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Size & Complexity, Headcounts, and their effect on daily living

Plural, multiple & DID systems are however big they are. They are a minimum of 2 although there's barely any guidance on how distinct, separated, clear, or what type of headmates those 2 are 'required' to be.

It does seem the lower the headcount, the more distinctly different, or "overt" the differences between headmates might be. However, there's never any guarantee that a system's headcount is correct. They may discover that they were overlooking headmates, or that there were headmates buried in traumatime, that one of their headmates was plural thus a subsystem gatekeeper or veil.

Very large systems have a tendency to be more covert, but that's not a rule, only a tendency. Every system is different, unique, and has to sort out some things about their system composition and headcounts for themselves or with assistance — but there's absolutely no formula saying "if this then your headcount is in X to Z range".

While folk may theorize about why systems become "large" as in over 100 members, there is absolutely no hard evidence to back it, only anecdotal evidence from people's self-reports and professional pondering. There's absolutely nothing to say that there needs to be a "reason" at all — that's a singular-centric notion.

Are there size limits or complication limits for systems?

There's no established upper limit for system size or headcounts, when accounting for polyfragmented New systems, fragments, Sub-Systems and the effects of many layers of complex trauma that is theorized to create such complexity in a system.

With modular systems, there can be hundreds or thousands of fragments, for example. Some systems are quite large — and larger systems with many layers or subsystems, or many headmates needing to be rescued New, may never be sure they've met all of their headmates.

Similarly for subsystems, layers, and other organizational divisions within systems; there's no known limit. It's really up to a system to explore and discover or define its own composition.

Nameless masses

Some systems are simply nameless masses such as "as many as the grains of sand on a beach" or similar. Very fluid, sometimes modular or ad hoc systems with few if any named individuals in their system who may have constant shifts of whom is fronting, and very low-definition.

Often these more amorphous collectives are ever-shifting to match external needs, and have complicated many-layered internal structures or ways of filling roles as-needed.

These folk may not want to try to pin down individuals with names or designations, or try to track their favorite color or song. In fact, "loves blue" may be an entire fragment in itself, and tracking such things would be a burden.

These systems don't always have names or things like PluralKit profiles or only parts of their system have names. And they're entirely valid and absolutely plural.

How does size and complexity complicate functionality?

Size and complexity of a system definitely presents some opportunities and challenges that are unique to larger systems (say over a couple dozen headmates — or over whatever number it is that y'all feel comfortable with at the moment).

It's helpful to remind yourselves that those other uncounted folks are there whether they are counted and accepted or not. Numbers are completely arbitrary, and there's not really any appreciable difference between having 99 headmates or 100. There's no magic number beyond which one suddenly becomes polyfragmented, for example. It's a totally misguided myth that we might only have had "normal trauma" at a headcount of 99 but it requires "horrific trauma" at 100. This whole concept of headcount dictating trauma is backwards (not to mention the hazards of weighing trauma into scales of any sort). The trauma is done, and it is whatever it is (whether we're aware of it or not) — and we will likely eventually face the complexity of our trauma (which doesn't have to qualify it as "horrific") at some point and have to eventually come to accept those numbers of headmates regardless. Allowing unknown/imagined/amorphous trauma to cause us to ostracize, neglect, push away, stall, delay, defray, bury, ignore, etc. a subset of our system is further traumatizing or retraumatizing to those we've chosen to exile or exclude. In other words, delaying the acceptance of our headmates delays our recovery & our potential for healing.

Contemplating a massive number of headmates can cause anxiety over how to "manage" such a large population of headmates. Consider that if they're people or people-like parts/fragments — who's to say they need "managing" — as in who made you boss, or made you responsible to control them? :) The idea handed to us by the singular-centric patriarchy is that someone must lord over the masses, police them, shepherd them, bully them, into submission. It gets into popularity contests, politics, etc. Managing people vs leading people are extremely different concepts, and so when we have this fear of being unable to manage the numbers it usually comes down to reframing our position from one of managing to leading. "How do I control them?" is the wrong question. The right question is "How do we inspire each other?" "How can we find activities, projects, goals that inspire everyone?" Or at least as many as is feasible because there are always some reluctant to have buy-in or who aren't inspired by much of anything.

Another issue that may cause reluctance to onboard or accept numerous headmates is a perception of "crowdedness" or the limitations of "size" of our inner world or our selves-concept. These are malleable and those headmates can be accommodated with some internal landscaping or the realization that they're there and taking up "space" somewhere in the inner world whether we've accepted them or not. They may have their own spaces already, and not require changing anything — or you& can expand the space to make additional accommodations for more headmates.

Aside from the likelihood of needing a lot of rescue missions New to help lost & stuck headmates, or dealing with inspiring folk to come out of traumatime and join your co-conscious passengers & crew, we like to operate life from a "more is merrier" and "many hands make lighter work" perspective.

Tips for Tracking & Organizing large numbers of headmates

  • Keep a short list or "roll-call" list such as names-only for starters. Some take this list and start a spreadsheet eventually. This type of list is handy when doing votes or checking in with folk who y'all haven't seen in a while.
  • Keep a longer list, spreadsheet, etc. with more details about headmates, such as which subsystem(s) they're in, committees they're on, things they're interested in, demographic info such as age, gender, pronouns, etc.
  • Keep a system "Run-Book New" of some type. Or many run-books. A master run-book with an index for all the other topic-based run-books may also be a good idea. So instead of trying to put ALL system-wide info in one place or using a single system of some type, keep various theme-organized information but make a centralized index for the themes and where the information on them is kept. So for example the master run-book index could mention "The System Orientation Run-Book is the pink composition notebook in the desk hutch."- and it might also be mentioned in a Welcome message at the start of the master run-book.

Please add any ideas y'all have for how you& organize your larger system below, and we'll add more as we think of them.

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