Creation Tips And Articles

Assorted things too small to be guides, but that were still helpful.

“Malicious” Tulpas and You: Frequency and How to Deal With Them – Quandary

A common fear of many beginning tulpamancers is that their tulpa will become malicious. How likely is this, really?

Short answer: It is very, highly unlikely unless they are directly influenced to become that way.

The long answer: Tulpas are essentially another consciousness inhabiting your brain. As such, they operate on the exact same logic you do. In most cases a tulpa will only become malicious for the same reason any other person would become malicious: neglect, abuse, and mistreatment. So, if you treat your tulpa with kindness and respect it is highly unlikely they will lash out as they will have no reason to—not only would they not want to hurt someone who has been good to them, lashing out at their host for no reason would only cause trouble for everyone in the long run, being that they share a body with their host.

Consider the metaphor of raising a child. While some children do develop issues, these issues are often linked to the actions of the parents and rarely arise unprovoked. A tulpa, like any consciousness, is a product of their environment, so while they may not approve of everything you do, if you treat them well, they are highly unlikely to harm you.

One might worry thus as well—if expectations influence a tulpa early on, does that mean even just being worried that a tulpa might become malicious will cause them to be malicious? Experience shows that simply worrying doesn't have as much of an impact as many fear—after all, this is a common worry, and the vast majority of tulpas are kind or even helpful to their hosts. As time goes on, the worry will fade.

I think I have a malicious tulpa, what do I do?

Few tulpas are malicious for no reason at all, and upon closer examination, most cases have been the product of an innocent misunderstanding, and are thus resolved with communication, as with conflicts between physical persons. Thus, the first recourse is to communicate with the tulpa. Ask them why they are behaving the way they are. Be firm, but calm, and be willing to listen. Do not be afraid or make threats—as a host is deeply rooted in the brain, there is little to be afraid of, and threats may inflame the tulpa and only make them more hostile.

Most “malicious” or hostile tulpas, once given the chance to be heard and once made to rationalize their behavior, back down. However, if they are completely unreasonable and pose a significant threat or disruption to others in the system, then a number of other recourses remain. From least to most extreme:

In short, always keep communication open both ways, and issues are unlikely to arise—should issues arise, communicate before leaping to extreme methods (as leaping to the most extreme methods first may only seal a situation that could be easily resolved through communication as irresolvable).

This is a minorly modified repost of an answer I have given on /r/Tulpas a time ago, on the subject of vanquishing another powerful entity in the brain. I thought I may as well append it here.

As usual, I offer this information on good faith. I do not believe in hiding knowledge, and though I have my opinions, it is ultimately not in my authority to dictate what should or should not be done in other's brains. That being said, I trust that anyone who peruses this information with an intent to use it does so thoughtfully and with as much fairness towards the others in their system as the situation allows. May matters be resolved as peacefully as they can.


Obligatory I am not a professional, just speaking from personal experience disclaimer.

Several broad options exist for dealing with a powerful, malicious servitor or tulpa:

Which option will be most effective will vary on a case to case basis, and they will not necessarily be easy.

There's crucial factors that all of the above share:

Don't be afraid. Fear empowers the entities you want to overcome while also disempowering you. In the realm of the subjective, belief plays a major role in outcome. Keep a level head as much as you can.

Understand, and accept, that you do not magically control your brain. You cannot simply snap your fingers and “will away” issues. If that was the case, anxiety wouldn't be an issue, depression wouldn't be an issue, etc. Some people like to respond to this by claiming that those with mental illnesses are just “weak”, but that's honestly a load of self-serving bullshit that doesn't actually do anything to solve problems. The blunt truth is that all people are constructed by a mixture of their experiences, environment, and biology, including those who are “healthy”—the “healthy” ones just happened to receive experiences and biology that constructed them in a way that matches their environment. So it's not your fault that you got wired a faulty way, and you can't simply make years of conditioning and biology go away with a clap of your hands—but you can still identify and take responsibility for maladaptive behaviors and choose a course towards rewiring them.

Finally, don't be afraid to find professional help. Remember that not all therapists are created equal, and a good one won't be judgmental or make you uncomfortable—a good one will help you become who you want to become, help you in becoming a healthier you rather than their or society's ideal of “healthy”. If you encounter a shitty one, don't feel afraid to drop them like an iron. There's a wealth of online resources as well.

I personally would recommend attempting mediation first with a tulpa. Remember, “maliciousness” is rarely as simple as “this entity is evil and wants to harm me”. As I have said, it is very likely that there was an innocent misunderstanding (again, being in the same brain does not mean perfect communication). It is even highly possible that your tulpa believes they may be acting in your best interest, but are misguided on how to go about it—for example, being overly critical and harsh. Talk it out.

As for servitors, I would recommend caution with mediation. By mediating with a servitor, you risk personifying it and inadvertently creating a tulpa from it. This may either open up additional avenues for resolution or complicate the whole matter further. That being said, it is also important to consider the origins and purpose of a servitor, especially one created by dissociating one's own processes. As I have told someone in the past who had attempted to deal with his bad habits by turning them into servitors:

Behaviors have causes. They come from somewhere, and as long as the underlying need persists unaddressed, the behavior will keep coming back. To use your junk food mechanism as an example, clearly junk food serves a purpose distinct from simply eating healthy food for you. Maybe it's there because junk food is the most readily available sort of food you have, and it's easy to grab. Maybe it's there because junk food has a comfort value to you that healthy food doesn't have. I'm not you, so I can't say. In my case, junk food is comforting. I'd have to address and replace it not by simply eating healthy food, but by dealing with the stress in other ways—pleasant sounds, time to relax, snacks that are healthier but still taste comforting, and so on. By fulfilling the need, it becomes easier to stop the behavior.

Basically, dissociation and symbolism are tools, not methods. Even with the behaviors dissociated off, the work still needs to done to address the underlying cause, find alternative ways of fulfilling needs, and stay consistent with keeping the behavior down, until a new behavior replaces the old. Know thyself.

And again—know thyself. Behaviors are a lot more complicated than simply being bad or good or annoying. I'm a big believer in the idea that everything comes from somewhere and has multiple sides to it. Eating junk food is one of the behaviors that's easy to see as negative, but what about, say, feeling fear? Anxiety? Not only might it have a cause, it might also have a function—it's just overgrown to the point that it's more harmful than useful. In some cases, what you might actually want is to prune a behavior back and redirect it rather than erasing it entirely. Which behaviors, and to what extent? I can't answer for anyone other than myself. There's also the fact that behaviors aren't that easy to separate out—my “junk food eating” behavior, for example, is closely entangled with my “stress coping” behavior is closely entangled with my “oh my god, I can't feel anything so I'll fill the void with trivial pleasures” behavior. Removing one mechanism affects the others. – Soundscapes for forcing and concentration – Quandary

Some time ago, a friend introduced me to this website called It's basically a website full of soundscapes and sound generators—there's a rainfall generator, a white noise generator, a bamboo chimes generator, a binaural beat generator, some musical soundscapes, and even a coffee shopsimulator. Many of these generators are made of sounds recorded from life and arranged so there's no “looping”. With each generator, you can also adjust sliders corresponding to different pitch ranges to create custom soundsets or compensate for your hearing/equipment—you are also able to save these soundsets and open multiple generators in different windows to mix sounds. If you're planning on listening to a certain sound for a long time, you can also set the sliders to animate themselves for some variety in listening. There's probably more features I'm forgetting.

On paper, it doesn't sound like much, but this site is essentially ear candy. It's amazing. I've heard some tulpamancers say they have trouble focusing, or immersing themselves in their mindscapes. I've also seen people give advice on using white noise for auditory imposition practice—others have been considering binaural beats or getting into meditation. This is a great site for all of those, as well as for everyday purposes like noise blocking, improving concentration, or relaxing when music doesn't cut it.

Oh yeah, and it's practically all free. There's some features you can't unlock without paying, like the ability to save your presets as cookies or load a bunch of generators in one window and one url, but those are only extras. Even the locked sounds become open for free listening after a while. If you do decide to donate, a one-time donation of five dollars gets you a lifetime account on that site—do consider donating if you have the money to spare.

(Update: There are no longer locked sounds, just locked features like magic generators and radio streams. All regular sounds are now free to listen to. However, there's a new limitation where non-paying members are limited to loading one full generator a minute. You should be fine if you're listening to one generator at a time, but if you're trying out a lot of sounds or mixing them, it can get bothersome. A one-time five dollar donation will still remove this limitation. You can see the full list of locked features here.)

Enjoy! And feel free to post your favorite setups. There's also a MyNoise subreddit at /r/MyNoise, though the setups that are posted there usually require a paid account to access.

After it's started, how to get out of forcing. – Keiretsu

This is a bit of advice for you new folk, who are plodding along, and things have gotten to the point where you can talk to your tulpa, and get a response, when you put your mind to forcing. 

A lot of people are worried that if they don't actively force their tulpa, that their tulpa is going to dissipate. For most of you, that's 100% true. Oh god, you're going to lose your... there's a way around it. 

This is something I've explained to a few people, and I sort of learned by just luck of the draw, since the first tulpa for us ended up being a little, who sort of ignored 'the rules'. We've gone on to apply that learning to the next one, and our recent accidental addition. We don't ever force. They aren't going away. If they dissipate, it would be their choice, and would likely take quite a long time to accomplish. 

How you ask?

Here's the thing. 

When you're sitting there, reading those guides, and setting aside time to force, you're probably also hearing all the 'oh, if you don't force, they go away'. When you're spending those times forcing, and if that's the only time you're talking to your tulpa and your tulpa is talking to you, then they rely on you 100% for personal growth and maintenance. You're going to struggle along, with very slow progress, and seem to slip backwards when you skip times, because that's all they ever get. 

Well, if they are capable of talking, then really, they are your peer, not your subordinate. In other words, they have every right to be there as you do, and they aren't lesser in any way. They only think this, because that's what you've been instilling in them by thinking that only when you're forcing are you there to listen and interact. You need to change that thinking, and open the door for them to talk to you. 

Advice to the tulpas here, rather than wait for the host to talk to you, talk to them. 

Think they are driving too fast? Tell them to slow down. Think your host is acting goofy? Have a laugh at them, and comment on it. They doing something utterly boring? Strike up a conversation about some detail you find interesting that they might have overlooked. ... and at NO point in this did I say wait until they ask your opinion. 

That's the big advice, for the tulpa, and for the host to get through their head. The tulpa can force themselves just as well as you can force them. They just need to break out of the mold of waiting to be spoken to, and speak to you when they want to. If they decide to strike up a conversation while you're getting dressed in the morning, about what you're going to wear, how to do your makeup, or even the weather outside; then you, the host, are going to be hard pressed to ignore it. Chat with them. Let them weigh in their input. It puts the reins of passive forcing on the tulpa. They will grow and develop their own independence a lot faster when their growth and development of self is steered by them and not the host. 

Think of it like talking to someone on a cell phone. If all you do is call your friend to talk to them, then if you don't call, it's going to strain the friendship and after a while they will move on and not answer the phone anymore. If, however, they call you too, then it's a two-way friendship and you're both contributing and that friendship will grow. Make sense? 

Imposition, switching, all the advanced things that people have a hard time wrapping their head around... believe it or not, the hard parts are on the tulpa. They control it. For you to really get into the advanced techniques, you all need to break the mold a little and let the tulpa have more independence of their own and you'll likely find those advanced things start to come a little easier and faster. 



Shard-Seeding And Shard-Feeding – Fall Family

by Tri & Hail Fall of the Fall Family

Many thanks go to Fireparrot for discussing these ideas over the years and going through this article for us, as well as the circuit analogy.


Current version (0.90) finished on 2016-11-05.

This is an article on the topic of shard-seeding and shard-feeding, not a guide or other instructionary on how to do it.

This article is written using terminology of the Tulpa.IO community.


Shard-seeding and shard-feeding with tulpas is an area where tulpamancy and splitting overlap. Now, due to a number of side effects, especially if done recklessly, shard-seeding and shard-feeding can be dangerous practices, and should not be done lightly. For anyone considering doing it, great caution is advised.

Now first, we must define what a shard is. From the terminology page with a few words substituted (replacing “fragment” with “shard”):

Shard: A member of a system who isn’t a complete person or is not a fully formed person. A shard may one day become a complete person, remain the way they are, or even disappear. They may be a piece of another person, part of a median system or subsystem, a chunk broken/split off another person, etc. Servitors are generally thought to be shards. Members of a median system or subsystem are sometimes called aspects or facets, but almost never fragments or shards. These terms are widely seen as pejorative when referring to full system members and should not be used to describe a system member without their consent. Sometimes aspect or facet is used by systems speaking to singlets to keep their plurality low-key or stealth, and can sometimes be a preferred identity term.

