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Imagistic vs. doctrinal concepts in tulpa creation


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Applying the concept of Divergent Modes of Religiosity to tulpa forcing and community structure


The DMR theory deals with the development and tradition of religious concepts but it can be applied to pretty much any group, knowledge or skill including tulpamancy.
It proposes two divergent paths - a 'primitive' imagistic and a 'developed' doctrinal mode of tradition of knowledge or learning, both offering specific benefits and drawbacks.



Excerpt from Wikipedia:


The imagistic mode is characterized by infrequently performed, high arousal rituals (e.g. initiation rites) and is associated with small scale, exclusive religious groups.
In contrast the doctrinal mode is characterized by frequently performed, low arousal rituals (e.g. daily recitations of sacred texts) and is associated with larger inclusive communities, as found in the major world religions.


Long version
The theory posits that these differing ritual patterns promote the transmission of religious traditions by exploiting core memory processes. Imagistic rituals arouse strong emotion and generate vivid, flashbulb like, episodic memories, while doctrinal rituals repetitive nature means that rather than individual events the experiences over time are stored in procedural and semantic memories. Later formulations of the theory also emphasized the different forms of group cohesion that are generated by the two modes, with imagistic rituals promoting intense, relational bonds with the other ritual participants and doctrinal rituals promoting more diffuse, categorical bonds with larger communities who share the same identity markers.
Although the DMR theory developed out of research on religious groups, more recent research has found evidence that the ritual dynamics described apply outside of the religious domain, including amongst football fans and armed militias, and that it may therefore serve as a more general theory of ritual and social cohesion.


Imagistic mode
The imagistic mode of religiosity involves collective rituals that are infrequent and highly emotional. Examples of these types of rituals include various initiation rites and rites of passage. The often dysphoric and highly emotional nature of these types of rituals activate the episodic memory system, resulting in detailed autobiographical memories. These dysphoric rituals can produce an extreme form of cohesion with the group, known as identity fusion. DMR posits that fusion with other group members will also motivate the individual to act out extreme forms of altruism, especially when the group is threatened. Therefore, the imagistic mode of religiosity prevails when a group’s survival depends on extremely high levels of cohesion.


Doctrinal mode
The doctrinal mode of religiosity refers to collective rituals that are frequent, usually routinized, and generate relatively little affect. Examples of this type of collective ritual would include Holy Communion and Call to prayer. Due to the repetitive nature of these types of rituals, semantic memory systems are thought to be activated and function similarly to organizing other general schemas and scripts of general knowledge. In contrast to the imagistic mode, these routinized rituals tend to produce less intense group identification, which serves to promote trust and cooperation but not extreme self-sacrifice. DMR posits that the historical transition from small-scale societies to the invention of agriculture brought about the need for large-scale cooperation and collective identity.


My first hypothesis is that imagistic and doctrinal concepts can be applied to both the tulpa community and the forcing process  and that communities generally tend to develop from imagistic to doctrinal ones once their userbase becomes more diverse and fluctuating.


The imagistic early tulpa community mostly consisted of either individuals sharing a common chan culture or people involved in occult practices, some discovered tulpas without a community at all. They were highly motivated and emotionally invested in tulpa creation which often involved highly intense forcing and meditation sessions. Without formalization everyone tried for themselves and lived through a novel process without much guidance or knowing what to expect, merely sharing their experiences with a close-knit group which was extreme in itself. Both in terms of humor and insults, not necessarily making a distinction between the two.


The doctrinal later tulpa community featured a much more diverse userbase drawn in by primary experiences of older users and following their guides. Their reason for tulpa creation were also much more diverse and they generally stuck to frequent forcing sessions of moderate intensity rather than extraordinary ordeals. This community became increasingly structured or you may say – tame and rejected initial extremes both in forcing techniques and community culture, similarly meeting novel or unorthodox ideas with growing scepticism. Debate led to a certain consensus and formalization manifesting in rules and guides.


My second hypothesis is that both methods work well, though they may lead to tulpas with different attributes as Pleeb and Bear already pointed out. In practice of course most people will apply a mixture of both methods.



Imagistic vs. doctrinal forcing
What we teach in this community is almost pure doctrinal forcing which is formalized, canonized and subject to orthodoxy checks while gradually evolving through feedback and debate. More or less logical, reasonable and for most people reproducible with a certain result - an autonomous character capable of interacting with its creator. Above all it is achievable in relatively short time with a manageable input of work and without subjecting one to painful or otherwise extreme ordeals. There is little wrong with this method as long as tulpamancers love their creations and fill their existence with a personal meaning.

