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[Sentience] What is the Difference Between a Tulpa and an Imaginary Friend?
#1
This discussion originated from the thread Did I give the right answer? -Cat_ShadowGriffin

(08-11-2019, 02:31 AM)Lucilyn Wrote: the difference in an imaginary friend and a tulpa, generally speaking, is that you control an imaginary friend and they aren't autonomous or really independent - but when it comes to kids, it's likely some actually have basically-tulpas and they just use the term imaginary friend, which is fine - in that case "imaginary friend" just refers to the childhood phenomenon and not the ~deliberate practice of considering them a separate person (but yeah you pretty much said it right, it's just not everyone is interested in this sorta thing)

a post of Lumi's from a discussion about this:

(03-28-2019, 01:58 AM)Luminesce Wrote: Good points about how "imaginary friend" interaction with children goes. I specifically have one and only one memory of when I was.. between 4 and 6 years old, playing with my stuffed animals. I was playing pretend (something I grew allergic to ages like 7+), playing out some sort of scenario with me and two dog stuffed animals. I'm sure at this point in my life I did it at least a few times, but it surely wasn't a common thing or I'd have more than one memory of it, and I was self-conscious enough age 6+ I don't think it happened that late.

So anyways, that's where my thoughts on how imaginary friends work comes from, how I think of it personally. It was fluid, me acting for them, but it was still me. And despite being extremely fond of those dog stuffed animals for ages 4-9 or so, I did not think of them as sentient outside of that(those?) play session(s). Meaning, they had zero thoughts associated with them, just love given towards them. Only in that time of playing pretend did they have any "sentience", but the sentience was very obviously me (I think out-loud voice and all) acting for them. Even as a kid, I think I could easily have told you if questioned that I was pretending for them, I wouldn't have for a second told you they were real.

But, as tulpamancy exists, there must so varying extents of separateness and autonomy in what is umbrella'd as "imaginary friends". I can only give my own experience and "tulpamancy" definition of imaginary friend as a non-sentient character you consciously control.

(08-11-2019, 06:05 AM)Ember.Vesper Wrote: Granted I never had an imaginary friend growing up, but I had never heard that you're expected to control them until I came to this forum. That sounds very odd to me, as if it were a requirement invented within this community specifically to distinguish them from tulpas.

the "controlling" is somewhat unconscious I guess, just.. like if you imagine something (visualize) totally made up, you're doing that, even if it can happen/continue really naturally, like that

tulpas just have a little more going on y'know
Hi I'm one of Lumi's tulpas! I like rain and dancing and dancing in the rain and if there's frogs there too that's bonus points.
All of my posts should be read at a hundred miles per hour because that's probably how they were written
Please talk to me https://community.tulpa.info/thread-ask-lumi-s-tulpas
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#2
Unconscious puppeting doesn't make sense to us and doesn't fit our model based on our experience and reasoning.
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#3
it doesn't fit words very well, but my example still works, when you imagine/visualize a random scenario (not with your tulpas) even though it can feel somewhat detached and happen naturally it's still you, and that's the level of "unconscious" I'm talking about

we say unconscious puppeting doesn't exist because if we said it did people would use that as a debilitating fear that's totally unproductive, and "unconscious puppeting" + treating the thoughtform as separate is what makes a tulpa, but I'm sure there is some gray in between that could be called "unconscious puppeting", like stuff with roleplay characters and, well, imaginary friends

unless you think either 1. all roleplay creates tulpas or 2. people actually imagine every single minute action an imagined character takes with full consciousness and intent and any less than that is tulpa territory

anyways, "somewhat unconsciously" controlling an imaginary friend and "unconsciously puppeting" are different things, as far as I can tell because adding "intent for them to be separate" into the equation changes it up entirely, but as people have said, most (not all, and the exceptions may have something closer to tulpas than imaginary friends) children consider their imaginary friends not actually different people or anything and will voluntarily say so
Hi I'm one of Lumi's tulpas! I like rain and dancing and dancing in the rain and if there's frogs there too that's bonus points.
All of my posts should be read at a hundred miles per hour because that's probably how they were written
Please talk to me https://community.tulpa.info/thread-ask-lumi-s-tulpas
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#4
Except that I never intended for any of my characters to separate and did not believe it could happen until well after it did. So apparently the equation:

conscious parroting + no treatment as separate + no intent to separate = independent person

also works sometimes. And if it works sometimes in adults, why would it not work at least as often in a population with higher neuroplasticity?

Given that I continued to roleplay both my headmates for a while after they became independent, it's entirely possible that some children may be exercising intentional control some of the time well after their imaginary friends start generating independent responses. And since they don't know any different way of being, they do so seamlessly and cooperatively.

