Tunnel vision and mental illness

For a period of my life someone poisoned me with drugs that affected my brain and thought processes. I don’t know what the drug was but I definitely know it happened.

That experience is the basis for the following speculation: a lot of mental illness is fundamentally characterized by tunnel vision or what I might rather call “bright room” vision.

At the time I could not see it but looking back after the poisoning stopped I can see that my brain compensated for the poison’s toxic effects by ignoring large areas of information. This was not a conscious decision. It was just what my brain did to survive.

In this sense, my brain was in a tunnel or a bright room outside of which I could see virtually nothing. I think of the tunnel as fairly bright. That part of my world was clear enough to me. What was missing was the much larger world outside of the tunnel.

If you have ever been in an underground train station with lit tunnels going to various trains (like Grand Central Station in NYC), that is a good example of this metaphor.

Now, think about people you have known who are suffering mental illness, especially those who are not aware of their plight. Do you notice that for many of them what they see is like that tunnel? It’s bright and the way is sort of clear, but the larger environment around them is highly reduced. For me, it was more like a bright room with a fair amount of stuff in it and people and things going on, but all I could see was the inside of that room and almost nothing beyond. Outside the windows everything was dark.

I was not fantasizing the room or actively deluded by it as much as confined to it, unable to be aware of what was outside it. My brain was ignoring large sections of reality to hang on to whatever I could.

Consider a long-term alcoholic, a victim of self-poisoning, whose eyes still glow. I think what people like that see is a bright room or tunnel and not much else. How else can someone who has been addicted to alcohol for fifty years still deny it? It’s because that larger awareness is not inside their bright room.

Consider a narcissist in roughly the same way. I would maintain that they really cannot see what they are doing in the wider context of all the people they are harming because they only see the bright room around them, the bright tunnel before them.

Borderline, neuroticism, and bipolar, especially in the manic stage, are much the same.

I am not saying that all mental problems have this bright room/dark world aspect but I believe many of them do.

Incidentally, all psychologists and medical professionals should always consider poison as a significantly probable etiology for all mental illness.

Fourth wave cognitive behavior therapy

The third wave of cognitive behavior therapy is a general term for a group of psychotherapies that arose in the 1980s, inspired by acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

To me, third wave therapies seem more realistic than older therapies because they accept emotions as they are and pay close attention to how they function in the moment.

The link above is well-worth reading. The frames of these therapies are also well-worth considering.

FIML, which I am calling a “fourth wave cognitive behavior therapy,” differs from third wave therapies in that FIML does not use a professional therapist. Instead, partners become their own therapists.

Moreover, how FIML partners frame their psychologies or generalize their behaviors is entirely up to them. Similarly, their psychological goals and definitions are entirely in their own hands.

At its most basic, FIML “removes wrong interpretations of interpersonal signs and symbols from the brain’s semiotic networks.”

This process of removal, in turn, shows partners how their minds function in real-time real-world situations. And this in turn provides the tools and perspectives to reorganize their psychologies in whichever ways they like.

FIML is based on semiotics because semiotics are specific and with practice can be clearly identified and understood. They give partners “solid ground” to stand on. Words, tone of voice, gestures, and facial expressions are some of the major semiotics partners analyze.

Using real-world semiotics as an analytical basis frees FIML from predetermined frameworks about personality or what human psychology even is. With the FIML tool, partners are free to discover whatever they can about how their minds communicate interpersonally (and internally) and do whatever they like with that.

Next-level metacognitive control

Experienced FIML practitioners enjoy levels of metacognitive control ordinary humans cannot even dream of.

This control comes after years of diligent FIML practice. It happens because the skills acquired through FIML combined with its metacognitive results allow practitioners to practice FIML on themselves.

FIML practice gradually removes virtually all communication error between partners. This error-removal process is ongoing because all living systems must continually remove waste and error to function optimally.

