I want to preface this by saying that this is based off of our own, personal experience of medianhood. It should also be noted that our median system is primarily traumagenic; your experiences can and will differ. We will be using the term “facets” to refer to median system mates, as this is the language we are most familiar with using, however if you are not comfortable with this, we in no way require you to use it for yourselves.
Imagine you have two dragons in a cage. If the cage were the human brain, the two dragons would be multiple system mates, with their own, individual identities and personalities. Now imagine that instead of this, you have a hydra in a cage, with one body and many different heads, with various personalities, but the singular identity of “hydra”. The latter is a metaphor for how median systems function.
Medianhood, at its core, is a fuzzy state between being fully singlet and fully multiple. A median system may be comprised of a core identity with many different facets, or personality states, to said identity, or it could lack any core identity and shift between facets alone. Here is an example: Sally, as a median system, has four states of being, there’s her usual day-to-day self in which each of her facets are blended together, along with the facets Joy, Sorrow, and Anger. Each of these facets, as well as her default state, all consider themselves to be “Sally” at a base level and do not function separately from one another, though depending in which facet is dominant at the time, Sally’s behavior, mannerisms, and worldview can change drastically.
In many ways, medianhood most closely fits the classic misnomer of “multiple personalities”. The system mates in a median system often do not consider themselves fully separate from one another, either in identity or in functioning. Yet, their experience is also not fully singlet: median systems are just as capable of switching, blending, and integrating as multiple systems are, despite the basic parameters being slightly different.
Medianhood is not the same as sharing a common memory pool, or being co-conscious. System mates in multiple systems can have these characteristics as well, and still identify themselves and function as separate individuals. To put it this way: a separate system mate can get fed up and lock themselves away from us and refuse to work with the others, but the facets, as they’re not a fully separate awareness, cannot do the same.
Medianhood is also far more complex than simple “moodiness”, as facets have a deeper layer of consistency to them. Often, when one is moody, their reactions can be random or inconsistent, whereas facets can have very consistent internal value systems. For instance, a median system that has switched or shifted to a misanthropic facet may also adopt that facet’s tendency to view the entire world as a dog fight, whereas were that facet not brought forward, they would view the world as a place too polluted by strife to deserve more of it. Thus, facets are more complex, and occasionally more conflicting than simply being in an angry mood, or wearing an emotional mask to work: entire ideologies and agendas can shift and change between facets.
Facets, Aspects, and Median System Mates
There are a wide variety of ways one may experience the facets within their system. Some systems may be able to communicate back and forth with the facets despite still being one entity, similar to the way one would control different finger puppets. Others still may experience themselves as a more singular entity, with only a single facet active at the time. My own subsystem (as in, I am a median individual within a broader multiple system–imagine a bunch of dragons inside a cage with a hydra), alternates between these two states. When there is great stress or conflict between my facets, my core awareness will shift between them as they bicker and argue, whereas when the system is relatively calm, I will cycle through the facets naturally depending on what pressures draw them out.
Facets can have their own unique forms within a system, as well. In my case, my form in-system shifts and changes depending on which facet is dominant or “in front”. Other facets may appear more separate, especially if facets are able to communicate, but still identify as part of the median system.
Median switching, in my experience, is a bit different than switching with a separate system mate. Usually when a facet shift occurs, I will still feel as though I am the one in control, and the facet will take over my internal narrative rather than exist alongside it. Most notably, I also still feel like “me”, despite having very different sensibilities than I had before.
So what changes when a different facet is in charge? Well, in the case of my subsystem, personal values, emotional intelligence and regulation, and word choice can all change completely. Also, unlike when switching with separate system mates, the facets cannot always agree to switch and are instead drawn out, often by external or internal stimuli, like social pressures at work, or uncovering bad memories. While this can mitigate problems like body-jacking, when the facets come under pressure, or when each facet wants to act at once in a different way, it can put the system at risk of splitting.
From what we have seen, it is relatively easy for facets to split apart when placed under enough pressure, and we have come close to this in our system. That said, a major function of each facet in the system is to maintain a degree of balance, so while it is possible for a median system to split and become fully multiple, whether they should is up to the discretion of the individual system in question, provided the split isn’t caused by an outside source.
Conversely, it is also possible for facets to integrate completely, and potentially easier than doing so with separate system mates. Integration, like splitting, is something that should be considered and researched by the system in question. It’s very likely you became median for a reason, and it’s important to know the risks before jumping straight into integrating.
In my case, the facets of The Watchers serve three distinct purposes: one is a fun, social mask, whose core objective is to ensure other people like us and are willing to befriend us, one is coldly rational, whose core objective is to ensure we perform well in school and weed out bad reasoning socially, and the last is mistrustful and misanthropic, whose job exists for the purpose of protecting us from being exploited by potential abusers. While the interests of the first and third facet often clash, both of their functions can be vital when the system is in balance.
It should be noted, however, that my facets can also remain blended for long periods of time, and unless the system is under immediate stress, I am rarely one facet or another, but often a blend of all of them. Another difference I’ve noted is that blending with facets can feel natural when the system is harmonious, whereas blending with separate system mates can often be unpleasant or unsettling.
Those are the bulk of my experiences with medianhood. I hope it’s offered you some insight into what median systems are and how they function. Keep in mind, not all median systems are alike, just as not all multiple systems are alike, and many will have varying degrees of capabilities or different tendencies from what I described here. Some may be more topologically multiple than mine, or some may be more topologically singlet. Some may blend a lot, some may not blend at all.
If you’re still figuring out where you stand as a system, or if you’re doing cursory research into medianhood, consider this article a jumping off point.