the winter system

Plurality Representation

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Hello! Nix here, host of the winter system  or the light system, depending on when you ask, we're not very decisive on names, and we just finished reading Rhythm of War-- (Probably OSDD-1b). We were wondering if there were any other systems who have opinions on Shallan as representation. 

We've been into this series for a long time and only recently came to awareness of our own plurality, about three and a half months counting, so this is really the first work of fiction depicting our situation-- we read her as an OSDD-1b system too, just because of 1. how defined the headmates are and 2. the lack of amnesia. We were really excited going through the first parts, we'd seen ourselves in her system's interactions, internal and external, but then Veil integrated to return the memories. I don't know how I feel about this. On one hand, plenty of systems do want to integrate. On the other hand, it's not the only way to exist with plurality, and we don't want to integrate. We really liked seeing what seemed to be a healthy dynamic, and the way that they functioned in a romantic relationship was really reassuring. 

I'm conflicted. Juno is just excited to have seen Lift, was looking forward to Formless being accepted into their system as their own headmate, and was "tots bummed out" that didn't happen. Lisa's not super invested, no pun intended, in the whole series, a little suspicious of Brandon Sanderson as a whole, though she also liked seeing a dynamic that reminded her of us represented. B. thinks the books didn't have enough dogs. 

What do you guys think? I don't actually know how many other plural fans there are on here, it might just be us. I hope not, though! 

And singlets, what impressions has Shallan's system given you about plurality? Have their situations changed your perspective on systems like us? 

 

Edited by the winter system
Accidentally started a sentence I didn't finish.
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Hello!! We are also plural, and made an account here (after lurking for a while) so we could reply to this thread! (Have spoken to singlet RoW readers, and non-cosmere plurals, but it's not the same so we're super excited to have found this thread!) 

We feel almost exactly the same about Veil's integration. On the one hand, it was very beautifully done, as most Sanderson climax scenes are, and it was done with Veil's consent, she wasn't forced, so that was something, too. We also acknowledge that some systems do want to integrate some/all of their parts, and they're valid for wanting this. But we've come down, after a lot of thinking/soul-searching, on the side of this being a bad thing for Shallan, and a bad thing for plural representation as a whole in Rhythm of War. 

To us, it almost feels like a betrayal? Shallan has been plural/leaning more and more heavily obviously plural since TWOK, but it was only before RoW that Sanderson committed and said that yes, that was the intention, and that he had a beta reader on hand to help out. We were so excited! We've only recently discovered (in the last year/two years) we were plural, and Shallan has been extremely helpful in coming to terms with it and helping us feel good about it. We vibed with a lot of her interactions in this book, and it was so exciting to 1)- see her functioning and supported by Veil and Radiant 2)- in a relationship with someone who loves and accepts them for who they are!! (We've had a lot of problems dealing with relationship worry in particular, this was really important) 3)- just having plural rep that showed that no, we are not dangerous serial killers trapped in the bodies of innocent victims, we exist to support one another/help/IMPROVE the functioning of our host. 

It was all going really really well and we were so happy and excited and then...Veil integrated. It just felt like a huge slap in the face for us? I just remember thinking 'please don't take this away from us' as we read it. We paused and asked a friend who had finished if Shallan was still plural at the end of the book, and he said yes, and we cried with relief. And he was correct, and Radiant is still there, but Veil is gone. And she plans to integrate Radiant as well when she's ready and that was...very difficult to read? And we expect the full integration, if/when it happens, will be even more so. 

The problem for us, is in representation. Especially in a book series that deals so heavily with all different kinds of neurodivergence. Because none of the other ND seem to be heading towards being 'cured' or 'fixed' to complete their arc/for milestones in their journey? Kaladin's depression is still there, and, we believe, will never go away: he will simply learn coping mechanisms. Renarin is still autistic after bonding Glys/gaining healing - he's not been 'fixed' (and GOOD!!!). Teft's addiction and self-loathing weren't fixed, he just learns to cope. But Shallan. In order for Shallan to be making progress, she has to integrate. She has to be made 'normal'. She has to be 'fixed' in order to demonstrate growth. 

