How to really know another person

link to spotify

link to to other links

So often, we think we know what other people are thinking. But researchers have found that our attempts at reading other people go wrong more often than we realize. This week, we talk with psychologist Tessa West about what we can all do to read people more accurately.

link

This podcast provides a global view of a fundamental problem with human communication—we often do not understand each other. It also provides a global view of why mind-reading doesn’t work, no matter how you do it. The global-view conclusion of the podcast is the best way to know what someone is thinking is ask them.

I very much endorse everything I heard at the global level. I hope that readers of ABN will see that FIML is a granular level of asking another person what they think. FIML works especially well on the micro level of human subjectivity, which is always unique, always idiosyncratic. If you can follow the reasoning and conclusions of West on the linked podcast, I hope you will be able to see that FIML works with these same basic problems in intimate relations. FIML practice greatly improves intimate relations while at the same time greatly increasing our understanding of our own and our partner’s psychology. FIML does what it does so well it can be thought of as a form of psychotherapy. ABN

Bad communication leads to ulterior motives and pointless suffering

I believe most people in the world are all but forced to resort to ulterior motives when dealing with others or being dealt with by them.

Furthermore, I believe most people are in this position so often they don’t just resort to hidden motivations, they expect them, are habituated to them, rely on them, and even enjoy them even though they cause immense suffering.

This situation arises due to fundamentally bad communication and the mistrust and uncertainty that devolve from it.

If communication is fundamentally bad (ambiguous, misleading, can’t be cleared up), there is no one you can trust but yourself. No one else you can rely on.

You are all but forced to conceal what your really think, feel, or want because you probably won’t be understood if you try to explain yourself honestly. Worse, you  may get played.

Your interlocutor may genuinely misunderstand and cause you harm by that or they may feign interest and honesty when they are just gathering dirt to use against you.

Can anyone deny this happens very often? And that normal people have no recourse but to play that game?

An ulterior motive is one that is concealed. A motive that is different from what is being communicated. We all know what that means and how destructive it can be.

Ulterior motives arise because we do not use our communication systems (mainly speech and listening) at all well. Instead of communicating honestly, we try to “read” the other person while at the same time calculating to what extent or how they are “reading” us.

This is a disgusting situation for people to have put themselves in.

This problem can be fixed with one other person, so you can have at least one friend who does not do this to you and to whom you do not do it either. That makes two people who can escape the deadening, anti-life maze of ulterior motivation madness.

The way to do it is through FIML. I do not believe there is any other way.

If many people do FIML, eventually many of us will see the problems of bad communication clearly. Many of us will realize that virtually all people are trapped in a system that all but forces them to lie to others while suffocating themselves.

____________________________

Edit 10/07/17: Here is a pop culture analysis of how to tell if someone is lying: 9 WAYS TO SPOT A LIAR. Scroll down to the list and notice how crude and dubious these tells are, but this is what many people work with. It’s all we have. With a good partner, FIML can lead you to levels of truth far higher and deeper than this. In this world, we really have to develop FIML relationships to fully explore our own psychology and human psychology in general. Without FIML, you are permanently locked out of your own depths by being trapped in ordinary communication which is accurately characterized by the shallowness of the linked article.

first posted OCTOBER 6, 2017

Uncertainty in human social interactions

All human interactions entail some uncertainty and most entail a lot.

To deal with uncertainty, humans use heuristics (“rules of thumb”) that generally are based on what they perceive to be normal or required in the situation at hand. These heuristics come from experience, from role models, from organizational structures, beliefs and so on.

A recent study—Uncertainty about social interactions leads to the evolution of social heuristics—explores:

…an evolutionary simulation model, showing that even intermediate uncertainty leads to the evolution of simple cooperation strategies that disregard information about the social interaction (‘social heuristics’).

This study uses simulations to tease out how social heuristics and social cooperation evolve in very simple game scenarios.

If social games have rules, we can change how much uncertainty they contain and how best to cooperate within them.

