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Every Body 22/23

Every Body 22/23 published on 38 Comments on Every Body 22/23

Anyone who guessed that Kallie and Atarangi’s relationship was “headmates”, give yourselves a No-Prize and a pat on the back!

Trivia: I’ve been wanting to include a plural system in Leif & Thorn since forever. There’s a point early on when I considered having Kale be plural, but his arc has so much else going on, I decided it would be too confusing to compound it like that. (Plus, I didn’t want it to be mistaken for a “my evil headmate killed people!!” situation.)

And then it came time to introduce a new mage, and I wasn’t sure where to go with her personality. Most of the time when I introduce a major/recurring character, I already have a well-rounded image of them in my head. But here, the plot demanded someone new, and nobody was ready. I had a couple general character ideas, but none of them really jumped out…

Then I thought, hey, what if this is my big chance to use all of them?

Kallie: Oh, here we go. This is so typical of you, Atarangi!

It’s not just your body. You don’t have more rights to it than anyone else.

???: Rrrrrghhhh . . .

Kiki: Can you two take this inside?? My drawing time was supposed to have started already!

Atarangi: — Oops, sorry.

Kallie: Yeah, sorry, Kiki.

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So wait, how many personalities… people… selves… whatever the proper term is here? I don’t know it offhand. How many are there?

Based on the comments to yesterday’s page, it seems the appropriate term is “system,” though I could have misunderstood. As far as how many are in this one–it looks like 3, so far. There may be more, since Kallie referenced “everybody” when she went out, but I feel like how many will be something we figure out as we get to know them. I don’t know much more than this, but my kneejerk is that asking is a bit private and should be done with care, if at all. (I wouldn’t ask, but you would have to consult someone with a system of their own for the etiquette there.)

You are correct, system is the generally preferred term and asking the number is generally not polite unless you have an actual reason to need to know, like you’re the therapist. Also, just fyi if talking to a member of a system, don’t ask to speak to someone else, it’s very very rude.

Reference material for those not up to speed with multiples.

LB may not be the definitive expert on this subject, but they are a multiple and spend a fair amount of time trying to communicate what their experience is like. Most of the multiples I’ve met have been too busy trying to deal with their daily lives to really communicate to others what their personal experiences are like. LB writes and draws about their experiences as both a therapeutic tool and as a means of income. They also write stories with their various headmates as characters, although they don’t have a particularly large audience yet.

Just to point it out, I’m not particularly associated with them. They’re just someone I’ve met who I think might be helpful for readers here to be aware of, given the topic of this story arc.

Yeah, I feel this and like I said last page, trying to force headmates to do something your way doesn’t work. Also, Erin thank you for the representation and acknowledgement of the harmful trope of the murderer headmate, it’s so nice to see a system in media that isn’t a horror trope or incredibly misinformed. We appreciate this.

Oh boy. Serious question, is there any upper limit to the numbers here?

The average number of head mates in a system is between 8 and 13, but you can have any number from two to several thousand or more, there’s no defined upper limit. A system with 100+ members is generally referred to as polyfragmented. For instance, we’re a polyfragmented system of almost 1,000 members. Some of us only handled one very specific event or emotion, these people are generally called fragments, and others of us handled more complex tasks and are more distinct, with our own mannerisms, accents, likes and dislikes, etc. Hope that this answers your question.

How can system with hundreds of headmates agree on anything?

It’s not easy. For us, we have only about 40 of us who live in the front, our system has different layers, which is common in polyfragmented systems. The rest live in other layers and either stay inside due to not being triggered out or their job is purely internal, they come to the front very rarely, or are currently dormant( like hibernation). If you’re interested in learning more about us, you can check out our YouTube channel. Here’s a link to our videos

It’s a Weird Brain Thing, not a “what is the physical capacity of this room” kind of thing — so there’s no reason for there to be a specific limit, no.

DID is very strongly associated with trauma and PTSD, so when systems talk about certain memories or emotions being split off, those are likely to be the traumatic ones. The kind that, in a person who’s not multiple, would just be repressed or buried in your subconscious. You can think of multiples as taking that process a step further, dividing it all up between separate consciousnesses — or separate fragments. They’ll end up with as many parts as they need to survive the trauma and cope afterward.

And like Foxy’s saying, that doesn’t have to mean “100+ fully-distinct individuals all trying to lead separate lives on the 15-minutes-or-less they get out of each day.” Some are fragments, some are more like part of the subconscious and don’t interact with anyone outside the system, some can flat-out disappear when a job they had to do is resolved…all kinds of variations and gradations are possible, because Weird Brain Thing.

The subset of “headmates who are likely to hop in the driver’s seat of the body and talk to anyone else” is probably lower, sometimes a lot lower, than the grand total.