Integration is a valid choice for some systems. But when you only have one plural character, and you have them integrate to demonstrate growth, set alongside other characters who are developing their own coping mechanisms, it makes it seem like this is what ALL plurals should be doing/this is the only way to go. Instead of committing and showing something we NEVER see: a plural system functioning as plural, without integration, it reinforces the idea that we have to be singlet to be valid and to grow. It's hurtful, honestly. And I'm sure it reinforces the ideas of more ignorant singlet people who complained that they "just wanted Shallan" and that Adolin "deserved just one wife who he married without all these others" and they hoped Shallan would integrate because it would make their lives/Adolin's life etc easier. 

It's especially hurtful for us because we are also traumagenic, and have a headmate who has kept and protected us from bad memories. We have awareness of those memories now. We've processed and grown from them, as she gave them to us when we were in a safe place/ready for them. But she's still here. And she's still necessary, and loved, and wanted in our system. She hasn't expended all of her function/the purpose of existence now that we know about the memories. She still has them, and still holds them. And we just feel that...Shallan could have accepted awareness of her past, and taken on the awareness of the memories of what she'd done, without having to integrate Veil. Lumping them together in this moment of growth just makes it seem like...Like Veil was 'holding her back' rather than protecting her, and that she'd served her purpose, like a tool, rather than a person who loved and cared for Shallan, and had her own life and likes outside of that and it. Yeah, it hurts. We feel bad about it. Really bad :( 

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3 hours ago, atarynnosaurus said:

Hello!! We are also plural, and made an account here (after lurking for a while) so we could reply to this thread! (Have spoken to singlet RoW readers, and non-cosmere plurals, but it's not the same so we're super excited to have found this thread!) 

We feel almost exactly the same about Veil's integration. On the one hand, it was very beautifully done, as most Sanderson climax scenes are, and it was done with Veil's consent, she wasn't forced, so that was something, too. We also acknowledge that some systems do want to integrate some/all of their parts, and they're valid for wanting this. But we've come down, after a lot of thinking/soul-searching, on the side of this being a bad thing for Shallan, and a bad thing for plural representation as a whole in Rhythm of War. 

To us, it almost feels like a betrayal? Shallan has been plural/leaning more and more heavily obviously plural since TWOK, but it was only before RoW that Sanderson committed and said that yes, that was the intention, and that he had a beta reader on hand to help out. We were so excited! We've only recently discovered (in the last year/two years) we were plural, and Shallan has been extremely helpful in coming to terms with it and helping us feel good about it. We vibed with a lot of her interactions in this book, and it was so exciting to 1)- see her functioning and supported by Veil and Radiant 2)- in a relationship with someone who loves and accepts them for who they are!! (We've had a lot of problems dealing with relationship worry in particular, this was really important) 3)- just having plural rep that showed that no, we are not dangerous serial killers trapped in the bodies of innocent victims, we exist to support one another/help/IMPROVE the functioning of our host. 

It was all going really really well and we were so happy and excited and then...Veil integrated. It just felt like a huge slap in the face for us? I just remember thinking 'please don't take this away from us' as we read it. We paused and asked a friend who had finished if Shallan was still plural at the end of the book, and he said yes, and we cried with relief. And he was correct, and Radiant is still there, but Veil is gone. And she plans to integrate Radiant as well when she's ready and that was...very difficult to read? And we expect the full integration, if/when it happens, will be even more so. 

The problem for us, is in representation. Especially in a book series that deals so heavily with all different kinds of neurodivergence. Because none of the other ND seem to be heading towards being 'cured' or 'fixed' to complete their arc/for milestones in their journey? Kaladin's depression is still there, and, we believe, will never go away: he will simply learn coping mechanisms. Renarin is still autistic after bonding Glys/gaining healing - he's not been 'fixed' (and GOOD!!!). Teft's addiction and self-loathing weren't fixed, he just learns to cope. But Shallan. In order for Shallan to be making progress, she has to integrate. She has to be made 'normal'. She has to be 'fixed' in order to demonstrate growth. 

