Terminologies

Please note that terminology, including the terminology of self-identity, is highly nebulous and variable. These are by no means singular, absolute definitions. Different systems may have somewhat different definitions, and some terms may be used by members of different groups using slightly different definitions. This is a basic guide, not a be-all-end-all reference, to many common terms within the plurality community as a whole.

This glossary is split into three parts, which are outlined below. There are many terminology equivalencies between the different plural communities. Tulpamancy terminology is used first and then equivalences are listed right after it before the definition.

  1. A few terms needed to make sense of the rest of the glossary. Some are taken from the wider plurality community.
  2. Tulpamancy terminology. Some of it also exists in other plural communities, but not all.
  3. Terminology in other plural communities that has found common use in the tulpamancy community or is useful to know

A Few Terms Needed to Understand the Glossary

HOST

A system member who makes a tulpa. In other plural communities, it is often synonymous with core.

PLURALITY

An umbrella term encompassing all phenomena in which multiple consciousnesses cohabit a single brain and body.

SINGLET

One consciousness in one brain. Essentially, someone who is not plural. There are several ways a singlet can become plural, including making a tulpa.

SYSTEM

A group of multiple consciousnesses, along with non-sentient entities recognized as members, who share a physical body.

TULPA

Under wider plurality definitions: a sentient system member created by another system member. Frequently, under terminology in tulpamancy circles, almost every sentient system member who is not the original is considered a tulpa; thus, a walk-in, while not considered a tulpa under wider plurality terms, would frequently be considered an “accidental tulpa” in the tulpamancy community. Both members of a pre-existing plural system, including tulpas themselves, and singlets can create tulpas. It is generally recognized as more difficult for singlets.

TULPAMANCY

The practice of creating tulpas. People who engage in tulpamancy are called tulpamancers. The practice originated in Tibetian Buddhism before being rediscovered by the Western culture in the 1960’s, and again with the advent of the internet. What is most commonly seen today is often referred to as “modern” or “Western” tulpamancy, and the general assumption is that the term “tulpamancy” will nearly always refer to Western tulpamancy. It should be noted that while there is some overlap, there are often major differences in the culture and experiences of the tulpamancy community and the wider plurality community. More information can be found on The History of Tulpamancy and What is a Tulpa? – In Detail.


Tulpamancy Terminology

(It should be noted that a good portion of this terminology has been adapted from other areas.)

DEVIATION

A change that occurs to a tulpa’s personality or form during and after creation, independent of and possibly against the conscious will of the host. (Also known simply as a change.)

DISSIPATION

The process of, or the act of making a mind fade from existence, becoming less distinct and conscious over time. Within the tulpamancy community, many tulpamancy systems believe that without active forcing a young tulpa will dissipate. Considered by many to be akin to death, and thus murder, especially if done deliberately.

DISSOCIATION

Has many meanings. In this context, can be used to mean: (1) Detaching from one’s surroundings, which can be voluntary or involuntary. Has many forms, including derealization, depersonalization, daydreaming, passing control of the body to another system member, going inside a wonderland, etc. Getting lost in a book, daydreaming, blocking out the hum of an air conditioner, etc. are all common dissociative experiences–dissociation is not exclusive to plurals, nor is it inherently unhealthy. Or (2) eliminating one’s sense of identity with a mental process, often to the point of that process actually being severed from oneself and thereon acting autonomously.

ECLIPSING

A form of co-fronting different from possession, but that often has possession occurring alongside it. Like possession, it is another way for one or more people to control the body while someone else is at the front. Rather than directly moving the body like possession, the eclipser makes the person in front move the body for them, essentially turning the person in the front into a remote control puppet. Eclipsing often includes substantial blending. Eclipsing sometimes operates by making the person at the front want to do the things that the eclipse is trying to do, which then causes the person at the front to automatically do them.

FORCING

The act of focusing on and developing a tulpa’s presence or strength by devoting specific attention to them, or otherwise interacting with them. May be prefixed by types of forcing, e.g. personality forcing. Certain forcing techniques can also be employed by non-tulpas (including originals) to strengthen themselves, e.g. monologuing to oneself about a task to fight dissociation/depersonalization. There are two forms: active and passive. Active forcing dedicates time and attention solely to a tulpa, commonly during meditation; passive forcing involves allotting attention to the tulpa while also doing something else, instead of solely focusing on the procedure of forcing.

