Endogenic Systems

A Carrd for explaining what they are, why they are, and important terminology. Made by a DID system. Honored to be on r/systemcringe since 2021! <3

What are endogenic systems?

To start with this, we first need to answer the question of what a "system" is. In plural contexts, a system is a group of people within one body. In some contexts, such as in DID/OSDD-1, median systems, and similar, this may be explained or experienced differently, but this is the most common definition.

Words such as multiple, plural, and system, define any kind of person who experiences this, so long as they choose to identify as it. Keep in mind that not all systems will personally use these words to define themselves.

An endogenic system is a system that did not form from trauma. It is an umbrella for various different smaller labels that may more precisely explain one's origins. The main reason why this needs to be specified, for some, is because the main form of systems known are ones with DID/OSDD-1, which is a dissociative disorder caused by chronic childhood trauma. Very important to keep in mind that endogenic systems may have gone through trauma- it just didn't form their system.

Endogenic systems are a topic of extreme controversy within some sections of system communities, mainly ones for DID/OSDD-1. A lot of misinformation is said on how they work, act, and believe; hopefully this carrd will help to explain them better. Keep in mind that endogenic systems are not a hivemind; not everyone who is part of this group will agree with one another on every issue.

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.

... But do you actually have any sources?

Yes! This isn't a very exhaustive list, but I consider these 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.

Some endogenic (+related) terms

This is far from an exhaustive list, but here are some common terms related to endogenic systems, used by endogenic systems, or equally important language that relates to plurality.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE that no system has to use specific language, origins, or anything like that to describe themselves; this is primarily here to help people know what these words mean, because it can be hard to find online (which can lead to misinformation.)

Basic origins

Note: Individual members may also use these labels to describe themselves, without it applying to the whole system.

  • Endogenic: A system that was not formed by trauma.

  • Parogenic: A system that was created. May or may not be related to thoughtforms.

  • Traumagenic: A system that was formed by trauma. (Note: not every traumagenic system has DID/OSDD-1. Traumagenic can include people who do not fit the criteria for DID/OSDD-1, such as systems that do not dissociate at all.)

  • Quoigenic: A system that does not know (and sometimes does not care about) their origins. A similar term is cryptogenic.

  • Neurogenic: A system formed to handle a mental disorder or other disability that is not DID/OSDD-1, such as paragenic (related to maladaptive daydreaming.)

Less known origins

  • Protogenic: A system that formed at birth, or has been around as long as the system can remember. A subset of endogenic.

  • Agenic: Having no true/proper origin, or not wanting to find it.

  • Praesigenic: A term that essentially means "You don't get to know my origins, it's none of your business."

  • Parotraumagenic: A parogenic system specifically made to cope with trauma.

  • Metagenic: A system formed through spiritual means. Under endogenic.

Some more important labels

  • DID/OSDD-1: A dissociative disorder caused by chronic childhood trauma. It is not an origin label, and you don't need to be fully traumagenic to qualify for a dx, but some consider it to be the sole origin of their systems and will exclusively use DID or OSDD-1. More information can be found here.

  • Mixed Origins: Also known as polygenic or multigenic, it is a system that has members of various origins. For example, a system that is partly traumagenic and partly parogenic would be mixed origins.

  • Median System: A system that is often described as "being plural and singlet". It usually has "facets" rather than separate system members, and is often described as being different versions of one person rather than completely different people. (Median systems may have varied experiences, however. This is not the only one.)

  • Subsystem: A group of system members that have easier communication and switching between each other. Alternatively, it may be another system within a single system member.

  • Pseudomemories: The medical term for memories that happened outside of the body, usually referring to fictives who have memories beyond what the body experiences. A nonmedical label for this is exomemories. It's important to ask systems which one they prefer, as they may strongly dislike one or both of these words.

  • Dormancy: When a system member stops being active, and is often not active in headspace either. This can be compared to a system member sleeping or being "off". Not death. Many system members eventually return from dormancy.

