Kinhost dot Org

Born Multiple

What do we mean?

Some folk remember being plural for as long as they can remember having thoughts. Somewhat explicit memories may go back to 3 or 4 years old, sometimes younger. Others simply have no sense or evidence of ever approaching a singular entity in their life and have no original, core, body-named entities or host-like entities suggesting that they may have started the supposed (claimed by professionals when making up developmental theories, but unproven) "natural" process of identity fusion in childhood.

The age that developmental theories suppose that people would start integration of self-states into a single supposedly "stable" identity is around 5 years old, a process that generally isn't completed until much later (teen/adulthood) but is considered do be fairly stabilized by the time the child is 7-9 years old.

These people may consider themselves "Born multiple" — they have been, only ever have been, many. Born many self-states (if one accepts some developmental theories), these states likely evolved to become more complicated and dynamic over time, just as the theory that has myriad self-states merge would suppose.

As shown below, this does not need to mean "not formed from trauma" but that plurality existed so early that they were never, ever, singular, or on the road to singularity, that they can discern. So "born multiple" or "born plural" is a stance that can be shared by endogenic (not formed from trauma), traumagenic (formed from trauma), and quoigenic (I don't know, I haven't figured it out yet, it doesn't matter, it's not really anyone's business anyway) systems .

The simple explanation

Humans aren't born singular. Nearly all models since the dawn of psychology agree that a child is complex and very compartmentalized. They're born plural — or set up for plurality anyway. According to psychology and according to childhood development models since before Freud, an infant's mind is a bunch of separate self-states, sensory-states, ego-states, etc.

There's a possibility that remaining plural through to adulthood occurs when something encourages remaining separated -or- when there's a lack of role-modeling and encouragement for a child to become singular. Some developmental models assume that childhood states "naturally" merge around say 7 years old (give or take years in either direction), but have no evidence that this is "Natural" and would happen without environmental interventions such as a singular-centric society or familial & cultural pressures (such as discouraging invisible playmates, talking to oneself, etc.).

The singular-centric models of childhood development that say children "naturally" fuse over time — that these separate states or egos etc. eventually merge and blend, don't explain, show or (of course!) don't experiment to prove this is the "natural way of things." It's assumed. It's magical. It "just happens that way naturally."

Much more likely would be that it happens via the natural bonding & mirroring instincts: "peer pressure" and conformity, mirroring role models, etc. that children fuse over time to be one. Basically, they let go of or spontaneously merge the "others" because it's not accepted in society. With positive role-modeling of singularity and other ethics and morals, the child probably lets go of or merges and suppresses the more unacceptable "self-states" and becomes more like their role models over time.

It's pretty doubtful that this is a magical process that just happens — and since children are born to adapt to almost any circumstances (tribal culture through Star Trek), if a child is born into a plural society with acceptable plural behaviors to model themselves after, we would presume that a child would be naturally plural for their whole life and there would be no culling or suppressing of other self-states except of those self-states that do not fit into their surrounding culture or meet their role model's expectations. Such a child could grow up with a high level of co-consciousness being relatively trauma-free and with positive role-modeling around having a good internal community and culture, and the sharing of internal information, memories, and senses.

(In other words, it's very doubtful that singularity "just happens naturally" as some models appear to claim — like the self-states are magnetized to each other and fore-ordained to merge by their very nature even if a child grows up alone in the world. It is far more likely that singularity is predominant and impressionable children model themselves after the predominant culture.)

In any case, if every model shows that there's this separateness in infants, then the separatenesses all growing up separately makes them a group entity. They grew up "in parallel" — at the same time. Simply by a lack of merging, or by following plural role-models rather than singular role-models, or because their singular role-models didn't exert that singularity in a way that shapes or molds the child's internal structure (i.e. allows a child to have 'imaginary playmates' and never discourages them from talking amongst themselves, does not condemn contrary behaviors by enforcing consistency, etc.), or the child's environment encouraged remaining separated in some way (playing "by oneself" as an "only child").

Whether or not a plural was traumatized during childhood development or not, according to psychology we all started out plural. This means we are all equally born to the body, and equally have rights to a shared life. There is no "host" or "core" — with the potential exception of those who had started to fuse, merge, and cull self-states and were becoming a singular and then regressed back to plurality due to events that shook the foundations of their newly emerging singular identity.