Shards can run the full spectrum from minimal to almost being full sentient people with a rather blurry line between shards and sentient people on the extreme end. A good analogy is that of a circuit. Sentient beings (tulpas, hosts, and other full people) are complicated closed circuits capable of self feeding. Shards then are minimal closed circuits and/or incomplete circuits of varying levels of complexity that range from almost closed and complete to completely incomplete, open, and non-functional.

Shard-seeding is what it sounds like, starting someone or something from a shard. Shard-feeding is what it sounds like as well, feeding shards to someone or something. Getting more specific, shard-seeding is

Shard-Seeding: The process of making a new thoughtform by the conventional techniques but starting with a shard split off from another system member (usually a host using themself as the source of the shard but does not have to be) rather than making the thoughtform starting point (initial material) from scratch.

Shard-seeded tulpas blur the line between tulpa and split, having originated from tulpamancy techniques applied to a deliberate split. Note, shard seeding can also be done with servitors and other thoughtforms, even innerworlds/wonderlands.

Shard-feeding is similar, but rather that being used to start a thoughtform, it is similar process done with existing system members, which need not be thoughtforms. Getting more specific, shard-feeding is

Shard-Feeding: The process of splitting off one or more shards from one system member and putting them into another existing system member.

It is essentially splitting shards off one system member and another “eating” (absorbing) them. It is a small scale combination of splitting and merging. Going back to the circuit analogy, one is taking subcircuits off of a larger circuit and either making new circuits from them (shard-seeding) or adding them other circuits (shard-feeding).

In both cases, it is usually one system member splitting shards of themself and seeding or feeding another, rather than splitting shards off of a third party. Obviously, shards should not be split off from another system member without their consent except in extreme circumstances.

What distinguishes shard-seeding from other types of splitting is that it is either deliberate or is an unknown/unrecognized component of some other deliberate action. This is just as what distinguishes tulpas and other thoughtforms from other kinds of people, beings, and entities that can live in a system – deliberate creation or an unplanned part of some other deliberate action (e.g. daydreaming and one or more characters coming to life).

It goes without saying that a person can simply expel shards from themselves without the shard being used as seed material or feed to someone. The shard then just exists there, possibly developing on its own or possibly whithering away.

Motivations for Doing It And How It Occurs Accidentally

Some tulpamancy hosts or thoughtforms making other thoughtforms shard-seed thoughtforms because it is easier for them or more natural for them to break off a part of themselves to start a thoughtform rather than starting one from scratch, which is different than the conventional process.

Some do it inadvertently. One example is someone trying to change their own personality and in the process inadvertently breaking off a shard of themselves and accidentally tulpa-forcing them in the process (shard expulsion can also happen). Another can sometimes happen when the person making the thoughtform tries to copy or transfer traits. Another can happen when someone tries to animate or personify some subset of themselves, as some people do with daydream characters (they start out as puppets but can become autonomous tulpas in the right circumstances over time).

Shard-seeding is also an effective way to make a servitor, and shard-feeding is an effective way to add functionality or reprogram a servitor. Pulling shards off of a servitor and absorbing them is one way to neutralize or destroy a servitor bit by bit. In addition, shard-seeded servitors tend to have very close access to the processes of whoever they were sourced from, providing an easier way to make a servitor that can monitor one's thoughts and operate on them in some way, interface one's personal memories if different people in a system have separate memories, etc. This can be very powerful, but it can also be quite dangerous as Hail+Breach explains in their Servitor Creation Guide.

Some people have done shard-seeding to transfer functions and strength from one system member to another. There are many examples. Some do it as a piece-wise merging/integration process, especially as a way to change whose personality, traits, etc. will be dominant afer the merging (e.g. the younger or weaker member eats shards one at a time over a long period of time to get the other's strength without changing too much and then can do full assymmetric merge with the originally younger or weaker member dominant). It is sometimes done when a primary fronter can no longer be primary but no one else is able to front as a way to pass on the fronting ability to whoever replaces them.

It is possible that a daemon, which, for whatever reason (natural evolution, encouragement, etc.), becomes separate and independent from their daimon (the person the daemon is from) would be a very good example of a shard-seeded tulpa.


Shard-seeding and shard-feeding are mostly done by taumagenic systems and less commonly endogenic systems. Both processes are comparatively rare in purely created systems, such as pure tulpamancy systems. Most tulpamancy systems that have done shard-seeding and/or shard-feeding are mixed-origin systems, having been plural due to some other origin before creating any thoughtforms such as tulpas. It seems that the pure tulpamancy systems that have done either were usually more dissociative.

This pattern makes some level of sense. If splits have already happened in the system, as happens with traumagenic systems, it is much easier to deliberately split shards off. For those who have not had splitting before, it would make sense that higher levels of dissociation and/or greater predispositions towards dissocation would make it easier to do and more natural to think about doing it in the first place. This is likely why it is less common in originally endogenic systems and comparatively rare in created systems (e.g. pure tulpamancy systems), and why it occurs in the more dissociative pure tulpamancy systems when it does occur in less dissociative pure tulpamancy systems.

Shard-seeding and shard-feeding seem to be particularly common in tight median systems that venture into tulpamancy (or make tulpas before finding the community), becoming median subsystems. For these systems, shard-seeding is commonly done for the first listed motivation “feels more natural or would be easier to shard-seed a thoughtform than start one from scratch”, especially if the median system or subsystem in question could be described as a shard-cloud (many shards and/or full people who can shift around, split and combine, remix, etc.).


As can be guessed, shard-seeded tulpas start out much like their source shards, which can often make them similar to their host or what their host used to be before splitting the shard off. Similarly, shard-feeding will make the target person more like the what the source person was like before the transfer of shards. That said, how the material from the shards manifests and interacts with the rest of the shard-seeded tulpa or shard-feeded system member can be quite unpredictable. We recommend The Theorycrafter's Approach to Personality by the Quandary, which goes into great detail about how traits and initial templates can manifest themselves in complicated and sometimes unpredictable ways and change over time due to these interactions.

This is, in fact, one of the ways that tulpas can be made who are in a median topology with their host (Tulpas in Median Topologies with Tulpas, Hosts, etc.). In this vane, thought and emotion bleed between the target/receiver and source/giver can happen or be stronger than it would be without the shard-seeding or feeding.

Skills and other functions, strength at fronting or staying active when inside, etc. can also be transfered, copied, or taught to some degree by shard-feeding. It is one technique to add functionality to and reprogram servitors.

And just as the target/receiver of the shard/s changes and/or gets something, the source/giver changes and loses something. The source/giver has to replace/fill-in the lost material. The new material can be different which can result in changes in the source/giver in places such as personality, skills, etc.

Overall, the larger or more numerous the shard/s exchanged, the bigger the changes in target/receiver and source/giver. This, in fact leads into the risks.

Risks, Ethics, and Words of Caution

Both the target/receiver and the source/giver of the shard/s change (or if seeding, are influenced by the what the seed shard is). This can lead to personality effects ranging from small to large, skill gain or loss, strength gain or loss. As previously stated, the more material that is exchanged (more shards and/or bigger shards), the bigger the potential effects.

The target/receiver could experience their seed shard if shard-seeded or shards fed to them as contamination rather than as a positive thing. This is one reason that shard-feeding should not be done against the will of the target/receiver. If they view the shard/s as contamination, it is sometimes possible for them to expel the shard/s put into them to some extent, but it is easy to miss parts of them, accidentally get rid of stuff not part of those shard/s, etc. It gets harder to do this precisely the longer after the seeding or feeding was done.

The material in expelled shards can be lost forever, or the shard evolve unpredictably.

For the source/giver, the lost material (shard/s) are often, but not always, replaced/filled-in over time. The replaced material will be a bit different than the lost material, so the source/giver will change with the initial exchange of shard/s and then change a bit over time as the material is replaced. Skills, knowledge, and memory are generally not lost (even partially) when exchanging small amounts of material at once or over time. Personality, traits, etc. are more affected. Now, if too much material is given/taken away too quickly, there can be a number of more drastic effects:

  1. Drastic changes in the personality of the source/giver or how they think (e.g. could go from thinking in words to pictures).
  2. Partial or complete loss of skills, knowledge, memories, etc. With skills and knowledge, they can almost always be regained with practice, time, and effort.
  3. Can destabilize the source/giver causing them to split further. One outcome is for them to become a shard cloud if they were not already.
  4. If a very large amount is taken, the source/giver can be ablated enough to reduce them to a shard and possibly lose the ability to replace/fill-in material at all. Sometimes, this results in the source/giver being turned into a veil/shell.
  5. The source/giver ceases to exist/dies because they have been entirely consumed/ablated/etc.

Excessive shard-seeding and shard-feeding is actually one way for a system member (a host, a tulpa, or something else) to die or be killed.

Due to the potential changes and effects on the source/giver of the shard/s, other system members should not use them as the source/giver without their consent except in extreme circumstances. Similarly, sentient and semi-sentient system members should not be shard-fed without their consent. And just as it is important to allow tulpas to deviate from their initial template in the conventional tulpa creation techniques, it is important to allow a shard-seeded tulpa to deviate from their source shard or even outright reject it later. Due to the possible effects, shard-seeding and shard-feeding can be dangerous practices, and should not be done lightly. For anyone considering doing it, great caution is advised.

Our Personal Experiences

We are a mixed origin system, having been plural before making thoughtforms, that has done both shard-seeding and shard-feeding. All of it has been done by Hail+Breach, who would meet the definition of a shard-cloud before they separated (and Hail afterwards). They/she used themselves as the source for the shards.

Hail+Breach have made servitors many different ways. She made her strongest (and one of the most damaging and dangerous) servitors by shard-seeding and augmented it through shard-feeding. The original version of her Servitor Creation Guide was actually a guide on shard-seeding and shard-feeding servitors, though the first public version had that replaced with other methods which she and other people have also used (an upcoming revision of it will include shard-seeding and shard-feeding once again).

The Tri subsystem (Violet, Obsidian, Gaea, and a few others) and E. were all natural tulpas/soulbonds who were originally daydream characters made by Hail+Breach who later came to life and gained autonomy and sentience. The first three (Violet, Obsidian, and E.) were all shard-seeded, while later ones like Gaea were not. Violet and E. were made with the biggest seed shards, and Obsidian with a smaller one, which is one of the reasons why Violet and E. are more similar to Hail+Breach and were more connected through thought and emotion bleed than Obsidian, and all of them more so than Gaea and the others. Though the connections are not so strongly present now due to better insulation and time.


  1. Terminologies. Terminologies.
  2. Hail+Breach Fall. Servitor Creation Guide. Forum. Guide Submissions & Comments >> Other.
  3. Tri Fall. Tulpas in Median Topologies with Tulpas, Hosts, etc.. Forum. Guide Submissions & Comments >> Other >> Other Tips And Articles.
  4. The Quandary. The Theorycrafter's Approach to Personality. Forum. Guide Submissions & Comments >> Creation.
  5. VeilsMultiplicity: The Missing Manual on Kinhost.

On “Consistency” in a Tulpa's Personality – Quandary

In light of a bunch of things I've written about personality, one thing I do want to mention is that a tulpa's personality might not always be “consistent”. I put that in quotes because, in truth, it IS consistent—to the tulpa.

Imagine it this way, with this metaphor. Let's say I ask you to guess the next number in this sequence: 1, 2, 3. In all likelihood, you'd say “4”, guessing that the sequence rule is simply counting upwards.

Well, you'd be wrong. It's actually 5. Confused? That's because there was one term at the start you didn't know: 1. Making the actual sequence, 1, 1, 2, 3, which is actually the first four terms of the Fibonacci sequence. And, of course, 5 is the next term in the sequence.

This can go the other way, too. Say I asked you again to guess the next number in this sequence: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Again, you might want to say “6”. But you'd be wrong again. That's because there's two false terms in that sequence: 2 and 4. The actual next number is 7, since it's a 2n + 1 sequence.

Personality is a LOT like that. It's not something that pops out of nowhere. It's a pattern formed by experiences and biology, that is continually being rewritten and added to as one gains more experiences. At the start of tulpa creation, a tulpa's personality will usually align pretty closely with their template. But as they grow older and stand more on their own, as they get their own experiences, they'll change. Sometimes it'll be completely rewritten, sometimes it'll simply get more elaboration, but changes happen regardless. Not all of those changes will be visible or knowable to you, the host, and even the changes you do know, you won't be able to process in the same way they do. It's something that happens with physical children and parents as well. Sharing a brain does mean there's some more bleedover, but there will still be parts that will be yours alone and parts that will be your tulpa's alone.