Integration is a valid choice for some systems. But when you only have one plural character, and you have them integrate to demonstrate growth, set alongside other characters who are developing their own coping mechanisms, it makes it seem like this is what ALL plurals should be doing/this is the only way to go. Instead of committing and showing something we NEVER see: a plural system functioning as plural, without integration, it reinforces the idea that we have to be singlet to be valid and to grow. It's hurtful, honestly. And I'm sure it reinforces the ideas of more ignorant singlet people who complained that they "just wanted Shallan" and that Adolin "deserved just one wife who he married without all these others" and they hoped Shallan would integrate because it would make their lives/Adolin's life etc easier. 

It's especially hurtful for us because we are also traumagenic, and have a headmate who has kept and protected us from bad memories. We have awareness of those memories now. We've processed and grown from them, as she gave them to us when we were in a safe place/ready for them. But she's still here. And she's still necessary, and loved, and wanted in our system. She hasn't expended all of her function/the purpose of existence now that we know about the memories. She still has them, and still holds them. And we just feel that...Shallan could have accepted awareness of her past, and taken on the awareness of the memories of what she'd done, without having to integrate Veil. Lumping them together in this moment of growth just makes it seem like...Like Veil was 'holding her back' rather than protecting her, and that she'd served her purpose, like a tool, rather than a person who loved and cared for Shallan, and had her own life and likes outside of that and it. Yeah, it hurts. We feel bad about it. Really bad :( 

Yeah!! Good to meet you guys! 

We're really hoping to meet more plural characters in Brandon Sanderson's work in the future, and the fact that ROW isn't the last book with Shallan's POV means that we could meet more headmates in the future, coming and going a bit, but still! It makes me wonder who Brandon Sanderson's sensitivity readers were on this, if he was including systems from across the spectrum of "wants to/doesn't want to integrate" or if he just knew about the ones who did. 

I was also a little uncertain about Formless. i was kind of hoping for a resolution along the lines of, yes, this headmate has a lot of problems and holds a lot of trauma and might even sabotage the rest of them somewhat, but is still worthy of love. Maybe even something that pointed out, yeah, headmates like that are. most dangerous to the body and the system as a whole, rather than anyone else around them. 

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TIL I'm a singlet, so I can only comment from that perspective!

I was (and still am) very excited about Shallan as plural. It's very underrepresented in media other than the negative ones you all mentioned. I am ND and don't like media that portrays ND people as villainous due to the ND aspects, so I have stayed away from those narratives personally, which resulted in Shallan being the first plural character I came across. I feel like Shallan's journey shows how different personalities can support each other. I love how Adolin loves and accepts her. Overall she was very interesting to read, and hopefully will help me understand better if I become close to someone with alters.

I know Shallan and Veil and Radiant are very important to people who share a similar reality, so I had mixed feelings about Veil merging. I wonder if it happened partly because Veil was concerned that she might take over again against the wishes of the others - something like choosing to merge for the greater good.

I also hope that Shallan doesn't "heal" by becoming a singlet. It would be pretty disheartening if other NDs grow with what makes them different but Shallan is the exception by becoming NT? (Boo)

That said, I don't think she will. Post RoW, she might think she *should* merge all personalities, but I doubt that will happen. I think she's influenced by the thinking of her society on this - she doesn't really have any examples to draw from, right? I hope she's going to become that example, or maybe meet another plural character who can give her some support and guidance. It seems like the series is moving in that kind of direction with Kaladin's support groups. :)

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I'm also a singlet. I had a change of heart after OB and into the early chapters of RoW. After OB was over, I was a little frustrated with Shallan being plural, and it was difficult to see her flounder without making progress in healing. When I started reading the early chapters of RoW, I really enjoyed the Three system, and realized that I didn't have a problem with her being plural, I was mostly frustrated because Shallan was refusing to let herself heal her wounds. Seeing Radiant and Veil try really hard to love and support Shallan was surprisingly emotional, after so much time wrongly thinking I disliked them. It was a big change, and because of the Three, it occurred to me for the first time in this book that it might not be so scary or unhealthy to live that way.

I also did some (very limited!) research during the RoW preview chapters and discovered that reintegration isn't an absolute goal that is always reached; that was also new to me. In the conversations among singlets, it's easy to get the impression that supposedly "everyone" who does their therapy "right" will re-integrate. I think it's very valuable to know that doesn't always happen, or even commonly happen.