This is essentially what FIML practice does. FIML greatly reduces interpersonal uncertainty between partners while increasing cooperation by having a few fairly simple rules.

When uncertainty is lowered and cooperation increased between partners, psychological well-being and understanding is proportionally enhanced. This happens because social interaction and communication are basic to human psychology.

The study linked above employs simulations to show a sort mathematically forced evolutionary outcome arising from initial settings. I believe FIML is similar in this respect, though the FIML game involves complex humans rather than simple sims.

I often wonder why no one has discovered the rules of FIML before. So many great thinkers, but not one found these key rules for optimal communication and psychological understanding. I believe there are two basics reasons for this: 1) FIML requires developing dynamic metacognition during real-time real-life communication events and this takes practice; and 2) most great thinkers that we know about today and hence could learn from also had great status, and this prevented them from noticing the deep flaws in interpersonal communication that FIML corrects.

first posted JUNE 1, 2018

Advanced FIML

FIML is a method for generating crystal clear communication between participating partners. Once this has been achieved partners will notice a profound reduction in neurotic feelings–anxiety, worry, fear, suspicion, depression, boredom, anomie, etc.

Following this, many FIML practitioners will also notice that the practice has given them insights into cultural semiotics that parallel changes in art and literature. In designing FIML, we were not originally looking for this outcome, but it is there. Let me explain.

The “semiotics” or vocabulary of all art forms have changed throughout history, but especially since the 19th century. For example, in music the notion of what is dissonant or harmonic has changed from simpler classical forms, which demanded greater conformity between scales and chords, to jazz and modern music that allow for much greater freedom. Similarly, in the visual arts, the modern sense of color, balance, and perspective has changed to allow for much greater freedom of expression than in the past. The same kinds of changes can be seen in literature, chess, math, architecture, design, and many other areas.

We even see these changes in society as many more concepts and ways of living are now allowed than in the past–a more open sense of gender and sexual orientation, for example, are generally considered normal or acceptable in many parts of the world when just a few decades ago they were not. We also have a much broader and deeper understanding of race, culture, history, religion, ethnicity, and so on.

All of this relates to FIML in this way: FIML gives partners the means to understand and reorganize any and all levels of cultural semiotics they can become aware of. By semiotics I mean all signs, symbols, mores, taboos, beliefs, roles, impressions, memories, feelings, etc. that are connected to language and that thereby influence our use of language. That basically means everything in your mind, including language. Semiotics is the water the fish of language and communication swim in. Your mind is filled with a multifaceted semiotics that affects everything you do, say, and hear. Normally, we are only sort of aware of this.

FIML practice will lead many partners to realize that the semiotics–whatever they may be–in which their lives are immersed are as fully open to interpretation and reorganization as the artistic and cultural traditions described above. How partners decide to interpret their shared semiotics is up to them. FIML says nothing about that. What FIML will do is show you in a most intimate and convincing way that your capacity to fully understand your partner can also free you from traditional strictures in how you think about psychology, society, politics, history, art, and so on. If you want to play classical tunes with that knowledge, that is fine. If you want to play jazz or something you make up, that is also fine.

FIML will free you to do whatever you like with the semiotics you share with your partner.

In this way, I think that FIML practice can greatly enhance traditional Buddhist practice. At the same time, FIML may make traditional Buddhist practice more accessible or relevant to people today. FIML shows partners the emptiness of their semiotics in a way that may be more engaging than traditional techniques.

