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So, what is plurality and how does Plurality Develop?

The term Plural as applied to a human being, simply means more than one. There is more than one me(s). Please note that this content will only cover plurality as it pertains to developmental trauma/cumulative trauma/ CPTSD. At this time, I am unfortunately not very well informed about plurality as experienced by other cultures or practices. The content below will discuss plurality in the context of western psychology. I do hope to actively engage in more learning beyond what is written here. If you have come across helpful resources that you would like to share with me, I most certainly welcome it and appreciate it. You may email me at:


In order to understand plurality, it’s important to first explore the development of the self. Attachment theory uses the concept of Working Models, which are based on “the child’s real-life experiences of day to day interactions with his parents (Bowlby, 1988).” These attachment experiences inform children’s developing beliefs, range of emotions, ability to self-regulate, and physical patterns (Ogden, & Fisher, 2015). In addition, the SELF is also greatly dictated by how attachment figures perceive a person to be and not be (Bromberg, 2011). In essence, whatever part(s) of the child caregivers reject or disapprove of, will likely result in the child’s own rejection and disapproval of these part(s) or aspects of themselves. This invalidation/rejection/disapproval of part(s) or aspects of the child by caregivers occurs on a continuum from mild to severe (Ogden & Fisher, 2015). 


 The invalidation/rejection/disapproval a developing young person receives from an adult may result in  various self-states that do not communicate with one another. Each self-state holds it’s own experience, it’s own working model. For example, I remember having experiences of my father taking us out to have ice scream. My father was also very charming and funny. This self-state where I identified my father as “good” was separate than the self-state that identified my father as “bad,” when he was anything but good to me. This specific example is an important one, as I see it just about on a daily basis with my clients. It is difficult for us to hold two opposing truths at once. This is a metacognitive skill that must be taught. Those of us growing up with caregivers that do not communicate with us, where we are left to make sense of the world on our own...we do not learn how to do this. The teaching of these metacognitive skills are the foundation for an ingenious model of therapy aptly named Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan. Moreover, it is not uncommon for individuals to hold 2 or more simultaneous working models of their attachment figure(s), as well as two or more working models of themselves (Ogden & Fisher, 2015).

​References for the trauma and dissociative spectrum: 

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2022). Dissociative Disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed., text rev.). (pp. 329-348).

  • What is a Dissociative Disorder.  An Infinite Mind.

  • Danylchuk, L.S. & Connors, K.J. (2023). Treating Complex Trauma and Dissociation: A Practical Guide to Navigating Therapeutic Challenges New York: Routledge.

  • J. Marich (2023). Dissociation Made Simple: A Stigma-Free Guide to Embracing Your Dissociative Mind and Navigating Daily Life. North Atlantic Books.

  • Maté, G. & Maté, D. 2022. The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture. Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Resources for Multiplicity/Plurality:

There is an incredible nonprofit that has dedicated it’s mission to educating others on plurality. There is a plural dictionary, bill of rights, basic plural terminology, and more that can be found on The Plural Association’s (TPA) Nonprofit webpage: 


Some handouts from the TPA’s website have been recreated with their permission and can be found here: 


Plurality/Multiplicity Resources

For More Resources, Click on this link to be taken to our Resource Page 

Short film- A portrayal of DID, by film maker Dylan Crumpler. 

"Petals of a Rose is currently the best educational film that we have available to educate professionals and the general public about dissociative identities."
— Jamie Marich, Ph.D., LPCC-S, REAT, RYT-500

Dylan grew up with a mother who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Given that DID has often been inaccurately and negatively portrayed in film and television, Dylan envisioned and created this film to realistically depict a day in the life of a woman with DID in an engaging and educational way.

Facebook Group: AlterNation by The Plural Association for Dissociative Identity Disorder &+

Multiplied By is a nonprofit organization that offers an international therapist directory for dissociative disorders. Resources, including a magazine on topics such as derealization, depersonalization are available here. 

Click here to be taken to the therapist directory. 

Click here for the magazine. 

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