What are endogenic systems?

A system refers to a group of people, states, or identities within one body. Terms such as multiple, plural, and system define any kind of person who experiences something across this spectrum. Not every person likes or uses each of these words, for various reasons.An endogenic system is a type of system that did not form fully from trauma. It is an umbrella term for a variety of experiences, and it is often used in the plural community. An endogenic system may not specifically refer to themself as endogenic, however. "Endogenic" is one of various origin labels that are used by some members of the plural community.Endogenic systems may or may not have generally gone through some form of trauma, but it did not form their system. This is in contrast to traumagenic systems, which are formed through trauma in some way. Furthermore, the dissociative disorders known as DID, OSDD-1a, OSDD-1b, and (sometimes) UDD, are caused by traumatic events and result in various types of systems (though not everyone with these disorders will use that term).It is important to note that endogenic systems are typically not medical experiences, though there are exceptions to this. The majority of endogenic systems do not consider themselves to be the result of any disorder. It is also important to keep in mind that the terms "system," "plural," and otherwise are not synonymous with the psychiatric disorders mentioned previously, and that endogenic systems almost always do not have those disorders and do not like being lumped together with them.Endogenic systems are a topic of controversy for some, mainly in the DID/OSDD community. This is one facet of "syscourse," or "system discourse." There is a lot of misinformation on how they work, and a lot of assumptions on universal beliefs surrounding them, in anti-endogenic circles. This Carrd aims to accurately explain what they truly are, and what they are not.

Why do endogenic systems exist?

Answering this is a bit of a redundant thing to do, because asking why something exists doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The simple facts are, many people experience plurality without trauma being its cause. If you have no proof yourself, then you have no right or authority to tell others what's happening in their brain. There are some sources for endogenic systems existing in this tag, though keep in mind this comes from a very wide variety of various Tumblr sources, and not everyone in the tag is trustworthy. I have some more direct sources a bit further down.An important thing to keep in mind is that disproving someones existence not only fails to work, but also should not be the point of any form of activism. You cannot wish away someone's system, no matter how hard you try to do it. All it inevitably does is hurt people, and make spaces more difficult to feel safe in. Pointing out issues with a community should never be a reason to attack their very existence or personhood, and it defeats the purpose of any kind of proper criticism.

There are a few medical sources pointing to the possibility of non trauma-formed plurality. Here is a non-exhaustive list of what I deem to be the best.

“Ross (1991) studied the general population of Winnipeg searching for an indication of Dissociative Identity Disorder in the general population. He found 3.1% of respondents to an interview could fit the criteria of Dissociative Identity Disorder. However, of these 14 individuals (out of 454 participants), the majority (8) seemed to be radically different from Dissociative Identity Disorder patients in therapy. These individuals often did not report abuse history and often reported experiencing little psychopathology.[…] Ross describes a number of possibilities that explain these findings. He contemplates that the non-pathological group could be false positives, that the individuals could be amnesiac for abuse, that the Dissociative Identity Disorder could be in remission or that:
“‘multiplicity exists in a non-pathological endogenous form in the general population. About 2% of people may be natural multiples who do not have dysfunctional posttraumatic MPD. They may simply have a highly dissociative psychic organization’ (Ross, 1991, p. 510).”
Source: Regan McClure, 1994. “Towards a theoretical framework of the etiology and structures of multiple personality.” A Thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts, Graduate Department of Applied Psychology, in the University of Toronto.

"The presence of alters alone is not quite enough for a person to be diagnosed with a mental "disorder". For a dissociative disorder to be diagnosed the person must have either clinically significant distress, or impaired functioning in a major area of life. This means that it is possible to be mentally healthy and a multiple, this is referred to as "healthy multiplicity".Source: Traumadissociation. "Alter Identities in Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD) and DDNOS"

“Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder is generally deemed to be the most severe dissociative disorder, in which trauma not only induces amnesia but also fragments personality. Our own alternative thesis is that trauma only induces amnesia (in those who are predisposed to dissociate) and that multiple personality without amnesia is a normal individual difference upon which dissociative reactions to trauma may be superimposed.[…] Our thesis predicts that many more, totally normal people with multiple personalities, but no amnesia, never even come to the attention of the clinical psychological establishment.[…] Present findings support our hypothesis that multiple personality, without amnesia, is a normal phenomenon.”Source: Robert G. Kuzendorf, Melissa Crosson, Antoinette Zalaket, Jerold White, and Robert Enik. “Normal dimensions of multiple personality without amnesia.” Imagination, cognition, and personality, Vol. 18(2, pp. 205-220, 1998-99.