(As a side note, one great concern I have about FIML is ethics. I am quite convinced the ethics required to successfully practice FIML will convince partners that high ethical standards are essential for good living, but I cannot prove that. It does not follow logically and we do not have enough examples of successful FIML practitioners to claim that based on the numbers. No social or intellectual system, not even a strict legal system, can ensure that all members will behave ethically. I hope that FIML will be so powerful and transformational to those who do it, though, that high ethical standards will be a nearly inevitable byproduct of the practice. Time will tell.)

first posted DECEMBER 24, 2011

UPDATE 09/18/22: I have long been convinced since first posting the above that honesty and good ethics all but “fall out” of FIML practice. Surely there will be some individuals who will misuse the practice but the majority will not. Within just a few weeks it will become evident to partners that lying or withholding are completely counterproductive and defeat everything good about FIML. Remember, FIML is not a tell-all game. Partners always have the option to decline to say. FIML is not about discovering personal secrets or using psychological techniques. It is all about becoming very clear about what you and your partner mean when you speak or act. It is an extremely wonderful, refreshing practice. ABN

Semiotics in game tech

Edit 2/26/15: The article linked below is an excellent example of how a single semiotic is functioning differently in different cultures. Well, there is more than one, but the examples are very clear and concrete. The contention that lies behind FIML practice is that all people all of the time hold many idiosyncratic semiotics and that when they communicate, these idiosyncratic semiotics can have a huge effect on how they listen and what they say. Idiosyncrasies may have cultural origins or they may arise from subjective states or simply be arbitrary. The idiosyncratic individual (all people everywhere at all times) is like a mini-culture. FIML practice is done between two idiosyncratic individuals who are close to each other, care about each other, and spend a significant amount of time together. It is designed to help partners understand how their idiosyncrasies can and do cause misunderstandings, some of which may snowball into serious conflicts when at heart there never was much of anything there save different views of the same semiotic.

If you have been studying or reading about FIML but still don’t quite see what is meant by semiotics or how they function in real-world settings, please be sure to read the article liked below and also here. The semiotics of controller design.

_______________________

A friend sent me an interesting article on The semiotics of controller design of the Sony PlayStation.

His comment on the article:

I thought you would find this interesting. The amount of consideration that goes into something so simple makes it practically impossible to experience anything directly without FIML and meditative insight.

The article discusses the meaning of a couple of signs on PlayStation controllers. It shows how cultural inculcation led Japanese and Americans to understand those signs very differently. So differently, in fact, Sony had to change the buttons (or “localize” them) for the American audience.

Most of us will find the linked article understandable and most of us will be able to appreciate how acculturation can and does lead us to perceive signs and symbols differently.

If you can see this it is but a short step to see that individuals do the same. Each of us perceives or understands signs and symbols in ways that are unique to us. As my friend says, it is “practically impossible to experience anything directly without FIML and meditative insight.”

How could it be otherwise? How can anyone expect to understand and be understood intimately without frequent and extensive discussion of what semiotics mean to them and their partner(s)?

Many people claim they don’t have time for discussions like that, and for some I think that is true. For the rest, I don’t agree.

In any case, before long we will have super-smart robots and brain-to-machine interfaces that will utterly change the way we perceive each other as well as “reality” itself.

When that day comes, we bio-humans will have the time and we will have the inclination to buckle down and do the work needed to really understand each other.

In the future, I expect something like FIML will be a major standard for human-to-human communication. When the machines are miles ahead of us, we will at last relent and really try to understand rather than just manage or control each other.

first posted FEBRUARY 25, 2015

How (intimate) interpersonal language functions

Parentheses around the word (intimate) indicate a spectrum from less to more intimate, less to more psychologically important.

1) If we study how (intimate) interpersonal language functions, we will discover that it is significantly both defined and impeded by errors in listening and speaking.

2) The more intimate interpersonal communication is the more idiosyncratic it is.

Since (intimate) interpersonal communication is psychologically more significant the more intimate it is, it follows that it is very important to analyze and understand this kind of communication. It also follows that (intimate) interpersonal communication is harder to analyze from the outside the more intimate it is.

It is essentially impossible for an expert to tell two lovers what their words mean or how to understand their acts of communication.

Therefore, the lovers must do it themselves. The expert can only show them how to do it themselves.

3) This is a fundamental truth that rests in the nexus between language and psychology: the more intimate the communication the more important it is psychologically and also the more important it is that the communicators be able to analyze their communication satisfactorily and correct errors that inevitably occur.

4) How to do that can be taught. This is a good job for psychologists. Doing the analyzing and correcting is the job of the intimate communicators.

