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Analogies for Plural, Multiple & DID Systems

There's various terminology & analogies for different experiences of plural & multiple systems.

This article is a .

United Front analogy (by The Crisses)

This is a very formal rather than casual analogy, that goes many layers deep and ties into United Front self-help materials by the Crisses.

In this analogy, your body is a human mecha (an organic robot vehicle) interacting with Human Space (the external world). Your inner world is regarded much like a spaceship, your system are the residents of the spaceship.

This analogy counts the importance of the shared body in terms of it being a life support vessel for the residents, and how the body is experienced externally and internally. Residents can't just up and leave the spaceship or they'll be without life support though this analogy does account for brief forays out of body for those who experience such things (an "away team" or someone in a space suit with a pressurized suit and a tether so they don't detach from the ship being somewhat analogous to the "Silver Cord" of some astral travel philosophies).

Other language from oceanic vessels and spaceships are used in this analogy, such as "onboarding" being the process of bringing on new passengers whether stowaways to passengers, or new passengers from wherever one gets these things (creating them, introjecting them, etc.). "Recruiting" is the process of taking passengers and training them to be crew. And crew can be promoted to be officers.

Ship's residents are roughly described in 5 categories:

  • Officers are main fronts for the system, trusted to run the show, do the important stuff, get things done, set a good example for the rest of the system, etc.
  • Crew are folk who are trusted and help run the shared life, but may not front as often, or are still learning how to be co-conscious, co-aware, or who aren't interested in running anything in the external life but help out in the inner world with various tasks.
  • Passengers are folks who may be unable to take on responsibility, or whose responsibility is adjusting to being a passenger, recovery from various issues, or taking a break from whatever stressors they've had going on.
  • Stowaways are ship's residents that are not always accounted for on the passenger rolls, may be hiding in the bulkhead, or in the cargo bay, deep in the recesses of the ventilation system, etc. and avoiding the other ship's residents. They're the lost/stuck folk in the system: living in the there & then not the here & now, afraid, perhaps socially malnourished as they sneak around, hide, or scurry about. We choose not to judge stowaways in a capitalistic manner: they are refugees, afraid they could not officially book passage on the vessel. They have legitimate reasons to hide and be afraid, and as if we're more Star Trek universe-ish, we are supposedly on a mission of peace and would want to be compassionate with and assist these folk.
  • Rebels are a standalone category and can overlap with any of the other categories. These are folk who refuse to fit the rules, may chafe at internal agreements, challenge authority within the system or challenge the system as a whole. So a rebel stowaway may be antagonistic rather than simply suffering in their PTSD loops. A rebel officer may call out other officers on bad behavior, heavily critique the system, do penetration testing of system defenses, and otherwise go counter to how the rest of the system operates, even though they're trusted, privileged, and fully onboarded.

This analogy doesn't place system kids in any group in particular: system kids can be any of these cohorts of ship resident. System kids in recovery or who do not have any particular skills and are busy being children would be passengers, where other system kids may be stuck/lost (stowaways), be highly responsible in-system with specific talents or skills they utilize to help out (crew) or they could be extraordinarily responsible, trusted with fronting, and amazing role-models (officers).

United Front self-help materials aim towards increasing internal community and collaboration, with a model of seeking to be hospitable and welcome new residents, be compassionate with stowaways and hopefully help onboard them and get them system services like proper childcare, a buddy system (an in-system friend/mentor/escort) for new system members who can show them the ropes and keep them out of harms way while they get acclimated to life in the system.

The Car Analogy for fronting

Some people liken being in a car as an analogy for fronting and how folk in the system relate to being "in front". In this case, the body is likened to a car.

  • Driver- This is the person front, and in control.
  • Front passenger(s) - these folk may have the ability to take the wheel or manipulate controls (exert passive influence), or (if co-fronting) may have dual-controls for the vehicle.
  • Rear passengers - these folk are "along for the ride" but can see where the car is going. This is co-awareness.
  • In the boot/trunk - these are folk who are not fully co-aware or co-conscious.

In this scenario, conversations between passengers in the passenger compartment would be co-consciousness or internal communication. The analogy breaks down because the person in the boot, however, has no opportunity to exert passive influence on the driver.

Other analogies

  • The United Front Boot Camp does "your head is a house" and runs with an older analogy where everyone is a resident or a guest in the system. The analogy breaks down because of how easy it should be to leave or move out of a house, and because a house is a fixed object.
  • One could use an airplane analogy as well. Vehicles seem to work fairly well as usually 1 person is responsible for where it goes, and others may be assisting or interrupt the process.

Happy to add more analogies please leave some ideas in the comments below.


See Also

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