lb_lee: A happy little brain with a bandage on it, surrounded by a circle and the words LB Lee. (Default)
[personal profile] lb_lee
There is a chestnut of misinformation on tumblr claiming that 'system' is a term made by DID folks, for DID folks, and nobody else is allowed to use it.  This is often wrapped up in the idea that multiplicity is owned by people with DID/DDNOS/OSDD, and anyone else claiming it is appropriating.  This is utter nonsense.  I've written numerous posts on this before, but here is the more thorough breakdown, first focused on the politics of this statement, and then the actual facts of reality.

I. The Politics

The "system is DID-only" argument that tumblr makes seems to be based on a completely different form of social justice theory than disability rights--namely, the idea of cultural appropriation.  People making this argument equate 'system' with language created by oppressed people for their specific culture, and other plurals using 'system' as appropriators at best and ableist oppressors at worst.  But this is completely false and misleading!

First of all, DID folks probably did not invent the term 'system.' It is more likely that it was created by the mental health powers that be; Freyasspirit kindly gave me this citation from Richard Kluft's "The Phenomenology And Treatment Of Extremely Complex Multiple Personality Disorder" in 1988 where he refers to "a system of alters," and that's the earliest I've been able to find.  I've also seen it used later in the therapeutic literature in 1995, in Stephen Braude's "First Person Plural: Multiple Personality and the Philosophy of Mind," Krakauer's "Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder: The Power of the Collective Heart" from 2001, and many, many others.  Just google 'system of alters' and you will find plenty.

Even if I'm incorrect, and the term came from the DID folks themselves, it is clear that mental health personnel quickly picked it up and enforced it upon us from their position of medical authority.  Not exactly the empowering narrative of a noble oppressed people coming up with terms for their own self-identification, is it?

But even if you ignore that, the fact is, multiples are not a culture.  Certainly not an oppressed one.  We are, at best, a bunch of subcultures fighting with each other like high school cliques.  The closest thing to DID "culture" I have ever experienced is a conference that had a great number of doctors as honored guests and panelists--and I can say with certainty that the focus was on deference to medical authority, not self-determination.

So to equate the terminology of medical personnel to the language used by oppressed cultures is horrifying to me.  It's not liberating or empowering in the slightest, because it implies that our most holy words, our culture... are words that doctors came up with.  It puts doctors in a place of cultural authority, not just medical authority!  And yet at the same time, the argument claims other plurals are the appropriators, the ones in power oppressing people with DID, "stealing" their words!

So the whole argument is undermined by the very virtues it professes.  It uses a circular logic to claim that multiples are a culture, an oppressed culture at that, and not only that, it is only made up of people with DID. (And/or DDNOS/OSDD, depending on who exactly is spouting this nonsense.)  All of this is completely untrue; non-DID plurals have been a part of our communities for over twenty years, at least, and I can prove it.

II. The Facts

The earliest citation I can find for plurals themselves using the term 'system' is from the alt.support.dissociation Insider FAQ from 1994, created by Discord and Sapphire Gazelles.  The FAQ offers the following definition of 'multiple system': " someone who has multiple persons/personalities living inside of one body. These are referred to here as alters. (As of the DSM-IV, this condition is called Dissociative Identity Disorder, but most people here will probably not use the official term.)"

So from the very start, the implication is that DID is not the be-all, end-all of plural experience.  And the FAQ goes further!  When they come to the question "What causes multiplicity?" Discord and Sapphire Gazelles specifically state that while many experience trauma, "there are exceptions to this." These include, "a few multiples exist that do not believe that they were abused but have had dissociative role models, such as a multiple parent." In later edits of the FAQ from 1995, this expanded to also include, "Some people explore identity or alternate identity games, like role playing, acting, pretending, or alternate social structures to the point where they begin to question their original identity.  In some cases, these identities can take on aspects, experiences, and problems which are essentially identical to those  experienced by multiples who experienced trauma." They also emphasize, "Some multiples are unaware of any initial trauma.  Whether such trauma exists and the memories blocked or whether no such trauma exists is usually impossible to determine."

Compare and contrast to the tumblr argument, which does not allow a plural to exist if they don't have trauma.  The alt.support.dissociation FAQ allows far more self-governance and flexibility.

This FAQ was reposted and linked over and over up until at least 2012, and the drop in references more reflects falling use of the site, rather than terminology.  The last one I can find is from 2013, and specifically uses 'system' to refer to all kinds of plurals, even ones other posters are skeptical of the existence of. (Ironically, tumblr systems with fictives.  Note that fictives are still a more-or-less accepted part of the DID phenomenon on that site, so enjoy the subcultural differences there!)

But non-DID plurals took and ran with the 'system' word off of Usenet too.  By 2000, the Anachronic Army was using it, dismissing MPD as "An inaccurate label. We are people, and not disordered!" and further stated, "We have dropped the label of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) and simply call ourselves 'multiple'." By 2001, Astraea were also using it, and similarly rejecting the medical model of multiplicity, stating that they had never been diagnosed, and asking, "Do you really think the mental health system has the patent on multiplicity?" By 2004, Amorpha had also picked it up.