5) If (intimate) interpersonal communications are not analyzed and corrected; if errors are not discovered and removed from the system, the psychologies of both communicators will be harmed.

6) Conversely, if (intimate) interpersonal communications are analyzed and corrected; if errors are discovered and removed from the system, the psychologies of both communicators will be benefited.

7) Indeed, removing error from an (intimate) interpersonal communication system will result in gradual optimization of both the system and the psychologies of the analyzers.


8) In sum:

  • communication error is inevitable in (intimate) interpersonal communication systems
  • it is very important to correct these errors
  • and to analyze them and the communication system itself in the light of these corrections
  • this optimizes both the communication system and the psychologies of both communicators

There is no other way to accomplish such sweeping improvement in both communication and individual psychology. There is no outside way for intimate communications to be analyzed and no one else to do it but the intimate communicators themselves.

This is a fundamental truth that applies both to intimate communication and psychology. And this makes perfect sense because psychology is determined by intimate communication and vice versa.

first posted JANUARY 6, 2019

UPDATE 09/17/22: FIML is by far the best way I know to accomplish this. In fact, I know of no other way. TBH, I know I am giving away something extremely wonderful for free. All you have to do is take it and use it. That’s all I want. ABN

This image is profoundly misleading because it leaves out a major factor

A major cause of anger and all other emotional reactions during interpersonal communications is mistaken interpretations, either wrong or distorted. This can also include positive interpretations.

For Buddhists, the second skandha (sensation) is the proximate cause of how we perceive (third skandha) forms (first skandha). The fourth and fifth skandhas (mental activity and consciousness) are how we consolidate or more often reconsolidate the original mistaken or distorted sensation. For more on this see: The Five Skandhas.

For non-Buddhists, if you watch your mind closely you will notice there is a short delay between receiving an impression and reacting to it, interpreting it.

For everyone, if you can be mindful of the second skandha (sensation) as it occurs and then interrupt the habitual firing of the next three skandhas by doing a FIML query, you will begin to truly observe how your mind (and your partner’s mind) really works. Each interruption of this type improves your mental and emotional functioning because you will observe an objective bit of reality and correct toward it. For more information see: Disruption of neurotic response in FIML practice and How the brain processes new information. ABN

The limits of general semiotic analyses as applied to human psychology

Much of the work done in human semiotics involves analyses of semiotic codes.

Semiotics and semiotic codes are often treated like language or languages for which a grammar can be found.

One obvious problem with this sort of approach is semiotics indicates a set that is much broader than language. Stated another way, language is a subset of semiotics.

Human semiotics also include music, imagery, gesture, facial expression, emotion, and anything else that can communicate either within one mind or between two or more minds.

It is very helpful to analyze semiotic codes and it is very helpful to try to figure out how cultures, groups, and individuals use them. We can compare the semiotics of heroism in Chinese culture to that of French culture. Or the semiotics of gift-giving in American culture to that of Mexican culture. We can analyze movies, literature, science, and even engineering based on semiotic codes we have abstracted out of them.

We can do something similar for human psychology.

Analyses of this type are, in my view, general in that they involve schema or paradigms or grammars that say general things about how semiotic systems work or how individuals (or semiotic signs themselves) fit into those systems.

This is all good and general analyses of this sort can be indispensable aids to understanding.

General semiotic analyses are limited, however, in their application to human psychology because such analyses cannot effectively grasp the semiotic codes of the individual. Indeed general analyses are liable to conceal individual codes and interpretations more than usefully reveal them.

This is so because all individuals are always complex repositories of many general semiotic codes as well as many individual ones. And these codes are always changing, responding, being conditioned by new circumstances and many kinds of feedback.

Individuals as repositories of many codes, both external and internal, are complex and always changing and there is no general analysis that will ever fully capture that complexity.

For somewhat similar reasons, no individual acting alone can possibly perform a self-analysis that captures the full complexity of the many and always-changing semiotic codes that exist within them.

