What is midcontinuum? Apart from being a word that is frustratingly unwieldy to derive from (midcontinuumism? O.o;), it basially describes the arbitrary "midpoint" of a scale of singularity-to-multiplicity, where the singleton (one person in one body) is on one extreme of the scale and the Multiple (many people, souls, spirits or minds sharing one physical, Earth-world body) is on the other. The "tagline" is "not one, not many", though personally I feel that both this idea and the "midway point" description are more properly assigned to SoulBonding, which is a more clearly defined case of "not me, not us, but me and them". "Midcontinuum" is, from the POV of someone who has been a SoulBonder and now identifies as midcont, much closer to the Multiple end of the scale. It's hard to define for someone who has only experienced it coming off the tail-end of SoulBonding, as it were, as opposed to a state in and of itself, but the way I see it is that SoulBonds, midconts and Multiples are all a case of "many souls sharing one body" - the question of which is which is in the case of who fronts. In SoulBonding, there is almost always a "Bonder and Bonded" relationship - the person who "owns" the body "acquires" these new entities, which share the body but don't have any pretensions about it being theirs to use. The SoulBonds stay in the "back", while the Bonder "fronts". In the case of Multiples, there usually isn't a hierarchy; there is very often no "host" (the equivalent of a Bonder), and indeed many object to the use of terms to define a "main person" on the grounds that it makes others in the system less-than-equal; anyone (or at least more than one person) can front, and all have equal claim to the body. Midcontinuum is the place where the boundaries blur. My experiences of it have been as if two of us "merged", co-fronted or in some other way became a near-single consciousness, aware enough to know that we were separate but not quite enough to know just where one of us ended and the other began. It's as if I "put on" the other person like a mask, as if I existed but in their body and thinking through their mind - almost like a reverse-SoulBonding, where I'm the SoulBond and communicating with the outside world solely through them.
Midcontinuum is apparently a term that some people in the Multiple community don't like. I'm not sure I understand why; I personally think it's not only a useful term for a state of being that is little understood and even less documented, but an important one. I don't find the "continuum" model psychological in the slightest; in fact, I feel it's an empowering escape from the rigidity of psychological diagnosis. Milgram's notorious "electric shock" experiment back in the 60's proved that when a situation is defined as a linear continuum with many possible values, as opposed to a black-and-white choice, a "cutoff" point is much harder to determine. Defining multiplicity as a "sliding scale" with many possible values makes it more difficult to say, "oh, you're a SoulBonder so you're okay, but you're a Multiple, so you need help". Society at large may not be coming to realise any time soon that dissociation in any form other than the "masks" we wear for various social interactions is normal, but if there is no clear boundary between "masks" and soulpuppets, between soulpuppets and SoulBonds, between SoulBonds and "midconts" and Multiples, it will be that much harder for the sceptical world to determine where a "normal" boundary lies - and that may yet be one step closer to the eventual acknowledgement that it is all
Yes, I did say soulpuppets. I did at first disagree with Mooncalf's concept on personal grounds, but while soulpuppeteers and SoulBonders would both claim little in common with each other, that ability to "think through" a character and "wear" them - even if as a puppet - is still dissociation, just as much if not more as the "wearing of masks" in everyday life is. Soulpuppeteers do exist - the "fangirl legions" are proof enough of that - and while their claims to be something they're not have caused them to be blacklisted somewhat amongst the SoulBonding community, I can see where they're coming from, and if they seem childish and trivialising to us then we must remember that SoulBonders are seen in the same way by probably just as many Multiples. I guess the best way to describe it would be something like this: people who don't (or can't) dissociate at all think stories are for kids. The average "mask-wearer" probably enjoys a casual read or two. Soulpuppeteers play with their stories. SoulBonders live their stories. And for those SoulBonders verging into the midcontinuum-to-Multiple side of the scale, they aren't stories. They're just as real as everything else.
