Spiritual Lenses: The black sheep of the dissociative experiences
by The Walk-Ins of The Crisses
There's probably little that makes a purely psychology-lens left-leaning person quake in their boots more than the varieties of plural and dissociative experiences that fall squarely under the spiritual experiences category.
Our views are spiritual lens, not psychology lens, so the reader will have to suspend their attachment to the psychology lens to truly hear us and consider our experience, perspective and stance. Once you have digested our words and meaning, then you can compare our view to the psychology lens. But if you view everything on this page purely through the psychology lens it will be difficult to comprehend it.
There is precedent for the spiritual views in the DSM of psychology. When it comes to DID criteria, psychology is very hands-off regarding cultural beliefs and experiences of possession states, etc. They don't dare cross the lines into policing religion, spirituality, or other cultures.
We have enough people in our head to have our own culture. These things are everyday for us, normal, usual, not odd at all. We also spent a great deal of time with and creating the Otherkin community, another culture in which Walk-Ins were commonplace, where being plural was not disorderly even when some of us definitely had trauma. The otherkin culture is still one of the underpinnings or "parents" of the plural culture. Otherkin groups were where we broke our teeth on inclusivity, fighting our knee-jerk reactions to stereotyping and being biased and judgmental, and eventually tore open the resistance to being open and accepting of all experiences. This gave birth to the plural community. Plural otherkin resisted the labels of psychology and even the term "multiple" and came up with a new label that was created from within the plural community rather than handed to us by psychology. So, psychology really has no place here unless invited willingly. Psychology itself says so in the DSM DID criteria D.
We aren't aware of every variation of potential dissociative experience that can be viewed under a spiritual lens. We can say we experience our plurality, when least constrained by social pressures or the hard gaze of the pseudo-science of psychology, as being a purely spiritual experience. We can put on the glasses of psychology, and explain away our subjective reality with the current status-quo whitebread academic explanations — but at the end of the day our plurality is so profoundly spiritual as to border on divine intervention for us. Painting it in pseudo-scientific psychology terms is to limit it, confine it, restrict and constrict our experiences into something pitiful and wretched, rather than our natural state of viewing our plural circumstances as euphoric, blessed, and sacred.
We believe we are both traumagenic and endogenic, thus apply quoigenic as our "origin" label. Quoi is "what" in French — as in "I don't know what" the question of defying logic or explanation, of falling into the wide spread of undefined. Both the labels "traumagenic" and "endogenic" fail us, confine us, and misinterpret our collective's experiences.
We don't understand singularity. It's outside this collective's experience. We color everything plural. So even if we "made it up" — if our back-story is some fictional encoding of psychological processes — plurality is so foundational to our collective perspective that even our Walk-Ins had to be plural before joining our collective.
We believe this body's residents to have been traumatized before birth, born plural, and at the very least never destined to become singular. The dire circumstances of this body's early life prompted the children who lived in here to be ultra-creative, to reach out to the Universe, to the spirit realm, for answers and assistance. Like they called the cosmic suicide hotline, hanging on to a bare thread of will to live or survive, and hailed passers by in the ethers between the worlds and cried out for help.
It's buried in our origin stories that we Walk-Ins to this life were plural before our arrival to this body. How we became plural, while a much longer story, was basically a magical/psychic experiment gone wrong, which blobbed together a large group of independent, formerly singular, entities into a group entity sharing one body, belonging to Star. For other reasons we became exiled from Star's body, but we were still attached to each other. We were not a democracy at the time. Not that Star of Crisses was attempting to be a cruel despot, but basically she held the reigns back then. When Star heard the children's call for help we were all basically along for the ride. Being a group of spirits floating bodiless out in the ether between lives, we had no place better to be anyway.
So the children's call was answered, and we came, and e made the decision that we must help them, and to this day we remain dedicated to helping the children in and of this body deal with the life we have co-created through its adulthood; we won't abandon them. Many aren't even adults yet, the oldest person we believe born to this body is now 25 years old (half the body's age). There's still children in the there & then, and who need reparenting, teens who need guidance in achieving adulthood, and everyone between.
We are the caretakers, guardians and healers of this life. Protectors, guides, parents, energizers, activists in fighting for people who have lives like ours, and making our best shot of having a good time while doing it. It hasn't been easy, we couldn't even do much to help for a couple years after coming into the body — we couldn't interface with the external world, we had difficulties communicating internally, and it remained a mess of continual abuse and problems for a while in spite of our presence here.
Then we — probably Almerissa frankly — started building structures and interfaces to work within the constraints of this specific human body. Communication devices, control panel to interface with the body, etc. Almerissa also was the first to front of the walk-ins, and she fired our baby sitter, locked down memories, and demanded a house key from the body's parents. Our body was age 7.
There is a different quality to being a walk-in than a body-spirit. It's not always easy to put spiritual or subjective experiences into words, but we will try.
Every conscious being in this body is a person, hence has their own spirit or soul. That goes for those born here and those "imported" if you will. There's a different attachment to the body, a different quality in the cord that tethers folk to this body. There's differences in how we think and speak, how we interface with the world and the body. There's even differences in the dysphoria we experience. The imports have vivid past-life memories, and many remember their deaths in other lives, and have trauma around circumstances that never happened to this body.