Self-analysis is far too subject to selection bias, memory, and even delusion to be considered accurate or objective. The individual is also far too complex for the individual to grasp alone. How can an individual possibly stand outside itself and see itself as it is? Where would the extra brain-space come from?

How can a system of complex semiotic codes use yet another code to successfully analyze itself?

Clearly, no individual human semiotic system can ever fully know itself.

To recap, 1) there is no general semiotic analysis that will ever capture the complexity of individual psychology, and 2) no individual acting alone can ever capture the complexity of the semiotic codes that exist within them.

Concerning point two, we could just as well say that no individual acting alone can ever capture the complexity of their own psychology.

We are thus prevented from finding a complex analysis of human psychology through a general analysis of semiotics and also through an individual’s self-analysis when acting alone.

This suggests, however, that two individuals acting together might be able to glimpse, if not grasp, how their complex semiotic codes are actually functioning when they interact with each other. If two individuals working together can honestly observe and discuss moments of dynamic real-time semiotic interaction between them, they should be able to begin to understand how their immensely complex and always-changing psycho-semiotic codes are actually functioning.

An approach of this type ought to work better for psychological understanding of the individuals involved than any mix of general semiotic analyses applied to them. Indeed, prefabricated, general semiotic analyses will tend to conceal the actual functioning of the idiosyncratic semiotics and semiotic codes used by those individuals.

The FIML method does not apply a general semiotic analysis to human psychology. Rather it uses a method or technique to allow two individuals working together to see and understand how their semiotics and semiotic codes are actually functioning.

first posted APRIL 16, 2015

An image that illustrates the value of FIML practice

click on image for larger

FIML practice is like JWST compared to normal interpersonal speech, which is like Hale at best. Like the telescope, FIML is a technical advance that allows for much greater clarity and resolution. In Buddhist terms, FIML is partner-based mindfulness that provides an objective control on understanding in addition to much better clarity. ABN

Engineering Illusions of The Science

Much of what most people believe is science, is not science. A lot of people might agree with that sentiment, but there is a more important corollary that will make some scientists flip their lids, which is that most of what scientists believe is science, is not science.

We really are that far down the road of misunderstanding or totalitarianism or something.

The story I’m about to tell begins with a warm and fuzzy documentary, but spirals into threats made to a highly respected scientist who took his family into hiding. The tale begins with an essay I wrote many years ago (you can skip it…this is the better essay) that I believe displays something like the infection of science with a virus. This was a story for which I was particularly well suited to examine for reasons you will come to understand if you don’t know me already. Upon digging into this story, what I found was quite troubling as it points to the subtle presence of hard-to-identify corruption that is therefore likely more the norm in “The Science”™ than an outlier.

link

This morning my FIML partner told me an essay by Mathew Crawford (linked above) says exactly what I always say about FIML practice—that it just takes practice and that almost anyone can do it with not even that much effort. I am 100% certain Mathew could learn basic FIML in a few hours if he has a suitable partner or a good teacher. In fact, I hereby volunteer to teach him the “tricks” for free. You do not need to be really smart to do FIML. You do have to be willing to practice. Sadly, the hardest part of learning FIML is finding an honest partner who also wants to learn. While math tricks can get attention, FIML can open your mind to levels of conscious understanding you cannot even imagine today. I guarantee it. ABN

Our brains take time to update unless we are shown the update

A clever experiment has shown how our brains ignore change or incorporate it into our perceptions only slowly through a “continuity field,” as described below:

Like our social media feeds, our brains are constantly uploading rich, visual stimuli. But instead of seeing the latest image in real time, we actually see earlier versions because our brain’s refresh time is about 15 seconds, according to new UC Berkeley research.

The findings, appearing today, Jan. 12, in the journal Science Advances, add to a growing body of research about the mechanism behind the “continuity field,” a function of perception in which our brain merges what we see on a constant basis to give us a sense of visual stability.