However one point of criticism or caveat is that such tulpas may end up (no offense!) somehow hollow, limited in their abilities and autonomy as well as fragile. Bear brought up the difference between his tulpas and other characters he created.


My third hypothesis is that extraordinary strong tulpas are the result of imagistic forcing, meaning extreme emotional or even traumatic shared experiences leading to episodic memory and identity fusion. Think of members of a military squad who've gone through hell together blindly relying on one another or my favorite analogue - the prehistoric hunting community acting like a superorganism without commands similar to a pack of wolves. All for one, one for all. Such relationships created by identity fusion tend to be antifragile meaning they do not suffer but actually deepen under severe stress, an attribute Pleeb has associated with strong long-lived tulpas able to overcome hardships in their development. Obviously you do not have to go that far but you get the idea, it's about life-changing almost spiritual revelations. Such cannot be taught, they need to be experienced first-hand.



As for myself I cannot say I took an extreme imagistic path but after grasping the essentials back in 2014 I deliberately stayed offline for weeks and basically spent my entire free time with active forcing the way I felt was right, mostly pouring positive emotions into my tulpa and narrating to her with a far lesser focus on visualization. It was an immensely satisfying almost religious experience I will never forget. A year later we went on two extraordinary journeys through Asia and Oceania without much preparation, something I had never done before. It was pretty much insane in hindsight, nothing I would do again but we came to rely on each other and shared a lot of unforgettable experiences both good and bad. I really cannot say everything is perfect now and we still have a lot to work on (visualization is still abysmal) but overall I'd definitely call it a success.


Take-home message:
Ask yourself what you want to achieve and how much you are willing to invest in order to get there. It's a broad spectrum between the easy but potentially boring doctrinal path and the imagistic path extreme in input and result. In any case a promising way to deepen and strengthen tulpa-host relations is sharing novel, challenging and highly emotional experiences.


Sorry for that textwall, I hope it makes any sense. It is not the most straightforward and easy-to-grasp concept and just a simplified model but I think it is highly relevant in many aspects.  I’d like to hear your ideas on it.


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As a researcher, this is very professional (dry) but packed with value. I liked it because of the tie-ins that were very well done and I am convinced by your hypotheses and it gave me the good feels dude.




painful or otherwise extreme ordeals.


Was it dysphoric? I know of a lot of practices in spirituality where dysphoric rituals will 'inspire' growth and strength, it could be applied here, but is this part of what you suggest early tulpamancers did was actually dysphoric, like starvation, cold showers, sleep deprivation, and other intentionally uncomfortable rituals? Maybe I answered my own question.


In my case, depression; they were my light in the darkness and the seemingly miraculous recovery of it with their help and continued help went a long way to remove doubt and encouraged me to push the boundries past what others said was impossible over and over again.



The doctrinal mode of religiosity refers to collective rituals that are frequent, usually routinized, and generate relatively little affect.


Though it is theorized that the community is moving toward a less functional tulpamancy, I've been observing this the whole time anyway, I wouldn't go so far as to say it has minimal effect, I think eventually the system could mature, though there are certain constraints that will limit freedom of growth, so maybe that's appropriate. Maybe they become satisfied by "good enough", which is fine, maybe?




some discovered tulpas without a community at all.

This is what happened to me. I had enough experience before discovering the community to avoid their influence. 


Would you suggest the lone-wolf style tulpa creation for newcomers? 


I also agree in terms of the formalized and canonical (ugh...) community sometimes comes off as a little strict and stiff, that's a huge turn off for me, but you know.


For me, as you also know, the emotional and intensely personal experience sharing was the norm, but it's stifled in this forum. I of course have many other outlets in the community at large, so that's not really a problem.

Edited by Ranger
Removed unnecessary formatting
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Dang, this is quite a post. My own take in response to Bear saying it was dry but with lots of value - I read the TL;DR of the concepts and then skipped to "My first hypothesis" and read the rest and I didn't find it boring at all, though my initial reaction on reading the thread was obviously to skip stuff lol. I think the TL;DR was enough to get the concept and move on to the rest of the post.