In 2007, we joined the multiplicity and soulbonding communities of Livejournal, and by that point, 'system' had most definitely generalized into use by all plurals on that site.  We used the term in our first comic, MPD for You and Me, which we created that year.  We can also find members of the multiplicity community with 'system' in their usernames that we can date back to this period, such as mysidia_system from 2006 (who followed soulbonding comms) and elementalsystem from 2008, who clearly reject the medical model and DID diagnosis as well.

'System' became such a general purpose word, in fact, that it spawned other words based off of it, like 'in-system relationship,' which I've primarily seen discussed by non-DID systems, such as Plures House. (And that article dates from 2012.) And while I saw many, many tedious turf battles during my time on Livejournal, none were ever pitched over the word 'system.' That didn't appear until recent years on tumblr, and still seems highly specific to that site.

Furthermore, I have no reason to believe that 'system' was ever reclaimed to be specifically for DID folks during this time either!  Certainly not on a general basis.  In 2015, I went to the IGDID Trauma and Dissociation Conference, and nobody knew what I was going on about when I used the term 'system.' The terminology was not used in that subculture.

So 'system' has been general purpose for over 20 years, and it's been used by specifically non-DID systems during that entire time. It never got reclaimed by DID folks, who aren't a monolith to begin with.  So for to claim that non-DID multiples are "appropriating" their language, even if you ignore the incorrect usage, is patently false.  They've been using it a long time!  And they were using it specifically in communities that mixed us all together.  They aren't barbarians invading DID Rome; they were here from the beginning, and crafting the language from the beginning, and a great number of them have been huge boons to our community.  I consider it deeply rude to try and strip their language from them now, especially for such a ridiculously contrived reason.

--Rogan

Date: 2017-09-18 12:13 am (UTC)
mirrorofsmoke: The words "We are Groot" and a picture of Baby Groot on an icon with a swirly galaxy background. (Default)
From: [personal profile] mirrorofsmoke
.... What? IGdid doesn't know what systems are? What's the preferred term for a group of alters over there? *Gags at the word alters too. And parts* *Gag gag gag* I know DID systems who would have leaped down these tumblrite folks's throats for calling them alters.

Date: 2017-09-18 08:44 am (UTC)
minoanmiss: (Default)
From: [personal profile] minoanmiss
*reads and learns*

Thank you for this.

Date: 2017-09-19 10:16 pm (UTC)
traumata_irrealis: A forest fire (Default)
From: [personal profile] traumata_irrealis
Guhh we hadn't thought of the issue of "making doctors into cultural authorities." Cuz that's an idea we've come across too, now, that "system" is just so medical of a word that those of us not doing the whole medical thing shouldn't touch it. Which is a bizarre and incorrect explanation for how come people on tumblr use the term "system," which we'd argue has its direct lineage from the non-DID uses. But calling it "medical therefore you're appropriating"? Eeesh. medical language deserves appropriation, cuz it's pretty damn dehumanizing on its own >:(

The fussing over "system" in particular traces back no further than the beginning of 2016, on our blog at least. The earliest conversations we recall even hinting that "system" might be "DID-only" came from a soulbonder who was trying to make more distinct communities. Don't really think that they started it or anything, but it's the first place the idea shows up in our blog history, where our response is "Since when did anyone ever say 'system' was the problem?"

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Date: 2017-09-20 05:00 am (UTC)
traumata_irrealis: A forest fire (Default)
From: [personal profile] traumata_irrealis
Oh, yeah that's who we were thinking of. Forgot there was a specific anon involved, or never saw it -- just the immediate discussion of "collective" as an alternative and an effort to "distinguish the communities," largely because distinct communities would hopefully mean less harassment of non-DID systems collectives, like he actually took it up as being just about the word "system" rather than "how dare you claim to share a body with someone else."

Either way, early 2016, late 2015.

You know, we've seen people try to re-define "system" as "a person's dissociated parts," the ~actual~ medical definition. This impulse to prostrate yourselves before some medical notion that hardly believes multiplicity exists at all, we cannot understand :/
lithophiles: Young man with long black hair, violet eyes, medium light skin, & red overcoat (IT'S TOTALLY VELVET). A general twit. (anzeu)
From: [personal profile] lithophiles
MORDAX NEVER LEARN BETTER. Sorry for being cynical, it's just they've been a bucket of fail for over a fucking decade and nothing seems to teach them better. Not having most of the people on their MB turn out to be trolls, not being repeatedly played by trolls and cult leaders, nothing, really. It's like watching a trainwreck trapped in a Groundhog Day loop.

And oh god what the baby Jesus vibrating buttplug is that response of theirs you linked to further down. Who the hell appointed them to speak On Behalf Of All Multiples? (Well, that's the eternal question, really.) I mean, I know we get kind of irrationally twitchy when people insist that "headmates" is some kind of technical term based on origins rather than one based on aesthetic preference (like, why not just say "people") but their insistence that "mental collective" is the New Endorsed Word For A System Not Created By Trauma (tm) is all the officious Pavilion bullshit we wanted to get away from and want people to know we don't endorse any more.

I suspect they are operating under the false assumption that if doctors approve our existence, the rest of the world will follow suit. Or want to avoid the painful work of having to come to terms by themselves, without authority's approval.

hahaha

hahahahahaha

AHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHA

THE TRUE LIFE MISSION AND GOAL OF PAVILION HALL, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!! ON DISPLAY UNDER THE BIG TOP FOR YOUR FACEPALMING AND... MORE FACEPALMING!! There's a sucker born every minute, you can fool some of the people all of the time, this way to the egress, but first stop by and see our amazing collection of Systems Who Realized The Fires Model Fit Them Exactly PERFORM THEIR AMAZING DISAPPEARING TRICK BEFORE YOUR EYES.