“If our brains were always updating in real time, the world would be a jittery place with constant fluctuations in shadow, light and movement, and we’d feel like we were hallucinating all the time,” said study senior author David Whitney, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology, neuroscience and vision science.

link

The study itself—Illusion of visual stability through active perceptual serial dependence—focus more on the illusion of visual stability:

Despite a noisy and ever-changing visual world, our perceptual experience seems remarkably stable over time. How does our visual system achieve this apparent stability? Here, we introduce a previously unknown visual illusion that shows direct evidence for an online mechanism continuously smoothing our percepts over time. As a result, a continuously seen physically changing object can be misperceived as unchanging.

If you watch the videos in the first link above, you can notice two things: 1) the slowness and blurriness of our perceptual change as we watch the video, and 2) that we can and do accept that change the moment it is shown to us in comparative stills.

I believe it is fair for me to extrapolate from this that our psychologies or, more precisely, our psychological memories do something similar on both points. Though the medium of memory is vastly less crisp than that of visual perception in real-time, a fruitful comparison can be made.

Many old movies are based on the two points mentioned above. The protagonist thinks someone is either bad or good and acts accordingly and then at the climax is shown indisputable proof that the opposite has been true all along. This plot is very common in movies predating WW2 but is still an undercurrent in many movies since then.

Humans like this plot and resolution because it mirrors real life in an ideal way. If only we could resolve similar problems in our own lives so quickly and easily!

This can be done in FIML practice. In fact this is the goal of FIML practice—to update our psychologies or psychological memories (almost the same thing) quickly and in real-time. In FIML practice “real-time” means analysis should begin quickly while the initiating percept is remembered by both partners. Rather than allowing us to proceed with our normal “continuously smoothing our percepts over time,” FIML stops us and forces the update immediately.

I was intrigued to see that the authors of the study notice the time-span of 15 seconds:

We find that online object appearance is captured by past visual experience up to 15 seconds ago. 

This is roughly the “speed” of our working memories. FIML works most of all with the working memory because when we correct a mistake in our working memory or upgrade the data of our working memory while it is still present, we are able to make large changes in our psychologies almost effortlessly. FIML leverages the working memory to make large changes in our whole brain memories. It works well because changing your working memory to fit the obvious reality staring you in the face is easy.

In contrast changing whole brain memories and psychologies through rumination and recollection only entrenches them further and deeper.

While it is very easy to see how this happens visually as in the linked materials; and while it is also easy to see that many old movie plots exploit this feature of our consciousness, it can be hard to see how to do this in real time with our complex psychologies as they are functioning in real-life.

FIML completely solves this problem and yet is still hard for many to see how and why.

The why is psychologically analogous to correcting the illusions produced by our brains “continuously smoothing our percepts over time.” This “continuously smoothing over time” causes most of our psychological problems, often making our lives dingy self-fulfilling prophesies or uninterrupted narcissistic fantasies.

The how is done by pausing real-life in real-time so you can compare your own mind’s percept with your partner’s percept of the same thing and make corrections as warranted. Easy-peasy, right? Actually it is once you see the point.

Do we have an inner child or an inner dog?

Inner child is a widely recognized term that implies the presence in adults of unresolved problems or underdeveloped traits rooted in childhood.

Inner child further implies that full development of the adult requires “reparenting” or “retraining” the inner child as a way of resolving juvenile problems and advancing to full adulthood.

My FIML partner has been studying dog training and last night told me how much she thought effective dog training resembled FIML practice.

In a nutshell, FIML practice trains your inner dog, not your inner child.

For example, to stop bad behavior in a dog—say, barking at cars going by—its human trainer has to know how to intervene as quickly and as calmly as possible the moment that behavior arises. Quick intervention ensures that the dog knows what the trainer wants them to do. If you wait too long (as little as a few seconds), the dog won’t know what you want them to do. They will have forgotten the precise source of their behavior and thus any corrections they try to make will not address the root problem, which is they have interpreted a signal in the world (cars going by) as something they must react to.

