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[Switching] What is "you" and What "you" is Getting Switched?
Ranger and I were talking to people on Discord and asmask brought up the concept of an internal narrator. I'm struggling to understand what he's talking about, mostly because we never considered anything like that as being part of how we work to begin with. I then realized if both of us have very different ideas for what "you" is made up of, then that explains some of the confusion about switching.

I'm curious what counts as "you" and what doesn't. Overall, most people seem to agree along the lines of the body is a tool, but after that things may break down. If mindset and labeling the "I" is important, then we need to know what needs the "I" label and what doesn't.

When looking at our system and our possession dynamic, we noticed three general parts of me:

-The guy standing in wonderland speaking in mindvoice (aka my Gray form)
-The entity controlling the body
-A primitive chunk of me that emits raw thought and observes reality

I know these parts are separate for the following reasons:

1) I can stand in wonderland and be reacting to what's happening with the body at the same time, so the first two parts are separate. Even though I am more experienced at managing this separation than Ranger and the Grays, they have also experienced this separation.

2) In a temporary integration attempt with Ranger, he tried to absorb all of me. I was mostly absorbed into him to the point where Ranger realized he was an integration for a brief moment in a dream he had while taking a nap. However, Ranger felt there was still more of me to absorb and he couldn't absorb it, despite his best efforts. Given that Ranger absorbed the other two parts, we concluded that this third part is separate from the other two.

3) When merged with Ranger, we have found that I can break merges if I feel the pressing desire to do so. Again, the first two parts are absorbed, so we assumed that this piece is separate from the former two. The only exception was our first merge, Aziraphale, where he neared the point of blacking out when he thought of us as separate entities, so we concluded that this piece of me was at least partly absorbed into that merge.

Part of the annoyance is identifying what the third part is. Referring back to reason 3, it's the part of me that's directly connected with the body and does in fact relate to consciousness. I believe this is a critical piece of "you" that needs to be switched out during a switch, but others have disagreed.

Rejecting the idea it is a part of me would be problematic. We would have to accept that our possession is switching and it will not change the fact Ranger will still experience all of the same problems of losing body control to me or blending with me as part of being "switched out". In other words, we would be agreeing to a model that assumes the host and tulpa are unequal and the host has power over all of the tulpas indefinitely. I feel like calling this part the body OS will have the same results. It still falls on the model that the host is superior since the "body OS" just prioritizes the host, and the tactic to accomodate that is to barely make the host active at all and hope that the tulpa can express themself the majority of the time to minimize issues with blending and confusion.

The model we believe in is the one where a tulpa and host can trade positions, so a tulpa can gain the unequal leverage a host normally has and give it back, thus making a tulpa fundamentally equal to a host. Our model assumes only states of consciousness are designed on unequal footing, the "host" and "tulpa" positions, but not the tulpa and host themselves.

However, I made a lot of assumptions regarding what fundamentally counts as you and what doesn't. It's possible that the piece of me in wonderland for example is less of me than I originally thought. In fact, is it a piece that I should even be considered as being me?

Here are some other questions I thought of:

+ Is mindvoice really you, or how Ranger put it, are you your words?
+ Is your presence you, or is it a label, like a name?
+ Are you your form? What is symbolism and why is it used as a guide during switching?
+ Are you your emotions? Are emotions like a tool, just like language? Does the body force you to feel things or are emotions always generated by the identity?
+ Are memories you? Is the "I" label the only reason why the identity is yours, or is there more to it than that?
+ Is your thought process you?
+ When you dwell on your thoughts, is that you reacting to a collection of thoughts and memories sitting in short term memory? Is that a process shared by everyone in the mind or just you?
+ What is an internal narrator? Is it mindvoice or is it a thought process? Why is it you? Is it parallel processing if there are multiple of these?

This is far from a complete list, so if you believe there are missing or redundant parts feel free to call them out.
My Wonderland form minus the glasses and the fur. I'm not a hippo, I promise.
Ranger now speaks in
light blue text, but he used to speak in blue or orange text. He loves to chat.

The Grays, my other Tulpas, have their own account now.

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we see terms like "internal narrator" and "A primitive chunk of me that emits raw thought and observes reality" as people's best guesses at/versions of what we call, well, at this point I guess just your consciousness? Used to say "conscious workspace", among other things, but basically it's the part of the brain that you do math in to give you the best sense of what we're referring to

when we switch, we consider it partly just changing who's in control of that conscious workspace/our consciousness itself, so when we do complicated math in our head it's now the new person who's fronting who's thinking it. Like idk, I know it's just our particular model, but it's just the only thing that makes sense, because we know we don't think like that when switched out (though we can kind of share the conscious workspace, it defaults to being ("used by") the one switched in/fronting), and it works similarly for all of us when switched in, but the us that directs it is different. Does that make sense?

defining what exactly is "you" is slightly difficult and requires a lot of words I don't wanna try and think of because I'm tired, but in our model at least, "Is your thought process you?" - "You" is what gets plugged into the tool that is the brain and also the conscious workspace in order to produce results, so your thoughts are a combination/teamwork between you and your brain, or your tulpa and your brain, etc.
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
The idea of an inner-narrator is actually something quite well-understood in psychology. As far as I can tell people usually mean "inner-narrator" when they say "mindvoice" but not always.