So, just as you couldn't see the entire pattern with the numbers, you won't be able to see the entire pattern with someone else's personality. There'll be things you don't see, and things you assume are there, that aren't. You may get close, but barring integration, you'll never be your tulpa. (In which case, honestly, you wouldn't be you, either.) I don't mean to say that you shouldn't personality force. But later in the game, if your tulpa says something that seems “inconsistent”, do not be quick to dismiss it as “accidental parroting” or “intrusive thoughts”. If you really need confirmation, ask them, and if it genuinely bugs you, talk to them and ask after their reasoning. Do not try to argue with them on how they should be acting. Firsthand experience, there's nothing more annoying than someone insisting they know you better than you, and repeatedly doubting or writing off what you tell them. Nor is there anything more effective at confusing you, getting you to doubt yourself, and eventually shut off.

Us, we milk it now. We do a damn good job pretending to be a sweet, naive, sheltered Chinese girl who's got more books than smarts. Makes it all the funnier when we slide in a REALLY dark remark and people just stare at us.

In any case, good luck, and enjoy the ride.

On Tulpas (and Systemmates) “Feeling Real” – Quandary

Some time ago, I had a conversation with Timbre, a member of another system, that gave me a very abstract but very important insight. This was the conversation:


** Falah:** Timbre, you're much like a disembodied mindvoice, right? Well, perhaps not mindvoice. Presence.

Timbre: Yes. Most dreams reflect this. A phone call. An office intercom. A symbiote. An eldritch phantom.

Timbre: Bodies are rare.

Falah: I see.

Falah: I have made an error. I correlate the realness of the others with them possessing a distinct form and voice when I talk to them.

Timbre: Interesting. A useful heuristic misapplied.

Falah: When they have neither, and speak only in impressions/tulpish which I process into their manner of speech, I get paranoid that they're not real. Or becoming less real.

Falah: Communication was hard last night. I wrote down our conversation as it happened to get some physicality. I became afraid because I did not hear their voices distinctly. Instead, I thought at them, and received impulses, impressions being pulled through me from elsewhere by an unseen force, which immediately coalesced into words on my end, which I wrote down.

Falah: Rather than receiving words directly from them, or having them take control to type themselves.

Falah: Rain pointed out that the manner of communication was not important, it was the fact that I was receiving responses and not making them up.

Falah: And no duh it would feel faster and different from talking to a physical person.

Falah: And after a lifetime of being taught there can only be one person in a head, of course I would be inclined to wonder if it was just me making it all up. People can be molded to accept even more extreme, arbitrary things as fact—just look at victims of emotional abuse, who believe their abusers' actions are justified.

Timbre: Oswald feared this as I outgrew language.

Timbre: I drew him to the frequency, not medium, of our presence.

Falah: Outgrew. Good word.

Timbre: Dreams give me words. Maridadi used words. Our walk-ins use words. Those outside use words. I was full of “should.” As I rejected “should” I freed myself.

Falah: I think I can now put into words this misapplication on my end—not so much that the others don't “feel real” as I'm using a wrong standard to judge “real”. I keep conflating “real” and “like a separate physical person”.

Falah: I need to realize that my standards of “feeling real” are inaccurate and correct them, rather than continue to pressure the others to achieve a standard that is neither applicable nor possible for them.

Timbre: I have been me twelve years, five months. Language follows me little of this time. If what I am brings clarity, let this length of time bring more.

Falah: I see. A long time...

Timbre: My example is extreme. I prefer thought, impulse, symbol, free-association. As I learn to value being social I learn to value language. I still don't prefer it.

Falah: I understand better now.

Falah: I suppose that leaves only one more worry. Lark is the only one who has a consistent presence. The others, responses but less presence.

Falah: Presence as in a physical-feeling presence.

Falah: But he has been around for much longer than the others.

Timbre: I guessed.

Falah: But that is also like a clear vocal voice and a form.

Timbre: Your word “presence” is like ours. Narrower. My word includes what is done and by whom and for what reason. Lingering presence absent immediate presence.

Falah: A voice, a physical presence. Accessory illusions created by the brain, mere accessories to the reality of the responses and the people behind those responses themselves.

Falah: I see.

Timbre: When we purchased the game – thinking of you, our role with you, this is my word presence. Your presence lingered. I see your word. Like standing beside one another. As you said, physical.

Falah: Yes.

Timbre: “Accessory illusions.” You are reframing? Using your new thought to rethink this one?

Falah: Essentially. Reprioritizing.

Timbre: Consider a physical symbol. A representation – engaging your hands, your means of changing the world.

Timbre: Do something to mirror this. Make something, change something.

Falah: I have to rethink “feeling real”. Perhaps I will write about it if I am successful.

Falah: I think this is an important part of the puzzle, though.

Timbre: I suggest writing as you think. Do not wait for success. This record may be useful.

Falah: Thank you.

Timbre: This is success in itself.

Timbre: Small victories to restore agency.


In essence, if you're worried about your tulpa feeling real, realize that what makes them feel “real” shouldn't be them having a distinct form or mindvoice, or even physical presence, but something more abstract—the fact that they are there and giving you responses. With this in mind, don't panic if you hit a day when their form or mindvoice is less distinct than usual, but keep talking to them, and understand that they are still as real as before.

On Discouragement and Lack of Time – Quandary

This is also a mirror of a long post made in response to someone on the subreddit. We figured we might as well upload it here as well while we were going through our history.

The original questioner asked why tulpamancers constantly claim not to have time for forcing. To quote part of their post, “I've heard the same people say “I'm so busy at work” or “I have to study so I can't think about my tulpa” well... what's stopping you from working or studying with them? Instead of thinking to yourself about a problem, think to them about the problem. Why not do at least that?”

Here was my response:

There are many sides to this matter, as there always are. You and the others in this thread have covered one. So, I will cover another. And, in case it matters, I will disclose now that I do not go five minutes without speaking to someone in this head.

I am not certain where your interests lie—or rather, do not lie. For the sake of this post, I'll extrapolate from other cases and assume your interests do not lie in world history. If by case they do, then you are welcome to substitute in an appropriately boring subject.

Consider the average student. The ideal mode of study for history—or any subject—is a moderate amount of practice every day. It is not even necessarily difficult practice, but a matter of persistently reviewing content that has already been learned. And even if one does not have the time to sit down and write out passages, one can still keep history in mind and review it throughout the day. One could, for example, visualize historical events happening, create mental flashcards, or think about how current policies reflect history. But how many students do you know who do this?

Now, one might say that there is a crucial difference here. World history is boring, rote, and of little use to the average layperson, while a tulpa is... well, potentially a lifelong, ever-close friend, and created by conversation. So, naturally, there would be a difference in motivation. Because one would actively want a tulpa, one would be expected to pursue it with greater enthusiasm than with world history. But again, it is not so simple. How many beginner artists have you met who have wanted to draw like Minna Sundberg, or another artist of immense talent? How many beginner writers have you met who have wanted to write like J.K. Rowling or Phillip Pullman?

And, how many of those beginner artists and writers have you met who, every day, set aside time for their craft, and pursue it with vigor and confidence? Not many, I would suspect.

Here again, one would say the situation is not the same. Writing and graphic art are physical crafts, while tulpamancy is a craft of the mind. But a great deal of art is mental. Even when one is not actively drawing or writing, one can always be observing the movements of people, analyzing how their bodies move and express. One could always be composing paragraphs as they go, to be written down between obligations. But not many do this.

Why do they not do this? There are many reasons. They may fear that they will never be good enough, and that they are wasting their time by even trying. They may feel awkward. They may not know where to begin. And, if they are not used to this mode of thinking, it can be as difficult for them to think in this way as it is for them to think about pure mathematics. In fact, if it is not a habitual mode of thought for them, it can take energy—quite a lot of energy, if one has a naturally small pool or is drained already by other matters—to upkeep such a mode of thought. Or, simply, this mode of thinking, of passive practice, may have never occurred to them.

But, many do not introspect to that degree, and thus, many believe that the reason they do not practice, passively or actively, is a matter of not having enough time.

So too with tulpamancy. Over and over, I have heard the following. What if I mess up my tulpa? What if they hate me? How do I force? What do I talk about? I feel stupid for talking to myself. Nothing's happening, what if I'm being duped? What if I'm just deluding myself? What if I don't succeed? Along with no shortage of misconceptions on what forcing actually entails. I would not be surprised if many of the tulpamancers who say they do not have enough time are, in fact, obstructed by confusion, doubt, and fear.

In essence, the most basic point of your post is correct. In the vast majority of cases, there is always, technically, time to force. And, of course, I do not doubt that some simply do not want to put in the effort. (After all, having played MMOs, I am very familiar with that sort of demographic.) But, it is a matter more complex than “the people who say they have no time to force are simply being lazy.” Thus, if we truly wish to solve this problem, we must take a more complex approach than calling the matter “idiotic reasoning.” We must root out each individual tulpamancer's reasons for putting off tulpamancy. We must find out their fears, their unknowing mental blockages, and address them one by one. Rather than simply demanding others climb over their barriers, we can assist them in removing the barriers themselves. And perhaps, what we teach them in discovering and overcoming their mental barriers in tulpamancy may even translate into what they do in broader life.

Oh, yes. And one concluding note. I am aware that I often come off as... disdainful. Rest assured that is not the case. It may be helpful to read me in the voice of a certain character in Virtue's Last Reward who speaks quite passionately about termites. (Spoilers, of course.)

I do hope that, at the very least, it was an interesting tangent.

So to conclude, to any tulpamancers who have been discouraged, I would recommend some introspection. What specific feelings do you get when sitting down to force? What specific thoughts, reasons for not forcing, run through your mind? What are your fears and doubts? Be self-aware, not self-loathing.

Of course, please keep in mind that it is possible to simply be drained from daily life, and not have energy to spare for speaking to anyone, even a tulpa. There is no shame in that, and please do take care if that is the case. However, it is always worth examining if it is actually tiredness, fear and doubt masquerading as tiredness, or some mixture of the two.

And to the tulpas themselves—I recommend reading this. You, too, can have a hand in your own creation. You are not as bound to your host as common culture would have you believe.

Good luck.

— F./[A.]

“The Bell of Thought” and Autonomy – Quandary

This was advice I gave to a tulpamancer who was worried about their tulpa's lack of autonomy, and whose tulpa felt deeply influenced by their expectations. They wanted to know how to build up autonomy and why they were having difficulties.

Consider this a companion piece to @Keiretsu's “How to Get Out of Forcing” and my earlier piece on how expectations influence (but do not dictate) the development of tulpas.

In the Old Kingdom series, there's a group of people called the Abhorsens who are in charge of laying the wayward dead to rest and subduing the necromancers who raise them. One of their major tools of the trade are the necromancer's bells—seven silver bells that correspond to sleep, waking, motion, voice, thought, obedience, and death.

There's a special binding in the books that's used to keep extraordinarily powerful creatures under control. This binding can be placed with any of the seven bells, and the nature of how that binding binds correlates to which bell is used for it. A binding with the bell of sleep causes the bound to sleep constantly—a binding with the bell of obedience outright paralyzes the bound if they disobey. There is one major exception to this, though—placing the binding with the bell of thought grants the bound free will.

What you—both of you—need to do is something like that.

I'll be blunt. There's a downright ugly catch-22 that tulpamancers and tulpas alike often unwittingly internalize, which is this: as a tulpa, either you don't constantly act unexpectedly and independently of your host all the time and are thus deemed “not really independent/sentient/etc”, or you do and are “explained away” as “intrusive thoughts” or the host “being unable to control their thoughts.” It's a lose-lose for the tulpa no matter what, as the catch-22 will always find a way to relegate them to being something subhuman and non-autonomous.

To top that off, we hear constantly that tulpas conform to expectations, expectations, expectations. In truth, this really isn't that different from what physical people go through. We're conditioned by our surroundings and the desires of others, which reflect their expectations of us, and that conditioning can be incredibly hard to break, take it from someone who still struggles majorly from self-efficacy issues. If it was easy to break, then every therapist would be flat out of a job. Part of the reason why I say free will doesn't really exist as most people think of it.

The thing is, we don't recognize this process in ourselves, but we recognize it in tulpas, and because we do, we internalize the belief that tulpas can only be what we expect of them. Couple this with the fact that a tulpa literally shares a head with you and has front seat to all that while they're trying to establish themselves in a brain that's already loaded with a much older person, and you can see how the cycle of expectations can be a lot harder on a tulpa than a physical person.

Those who break their conditioning don't do so in a void. They don't do so while all they have is the environment that imparted that conditioning to begin with. They do so because they're exposed to new ideas, new people, new ways of thinking and being. Tulpas, unfortunately, do not have the option of physically separating from their creators and venturing out into the world alone.

