Do you have DID or OSDD? (Dissociative Identity Disorder or Otherwise Specified Dissociative Disorder)
No. Neither one.
In order to be diagnosed with a disorder, a person must exhibit significant distress over the impairments caused by their condition. We do not, therefore it is not a disorder.
We do experience impairments to our daily life due to being plural, but only in as much as the society that we live in is not equipped to accommodate us. If more people understood what plurality is and allowed us to have our little glitches in memory and changing quirks of behavior without social repercussions, we would have no trouble. Since we cannot live fully out as plural, we consider our plurality a disability. But only in the same way that being transgender or homosexual is a disability. One that requires the accommodation of acceptance and nothing more.
This applies to our case, not necessarily to others.
Plurality and the way that it interacts with traumagenic conditions, such as PTSD and c-PTSD, is really wide and varied, and there are other plural systems for whom a diagnosis of DID or OSDD would be appropriate and useful.
Our model of plurality
Some things we know, if you listen to everyone who reports being a system and take their word for it:
- Plurality is really way more common than people realize. There’s a meme that says upward of 3% of the human population. That’s more than there are known trans people.
- People who are autistic seem to have a higher frequency of plurality.
- People who are trans seem to have a higher frequency of plurality.
- People who are autistic and trans seem to have a VERY high rate of plurality.
- The characteristics and experiences of plural systems are really wide and varied. And they all occur on spectrums.
- The way a single given system works may evolve over time.
Speaking generally of the human body, we also know:
- The human body and brain are a complex system of complex systems in the mathematical chaos theory sense of that term.
- Human development is also itself a complex system.
- All sorts of tiny little things can influence it and change it, so humanity tends to show an incredibly wide range of diversity.
Now, current scientific theory of psychology states that the human mind starts out in sort of a plural state as it develops from a fetus. Parts of the brain coalesce and form identities independently of each other before their dendrites make contact with each other, and it typically isn’t until three to five years old that a child’s brain unifies and develops a single self schema (a psychological map of identity). This is also the time when gender typically emerges and asserts itself.
So, with that in mind, we think there are many different ways that plurality can manifest. But a few different major categories may suffice to describe it.
There could be systems that have completely separate consciousnesses that never share memories and never cofront or coinhabit the conscious mind.
There could be systems that have one single consciousness that merely changes identity to adapt to different situations.
And then there’s systems like ours, where each headmate is a separate consciousness, but they can fluidly switch, merge, split, and recombine in a variety of internal configurations.
We know we are this latter type because we can literally feel each other’s consciousnesses as we move around each other and touch each other. And when we merge, we can feel ourselves expanding to include the extra awareness and thoughts of our headmates, like overlapping circles growing together in an animated Venn diagram.
We believe that most human minds have an underlying plural structure. This is supported by most psychological theories. Any impairment to unified thought will give a person plural experiences. Meaning it’s a smooth spectrum from singlet to multiple, with a lot of variety and texture to the experiences between them.
Diagnoses like DID and OSDD are useful in a clinical setting to obtain insurance and treatment for systems that are in distress. They are diagnoses based on the model of a mental health disorder.
Which means that the key criteria for diagnosis is that the experiences are severe enough that the patient experiences them as an impairment to their life and is distressed about them. Therefore, a system that is happy about their experiences as a system should not receive a diagnosis. And therefore, the diagnoses should not be used to define the neurotype.
We submit that the neurotype should be known as plurality, and that DID and OSDD should be recognized as clinical tools for systems in distress.
Our personal take on this is that DID and OSDD are effectively diagnoses that describe how a system behaves and expresses PTSD.
We have PTSD.
If you take our behavior and experiences from a few years ago, we could and should be diagnosed with DID according to the DSM-5. However, we are not in distress about being plural. Since recognizing our plurality, we’ve been able to cooperate and function in such a way as to avoid the amnesia and confusion of previous years. And we did this without therapy. But we’re still very plural and we still have PTSD. We’ve just adapted well.
So, for US at least, it makes sense to identify as plural, not get a diagnosis of DID, and instead focus our therapy on treating our PTSD.
For a system that is less cooperative and has more internal conflict, a diagnosis of DID makes a lot of sense.
Finally, some points:
Anyone identifying as plural, no matter what their traits, characteristics, or symptoms are, does NOT reflect on or take away from the identities and needs of other plural people!
The existence of endogenic, non-traumatized systems does not invalidate or even belittle the existence of traumagenic systems that experience a lot of distress.
So there is no need to gatekeep and in turn invalidate people who self report experiences of plurality, EVER.
We have the language to describe impairments, using such words as “amnesia” and “dissociation” as well as many others. Let’s use that language.
Take a cue from autistic people. Stop narrowly defining the neurotype by a specific set of pathologized symptoms, and start describing your own specific experiences and needs.
Plurality is a large umbrella, and no two systems are alike.