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Polyfragmented System Notes

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Some systems are "polyfragmented" which is to say that they have a more complicated or layered system structure than others.

(pulled from The Crisses' answer about Polyfragmented systems on Quoroa for now)

There’s several presentations of what is called polyfragmented DID —

  • a strictly headcount-based and generally that’s over 100, but some therapists start considering polyfragmentation at lower numbers. This is very arbitrary when strictly based on a number, because it’s questionable that it’s not polyfragmented at 99 but is at 100.
  • the system is many-layered, so there’s subgroups (Sub-Systems) within the larger/meta-system, and layers of complexity in the system. This can come across as an inner world with say many different houses, towns or cities, various worlds, different folk in different rooms, etc. So there’s internal representation of groupings of headmates, and boundaries between groups.
  • explicit fragmentation itself in the system. Myriad, not always sentient or aware, discrete “parts” that may shift and blend and merge and fall apart again. Some folk have subtypes of polyfragmentation that aren’t groups of headmates/people, but are groups of tiny mental pockets that merge, grow, shift — so these may be ad hoc DID or modular DID systems, for example. They “whip up a persona” to deal with a situation and subside into a more depersonalized mass after. Some of these systems do have discrete parts or people within the system. Ad hoc has at least one headmate controlling the process of assembling personas to handle situations. Modular is more unconscious. We have a subsystem that is modular we call the LegoCrisses: so we end up with DealsWithCashierCriss or HandlingRedTapeCriss. This is in addition to other people-subsystems in our metasystem.
  • a headmate is also plural. This is a variation of the many-layered theme where the internal perception is that someone in the system is shifty, blendy, and traits or panic reactions for this individual change and they have modes, moods, aspects, etc. until one day it’s discovered that they, in themself, are actually plural and the system was under the impression they were 1 discrete system member. Oops! We didn’t think of that! So a system member can be covert plural in themself, thus containing others in their own right. The headmate we thought they were can be a gatekeeper of that subsystem, or a veil/mask of that subsystem like a singletsona (singular persona), only internally.

By the way, a system can have all of the above. Headcounts can be basically limitless especially based on fragments themselves. We have never even attempted to count the bits in the LegoCrisses subsystem — we have 156 system residents/entities we’ve counted.

One of the important things to consider with polyfragmented systems is the stigma we face. It’s like double-jeopardy. Not only do we face all the same stigma of DID, we also face additional stigma of weighing trauma (whether what we went through was “bad enough” to warrant such a layered/complicated system), and internalized stigma regarding facing our amnesia due to fear of “how bad” it might have been.

So we want to state that it’s not necessarily about how “bad” the trauma is — it’s about how complicated we needed to be or become to survive our life situation. Some folk are just polyfragmented because they are. Pushing anyone to poke around for why or trauma and to push them to justify trauma or weigh trauma is insensitive, ableist, and a violation. It can push people into digging up trauma well before they’re ready and supported properly. Folk in any support community just need warmth and compassion, not poking at them like a bear on exhibit in a circus.

Polyfragmented systems may also require some additional considerations in treatment. There may be plenty of opportunities for fragments to merge into full-blown headmates with distinct names and traits, the system may have a lot of spontaneous merges on their way through recovery, and they may also be (like many other multiples) plural/multiple for life. There’s some additional upkeep internally to manage a large system (some folk use spreadsheets and hold very large internal meetings or work with a representative or democratic voting system). But, also, there often can be breakthroughs and lower amnesias that can ripple through a polyfragmented system and do internal work on a grand scale.


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