It is a really good point that Shallan reintegrating Radiant and Veil into herself means her trauma gets a final... checkmark or whatever, in a way that ND people actually don't "achieve" in real life. My hope for the future is that even though the plan seems to be that Radiant will also reintegrate, that Shallan will still... not be just Perfectly Normally NT after this? atarynnosaurus and the winter system, you all might find these forum responses might make worthwhile letters to Brandon as responses, I found your posts really interesting and informative.

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Thanks for sharing your experiences. I'm a singlet and really enjoyed learning about how a system like this works. I actually worry about Shallan if she fully integrates. So much of how she's viewed the world since childhood has involved being able to take multiple divergent perspectives and apply the most appropriate in the moment. Watching how The Three worked together was very beautiful and showed the strength of a system. I'm going to miss Veil - I really liked her. But the way things wrapped up with her made it seem to me that she really existed for one major purpose and Veil herself felt she was no longer necessary and in fact, her goal of strengthening Shallan was better served by her leaving. I hope Shallan (and Radiant, until she integrates) can find other headmates (also - I love this term! this is all new to me, thanks!) who can become lasting companions for her life moving forward.

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@the winter system @atarynnosaurus after seeing this post and generally reading about Shallan, i got interested and started learning more about Plural folks and what you go to- websites with definitions, some #Ownvoices youtube channels, and the likes. one of my tumblr mutuals has DID, so I already felt somewhat vugely connected tto it- it wasn't as distant as some people who can't imagine people around them being like That, but still, watching it physically was new and kind of opened my mind to new thoughts about it. It made me wonder- how does it feel to read about some-many like Shallan that can change their appearance to match their current alters? Do you find it cool, do you feel like you would like to be able to do that, or do you feel like it's a shortcut or a sugarcoat from representing a real part of the Plural existence and making it more palatable? or a mix of all of these?

 

You don't have to answer if you don't feel like it, obviously, and multiple opinions are obviously ok and expected, I was just wondering in general and also because. I know my usual answer to "What superpower would you want the most" is very affected by my neurotype (ADHD and Time Stopping) and I wondered if the idea of changing one's body and appearance would similarly appeal to people who have multiple perceptions in one body.

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On 11/26/2020 at 8:03 AM, LiftIRL said:

@the winter system @atarynnosaurus after seeing this post and generally reading about Shallan, i got interested and started learning more about Plural folks and what you go to- websites with definitions, some #Ownvoices youtube channels, and the likes. one of my tumblr mutuals has DID, so I already felt somewhat vugely connected tto it- it wasn't as distant as some people who can't imagine people around them being like That, but still, watching it physically was new and kind of opened my mind to new thoughts about it. It made me wonder- how does it feel to read about some-many like Shallan that can change their appearance to match their current alters? Do you find it cool, do you feel like you would like to be able to do that, or do you feel like it's a shortcut or a sugarcoat from representing a real part of the Plural existence and making it more palatable? or a mix of all of these?

 

You don't have to answer if you don't feel like it, obviously, and multiple opinions are obviously ok and expected, I was just wondering in general and also because. I know my usual answer to "What superpower would you want the most" is very affected by my neurotype (ADHD and Time Stopping) and I wondered if the idea of changing one's body and appearance would similarly appeal to people who have multiple perceptions in one body.

I definitely don't think that should be the only sort of representation, but also, god, I wish that was us. - Nix

I'd definitely not turn it down, I ~do~ miss being blonde, but I'd rather just have my own superpower back. I'm used to it, after all. - Lisa
 

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12 minutes ago, the winter system said:

but I'd rather just have my own superpower back. I'm used to it, after all. - Lisa

:huh:

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"Lisa is best described as a short ranged clairvoyant, or better yet as a pericog having the ability to extrapolate an incredible wealth of inference from the smallest trace of data. She needs to have some information about the target to begin with, and her enhanced intuition fills in the gaps in her knowledge, allowing her to crack computer passwords, profile and cold read people around her, and make predictions about the most likely outcome of a given situation, among other things. She's very accurate, although not infallible. She has to consciously direct her power for what she focuses on, refocusing and starting again if she gets useless information." Copy and pasted from the wiki, since it's hard to explain, and I'm not really feeling up to 20 questions tonight. - Lisa