No, seriously. That's what it was all driving at in the end: getting doctors to approve the existence of non-DID systems and/or having media portray them, because SOCIETY! SOCIETY! SOCIETY will never take us seriously unless we have a doctor's endorsement or SOME form of authority backing us up. Actually, one of the systems involved stated numerous times that people just didn't understand that healthy multiplicity would NEVER get anywhere until we could GET A DOCTOR TO BACK US UP.

Yushyu commented later on, after she'd lurked in some otherkin communities, that a lot of people with non-socially-approved identities seemed to believe in some kind of Identity Rapture, the Day When The Veil Will Be Rended And All Otherkin Gain Their True Forms, and Multiple Systems Can Walk Around In Society Asking Everyone To Call Them By Their Own Names And Everyone Will Accept This As Okay, and also I Will Get A Pony. I mean, I get the appeal of this idea when it hits home that the overwhelming majority of society thinks you're just batshit insane and nothing you say will convince them otherwise, but. But. Your activism is doomed to go nowhere if you insist from the very start that the only outcome you'll accept is everyone like you being accepted and viewed as normal within your lifetime.
lithophiles: Young man with long black hair, violet eyes, medium light skin, & red overcoat (IT'S TOTALLY VELVET). A general twit. (anzeu)
From: [personal profile] lithophiles
Yeah, it's really quite a puzzle! Especially after the split between Lancers and Pavilion was initiated by the groups in charge to get rid of Jen (yes that Jen) and all the systems they didn't think were "functional enough" and then they lied about it being because "Lancers is a SERIOUS HARDCORE ACTIVISM GROUP, Pavilion is for people who can't afford to devote as much time," and two of the median systems listed were actually sockpuppets created to "promote the median concept" to people who identified as soulbonders or singlets and "might not realize they were median," and the system that took it over a few months before it folded went around yelling about "we need fanatics right now" and "THE CODEX MUST NOT BE CHANGED" and lecturing everyone who hadn't been screaming at people for "not doing enough work," for "coddling them." I don't think we'd been insulted so much "behind the scenes" by a group of people claiming to like us since high school.

...there are people who think, or used to think, that we had to participate in secret keeping about all this because something something Pavilion Is Still The Last Best Chance For Multiples To Get Positive Media Publicity, and/or because This Is One Step Away From Being Our Own Family's Dirt And You Don't Speak Of That In Public, but all the fucks I could have given left a long time ago and went off to become adult film stars.

Date: 2017-09-21 05:37 am (UTC)
lithophiles: Young man with long black hair, violet eyes, medium light skin, & red overcoat (IT'S TOTALLY VELVET). A general twit. (anzeu)
From: [personal profile] lithophiles
After reading for awhile, I'm beginning to suspect that most of Mordax's anon asks, at least about multiplicity, are all from the same system, who probably grabbed onto the system thing and began spreading it around.

Sigh. Welcome to Groundhog Day, yet again. (Seriously, some of those questions are so fucking innocuous that there's NO GOOD REASON to anon yourself to ask them if you're "just curious." Not unless you're trying to get their "official answer" in order to shitpost about THE EVILS OF ENDOCRINOLOGIST I MEAN ENDOGENIC SYSTEMS WHO EXACTLY IS ACCUSING PEOPLE OF SILLY-SOUNDING MADE UP TERMS AGAIN HERE. I mean seriously though, there's a suspicious rash of anons who keep repeatedly making the typo "soulbound" again and again and again.)

Date: 2017-09-21 05:57 am (UTC)
lithophiles: Medium-sized rocks of varying colors and shapes in a stone wall. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lithophiles
...and to add to that, one of the things that's most fucking toxic about Tumblr is that literally anyone can position themselves as an expert by affecting the right attitude and responding to a lot of asks, and due to the nature of how reblogging works, they aren't subject to the informal peer review that tended to keep checks and balances on LJ if someone was running around giving terrible advice. And this is probably well-known by now, but people can also send themselves anonymous asks, placing themselves in a position where it appears like people are flocking to them to ask questions in order to get their "expert opinion" on various issues. So they can actually create a reputation for themselves as a Community Expert In Good Standing when they were faking it before.

It's just a very, very, very bad platform for any kind of serious dialogue, especially for young and vulnerable people who are questioning their identities and want serious information about what they think they might be. It somehow manages to aggregate all the worst features of Usenet and Livejournal without any of the things that were good about them.

(Anyone legitimately plagued by suspicious infestations of anonymice might find these search results helpful.)

-blendy!us
Edited (messed up a URL tag) Date: 2017-09-21 05:58 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-09-20 02:05 am (UTC)
bitterpixie: (Riley)
From: [personal profile] bitterpixie
aaaa fukken good post op

this is something we (mostly rose tbh) have been trying to put in the research to Track but been waaaay too out of it to actually do anything about. so like thank you for putting this together omfg

- riley

Date: 2017-09-20 01:37 pm (UTC)
flowergarden: flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] flowergarden
[Carnation]

I think a lot of the root of it is, despite what people would say, many of the DID types don't BELIEVE other people about what they're experiencing.

