In this example from the conservative Twitter account "Libs of TikTok," this millennial – who goes by they/them pronouns – has an entire world inside her head:
"Our inner world is surrounded by a forest, and occasionally new alters will come out from that forest. Sunny is pretty new – he formed at Christmas, and he reappeared the other day with a dog. I don't think the dog is an alter?"
This one has no idea what to do with her new "feathered" gender identity:
"We get a lot of questions about our head mate who happens to be a duck. We have interacted with this guy twice. The first time was in our one and only head space meeting and he was just waddling around and stepping on everybody's feet. And the second time was when he fronted for like three seconds and he looked at our arm and he thought 'Where are my feathers?'"
To the untrained ear, these two seem to be suffering from a much older and more traditional mental issue: multiple personality disorder. AFN asked psychologist Dr. Joseph Gunthrie of the Christian Medical Association about it.
"I don't really think that these are an epidemic [or] a pandemic of true multiple personality disorders," he responded. "I think it's better to conceptualize what these adolescents and adults are doing is really 'play.'"
Dr. Gunthrie suggests it's not unlike when a two-year-old makes believe she is a princess or a puppy. But in this case, these individuals don't know they're playing – and culture is demanding that others don't tell them and, in fact, that they play along.
That won't end well, says Gunthrie, but it will eventually end – for them and for culture: "I think they are going to be experiencing some serious challenges in life. But eventually, things that cannot continue, won't."