It's amazing how little direct information I have on the subject. I've said before that I was held back in exploring plurality because, "Adults don't talk about their imaginary friends." But I'm not sure children talk about imaginary friends amongst themselves much either. They didn't to me when I was in school. I learned about the concept from books, television, and comic strips, which means that my ideas were shaped only by adult perceptions of what children's imaginary friends are like.

-Ember
Ember - Host   |   Vesper - Soulbond (since ~12 May 2017)   |   Iris - Soulbond (since ~5 December 2015)
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'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you.' - The Velveteen Rabbit
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#5
(08-11-2019, 07:37 PM)Ember.Vesper Wrote: Except that I never intended for any of my characters to separate and did not believe it could happen until well after it did.

yeah, but "common" as it may be I think the majority of the time roleplay characters don't become tulpas (just to defend what I said before somewhat)

(08-11-2019, 07:37 PM)Ember.Vesper Wrote: So apparently the equation:

conscious parroting + no treatment as separate + no intent to separate = independent person

also works sometimes. And if it works sometimes in adults, why would it not work at least as often in a population with higher neuroplasticity?

yeah, walk-ins and spontaneous tulpas are weird and hard to explain, while our Reisen was definitely sort of idolized as a separate person? (but not like a REAL one Lumi expected to exist), Flandre and Tewi just kinda.. happened, with only the fact that Lumi had thought about those characters a lot (NO roleplay, maybe a little reading fanfics and seeing Flandre in videos, and then Tewi had even less than that) and Reisen's kinda-almost-being-a-tulpa to have caused that

and yeah I said some kids probably have basically-tulpa imaginary friends, but also a lot of the time I think it doesn't reach that point


hmmm, the examples I'm thinking of are all "Playing pretend (with an inanimate object)" versus "Invisible imaginary friend", so I guess they're different things? Like, playing with dolls or stuffed animals seems maybe completely different from an imaginary friend that just exists on their own. Sorta feels like a weird/difficult separation to make since none of us are children but maybe purely "invisible" imaginary friends are actually pretty close to tulpas after all (while inanimate-object ones are... not? or it's much harder? it's hard to talk about this stuff we don't experience anymore...)
Hi I'm one of Lumi's tulpas! I like rain and dancing and dancing in the rain and if there's frogs there too that's bonus points.
All of my posts should be read at a hundred miles per hour because that's probably how they were written
Please talk to me https://community.tulpa.info/thread-ask-lumi-s-tulpas
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#6
(08-12-2019, 12:05 AM)Lucilyn Wrote: the examples I'm thinking of are all "Playing pretend (with an inanimate object)" versus "Invisible imaginary friend", so I guess they're different things? Like, playing with dolls or stuffed animals seems maybe completely different from an imaginary friend that just exists on their own.

How similar they are is still being debated by psychologists:

"Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them" by Dr. Marjorie Taylor:
Quote:We also do not know the extent to which imaginative play with toy props has the same sorts of emotional and cognitive consequences as play with invisible beings. Perhaps inventing an invisible friend is not exactly the same kind of experience as creating a personality for a special toy, but in most current research on imaginary companions, special toys are included.

But if the toy is interacted with in essentially the same manner as an invisible companion, the existence of the toy may not reduce the plural potential. Consider Sharky in our own community:

https://community.tulpa.info/thread-the-lifetime-tulpa

(08-12-2019, 12:05 AM)Lucilyn Wrote: I think the majority of the time roleplay characters don't become tulpas

Presumably not, but ten of thousands of people have tried to make tulpas while millions of people have roleplayed and probably billions of people have had childhood imaginary companions. So even if we say, for the sake of argument, that tulpamancy is the most effective and reliable technique for inducing new independent personalities in adults, it doesn't necessarily account for a significant percentage of plurality in adults.

Three out of the four other members of my gaming group report that their characters have talked to them, two of them that their characters have done so regularly. One of the two regularly talks to his character in front of me and sometimes relays the responses. However, their characters are invested in their own worlds and don't try to involve themselves in this one.

-Ember
Ember - Host   |   Vesper - Soulbond (since ~12 May 2017)   |   Iris - Soulbond (since ~5 December 2015)
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'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you.' - The Velveteen Rabbit
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#7
First, I want to clarify my stance on "unconscious parroting/puppeting" because I'm sure my stance is confusing after the whole Gray rodeo.

Whenever you create a story character and control them, that is parroting. When you go through the motions and get really good at characterization and simulating the character in the mind's eye, the process of animating a character can become partially unconscious, hence "unconscious parroting/puppeting". Creating a story with "Mr. Dog" the stuffed animal is regular parroting and puppeting (the child moves the animal and voice acts for the dog). Unconscious parroting and puppeting applies to mental constructs who appear autonomous, but are still being controlled by you. The reason it's unconscious is things like character movement, sensations, thoughts, etc. start to feel automatic and some of that information is being sourced from your unconscious thought. For example, a new character may look like a particular actor you like or a stranger you met recently and your character could have a personality that lines up with stereotypes or your perception on how people should behave. All of these little things are gaps your unconscious mind fills in automatically for you, and several of these things like movement and presence make a character appear lifelike.