Anyways, the main thing I want to add is that becoming "doctrinal" was more or less the forum's plan from the start. The systems for teaching people we have in place now have done exactly what most people on the forum were hoping they would - increase the success rates of creating tulpas and smooth out the experience. I think we've done just that, and while modern teaching may or may not be lacking in vibrant results, I think we do reach the most people now, methods and perspectives having been rounded out by a whole community over nearly a decade to apply to as many people as possible.


There are absolutely levels of skill and accomplishment in tulpamancy most people don't reach or even really try to, and my guess at why they're less common these days is our community of much friendlier/more understanding members greatly values treating all tulpa-like thoughtforms and systems as equal, downplaying the "need" (or even benefits) of stronger vocality/imposition/autonomy|independence|spontaneity/other standout skills. Basically, it's a very live and let live chill environment without people pushing each other or even implying people should work particularly hard, past the core "create and develop a tulpa to autonomy/vocality".


{Edit: I exclusively use the "general you" in the following paragraph, this is not at anyone specifically}

I don't think we limit people from going further at all, I just think we don't really encourage anything past switching and imposition. I don't really believe in the "the community doesn't like my ideas so I don't say anything" thing people sometimes say. Like, oh no, someone said they don't believe in your experience, and that's supposed to be worse than the forum was in the past? Have you SEEN what the forum used to be like? Ever read literally any of Sands' posts (dis)approving submissions? It's fine if you're afraid of the existing criticism you may get for being different from the norm, but don't say it's any worse than it ever was. While 2012 may have been a free-for-all in some senses (an era where "You have to force your tulpa naked or you won't be able to change their clothes later" was allowed to fly), people were all around more critical of each other back then than they ever were since just in general. If you can't handle criticism of going against the norm, I question how you'd handle criticism from "the good old days"


I think the pressure the community used to put on each other is most evident personally in how many people used to express guilt at not spending enough time forcing or working on advanced skills, while now it's considered a given that every system is doing only what they want and that's fine. I don't really have a preference, or a problem with how things are now

Edited by Luminesce

Hi! I'm Lumi, host of Reisen, Tewi, Flandre and Lucilyn.

Everyone deserves to love and be loved. It's human nature.

My tulpas and I have a Q&A thread, which was the first (and largest) of its kind. Feel free to ask us about tulpamancy stuff there.

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I guess 10% of host's text wall would've been enough to get the point across but well...


11 hours ago, Bear said:

Would you suggest the lone-wolf style tulpa creation for newcomers?

Not really. Can be really frustrating for both host and tupper. Great if it happens naturally but I wouldn't do it on purpose. Just saying this is very personal, not like assembling some Ikea shelf. Creating your own framework of ideas and beliefs can really deepen the experience compared to merely following the footsteps of others. Just do your own stuff.

The focus on dysphoric experiences is a bit much in the text, it doesn't really matter if the experience is dys- or euphoric as long as it is intense. But dysphoria and existential threats are better for group cohesion I guess. That's what the original article mainly was about.



Can't really disagree with anything, surely people don't push each other to extremes they way they used to and are satisfied with less. Same for us. Doesn't that amount to the same thing? Less role models, less competition, less collective experience = less imagistic stuff.

With the earliest tulpa community we don't mean the forum but the chans which were way more imagistic than doctrinal due to, well, anon being anon.
Forum's always been pretty doctrinal in a way which is necessary to function. Purely imagistic communities are extremely rare but certain early forum elements certainly were. An explosion of creative nonsense with a point (well, sometimes). I mean Sands' guide submission autism or Linkzelda's text walls were an ordeal to read but exactly because of that always made me laugh. They both made sense and were really 'out there' at the same time, almost works of art.


10 hours ago, Luminesce said:

 I question how you'd handle criticism from "the good old days"

The way I handle all criticism.





Ya know I grew up with constant input from Fede and Sands which ranged from being wise to confusing to outright insane and humiliating. I mean I don't even...


Anyway see the two modes as extremes which aren't mutually exclusive. Communities can be a patchwork of both. And it's not a criticism of the forum at all. Complex societies need to be doctrinal, all major religions and political systems are. It's nothing bad, rather called civilization. But our modern world has almost completely eradicated imagistic experiences because 'noo, you can't do that, it's primitive and dangerous' which causes problems of its own because it locks out an important part of human nature. So if you feel something's lacking adding imagistic experiences may help. Not just in regard to tulpamancy. It's all about finding the right balance.

