencing x symptom are getting help for managing x symptom’. Especially in situations where the resource is not finite, like help guides and info posts and downloadable tools.

We suppose that is our thesis for this post- many of the problems in this community that are worth critiquing can be boiled down to ‘respect other’s experiences and recovery paths even if they aren’t like your own and let them have space to talk about them’, ‘normal internet space critiques about community accountability’, and ‘if we stopped holding up the stark label divides and started putting out more information on -experience- over framework-based and gated resources and how to deal with the individual experiences, many of the problems would disappear’.