FORM

(innerworld body)

The appearance of a system member inside the wonderland. Can be literally anything, even absent (formless).

IMAGINARY FRIEND

Mental puppets with little or no autonomy or sentience of their own. They are a kind of thoughtform. They can become tulpas, and sometimes do naturally. Can be used by plurals to refer to their system members, either as a joking term or as a preferred identity term. Like “alter”, this term is widely seen as pejorative when referring to full system members and should not be used to describe a system member without their consent. Sometimes used by systems speaking to singlets to keep their plurality low-key or stealth.

IMPOSITION

(projection)

Physically hallucinating the presence of a system member in the physical world. Can range from simply “feeling” the presence of a system member nearby, to physically hearing a system member when they speak, to being able to see and touch a system member like one would with a physical person. The hallucination can be done and/or controlled by the person fronting, by the system member themself, by another system member, or some combination of these.

MERGING

(integration, fusion)

Two or more system members combining together to form one member, whether temporarily or permanently (integration and fusion generally refer to permanent mergings). Merging is also used to indicate a more complete form of blending. There is partial integration, where two or more members in a larger system merge, and complete integration (sometimes called final fusion) where the whole system merges. Complete integration was once nearly universally touted in psychology circles as the one “cure” for plurality, but has been under increased scrutiny as of late, largely because it often fails to work, or does not last indefinitely, on many systems. While integration can serve to stabilize some systems or may be required to remove a dangerous member, and while it can be important for systems who genuinely would be happier and more functional as singlets, it is often seen by plurals as either something to only be done when the members want to become one person of their own volition or as a last-resort method of restoring functionality to a disordered system, and one that should never be forced on any system, especially functioning ones. Complete integration is also often seen by those who value their plurality as akin to killing every member of a system except one and forcing the remaining member to take on the identities of the lost members. When pushed upon those who do not desire integration, it can be a very traumatic experience and has led to identity crises. This is, again, considered an important decision that can be made only by all members of a given system alone, and no one else–not psychiatrists, not the general public, not even other plurals for them. The process of ‘integrate everyone and other disorders will resolve themselves’ is still in practice by many therapists who do not update their treatment regimes based on new studies.

MINDVOICE

The internal voice created by a system member, which can heard when they speak mentally. Not to be confused with voices heard as external auditory hallucinations (imposition).

NARRATION

When a host speaks to or with their tulpa. A common form of passive forcing.

OUTERWORLD

(outside, meatspace, physical world, real life, Earth and beyond, etc.)

The physical world, Earth and beyond, etc. Also called the world-at-large. Most know it as “real life”, and distinct from a person’s innerworld for those who exist in such.

PARALLEL PROCESSING

When two or system members can focus and work on completely different things at the same time.

PUPPETING

(parroting)

When a system member consciously and purposefully controls another system member’s actions (often a host puppetting a young developing tulpa or other thoughtform’s). Parroting generally refers to controlling their speech while puppeting generally refers to controlling their movement, but the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. It is often seen as a useful for helping young tulpas develop and as a critical tool in the making of servitors. A good example of a situation where a tulpa puppets a host when a tulpa controls the body by eclipsing when the host is attached to the body. It is generally considered to be wrong to try to puppet a system member against their will in all but the most extreme emergencies. As a general rule, it ranges from hard to impossible to puppet another developed system member unless they allow it (e.g. cooperative eclipsing).

POSSESSION

A form of shared usage of the body (it is a form of co-fronting) in which the previous controller passes control of the body to another member, but remains connected to the body’s senses. Often used by the tulpamancy community to refer to sharing of the body between a tulpa’s host and the tulpa without disconnection from the physical senses on the host’s part. Possession can cover one or more body parts or the whole body, the latter of which is sometimes called full-body possession.

PROXYING

In which the person controlling the body relays the words and/or actions of a member who is not controlling the body to the outerworld. This is done much the same way a singlet would relay the words of another singlet to someone else. It is common practice for facilitating the communication of system members who aren’t able to control the body (e.g. a host proxying a young tulpa who can’t front yet).