A little more technical

As psychology matures, and the understanding of the human mind is expanded, more and more models of typical human development emerge.

It is generally believed that the infant mind is a series of impressions and state-dependencies: being hungry, feeling pain, needing attention, being scared, being fed, being nurtured, being uncomfortable, etc. A human does not form a mature and integrated personality until later in childhood or even in the teen years. Some models even suggest that humans do not gain full agency and self-awareness until their twenties.

When these states are validated, and when caregivers react appropriately to these states — being fed when hungry, being comforted during pain, being interacted with and touched when lonely, protected when frightened, etc. — a child is given a secure basis to explore personhood and develop ideas, thoughts, give voice to needs and desires, develop preferences, etc. and bring all of these varied states as they change and mature with development into one person-ality.

When the milestones of life are interrupted in any way, from the womb and onwards, with neglect of these needs, with additional threats from caregivers, with physical, mental and emotional violations, with erratic caregiver behaviors, even with floods of anxiety chemicals in the womb itself — the child's psyche may not emerge with a single sense of personhood or one person-ality. Each state is left to fend for itself as it were, a trial-by-fire of development of thought, strategy, ideas, and adaptability but shuffled amongst the varied folds of the states. Additional states may be induced in such a tumultuous environment that would not have been needed in a properly nurturing environment: the need to play up to abusers, the need to lie, the need to protect oneself, the need not to cry, etc. Some states may get stuck at various stages of development, unable or unwilling to progress — later becoming Littles.

Meanwhile, the struggle for survival continues — hampered, unsupported or improperly supported by caregivers and the environment. Humans are survivors if nothing else. The child unwittingly allows (indeed needs to allow) their varied states to adapt to an unpredictable, volatile, unstable, lonely, or threatening situation — becoming hyper-vigilant to cues from the environment and other people, while being highly malleable in response to external events and situations.

Multiples may experience this disruption of development exceptionally early in childhood development, or even before being born through anxiety chemicals, drugs, sounds or even physical battery of their mother while in the womb. When experienced "early enough" in development (which can vary from person to person), there isn't even a hint of the "one person" they were potentially to become had the trauma not occurred. The trauma was experienced so young there was never any one person-ality emerging in the first place.

Given this model, one could say we're all born multiple, but when normal development is interrupted we remain multiple and all these various states remain segregated to optimize our chances of survival in a hostile developmental environment, or in an environment where we are best off relying solely on oneself.

Even then, experiencing trauma at a very young age or in the womb does not predispose a person to definitely becoming multiple. There's still the potentially genetic predisposition to dissociation to consider which allows for more compartmentalization of both physical impressions and memories — and if there are stable cornerstones of a baby or child's life, they still may develop one or more stronger person-alities that appear to be essentially well-adjusted or "normal".

Other lenses or explanations of being "born multiple"

Some multiples have had the experience of others sharing the body with them since birth, whether or not they were traumatized in any way. (Some remember being multiple before they were abused, or being abused or punished because they were multiple.)

Many such multiples feel that plurality is simply a natural variant of the human mind-- something which, like sexual orientation or gender identity, is either inborn, genetic, or hardwired in at such an early age as to make changing it later in life impossible.

Others have offered spiritual explanations for their multiplicity. Some see multiplicity as the result of persons from past lives sharing one's current body. Others see it as the result of having channeled someone in before birth.

Other models constructed with contributions from Shiu of Amorpha.

…And other trauma possibilities

There's also a chance that intergenerational trauma (passed down in the family), gestational trauma (that happens to the baby-bearer while the child is in the womb), perinatal trauma (during the birth process), or neonatal trauma (while a newborn) could contribute to traumagenic plurality. These would be life events one could get stories about from others or discover documentation for, but would not personally be able to remember or recover by normal means.