Like I see people all the time say "GOSH guys we're not telling you something's not going on, just that if you don't have DID/OSDD (doesn't understand either OSDD diagnosis) you've got something else happening and shouldn't use system terminology, how is that SO HARD, just make your own terms!"

So they say. But even leaving aside that those terms that already exist aren't exclusive, those same people ALSO say that the ONLY way to be several people in a head is severe trauma between ages of blah blah blah (doesn't understand what the upper age limit was supposed to be either) and unless you're diagnosed you're just tricking yourself into thinking it's multiple people. Maybe you have BPD and are just tricked into thinking your moods are different people? But obviously you don't have full people like us! Believing you do is hurting YOU because you're not getting the help you need for whatever you really have, I'm attacking and shaming you for YOUR sake sweetie. :):):)

I think if they truly believed it was similar experiences, more people would concede that it makes sense to overlap terms somewhat, with some other terms just naturally applying only to certain experiences (say, a system of all people visiting from alternate dimensions is unlikely to refer to splitting). But the truth is, a lot of these people are convinced that the medical establishment knows literally everything, and unless they've ALREADY acknowledged it, it's fake. Are you saying you know more than the EXPERTS?

Psychological diagnoses are hard, because you can't just crack open a brain and look at it and say "well that color looks like multiplesystemitis, for sure". All anyone HAS is self-descriptions and the opinions of therapists watching people talk. That's why things like the DSM keep putting out new versions, because the experts DON'T know everything and keep refining how they think it works! Brains and people are so complicated, I hate the idea that if it hasn't already been described in an Official Text, that means peoples' self-perceptions aren't real, either. It feels like if people were claiming years back that trans men didn't exist because only trans women were described in the DSM, and if you're not attracted to yourself you're probably not a trans woman, either. Maybe just a crossdressing fetishist sweetie? You're hurting yourself by focusing your attention on the wrong thing. You just go be a kinky man and stop pretending to be a woman sweetie. :):):)

...in fact I like that metaphor because, just as autogynephillia didn't actually concede that trans women were women, just why men would like pretending they were... nothing in all this medical stuff supports that DID alters are full people, either. Most of these people are ignoring the medical establishment themselves! But when it fits their political narrative, obsession with (their misinterpretation of) DSM criteria all the way.

Date: 2017-10-10 05:10 pm (UTC)
flowergarden: flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] flowergarden
[Carnation]

Yeah, for sure, and I'm sympathetic to the feeling, if not their reaction to it. Like, do we here have a perfect life, has this whole system thing all been easy fun? Not really! But, lacking any surprise out of nowhere suppressed memory with absolutely no symptoms hinting toward it, we could probably only kind of sort of theoretically get diagnosed with one of the OSDDs, and even that's iffy because there just isn't enough distress. The dissociation, the PTSD, all that, I don't envy anyone else and totally get people being bitter that others "have it easier". Because in some very specific ways, yeah, they probably do.

But that's turned into this idea of "you either suffer as much as me (and have your suffering approved by a doctor) or your experiences are made up". Strict DID types are now assuming that they're being MALICIOUSLY attacked, that there's a sudden wave of singlets who enjoy roleplaying and making a mockery of their suffering, and that telling them to stop roleplaying should be all it takes. Anyone who resists after that is DEFINITELY faking their real illness for fun.

I compare it to trans stuff a lot, because it's a similar non-proveable mental state. And this reminds me a lot of truscum ideology, where lack of "enough" suffering means people are mocking a real medical condition by treating it as a fashion accessory. Because clearly "you do you but I personally don't want phalloplasty" translates to "I love pretending to be a boy for social status without having to deal with your crippling physical dysphoria lol!!!!". And that upsets people.

I don't know how to convince anyone otherwise, when they're so entrenched in this worldview that their suffering means everyone else must suffer equally to be real. Not that I'm, uh, really trying. I'm not a sweeping argument CHANGE THE WORLD type, I just ugh and move on.
lithophiles: Young woman with disheveled short-cropped brown hair, pale skin, light green eyes and glasses, wearing army tags and a green shirt with ripped sleeves. (iste)
From: [personal profile] lithophiles
...We freaked and briefly deleted most of this because we still have some lingering idea that we shouldn't say anything negative in public about this one other system, because they were really good at making us feel obligated to them and that we had maliciously misinterpreted their attempts to Only Ever Be Good To Us, but... honestly I'm really sick of being publically mute about how badly they treated us. If they're sorry, they can damn well apologize to us themselves and stop communicating with us only through our ex-partner system.

