The Plurality Playbook

To help employees and managers understand dissociative disorders, as well as plurality as a whole.

By FreyasSpirit (Lucia Batman) and Irenes (Irene Knapp).

Table of Contents

Lizzes' foreword

Are you curious about what it's like to work with or manage someone who is plural? Or, if you're plural, perhaps you've wondered how to get your coworkers to better understand and accept your neurodivergence. In 2016, FreyasSpirit and Irenes realized that they could write a guide to plurality for all three of these audiences and help other plural systems come out in the workplace and thrive.

This document is the product of that effort, and was published internally with the benefit of feedback from other plural systems. Hundreds of employees read this guide or used it when coming out to their teams. Personally, it was helpful for me to be a better ally at first, and even more useful after we awakened as a plural system ourselves.

The authors of this document debated whether or when to publish it to the entire world. They were worried about facing retaliation from the company for doing so without its approval. Given the publicity surrounding the #pluralgang hashtag in early 2019 and the increasing number of systems that are coming out, they have decided that now is the right time to publish, with or without management's approval, and we are proud of them for taking that risk. We and the authors hope that this document helps an even greater audience understand each other and themselves. We all hope you find it both historically interesting, and practically useful.

Liz Fong-Jones (who are also a collection of Lizzes)


For the sake of readability, this section contains only the information necessary to understand the "for teammates" section. The full section on background can be found under "detailed overview/glossary".

Plurality (also known as multiplicity) is the state of having more than one person/consciousness sharing a body. Together, the people who share a body make up a plural system or multiple system, often referred to simply as a system. The size and nature of a system varies greatly, with system size varying from two to well over 100. Some systems are highly co-conscious and as a result have very strong continuity of memory while others have more strongly partitioned memory and often lose time and access to certain skills (ie. ability to code) when they switch to a different headmate/systemmate/insider. The headmate who is currently controlling the body is said to be at front.

Dissociation is a common human experience which involves losing some level of awareness of the outside world. Staring into space during a less than thrilling lecture, daydreaming, or getting lost in your mind while taking a walk are all forms of dissociation. As with all human experiences, the degrees which someone can dissociate varies from person to person. In its extreme form, it can cause both short-term and long-term memory issues. It has a close causal relationship with plurality.

Bringing another system member to front, or switching, is a process which can take only minutes or seconds for some systems. For other systems, switching can take hours. In the worst case, often associated with ongoing trauma, system members can be gone for multiple years. Many systems have some ability to control who is fronting when, but not all are able to consciously choose to switch. Stressful situations can make controlling who is fronting harder and in the worst case can lead to involuntary switches.

This playbook focuses on advice to plural Googlers, their teammates, and their managers. It also includes background information, which can be useful in understanding what plurality, memory issues, and dissociation mean and how they affect work.

For teammates: Respect and Etiquette

This Section will address how to be respectful when addressing or interacting with a plural system.

Sample plural system

Name Pronouns Brief description
Lucia singular they/them/their Primary front for nearly a decade. The one from the system you are most likely to interact with at work.
Lilith she/her Far more emotional than Lucia. Able to handle situations which require diplomacy with more grace than Lucia.
Aerie she/her One of the most active in system. Often exists in higher energy states than others. Has a strong ability to create changes.
Emma she/her Seeks understanding to a greater degree than others in system. More formal in speech than most others in system.
Astra it One of the best at entering a calm, meditative state.


What name to use

Listen and take them seriously

Coming out

Preferred forms of communication


Detailed Overview/Glossary

Dissociative Disorders, namely Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), and Other Specified Dissociative Disorder (OSDD) are strict subsets of plurality. Under the DSM5, plurality can only be classified as a disorder when "the symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning." It is important to recognize that not all plurality will meet this criterion. For many, including the authors of this document, their plurality is a core part of their identity and is a very positive thing.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD (defined below) have a very high comorbidity with dissociative disorders. It is likely managing the symptoms of a dissociative disorder will involve managing PTSD symptoms. Having a dissociative disorder almost always comes with past traumas which left the system with [c]PTSD. As a result, small additional stressors will often have a much larger impact on an individual with [c]PTSD than they would on a neurotypical person. Learning to respect trauma victims heavily overlaps with learning to respect plural systems.

Dissociative Amnesia is a separate diagnosis often comorbid with other dissociative disorders, but occasionally separate. It is characterized by an inability to recall important personal history, above and beyond what ordinary forgetting would explain. This can entail gaps in factual memory (people’s names; passwords), in emotional memory (this place is safe; this person is a friend), or in procedural knowledge (how to ride a bicycle; how to debug software). This sometimes means that the system member who holds those memories is not around at the moment. When memory issues happen as a result of being triggered, the specific trauma often has more to do with which memories are available than system topology does.

PTSD and complex PTSD are conditions which have similar symptoms, but different origins. For PTSD, the original cause was a small number of extreme events, such as witnessing violent deaths. For complex PTSD, it was a large number of lesser events over a period of many years, such as childhood abuse, extreme poverty, or food insecurity.

Fugue states and emotional flashbacks are dissociation-related memory issues, akin to dissociative amnesia but shorter-term in duration, most commonly occurring as a result of trauma triggers. Although not all plural systems have a history of PTSD or complex PTSD, they are commonly associated conditions, and this document will explain them as necessary.

Either of [c]PTSD can lead to flashbacks or emotional flashbacks many years after the original traumas. The experience of these is described as re-living the original events and sometimes, the emotional context without a specific event. These flashbacks sometimes occur with dissociation, and are occasionally accompanied by a fugue state. The obvious strategy of thinking about how those events were long ago doesn’t always help, since memories with that information aren’t always available.

For both PTSD and complex PTSD, triggers are events, ideas, sensations, or other stimuli which are reminders of the original trauma. Most flashbacks start by being triggered.

Managing Googlers with Dissociative Disorders



Accommodations for people with [c]PTSD

For Plural Systems

Don't be afraid to ask for help

Coming out

Increases in system size

Memory issues

Oncall shifts

General strategies

Being triggered

Panic attacks

I can’t remember how to code

I don’t remember what I was working on yesterday, or this morning

Someone is asking me verbally about an email I don’t remember writing


What are some good resources on plurality?

What is the relationship between plurality and dissociative identity disorder?

What are some advantages of being plural?

How accurate are representations of plurality in the media? [Spoiler warning!]

Common myths about plurality

How different are members of a system?

Are system members not currently in front mostly dormant?

Is plurality the same thing as hearing voices?