We are a very very long way from linking these types of trauma to DID or plurality scientifically. But they bear mentioning as there's mounting evidence that there are issues and effects from these things on childhood development. Some review articles:

  • Intergenerational review article: "The legacy of trauma: An emerging line of research is exploring how historical and cultural traumas affect survivors’ children for generations to come" By Tori DeAngelis (2019)
  • Gestational review article: "Effects of prenatal stress on pregnancy and human development: mechanisms and pathways" by Mary E Coussons-Read, PhD (2013)

<< High Intelligence Myth New | ManualTOC | Modern models >>

See Also


We're coming with a handful of respectful criticism to peer-review your theory. We absolutely agree that some (maybe even all) people are just born multiple. But the claim that singularity doesn't happen naturally imposes a very important question: if all people since the begining of humanity were born multiple, why singularity even exists? If it was something unnecesary that just for any reason happened in our culture, we would see many different cultures where multiplicity is the norm. But even in cultures where plurality is widely accepted only certain individuals are not singular themselves. It is in our mind also unlikely that plurals could learn to merge just because society expected it from them. There has to be a mechanism in the brain that allows for fusing and it must have evolved, because we can't just change our brains as we or anybody else wants (homosexual people stay homosexual, no matter how hard they try to not be to blend in with society). So either fusion into singular entity at one point in life have evolved, because it was for some reason beneficial, or it just have been like this since humans have existed (either way it means that if somebody doesn't have working genes responsible for fusion, they will be plural, no matter if they expierience trauma or not).

Personally we think that ego states that child has are not the same as multiplicity. Some models suggests that adults also have them. We belive that individual people in systems have them too. Your different ego state is active when you're angry compared to the one active when you're happy or you regress etc. We don't agree with models suggesting that headmates in multiplicity are just separated ego states (although it may be look like this for some multiples), because ego states are only dimensions of one personality, while headmates often have multidimensional personalities on their own and are much more than "the angry one" or "the internal child".

Comment by The Rainbow Chaos System on April 22, 2023

The answer is that most "singular" people are on one side of a spectrum of plurality, and others are at the other end of that spectrum — and that trauma is another spectrum/continuum, and there are experiences where both intersect, and places they do not.

IFS theory and Jungian psychology posit that everyone is — to some degree — plural. Jung was plural, so his pushing plurality to everyone is interestingly pluralcentric. Schwartz of IFS theory puts out there a lot of information about parts work for singular folks but it breaks spectacularly for actual plural folks who have individual system member autonomy and can switch fronts.

See our video here or at least pop over and look at the diagrams on the screen at the start & end of the video for the range of plural experiences mapped out, and the range of headmate origins mapped out — as per our understanding at the time and with the caveat that of course we don't know or encompass everything it's to make a point that there's actually an understandable framework of common experiences that tie together the plural spectrum & headmate origins.

I think the number of actually singular folk is extremely small — the tiny tip of a bell curve in which most folk are somewhere in the middle — in the Schwartz realm of IFS — and what we call plural and DID etc. are on the farther end, with the tiny tip of the plural experiences end of the spectrum being folks who are the polyfragmented types who are never the same fronter twice or so on.

And, yes, actually — other cultures do have far more common experiences of plurality they barely make the news because they're that ubiquitous.

Also Western culture has had a war on plurality for centuries. More about that here The History of Plural Oppression New. This cultural oppression influences people from a very young age to suppress plural experiences. Such as having invisible playmates, talking to oneself (and getting an answer that you did not direct/create), etc. We are taught from a young age that such things are not acceptable and thus we learn to oppress them. We're expected to make up our mind, not be of two minds on an issue, to pull ourselves together, to only choose one flavor of ice cream, etc. : )

It's similar to forcing people to be the gender they deem someone to be at birth. They look at genitals, declare gender, and then start picking out clothes, colors, and toys based on what was between that kids legs (at birth or in a sonogram). The programming starts even before a child is born. We're handed role models who are pretending to be one person, shown baby cartoons of one person, read board books of people being one person, etc. we're not given the option of both liking to play with dolls and trains, etc.

The programming that one-body=one-mind=one-choice=one-feeling etc. starts quite young.

Comment by Crisses on April 22, 2023

Oh, and forgot to say THANKS! : ) we appreciate the comments and intellectual discourse : )

I know the whole idea of "born multiple" is controversial. However, we also experience "born multiple" AND being traumagenic. "Born multiple" does not automatically mean "endogenic" : ) For some reason people have this notion, and it really needs to be debunked.