When the trainer is calm and friendly as well as quick to intervene, they will prevent the dog from reacting to their (the trainer’s) excessive emotion, be it anger, panic, or an unskilled flustered state of mind.

The same sort of thing happens in FIML practice. When one FIML partner queries the other, the first thing they are doing is stopping their (own) inner dog before it starts behaving badly. They are intervening as soon as they feel their inner dog stir and start to rise from the floor (but before it starts barking).

The second thing they are doing is calmly asking their FIML partner a question about a very specific and precisely identified moment. They are gathering good data on that moment from their partner and will compare it to what their inner dog thought it saw or heard.

A FIML partner is in essence asking, should I be reacting right now as my inner dog is telling me or has my inner dog misinterpreted a signal coming from you?

The dog for much of its life has barked at cars going by, while the person for much of their life has reacted with sadness or anger to their interpretation of certain signs or signals (semiotics) coming from other people.

When you query your FIML partner about a sign that you have been reacting to for much of your life and discover that the sign you received was not the sign they sent, you will be like the dog who comes to understand that there is no reason to bark at cars going by, no reason to rise from the floor at all.

People are semiotic animals more than dogs, so we react very strongly to social semiotics. But we are just like dogs in that most of our reactions to semiotics can be changed without much effort as long as we arrest those reactions quickly and replace them with a more reasonable response.

My partner remarked last night especially on how easily a great deal of bad dog behavior can be corrected if the intervention of the trainer is quick and the dog is shown a more appropriate response. Oftentimes, just a few good interventions will correct the bad behavior.

What are some classic mistakes bad dog trainers make? They try to comfort or calm the barking dog by holding it and telling it everything is OK. That is, they treat it like a child. But all that actually does is reward the dog for the behavior they want to stop.

So if you reward yourself (your inner child) by indulging in childish feelings of abandonment when you misinterpret or over-interpret a sign of rejection, you are actually rewarding yourself for being wrong, for having an erroneous (or neurotic) interpretation of communicative signs.

It is better to treat your rapid and unthinking “limbic” responsivity like a dog than like a child. And rather than reparent your inner child, it is better to use good dog training techniques to retrain the actual semiotic responses that are the real roots of unwanted behaviors.

first posted  

Working memory is key to deep psychological transformation, Part 2

Part 1

Part 3

In science, working memory is generally thought of as either:

  • …the sketchpad of your mind; it’s the contents of your conscious thoughts.”   (Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory)
  • Or “…a core component of higher cognitive functions like planning or language or intelligence.”   (Christos Constantinidis, a professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest School of Medicine) [Source for both]

Obviously, both versions are valuable and probably both are roughly true. Some “contents” of working memory are indeed sketchpad-like—a crack in the sidewalk or a passing bird—while others clearly are “core components of higher cognitive functions” and, I would add, long-term memory including all psychological factors.

Our psychology—be it “natured” or nurtured—functions in real-life in real-time because we remember it. It bears on us because it is in our minds, because it colors our minds, shades our thoughts and actions.

Working memory is key to understanding human psychology because it shows us how we really are functioning, thinking, acting, feeling in real-time.

Working memory is also fleeting. If you want to use working memory to understand your real-life psychology, you have to be able to analyze it in real-time. This means you have to capture its contents and examine them as near to their appearance in working memory as possible.

You can do this alone with good effect, but when you do it alone you are prone to self-referential bias and other mistakes. When you do it with another person, they can help you avoid self-referential mistakes as well as other less serious ones.

This is how FIML practice works and why it is done the way it is. FIML analyzes data discovered in the working memory.

So how do you do that? You do that by immediately noticing when something significant about the other person’s speech or behavior enters in your mind or arises in your working memory. Generally, that something will have psychological impact on you, though you might just be curious or notice it for other reasons.

Whether working memory is an independent sketchpad or a component of higher functions, analyzing whatever you feel like analyzing in it is valuable. Sometimes even very little things can have great psychological import.

Analyses of working memory through FIML practice are most productive when they entail what I have called “psychological morphemes.”

