by ΝΥΞ (2017)
If one is to gain a comprehensive understanding of where the Plurality movement is, and where it may be going, it is important to first understand “analogy”
- a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification. “an analogy between the workings of nature and those of human societies”
- a correspondence or partial similarity. “the syndrome is called deep dysgraphia because of its analogy to deep dyslexia”
- a thing that is comparable to something else in significant respects. “works of art were seen as an analogy for works of nature”
The reason for this understanding’s importance is to avoid a misunderstanding that one thing is equal to/no different than another.
We (ΝΥΞ) do not communicate in literal, concrete terms; and this can be very frustrating to us as many in our audience often twist and misconstrue our words because they take us “literally”.
This is a common annoyance for our systerhood as we tend to think in terms that are entirely metaphorical or analogous.
It’s simply how we understand, interpret and explain ourselves and the world we live in.
An example of this sort of misunderstanding we have witnessed is how singular individuals who are LGBTQ can be offended by “comparisons” of plurality to gender identity and sexual orientation. Some perceive an analogy meant to cast plurality as something inherent and inseparable from a person’s identity as equating or “reducing” gender identity and sexual orientation to a “disease” (meaning DID/OSDD-1).
Those things being said, let us continue.
The Plurality Movement has many analogous parallels to other human rights movements. At first glance, some of these movements appear to be based in disabilities, yet over time they have become based in identities now recognized and protected by law.
I — Deafhood and Deaf Culture
The analogies drawn from Deaf culture are regarding their formulation and expression of a positive identity out of what the hearing world considers a deficiency.
Their culture as well is built on their unique shared experience of deafness/hard-of-hearing.
The following was copy-pasted from one of our earliest posts.
Unlike deafness, which is often used to describe deaf people only in terms of their hearing loss, Deafhood asserts being Deaf has a positive value for humankind and does not need to be cured like a disease. Many other Deaf people, like Ella Mae Lentz have used this term to explain a Deaf person’s unique personal journey to discover and understand themselves as a Deaf person. Some in the Deaf community, regardless of whether or not they had read Ladd’s book, latched onto this concept as a way to unite the varied segments of the deaf community. Others have found the term too ambiguous to be helpful.
Understanding Deaf Culture
There are two views on deafness and Deaf individuals.
The first of these is often referred to as the “medical/pathological ” model. Those who support this viewpoint will regard a deaf individual as someone who cannot hear, who is lacking auditory capability, who is deficient in some way because he or she may not be able to communicate by “speaking” and “hearing”. This viewpoint focuses solely on what a deaf person cannot do – hear – and disregards the many positive attributes and abilities of individuals who are Deaf. It is a narrow and negative viewpoint in which Deaf persons are viewed as needing assistance and in which “deafness” requires a cure.
The opposing viewpoint – often referred to as the “cultural model” – is promoted by Deaf persons themselves, and by advocates and professionals working within the Deaf community. It postulates that the inability to receive audible information is not and should not be the sole and exclusive defining characteristic of any individual or group thereof, and that a far more effective and inclusive approach is to view a Deaf person for what they can do rather than what they cannot. A simple yet pivotal argument often used by Deaf advocates is that since Deaf people can communicate easily and fluently amongst one another using American Sign Language, the communicative abilities of Deaf individuals are not diminished at all; they are simply perceived as diminished by “hearing” standards of receiving and expressing information audibly. Deaf people could in fact just as effectively argue that it is “hearing” people who are at a disadvantage, since few “hearing” people can communicate fluently in ASL the way a native ASL user can and does.
Today, Deaf individuals can be found productively contributing at every level of state, public and private enterprise and within our communities; the only areas where Deaf people cannot succeed are those where the medical/pathological view is firmly entrenched and Deaf people are viewed based on misinformed stereotypes or prejudices that have no basis in fact.
That last sentence is worth repeating:
“[T]he only areas where Deaf people cannot succeed are those where the medical/pathological view is firmly entrenched and Deaf people are viewed based on misinformed stereotypes or prejudices that have no basis in fact.”
II — LGBTQ+ Rights
There is already a great deal of overlap between the LGBTQ+ community and the plural community; especially in regards to transgender, non-binary and other non-cisheteronormative identities.
From our predecessors come the shared struggle of having our way of being pathologized as a mental illness. LGBTQ+ related diagnoses such as “Gender Identity Disorder” and “Ego-Dystonic Homosexuality” are no longer included in DSM.