We have intergenerational & gestational trauma. We were born "ready for trouble" and an unwanted pregnancy, we were looked at as a burden, our mother was probably suffering from postpartum depression once it sunk in that getting pregnant and getting married as a result meant now she was legally tied to an abusive pedophile and dependent on him. We were emotionally neglected almost immediately on birth, on top of the intergenerational & gestational trauma issues.

While yes, we were not "plural" per se in the autonomous headmate sense upon birth, we were self-states that were already arranged to handle panic situations, our brain & body were scrambling to survive an unsafe situation immediately, and our self-states never attempted anything resembling merging by age 5-7 as is generally indicated as a key developmental phase in the books. By then we had developed full-fledged "alter identities" that continued parallel development and differentiation.

Thus we were born multiple/plural and remained multiple/plural to date, with no sign of ever merging, fusing, even in part.

Some folks do go through attempted merging/fusing and fall apart again which leads to a totally different subjective experience of their own plurality. They usually have a sense of there having been a "one person" they were about to become, and they sometimes want to go back to that "one person" they feel they were becoming.

We have no such sense. This is how we've always been, and we don't know what singularity would even look like or feel like.

Comment by Crisses on April 22, 2023

Sorry for responding so late, we couldn't find time to put our thoughts into words earlier.

After reading your response we realised how nonsensical our statement about ego states was. I think we somehow forgot that plurality is a spectrum. In that sense is completely logical to say that all children are multiple since the beginning. I think we are feeling so attacked by people perceiving us as just separated parts of one personality that we have problems in accepting that not every plural experience looks like ours. Sorry about that.

I love your diagrams about plurality, they summarise all the experiences in a very clever way. We saved the video to our „watch later” playlist for when we will find some time.

After rethinking it all we're coming to the conclusion that we certainly underestimated how illogical things can exists solely because of culture. Like gender roles, which you've mentioned. It doesn't make sense to assume how people should express themselves and act based only on their genitalia, and yet we see this trend all around the world (which I really have problems to comprehend). So it totally makes sense that children will model themselves as singular to some degree just because they see it in their parents. But I think that cultural opression leads more to masking rather than to merging (although I'm not sure if it wasn't what you were trying to say all along), similar to how forcing trans kids to be gender that they're not teaches them to act like this gender, but doesn't change who they are. Fusions usually don't happen without a good level of communication and willingness to fuse, so if the child is punished for talking to „imaginary” friends and they decide to stop talking to them because „it's not normal”, I belive that achieving merge will be less likely. But possibility that the majority of population is in some way plural, but everybody is masking it, is somehow fascinating. Thank you for allowing me to see this from different than my still-kinda-singular-centric perspective.

The idea of there being cultures where plurality is quite common was so unimaginable for us that we didn't even bother to check it. We will be really grateful if you could give us any examples of such cultures. We would love to do some reasearch on that.

And we also forgot to say thank you. Thank you for all the hard work you do to educate and help people who won't even stop for a moment to think about how fortunate they are to be able to access all of these resources. I can only imagine how many hours you've put into that project. Your articles have helped us a lot, the way you defend endogenics really warms our heart and the way you stand up against proffesionals for plural rights inspires us to fight for plural recognition in our country. You really make a difference.

Comment by The Rainbow Chaos System on May 02, 2023

No worries on timing around these parts. The site has been around in its earliest incarnation since 1996 and isn't going away soon : ) Sometimes it takes a while for us to notice authentic comments (there's too much comment spam).

Your statement about ego states was not nonsensical. It's not common knowledge how ubiquitous plurality really is. In internal family systems theory, we can see that Schwartz has noticed how nearly everybody has this plurality in the background. Also look at Freud and Jung; it's obvious that psychology has noticed this while simultaneously making excuses for it and sanctioning only certain kinds of plurality over others.

Due to plural oppression New, it is deeply buried in culture and hidden in plain sight. It's definitely not common knowledge. You don't have anything to apologize about because our society is burying it.

We're all steeped in singular centric culture, and fed this singular centric perspective throughout our lives, so it's not easy to start seeing the plurality that's hanging around everywhere every day.