  • Integration: A medical term describing the breaking down of dissociative barriers between a number of members, making things like communication easier. In some cases, this will result in members merging together, though not always. A healing method for some systems, though not all systems choose to go through this process. Some systems use integration synonymously with members merging together.

Alternative origin terms

These were made as alternatives, since -genic origins can sometimes cause confusion or division, and because not everyone wants to list 100% specifics, but rather wants a more broad explanation.

  • Adaptive: Systems who formed due to traumatic, neglectful, and/or other adverse environments. It is an unintentional process.

  • Spontaneous: A system forming on it’s own with no known traumatic event to cause it.

  • Created: Systems that are intentionally or unintentionally created.

  • Unknown: Systems who don’t know their origins yet, and for systems who don’t know and don’t care to find out.

  • Mixed: Systems where there may be more than one origin, complex origins that fit more than one term, or system members with various origins.

Controversial terms

(As in, ones that are discoursed about the most)

  • System Hopping: Refers to a member(s) of a system being able to travel to other systems besides their own, outside their body. Usually related to spiritual systems. Most systems are critical of this, as this is something that has been used to abuse others. Regardless of one's beliefs, it is extremely important to keep in mind that you need to be very careful with this experience and this topic, and may be triggering.

  • Tulpamancy: A term stemming from Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. Many systems no longer use this term due to cultural appropriation (1, 2), so parogenic, willogenic, and/or thoughtform are generally used instead.

  • Headmate death: The act of a system member permanently dying. Does not refer to integration or dormancy. This is mainly criticized because alters in DID/OSDD-1 are a direct part of someones brain, and therefore aren't seen as capable of "death". However, it should be noted that things may appear a certain way in headspace without it being literal or true. It can sometimes be used to scare young systems, especially if system hopping is involved at the same time. Approach this topic gently and with caution.

  • Traumascum: A word used by some of the worst of the worst people to describe anti endos. I've only seen this word used by around ~2 people, mainly @actingnt on Tumblr. Creating an insult for people based off of their trauma and not their harmful opinions is still an ableist one. The good news is that it's near-universally hated. "Plurscum" is a similar alternative, which is panned for similar reasons, and is honestly just as bad (and hard to say.)

  • Sysmed / Sysmedicalist: A term describing those who see plurality as strictly medical, and is typically anti endogenic because of it. This term is largely criticized by people due to its very clear similarities with "transmed", which compares trans discourse to system discourse, and may cause confusion between the two, when the plural community and LGBTQ+ community are obviously very different. This is the most popular term besides "anti endo", but many also dislike it.

  • Syskeeper: Short for "system gatekeeper". This is a newer term that does not have comparisons with "transmed", and is generally considered the safest option, that is also the most recognizable. This is, to me at least, the preferable option.


1.) The concept of endogenic systems is ableist.

This doesn't make a whole lot of sense. People simply existing is not the same thing as oppression; to say otherwise fundamentally misunderstands what ableism is. Misusing a form of oppression to try and fakeclaim and hurt people simply for having an experience is far closer to bigotry than whatever you believe endogenic systems are doing, and is not a proper substitution for actual proof of your claims. If people existing is ableism to you, it's something you need to work through, not force other people to conform to because you cannot handle the possibility of experiences that aren't the same as your own.

2.) Endogenic systems are abusive.

Members of a group will always have the capability to be abusive. This includes endogenic systems and similar groups. However, few anti endos recognize the very real, very serious issue of the flip side. Anti endos can be abusive. DID/OSDD-1 systems in general can be abusive, and use their experiences to invalidate people who experience something differently than they do, sometimes even resorting to severe harassment. Denying this is either shortsighted, or intentionally malicious, because finding instances of this is extremely easy. Finding an endogenic system who hasn't been harassed, or gone through another awful experience due to anti endos, is rare. So, since this is the case, do anti endos think that an "Anti DID/OSDD-1" stance is acceptable? Probably not, because it's ridiculous!

