Even in multiple systems where nobody fulfils a specific 'function,' there are often one or more people who are especially protective of the group, the people inside it, and/or of the body's physical safety. One of the unfortunate results of the psychological model is that people who take the role of guardians in a system are often stereotyped as mean, surly, and irrationally aggressive towards everyone outside the system. In reality, protectors can take many forms. Some do train themselves in combat, martial arts, etc. to protect the system's physical body, but others are skilled at diplomacy and defusing sticky situations both inside and out; others have a talent with words and debate. Some are looked up to as great leaders, people with a skill for making others follow and trust them.
Some guardians do seem scary at first glance; some take on the forms of mythological creatures such as demons, dragons and vampires. It is not uncommon for small children to look up to such powerful beings as something which can protect and defend them. In strict religious families where multiplicity is seen as a sign of possession, to be cured by prayer and exorcism, a child may feel a closer identification with demons than with angels. In some cases they may seem 'mean' towards others in the system, from an outsider's standpoint, but this can often stem merely from wanting all system members to take responsibility for their actions. Some have come by the role of guardian simply because they have the ability to come down hard on people who do things that are against their best interest, or the best interest of the whole system, and force them to shape up. Many are particularly close to or protective of children in a system (aka Littles).
- The Crisses add
- One unfortunate thing that I have seen is that many systems will resist difficult alters (which might also mean a resistance to having guardians) to the point of booting them out the moment that the difficult party is detected. I recommend that anyone with difficult alters hold off on eviction until you're absolutely certain that the person is solely there for trouble. Often protectors and guardians can be gruff and acidic but mean well and serve a good, if sometimes outdated, purpose within the system. These residents can act out strongly, especially if the system is self-abusing or allowing themselves to continue to be abused by others...but I think they're absolutely necessary for system health and for watching each others' backs.
Page constructed with contributions from Shiu of Amorpha