Successful FIML results in two major achievements:

  • very clear, optimally functioning cognition and metacognition
  • the skill-set needed to attain the above

When these achievements have been realized, FIML practitioners will find they are able to rather easily apply them to their own introspection, their own subjective states while alone.

Ordinary people cannot do this because they have not experienced the metacognitive states brought about by FIML nor have they acquired the skills to quickly remove error from their thoughts.

The FIML skills of quickly removing error from our thoughts cannot be acquired overnight. It must be built upon diligent practice and experience. You cannot imagine it into being.

Once these skills and experiences have become established in the mind as reliable functions, they can be applied to mental states while alone.

A good place to begin is with mental states that arise after waking in the middle of the night. Rather then lie in bed suffering the torture of anxiety, depression, or excessive self-recrimination, skilled FIML practitioners are able to easily remove or redirect their thoughts and emotions.

Real-life illusions

A new optical illusion has been discovered.

All of those lines are the same except for their colors. Most people see zigzags and curves. The zigzags are an illusion.

You can read more about this illusion here: This Crazy New Optical Illusion Shows if You Have ‘Curvature Blindness’.

Vision is our most trusted sense and yet it can be illusory. How much more then can our emotions and even our psychologies be illusory?

This is why FIML practice is essential.

 

Psychology is warped by too much reliance on patterns and types rather than how people actually function

You will never figure yourself out by answering questionnaires or trying to match yourself with a psychological metric or type.

Beyond that, you will absolutely never optimize your psychology and life using those methods.

The right way to grasp and optimize your psychology is to understand how it functions in real-time real-life situations.

To do this you have to take control of your own life and use a technique like FIML that allows you to observe yourself in real-time real-life situations.

I honestly do not think there is any other way.

Poor precision in communication distorts motives

And distorted motives warp human interactions, which in turn degrade individual psychology.

There is no way around it—the ways almost all people communicate are much cruder than their brains are capable of.

And that is the cause of most of what we now call (non-biological) “mental health” problems.

Here is an example: I want to say something very complex to my primary care doctor. I can give her the gist in a minute or two but I do not want to have that go on my medical record.

So I ask her if I can start a discussion that she will promise to keep off my record.

She says, “I’ll think about it.”

A week later I get a letter from her nurse saying she is not willing to do what I asked.

No reason why was given. Do rules prevent her from doing that? I have heard of doctors allowing patients to keep some concerns off the record, but who knows what the reality is? Do you?

If I insist, will that go on my record? Did what I asked in the first place go on my record? My doctor is trapped within or is voluntarily following some guideline that is most decidedly not in my best interests.

This same sort of thing can happen interpersonally. If I raise a topic that is psychologically important to me with even a close friend, I have to wonder will they understand? Will they allow me to expand the subject over a few weeks or months or longer? Will my initial statements change our friendship?

The basic problem is how do you discuss complex psychological subjects with others?

One of my friends works in alternative health care. She knows what I want to bring up with my doctor and admits that even in her professional setting where patients have an hour to open up, there is not enough time.

Back to my primary care doctor. I saw her again a year later and she asked if I remembered her. I said, “Of course I remember you.” She said no more and neither of us raised the off-the-record topic. An intern was with her.

I wonder what she thinks of me. Did she interpret my slightly nervous behavior when I first asked as a “sign” of something? Does she think I am volatile or bipolar or just nuts? (I am not.)

I am 100% sure that she cannot possibly know what I wanted to bring up with her. In this case, I have all of the information and I want to give it to her but she cannot or will not allow that unless my initial fumblings toward a complex subject are made public.

Even a  close friend could find themselves in a similar position. And I wonder if I have done that myself to someone. Most people most of the time are not able to scale those walls that divide us.

On either side of the wall is a complex person capable of complex understanding, but one or both persons cannot scale the wall. My doctor is smart enough to have become an MD and yet I cannot tell her about a complex medical condition that is of great importance to me.

I know that I do not want to open the subject and risk a shallow public label (a common hindrance to many potential communications). I honestly do not know what my doctor is thinking. Maybe I will try again the next time I see her.