So there was one system who we met in our first few years on the Internet that we ended up debating and arguing with a lot about how multiplicity works, back when we were still identifying as "a soulbonder with more than usually autonomous soulbonds." We were (at one point) trying to argue that soulbonding could be like MPD/DID in significant ways, having full people with full ranges of emotions who could come out and take the body at any time, only "without the disordered part." I think in retrospect they may have been angry or jealous at the idea that you even could have "the good without the bad," and I almost want to say I can see their side of things and wish we'd handled it differently, except... they were all about multiples as superbeings who could behavioristically adapt to any and every kind of situation with people who were perfectly suited to it, and apparently disbelieved that our brains could have overall inclinations in terms of things like sexual orientation and gender identities and seemed to think that theirs were just fluctuating system demographics. Because something something children being blank slates at birth and if they learn they can become other people (but only before the cutoff age in response to severe trauma, of course), then the brain becomes neurologically flexible and retains this alleged childhood blank-slate ability to turn into anything that is necessary to survive in a given environment. (seriously those behaviorism theories about "you can take a child and make them into anything with the right conditioning" were shot down in the 60s and 70s but they didn't seem to have gotten the memo)

Also they were ultra-obsessed with their constant fighting and super edgelord hardcore struggles for dominance and attempts to kill each other in system, which they seemed to think was just a byproduct of the abuse-related stresses that created the system in the first place and that "if it doesn't spill out, it's no problem." That was kind of our first and last lesson in "if someone treats people in their system like shit or says it's okay for people to kill and torture each other, don't expect them to be super-ethical to people outside the body either." (But they also acted like they had earned the right to be pompous shits because they went through So Much Hell in-system, which apparently... was not totally preventable by laying down some ground rules and communication.)

Except when I really think about it, we had our own form of angry jealousy on our side, because we had been unable to make ourselves non-autistic or get rid of sensory overload or things we didn't even realize were PTSD by cycling through frontrunners. And here we were basically being told that if we'd had severe trauma before the magical cutoff age, that would never have been a problem for us (well, they said there were downsides but the ones they mentioned, apart from FIGHTING FOR DOMINANCE, hardly seemed like a sacrifice in light of fifteen years of struggles). I mean, looking back, we realize that the idea that we hadn't experienced severe trauma in early childhood was actually part of our family's bullshit narrative that we were going along with, but we kind of lashed back at them with "Yeah, well, some soulbonders can create 'full people' without the disorder parts too!", because they kept going on about why soulbonds didn't qualify as full people by their definitions (even though several of our fictive members actually did fit those definitions).

...and looking back, it also seems a bit unfair that they assumed there wasn't anything we could possibly be hiding from them, or in denial about to ourselves. They only knew part of the surface of our life, and used it to assume a hell of a lot. Like, yeah, we were wrong about the whole "no severe early childhood trauma" thing, because our memories were all jumbled and fragmented in a When Rabbit Howls kind of way where no one could focus on them for too long without freaking out so we didn't understand their significance, we just felt panic and terror all the time "for no reason," but even if we had been able to speak the truth at the time, I don't know if they would even have believed us. They had this very rigid set of ideas about "what REAL survivors do" that... literally discounted anyone who was too forthcoming in talking about their trauma and dismissed them as "exaggerating things for attention," and I have no idea where the fuck they got those goddamn ideas from.

We tried to describe the panic to them a few times, when we were panicking "for no reason," but they seemed to laugh it off and dismiss it and clearly didn't think it could possibly be that bad. Or consider that the fact we were living with our birth family at the time might have played a role in what we were able to understand about our childhood. (Been reading some of Jennifer Freyd-- Pamela Freyd's Evil Lying Daughter that the FMSF has spent the past 25 years trying to discredit-- and her theories about how parents and other powerful adult figures around a child can actively shape and distort their memories of abuse, telling them "No, that definitely didn't happen, THIS is the way it happened." I mean, we don't agree with every last thing she says, but the whole "creating a BS family narrative in which the family was totally healthy, just 'misunderstood by outsiders,' and absolutely not abusive at all" being used to shut down any chance to remember abuse in a non-dissociated, contextualized way or carefully examine memories which didn't fit the narrative was... pretty much our whole childhood and adolescence.)

...Actually the more we think about it, the more we realize that we felt animosity towards people we thought were "truly multiple, unlike us" for years before we found the "you can be multiple without being Sybil" stuff, since so many of them seemed to swear by the psychic superbeings stuff and "it's PROVEN we are more intelligent and creative than singlets!" That was a lot of why Tamsin wrote Sour Grapes in 2003 (gdi our webpage is so fucking out of date), sort of as a way of saying "Hey guys. This can make some people feel really fucking inadequate, you know? Have you ever considered if THAT'S the reason why some people have an investment in doubting your existence, if they don't know any other paradigm?" (Well, she tried to extend our skepticism more absolutely system-wide than it was because we were afraid of being laughed at, it's hardly a perfect essay, but we'll still admit to this day that bitterness that we didn't have all the "incredible abilities" and were just inferior earth peons was a factor in our not wanting to believe multiplicity existed when we thought we weren't really multiple.)
Edited Date: 2017-10-11 08:56 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-10-11 09:54 pm (UTC)
lithophiles: Young man with long black hair, violet eyes, medium light skin, & red overcoat (IT'S TOTALLY VELVET). A general twit. (anzeu)
From: [personal profile] lithophiles
Psychological diagnoses are hard, because you can't just crack open a brain and look at it and say "well that color looks like multiplesystemitis, for sure". All anyone HAS is self-descriptions and the opinions of therapists watching people talk. That's why things like the DSM keep putting out new versions, because the experts DON'T know everything and keep refining how they think it works!

GRAH YES. This is what always got us so frustrated when the multiple truscum police would act like THE DEFINITION FOR DID IS BASED ON VERE VERE SRS SCIENTIFIC CRITERIA and no, it's cobbled together based on a combination of messy observations over many years, including some from crackpots (e.g. Colin Ross) and a guy who admitted he had case studies of non-abused multiples that he had never released or used in his statistics (that was Frank Putnam). Like Tamsin always said, you can't do a pee test for it. Even diagnoses like autism that are strictly neurological in origin still have to be diagnosed on the basis of behavior.