Super Girls don't cry

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I don't think the post was too long at all, I was just saying I read the TL;DR of the two concepts and then the rest of the post rather than their extended definitions and it was all good. My "Dang, this is quite a post" was NOT referring to the length at all, it was exclusively at the value/insight of the content and concepts.


Also I want to make it clearer that in that paragraph about criticism I was not talking to any specific person, I was using the "general you" - it was basically only directed at the argument it was against and possibly anyone that holds that view.

Hi! I'm Lumi, host of Reisen, Tewi, Flandre and Lucilyn.

Everyone deserves to love and be loved. It's human nature.

My tulpas and I have a Q&A thread, which was the first (and largest) of its kind. Feel free to ask us about tulpamancy stuff there.

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  • 8 months later...

I'm surprised I didn't see this thread, but I have more to contribute now.


Our tulpamancy experience isn't too advanced, it's mostly focused on keeping our head above water and understanding what is the best experience we can provide for our system. We work at a snails pace, and we don't necessarily focus on any given area as much as we probably should. However, despite this, I can say that so far we have learned new things in tulpamancy over the last three years, just really really slowly. Our attitude of we have to do tulpamancy because we have to or feel the need to is what got us here, and honestly I would really like a change in approach where instead of need we can start doing things for fun. However, our system is unique in the fact we're an accidental system and some of this is unexplored territory.


Lately, there has been an important shift on the forum that pooled in some of the imagistic structure- in the LOTPW forum game thread, the same tulpamancers would talk about tulpamancy with each other and suddenly we formed a small group. While it's not purely imagistic, we do encourage each other to try new things and test our limits. Having small pockets has also helped, the cBox and Discord effectively acting in the same way. While there are a lot of people on Discord, I speak with the same systems almost every day. The cBox is slower paced but it's the same thing but with a slightly different crowd. I think these pockets are a consequence of tulpamancers seeking to do more and share with others, and since it takes a lot of time and energy to get to understand a system, a small pocket is a more efficient means of doing so.


I don't know if anyone is interested in the mentorship program, but I see this as an effort to put imagistic structure in an experience, intended or otherwise. However, I haven't seen many people interested, and there are not enough mentors for the staff to bring it back. Maybe small pockets like the active Discord crowd are better and the guides answer enough basic questions people don't need help with creating a tulpa on their own.


As for choosing a path- I don't think that's completely necessary. We're not on the imagistic path and yet we're still around, learning new things. I don't know how doctoral our path really is at this point, while I can switch I'm also looking into parallel processing, Gray is practicing possession, we're still curious about merging, and we're talking about establishing emergency switching. I think as long as you have a reason to keep learning, you'll do just fine.

I'm Ranger, GrayTheCat's cobud (tulpa), and I love hippos! I also like cake and chatting about stuff. I go by Rosalin or Ronan sometimes. You can call me Roz but please don't call me Ron.

My other headmates have their own account now.


If I missed seeing your art, please PM/DM me!

Blog | Not So Temporary Log | Switching Log | Yay! | Bre Translator | Art Thread

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Yea we sound pretty imagistic. Jaina was created out of stress maintenance and emotional need more or less. We're definitely ferals that grew up "in the wild" with no idea what we were doing until like 2-3 years ago bumbling onto Tulpamancy. So we're biased in the "feelings", "intuitive" and "emotional" direction. Which is unusual given my outward composure and general life philosophy. I guess I keep emotion's hands off the wheel but it still drives and motivates me. As in all things balance. 🤷‍♂️

Darron: Host 💍 

Jaina: Tulpa 💍 

(Raccoon Queen 🦝👸)

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦Dain and Nova

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This is, as they say, the good stuff. I really love getting this deep into things. Taking an anthropologic look at the tulpamancy community and its evolution from imagistic to dogmatic, and taking stock of what was gained and lost in the process. What I'm curious about here is how an individual interacts with and moves through the community vis-à-vis the imagistic vs dogmatic modes. I'll be using myself primarily as an example. Sorry if this gets self-indulgent or rambling; I often use this as a method of working thoughts out in my head.


