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The History of Plural Oppression

by The Crisses

The goal here is to answer the question "Why does singular society have such a problem with plurality as a concept?"

It's important to note that we're writing this up based on a lot of historical knowledge, but not a lot of historical proof. You can come to your conclusions, and we'd be happy to gather evidence, footnotes, etc. with others who want to help document it. See also the History of Plurality New page for actual documentation as it's gathered.

CW - colonialism going back to Caesar and possibly earlier, genocide, religion, the (Christian/Catholic) Church, spiritual experiences of plurality including possession (not moralized in this article), Inquisition & Witch Trials, etc.

Important to note: Psychology are literally the keepers of the status quo. Anything outside the status quo is to be labeled and "treated". This has been established even within psychology itself, and is a point made in textbooks on psychology as taught in degree programs. So while this point is up for debate, but you can debate it with others within the industry. It is one of the assumptions made to give context in terms of why this history is important to how psychology treats plurality & DID.

So let's roll back some centuries and dig into colonization and the Church.

There's massive overlap with plurality and religious and spiritual experiences. DID criteria itself states clearly "may be experienced as possession".

Possession (and other altered) states have, throughout time, been closely associated with religious experiences. State changes now falling under the big umbrella of dissociation include subjective spiritual experiences such as speaking with spirits, walk-in spirits (spirits who take up permanent residence in the body such as changelings), channeling, epiphanies (or downloading divine information), "wearing" g-ds (channeling g-ds into one's body and allowing them to use one's body) etc. all clearly part of human history throughout time. Most of the big religious tomes claiming to be written by G-d through man's hand -- all pretty clearly on the dissociative spectrum. This is not to say whether these dissociative experiences are disordered or not, just that they're pretty clearly aligned with what are now called dissociative experiences.

Some societies specifically picked religious leaders from people with either of plural or psychotic experiences. People who have had spiritual experiences such as close contact with the spirit world, who hear voices, channel gods, etc. Sometimes these spiritual leaders (shamans for example) worked alongside secular leaders (chieftains), sometimes they held a dual role (emperors).

Due to this, as history rolls on, there's a lot of conflict in religious institutions or secular institutions — especially amongst colonizers — with people who at least at times can be presumed to be plural or at least strong on the dissociative spectrum. For example, Caesar who killed the druids as an early documented example, but this continued on beyond undermining leaders in conquered tribes or colonies, in nearly all colonizer activities. It's been a major goal of all colonizers to identify cultural leaders and spiritual leaders, chieftains, and their lineages and eliminate them.

It's pretty easy to conclude that plurals were often amongst those targeted, and that as a result targeting plurality has been a theme — historically whenever one has heard of someone speaking to themself, or to spirits one has to ask is it the good or approved spirits or the bad or disapproved spirits.

It's also fairly well documented in the Church with specific edicts against "witches" that wiped out anyone suspected of nearly any spiritual practices including natural medicinal practitioners and many others throughout Europe, and this targeting continued on in the Colonies with the witch hunts. Also include exorcisms and labeling and often institutionalizing people who were "possessed" or mad, and how they were treated in institutions.

In addition there's the experience of many who were later sainted by the Church. Hildegard, Joan of Arc, all the saints who were sainted posthumously after being ostracized and condemned for their experiences and were only OK once their dangerous rhetoric was silenced, then they could be placed on a pedestal. Many of those later sainted heard voices, claimed to speak with otherworldly creatures or to be used as a vessel to write or speak on their behalf.

Overall, it became either you're plural on their side, or you're plural to be hunted and killed.

In any case, as our culture is founded on all this colonizer & genocide, plural experiences having been historically oppressed and as often as possible hidden, shamed, denounced, or otherwise removed from politics and leadership positions.

It is going to take some work to clean up centuries/millennia of examples of potential and verifiable plural experiences being marginalized (at best) in our soceity.

In short: singular folk fear us. They don't even remember why they fear us.

And the truth behind that fear is sometimes just that we can multitask and brainstorm, compartmentalize, and analyze in ways that are mysteries to them.