And there are people with some really bizarre ideas about the scientificness of how DID is diagnosed, including some people who believe that it actually shows up on frickin' brain scans, although they couldn't tell you how a DID Brain Scan looks different from a Non-DID Brain Scan. They just got all aggro at some people on Tumblr, going "HAVE YOU HAD A BRAIN SCAN?!" and insisting that "a brain scan is needed to diagnose DID." Actually, there was a woman named Pat Stubbs in turn-of-the-millenium days who would go around in chatrooms and messageboards asking people who identified as non-MPD/DID multiples if they had been checked for a brain tumor, because "a brain tumor can mimic the symptoms of DID." Needless to say, she didn't cite any evidence for this. (She was also apparently known for impersonating people she didn't like on the IRC channel she modded for.) Sometimes I wonder if she had a hand in starting the "brain scan" thing.

nothing in all this medical stuff supports that DID alters are full people, either. Most of these people are ignoring the medical establishment themselves! But when it fits their political narrative, obsession with (their misinterpretation of) DSM criteria all the way.

Yyyyyyup. If they actually READ the freakin' books, one of the things they would discover VERY QUICKLY is that most of the books and big-name doctors adamantly insist that they aren't people, that they shouldn't even be thought of as parts of a person or independent existences in any way, that they're just the delusions of one person who hypnotized themselves into believing they were separate people.

"The most important thing to understand is that alter personalities are not people. They are not even personalities. That might seem obvious, but it is a truth one can lose sight of during therapy. It is probably impossible to construct a satisfactory definition of an alter personality, as Stephen Braude (1995) has pointed out in compelling detail.(1) Alter personalities are highly stylized enactments of inner conflicts, drives, memories, and feelings. At the same time, they are dissociated packets of behavior developed for transaction with the outside world. There is only one person. The patient's conviction that there is more than one person in her is a dissociative delusion, and should not be compounded by a folie a deux on the part of the therapist."

"The alters, put another way, are devices. Like any theater, the personality system is based on certain conventions and structural rules. Part of the therapy involves mapping and dismantling these, replacing them with normal, happier, and more functional rules and structure. The patient is acting as if she is more than one person, but she isn't. This is different from Hollywood acting because the patient is so absorbed in the different roles that she believes in their reality. When I discussed this point with a drama professor, he said that acting students who are too absorbed in their roles become poorer actors. DID is not acting in the sense that Hollywood actors perform a role."

-COLIN FUCKING ROSS, ladies and gentlemen. The eminent dissociation researcher who has a literal fucking tinfoil hat and believes he can shoot energy beams out of his eyes.

(1)My note: Ross is apparently misrepresenting Braude here by citing him to make it look like Braude saying that it's difficult/impossible to create a satisfactory definition of an "alter" means he agrees with Ross's general conclusions. Actually, from what we've read, Braude seems to believe it is possible to think of plurality as multiple persons existing within the same body and sees this as having interesting implications for traditional Western theories of personality.
Edited Date: 2017-10-12 11:22 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-10-14 05:36 am (UTC)
flowergarden: flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] flowergarden
[Carnation]

Hmm, I actually might know where some of the brain scan stuff is coming from!

I have no idea how I was linked to it or how to find it again, but years ago I was shown a video where different brain activity was shown between actors attempting to change roles and a system switching. It wasn't a "brain scan" proving the system exists per se, but just proof of some minorly odd brain activity (I think something like an interruption in activity, where it stopped and started again quickly) during a switch that couldn't be replicated by faking. So not proving the system was real, not validating that understanding of DID, just that SOMETHING not easily faked was happening during a switch.

So for a while I saw that and similar experiments cited as "PROOF of multiplicity!!!" Which it's... not exactly, but I guess if you squint you can pretend. Then I think it started morphing further into "well since there's PROOF, why don't YOU prove it, you big faker!" Which is even less productive.

...I honestly don't even understand the "they're not even as complicated as a personality they're just STRATEGIES" thing. It doesn't work with anyone I know of. Not that they can't have been made for a purpose. I'm by far the most obviously a specific tool in this system! But most people and fragments tend to develop to have other traits beyond their main "use". Do these guys think people are just PRETENDING to have different, like, food tastes even when it has nothing to do with their supposed use? This stuff is easily observable, unless you don't believe a word your patients say is trustworthy. Which I guess answers the question.