Some references:

There's one interesting part of the spirituality panel from the 2020 Plural Positivity World Conference, where IIRC Dr. S was talking about plurality in Puerto Rican culture, and how even if it wasn't common in every person, it was commonly accepted and not viewed, in itself, as either good or bad. So individual instances of plurality would be viewed as, let's say, beneficial versus undesirable experiences. And so it was folded into the culture in a much more accepting way in Puerto Rico.

We're also asking someone else with indigenous experience, who has not revealed which tribe they belong to or what culture they're talking about, for an article. They said that nearly everybody in their tribe or in their tribal culture, is plural. They're asking their indigenous elders whether they can share an article about it.

There's a reason that the DSM and other documentation within psychology acknowledges indigenous and cultural plurality as not always being disorderly. There are instances that they've come upon in their research where plurality is actually not that abnormal.

Thank you for your acknowledgement. We really appreciate it. Yes, obviously, this is a passion project for us for many years. Now it's a public service arm of our business. And we are trying hard to make sure that this this site is brought more and more up to date.

However, this site is an open wiki and the community is more than welcome to join in and help update articles. This website has been open edit in the past, and we have still many contributions from other people in the community. Around 2004-2005 those contributions started dropping off and basically the website has been left to us to take care of and keep up to date alone. We wouldn't mind if members of the community decided that they wanted to start help cleaning things up and modernizing it. That would be wonderful.

We do appreciate how many people tell us that this is helpful, because that helps us to know that we're putting our energy and time in the right place. So thank you very much for letting us know that this has been helpful for you

Those diagrams took a long time to sort out properly so all the connections made sense. We used Scapple by Literature and Latte.

Comment by Crisses on May 02, 2023

After watching the video we realised that we were in fact raised in a subculture where plurality was not only accepted, but even encouraged. I'm honestly surprised by our mind's ability to not connect the dots. Maybe that's our old way of separating our former religion from "these all wrong demonic beliefs", because only when the person on the panel said "Christianity", it clicked in our brain that what we were seeing was no different than any other kind of multiplicity.

We were attending an evangelical church since our early childhood. We were being told to listen to God's voice sinice before we've started going to school. People there treated hearing God not as a special gift, but as a goal for every Christian. Go out on the street in our country and say "God told me to choose college in city X" and everybody will think you're crazy, but do the same in our church and people will think that you are a really good Christian, and some of them will be jealous of your ability to communicate with God so well. I don't think everybody was plural there, but majority of really devoted folks certainly were. They were sometimes asking for a moment of silence and encouraging people to try and hear God's words, they were telling that his voice is similar to our thoughts or that he can speak through images or feelings too. Religion's become for me the most important thing in my life in my early teenage years and I've talked to God on a daily basis. Later I and some other people in the system had an existential crisis, when we came to the conclusion that he's "not real" and we converted to atheism. Our God had an existential crisis too, because he realised that he's not almighty and he can't save us from suffering.

And similarly to what they've said about Puerto Rican culture, not all plurality was viewed as good. Talking to God / Holy Spirit / Jesus Christ was accepted and desired, but everything else was demons and evil. Most evangelicals, at least those we're familiar with, have very strict beliefs about afterlife. Souls are belived to stay in heaven and not be able to travel to this world and interact with people here, so if anybody told about their experience in speaking with ghosts or saints or something like that, they would be belived to be possesed and in need of exorcisms.

So yeah, we are a living proof that culture may influence somebody to become plural. Ironic. I can't believe that I honestly couldn't imagine that culture has any impact on one's singularity/multiplicity while not having absolutely any amnesia about all of our religious experiences. And couldn't imagine culture where plurality is the norm while having been a part of such culture for years. It is a shame, but also kind of funny.

(Also on a sidenote, when site reloads itself, it automatically scrolls all the way up, while communicates like "please re-enter the message code" appear at the bottom. We've almost forgot to scroll down this time and would not know that our comment has not been posted. It would be great if you could make the message appear at the top of the page or make it automatically scroll down after reloading after sending a comment)

Comment by The Rainbow Chaos System on May 09, 2023

Thanks we'll try to fix the messages!!

And we really appreciate further cultural/religious context backing up cultural issues with regard to "acceptable" and "unacceptable" potentially plural experiences, pressure to "perform" or even become plural in certain cultures, etc.

Important information!

Comment by Crisses on May 09, 2023

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