We walk-ins for example have a lot of trouble memorizing or reciting specific words. Even when singing lyrics, we will accidentally replace words with synonyms because of translation errors with the language filter. So this is interesting when Drendel runs a board meeting — we have to have a Roberts Rules cheat sheet next to us because she (and others in here) get the exact wording wrong. We know the MEANING of the words, but reciting the precise word choices and phrasing through a translation device is challenging. So we'll never be actors — it may have contributed to our trauma around presentations, flubbing lines in plays as a child. Even with the cheat sheet next to us — using it is embarrassing and it costs us a lot of spoons when running the meeting, simply trying to mentally rehearse the correct wording for making a motion, or calling for a vote. "Can I have a motion" may come out as "Someone please make a motion" etc.
We lovingly nicknamed our language filter "Garbage In, Garbage Out" for a reason. It's not the filter's fault — user error; replace user.
We realized that we have one exception to the language issues, we think that Erin of Crisses, a walk-in but from Chicago in the near future, is a native English speaker and doesn't need the language filter.
Past-life Memories are one thing that almost all of our walk-ins have, some memories clear, some foggy and faded out. We've spent decades pulling memory fragments out of the space between lives and piecing together our pasts. These past-life memories are critical to our identities and of course precious to each of us subjectively. Some of us have known each other in our past lives, others are entirely independent of the resident group. For one it may be a few childhood moments, some memories around their time of death. Other remember other pivotal points in their life but not how they died. The memories for them are experienced as real as our memories of this life — which is to say foggy, disjointed, sometimes missing sensory information through to full-on flashbacks in vivid 6-sense technology. The major difference is that those memories do not involve this body at all, that they take place often on another world altogether, as most of our walk-ins are not from Earth.
Dysphoria ranges from discomfort with being in a human form, to size/ability/placement issues and for some of us dysphoria for even being humanoid, or having missing limbs. For example Ruth is a dragon who is enormous, has of course wings and a tail, but also has head crests and horns, and these missing parts, being humanoid, and having skin not scales, etc. bugs her enough that she rarely fronts at all. She will exert passive influence to steal the burned taste from food, or to entirely steal the experience of eating a great steak. By which I mean that whomever is front doesn't even experience the food, it just goes straight to her. Isabeau has cloven hooves, a tail, wings and small horns on her head, and can feel them as phantom limbs and experiences dysphoria for the parts that don't match, like our toes and feet.
How this is different from other non-human resident origins, we're not sure. Since we don't have that experience. We'd have to compare notes. It's possible that there is no difference in these ways.
The attachments to the body, in terms of the spirit realm, are different. Believe it or not, the children who are native to this body have a somewhat easier time journeying out of it, although we all can have out of body experiences. Whatever ties down our walk-ins is heavier than the children's natural ability to dissociate and go out of body. So it was easy for the young child to basically "Hail help" outside of their shared body, but we have to take more energy to launch out of body. I think we also similarly have a stronger or at least a different quality to the rubber-band effect that makes us gravitate back to the body. Almost like it's slowed down or takes more thrust to both exit and return. Not sure if that's a quality of the walk-in situation or the weight of "the chain" that holds us to Star.
While we experience the body's derealization/depersonalization, we have less doubt in ourselves as to who we are as individuals. Perhaps having had our own singular lives long ago affirmed our individuality. We aren't sure how much depersonalization is because of internalized cultural attitudes and oppression of plurality. :(
Comparisons to the Psychology Lens
There are things within the spiritual lens that can be crammed into the psychology lens. It's rude to do it to others. We just question our sanity routinely and constantly will poke at ourselves through the psychology lens and basically do reality checks quite frequently. As long as we deem our beliefs to not be causing us harm, not putting others in the way of harm, and not to be causing ourselves distress, we see no need to change them. our spiritual beliefs are a great comfort to us, they fit like a glove, they're not hurting anyone, and we appreciate people respecting our beliefs. We don't mind people asking about how we view our beliefs through the psychology lens, and we're happy to share some of the parallels — for example that our walk-ins could simply be introjects. Yes, that's possible. But it's discordant and the idea is far more uncomfortable in that "lying to myself" way that produces cognitive dissonance. So it is actually far more harmful to us to view ourselves that way. We do check-ins with it occasionally, but as long as the spiritual feels "right" and the psychology explanation feels "wrong" we will continue with our spiritual perspective and do not need anyone to force distress or discomfort on us from outside. We do that to ourselves plenty. :)
The upshot is that spiritual perspectives and different cultural perspectives on plurality are protected classes in the DSM, psychology is not supposed to even work with them except for experiences of possession or distress.
How are we different from a case of possession? The people who own this body not only asked us to come here, but made room and space for us, never have asked us to leave, and are comforted, not distressed, by our presence. We are caretakers of this life with and for them, and since then they have openly decided to equally share this life with us, of their own will. We're writing this article, but they've written about this in their own words and perspectives many times before.
We believe that while we can easily qualify as traumagenic, that our spiritual beliefs and framework have allowed us to grow and adapt outside the purview of psychology frameworks, thus be less distressed, come to internal community much faster than if we were distressed by each other's presence, and have also given us a great deal of compassion for our headmates and our peers within the community who struggle with other frameworks that pathologize their circumstances rather than lending themselves to empowerment by them.
Please feel free to ask more questions below, as we're not sure what else people would want to know about our personal experiences of being walk-ins, our spiritual lens perspective, and how our birth-spirits experience plurality differently from our walk-ins.