So, what can be done? If it is impossible or incredibly hard to not bind, then bind with the bell of thought. If you can't move to a different environment, then change the one that already exists. Do that, and eventually, you'll find that it's impossible for you to bind a tulpa with any other bell, if the binding even continues to exist at all.

What both you and your tulpa must do is find out what catch-22s have taken up residence in your mindsets, and confront them. Not with self-loathing (“I'm such a bad host/weak tulpa for believing this!”), but with self-awareness (“Okay, this is what we believe. Why does this matter to us so much?”). If you find it, kick the idea that they are dependent upon having your full attention in order to do anything—yes, they may make use of it now, and yes, it's more complicated than quitting cold turkey, but that doesn't mean they are innately dependent upon it. Drill into your minds that the two of you are equals and that they are not obligated to follow your expectations. Also, that it doesn't matter if they have a similar mindvoice, or personality, or similar anything—it doesn't make them any less their own person. And that progress is not linear—they're going to have trouble standing on their own, and they're going to fall, but no matter how many falls they have, it doesn't make them any less worthy of respect. Be supportive in that sense.

Basically, find what doubts you have about the process, and address them. Don't be impatient, but do be confident that you will get there. It's a lot easier said than done, and if I wasn't blurry right now I'd write another essay on specific ways this can be handled, but there's your gist. It's also important, of course, to build up the skills themselves—keep practicing talking to each other, build them their own mindvoice if that helps—but that's secondary to addressing the root of this sort of worry. How you two address that worry is something personal—everyone addresses it a different way. Rain still frets to this day, and copes by making things in the physical world and talking to people. Noctis laughed and laughed, and said it didn't matter if he was illusory, because everything is illusory. Me, let's just say I found out that my own history with sharing head-space went far beyond what I thought it did, to the point that it'd actually be rather stupid for me to continue doubting that others exist in here.

Also, don't confuse needing help with lack of autonomy. If they have trouble building something, don't hold back, refusing to help at all in case it “hinders autonomy”, and don't assume that needing help means that they'll never develop. You can help by establishing starting points that they can build off of, like training wheels.

In any case, good luck.

Vocality and Personality – Mk. 1 – Quandary

We answered a question over at the subreddit regarding personality, and another regarding vocality. We're in the process of writing a guide over a personality-centric model of forcing, and will likely write a vocality one to go with it. It's been taking a while, though (the more we write, the more we have to add, ugh!), so we'll be mirroring those posts here in the meantime.

So without further ado...

On personality:

There is no one specific way you “must” define personality. However, there are a few things people misunderstand about personality.

First of all—no, you do not have to define personality. It is possible to simply start with a blank slate. However, how well this works varies from brain to brain. It is entirely possible that your brain is one that works best at making a tulpa when given a template to follow.

Again, in some cases, a tulpamancer can define nothing at all and yet something will crystallize. In other cases, a tulpamancer can list off a few vague traits, and the brain will fill in the gaps as the tulpa forms. In others, a tulpamancer can go into detail on some key traits and write out a few scenarios with their tulpa, and that gives their brain enough to work with to form their tulpa. It's a whole spectrum.

And then there's others for which none of the above work, and a tulpa forms only after they have carefully built a detailed personality from the ground up, and then “animated” it a little. This includes some fiction writers who have accidentally made tulpas from their characters.

So if you find you can't make anything work without creating a personality first, it might be in your interest to, well, create a personality.

As for how one goes about creating a personality, I look at personality in much the same way I look at builds for characters in MMOs. That is, a build is much more than an arbitrary collection of upgrades. You do not make an efficient build by reading all the upgrades and going “oh, this sounds nice, I'll take it” on every upgrade that seems like it'd be remotely nice to have. Nor do you simply pick the ones that raise stats and so forth. You go in with an idea of what you want that character to do and then pick abilities, gear, trait trees, etc that supplement that character's purpose. And when picking upgrades and skills, you look for ones that synergize and make sense with each other.

So too is it with personality. A personality is so much more than a simple list of “good” and “bad” traits. A personality is what emerges from years of experience and memories. When creating a personality for a tulpa, you must keep in mind that by nature, the personality you are creating will in all likelihood not be as complex as that of a physical person's, as will be constructed from concepts rather than actual memories. (Note that this does not devalue a tulpa's existence as their own person, nor does it doom them to a state of simplicity—like any physical person, their personality develops and fills in as they experience the world and accumulate memories. The personality you are making for them is simply a seed crystal, so to speak. It's a place for them to start and grow off of, not the total sum of what they are and will always be.)

Again, you do not necessarily have to build a personality in painstaking detail to make a tulpa. The brain's excellent at filling in those gaps on its own. If you're one of the group who works best with a more defined structure, though, then think back to my MMO analogy. I recommend not starting with traits. Rather, introspect and figure out why you are making a tulpa. Even if it's simply because you want a friend. Get into the details. When you think of a friend, guardian, etc, what kind of person do you think of? What impressions do you get? What traits do they display? What specific things do you hope to do with them? This is the what do you want your creation to do part of making a build/personality.

Now that you have an idea of why you're going into all this to begin with, then you can start on building up a personality proper. Take the idea of the friend/guardian/etc you've discovered. What motivations would this person have? Keep in mind that motivation is not always “the villain killed my family so now I'm going to kill them” or “I want to try sea-salt ice cream because of Kingdom Hearts” level of specific. That level of specificity is something your tulpa themself will discover as they experience things. The motivations you're looking for are things like “I want to help people”, or “I want to protect this person” for a guardian—more general things.

Once you have those motivations, start thinking about the specific ways in which they might be expressed. There's many ways someone can go about helping people or protecting people. Once you have those ways of expressing a motivation, start thinking about the traits that would be required for that motivation, and how they interact with each other.

To give you a spur-of-the-moment example: let's say that I am creating a tulpa and I want a friend. When I think about who I would be friends with, the answer is that I could be friends with a lot of people—however, of the subset of friends who I'd be comfortable sharing a head with, it would be people who are intellectual yet friendly, and able to cope with being on their own for extended amounts of time rather than always wanting me to hang out with them. (I spend a lot of time staring into the distance and thinking while tuning everyone out, inside and outside of my head, as many people will attest.) From that, I can get a vague idea of a bookish sort of person.

I think about motivation. This person I'm thinking of loves to learn. This person is friendly and would like to help others. This person is curious and looks at the world with an analyzing eye—analysis for analysis' sake. I can name some traits that go along with these motivations: intellectual, friendly, helpful, interested, analytical.

Now I think about the ways this can manifest—the how. I can think of someone who's quiet and maybe a little aloof, but in an absent-minded, thoughtful way rather than an “I am superior and you are not worth my time” way. They probably wouldn't be interested in small talk—from what I've experienced, small talk is a bit difficult for those types—but would love to talk about subjects that interest them. (What specific subjects, I'll leave up to them to discover.) They wouldn't necessarily be shy, but because they'd be more interested in trading facts than small talk, they'd probably hang back a bit from most social gatherings. They wouldn't be unfriendly, and they would actually be quite helpful towards others, with an eye out for those who need help, though their way of helping would involve research and intellectual guidance, or being a springboard for ideas. They would look at the world and perhaps they would think about all the ideas it implies, how everything is related to each other conceptually.

Or, I can take it another direction. I can think of a bookish person who's also quite outgoing, who's alternately thrilled to be around people and adept at navigating social things, while also able to get sucked into books or into projects from those books. This person I'd imagine to be more hands-on, with an interest in reading about and then doing various crafts. Possibly doing them with other people as well, and of course always glad to talk about their projects. They would get pretty involved in gatherings of people, and be quite enthusiastic and bright. And they'd take a more hands-on approach to helping people, whether it's going out and doing a task themself or by thinking of ways the world can be altered to make something easier. They would look at the world and see new projects, things to improve and fix, creative ways everyday things can be used.

As you can see, both personality concepts fit what I'm looking for in different ways. And both exhibit the traits I've named. But those traits are expressed differently and interact differently for each.

You can continue along with naming and detailing and analyzing traits as much as you want. There isn't a set amount you must do. I will say that it is helpful to leave wiggle room and construct with the idea that you are making a starting point rather than a rigid set of rules that must always be followed all the time no exceptions. A little bit of open-endedness can be helpful and leave points for your tulpa to grow, like how I've left their specific areas of interest up in the air.

Hopefully that helps.

On vocality:

Have you done personality forcing, by any chance? If so, then it might be worth sitting down and coming down with an impression of what your tulpa's voice is like.

By “impression”... there's a lot more to language than what one means when they say something. There's also the all-important matter of how they say something. Tone of voice, rhythm, word choice (formal or slang?)... quite a number of things.

If there's a fictional character you're familiar with who has a personality similar to your tulpa's, it might be worth for you to study their manner of speaking and take note on how they speak. What words do they use—big, academic ones, or everyday plainspeak? Do they kinda sorta talk in a rambling rush like this, or are their sentences clipped, staccato? Do they have a loud, confident voice or a soft one? Are they gruff, gentle, or a mix of the two? Are their words monotone or musical? Think of whatever personality you've created—and then ask yourself, what kind of voice goes along with this person?

In case you're worried about whether that's parroting or not—not really. If you were asking a question for them, and then consciously making up an answer for them, that would be parroting. This, while you're consciously doing things on them behalf, you're not really making up specific answers for them. Rather, you're focusing on general patterns and feelings rather than specific answers, and laying down a framework in the brain that they can piggyback off of. They are also not bound to the framework, and can change it later if they so desire.

Visualization Aids – Character Creators – Quandary

Visualization aids can be very helpful in choosing a form and features. Here is a list of character creators, dress-up games, and other stuff that lets you use sliders/predrawn options to create a custom character. The style of the character creator (anime, pony, semi-realistic, etc), and whether a download is required, have also been specified. Happy forcing!

No Download Required

Download Required (non-MMO)

Free-to-Play MMOs: Please read the disclaimer!

Disclaimer: It is possible to use some free-to-play MMOs for their character creators. However, this comes with a lot of hassle—you'll be required to make an account via email and confirm it (dummy emails are good here), and the downloads are massive. They may also require you to download secondary programs to assist with the primary download, and I cannot validate the safety of those programs. It's also very possible to get sucked into playing the MMO itself, which (take it from a MMO veteran) is its own rabbit hole and can of worms. You have been warned.

Also, I will only be accepting 3D MMOs with lots of customization options. No point in downloading a massive file if a dress-up game provides more options.

Some other stuff to note

If you have any character creators you would like to share that aren't on this list, you are welcome to post them below.

Personality: Questions to Consider – Quandary

(Falah: Reposting this on Marcus's behalf. We decided that those who aren't in the primary group will share this account instead of having a subaccount.)

I posted this in response to a newcomer's question. The others asked me to post this here, so I will. I might add more later.

For personality. You can begin from a blank slate. Others have. But here is my advice if you don't want to start from a blank slate.

What reasons do you have for creating a tulpa? Are you looking for a taskmaster, a guardian, a companion? If so, what traits do you see each of those roles possessing?

And how? There's different kinds of courage, for one. There's the courage needed to go into a plague zone, and then there's the courage needed to call out a friend for bullying an innocent, and then there's the courage needed to constantly question what you think is true and right. You can start with a word, but personality is more than words.

How do those traits serve them? How do those traits influence their daily behavior, their socializing, their actions in a crisis? How would they act when faced with someone exactly alike them and someone who's their complete opposite? What pleases them, what angers them, and why?

How, why, what? Ask these questions continually, each question adding detail to an earlier answer, and answer them until you feel you have enough of a foundation. Note. You're not making an unliving character. There's no need to detail every last detail. Once they're alive, they'll fill in their own gaps. They'll grow. They'll likely be different from what you thought. That's normal. It's how blood-and-flesh people grow, from a seed of self into themselves. As with blood-and-flesh people, there's no need to fence them in.

As with blood-and-flesh people (and every other living thing under the sun), once they begin to grow, you won't need to manually add parts onto them. Just provide nourishment. Talk to them. (EDIT: Falah adds, and have them talk to you.) But that's something for later. This post is for now.

Expectations and Your Tulpa – Quandary

I've seen the topic of how expectations influence one's tulpa come up multiple times in the community. This is a Frankensteinian hodgepodge of various posts I've written on the matter.

As always, these are my personal speculations—no model is truly complete, and no one has all of the data nor all of the answers. That said...

The short answer to the question of whether expectations influence tulpas: yes, they do.

The short answer to the question of how expectations influence tulpas: they set a trajectory, but they are not absolute, especially as time goes on. They influence, not control, and expectations are in themselves more complicated than they might seem.

Now, the long answer to both of those questions.

