How can you tell different people in a system apart?
Well for one, body language, and speech patterns can be a big clue. Sometimes it will be obvious. For example, some members of the system may have an accent, or particularly fond of a certain style of slang. Other times, it will be much more subtle, such as the manner in which one constructs a sentence.
Other clue-ins are posture, facial expression, tone of voice, reflexive habits (nervous habits like bouncing a leg, wringing hands, etc.), emotional repertoire, and context of what someone is saying (for example so-and-so talks about baseball, or uses references to baseball in metaphor while speaking).
It can be frustrating to people who sound and/or look very different but, when expressing themselves through the shared body, seem very much like one or more other people in that system! Perhaps they are used to others in their system being able to distinguish them from those people very easily, either because of internal "physical" characteristics such as voice or appearance that do not map over well as distinguishable when expressed through the body or because of their role(s) within. This sort of confusion can also be useful - for example, as a protector, if I need to function in an environment in which we are not "out" as a multiple. [Ellen of the Feline Pride]
It requires a great deal of attentiveness at times to notice the difference between two people. In one body, the difference might be that when one person comes out, facial tension changes and the lines on their face shift considerably...while another person's face is smooth and nearly lineless. This change is subtle and requires a great deal of observation, but once you note that Jim of Joe& has that facial feature, you can watch to see if anyone else in Joe& shares it, and you can ask for confirmation of whether Joe& is Jim at a point when you see that feature. You can even point out these traits to the multiple, "I can tell you are Jim because your facial tension changes, and you have a line over there." As a multiple, I find it very interesting when people are able to tell me what differentiates people in my system. Sometimes I find it helpful to tell us apart.
Other physical characteristics, such as eyecolor, may also change. [The Saturn System]
On the topic of subtle differences and clues, some people believe that everyone has energy signatures -- a specific energetic or aura "thumbprint" -- which can be used to identify a specific individual within a body. Thus, if a person one can "sense" this energy signature, they can detect the difference between the people within a multiple system. It can also argued that this method is entirely too subjective, and prone to suggestion to be a useful tool. If it works for the persons involved, then they should probably use this method, even if there are subtle subconscious cues they're taking in and it's not energy signatures at all, because the important point is that some attention is given to who is fronting in the multiple, and treating that person as a unique and distinct individual.
Some multiples obscure who they are deliberately. Or specific individuals within the system may do so, taking on a generic mask, or masquerading as other people in the system deliberately to protect themselves or to foster certain reactions in the outside world. This attempt to be discreet may also extend to their energy signature. Depending on your relationship to the multiple in question, this may or may not be a problem. When in doubt...
What if I can't tell them apart?
When in doubt, ask. Politely. Hopefully they will be understanding. Not everyone is adept at noticing shifts in body language and speech, and such shifts may even be nigh-nonexistant due to having that much in common with each other.
--Arashi & XES
Yeah - so I have periods of time I don't remember, I have parts of me that talk to me as loud as the external world - people tell me that I change etc. etc. and I have a classic fucked up history - that does not make me want to waste what precious time I have on this planet going on and on and on about every nuance of just how "wierd" my selfhood is... Don't you ever want to have a real life away from all this shit? Aren't you sick to DEATH of it? don't you wish you could spend your time more productively? I know I do - and despite the internal voices and shouting and screaming and the pressure they exert and the things that I want to do I will never give into the ridiculous psychobabble of calling myself "WE" - go on - you know you can stop it if you really want to...
Isn't life alreadyhard enough without all this shit(?)
- We have a real life away from all this shit inclusive of being "We" -- We're not at all sick to death of being a "we" and don't carry our past like a burden. Not everyone has to choose to integrate their differences into their life and roll with it, though. You can do what you want, refer to yourself however you want, and you can try to put the past behind you and go on and attempt to be what most singletons think of as normal. But that's not normal for everyone. My normal includes that I have an internal family which is actually far more wholesome and supportive than any external family I've ever had. I don't run around pretending they don't exist. I've found they really come to resent that sort of thing and it leads to a lot of acting out (not to mention the impossibility of defining just who "I" is). I don't consider "WE" to be psychobabble. I consider "acting normal" to be psychobabble -- it's an unattainable standard because there IS no definable, acceptable or actual standard. My "voices" don't have to shout and scream and exert pressures. We discuss, negotiate, compromise and communicate. Sometimes, when things in life are going well, the silence in my head is deafening. But the thing at that point is that we're all in agreement about what's going on and what we're doing. That's pretty good when there's some 70+/- of you. -- XES