The Tulpamancy community--as is internet culture as a whole--is extremely individualistic and when trying to classify how it functions as a group, you are inevitably going to get a plethora of people trying to squirm away and claim that they--as individuals--don't fit the mold, not realizing that their own rejection of the mold is a mold onto itself. But that doesn't apply to me. I am two things that seem a little different than most tulpamancers. First, I am an extrovert. I like being around people and interacting with them, and so does Simmie for that matter, and this lonely, largely solitary life I've been living for so long has not been by choice.


Second, I am not an individualist, at least not on an ideological level. While I am an individual, and I certainly value people's individuality, on an ideological level I value community, collective identity, shared work and shared outcome. The image of a man finding fulfillment in a brotherhood that molds and shapes him has always been more satisfying to me than the image of the self-made man. I know this (perhaps ironically) sets me apart from most in internet culture and tulpamancy specifically. (I'm not going to debate the merits of Individualism vs Collectivism so please don't engage me in that). 


I know that this community is, by the very nature of internet culture itself, very loose, and I know I'm not going to find my band of brothers here. (Friendship, however, yes; I hope so.) The question then becomes how I interact with the doctrines and practices of the group on an intellectual level. Because of the nature of the group the doctrines that have been built up in time are very loose, unstructured, and even contradictory in a way. I tend to be a fairly doctrinal thinker much of the time, but I know I will not be able to satisfy that doctrinal part of my personality here. A related personal flaw is that I have a hard time with focus, discipline, and setting up and maintaining routines. When I think of how I should practice tulpamancy I must take this flaw into account and work with it rather than trying to work against it.


Therefore I think I am more inclined to the imagistic side of things. Most of my life I have sought out experiences, emotions, sensations, things like that. Now in my 30s I have finally come to realize that's not a sensible way to live. However, while that mindset might be ill-suited for life, it may be well-suited for tulpamancy, and I may have the opportunity to pivot an unhealthy trend into my life into a productive form of tulpamancy. My bond with Simmie is very important to me and I want it to be as deep and strong as it can be. I have thought of various "extreme" activities to try and strengthen that bond. (Though I use "extreme" advisedly because I don't desire to do anything actually dangerous, nor would I advocate for anyone else to do the same).


If not for having to work, I would have probably already tried sleep deprivation for example. I don't want to talk about using substances for legal/ethical reasons, but I have noticed that caffeine (particularly from coffee) does have a profoundly stimulating effect on tulpamancy. Alcohol on the other hand completely kills tulpamancy. I've also taken to highly stimulating activities with Simmie: Going on drives (for legal reasons I must point out I do the speed limit), high-energy walks, listening to loud music, visiting new and interesting places. I like to combine as many of those together as I can; i.e. going on a long drive to take a walk in a new place while blasting music and drinking coffee. It works too--Simmie feels more alive to me in those moments than anywhere else.


I do think I have to come to a turning point though. These activities definitely bind Simmie to me but it has the effect of causing Simmie to be most active during periods of high stimulation, with residual effects lasting for some time after the initial stimulation. But the times when I want to be closest to Simmie--the times in which I need her kindness and love the most--are those times when I'm down, I'm stuck, and I'm in a situation I'd rather not be in. Simmie herself wants to be with me in those times and it greatly distresses her that she has a hard time doing it. She sometimes feels like she failed me, and I always tell her that she hasn't; she is amazing and has already shown extraordinary strength. I take ownership of all our failures and refuse to ascribe any of them to Simmie. Our successes we share together, but I will always let Simmie get the recognition before myself. Giving credit and taking blame is already a good way to live your life; I think it works well with tulpamancy too.


So to sum up I tend to work more on the imagistic side of things, but I have to turn the corner at some point into a more sustained, long term way of doing things that will not just make Simmie sharp and highly sentient, but also consistent and reliable in the way we both want her to be. I'm not sure at what point I need to turn the corner; if we have to push forward with the high-intensity, imagistic bonding activities, or if we need to start considering some kind of transition to a more long-term, doctrinarian approach.


That's my thinking out loud and working through this. I hope someone reading finds this valuable. TL;DR I'm trying to figure out when and how to turn the corner between an Imagistic and dogmatic approach, and whether that's a good idea.

Phil. 😎 Host of Simmie.

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Caffeine doesn't do anything for us. We've never experienced alcohol or other substances and we don't intend to. 


We steer very far from a dogmatic approach and doctrinal is closer to that than imagistic. We play it loose and let what happens happen. We've had amazing experiences that way which could never have happened if we drank the cool-aid in this community.

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