For the diagnostic dogmatists and psychiatric idolaters, the notion that DSM could be wrong is a frightful possibility when one has made a pathology into an identity, without first normalizing it before reclaiming it.
What happens once the pathology changes, or is done away with, as the DSM is shown to do?
There was once “Harry Benjamin Syndrome” for which diagnostic criteria were strictly enforced to withhold gender health services from those who did not fit neatly into the narrow concept of gender promulgated by cisheteronormative psychiatry.
Those who still hold fast to Harry Benjamin Syndrome and who police trans identities are referred to as “truscum”; meaning “True Scum”. They practife a form of respectability politics that is more appealing to the psychiatric establishment; even though said establishment abandoned the criteria for a “True Transexual™” some years back.
We in the plural community have our own “truscum” who we often label (albeit in hyperbole) with the same term used to describe those who would withhold gender affirming treatment from those who needed it: Gatekeepers.
Gatekeepers in the plural community have no real power or even any basis in psychiatry. Instead, gatekeepers try to enforce arbitrary, inconsistent and conflicting criteria to determine who is a real “system” and who is not.
What these literal children do not understand is that plurality is necessary for DID/OSDD-1; not the other way around.
“Only DID causes systems!” betrays not only a misunderstanding of plurality and DID and psychiatric medicine, it also shows minimal grasp of causality itself.
They defend and enforce this misunderstanding in the same spirit of respectability as those who enforced a diagnosis of Harry Benjamin Syndrome did in the last century.
They have elevated “system” to an identity based on diagnostic criteria.
The diagnostic criteria for DID, however, are a promising development, as plurality is only considered one part of the disorder, and thus it can exist apart from it as well. DSM also requires the plurality to be causing disorder in the person’s life in order to receive a diagnosis.
There is nothing in DSM that denies the plurality of someone not meeting the other criteria for DID/OSDD-1, for whom the condition is not causing a disorder.
The 4th and 5th DSM criteria also point to the existence of plurality within the spheres of culture/religion, and other medical/psychiatric fields.
These forms of plurality are still just as valid and real, but if they are causing a disorder they are best treated by practitioners within that specific field.
Thus, contrary to the claims of many, DID/OSDD-1 are not the only valid forms of plurality; they are simply the only psychiatric conditions associated with plurality. The idea that they are the only valid forms is a value judgment, an opinion, and does not reflect the clinical reality.
It is quite possible that plurality could be depathologized in the same way that non-cisheteronormativity was finally allowed to be considered natural and normal by the psychiatric establishment.
Still, as long as it is not conversion therapy, persons who are troubled by their orientations and gender identities can receive counseling just as anyone else can for whatever troubles them in their lives.
Even if DID/OSDD-1 were no longer included in the DSM, plurals could still receive therapy and treatment for problems arising from trauma and dissociation.
Were this to happen, system “gatekeepers” would hold the same contemptible place as truscum do today in the trans community.
III — Psychiatric Survivors & Mad Pride
As with the LGBTQ+ movement, the intersectionality between the plural movement and the “Consumer/Survivor/Ex-Patient” movement cannot be understated.
As with the Deaf community, there are two major schools of thought in these fields: the “Recovery Model” and the “Medical Model”.
The “Medical Model” is the same “Pathological Paradigm” one would find in any other field of medicine. It’s fairly self-explanatory.
The “Recovery Model” in mental health is borrowed from the terminology of those “in recovery from substance use and addiction.
However, the definition itself is left open to interpretation and is often quite vague.
Depending on which state or federal mental health agency you ask, their “working definition” of recovery can fluctuate between 3 to 11 or more “Guiding Principles” or “Dimensions”.
Recovery is quickly losing its meaning.
Our own time in the “Recovery Community”, however, has taught us one thing:
“Recovery”, as it is currently understood, is little more than respectability politics. It too makes an appeal to the psychiatric establishment.
It still lends credence to the idea that there is something inherently wrong with a person from which they must “recover”.
However, one must never claim to ever be fully “recovered” lest one be seen as in denial or non-compliant.
Yet there is another paradigm, another model that those in the “Recovery Community” rarely speak of.
The Icarus Project, Mindfreedom International, The Hearing Voices Network and many others have cast off both the medical and recovery model.