But there may also be that we can access some types of wisdom that they fear as well. Many plurals have someone much wiser, older, deeper than their number of years — from old people, or religious monoliths who claim to be deities, we often have contact with wise things larger than life.

So many of us are autistic and have the lack of automatic respect afforded to authority figures that many authority figures find so frustrating and because we do not conform to social conventions, we can see through cultural trappings and strip away lies and misdirection and get to the heart of a situation or call people (especially leaders) out on bullshit in ways that are politically incompatible and that the average person does not even think to do. So we are also a potential political threat.

So this is contemporary plurality after all that historical mess. With psychology first attempting to separate out singular from plural at first in its entirety (early on 2 or more identities was all that was required, not time loss, not amnesias, not dysfunction, etc.) — but then later having to give in to only classification of disordered plurality as DID.

At this point the last 100+ years of psychology treating people with DID as broken and infantilizing us, etc. plus the bare minimum acknowledgement of non-disordered plurality.

Ironically, meanwhile, Jungian scholars hold up the Red Book as Jung's Magnum Opus and it's a 16 year journey into his inner world. His adherents even use the name of his wise older headmate Philemon as their society name. It's almost oxymoronic. But then, Jung isn't around to attempt to overthrow the status quo anymore, so he (they?) can be safely put on the pedestal he might even deserve.


Our References

  • History of Witchcraft course taken at Kingsboro Community College (studied the Inquisition & witch trials) including reviewing court & religious documentation etc.
  • Medieval History taken at Kingsboro Community College
  • various studies of Medieval History as an MSR (Medieval Studies & Restoration) & SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) member including studies about the Dark ages and some study of Caesar's empire reaching the British Isles
  • Psychology studies on the way to a psychology degree (not completed)
  • Personal study of history & psychology beyond these
  • The Way We Are: How States of Mind Influence Our Identities, Personality and Potential for Change. Frank W. Putnam, 2016. Putnam discusses states change across DID and plural experiences, substance use, meditation and spiritual epiphanies, etc.
  • Healing the Split: Integrating Spirit Into Our Understanding of the Mentally Ill (Revised Edition). John E. Nelson, MD. 1994. Also discusses altered states of consciousness and various disorders, psychosis, and how other cultures dealt with psychosis and altered states as a spiritual crisis and supported people into spiritual epiphanies rather than medicalizing and ostracizing the experiences as madness.

Additional References (since I no longer have my school texts)

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malleus_Maleficarum - 15th through 20th century document used in secular courts to identify witches and those consorting with the Devil, or demonically possessed, torture for confessions, and try citizens for "witchcraft" and demonic possession. Punishment was death, often burning at the stake. The Wikipedia article talks about arguments about who is behind the document, etc. but that's immaterial in the cases that it was used to target plurals and folk with DID and eliminate them from society. This was alongside exorcisms carried out for demonic possession at the time. While undoubtedly the Malleus Maleficarum was misogynistic (primarily), many accused were sexually promiscuous, accused of incest and killing babies, and of speaking up and out inappropriately. The original text is available (in Latin & a German translation) the English translations are copyrighted.
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directorium_Inquisitorum appx 1376 The Directorium Inquisitorum was the directory of Inquisition-worthy offenses before the Malleus Maleficarum, used by the Spanish Inquisition into the 17th Century. Again, no English translation is available.
  • It's difficult to put together the exact criteria of witchcraft and which criteria may match/overlap with either plural or DID experiences without the original documents, or court records to compare accusations with potential objective observations of plural & DID experiences (such as speaking to oneself, speaking in tongues or another voice, amnesias reported, trance states/dissociation states, sexual promiscuity (presumably by alters acting out sexually), and so on. However, these "signs" could easily be misconstrued as questionable behaviors or signs of the issues that may have been expected of witches at the time.
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_colonialism - General information about pushing the Christian colonialism agenda across the world and a big gloss over the atrocities performed, religiously speaking.

See Also


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