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50 minutes ago, the winter system said:

"Lisa is best described as a short ranged clairvoyant, or better yet as a pericog having the ability to extrapolate an incredible wealth of inference from the smallest trace of data. She needs to have some information about the target to begin with, and her enhanced intuition fills in the gaps in her knowledge, allowing her to crack computer passwords, profile and cold read people around her, and make predictions about the most likely outcome of a given situation, among other things. She's very accurate, although not infallible. She has to consciously direct her power for what she focuses on, refocusing and starting again if she gets useless information." Copy and pasted from the wiki, since it's hard to explain, and I'm not really feeling up to 20 questions tonight. - Lisa

Cool!

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Thank you for taking the time to answer! [/genuine cuz im bad with tone]

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Me before RoW: press heal Shallan repeatedly

Me after RoW: no, no, no! Back, back, back! I don't want Veil and Radiant to go!

Honestly, I'm not really a believer in souls or what-not. I just know it felt like there were three minds there, and as far as I'm concerned mind=person. I liked Veil. A lot! And she died! Nothing against Shallan but I want a refund on that character development! Bring Veil back!

I know a lot of people are gonna open this topic and go... wow, people on the internet are being weird again but I don't know, not being alone in one's head sounds... kinda nice?

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On 11/29/2020 at 0:20 PM, Honorless said:

Me before RoW: press heal Shallan repeatedly

Me after RoW: no, no, no! Back, back, back! I don't want Veil and Radiant to go!

Honestly, I'm not really a believer in souls or what-not. I just know it felt like there were three minds there, and as far as I'm concerned mind=person. I liked Veil. A lot! And she died! Nothing against Shallan but I want a refund on that character development! Bring Veil back!

I know a lot of people are gonna open this topic and go... wow, people on the internet are being weird again but I don't know, not being alone in one's head sounds... kinda nice?

Just because you think other people are going to be rude doesn't mean you have to say it. 

Re: It being nice. Not everyone would agree with you on that. Most systems are formed as a result of repeated trauma at a young age. (There's also usually the clause "severe" added to that, but honestly, I think that any amount of trauma is severe.) There's... disagreement about whether or not it's possible to be plural without having trauma, and by debate, I mean... Uh. Let's shove that under the bed and never look at it again. As far as we know, there's no science on it either way, so I'm going to state my Official Stance as a shrug. I think it's more likely that parogenic (also referred to as tulpamancy, but that's considered an outdated and offensive term by many because it can be cultural appropriation) have something to go off than "completely natural" systems and those who think they're natural are a mix of so-called milder trauma and parogenic. 

DID tends to involve severe memory loss from headmate to headmate. From what I've heard, that makes life significantly harder. It's a lot more than not being alone. 

(OSDD-1a, also referred to as median, has less differences between the headmates, for example, a system composed entirely of younger and older versions of the same personality. OSDD-1b involves no or less memory loss, though there tends to be emotional amnesia-- not being able to remember how you felt.)

Most of the time, in our experience, the disagreements between headmates tend to be around the level of contentious roomates. However, things can definitely spiral, just like in any relationship, and getting into a fight with a headmate is a lot worse than getting into a fight with a friend. Malicious headmates can sabotage others' relationships on purpose or hurt the body. So-called persecutors are nothing like the monsters in bad horror movies like split -- they're MUCH more likely to be detrimental to the system than anyone around them and their actions are usually coming from a place of deep hurt-- but that doesn't mean they can't be difficult to live with. Lisa's veered into that territory every now and then. There are benefits, the feeling of companionship is amazing, but just like any neurodivergence, there are advantages and disadvantages.  
Also, if anyone's here from that tumblr post, hi! :)

- Nix

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Ah sorry, I usually always say something like that if I think there's the slightest chance of anything that happening, I've found it helps fend off quite a few of 'em.

One would think one of these coping mechanisms of the mind would come without caviats, just one... Nvm, my wish was probably a strong bout of I don't wanna deal with my life.

Thanks for the detailed write-up, the only term I recognize there is tulpa, I remember that because of a fanfic author I used to follow.