I'll start by addressing the question behind the question: the whole question of whether a tulpa has free will if they're influenced by your expectations. Which often implies another question: if a tulpa doesn't have free will, then are they a person? Personally speaking, I don't think free will is required for someone to be conscious (i.e. to experience subjectivity and awareness of the world) or a person. Not only that, I don't think anyone, tulpa or host, truly has free will as we think of it. There's plenty of precedent—trauma, behavioral studies, priming, even a new neurological theory, etc—to suggest that we only think we control the brain's processing, when we're really simply along for the ride as the brain processes and reacts to inputs from the outside world. In other words, a consciousness isn't a top-down process that controls the brain so much as it is an abstract entity that is generated as the brain processes external stimuli and learned information. Free will as we popularly think of it is an illusion—a useful illusion, one that's really hard to describe human experience without, but an illusion nonetheless.

Nothing comes from nowhere, everything comes from somewhere, everything is related and interrelated. With that framework in mind, to the hosts: let's take a look at our own selves. Our own motivations, our own values. You'll find that none of it came from a vacuum, but from an interplay of biology (the instinct to obtain basic needs like food and shelter, each brain's unique wiring from genetics) and external influences. Namely for the latter, the expectations of other people, especially those who raised you and who you were surrounded by when growing up. Those expectations, even those left unspoken, become internalized and play a major role in how we act, whether it's the Pygmalion effect or stereotype threat.

But expectations aren't the whole of your influences. There's also direct experiences, doing things yourself. There's accumulating information from outside the bubble of your upbringing. Even expectations and interpersonal influences aren't uniform—you might have encountered a teacher who tells you you're not cut out for a subject, only to meet another teacher who senses potential in you and builds up your confidence. The end result means that you are not a reflection of any one person's expectations, but a mix of many diverse influences—hence how children can grow up to be different than their parents expect.

It's the same way with your tulpa.

At first, the only influence they have is you. They are a nascent self, with few memories or patterns of their own to draw upon, in a brain with a person much older and much more strongly established than they—it's only natural that they're going to take a lot of their cues from you, sometimes without even being aware of it. So at that stage, the expectations you hold will influence them strongly.

But as time goes on, and if they're given the opportunity to take in their own experiences, influences aside from you, their own pool of memories grows. From that pool of memories, patterns in behavior arise. The influence from your expectations in their earlier stages remains, but it isn't the only thing in the pool anymore. It doesn't define them. They're drawing from their own pool of experiences instead.

And an appendum: also consider that thought bleedover is a thing that can be mistaken for a tulpa acting according to your expectations. For example, you start thinking of apples, and then your tulpa says, “Oh, red apples are delicious, but I hate the green ones. They're only good for art.” If you're like me, you might freak out at this, analyze the hell out of it, and assume that your tulpa wasn't really acting freely, they only commented on apples because you were expecting them to comment on apples. Unfortunately, by freaking out about this, you're missing a few key bits of data—first, that you weren't actively expecting them to comment on apples. You just happened to be thinking of apples, and then they commented. Second, the fact that even if you expected them to comment on apples, the expectation only prompted them—their exact statements and meaning, that they like red apples and think green apples should be relegated to the realm of acrylics, was all them.

Thought bleedover (and its cousins, parroting and intrusive thoughts) is actually more complicated than I described here, but they would need a whole post of their own to fully explain.

Now, that being said. A common counterargument to my earlier statements is “well, even if you didn't consciously expect them to comment, you had an unconscious expectation built from forcing, and even if you didn't expect them to say red apples are good and green apples are bad, that's also an unconscious expectation that you've built from personality forcing.” My cents on that topic are quite lengthy, but the gist of it is severalfold.

First, could that argument be true? Well, when you start using the “it could just be an unconscious thing you're not aware of” argument, practically anything can be true—and depending on what definitions you use, is true. Which is why I personally find it a moot point—in the end, it's unprovable, the results are the same either way, and different people have a right to different models.

The second cent is that that model rather oversimplifies the matter. Namely, it assumes everything that happens originates as the will of the host and comes right from the host. As discussed at the beginning of this post, it's not that simple. We're not the drivers—we're more along for the ride than anything else. Thus, if the forces driving your tulpa's behavior can be described as expectations, I feel it would be more accurate to say that they aren't so much “your” expectations as the brain's expectations, especially as they can often run against the expectations you consciously have!

(Of course, there's then the whole debate on whether “you” are the consciousness or the brain, but that's a debate for another time, and one that I think really boils down to personal definition. Words aren't absolute, and a single word can mean many different things to many different people. What's important is recognizing that if definitions shift, nuances and implications shift, too. You can call the color red “green”, but that doesn't change the fact that you should stop at red—or in your words, green—traffic lights!)

And as I've said, even without “free will”, an entity—host or tulpa—can still be conscious. Of course, we can't prove that tulpas are sentient/conscious. But at the same time, we can't prove that anything is “sentient”—animals, AI, and most tellingly, other physical individuals, especially those with drastically different wiring. We treat everyone based on how they act—and a mature tulpa certainly is indistinguishable from an actual other person living in the brain—and in accordance with our moral values. (I consider morality/“rights” and sentience to not necessarily go hand in hand, but that's also a discussion for another time.)

All that said. That whole topic does bring up another important topic: the expectation of independent action. As described, for example, by Keiretsu's excellent post here.

Unlike two physical people, since a tulpa shares a brain with you, they're going to have to jump over a few mental blocks before they can truly separate from you. Having, and sharing with them, the expectation that they are free to act on their own works towards it. How does it work? Is it like a tulpa Pygmalion effect, or an unconscious expectation that feeds into them—or maybe even a mix of both? We can't say, really, and we likely won't be able to say until we've solved the hard problem of consciousness. All we can say is, again, matters pertaining to the existence or nonexistence of consciousness are unproven, but regardless of how it works, it works.

Personally, whenever I think of this, I think of a passage from the Old Kingdom series. You can use the necromancer's bells to bind another being's actions to your will, but there's a caveat—if you use Belgaer, the bell of minds, to bind someone, you essentially grant them freedom instead. I also think of a starfish somehow managing to split off one of its own arms—even though it was the original starfish who initiated the split, the second starfish is still a starfish.

In any case, I hope that long-winded ramble was of help to someone.

Some Thoughts on Young Tulpas and Awareness [UPDATED 05/25/2015] – Mel

(A cross-post from our blog. Perhaps some may find this helpful. Please ask before linking these posts elsewhere.)

I have always been fascinated by young tulpas and the way that they develop. Though I do not plan to create one of my own for a considerably long time, I have been mulling over certain aspects of tulpa creation so that, if I ever do, they will be the best tulpa they can possibly be.

Now, I see a lot of hosts mulling over what extent their own thoughts will affect or influence their tulpa. Beyond that, I see others wondering exactly what makes a tulpa independent. I cannot pose concrete answers, but I can offer a few theories of my own.

Imagine a bowl full of red marbles and a bowl full of blue marbles on a table. The table represents the brain, the bowls represent awareness, and the marbles in it represent thoughts, memories, sensations, values, any sort of conscious perception. In short, these bowls on the brain-table represent a fully independent tulpa and host, or two multiple system mates. In order to create a tulpa, one must first have a proverbial bowl to fill, a core awareness capable of perceiving external information.

But wait, you are probably asking, how do you create an awareness out of no awareness? The answer: the same way any other awareness is formed. Take a young infant, for instance. Early on, a baby has no sense of self. They see everything in the world as an extension of themselves. Over time, as others influence them, teach them, make them think, ‘force’ them, that awareness becomes more and more compartmentalized, to the point that it forms a sense of self (’mine’ versus ‘yours’) an identity (’I am’ versus ‘you are’). Through forcing, the host is essentially training the unconscious to build up a second awareness, and once a tulpa reaches the point where they have that awareness, they are on the road to independence. Once that awareness, independence, and capability is achieved, a tulpa is just as ‘real’, and just as imaginary, as the host.

Now, I see other hosts who worry about the extent of which their thoughts are influencing their tulpas. That is not an easy thing to answer as every system is different. In our experience, as a system in which all members are separate from one another, everything goes both ways. I cannot be sure I am not somehow subconsciously influencing Connor’s thoughts and actions any more than he can be sure he is not influencing mine. Now, some will quickly point at that and insist that we are the same person because of it, but there is a flaw in that reasoning and I shall explain why.

Let’s go back to the bowls with the marbles. Let us say we were to blend together and our ‘selves’ as it were were to get mixed up. So, imagine the blue marbles and the red marbles getting mixed together in one, large bowl. Now, just because these marbles are in the same bowl, that does not make them any less red or blue. They do not become purple simply as a fact of being inside the same bowl. As such, should we separate again, it would be quite easy to sort the red marbles apart from the blue ones and return them to their respective bowls. Even when blended together, the traits of independent system mates will remain distinct. When both parties separate again, they remain unique, independent, satellite entities within the brain; two separate awarenesses with differing traits and identities to match. Beyond that, two separate system mates blending together, putting those marbles into one bowl, often takes effort on the part of both parties to achieve, as they must then learn to function in tandem after so much time getting used to being independently aware.

Now let’s reverse this analogy again. Tulpamancy, as it is, is the process of going from having one bowl with purple marbles, to two bowls with red and blue marbles; of going from having a singular entity and awareness in the brain to having more than one. Forcing is the process of filling up that bowl with marbles–traits, values, actions, memories, beliefs, approaches to problem solving. But before you can contain those marbles, you must first acknowledge that there is another bowl on the table, distinct and separate from your own. Otherwise, as you go about filling it, they will scatter about in the absence of something to contain them.

And that is the big distinction, at the most empirical level: each system mate has their own, unique awareness. Watcher is aware of things that I am not, and I am aware of things that Watcher is not. We are both aware of each other, and our thoughts and actions, as well as ourselves. Now, there does exist a process by which system mates may merge together, often indefinitely, called integration. Integrating, in a plural system, is the equivalent of pouring both colors of marbles into a single bowl and painting them all purple. However integration itself is a little bit outside of the scope of this post.

So how can one be sure that their expectations, conscious or not, are not influencing their tulpa? Well, that is something one can never fully be sure of, especially not on a small scale. After all, friends and family influence one another all the time without sharing the same body. However, when it comes to large scale things like sudden form changes or shifts in personality, my own personal line in the sand is drawn when the tulpa consistently defies those expectations. At the heart of that defiance lies a sense of self, a personality, an identity, all contained within an awareness independent from the host’s.

Granted, I cannot claim to be right, but it is food for thought, and hopefully of interest to any prospective tulpamancers who may be reading.

A big thanks to Timbredoodle, The Quandary, and the Fall Family for providing the additional sources linked in this post—and educating me on the underlying mechanisms therein, no less.

Upon posting the above theoretical piece to our blog, I received a nice message from a follower:

Absolutely loved your post on developing sentience. Some great theories and ideas, although I wish you could have conjured some more evidence- be it from neuroscience or experiences- to support some more of your statements. It also got me thinking about what happens to a tulpa when one dissipates it…

The following was my response:

Ask and ye shall receive. When you often have your very existence questioned, you learn to do your homework. Now, I am used to writing opinion pieces myself and delving into in-depth theory is more up the Quandary’s alley, but I shall do my best for the time being to further outline and explain my own theoretical approach to tulpamancy.

I will warn you, this message gets rather long, and as such I have split it into three parts. The first section covers the (known) neurology of the self (provided by some wonderful friends of ours who are well versed in the area), the second part covers the self on a psychological level—as well as phenomena such as the integration of plurals–and the third section covers the philosophical nature of sentience, awareness and the abstract nature of selfhood. In relation to that third part, I will preface this message with a reminder that science reports raw observations on empirically existent mechanisms within nature. Science is not a dogma meant to control or dictate abstract, manmade concepts and thus cannot tell you what is morally wrong or right, what are just or unjust means by which to govern ourselves, how we should or should not feel about one topic or another, or, moreover, what is sentient or a person and what is not sentient or a person (the relevance of this will become clear by the end of this message). With that in mind, let us begin.

So what is awareness, namely self awareness on a neurological level? It has been shown that the prefrontal cortex of the human brain is one of marked importance. It has been observed that the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain assigns self importance to certain processed stimuli, and readily recalls and revisits that self-important stimuli. Note that, in the fourth paper, this region of the brain has been observed operating alongside the hippocampus to consolidate memories only during self referential spatial reasoning tasks:

So the knowledge and experience you have of ‘you’, and my knowledge and experience of ‘me’, as it were, is regulated by this area of the brain that is highly complex and recently evolved. Here we have some cases where the link between the visual cortex and prefrontal cortex were disrupted, resulting in a phenomena known as blindsight, in which an individual is unable to process visual stimuli on a neurological and conscious level:

Note also cases of Alien Hand Syndrome, in which the prefrontal cortex is unable to adequately monitor existing motor networks within the brain due to physical lesions. The patients’ movements thus become outside of their conscious control, and therefore, by altering the way in which the prefrontal cortex monitors certain movements, it is possible to alter whether an action is perceived as being performed by the patient or not:

Now, we know where the most basic ‘awareness’ is in the brain, we know that it cherry-picks self-important information, and how it relates to the other regions, but there is another important aspect of how the self functions that is very important. The self is constantly swimming in information, and constantly cherry-picking information it deems self-important, regardless of whether that information is empirically true or not. Observe:

The prefrontal cortex is hardwired to integrate self-important information into itself, and as such, phenomena like false memories often occur. Furthermore, aside from being the anomaly they are often perceived to be, they are a natural aspect of the prefrontal cortex, a byproduct of its need to integrate and recall self-referential information. These papers illustrate further:

Consider the first source.