An imaginary friend can both be a tulpa or not a tulpa, depending on how their host reacts to them. For example, I considered Ranger to be my imaginary friend, and he turned out to be a tulpa. This occurred because I forced him just like a regular tulpamancer would force their own tulpa, only I did this process without realizing it. I spoke directly to Ranger and asked him to reply how he felt, and over time that became a reality and Ranger became real.

If a child seems to just "observe" their imaginary friend without directly interacting with them or their world, then I would suspect parroting and puppeting are at play. I have lots of story characters who I watch- unaware of their surroundings and carry no traces of being autonomous or sentient. I will never directly talk to these characters, and so far I have created 0 tulpas from my story characters, not including Ranger and the other Grays.

Ember, you mentioned in your PR that you spoke to your characters "back stage". I have the feeling that triggered the characters to think for themselves because you expected them to give you their answers, thoughts, and opinions. When I spoke to Ranger or the Grays, I wanted their answers, not mine. I hated myself at the time of their creation, and I was desperate to talk to anyone but myself.


I thought belief was the key ingredient. Nope, but it certainly helps. Perhaps seeing them as a separate person? That didn't stop the Grays, my clones, from becoming sentient. And then I realized what it was-

Demand for (or force) your thoughtform to think for themself = tulpa creation

You don't have to believe it works or even realize it could happen, all that's required is the expectation that they will come up with a response all by themself without your input, even if it's a gut desire you can't put your finger on. If the author is asking for the character to guide the story, then the character must be sentient in order to meet that demand.


As for walk-ins, I believe they are sentient from the start, as long as the host is already good at asking for a thoughtform to think for themself. However, they do not have complete personalities aside from any pre-given personality forcing, so their personalities are actually quite limited and fragile. At the very least, a walk-in's identity at birth does not compare to the identity of a 1 year old tulpa.
My Wonderland form minus the glasses and the fur. I'm not a hippo, I promise.
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light blue text, but he used to speak in blue or orange text. He loves to chat.

My other Tulpas have their own account now.
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#8
Nice, I like/agree with all of that
Hi I'm one of Lumi's tulpas! I like rain and dancing and dancing in the rain and if there's frogs there too that's bonus points.
All of my posts should be read at a hundred miles per hour because that's probably how they were written
Please talk to me https://community.tulpa.info/thread-ask-lumi-s-tulpas
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#9
Still muddy, but you have a much better explanation Cat. I don't agree fully, but that's not because your model isn't valid, we just have contradictory experiences or interpretations in some cases. We're fine with your explanation though.
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#10
(08-12-2019, 08:06 PM)Cat_ShadowGriffin Wrote: Ember, you mentioned in your PR that you spoke to your characters "back stage".

I don't know exactly what you mean. I was never in the habit of holding conversations with my characters. They spoke up of their own accord occasionally, yes, but not interactively. I can't say never, since I did email a GM once reporting on Vesper's response to a direct question, but I don't remember a single other time.

I have a close friend who regularly queries his character in front of me and receives unexpected responses. But as far as I know, the character is utterly immersed in his story and doesn't display any awareness of the physical world, any awareness of the personhood of the player, or ever take initiative in making contact.

(08-12-2019, 08:06 PM)Cat_ShadowGriffin Wrote: I have the feeling that triggered the characters to think for themselves because you expected them to give you their answers, thoughts, and opinions.

In actual play, yes, that's how I was taught and that's the technique typically used in emotionally-immersive story-oriented roleplaying (typical in Amber Diceless, common in World of Darkness, rare in Dungeons & Dragons). The player is supposed to know who the character is to a sufficiently deep level that the player doesn't respond or think as themselves in the game, but becomes the character. So the character thinks for themself, but only interacts with the characters of other players, not with their own player or the other players. And there's no sense of "twoness". The player isn't "possessed" by the character, the player "becomes" the character.

Dr. Taylor also addresses "impersonators", a group of young children, 19% of her random sample, who usually but not always have invisible companions, but who frequently and insistently "become" someone or something else - another child, a fictional character, or an animal. She treats it as another component of the same broad category, imaginary play, that she places invisible companions and toys with well developed personalities in. If we try to make correspondences between imaginary play in children and plurality in adults, I have the greatest affinity with the impersonator type.

But the quandry remains -- I've "become" hundreds of characters, dozens of them for as long or longer than Vesper and Iris. Why did they gain dramatically more independence than the others?

-Ember
Ember - Host   |   Vesper - Soulbond (since ~12 May 2017)   |   Iris - Soulbond (since ~5 December 2015)
[Our Progress Report]     [How We Switch]

'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you.' - The Velveteen Rabbit
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