Date: 2017-09-21 04:49 am (UTC)
lithophiles: A woman with long dark hair, light skin, green eyes, and glasses, wearing a dark green shirt. (amar)
From: [personal profile] lithophiles
The biggest irony in all of this is that I remember a number of people on Tumblr in 2012 claiming that the words "multiple" and "system" were INVENTED by non-dissociative systems and that no one with DID had ever used them. They would make dick posts beginning with lines like "Dear 'multiples' of Tumblr: Stop appropriating from people with DID" or "Dear 'systems' of Tumblr: Stop pretending to have DID," putting the words "multiple" and "system" in dick quotes again and again. They really, truly seemed to believe that "people with DID" had always and ever been the only term used, probably because Tumblr doesn't like non-Tumblr sources, especially when they're books. There was at least one person-- I don't know if they actually were a DID group or just white-knighting-- who insisted in 2012 that the word switching was invented by non-DID systems and made a ragepost about "DEAR 'MULTIPLES' OF TUMBLR, STOP USING YOUR BULLSHIT MADE-UP WORDS LIKE 'SWITCHING.' REAL PEOPLE WITH DID DO NOT 'SWITCH,' THEY JUST FIND THEMSELVES SUDDENLY IN A DIFFERENT PLACE IN A DIFFERENT TIME WITH NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED AND APPROPRIATION AND FUCK YOU AND I'M BLAMING YOU FOR THE FACT THAT MY THERAPIST IS AN INCOMPETANT HACK WHO CAN'T TEACH US HOW TO COMMUNICATE AND JUST SITS BACK AND TELLS ME THAT THIS IS ALL 'PART OF HAVING DID.'" (Well, okay, not that last part.)

We made a number of posts to our Tumblr explaining that the terms "multiple" and "system" had, in fact, been used in Well-Known MPD/DID Books and by Well-Known Doctors and in online MPD/DID communities and resource pages created when most of the people posting this stuff were probably in diapers, where people said multiple, plural, and/or system. Actually, the earliest we can find "plural" used as an umbrella term was on the Vickis' MidContinuum page in the 90s, which was very much about abuse and recovery. (Interestingly, use of the term seemed to have convergently evolved in several different places in the late-90s/early-00s era.) We even found at least one instance of Morton Prince, the "Dissociation of a Personality" guy, using the term "systems of tendencies" to refer to "alternate states" (as most other doctors called them at the time). We felt as though we were mostly screaming into the aether, though, given that the posts rarely got more than 20 likes or reblogs, and while we're hardly the kind of people who measure our self-esteem by likes received on social media, the fact that people weren't spreading the information to any great degree suggested to us that the information wasn't going to get to the people who needed it, and we had no idea how to get it spread around, short of adopting the kind of aggressive asshole online persona that most of the people going "REAL PEOPLE WITH DID DON'T CALL THEMSELVES MULTIPLE SYSTEMS!" seemed to possess. And that... wasn't something that would have been compatible with our mental health.

Tumblr in general wasn't compatible with our mental health, in fact, and we quit using it on any kind of regular basis in 2014, when people we'd considered friends were posting the most aggressive, abrasive things they could in the name of "education" and "enlightenment," and we were beginning to wonder if we'd ever really known them the way we thought we did. Other people we knew seemed to be struggling with Tumblr's language policing and we couldn't see any long-term healthy option for them besides getting off of Tumblr, but they seemed to have come to believe it was the only place they could get help as a disabled/trans/etc person if they needed it. (That is, unfortunately, one of the worst things about Tumblr: signalboosting on it can really work, but you have to play the Tumblr social game in order to get signalboosted, and some of the most enthusiastic signalboosters turned out to be abusers in it for the publicity, doing the right thing for the wrong reason.) We were dissociating to the point where we could no longer "see inside" due to the constant flood of posts screaming at people in specific-unspecific ways, and our "persecutor voices" (which don't seem to represent actual people in here, but rather a haywire coping mechanism which believes if we hate ourselves utterly and completely then no one will be able to hurt us) were worse than they'd been in years. We thought we'd made some headway in dealing with them, but Tumblr brought them roaring back, and they slipped it insidiously under our radar by convincing us that feelings of pain and defensiveness were natural and meant we were "learning" and "being enlightened." (We later came to realise that these ideas were actually just variations on some old abuse tapes with a find-and-replace on the words, which was possibly the most disturbing thing. I don't think it's a coincidence at all that so many Tumblr serial rebloggers who are in it to "get enlightened" are abuse victims.)

But we'd stopped trying to engage in Multiple Wars even before that for a variety of reasons, and sometime between our giving up on it and now, something bizarre happened: Tumblr did a complete 180 on the origin of the words it formerly claimed were silly neologisms by non-DID systems, lost its collective memory (again), and began to insist that these same words had been the exclusive property and even the creations of a DID-specific subculture which they... couldn't really tell you that much about the history of; they were just adamant that it existed.

The only rationale I can possibly come up with for the "cultural appropriation" reasoning-- which definitely isn't to say that I agree that it's appropriation-- is the argument that people diagnosed with dissociative disorders are part of the broader community of people with mental health issues and, as such, part of the broader disability community. And it's only a line of reasoning that occurs to me because I've used it before to argue that multiples can be considered oppressed insofar as they fall under the broader mental health stigma umbrella or the broader disability stigma umbrella. But the pervasive and institutional nature of that stigmatisation is directed at people with mental health condiitons in general. (Since another thing Tumblr doesn't seem to get is that the broader culture does not give a damn if you call yourself traumagenic or natural or gateway or DID, no matter how much anyone tries to insist that this is Really An Issue; the only thing the broader culture sees is "Crazy people are scary and dangerous!" They don't care who is in your system, or how you say they got there. They don't care what your subjective worlds look like or if you have any at all. They only care that you were labeled with something that tapped into their Scary Crazies fear. I mean, there are lots of people who believe that DID and schizophrenia are the same thing and ignore any attempts to explain otherwise, so they're not going to give a damn about anyone's furious attempts to explain the "difference between real DID and these natural system fakers.")