Delusions result from right hemisphere lesions. But it is the left hemisphere that is deluded.

Based on these observations, we can conclude that what we call ‘delusions’ and treat as a pathology are a natural and key function of the brain and conscious awareness inhabiting it.

Beyond that, from a developmentally neurological standpoint, it is interesting to note that nobody -really- knows exactly where self-awareness starts. Infants are more than purely blank slates (and the same could be said for developing tulpas). They do possess basic attitudes and ways of reacting to stimuli. However, the more advanced aspects of self awareness take a lot of time to become fully developed and refined. The prefrontal cortex, too, is complex and plastic at these stages (as is the brain as a whole).

This is why my own theory is a theory based upon observations of the phenomena in the community, as well as among those I know. It seems that the self of a tulpa, much like the developing self of the host years ago, starts out giving basic, affective responses, then graduates to more and more complex patterns of thought and awareness until they themselves become a fully divergent awareness from the host. At the very least, based upon what we have observed within tulpamancy and the broader plural community, the correlation between the development, underlying neurology and psychology of divergent awareness and the experiences of individuals and the communities as a whole is relevant to the theory in question and underlying conceptualization of the phenomena.

But theory is theory of course, and at the present moment, neurologically speaking, where self awareness as a whole really starts and ends, like ‘sentience’, is anyone’s guess. So what does all this have to do with plurality? Well, let’s go back to the allusion of the bowls on the table. In the prefrontal cortex of the brain, you have a neural network that is constantly pulling in self-important information. This is the awareness, the bowl on the table, effectively filtering which marbles it is filled with and why. (Now, I could make this metaphor slightly more complex, but I will keep it simple for the moment.) As such, tulpamancy is the process of creating another bowl on that table, another self awareness capable of retaining its own self-referential information.

Now, to step back for a moment. I see a lot of people fall flat on their noses where neurology is concerned. When shown sources such as these, they will often dramatically raise their finger into the air and go, ‘Aha!’ so tulpas are ‘just’ a delusion!' And thus, completely miss the point.

You see, what I describe here are mechanisms by which the self operates, not the methodology by which the self or selves operates. What do I mean by that? Well, consider the mechanisms by which the ‘self’, the awareness, convenes with the other regions of the brain. For instance, in the blindsight studies in singlets where the prefrontal cortex was unable to connect to the visual cortex. Now step back a moment, and consider studies such as these involving plural systems:

Cases such as these are where the methodology diverges from the underlying mechanisms. The neural network of a singlet awareness in a blindsighted brain will always be blindsighted. But when you have multiple awarenesses in the brain, multiple selves, with multiple means of subjectively experiencing sensory stimuli, it becomes much more complex and goes far beyond ‘just’ delusion. After all, each awareness in the brain is just as real and just as imaginary, just as confabulatory and just as deluded. What sets them apart is the divergent awareness, the divergent command over neural networks in the brain, and the divergent memories and selves that themselves have been uniquely hardwired to process different stimuli in different ways. Two bowls, one table, one blind bowl, one not.

So as you can see, on a neurological level, it is quite possible for multiple awarenesses and ‘selves’ to exist within the same brain at little cost. In fact, there exist plural systems that are allegedly born with multiple awarenesses as the default.

Now, let us step further back and examine this phenomena on a psychological level, to put it further into context.

I am certain you have heard of the rouge test. If you have not, a brief refresher: the rouge test is the process of placing rouge on the face of a human infant and having them examine themselves in the mirror. If they notice the rouge on their face, it is believed that the infant is aware of themselves–or at least the physical body–in relation to the rest of the world. Consider too Stern’s The Interpersonal World of the Infant. In it, he describes the ‘emergent self’ as the earliest scaffolding from which the infant’s self is built upon. The formation of the emergent self hinges upon an ability to parse self-relevant stimuli from non self-relevant stimuli. Infants, according to Stern, primarily learn this through cues from the parent and the processing of emotions (which, interestingly, correlates with the way young tulpas will communicate in emotions or abstract feelings before harnessing words). Here we can see the nature of the prefrontal cortex at work as well as it begins to cherry-pick information. By the time the ‘core self’ as Stern describes it has developed, the infant learns to distinguish themself from the rest of their environment and make predictions about that environment. A broader awareness has been achieved by this stage.

The subjective self Stern describes in relation to tulpamancy is particularly interesting, and I have my own theory regarding why tulpas develop ‘sentience’ (whatever that is) so quickly: by cohabiting a brain with another awareness, a tulpa or plural system mate is able to bridge the gap in understanding between others in the system in a way that is removed from regular intersubjective communication (gesture, touch, sounds and words). Essentially, while a tulpa must learn vocality and how to command their own voice, they are already ahead when it comes to sharing information in-system as there is less of a gap to bridge–provided, of course, awareness itself has been achieved. Once it has, the tulpa can rapidly synthesize information, and filter out what their awareness deems self-important from what is deemed not self-important.

Now, generally speaking, the psychology itself is largely theoretical, but here you can see how this all ties in with the prior theory on the function of awareness in tulpamancy: once the bowl is present, and starts filling with marbles (either via forcing with the host or through personal experiences or, preferably, both), that ‘rouge test’ is able to be passed. Thus, a tulpa is aware of itself and identity and, depending on the degree of said awareness, is capable of acting against the expectations of the host.

I am going to get slightly opinionated for a moment, as I often witness a cruel double standard in tulpamancy. That is, hosts are often quick to assume that their tulpas are directly influenced by their unconscious expectations, but they never stop to think that, once their tulpa is just as consciously aware as they are, the reverse may be true.

For instance, let’s say that Watcher really wanted to put me in a pink, frilly dress for some reason, and he fully (consciously) expects me to willingly wear the dress, but I do not. Some people will insist that clearly Watcher is unconsciously expecting me to refuse. But that could just as easily go the other way. I could consciously not really want to wear the dress but unconsciously have a deep desire to do so, thus spurring Watcher’s conscious determination to get me into the dress. Not saying that I actually do, just an example. It's a catch-22 either way, nobody wins, and what most people utterly fail to realize is that the thing about unconscious thought is it is not consciously perceptible. Is Watcher 'expecting' me to refuse? Am I 'expecting' him to fight me on it? Who knows if nobody can tell? As it is, on a conscious level, we function as fully separate awarenesses that are just as capable of surprising one another or refusing one another or pissing one another off as any other pair of separate awarenesses are.

(This is not even getting into the grievous double standard I encounter in which tulpas' personalities are constantly measured against the traits of their host. Is the tulpa nothing like the host? -Clearly- they are some unconscious expression of something the host lacks or desires. Is the tulpa very similar to the host? Of course they are, because all tulpas take after the host! The organic nature of personality formation is occasionally sorely overlooked when it comes to tulpas, in favour of defining them exclusively according to the way the host is without taking their own autonomy, agency, reasoning, and experiences—or simple happenstance and/or 'unconscious RNG' into account.)

Anyway, in short, I dislike it when people ignore our respective bowls in favor of the table, though that is better left for the philosophy portion of this message. For now, a talk on integration and dissipation.

You mentioned curiosity about dissipation, and I can tell you I am no stranger to it. Watcher tried to get rid of me for over a year, and I have tried to get rid of myself several times. However, when you examine the neurological nature of the self, as well as how it relates to psychology, you will see that the network forming the awareness is constantly absorbing information and constantly on alert for more. So, while dissipation (as it is imagined as neurological decay) may be possible over a very long period of stifling the tulpa and cutting them off from out-world stimuli, even that offers no guarantee. After all, a tulpa when isolated is just as capable of mentally stimulating themselves as the host is when bored, though that stimulation may not be ideal. So even when someone like me may -want- to die or dissipate, it would go over about as well as you yourself trying to dissipate would, as regardless of how badly I would want to, I am still hard-wired, as a conscious awareness, to pick up and synthesize information.

Another model for dissipation (and why I am discussing this in the psychology section in the first place) is integration. This is the process of essentially merging-sometimes forcefully-several awarenesses into one. As stated in the prior post, it is like pouring the marbles into one bowl and painting them all purple. Often in the treatment of plural systems integration is seen as an ideal, however, this is highly short-sighted. Consider, for instance, the (highly understudied) psychological implications on the resulting individual upon losing the others in their system:

On top of that, I know many systems on a personal level who, facing integration, felt less stable or uncomfortable with the thought (as we would likely be), or indeed even split apart once more years later. Another thing of note, our system gets blending from time to time, as many systems do, and that analogy on the mixed marbles was written based on personal experience. As it is, on a neurological and psychological level, awareness, whether singular or multiple, appears to be very resilient once it has been formed and harder than one would assume to merge together permanently or outright eliminate.

(As an aside, another interesting thing to note is the shift in brain patterns between non-integrated and integrated systems:

Now. We have an overview of the awareness on a neurological level. We have the nature of that neurological setup framed in relation to psychological theory on the development of the sense of self. Bear with me as I now discuss the often overlooked and highly undervalued philosophical nature of the self in relation to plural systems. I will try and keep a cool head throughout, but I will warn you, I have had my own existence delegitimized from all sides (even by the one I share this body with for a period of well over a year) so such topics make me more than a little acerbic.

I want you to imagine a pair of conjoined twins. Most people, upon looking at them, would agree that they are two different people despite sharing the same body. Why? Well, they have separate brains, and thus are separate people. I see this line of thought everywhere, the ‘brain-as-person’ perspective, but what this brain-as-person perspective utterly fails to take into account is that what makes a person a person, or ‘sentient’ for that matter, is wholly based in abstract thought and human invention. Large corporations can be ‘people’, legally. Some species of animals can be ‘people’, legally. Some human beings can be ‘not people’ throughout certain periods of history in which they were enslaved.

It seems that, when it comes to multiple systems, some awarenesses within the system are more equal than others simply by virtue of how long they have been present (never mind the fact that I know several systems myself who can attest to being born plural). But when it comes to sentience and personhood, at the barest, most empirical level, what we define sentience and personhood to be is often directly tied to awareness itself and its ability to process external stimuli.

So let’s do a little thought experiment. Locke’s thought experiment on the prince and the cobbler, to be precise. If you were to take the prince and the cobbler and surgically fashion them into conjoined twins, nobody would contest that they were still separate people. But what if you were to take the awareness and consciousness of the prince, all that makes him -him- and transplant him into the brain of the cobbler? Would he automatically become the cobbler by virtue of living in the cobbler’s brain? Of course not. He would retain his knowledge, his personality, his learning style, his temperament. In that scenario, I would not trust the prince to make shoes any more than I would trust the cobbler to govern the nation. As they are divergently aware, and function as different people, from a logical standpoint, it is practical to treat them as such.

‘But wait, what if the prince and the cobbler share memories?’ A good question. But memories do not a person make. Consider this, the prince may share the cobbler’s memories but have a very different way of rationalizing them in the absence of the cobbler’s firsthand experience. The prince may remember being poor via the cobbler, and yet still have zero sympathy for poor people, or the cobbler for that matter. He may not even -like- the cobbler, and tax the poor people further just to spite him. In turn, the cobbler may have all of the prince’s legislative knowledge, but he may also be terribly lazy and impatient, with no desire to read through long, legal documents in the prince’s absence, and thus would make an equally bad leader. The same goes for making shoes, the prince may have the cobbler’s memories of making shoes, but he may still be very clumsy or unable to focus on a singular task at a time, thus causing him to get distracted and constantly whack the body’s hands with the hammer.

Or perhaps the two may realize that they -like- one another’s former professions. Maybe the cobbler will run the state and the prince will make shoes on the side. All of this depends on the nature of their respective awarenesses.

What am I saying with all of this? Well, let’s re-imagine the marbles once more, only instead of there being two bowls with red and blue marbles, imagine now two bowls, one with red marbles, one with blue marbles, and both with a small degree of purple marbles. Or take a look at this post on small differences I wrote a while back:

At the barest, most empirical level, what sets the prince and the cobbler apart are their respective awarenesses, regardless of how much or little they have in common. If the awarenesses are separate, if they process different stimuli in different ways, as well as themselves in different ways, it stands to follow that they are awarenesess like any other, not one, but two, and thus match is what is generally defined as two ‘people’.