The bottom line is that it is never okay to paint an entire group of people as "always" abusive, unless the definition of the label they're in (ex: p-dophiles) is inherently so. This viewpoint is hypocritical, and leverages a similar talking point that many ableist people use against people like us (ex: "people with DID always have an evil/abusive alter", "people with [cluster b disorder] are abusive because x y z", etc.)

3.) I don't like endogenic systems because they support tulpamancy/system hopping/alter death.

Endogenic systems are not a hivemind. You will find that many endogenic systems do not support the usage of tulpamancy, and use parogenic instead. You will find that many endogenic systems themselves have been harmed by system hopping, not because their abuser was endogenic, but because their abuser was an abuser. You will find that most endogenic systems are aware that alters in DID/OSDD-1 do not always work the same way as their headmates do. It is silly to generalize the opinions of an entire group, especially one that has so many varying origins, experiences, and opinions. Denying the existence of other people because of a small part of it having an opinion that you already disagree with is something that could be leveraged against anyone in the same way, and is a poor argument against anything.

4.) Endos are DID/OSDD-1 and/or traumagenic systems in denial.

Trying to force or assume anyone's history with trauma is vile, and is more of a judgement of your character than it ever will be of them. If you are not a doctor, do not act like it. Face the fact that you will never understand what is going on in someone's head better than they do. You will never be able to define them out of existence or tell them what they really are, and your armchair diagnosis is not helping them or anyone else. If someone does not have trauma, or states that trauma did not form their system, that is their business to live with, and your business to stay out of.

5.) Endogenic systems are not proven to exist.

Currently, no, they're not. (Though there are numerous studies that suggest they could exist, see the sources page). Many, many things that are important to people are not backed up by science, including but not limited to one's spirituality, religion, morality, philosophical beliefs, and various other things people hold close to them. Things that are important to people do not always have to stem from the DSM-5 in order for it to be an important part of someone's life that someone strongly believes in and experiences. I know it's been said a thousand times before, but it's also important to note that science is never done. Science is always finding new experiences and things to add onto its findings. Endogenic systems not currently being researched does not disprove its existence, and considering it has been theorized in the past, and there is a huge plural community, it's not as much of a stretch as you've convinced yourself it is.

6.) The word "system" does not belong to endos.

Broad, general words like "system" don't belong to people, for starters. There is no argument of appropriation, because that'd be like saying that using the word "compulsive" or "fixated" is appropriative. The word system is not a cultural one like tulpa, it is a very broadly used term with multiple definitions. Even if they did only belong to certain people, this argument really just... doesn't make sense. Internal family systems have been using the word "system", along with words like "parts", to describe themselves for ages, and nobody has batted an eye, despite the fact that they use similar language to us, and are even described as having a somewhat similar experience to us.

System is an incredibly broad term for a wide range of experiences; it does not just belong to DID/OSDD-1. If you're in your own specific spaces, and you call yourself a system, people will know what kind you are. If endogenic systems become more widely known and "system" won't inherently mean "DID/OSDD-1", and you dislike endogenic systems so much already, why don't you just say "I have DID/OSDD-1" or "I'm a DID system"? If you think endogenic systems can so easily drop every word they've been using for decades, maybe you should consider the prospect of doing it yourself instead of forcing it onto others.

7.) Endogenic systems appropriate medical terminology.

Words like "protector", "caretaker", "host", and "gatekeeper" are used to describe just about anybody with certain qualities. A protector is someone who protects people. A caretaker is someone who takes care of others. A host is the "main" person. Are you really losing your shit because people are using the word "caretaker"?

These are not medical only labels that can be sectioned off to DID/OSDD-1 systems, and it would be silly to see it any other way. Are we going to section off "split" too? How about "obsessive", "impulsive", or "hyperactive"? A book written by people to describe functions that alters can have using very simple and common words does not suddenly turn those words into exclusive ones. An endogenic system calling their protector a protector does not suddenly make my protector in my DID system no longer able to be understood by your average person. While my protector specifically deals with trauma, the word "protector" doesn't signify that; it's the fact that I am a DID system formed exclusively by trauma.