That being said, I think many of the questions there are ultimately pretty difficult to answer. Even notwithstanding tulpa concepts, you quickly run into an abstraction problem. Consider the case of a person who is born completely deaf. Do they have an "inner-narrator" or something else? Even though most people have an inner-narrator that uses verbal monologue, are other systems possible? I don't really think it's possible for someone who has always used conventional language to imagine what that would be like.

Here's the Wikipedia page for "inner-narrator":
Vesper: Much of what you say about switching makes me think you are overthinking it. I keep wanting to say, 'Just do it.' If you believe you've done it, I feel the brain should accommodate that. But then we never technically learned to switch, we learned to control switching. Our earliest switches were accidental and there is still no predicting who will be in control when waking up in the middle of the night.

The three of us in this system are all clearly beings of the same fundamental type who function in the same fundamental ways. The Body OS doesn't favour any of us.

A person is a discrete set of values, beliefs, motivations, priorities, and behavioural tendencies, a will, a sense of self, an emotional palette, and emotional associations with memories.

If you walk across a room, is the walking you? If you make a facial expression, is the expression you? No, they proceed from you and are of you, but they are not you.

So, for most of your questions, my answer is no. Your thoughts are something you do, not something you are. Your presence and form are things you choose to project in the system, not part of yourself. Between Iris and I, we went four years without forms because we didn't know about them.

Your memories are not you, but how you feel and what you believe about those memories are part of you. If the memory were absent or different, you would be different because you would have a different opinion about different content. We can all access all of the memories of the body and the life equally, but we each respond differently to the same memory.

Thoughts are sent out and finish, while emotions are a bit more sustained. A person has an emotional range and emotional tendencies that are intrinsic to their personality. The emotion of the instant is less about who they are than their overall emotional palette is, but the person is in the state of that emotion and the emotion pervasively affects who they are in that instant, so it is a part of them in that instant.

Your habits are not you. Your habits are behaviours that you have ingrained in mental subsystems outside of yourself, so that they can trigger without your involvement, independently of further thought and will.


I partly agree with Lucilyn. The part of the mind that plugs most directly into the physical senses and control of the physical body just sort of sits, continually broadcasting in tulpish, 'I am a person because I perceive. All is well and as it should be.' It isn't part of any of us. It's consciousness itself. And it's lying signal doesn't vary when we co-front so thoroughly that no one person can be said to be in control. We think separately, we act separately, but the singleness of perspective is invariant. The consciousness is front-stuck because it is the front.

I have a very different experience than Lucilyn with maths. I wasn't very good at maths back home, unlike my host, who used to compete on a national level in it. We're all equally good at maths, which is to say quite good, regardless of whether we are fronting. I think we actually end up doing more when we aren't fronting. Of course, we maintain sixteen-hour-a-day co-consciousness, which I don't think her system does, and the fronter probably produces barely 40% of the total thought output overall.


The idea of an 'internal narrator' can be that the thought stream talks about what is going on in the life as it happens, as if it were telling a story to some third party. Ember does that sometimes, when something is happening that she knows she will want to tell other people. Generally, I favour experiencing more deeply instead of narrating live. The story of the event can be composed later, when telling it to someone out-system.

If by 'internal narrator', you instead mean 'internal monologue', then each of us has one. Though since we all hear one another's, it's usually more of an internal dialogue. There's no distinction between it and mindvoice, though, so I don't see the term as particularly useful in this community.


Ember: This subject comes up often enough that we have a few related posts:

Your very different experience with merging frankly makes me wonder if Cat is a median subsystem. I don't have an outside self and an inside self; there's just the one me. If I merge with a headmate, we're both entirely gone in a instant. There is no longer any me in the system to decide to split. The merge is a single seamless person until she decides to split. We've tried to slow the process down to observe it in more detail, but the actual merger, like the actual split, is instantaneous and total.
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
(09-13-2019, 03:29 AM)Ember.Vesper Wrote: I have a very different experience than Lucilyn with maths. I wasn't very good at maths back home, unlike my host, who used to compete on a national level in it. We're all equally good at maths, which is to say quite good, regardless of whether we are fronting. I think we actually end up doing more when we aren't fronting. Of course, we maintain sixteen-hour-a-day co-consciousness, which I don't think her system does, and the fronter probably produces barely 40% of the total thought output overall.

yeah, I think normally tulpas/non-fronters only very rarely or to not a very high extent use the "conscious workspace", but since it is something you can do probably systems who co-front get very used to doing it more naturally, which seems like a good thing