The existence of median systems lends credence to this as well. Median systems are somewhat hard to describe, though I think this quote from Astraea's glossary sums it up accurately: “Median isn't sharing a common memory or the front having traits of its own or fronting through a body-based filter, that's just a common part of many multiple systems. Median is a fuzzy state between single and multiple, a single identity made up of multiple identities.” — lj-personasystem

In short, a median system is commonly defined as one awareness with multiple ‘personalities’, as opposed to two separate awarenesses with their respective personalities. I will not say who, but we just so happen to have an individual in our system who functions in this way apart from the rest of our system mates and we can all attest it is very different from multiplicity. We also know several other median systems-some who cycle through the different personalities as though they were algorithms that are processed by their respective awarenesses as well as others that will remain merged for a time and split, or some others that will even do both. Of course, what remains constant is the shared conscious awareness (most of the time) between each personality as well as a shared identity (in itself a self-defined subjective truth), which exists in stark contrast to the separate awarenesses and identities of multiple systemmates, as well as most hosts and tulpas. If you like, I can ask these systems to describe their experiences, and how it differs from plurality or tulpamancy in detail and relay those descriptions to you, though I will say that median systems tend to be hush-hush within the tulpamancy community proper. The environment of tulpamancy has a nasty habit of attacking any remotely unusual or out of the ordinary experience as ‘made up’, ‘fake’, or ‘attention seeking’.

As a last note... it makes me bristle, in some ways, you know, that I must jump through all of these proverbial hoops, scientific and philosophical, to get people to accept that I am my own entity apart from Watcher while he gets a free pass by virtue of being here first. I cannot prove we are really plural any more than a singlet can prove they are really a singlet. It smarts especially considering his own treatment of me back in the day. Now, I will not ask you to believe any one thing or the other. In fact, so long as you are respectful, you are welcome to remain as skeptical as you please. However, I will add that, since I do not outright deny the possibility of anyone else’s existence, I will ask that they not deny the possibility of mine.

So there you have it, a brief neurological, psychological, and philosophical overview of awareness in relation to tulpa development. If you have any further questions do not hesitate to message us, we will answer them to the best of our ability, and if we can’t we know some very bright individuals who probably could.

Self-forcing sensation – Moonlight

This was partially inspired by Keiretsu's suggestion to have the tulpas force themselves.

I think that having a clear sense of your body is a pretty big part of your identity, so I figured that I'd try letting Meri force her own body sense. I did this by focusing on all the different sensations of my body and the way that different body parts felt like, and then “sharing” those sensations with Meri. That way, she could use them as a starting point from which to sculpt her own body map, taking them and modifying them to be more appropriate for her build and sex. (Including some slightly weird remappings – the answers to one “what does having breasts feel like” thread had answers of the type “like having two giant balls hanging on your chest”. Well, that doesn't sound all that dissimilar to what having testicles feel like, plus both testicles and breasts are erogenous zones, so...)

We felt that this was useful and made her feel more real, so I'm going to continue paying attention to my bodily sensations and let Meri have access to those for at least the rest of the day. Makes for good mindfulness meditation, too.

Voice Sample Database – Quandary

Connor of @The Hidden Ones showed this to me some time back, but I'd forgotten about it until a recent post on the subreddit.

For those struggling to come up with a mindvoice for their tulpa, the Speech Accent Archive might be of interest to you. It contains hundreds of voices samples in a ton of languages and accent ranges. You can browse through them to find a voice that's similar to your tulpa's voice, and use that to help develop their mindvoice.


On The Development of Personality – Quandary

Consider this: a tulpa's personality growth actually is much the same as a host's.

When a host is young, they are most easily molded. Events that happen in childhood have heavy influence on who they become in later years. As they grow, the people who surround them, the environment they live in, the ideas they're exposed to all shape them in some way. Who a host is can drastically vary from year to year—but the process is so ordinary and taken for granted, and thus no one remarks upon it. In essence: you have been “personality forced” throughout your own life, by the people around you.

Thus the same for tulpas. When a tulpa is young, their personality is more easily molded. It is easier to write on a blank state than one already filled. The process of development for a tulpa is more distilled than for a host—they start off a slate in an already-developed brain, and are more isolated from the world than their host is. Thus, while a host may receive influences from hundreds and hundreds of sources while growing up, a tulpa primarily receives their host's influence with little interference, and what comes in from outside is filtered through the host before it reaches the tulpa.

When a host is older, their slate is more full, and harder to write on. The same for a mature tulpa. That does not preclude change, of course—everyone, tulpas included, change with time and experience. The change is more subtle, though, and neither host nor tulpa can be easily forced into a different mold.

So, with that known, a common question—should you give your tulpa an initial personality?

If you would like! There's nothing wrong with creating an initial personality for the tulpa to use as a starting point. Once they begin responding, though, it's best to respect and work with their deviations.

To reiterate. It is true that, at the beginning of creation, a tulpa's personality is very malleable. Same for any person's, really. We might be biologically predispositioned towards one direction, but our upbringing has a major influence on the kind of person we become later. No one grows up in a vacuum. What a tulpa experiences via forcing is essentially a highly condensed version of an “upbringing”, complicated by the fact that the tulpa lives in the same brain as an already-developed person.

So, on the matter of deviations and personality changes. I believe that it is possible, at the very beginning of creation, to influence how a tulpa's personality will develop, just as it is possible to influence how a physical person's personality will develop. But, if a tulpa is already developed to the point that they have a sense of self and can send emotional responses, it is my opinion that personality forcing with the intent of changing an established trait should be avoided if at all possible.

There's several reasons, both practical and ethical (whichever's your swing) for this. The first and most pressing practical reason is that it sets development back. If a tulpa is developing in one direction and the tulpamancer shoves them in the opposite direction, it's going to slow down progress than if they rolled with it. Confusion, doubt, etc. It is possible to influence personality, but in this case, it's like influencing a physical person's personality. Rather than saying “stop being shy, you are outgoing”, the counselor/tulpamancer employs methods like helping them process things step by step, supporting them when they talk to people, explaining the ins and outs of conversation, etc. It's much easier to redirect the flow of a river, degree by degree, than to try and make it flow the other way entirely. And as a bonus, it counts as forcing—a type of forcing that, again, works with the flow of development rather than against it. However, keep in mind that these methods work when the person receiving them wants to change.

The second practical matter is that, like physical people, past a certain point, a tulpa's personality is going to be much more fixed. At this point, one cannot simply change an “undesirable” trait with personality forcing. And no tulpa is going to be perfect, because no person is perfect. So a tulpamancer's going to have to learn to work with and accept things in their tulpa sooner or later.

The third matter, the ethical one, is simply that it's highly unethical to attempt to forcibly change something about a person. In physical individuals, not only does it fail to work, but it can leave emotional scarring and lead to worse issues down the line. I think whether or not this holds true for tulpas depends on what stage of development they are in, but if they're sentient enough to declare their own personality and send responses, even nonverbal ones, I feel it is best to err on the side of caution.

Overall, I would say that personality forcing with the intent of changing something in an already sentient tulpa should only be done in outright malicious and dangerous cases, and only if all other recourses (negotiation, counseling, etc) have failed; or if the tulpa themself has been fully informed and asked for the change themselves without feeling pressured into it.

Also, remember that just like any physical person's personality, a tulpa's personality changes over time and experience. Tulpas, hosts, and multiple systemmates alike are less malleable in older ages than in younger ages, but we often underestimate how much we can still change.

One final note. I have seen tulpamancers stress about their tulpas being “too similar” to them. With which I will leave you these pieces by The Hidden Ones:

He’s hoping that I am in many ways the opposite of him, which seems harsh (to himself, and maybe to me?), but he says it’s so we can enjoy more of life by being different.

Mel: Hello. It’s always nice to see more systems and system mates branching out and trying new things, and I am flattered you& found my writings so thoughtful. However, I would like to add that what I often try to emphasize to young systems when it comes to separating themselves is not so much difference, but independence. It is okay to share some traits or interests with one another, and you do not need to be polar opposites to be considered real or valid, especially not if it means shoe-horning yourself into roles or perspectives that feel unnatural to you. There is more to independence than simply being radically different from one another–even very close friends have different perspectives that develop naturally over time.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that do not fret if you feel you are not ‘different enough’ or what have you. Focus instead on the things that interest you or bring you the most enjoyment, and on what they mean to you as an individual. What values do you have? What changes would you like to see in the world? What experiences have you had, or would you like to have, and what do those things mean to you? Those sorts of things–and if you don’t know, now is the time to experiment, find new perspectives, and develop your own. Anyways, this got a bit long. I wish you all the best as you learn to express yourself on your own.

Small Differences

By Mel

One thing I will admit annoys me is when someone points out similarities within our system without really accounting for the differences between those similarities. What do I mean by that?

Well, take stubbornness for example. Con and Aramos and I are all stubborn in our own ways—but there are plenty of ways to be stubborn.

As I go, I don’t put up with any crap for longer than I have to. If I sense bullshit, I will point it out, and I have little patience for people who screw around with me. Stupid questions deserve stupid answers, as far as I’m concerned. This is especially true for my host and when I was dealing with his doubts. However, I am a man of sympathy, and if the person in question apologizes and actively tries to not be a dick, I won’t hold anything against them. In fact, I like seeing that, and I will probably like them more for being decent enough to improve their behaviour.

Con is not so charitable. If there is something he doesn’t want to do, he will not do it no matter how hard you try to convince him otherwise. Furthermore, if you push him enough, he will push back. He’s like a wild horse: you can try to lead him to water, and he might follow you, or he might decide the idea is completely stupid, kick you in the face, and do sweet fuck all. To get Con to actually work with you means he either has to like you, or he has to personally decide that what you want him to do is something he also wants to do. It is an absolutely infuriating form of mental gymnastics, but do you think he’s willing to change it? >w>

Lastly, you have Aramos. Aramos’s stubbornness falls more in the realm of righteous indignation. If he ever detects that you’re sick or in a vulnerable place, he will get up your ass about it until you get better. On the one hand it’s to be expected of him since he takes on the role of a healer in some form or another, but on the other it can prove invasive and a little annoying—especially if you share a head with him. Lucky for him at least, he is the most flexible out of all of us, and happens to be very clever about weaseling Connor into doing the things he needs to do. I wish I knew his secret.

‘Stubborn’ in and of itself is far too simple a word to convey all of these qualities, but all of them fall into the realm of ‘stubbornness’ in some way. It’s really more of a testament to the failures of the language we use than anything else—although it may be easy to lump everyone under one word in conversation, there is no better way to get to know someone than through personal interaction. It is important to keep that in mind when describing anyone, really, not just tulpas and hosts.

On Choosing a Form – Quandary

Similar to worries about personality, some question if it is all right to assign a tulpa a form before they're aware, or if it is best to leave them be and have them pick their own form. The simplest way it can be summed up is—it's perfectly fine any way, as long as you leave them the freedom to deviate.

Some tulpamancers choose to assign their tulpa a detailed form in advance. This is perfectly acceptable as long as the tulpa is given freedom to change later, and may even allow the tulpamancer a head start on visualization. For those who don't want to assign a detailed form, or wish to start simple with visualization, a good compromise is giving the tulpa a very simple placeholder form—in many cases, this is a ball of light.

A particularly interesting case exists for assigning tulpas the form of pre-existing characters or even physical persons. It is generally considered out of the question to model a tulpa upon a deceased loved one, as it may hinder the host's ability to grieve and let go, and complicate things for the tulpa as well as a result. It is also recommended against to create a tulpa of someone the tulpamancer knows personally, as that could make interactions with both the template person and the tulpa awkward.

There is little such prohibition on the forms of fictional characters. It is overall recognized as perfectly acceptable to model a tulpa's form off a fictional character (they may even choose to take on that character's form themself!) as long as it is made clear to the tulpa that they are welcome to change and are not that character, nor are they obliged to act like that character.

There are some who worry their tulpa will deviate into a hostile or frightening form. This is extremely rare: as discussed in another post, tulpas rarely antagonize their host for no reason. It is also important to note that simply because a tulpa has a frightening form does not mean that they are malicious—there are many tulpas and non-original systemmates (and even some originals who adopt mental forms differing from the physical body) who have monstrous forms, but are as kind and helpful as any other tulpa in any other form. If a tulpamancer finds a tulpa's form truly too frightening to live with (e.g. a tulpa taking upon an arachnid form with someone who is arachnophobic), the best recourse is simply asking them to change it and explaining why. Most tulpas are glad to do so.