SERVITOR

A non-sentient thoughtform created with the purpose of automating or assisting with a certain task–these tasks can be both mental and physical, the latter by way of having the servitor control the body. Essentially a highly refined and elaborate autopilot–can be likened to a method in a computer program. Generally considered to be a type of fragment/shard or similar to one.

SHARD-FEEDING

The process of splitting off one or more shards from one system member and putting them into another existing system member (a sort of merging, or small scale absorption). This is typically done by hosts putting shards from themself into developing tulpas to help them develop, or servitors to get them working faster or add functionality. This is similar to shard-seeding, with the difference being that shard-feeding is done after the system member is there while shard-seeding is starting a thoughtform from a shard. The person from whome one or more shards are taken can change as the lost shards are replaced/filled-in. Sourcing too many and/or too large of shards from the same system member can cause the person to source person to drastically change, and if done too rapidly for lost shards to be replaced/filled-in that system member can be into a veil/shell. Due to these effects, people are strongly cautioned about both practices. Also, shards should not be split off from another system member without their consent.

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. Can also be done with servitors. This is similar to shard-feeding, with the difference being that shard-seeding is done for the start while shard-feeding is adding shards later. The person from whome one or more shards are taken can change as the lost shards are replaced/filled-in. Sourcing too many and/or too large of shards from the same system member can cause the person to source person to drastically change, and if done too rapidly for lost shards to be replaced/filled-in that system member can be into a veil/shell. Due to these effects, people are strongly cautioned about both practices. Also, shards should not be split off from another system member without their consent.

STASIS

(dormancy)

The state of a tulpa or other systemmate being unconscious or dormant. This could be short time or long-term. Stasis is often used to mean a very deep state of dormancy and/or deliberate long term dormancy. Some hosts go into a state of dormancy when their tulpas front by a means other than switching. There are a few situations where a host or other systemmate might need to be put into stasis as well. An example would be putting a system member who is a danger to the whole system at some point into stasis while a longer term solution is worked on. Stasis may be an option for hosts when life problems come up that run the risk of impeding a young tulpa’s development, as there is a chance the tulpa will remain largely intact when awoken from stasis; however, it should be noted that stasis may not be 100% foolproof which is why many consider this to be an option of last resort.

SWITCHING

The changing of body controllers. In tulpamancy circles, the term has a slightly different meaning than in the wider plural community; in order for a change in controllers to qualify as a switch, the previous controller must disconnect entirely from the body’s senses, unlike full-body possession and eclipsing. The previous controller can either go inside to a wonderland or black out (also called losing time). The definition in the wider plural community generally does not require that the previous controller completely disconnect from the body’s senses (would include full-body possession and eclipsing.

THOUGHTFORM

A system member created by another member of the system. Encompasses not only tulpas and possibly daemons, but also non-sentient entities like servitors. See History of Tulpas.

TULPISH

(mentalese)

Communication within a system that does not consist purely of words: the transfer of emotions, impressions, images, and other raw ideas between system members. Most tulpas start out by communicating in this fashion. For some system members, this can be the preferred or only mode of communication throughout their existence.

VISUALIZATION

Using the mind’s eye to sense things within the system, like seeing another system member or a wonderland, or hearing them or feeling their form. Often refers to all senses, not just sight.

VOCAL

The stage when a tulpa can communicate in full, coherent sentences as opposed to tulpish. Note that a tulpa may never be interested in communicating in this fashion and thus may or may not develop the ability.

WONDERLAND

(innerworld, headspace, paracosm, mindscape, dreamscape, inside, otherworld)

A world or location that is accessible mentally by a system. Depending on complexity, may be considered a paracosm. System members often live in the innerworld when they are not controlling the body and disconnected from the body’s senses. Often considered psychological in nature, but may also be interpreted as metaphysical; e.g. an astral plane or parallel world. The term “wonderland” is nearly tulpamancy-exclusive in use.


Terminology from Plurality-at-Large

BLENDING

(blurring, being mushy, meshy)

Refers to an experience in which system members’ consciousnesses and/or identities become slightly merged. Can sometimes be confusing to the blended members. It can be experienced as distressing, relaxing, etc. depending on circumstance.

CO-FRONTING

Refers to multiple system members fronting at once. This can involve multiple system members also using the body at once. Often implies blending, but can occur without blending. To quote Astraea, “Singlets who think this is impossible or confusing should remember that the next time they catch themselves watching television, talking on the phone and stirring soup all at the same time.” Possession and eclipsing are two out of many forms of co-fronting.