“‘There may be in the general population a large number of people with MPD who are high-functioning, relatively free of overt psychopathology, and no more in need of treatment than most of their peers. They may not have abuse histories and may have evolved a creative and adaptive multiplicity. If these people exist, virtually nothing is known about them.’ (Ross, 1989, p. 97) The phrase “if these people exist” expresses some doubt that there can be “high-functioning” individuals with multiple selves, continuing the discourse of dysfunction. However the phrase also highlights a gap in the scientific research. Functional individuals who live with multiplicity are most likely not documented because of the very fact that they are functional and do not seek therapy. At present, the only documented cases of functional multiplicity are self-documented, for example on internet pages. Although this is not persuasive evidence for the scientific community, such data cannot be summarily dismissed simply to hold to the dominant discourse.”Source: Kymbra Clayton. “Critiquing the Requirement of Oneness over Multiplicity: An Examination of Dissociative Identity (Disorder) in Five Clinical Texts.” E-Journal of Applied Psychology: Clinical Section. 1(2), pp. 9-19, 2005.

“[The theory of structural dissociation of the personality (TSDP)] is not perfect. Even the best of theories are mere tools. They do not reflect an objectively existing (i.e., subject-independent) reality, and the search for knowledge and wisdom is forever. This is what the term ‘wijsbegeerte’, the Dutch word for philosophy, expresses, the desire (begeerte) to gain wisdom (wijsheid). I am thus open to incessantly improving TSDP.”Source: Ellert R.S. Nijenhuis, creator of the theory of structural dissociation (of the personality). “Boundaries on the concepts of dissociation and dissociative parts of the personality: required and viable.” Psichiatria e Psicoterapia, vol. 34, 1, pp. 55-85. 2015.

Another note, and a reminder: in the DSM-5, it explicitly states that accepted practices that are cultural or religious do not qualify for a DID diagnosis. This is because a diagnosis requires it to not be caused by something else other than an actual, tangible psychiatric condition. Remember this before you start claiming that endogenic systems are simply DID systems in denial. You are actively forcing people who do not fit the diagnosis into a mental disorder.

Common Plural Terms

General / Basic

  • System, plural: General terms used to describe someone with multiple identities, people, states, etc. in a single body.

  • Multiple: Similar to the last two, however it is often used to denote being "fully" multiple, so fully individual people. Compare to median.

  • Median: A system that is between multiple and singlet. This may be systems who feel as though their different members are closer to states, versions, or similar, rather than people. Median members are commonly called facets.

  • Switching: Moving from one member to another.

  • Fronting: Being in control of the physical body.

  • Headspace, inner world: A visualized place in which the system resides in. Not all systems have this.

  • Headmate, system member, sysmate, pluran: A member of a system.

  • Fictive: A system member based off of a fictional entity.

  • Factive: A system member based off of a real person.

"-Genic" (origin) terms

  • Traumagenic: Caused by trauma.

  • Endogenic: Not (fully) caused by trauma.

  • Multigenic, polygenic: Having multiple origins.

  • Quoigenic: Not fitting into other categories, not knowing, and/or not caring about one's origin.

  • Praesigenic: Refusing to share one's origin on purpose.

  • Neurogenic: An origin caused by some form of neurodivergency or mental condition that is not DID/OSDD-1.

  • Willogenic, parogenic: An origin referring to intentional creation.

  • Catharigenic, catarigenic: An origin referring to unintentional creation.

Medical terms

  • Alter: A medical term for a member of a system. Short for "alternate states of consciousness."

  • Introject: A medical term for a system member that formed based off of an external person, character, or anything else.

  • Parts: Another term for an alter, though many DID/OSDD systems do not prefer this language.

  • Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): A dissociative disorder that has 1. distinct members and 2. amnesia between members. Causes a form of systemhood, or alters. Many people with this disorder do not consider themselves plural.

  • OSDD-1a: Similar to DID, however it is distinguished by not having fully separate alters. Many of these systems consider themselves median.

  • OSDD-1b: Similar to DID, however it is distinguished by not having amnesia between members. They still have general amnesia, however as a system each member remembers the same events just as clearly.

Terms you see a lot in syscourse

  • Sysmed: A term describing those that believe being a system is a purely medical experience, and thus believe that nonmedical systems cannot exist or cannot consider themselves systems. Short for sysmedicalist. Taken from the word transmed.

  • Syscourse, system discourse: "Discourse" (fighting, discussion) regarding system-related topics. Often refers to the debate on endogenic validity.

  • Anti-endo: Someone who is, in some way, against endogenic systemhood. Ranges from disbelief in the concept to believing they cannot be systems but are instead either repressed or some other non-plural experience.