And yeah. It would be nice if they could point to some examples of this precious culture which is supposedly being appropriated from or explain its supposed history without substituting moral outrage for concrete details. I mean, I think there's some wiggle room for debate about what constitutes a culture and whether an online community can be considered a culture, but that gets into anthropology and the realm of actual observation and evidence, and a lot of Tumblr-style social justice seems to rely on the premise that moral outrage is always superior to these things. I've heard about some past forums which sounded very nice, like a WWIVnet board in the early 90s called "More Than One In This Body," but the number of people diagnosed with MPD or DID in the early 90s who also had access to the Internet was a very tiny subset of all the people actually diagnosed. At their absolute best, online multiple communities seem to have done a lot of reinventing the wheel over the years, in complete isolation from each other.

So to equate the terminology of medical personnel to the language used by oppressed cultures is horrifying to me. It's not liberating or empowering in the slightest, because it implies that our most holy words, our culture... are words that doctors came up with. It puts doctors in a place of cultural authority, not just medical authority!

This was actually one of the biggest reasons why we once embraced the whole idea of "multiplicity is always natural, it's just that some multiples were traumatised and organised their systems around that," when we first came out-- the way that doctors were virtually deified in some survivor communities and no one dared question their theories, and how much we were horrified by it, especially when some of those doctors had terrible ideas. ("The Osiris Complex" by Colin Ross was actually one of the few books we couldn't finish and nearly chucked at the wall after a chapter in which he persistently misgenders a trans male patient and seems to believe that it's necessary to describe the patient's phalloplasty, in degrading terms, claiming that the patient forced him to look at it. And this was even before his current tinfoil hat ideas.)

The existence of a community, however small, that was focused around questioning doctors was much more what we wanted to see, after we'd spent the past few years considering and re-considering whether we might be multiple and weighing the evidence of the other systems we've met in the past and questioning whether it always had to involve splitting due to trauma, and we loved Dark Personalities' original premise of "If you've been made to feel in other communities that you were wrong just for existing, you are welcome here." Unfortunately, the DP mailing list managed to get worse than lj-multiplicity in terms of people flaming each other constantly with nothing done about it, largely due to the Anachronic Army applying a "complete free speech for everyone" rule similar to Reddit, so moderating was actually not allowed.

...and yeah, the passivity of a lot of multiple communities, even non-DID ones, being unwilling to accept any terminology that wasn't sanctioned by medical professionals bothered us. There was one particular incident where a number of people didn't seem to get the concept of repurposing terminology. Basically, a system called the Bretheren (who don't seem to have an online presence any more) ran an online magazine called "Asylum" for multiples, with the name being an explicit attempt to repurpose mental health terminology and reclaim it as a term of identity and/or pride, which is definitely known in some circles of psych patients or ex-psych patients. But some people were offended by this because "calling it Asylum implies that multiples are insane and belong in asylums! People will get the wrong idea!" and the Bretheren ended up changing the name to Chrysantheme because of it.

(And I've actually seen several zines, sites, etc, for self-identified mad folks with variants on the name "Asylum," so this was hardly unique.)

Thank you for wading through Google (I can't navigate the remains of Deja since Google inherited it, these days) to find the old ASD FAQs, by the way. That was a newsgroup we strongly avoided because by the time we came out, it was dominated by systems totally dependent on their doctors and "Hostzillas"-- our term for people whose attitude towards being multiple was basically "I WANT THOSE HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE ALTERS WHO ARE RUINING MY LIFE BY NOT LETTING ME BE THE ONLY ONE IN CHARGE OF MY BODY TO GO AWAY." Seriously, it seemed like some of them didn't even want to engage their system members in any way at all and just wanted some kind of miracle cure to "make them go away"-- which was bizarre to us, because one of the things we liked about being multiple was introducing people to each other and forming bonds across different generations of our group, and people having in-system friendships and relationships. But the Hostzillas? Nope, just wanted to be drugged up or whatever until "all the alters went away."

It seems that things were different in 1994, though. I think one of the creators of the FAQ (the name Discord sounds familiar, but I don't know if it was them) eventually broke away from both alt.sexual-abuse.recovery and alt.support.dissociation to make a group called alt.abuse.transcendence, which was supposed to be explicitly about breaking free from your past trauma and not letting it become your whole identity. I know someone made the group because they were tired of all the learned helplessness on ASAR and ASD, anyway; I just don't know if it was Discord. But we never hung around multiple Usenet enough to see if it succeeded.

Another interesting thing to note about the ASD FAQ is that it uses "sie" as a gender-neutral pronoun, which is probably something else that should be pointed out to people who think gender-neutral pronouns were invented on Tumblr. (There's actually a very scholarly paper on the history of the various gender-neutral pronouns proposed in English dating back to the seventeenth century that I'm trying to re-find, and it was written before Tumblr. A lot of people accused s.e. smith of inventing "ou" to "be a special snowflake," but it actually dates from the eighteenth century. I'm surprised "thon" wasn't revived because it actually was listed in several dictionaries for a while. Seriously, though, when you search gender-neutral pronouns, "ou" and its history is one of the FIRST things that comes up. But I suppose finding out about it would require research beyond the superficial, and people on Tumblr don't like to read anything off of Tumblr that hasn't been officially sanctioned by Tumblr.

-Amaranth
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