DAEMON

A personification of a person’s unconscious mind, given autonomy and often an animal form. Unlike the daemons of His Dark Materials, they are nonphysical entities, widely considered psychological in nature as a sort of personality typing. A daemon and daemian is not explicitly a median system–most daemians, it should be noted, do not consider themselves plural–but rather a category that can be said to overlap both singlethood and medianhood, depending on the degree of autonomy possessed by the daemon. Both singlets and members of plural systems, including tulpas, can make a daemon.

DAEMONISM

The practice of creating daemons, inspired by Socrates’ daimon, the research of Jung, and the daemons of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. People who engage in daemonism are called daemians.

DID

(Dissociative Identity Disorder)

The official clinical term for strongly disordered traumagenic plurality (OSDD-1/DDNOS-1 is the term for less disordered traumagenic plurality) that replaced MPD starting with the DSM-IV. The general consensus is that it is not meant for endogenic systems or tulpamancy systems even if they are disordered. Systems are cautioned against using this term for themselves if they have not been diagnosed with it in a clinical setting. Much like the term alter, the term is valid as an identity but should never be forced on a system or used to describe them without their explicit consent. Some more information on the topic can be found at Clinical Perspectives.

DSM

(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

The “diagnosis dictionary and encyclopedia” of clinical psychology. It is currently in its fifth edition, referred to as the DSM-V. Diagnosis classifications are codified for insurance purposes according to this manual. It should be noted that the DSM is contested both inside and out of psychiatry for many reasons including the closed door nature of the deliberations of the revision from one edition to the next, how societal predjudice affects its contents (e.g. how homo- and bi-sexuality were once codified as mental illnesses, how being transgender was strongly codified as a mental illness and still is to a degree, etc.). Due to this, many clinicians develop their own treatment regimes to help their patients on a case by case basis, rather than strictly adhering to this text. The DSM is generally considered to be an improving work in progress.

ENDOGENIC

(natural)

An endogenic system is a system that became plural naturally, instead of through trauma (see traumagenic) or by a singlet making a system member (called a created system) through tulpamancy or some other process. endogenic system is steadily replacing the term natural system due to the problematic connotation of the word natural.

FACTIVE

A system member who arrives in the system with the form, personality, and possibly psychological backstory (e.g. memories) of an outerworld person, whether a relative, a celebrity, or even a near-stranger. In clinical terminology, a factive would be considered a type of introject. Similar to fictive.

FICTIVE

A system member who arrives in the system with the form, personality, and possibly psychological backstory (e.g. memories) of a fictional character, often characters created by people outside of the system. In other terminology, a fictive would be considered a type of introject. Similar to factive.

FRAGMENT

(shard, aspect, facet, piece)

A member of a system who isn’t a complete person or is not a fully formed person. A fragment 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 fragments/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.

FRONT

Effectively, the body. It is the place from which system members experience the world-at-large, or outerworld. Most experience it differently from each other, but it is the place from which a member lives in and interacts with the physical world. It is also a verb meaning to control the body (see fronting).

FRONTER

(frontrunner)

A system member who is fronting, or who regularly fronts.

FRONTING

The act of being “plugged in” to the physical body, receiving sensory input from it. Frequently involves total or partial control of the body itself.

HEADMATE

(systemmate, system member, insider)

A generic, neutral term used by a member of a system to refer to another member of their system. Headmate was a term first used by the soulbonding community to describe others who share a mental space with the original inhabitant of the body. Adopted by the multiplicity community as a way to referring to others in their heads. Along with “systemmate”, it is a non-clinical term that is most often the preferred term by systemmates, and generally recognized as “politically correct” by most–however, “headmate” has gained a degree of stigma due to the unsavory behavior of some multiples as well as of singlets not understanding plurality.

LOSING TIME

(blackout)

Refers to a system member going unconscious or otherwise being unable to remember what occurs while another system member is fronting. This is one of the DSM criteria used clinically in diagnosing DID.