Psychological morphemes are the smallest units of human psychology. Metaphorically, they are a word or a letter as compared to a phrase, a paragraph, or even a book. They are the building blocks of larger psychological structures and also may occur as unique isolates.

Whenever a psychological morpheme appears in working memory, it is always interesting. Psychological morphemes almost always signal the onset of a larger psychological interpretation, one either stored in long-term memory or one arising just now.

By working with any and all psychological morphemes as they appear in your and your partner’s working memories and by working with them repeatedly, both partners will come to understand that some of these psychological morphemes have deep roots in their cognitive systems while others do not.

For example, a fleeting expression or tone you observe in your partner may cause you to feel jealous or disrespected. Do FIML immediately and find out what it was.

It’s either true or false or in-between. If you have a good and honest relationship with your partner, most of the time you will find a negative psychological morpheme that appeared in your working memory was false and that it is part of a psychological habit of yours that has deep roots in other cognitive functions.

A great benefit of FIML is repeated analyses of mistaken psychological morphemes leads to their extirpation, sometimes quickly sometimes more gradually. A second benefit of FIML is it makes all communications between partners much clearer and more satisfying. A third advantage is most of these gains lead to better understanding and competency with all people.

Part 3

first posted NOVEMBER 14, 2018

FIML as a “loose” method of control for chaos in interpersonal communication systems

Interpersonal communication systems can become chaotic when there are misunderstandings. And they can become wildly chaotic when the misunderstandings are serious and/or involve emotional responses.

Normally, in virtually all cultures, out-of-control interpersonal communications are settled by authoritarian decree, by reverting to pre-established roles, by fighting until one side tires, or by ending communication all together.

It is nothing short of tragic when this happens in close relationships during significant or profound communication acts.

FIML is designed to fix communication problems that occur during communications between two (or more) people who care about each other.

FIML is a “loose” method of control in that FIML largely does not have any content. It is a technique that allows partners to discover their own content and their own ways to fix their problems.

As with so many potentially chaotic systems, interpersonal misunderstandings can become wildly unstable for even very small reasons. A single misheard word or a single misinterpreted expression can lead to destructive chaos within the system, no matter how dedicated the communicants may be to each other.

Evidence that supports the use of a “loose” method of control like FIML can be found in this paper: Stalling chaos control accelerates convergence.

To paraphrase from the abstract of that paper and apply their conclusions to FIML, we can say that FIML works “…by stalling the control, thereby taking advantage of the stable directions of the uncontrolled chaotic” system.

By not having a set outcome in mind, by not allowing static interpersonal roles to control the outcome, FIML can succeed in fixing even very serious contretemps between caring partners. FIML accomplishes this by providing partners with a means of achieving a meta-view of their contretemps and from that point of view gently nudging their analysis toward mutual agreement, mutual transformation for both parties based on a complete and completely shared understanding of the unique conditions that generated the problem.

In this, FIML takes “advantage of the stable directions of the uncontrolled chaotic” system. The stable direction is the complete and mutually agreed upon resolution of all aspects of the contretemps. It is a “return” to the stable state of caring that preceded the problem, but a “return” with a significant upgrade because the new stable state will now include the experience of repairing the chaotic state that just passed.

The pleasure in a full FIML resolution can be very great because the semiotic systems of both partners minds will also achieve an upgraded level of stability and awareness. This kind of resolution, clearly, strengthens and resonates with the core of conscious beings who live in the midst of and use (often not so well) semiotics to understand themselves and others.

An article on the study linked above describes the “loose” control method as an “approach that cleverly exploits the natural behaviour of the system.” (See: Control is good, freedom is better)

FIML exploits the natural behavior of two people who seek mutual caring and mutual positive transformation by providing a method that allows them to intelligently deal with the chaos that is 100% bound to arise during some of their acts of communication. Rather than flee from communication due to the fear of chaos, FIML partners have a reliable method of controlling it and reestablishing harmony on a higher, better level.

first posted OCTOBER 2, 2013