They can experience degrees of human emotion that others never will.
They hear voices, have visions and hold uncommon beliefs.
They see what others would call “mental illnesses” as “dangerous gifts” from which they can draw great strength and achieve wondrous victories; yet are ultimately responsible for, lest they shine too bright and begin to burn all they have built.
How they choose to be responsible is also, ultimately up to them.
Some will choose meditation.
Some will choose medication.
Some will choose spirituality.
Some will choose psychopharmacology.
For those who take pride in all the trials and tribulations of their existence, we would never trade our “illness” for a vague concept of “health” we have never known.
We do not romanticize “mental illness”.
We celebrate our lives.
IV — Neurodiversity & Autistic Rights
As with the previous two examples, the intersection between plurality and the Neurodiversity movement are already well-established.
The Neurodiversity movement, and its associated paradigm, is where we in ΝΥΞ envision the future of the plural movement.
We do not necessarily envision plural advocacy as being within the Neurodiversity movement itself, simply part of it; strongly tied to and drawing inspiration from it.
As stated before, Neurodiversity is proving to be a great convergence of causes and movements. It celebrates neurodivergence not only in mind, but in body as well.
As stated in the link above, the Neurodiversity Paradigm moves neurodivergence away from a pathological framework and narrative; into one of normal variance.
In fact, some of us in The Sorority view mental health and many other forms of advocacy eventually moving in this direction
Indeed, plurals can be considered a “neurominority” within this Paradigm:
What It Means:
A neurominority is a population of neurodivergent people about whom all of the following are true:
- They all share a similar form of neurodivergence.
- The form of neurodivergence they share is one of those forms that is largely innate and that is inseparable from who they are, constituting an intrinsic and pervasive factor in their psyches, personalities, and fundamental ways of relating to the world.
- The form of neurodivergence they share is one to which the neurotypical majority tends to respond with some degree of prejudice, misunderstanding, discrimination, and/or oppression (often facilitated by classifying that form of neurodivergence as a medical pathology).
Some examples of neurominority groups include Autistic, bipolar, dyslexic, and schizophrenic people.
The word neurominority can function as either a noun (“Autistics are a neurominority”) or an adjective (“Autistics are a neurominority group”).
Those involved in advocacy for Autistic rights and recognition have had much success in bringing the terms of the Neurodiversity Paradigm into the narratives surrounding mental health and mental illness.
“Autistic” has been reclaimed from “Person-first” terminology (“persons with autism”) and is now the preferred “Identity-first” term for many on the Autistic Spectrum. It is how they identify, it is who they are, it is how they exist in this world. Their Autism cannot be separated from them any more than their personhood itself can be divorced from their sense of self.
Yet, nevertheless, there are still “persons with autism” who object to the identity “Autistic” and hold strong the pathological paradigm. They align themselves with the “pro-cure” movement and actively work to eradicate and “prevent” Autism.
They see the concept of Neurodiversity as a “tempting escape”; as if the idea of normalizing Autism is somehow taboo.
It is, indeed, a common theme running through all these analogous movements that there will be those who insist that we are ill. That we are leading others to their destruction or that we are “spitting in the faces” of those who “truly suffer” these “horrible diseases.”
Do we not experience this same opposition any differently?
V — Our Movement
Here we are, now.
Plurality is being depathologized as no longer a disorder in and of itself.
Even if it came about as part of a disorder, it is nonetheless a natural and normally occurring variance.
It is now a “way of being in and relating to the world.”
It is a strength, it is a gift.
It is not a curse, nor is it a weakness.
It is something we possess and experience.
It does not mean we are any less than those not like us.
It is no longer wrong; it is right for us.
It is to us what Deafness, Gender and Sexuality, Voice-Hearing and Autism/Neurodivergence can be to those who hold them as sacred.
They can be identities.
Identity is sacred.
Plural is becoming an identity.
Even if we consider ourselves singlets within a plural group, any of us can claim this identity for our own.
It is a quality inseparable from ourselves.
It is something we are.
It is something many do not realize they are, yet.
Our activism, Plural Activism, follows in the footsteps of heroes and stands on the shoulders of giants.
This is our Movement.
This is our Moment.
We go forward knowing, with certainty, the one truth that defines and unites us all:
We are not alone.
—Liberty, Serenity et al. for Nu Upsilon Xi (ΝΥΞ), The Sorority