Do people read comments on a three-days-old comic?

I’m curious if there’s any scientific studies about the brain architecture of systems, and how it compares to singlets? I would expect at least some brain areas to be shared between members, particularly those that interface with the rest of the body and senses. But not having access to each other’s memories and what Foxy says about multiple members being co-conscious also suggests that some brain areas private as well.

The prefrontal cortex, which is generally understood to control things like cognition and personality, takes up a substantial portion of a singlet brain. So it seems implausible for each member to have their own complete copy. Yet simultaneous co-consciousness seems to require at least some duplication of facilities. Unless it’s some kind of elaborate time-sharing setup where the switching between members happens too fast to notice.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask some questions about the subjective experience of systems like Foxy as well. Do all co-conscious members get access to senses? What about control of the body? Can different members control different parts at the same time, or is it all or nothing? Can some members be conscious while the physical body sleeps? Or conversely, can a member go to sleep and leave others in charge of the wakeful body?

What is your opinion of the movie Split?

Yes, lol 😉 either when I’ve got catching up to do or when a weird glitch (which I’ve only encountered on this comic) sends me to a different comic when I click reply, or just try to scroll down or something.

I don’t have much in the way of answers, though. I haven’t seen Split (though I have a feeling I’ve seen several r/did people mention it being as awful as is usual for Hollywood) and mostly what I remember about research is that there isn’t nearly enough of it done for dissociative disorders. :/ I don’t know whether it’s duplication or timeshare, but my money would be on a mix of both.

And… Co-consciousness is kinda by definition multiple alters getting sensory data. They’re up “front”, so (oh boy apparently we’re all in on the car metaphor) they can see out the metaphorical window, although they might not be in the driver’s seat. They might reach over to take on the wheel, or they might be sitting there watching helplessly and possibly freaking out about it :/
Sometimes that “yanking the wheel” seems to take the form of, say, one part of me grabbing the legs and walking us away from the computer while the rest of me is still trying to type. That’s usually a sign something’s gone off the rails, though, like I’m late and should be leaving but didn’t have the executive function to escape whatever I’m doing…
I don’t know about sleep, except in that I’ve seen comments about it feeling like an alter is going to ‘sleep’ when they go inside, although other people have much more of an internal world so I’ve no idea what their limits are.

Thanks for the answers! A followup question about the consciousness thing: is it possible for a member to be thinking thoughts while not receiving sensory input? Though if my own experiences with low-stimulation states (like lying in bed waiting for sleep, or relaxing in sauna with my eyes closed) are anything to go by, it’ll be hard to concentrate on anything for long. I do have control of my thoughts, but with the lack of an external focus they tend to drift. Or is it more like dreaming without conscious control, or even deep sleep without any consciousness at all?

oh wait, I just remembered, it’s not hard to get “lost in thought” and stop receiving input. I’m generally unaware of the outside world when I’m reading, and unfortunately these days I lose a few seconds of a conversation quite regularly. but afaik nobody else is out at the time, except maybe autopilot giving standard responses.
so yeah, thinking is easy, deep sleep is a possibility too, and iirc I’ve seen other people talking about their inner world in a way that implies some alters can be active internally while others are fronting.

As Erin said, there’s not more than one copy of brain segments, it’s that they’re shared in a way that’s not fully understood. Erin also posted great scientific articles. In our experience, co-consciousness is shared awareness, where each of us is getting some level of sensory input, the amount depends upon how close each person is to whoever’s out. Yes, different members can control different parts of the body, that’s usually called co-fronting because you’re sharing control not just awareness. Yes, some members can be conscious while the body sleeps or sleep while the body is awake. The movie split is cinematically interesting, but is garbage as far as accuracy goes. It contributes to the “dangerous/murderous alter” trope and adds to the stigma against DID and multiplicity. Sorry we only just saw this comment. Hope you see this.

It’s definitely not “whole sections of the brain are duplicated” — it’s still a single brain. It just experiences itself as having multiple consciousnesses instead of one. Who knows why. It’s not like we know what really creates the sense of identity in the first place…

As for measurable data: studies have found distinctive patterns of activity and blood flow in patients with DID (like there are in just about any mental health condition), and there’s some evidence that brain activity changes in measurable ways when different headmates claim to be conscious, in a way that can’t be replicated by “a non-DID person fantasizing really hard.”

So even for people who don’t want to take self-reported experiences of DID literally, you still have to acknowledge that there’s something significant going on.

Y’Know? I’m gonna really enjoy this no-prize. Atarangi and Kallie have already become some of my favorite characters!

And they were headmates.

Oh my god, they were headmates.

…You know what you did.

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