MEDIAN

(mid-continuum)

A system with members who are not inherently independent from each other, and are sometimes dependent on a single individual and unable to exist without that central person. The lack of independence can be mutual in that there is no central individual. Often consists of members who all identify as “aspects” or “facets” of one central identity, which may be a single member or may be a sort of average identity of the group: e.g. “We are all different, but we are all Mary in the end.” Some believe, mistakenly, that it is the only term that applies to systems where system members are co-conscious, non-traumagenic systems, or to systems not diagnosed with DID. It is considered insulting to call a multiple system median, and should not be used without consent.

MPD

(Multiple Personality Disorder)

The previous clinical term for forms of plurality in which members can switch control of the body, as seen in the DSM-III and older editions. It is something of a troublesome term for plurals–“personality” implies that system members are only facets, “disorder” implies that being plural is inherently unhealthy–and, like DID, should not be used to describe someone without their permission. Has been largely supplanted by the more refined diagnosis dissociative identity disorder but some out of date therapists still use it.

MULTIPLICITY

Can refer to one of three meanings;

  1. The state of having system members who are strongly separate from each other, each possessing a self-identity distinct from the others in the system. Contrast to median, in which members are somewhat separate but share one central identity among themselves. The older and more common definition of this term. This is the topological definition.
  2. Primarily used in contexts involving the tulpamancy community; referring to a plural system that is not a tulpamancy system, i.e. a system where no members were created by other members. A more recent use of the term that emerged with the appearance of Western tulpamancy.
  3. Generic term for all forms of plurality, though in many circles the term plural has replaced this usage.

While the second definition is useful for discussing the many differences in culture and experience between tulpamancy systems and non-tulpamancy systems, it should be noted that systems are systems and people are people regardless of origin–one should never use the second definition of multiplicity to exclude tulpamancy systems as “less plural” or tulpas as “less real.”

ORIGINAL

(birth person)

The first person to live in a system. For most tulpamancy systems, this person is the host. Not all systems have an original. Many systems, including in the tulpamancy community, do not consider the original any more innately “real” than the others in a system.

OTHERKIN

(therian)

Someone who identifies as a non-human species; having a non-human identity. May be explained as psychological or spiritual, depending on who you ask. The term “otherkin” is not an exclusively plural term, but rather a term for a different subculture altogether. It mainly is of relevance to system members who identify as non-human, though some non-human members will not use the term on account of them considering their innerworld bodies their primary bodies. Many systems have one or more members who identify as non-human–thus, there is a lot of crossover between the communities. Therians are a subset of otherkin whose non-human identities are animals that live or have lived on Earth.

PSYCHOSOMATIC SHIFT

A physical trait or shift that the body acquires upon a certain fronter taking control. For example, the body may acquire an allergy while Member A holds the front that it will not have when any other members are at front, or the body’s eyesight will change in such a way that a system will need to change eyeglasses when changing fronters. These shifts can and have been empirically measured in multiple scientific studies of DID.

SOULBOND

A system member who has the identity of a fictional character (fictive), from the work of someone either inside or outside the system that has been adopted into one’s own mindspace. Can overlap with tulpas or walk-ins.

SOULBONDER

A person who has soulbonds or media-based walk-ins as part of their existence. Some consider such as separate from the plural experience; however, there are plurals who have soulbonds as members of their systems.

SPLITTING

The process by which a singlet or one system member splits into two or more members, each having a distinct identity. The process often involves a change in the personality of all members created from the split, distinct from the source person. It should be noted that not all splits are a product of trauma, and that a split can be voluntarily invoked. Though there is some debate as to whether non-trauma splitting can occur in systems that have not first had a trauma split earlier in life.

SUBSYSTEM

A system within a system – nested plurality. Can refer to members of a system who are median with each other but have non-median systemmates, or systemmates who share an innerworld body much as systems share an outerworld body, etc.

TRAUMAGENIC

A traumagenic system is a system that became plural due to trauma, instead of naturally (see endogenic) or by a singlet making a system member (called a created system) through tulpamancy or some other process.

WALK-IN

A system member who simply shows up in the system out of the blue, fully-formed. Can be fictive, factive, or neither. Walk-ins may become permanent system members, or may ‘walk back out’ of their own accord and leave the system without a trace, and they may return similarly. Explanations for this can range from psychological to metaphysical, depending on who you ask.


The glossaries drawn upon:

For other plural terms that aren’t typically seen in the tulpamancy community, see Plurality Resource’s Glossary.