  • Pro-endo: Someone who is, generally, supportive of endogenic systemhood. Details on how supportive someone is and in what ways can vary.

Controversial terms

  • Tulpamancy: A practice derived from a sect of Tibetan Buddhism. In plural circles, those who use this term intentionally create tulpas, which are often considered a self-created form of system member. A controversial term due to concerns of cultural appropriation, and thus someone may often use the term thoughtform instead.

  • System Hopping, system travel: Refers to when a member of a system travels from one system to another. Controversial due to the very possible risks of abuse or threats, namely towards younger and less educated systems.

  • Traumascum: An ableist term used to describe a DID/OSDD system that is exclusionary of other plural experiences. Controversial because.... do I even need to explain this one?


  • Not all systems use -genic terminology. Keep this in mind before speaking to systems!

  • This is very barebones terminology. Do not use this as your only source on plural language.

Common Questions

  1. Are endogenic systems inherently ableist?: No. Endogenic systems existing does not harm other plural systems. Ableism is an action, not simply someone's entire existence. Endogenic systems are capable of being ableist, but this is not due to their origins.

  2. Are endogenic systems abusive?: No. Besides hate groups, predators, and otherwise, no group of people is inherently abusive. Like the previous questions, endogenic systems can be abusive, but this is not due to their origins, but rather the fact that abusers exist in every group and act abusive.

  3. Are endogenic systems racist? Do they all support tulpamancy?: No, and no. Tulpamancy is its own controversial subject in the community, with many people (namely younger individuals) being against using the term tulpamancy for non-Buddhist experiences.

  4. How would endogenic systems know they're not just DID/OSDD systems in denial?: The way in which endogenic systems function are different from DID/OSDD ones. Even if an endogenic system were in denial, they would still have symptoms of these disorders outside of simply having system members. If someone were to read through the criteria and research the disorders, and not have any symptoms besides just being a system, they are not in denial. They simply do not have DID or OSDD.

  5. How can we believe endogenic systems exist if they're not proven yet?: There are various scientific leads suggesting that they could. But before it becomes "proven," it isn't as though they will stop existing until that time happens. Furthermore, since so many endogenic systems are non-medical, they are experiences that would not be proven medically anyways, just as various other belief systems and states of existence are not proven by medical documents.

  6. Is system a medical term? Can endogenic systems use it?: No, it is not a strictly medical label. DID and OSDD are medical labels, as are alter and various others, but "system" is a community term, as is plural and multiple.

  7. Do endogenic systems misuse medical language?: Not often. Endogenic systems often do not like using medical language because they do not want to be pathologized or mistaken as a medical system. In instances where they do explicitly use medical terminology, they may be mixed origins and have DID or OSDD.

  8. Do endogenic systems want to demedicalize DID/OSDD?: No. This is a common misconception. Endogenic systems want ot demedicalize The State Of Being Plural, not DID/OSDD the mental disorders. DID/OSDD are disorders and should not be demedicalized, that would be both ableist and asinine.

  9. Do endogenic systems have separate spaces from medical systems?: Yes. "System" "plural" and other general terms are used by both groups, but DID/OSDD spaces are only for, well, DID/OSDD systems. The only exception to this is mixed origin or questioning systems that also happen to be endogenic. To compare: Both gay men and lesbians are under the term queer. However gay men do not use the lesbian tags and lesbians do not use the gay man tags, and thus have subcommunities.

  10. Are traumagenic and DID/OSDD synonyms?: No. Traumagenic simply means trauma formed. There is more criteria for DID/OSDD than simply trauma, and not every traumagenic system will necessarily fit that criteria or even have similar experiences to those of specific dissociative disorders.

  11. Isn't being endogenic like being transabled?: No. "Transabled" refers to a group of people that 'identify as' having a disorder that they bodily do not. For instance, someone who identifies as having NPD without having NPD is transabled. Endogenic systems do not claim to have something they do not, they are simply existing in their own category. A true "transabled" person would identify as having DID/OSDD without having those disorders, which is quite different (and offensive.)

  12. Can endogenic systems technically have DID/OSDD?: In some cases, namely if someone is mixed origins. In this instance, they would generally believe that they had a system since, for instance, birth, but later developed DID/OSDD on top of it, which would result in being endogenic and having DID/OSDD. Another example would be a DID/OSDD system that later gained system members of a non-traumagenic or stress-related origin. However, DID/OSDD is still widely understood to be a trauma-formed disorder, and most endogenic systems do not claim to have DID/OSDD without any.