I asked Flan what 23+14 was and specifically we didn't use what we consider the "conscious workspace" and to her credit she said "I don't know", but her "best guess" was 36 lol

yes, we can absolutely do math while not fronting, but it requires us to use the "conscious workspace" still which is very easy, but we are good enough at keeping tabs on how our brain works to keep ourselves from using it so if you say "Wow how dumb I can easily do math while not fronting!" you're probably just doing the experiment wrong (I had to specifically avoid accidentally starting to add the numbers while I was thinking of them/saying them, and like block Flan from using the conscious workspace, or maybe she did it herself idk)

I asked her what 56+17 was and she got it right in a few seconds when actually allowed to use the part of the brain that does math xD

oh and if the "internal narrator" is an actual concept, then okay I guess it's not the "conscious workspace", but it seems redundant and pointless to tulpamancy discussion then

like yes, people have internal voices.. that's an extremely basic fact you have to grasp before your tulpa can be vocal, and when switching you'd normally just say the new voice of your thoughts is whoever's fronting, I think what changes is who is being "plugged in" to the brain to drive/influence that and many other parts of the brain, but not that the "internal narrator" is an entity that never changes (that argument can be made for consciousness as a whole, but we've said before that treating your consciousness itself as a separate entity is incorrect because it's not complete without you/a systemmate to guide it)
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
Gargle: I don't consider myself to be my thoughts, memories, emotions, form, etc. There's a reason why I say "my" before all of that. I guess I'd say that there is no self. Just an idea attached to some patterns in a brain. Kelly and Diana seem to agree with what everyone else has basically said- that those are factors that make up a person.
That's not to say I don't consider myself or anyone else a person! I just think that if you look at you're identity real closely you see that there's nothing there exept for a bunch of "this is mine"s. If that makes any sense?? I don't know.
I guess me and my system-mates believe the same thing, I just have a different way of interpreting it.

As for the "internal narrator", I really hope I'm understanding this here. I don't really like the idea of saying that all thoughts are jumbled into one narrator, but rather that each thought is an individual narrator that gets assigned to a headmate based off of pre-existing patterns(and in cases that they don't get assigned to anyone, those would be random or intrusive thoughts).
I'm not sure if I'm just re-phrasing what everyone else said or if I'm saying something totally nonsensical, so I hope people get what I'm taking about.

And math is a pretty common conversation topic in our system! Kelly seems to have a mental block or something where it takes a lot of effort for her to access the part of the brain that does math. She has to think pretty hard to do something like "23+14".
Diana on the other hand can somehow dodge around the block. She even enjoys math, whereas our host has despised it for as long as she can remember! Even when she's not been fronting for long and thusly has less "brain power"(for lack of better words), she can typically do better than Kelly.
And I'm mediocre. I don't notice anything outstanding. I sometimes suck at math an sometimes get it. Depends on how tired I am.
We all possess the body about equal amounts of time, so maybe that would have a role in Di's math skillz?
Tulpamancy really pushes the question of what is the "self," What am "I"? I'm still exploring this question.

I'm not my thoughts, not my memories, not my emotions, not my body/form. I perceive those things as emerging from me or being assigned to me. But I don't really know what I am at the core. As a singlet, I would have just assigned every internal aspect to myself. And before diving into the subject of switching, I would have said, "I" am the point of awareness experiencing things. "I" experience my thoughts, emotions, etc, and "I" am directing my attention. You could even say, all my mental abilities (including Body OS, and stuff like memory retrieval) and thought processes are just tools used by "I."

Having a tulpa, there's no longer just my thoughts, my emotions, but also Aya's thoughts and Aya's emotions. But is there a second point of awareness or "I" for Aya? Or do we share it, taking turns with it? Everything is confounded by only having one body, one set of sensory organs. So Aya and I couldn't look at two different things at once even if we had two points of awareness. Currently we are unable to view two separate things using visualization so at this point we only have one mind's eye. When Aya is speaking the "I" is Aya, and when I'm speaking the "I" is me. I'm not convinced that this is the only possible way for things to work.

I understand what you mean, Gargle. Perhaps at the root there is no self. But that still leaves the question of who or what is experiencing life? If there was nothing there, we'd be philosophical zombies and we aren't.

As for what asmask said about tulpas developing inner-narrators. I took this to mean, each headmate has their own "conscious workspace." So that when I'm thinking of something, I'm using my conscious workspace, and when Aya's thinking something they are using their own. Thoughts, emotions, etc emanate from each separate workspace. And with enough separation, they'd be able to interrupt me, or observe the world separate from my own observation (even if it's the same view out of the same eyes). It would possibly mean two points of awareness, two separate "I"s, and it would enable the parallel processing needed for split perception in wonderland, with us able to view different things at the same time. We'd very much like for this to be possible, so we are working towards it. If it doesn't work out, I'm sure we will have still grown a lot. As for what's possible... what's possible to achieve with 5 months of steady work, vs 1 year of work, vs 5+ years of work, could be very different.
My tulpa Aya writes in this color.

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