Figured I'd write the preface since I started this madness :)
It took absolutely no time at all to decide to create an open-source manual by-multiples for-multiples online. One-two-lickety-split, I set up a wiki and took the old dilapidated Multiple FAQ (which in years had not yet made it out of beta testing) and slapped it into separate pages, created an outline on Main.HomePage, and then told people about it.
It's with great pleasure that I bring you this Frankenstein creation. I have to say I blame MRW for introducing me to the idea of wikis in the first place. They're to blame. Honest.
So far we've got some great contributions, and this is just starting. Multiplicity: The Missing Manual has nearly all the features of a printed book: a blurb, a by-line, a preface and a forenote, and is currently subdivided into two main parts. There's a type of natural progression through each part as it introduces more and more advanced topics regarding multiples, from the absolute basics (Part One) through to self-help advice for people struggling with their own multiplicity (Part Two).
Part One is called "The Ropes" as in "showing you the ropes" and it basically deals with the introduction of the terminology, the paradigms and various concepts involved, and basic courtesy for dealing with multiples. This section is mainly intended to help people become familiar with multiplicity in general, and to deal with a multiple in their life (also, even multiples have to deal *with* multiples sometimes).
The Introduction section gives a brief FAQ for visitors, and links people to how to work with the wiki.
Explaining Multiplicity goes into the current popular theory of multiplicity, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and handles some of the complicated theory on how we get this way, including a section for multicultural perspectives of multiplicity, because it's not all only seen as a disorder, and all cultures have dealt with this issue and come up with various ways of framing it and accepting, or not accepting, it.
Explaining Multiples is what the major types of multiples are that one might encounter, how they contrast with "normal" people, what commonalities there appear to be given minor causal correlations in the community, and identifying traits that may or may not hold true from individual to individual.
Dealing With Multiples is the section for etiquette for people who know and deal with multiples.
Part Two: Weathering the Storm is the advanced section, developed with the intent of the audience and contributors being multples, but keeping it readable by anyone who reasonably understands the Introduction and Explaining Multiplicity sections and still wants to know more about how we tick, and what can be done to help out when we have a problem. It's also perhaps wise for the close loved ones of multiples to attempt to read and comprehend this section, while keeping in mind that their particular loved one is an individual, and need not have all the traits listed herein. Those who give counsel to multiples, such as therapists, really ought to read this area, and truly understand the rich diversity in behavior and complications available to multiples in general, while dealing with each individual and each system as unique unto itself.
It's called "Weathering the Storm" because it's quite different to be shown the ropes and to actually sail the ship in a storm. Instead of a casual tour of multiplicity and an abstract discussion of our trials and tribulations, this is where we really get into the nuts and bolts of things. Going from thinking you're alone one day to the necessity of acknowleding being more than one person in your head the next is quite a shift and society does not prepare you for this shift in perspectives. To be a happy and healthy family in your head you have to bust your ass -- as any family, internal or external ought to. If your blood family were hiding from you for years while you grew up, you bet your butt that you'd have a lot of problems to work out. I won't go into any of the issues that can crop up here; they're all in Part Two. Glancing at the section headings speaks volumes about the complexity that multiples face and the various snares and pitfalls we can encounter. Hurricanes, glaciers, coral reefs, tsunamis, pirates, Bermuda Triangle, scurvey, crocodiles, rabid parrots....you name it; that's quite the storm to weather...the stormy seas of multiplicity. But we also have so much to gain: discovering new lands, beautiful sunsets, secluded coves, wonders of the world, buried treasures, pineapples, fountains of youth, exotic princesses, shrimp tempura, Wilson...the adventures of multiplicity are ones I personally have never found boring. Often they scare the pants off me, but they're definitely not boring. And the most important thing I've found is that I carry my most important family around with me all the time, and people outside my head are welcome to become part of that family. I want some of that spirit in Part Two, as well, that we can overcome these things because what we get as a reward afterwards is well worthwhile.
Experiences Common to Multiples is a section of some of the common milestones and provides a gentle introduction to the world of actually being multiple (rather than talking about multiples).
Dissociation & Related Experiences is where we go into the variety of dissociative experience, and a few of the common crisis moments one might have related to dissociative episodes alone. Dissociative memory episodes are included in this section, which is one of the cornerstones of being diagnosed.
Trauma is the first section for mentioning and exploring one of the scientifically accepted claim of a common factors amongst multiples -- repeated traumatic events or experiences. This section revolves around traumas that are not abuse or are traumatic without being clearly and directly abusive. In other words, for most folks this is not as trigger-happy an area.
Abuse if you were abused as a child, then you probably want to take this section slowly.
Internal Mechanisms is for some commonly recognized characteristics of how multiples work inside.
The System information on internal societal structure and roles.
Technicalities is for the little oddities and oxymorons of being multiple -- like cross-gendered residents.
Getting Along Outside is for how to cope with the external world when you're multiple.
Getting Along Inside are tips & tricks for getting along inside.
Headwork is the self-help techniques portion of the guide.
The Lighter Side of Multiplicity is for humor and comic relief. If we can't laugh at ourselves, we shouldn't laugh at anyone else. Since I like laughing at others, I should get busy laughing at me/us.
Other Problems are odds & ends we ought to file better or get a shoehorn to fit somewhere.
One of the points I want to stress to people who are contributing to Part Two: Don't just talk about the oddnesses, problems, difficulties, triumphs, benefits, and red herrings of being multiple. Give suggestions for how to work with it to make it a wonderful experience, or how to get along in spite of or get past the problems. What works for you. What do you think MIGHT work. And if you try someone's suggestions, or see something you've tried and have experience with, please give feedback on how it worked out for you. This is not some cold clinical text written for academia. This is a manual to help our fellow multiples and their loved ones. Help make it work by giving your own input.
I'm honored to have started this project, but just like any other child when it's time is right, I want to see it grow far far beyond me into something beautiful and self-sufficient. Right now, the vast majority of the contributions to the manual are by me, and I'd love to see that change if it's a change for the better.
Good luck, everybody!