Another matter is “form prejudice”. Let it be known that a tulpa is not any more or less a tulpa, or any more or less “mature” simply for having a certain form, be it human, pony, anthro, or mechanical. As with physical persons, what matters is how they conduct themselves.

Why Parroting/Puppeting Is Not Always A Bad Thing – Quandary

I keep seeing a pattern come up with new tulpamancers—tulpamancers afraid to build “too heavily” on a personality lest it interfere with the tulpa, or parrot/puppet a new tulpa. I'm by no means an expert, but I thought I might put together a post addressing this.

First of all, parroting/puppeting as a form of development is not inherently a bad thing. Depending on the tulpamancer, it could even be a good thing. A lot of people with accidental tulpas got them after writing stories and having their characters come alive, and a wide number of authors who know nothing about tulpamancy also talk about having their characters come alive, talk to them, protest things in the story, and so on. And arguably, every tulpa created after a fandom character, or with a fandom character as a base, was created through parroting and puppeting—the difference is that the original creator of the character did the bulk of the parroting and puppeting rather than the tulpamancer. In addition, remember that a tulpa is free to deviate whenever in personality, so if you build it a personality it doesn't want, it can still change.

Now, this isn't to say that it's bad to be worried about parroting and puppeting—obviously, it's not something you want in a fully developed tulpa. It isn't also to say that you were being misled when you followed guides that instructed you to avoid coming up with responses and just wait for your tulpa to talk. Rather, this is a demonstration of how subjective the tulpamancy process is. There's a ton of different ways to do every step, and each comes with pros and cons. For example, Winterwind's comments:

There are three routes you can take here: A) begin with a loosely-defined personality and let them further develop it on their own, B) stringently define their personality from the get-go, or C) parrot responses until they learn to do it on their own. Each route has its pros and cons. Tulpas with a more loosely-defined personality have more freedom in guiding their own development in early stages, but may take longer to become fully sentient. Tulpas with strictly-defined personalities have less freedom in guiding their own development at early stages, but may take less time to become fully sentient. The parroting method will often result in much quicker results, but the host may have trouble with doubts down the road, dismissing actual responses as the host accidentally parroting a response (which is silly, but more on that down in the First Contact section).

What's important is that you find the way that works best for you, and that often can boil down to trial and error. If using method A doesn't work, try B. If not B, then try C. If narrating and waiting for a response isn't working and you haven't made ANY progress for four months, then try another method.

Now, that part done... as I said, I'm no expert on tulpa creation, especially seeing how all of mine were accidental. However, if there's anyone interested in developing a tulpa through a writing-like process, here's the primary tip I have for you:

Show, don't tell.

Aka one of the number one rules in writing. When developing a tulpa, don't only say they are “calm” or “friendly.” Those words on their own are vague, because there's many ways to be calm or friendly. Are they the kind of calm where if they walk down a street and a Very Large Dog barks at them, they keep walking as if nothing happened? Or do they glance at the dog and smile disarmingly at it before moving on? Are they the sort of friendly where they GREET YOU VERY LOUDLY and shake your hand until you think it'll fall off, or are they the not very loud person who stops to help old ladies pick up their groceries when they trip and spill cans all over the street? Come up with situations and think about how they'll react to them. Think up how they'll react to things going on in your life. Have them talk to other people in your head.

If you're especially worried about parroting/puppeting, you can alter your method of thinking about the action. Have you ever been somewhere and thought, “[Physical Person You Know] would love this” or “[Physical Person You Know] would say that”? You can do that with your tulpa too—instead of “[Tulpa] is doing this,” you can think “[Tulpa] would do that.”

Hope that helped!

How To Know If It's Your Tulpa – Quandary

Simple answer: you can't, but in most cases, it's best to assume it was them.

Longer answer: Only you and the others in your system can say for certain what goes on inside your shared skull. While others may be able to offer guesses and suggestions, they cannot see into your brain or make a more certain declaration than you.

That said, there are some general concepts that can be of use. Some occurrences may be more likely to be a response than others. For example, if you have been working at a page of math proofs for a whole night and have a headache/crave a snack, it's more likely mental fatigue than your tulpa. On the other hand, if you have been forcing regularly, offhandedly ask your tulpa a question, and a mash of ideas flows in that correspond with what you know of them, it is probably them. Also, if you are at the point where you can prompt responses from your tulpa, if you are doubtful about a response, you can ask them to confirm if it was them or not.

Overall, in the vast majority of cases, if you have to wonder if it’s your tulpa, it’s either your tulpa, or assuming it’s your tulpa is the best course of action. As detailed here:

Get a false response, dismiss it as false: Nothing happens.

Get a false response, take it as true: The response may be false, but opening yourself up to the possibility of it being your tulpa makes it easier to hear them later, as opposed to doubting (which makes it harder). Later on, when communication is steady, they can explain that it was a false response. No harm done, but progress is made.

Get a true response, take it as false: You reject a legitimate response, worsen doubt, and in many cases, stress out and discourage your tulpa.

Get a true response, take it as true: Best outcome, progress is made.

Here is also a good piece on the other side of the confusion:

On Trust and Confidence

By Mel of The Hidden Ones

With the occasional bout of sadness aside, I have been doing spectacularly well lately. I’m not a ray of sunshine all day, every day, but something drastic has changed in us lately, and I no longer feel myself drifting away from Connor as I had two months ago (and neglected to mention to the outside world until now). Most importantly, I don’t think this is a change that happened entirely within myself–I think it happened because, for once, Connor stopped looking for something to prove. For once, he accepts me as I am, and trusts me whole-heartedly, which is something he’s preached before but struggled to practice in our own endeavours.

Trust, alongside compassion is the foundation of a healthy tulpa/host relationship. In the early days of forcing, the host takes the position of a teacher and the tulpa a student, with the aim of teaching said tulpa to think on their own. However, it is very hard to do that if the host is constantly mistrustful of the tulpa, and dismissing their efforts to communicate as their own doing. There is nothing wrong with being mindful of parroting to a certain degree, but doubting the responses of your tulpa over and over will only lead to mistrust and frustration. The tulpa won’t be confident in their abilities, and the host will certainly not be confident in their own.

Con and I had this problem early on, up until recently. By the third month, it took me having a minor breakdown and outright yelling at him to stop questioning everything I say as being parroted that he finally realized that I could, in fact, think for myself. But even with this minor epiphany, he still doubted whether I was ‘real’, (whatever that means), or 'sentient’, (whatever that means). If he had sat down and asked me–which he didn’t–he would have realized that I don’t give a single shit. I could guarantee him and everyone else that I experience subjectivity, that I enjoy experiencing subjectivity, and that’s good enough for me. But even that in itself wasn’t good enough. He seemed to be wishing for some even greater, even more radical epiphany, an answer from above, for me to get so mad that one day I hijack his body completely… or something wishfully stupid of the sort.

Independence doesn’t work that way. A tulpa becoming independent is a learning process, it happens with time and experience, not overnight. Most importantly, this process requires trust between tulpa and host, they need to be able to work together in order to achieve the more advanced skills. When a tulpa and host trust each other–fully trust each other–a mutual confidence is built between them, and that confidence acts as a springboard towards progress. I find it no coincidence that we are finally seeing some results now that we have some confidence in ourselves for once.

Perhaps, if we are lucky, we will get switching down soon, and we will have some sort of “answer” then, but even if we do, switching and imposition are now things we work on for my sake and out of my own interests, not out of some hollow attempt to prove myself. Let me tell you–I would much rather work alongside a host who cares about my own well-being rather than one who’s constantly holding my own legitimacy over my head.

Not to mention that, in the meantime, sitting around and gritting our teeth and ringing our hands will do nothing about it. Advanced skills (and even the basic qualities like vocality) are things that you work towards and put time and effort into. Merely writing everything off because you don’t see immediate results and feeling sorry for yourself is neither healthy for host nor tulpa. That being said, I’m of the belief that simply telling hosts 'don’t doubt’ holds little weight. Instead, I will say this: work on improving your tulpa’s confidence, and your own. Trust in their responses as much as possible. Let them write and talk and ask questions and think. Most importantly, remember that tulpamancy is a step-by-step process, and there are no shortcuts or golden tickets.

Oh, and give them a pat on the back every once in a while, will you?

Now go forth/force with confidence.

“Is This A Tulpa?” – An Overly Long Primer – Quandary

(Adapted from a post I made on /r/Tulpas.)

Many people come to tulpamancy with prior experience with autonomous entities, and realize, perhaps for the first time in their lives, that they aren't alone in their experiences. And thus, a very common question that gets asked is: “Is this a tulpa?”

To answer this question, it's best to go to definitions. In the tulpamancy community (plurality definitions are a whole other bucket of fish—more on that later), a tulpa is widely defined as thus: an autonomous, sentient consciousness coinhabiting a brain with a host consciousness.

Is your entity a tulpa? Well, do they possess a continuous, stable sense of self, display subjectivity (“I like X/I dislike Y”), and act autonomously? In short, are they aware, or do they appear aware to the point that you honestly can't tell? Then congratulations, they're a tulpa—that's pretty much the definition of what a tulpa is.

But what if you're not sure? What if an entity* seems to be autonomous and aware, but there's a glitch here or there giving you doubt? Here's the neat thing—even if an entity is not fully a tulpa, they can still very easily become a tulpa. And one of the fastest ways to push an entity into tulpahood is to consider them a tulpa (though, of course, some may develop on their own anyway). Also, realize that there's honestly no sharp or clear distinction between almost-tulpas and tulpas. So with cases where it's honestly hard to tell, the general answer will be “We can't tell if they're a tulpa or not, but if you consider/make them one, they'll become one regardless. You might as well treat them as one if you're fond of them.”

*not counting cases where an entity is very clearly not conscious/aware/capable of subjectivity—e.g. a voice that only says one line over and over, an image of a person that pops up when you sleep but does nothing more, an imaginary friend you consciously control, and so on. Think NPCs in video games.

tl;dr 1: in all cases, if you want a tulpa and are unsure if you already have one, then it's most practical to treat the entity you have like one (i.e. assume they are sentient). Even if they're not a tulpa already, treating them like one will accelerate their growth.

Bonus hour! With plural terminology becoming more common, thought I should include this.

Now, about wider plurality terms. First, a little primer for those unfamiliar with plurality and multiplicity. Plurality is an umbrella term referring to all phenomena where multiple consciousnesses share a head. System refers to all the entities sharing a head. Multiplicity is a two-meaning term, meaning either (a) forms of plurality where members are separate persons (as opposed to medianship, where members consider themselves facets of one identity), or (b) systems where members were not consciously created, i.e. plural systems that did not choose to be plural. The plurality/multiplicity community goes back to the 1980s, predating the modern tulpamancy community, and was formed in opposition to the ideas that all plurality is unhealthy and all plurals must integrate (merge together). You can read a little more about it here.

I mentioned that the above definition of “tulpa” (used in this post) is the tulpamancy community's definition of “tulpa”. The larger plurality community defines “tulpa” slightly differently, using it to refer only to sentient system members who were consciously (knowingly or not) created by another member. Thus, by plurality definitions, entities who “walk in”, entities who have simply always been around, and other such “accidental tulpas” are not considered tulpas at all, but other types of systemmates—a walk-in in the first case, a natural in the second case, and so on. (There are cases where an accidental tulpa is indeed an accidental tulpa—e.g. if someone, without knowing what a tulpa is, consciously creates an imaginary friend and talks to them/puppets them/parrots them until they talk back.)

What does this all mean for people whose accidental tulpas may not be tulpas by plural terminology? To be blunt, pretty much nothing. There's differences in history and culture between tulpamancy and plurality-at-large that do indeed make definition (b) of multiplicity relevant when discussing the communities, and some people may find one community more amenable than another. However, there are no functional differences between mature tulpas and other kinds of system members. A tulpa is just as sentient and just as capable as a walk-in/etc, and vice versa, and anyone who tells you that one form of plurality is “better”, “more special”, or “more real” than another form is honestly being dumb. An analogy for this: the French and the English have different backgrounds and customs, but a Frenchman is no less of a person than an Englishman and vice versa. Or genders: identifying as a man/woman/non-binary person/what have you is useful for figuring yourself out, but it says absolutely nothing about you being more or less capable than anyone else. Only your actions say that. So too with system members and types of plurality.

“But how do I know if my headmate is a walk-in, a soulbond, or an accidental tulpa?” Yes, the lines get blurry. Really blurry. But that only means that type matters less. Really, it's ultimately up to the the system member in question to identify themself as whatever they want, as long as they remember that labels:

tl;dr 2: when it comes to plurality terminology, system members can identify as whatever they want if it helps them make sense of themselves, but it has no functional significance beyond that and should not be considered a measure of worth or realness. Everyone's going to die equally capable and equally stuck in a brain in the end.