It depends on the context; in DID/OSDD-1, alter roles are more specific to how their structure works. However, an endogenic system using "protector" is not 'appropriation' purely because the way their protector works may not be exactly the same as you. (and, considering cultural appropriation is a major issue, we probably shouldn't act as though our experiences of having a group of people using words like "protector" and "caretaker" are anywhere near the experiences of POC who have had protective hairstyles and closed dialects appropriated.)

This argument would also mean the flipside is true; if any DID/OSDD-1 system used "fictive", "factive", "headmate", or any term that was not explicitly in medical documents for DID/OSDD-1, would that be "appropriating" endogenic terminology? Simply put: this is not how appropriation works.

I would understand this argument more, I think, if every single alternative set of terms endogenic systems made wasn't mocked, made fun of, and shut down. At least be a little consistent.

8.) Endogenic systems want to demedicalize DID.

Remember how I said that a lot of people generalize the worst of the community as being the main belief? This is one of them. I have met very few endogenic system in my entire life who've had this viewpoint, and it is generally an extremely unpopular one. Endogenic systems existing does not equal demedicalizing DID; if anything, it demedicalizes plurality. It tears down the concept of "having a system always means DID/OSDD-1", not "systems can come from DID/OSDD-1". Using the worst of a community to justify hating the existence of all of them is hypocritical. There are violent abusers in the DID/OSDD-1 community. There are people who think that if your recovery from DID/OSDD-1 doesn't result into you fully fusing into a single person by the end of it, you're fake. There are people who think if you have more than like 3 fictives, you're fake. Should I take these vile opinions and use it as the basis for my opinions on the community, and be "against DID/OSDD-1" because of it?

9.) Why aren't DID/OSDD-1 and traumagenic considered the same thing?

Traumagenic is an origin label that refers to any system that came from some kind of trauma. It does not require any of the listed symptoms for DID/OSDD-1 except for some form of trauma being your origins, but unlike DID/OSDD-1, traumagenic systems might not have formed in childhood, and thus wouldn't qualify for DID/OSDD-1. In some cases, systems that are only partly traumagenic have been diagnosed with DID/OSDD-1 as well, because having alters of another origin alongside it doesn't mean you can't fit the criteria for DID/OSDD-1 anymore.

"Traumagenic" also isn't a medical term; it is a community-made label made by the wider plural community, whereas DID/OSDD-1 is a medically recognized clinical disorder with specific symptoms besides just trauma and alters. (That's why it can sometimes be funny to see anti endos use traumagenic instead of DID/OSDD-1, not knowing that they're using a non-DID/OSDD-1 inclusive label.)

10.) I believe endogenic systems exist, but we need separate spaces.

We do have separate spaces. The "system community" is for all of us, but there are specific sub-categories for different types of systems. DID/OSDD-1 tags are for DID/OSDD-1. Traumagenic tags are for traumagenic systems. Endogenic tags are for endogenic systems. Very few people believe having any separate spaces is a bad thing- it's when you try to push them out of words they've always used, and try to kick them out of any system spaces, when this viewpoint becomes a major issue. It's relatively comparable to the LGBTQ+ community; while anyone who fits under that label is included, there are subgroups with their own specific spaces, their own struggles, and their own tags. None of those tags- or people- existing is causing an invasion of other ones. A lot of people who make this argument just don't want to see any endogenic systems existing in spaces at all, and it shows.

(+I'm well aware that the plural community and lgbtq+ community are very different, I'm purely using it as an example because it's a large group, not because syscourse and lgbtq discourse are the same thing.)

11.) I dislike endogenic systems because they misrepresent us.