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On 12/4/2020 at 1:47 PM, Honorless said:

Ah sorry, I usually always say something like that if I think there's the slightest chance of anything that happening, I've found it helps fend off quite a few of 'em.

One would think one of these coping mechanisms of the mind would come without caviats, just one... Nvm, my wish was probably a strong bout of I don't wanna deal with my life.

Thanks for the detailed write-up, the only term I recognize there is tulpa, I remember that because of a fanfic author I used to follow.

Yeah, fair enough! And that's understandable. The world kind of sucks sometimes, it's nice to imagine a world where you don't have to deal with that yourself. - Nix

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On 11/21/2020 at 8:02 AM, the winter system said:

It makes me wonder who Brandon Sanderson's sensitivity readers were on this, if he was including systems from across the spectrum of "wants to/doesn't want to integrate" or if he just knew about the ones who did.

Something that worries me a little bit is that only one person or system was listed in the Acknowledgements for this. Surely he had other plural beta readers, right? Riiiight? :mellow:

Being a singlet, I don't think I can say anything better on this topic than has already been said, but I'll say that my personal opinion matches that of Nix and @atarynnosaurus. Grey too, minus the not liking Shallan at first.

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This thread has been very informative so I appreciate everyone who shared their perspective on this.  It's been really helpful to me in understanding Shallan's plot line.  

One thought I had (as I'm a singlet feel free to refute this if I am off base) was Formless being less of a new head mate, and more of an instance of Shallan forcing herself to reintegrate in an unhealthy way that ignores her trauma and who she is?  My sense was Formless was less a distinct entity and more what would be left after the collapse of the others (including Shallan).  Not sure if that helps much in terms of the reintegration narrative but to me at least it kind of indicates that any reintegration that is happening is on Shallan's terms and based on what she needs at the time.  

I totally get the frustration though at having one of very few plural characters following a reintegration narrative and confirming biases that aren't true for everyone.  

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On 12/8/2020 at 11:17 PM, Ookla the Intimidating said:

Something that worries me a little bit is that only one person or system was listed in the Acknowledgements for this. Surely he had other plural beta readers, right? Riiiight? :mellow:

Being a singlet, I don't think I can say anything better on this topic than has already been said, but I'll say that my personal opinion matches that of Nix and @atarynnosaurus. Grey too, minus the not liking Shallan at first.

I’ve known quite a few people in psychology, since I’m in the therapy field. Over decades of practice, most have only met one or two people with DID. If they met any at all. It’s a very rare disorder.

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On 12/10/2020 at 3:56 AM, Kingsdaughter613 said:

I’ve known quite a few people in psychology, since I’m in the therapy field. Over decades of practice, most have only met one or two people with DID. If they met any at all. It’s a very rare disorder.

I mean, we know at least a dozen different systems, five pretty closely. A bunch more than that casually. It's his job as a writer to go looking for people. Also, plurality is more than DID. See: OSDD-1a and 1b, and plenty of people who don't fit into medicalized categories. 

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9 minutes ago, the winter system said:

I mean, we know at least a dozen different systems, five pretty closely. A bunch more than that casually. It's his job as a writer to go looking for people. Also, plurality is more than DID. See: OSDD-1a and 1b, and plenty of people who don't fit into medicalized categories. 

I think she was using it as a catch-all term. The class wasn’t about plurality; she was just showing us some artwork.

In general, people with particular issues, whether physical, neurological, psychological, traumas, etc. tend to congregate. So I’m not surprised you know more people than my professor.

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52 minutes ago, Kingsdaughter613 said:

In general, people with particular issues, whether physical, neurological, psychological, traumas, etc. tend to congregate. So I’m not surprised you know more people than my professor.

And for that reason and the internet, I'd think it wouldn't be too hard for Brandon to find readers for this? There are plenty of plural spaces he could go to to talk to people.

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3 minutes ago, Ookla the Editor said:

And for that reason and the internet, I'd think it wouldn't be too hard for Brandon to find readers for this? There are plenty of plural spaces he could go to to talk to people.

Well, he has to find someone willing to read his work, sign a non-disclosure agreement, and be good enough at writing to help out. Additionally he had to get the book done in time or the fandom will exact revenge. And he has to do this with everything, I'm not surprised he only has one consultant.

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