On identity fluidity

This post uses a large amount of terminology from the plural community.  For background and definitions, see this glossary: https://wikiplural.net/glossary

Polyfragmented dissociative identity disorder is a subtype of DID which fell out of popular use and the medical literature after the 80s.  Definitions vary, but the core component of polyfragmented DID is the idea that rather than being made of a few headmates, systems are made of a large number of fragments.  It is not uncommon for there to be over 100 or even over 1000 fragments, leading to many to define polyfragmented DID as having over 100 headmates.  These fragments can combine together into more fully formed headmates, often leading to subsystems of fragments.  As a result, the existence of subsystems, or even subsystems within subsystems, is sometimes used as part of the definition of polyfragmented DID.

Our research has found term often closely attached to Satanic Ritual Abuse and often hypothesized to be the result of repeated, severe abuse.  This leads us to believe the term was inextricably entwined with the Satanic Ritual Abuse scares of the 80s and as those scares died, the term polyfragmented was buried with it.  This is unfortunate because we believe the term describes our system quite well and it is a term we have been drawn to since we first saw it defined.  Our system is currently slightly over 70 members large, but even when we only knew of 20 or 30, we were still drawn to the definition.  We find it unfortunate that uncovering the term required us to happen to run into a single thread of a relatively small forum.  The term polyfragmented allows us to explain who we are using fewer words which indicates it is a powerful definition for us.   We hope others may find it as useful for their own explorations.

The reason we find the term beautiful goes so far beyond the definition.  The idea that we are composed of fragments which combine into headmates means that we have a tremendous capacity for splintering then reforming into a new stable configuration.  This makes us highly adaptable and gives us a clear mechanism to respond to the changing demands this world places on us.  We are very talented at identifying changes which need to be made in our life and quickly implementing them or making a plan to implement them.  We believe the fluid nature of identity which has been so incredibly useful is amplified by us being polyfragmented.

It allows us to approach ideas like transitioning gender and exploring our plurality with an open mind, curious whether changes would be beneficial rather than fearful of stepping outside the mold society has set for us.  If there is a more desirable configuration of self, being polyfragmented provides us with the toolkit to make such changes.  Fragments can break off from more whole system members and reform into new system members better suited to our situation.  Having fragments means that this is less of an all or nothing process than someone with only a few headmates.  We can have only a few fragments break off and form into new headmates and easily create new headmates as they are needed.

When we first started exploring our plurality, nearly two years ago, we did it under the premise that our system would exist to protect and care for each other and everyone is an equal with equal rights to the body.  Our system has lived up to this and we love and care for each other, load balance in difficult situations by changing front to those more able to front, and listen carefully to the concerns of any system member.  When one system member is uncomfortable with something, we ask why and seek out the resolution which minimizes harm.  Through considering the needs and desires of others, we have very little conflict and exist in harmony.  As a result, the idea of integration, of making the lovely beings we share our life with disappear was horrifying and met with visceral reactions from us.

The ideas around polyfragmentation have made us more comfortable with the idea of integration.  It suggests that fragments already have integrated to create the more whole headmates we have.  There is also the suggestion that integration is less permanent because fragments can always break off and reenter previous configurations when needed or desired.  We are no longer as afraid of integration because with less permanence comes the idea that headmates never truly disappear, they just go to sleep, always with the potential to be woken up again.  In this way, even if we do lose someone, we will always be able to reach them if the need or desire for that is strong enough.

In this way, being polyfragmented allows us to freely adapt to life, to reconfigure as needed, and grants us a way to always be with each other even if we become temporarily separated.

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