Endogenic systems do not "represent" you. Shockingly, people do not live their lives to be "representations", they live their lives like normal people. They also do not represent every single part of the system community. Someone having different experiences from you in some ways while still being in the same broad community is not misrepresenting you. Endogenic systems have a similarity with you in that they are a system, so both of us are in... system spaces. That does not mean every experience is the same, and they shouldn't have to be, which is why we have separate subcommunities.

In terms of misrepresenting what DID/OSDD-1 systems experience... no offense, but what do you think anti endos have been doing to them for the past few years, ever since this debate started? The amount of misinformation on how endogenic systems think, function, and act, is unbelievable. Believing they misrepresent us while not believing in the flipside is hypocritical.

13.) If we misrepresent each other, why shouldn't we just split up entirely?

Because we need to work together, not separate something that is needed as it is. The logical conclusion to all the fighting is not to split up, but to work together and try to understand each other better. A lot of the time, groups in the same community have intracommunity fights. This does not mean those groups should split up; it means they need to come to a mutual understanding and listen to each other. We should not let people who want to be assholes to endogenic systems have the final say in what happens in the community, because endogenic systems are a part of it too, and get just as much of a say in it. People who have been here for ages will very rarely want to leave because anti endos try to harass them or interrogate them into doing it.

14.) I dislike endogenic systems because being in those spaces hurt or confused me/the community has bad people in it.

This argument used to strike a chord with me as well, when I was young. I had been pretty confused due to inclusive plurality when I didn't know much to begin with, and it took me a bit to figure out it was DID, and not an endogenic system. Here's the thing though: this. is. normal.

It is okay to figure out you are not something later on, and to find out your origins were not what you thought. Believe it or not, when you're young, you are not going to have yourself completely figured out. This is not the fault of an entire group of people who are living their lives, and that very same community likely helped people who realized that traumagenic and/or DID/OSDD-1 didn't entirely fit them either. Why is it that only your comfort and experiences are the ones being valued in this situation? It is okay to want to be in strictly medical DID/OSDD-1 spaces rather than all system ones, and to use strictly medical labels, and to make your own servers, etc., but this will never make trying to change the entire system community to kick people out okay.

The endogenic community absolutely has its issues. Big, huge issues that still need to be resolved. I regret to inform people of this, but the DID/OSDD-1 community is the same way. People who have been known to harass people are still doing just fine in the community, and so is system faking, mocking other systems, and, well, bad people. Every single community on this planet is going to have bad people, bad issues, and things it needs to work on. This does not make the individuals within those communities fake, abusive, or secretly something else, because of your own bad experiences.

Communities pool in every single type of person into it; you're going to meet endogenic systems who are bad people. You're going to meet people with DID and OSDD-1 who are bad people. It may or may not involve their opinions related to syscourse. Select few groups of people you hate do not reflect an entire experience or group of people who you've never known, never met, and who have likely been harassed by people with your beliefs as well.

15.) Endogenic systems are not really trauma survivors, so they shouldn't be in trauma spaces.

This is a misconception that, just like a lot of other misinformation, has gotten a lot of systems hurt. I agree that people who have not gone through trauma should not be in trauma spaces. However, firstly, "trauma spaces" and "traumagenic system" spaces are not interchangeable. Ask yourself: are they in a traumagenic space, or a general survivor space? If it's the latter, then their presence there is none of your business. Furthermore, endogenic does not mean "the system couldn't have ever went through trauma, it means that trauma did not form their system. Endogenic systems can be trauma survivors, and very often are. Not to mention, terms like parotraumagenic, neurogenic, and mixed origins, may also include origins related to trauma or trauma related disorders that are not DID/OSDD-1.

It is never okay to assume someone's trauma history. It is never okay to fakeclaim abuse or trauma because of someone's existence you don't agree with, and it is never okay to assume that someone in a trauma victim space is faking their trauma period. Doing so is deeply ableist against trauma survivors as a whole, and is a fundamental misunderstanding of what "endogenic" means in the first place.