In an effort to find information on “part work” (“ladies”, etc.) that did not immediately stick labels on people and didn’t trivialize the issue, I came across this site on something called soulbonding. In this, you get to empathize with a character from a story, TV show etc. to such an extent that he/she becomes “internalized” and is becoming a part of you sort of. The concept appears to be best known in the fanfiction writing community.
I think that soulbonding is an essential skill if you want to be a good writer, and with some, the soulbonds become permanent, as with this woman writing the page. Some folks contend that it is bordering on the mid-continuum of multiplicity, which is what people call the experience similar to my “ladies”, although I don’t agree with the word “multiple”. I think, however, that there are considerable differences. I think I’ve had soulbonds with some characters in stories that I’ve written. A good example is Ingrid, the main character in a story I wrote in ninth grade. Ingrid was a teenager whose mother was severely disabled from Multiple Sclerosis. I empathized with Ingrid’s feelings, even though they were in a way opposite of my own feelings – the story centered around disability and how it affects a person with a disability and her relatives, talking about depenedency, pity, etc. This character was very real in my mind, and I could “sense” her experiences. Another good example was Sharon, a lonely teenage girl in a story written in January, 2001. Each of these characters had elements of me and I could feel part of their lives and they of mine, but they were not split-off pieces of myself, and neither did they symbolize them, as the “ladies” do. By “symbolize”, I mean that some “ladies” have qualities that are by no means mine, but that refer to qualities of mine, such as being eight-years-old in the case of Milou.
Another considerable difference is that “ladies” pop out in my mind first, and may be created in other forms later. Three of my “ladies” were once story characters, but they had been in my mind long before they were story characters. The process of formation had occurred before I had the chance to empathize with my creations on paper. And of course I had a vague idea of what the stories my soulbonds played a role in would be about before I wrote them, but the characters had not been internalized yet. That happened during the writing process.
I say it’s an essential skill for good writers, for if you don’t believe in your own characters, how can you write about their lives? Oh well, you can criticize them, of course, but then you still have to empathize with them in order to show how ridiulous they are. Otherwise it’s like writing critically about a religion you haven’t even bothered studying, and those articles make no sense.
When reading a book or watching a movie, I think that soulbonding is an extreme form of identification, which apparently in some cases may continue long after the reading has been finished, and may even be permanent. All the soulbonds I made in my writings and readings have disappeared at least to an extent, but I’m not at all surprised that some people stick with them. Why can only children have inner worlds?
To an extent, I like the idea of soulbonding, and I definitely like their attempt at making clear that having people in your mind is not a disorder (or is not in itself a problem, as I would say). However, I feel that saying that it is the same as, or only gradually different from, midcont/median experience, is saying that midcont/median experience results from empathy rather than being parts of oneself. Well, I created my “ladies” because there are pieces of myself I cannot see as united, not because I have lots of empathy (which I even doubt whether I have). Furthermore, the writer of this page contends that soulbonding is not all fun, for when you empathize with a person who is hurting, you’re feeling hurt. Still, then, you’re seeig the soulbonds as in a substatnial way separate from yourself, which is not how it is with me. My “ladies” are very essential, internalized parts of myself, not just internalized imaginary companions. Feeling hurt when you’re hurt yourself is in a way different from feeling hurt when a friend is hurt, isn’t it?
Another thing is that soulbonders and the multiples/midconts they identify with, assume good communication between the different parts/soulbonds/insiders. I contend that having parts inside yourself is not a problem, but poor communication between these parts is. You may say: everyone in a family disagrees at times. Agreed, but a family with a teenager with severe oppositional-defiant behaviour, a young adult who locks herself in her room, and an adolescent who is angry and resentful all of the time, isn’t a healthy family, is it? And even the ones who in themselves are not troubled, like Clarissa and Milou, need to take the baggage of the troubled ones. I have enough experience in the behaviourally disordered community to know that even in real world families this is going to be quite problematic.
A very important difference is, lastly, that soulbonders are not bothered by their soulbonds when they don’t want to. The writer of this page supposes that if you are bothered by your inside people at a moment when you don’t want to, you have a problem, but that makes no sense at all. I know many people who can’t turn off their insiders, but who can still cope with them. Those are the very multiples/midconts who identify with the soulbonders. I agree that you cannot use your insiders as an excuse to do inappropriate things, or if you do, you have a real problem whether you’re bothered by it or not, but the simple fact that you can’t make your insiders disappear isn’t a problem, and the fact that you are a synthesis of your insiders (or that’s what you’re trying to be), doesn’t mean you’re totally fine with it.