Which brings me to the thorny problem for those midconts and Multiples whose systems evolved out of a SoulBonding relationship. There are probably as many causes for, and stories of, multiplicity as there are Multiples; walk-ins, channeled spirits, the body as a portal to other worlds. For many, aided in no small part by a sceptical and narrowminded society, coming to accept themselves, their situation, their worlds and their pasts as "real", as real as anything that can be physically, tangibly experienced by the rest of us, is a long and arduous process. Many feel they're "faking it", that they're just attention-seekers or that they have "active imaginations". It takes most a long time and a lot of support to believe in themselves and their multiplicity. But for SoulBonder-Multiples, the problem is amplified tenfold - because the majority of SoulBonds originate not from spirit walk-ins or other planes of existence, but from things that nobody "in their right mind" considers real. Books, plays, movies, comics, television. In fact, this is the main bugbear that some Multiples (and the majority of "normals") have with SoulBonders - "how can they be real people when they're just characters from some cartoon?" It's bad enough trying to explain that more than one person lives in your body - how on Mana's green Earth do you explain to someone that a ten-year-old animated character lives in your body? And not only that, but that she wants to be "real" - to have just as much of a physical presence in this world as you or I? To have real-world friends, real-world family, real-world physical contact? To be able to wear her own clothes, study her own school subjects, eat the kind of food she likes?
Some SoulBonders - even the as-yet-non-Multiple ones - already have a theory. Quite a few people believe in parallel "story-worlds", real places out there in the universe from which authors and creators inadvertently "channeled" all the stories and characters we see around us today. They argue that no story is "created", because it all already exists, somewhere out there. It was a theory I entertained once, but personally I don't really like it, because what it practically says is that imagination doesn't exist. I do
believe that a lot of things we think we "imagine" or "create" might in fact have bases in reality, or more accurately may be subconsciously tapping into something other than the creators' own minds - for example, the number of people that follow the so-called fictional "Jedi" religion from Star Wars must surely mean that at least the most fundamental concepts behind it (e.g. "the Force") have a ring of real-world truth in their being, and take also the "myths" of dragons and faeries that turned out to be only too true for so many Otherkin (in fact, I count myself among the avariels, which are D&D "creations") - but I believe there is equal truth in the reverse principle; that by the act of imagining, of pouring creative energy into a vision, we actually bring a character, situation or world into physical
being on some other plane. As an animist, I believe that all things have the life-energy and the spirit of the Goddess within them, and that this energy is shaped - either by the person or thing itself, or by outside forces, or often both - into unique, personal energy. For example, this laptop I'm working at now has its own energy, which is different from the energy of the computer I normally use (which is sitting in a box downstairs all forlorn waiting to be sent off for repairs, again ;_;), because I've poured different thoughts and feelings into each one. I'm not sure whether that means that my computer can be classed as having a "soul" or not; that would likely depend on whether it had sufficient intelligence, though then again, if you believe that even the lowliest worm has a soul then sentience doesn't come into the argument. There exists an old Japanese tale that a doll, if sufficiently loved and cared for, can be imbued with a soul through the sheer strength of its' owners affection for it. The basic tenet of magic is that if we actively pour enough energy into a wish, belief or desire, enough physical changes will be effected in the universe for it to come true. Why should this not be the same of characters from fiction? As anyone who has ever read (or watched) The Neverending Story will understand perfectly, when we absorb ourselves in a work of fiction we find ourselves empathising with the characters. We become them, their friends, their adversaries. We step into the story. We "know" the people within it. And into that world we pour our strongest emotions. We love, we hate, we fear, we fight, we pray along with them. Is this not sufficient spiritual energy to begin a seed of life, a spirit, something which could even become a soul if it should have a sufficient physical vessel in which to live?
As a corollary to this theory, I believe that such energies are created uniquely by each person who comes across a character. There is not one "singular version" or interpretation of a character, and thus there is not one singular set of energies attached that character. I see the character itself as an archetype, a "template" around which spirit is built. There might be many Daidouji Tomoyos out there, and they might all be very similar or very different, but they are not "offshoots" of any one "original"; they are simply spirits, to paraphrase a certain old book that a lot of people seem to like throwing quotes around from, created in her image. One does not make any other less "real" or "true" any more than the existence of one man invalidates another's. I suppose the best way of expressing it would be the idea of a genetic clone - the potential for growth and development is identical, the base characteristics are the same, but that person's subsequent experiences may cause them to turn out very differently from the being whose DNA they share. And the most beautiful thing about a SoulBond who becomes a being in their own right is that, from a character archetype with only the limited range of potential that its creators afford it, is born a spirit with the same infinite potential as any other person on the planet. (I suppose an overly poetic, but seemingly appropriate to me at this late hour of writing, statement would be that it's like the act of giving birth to a child, only through the sheer force and purity of love alone.) Yet the cruellest thing about it is that, save by a few other Multiples, SoulBonders and the extremely open-minded, such people may never truly be afforded the chance to be people that they so rightly deserve.
~Riesz Fenrir and Daidouji Tomoyo, at 11:45 p.m. on July 8, 2002, who had now better go to bed.