Rene Girard, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, began developing his theories over 40 years ago, while researching the great stories in literature. He wanted to know what made these stories great and he discovered that they had some similarities. He further began to research the rituals and mythologies of primitive people. He noted the same common structural properties in those stories. These similarities in the world’s mythologies and rituals led to the development of his theories of mimesis and the scapegoat mechanism.
The correction is: It must be recognized that individual psychological health is based on close interpersonal relations and that when these relations are not honest, individual psychology suffers. Most importantly, valid honesty in interpersonal relations almost never happens.
It almost never happens because people do not know how to do it or what it even is. When people do not know these things, they are forced to interact with each other in terms of personas, egos, and role-based or motive-based personalities. People are forced to define themselves in exoteric terms rather than authentic internal subjective terms.
This means their honesty cannot be valid because it is not based on authentic subjective reality.
Sentient beings constantly probe their worlds, perceiving, predicting, remembering, cogitating, planning, acting. Each sentient being is required to check their reality virtually all the time because we have to be sure of what we are seeing, hearing, feeling, doing.
Can I even believe myself? I make mistakes often. How can I be sure of my decisions?
It is a telling psychological truth that if I have a perfectly honest relation with my partner, I can trust her to tell me accurately what she is thinking more than I can trust myself with many of my own decisions.
My individual operating system gets close to flawless data from my partner. And she gets the same from me. For this reason, both of our individual operating systems are freed from needing external references on which to base our interpersonal reality.
We do not need personas, egos, or role-based or motive-based personalities when interacting with each other.
I can get close to flawless data from my partner because we do FIML practice.
FIML provides a deep reality check and degree of certitude that cannot be achieved in any other way.
Honesty in FIML practice does not mean that you have to expose something you do not want to expose. It just means that you are always completely honest when asked about something you said or did in the long moment of real-time now. (And with practice, at any time.)
For example, FIML honesty can work this way: Your partner asks you why you looked down just now. If you did so because you had an intrusive thought, you can tell that truth without telling them the thought. Be sure to confirm that you had looked down and then say, “I had an intrusive thought but would rather not say what it is.” Perfectly good and honest answer. FIML rules require your partner to accept this sort of answer while also requiring you to not abuse this sort of answer.
For other kinds of thoughts you are not prepared to share, just follow a similar pattern. The most important thing is do not deny you looked down if you did. Do not deny the gesture, tone, or sign your partner noticed. And do not deny its significance.
Always tell the truth about both of those. That way your partner will not have their reality denied. Yes, they had seen or heard you do that. The why is less important.
In time, you probably will not need to do this sort of limited response very often. It rarely happens in our practice anymore. We almost always talk both about what happened and why. That said, it does take time to fully believe each other, fully rely on the practice for giving you an accurate picture of your interpersonal reality. This is so because no culture anywhere does FIML or is based on anything like FIML.
When you first start FIML, you are coming from another place, one that has been defined by other people not you.
After a year or more of doing FIML, partners will come to understand that their individual psychologies—their individual operating systems—are no longer reliant on external references but rather are based on their authentically shared subjective realities. By reorganizing their interpersonal relations toward much great subjective honesty and accuracy, partners will also reorganize their individual psychologies toward much greater authenticity and stable integrity.
If the science of psychology can shift its reliance on abstract personality groupings to verifiably honest interpersonal relations and teach people how to form verifiably honest interpersonal relations, a great deal of chaos and tragedy will be removed from this world.
To communicate, we often must ignore the truth or falsity of a statement, our own or someone else’s.
I believe it is an instinct to do this; that it is part of our instinct to communicate at all. Communication requires cooperation, an agreement to be agreeable enough to get the message through.
We might call ignoring truth or falsity in communication “truth elision” or “psychological elision.” Elision means to omit something. Psychological elision would mean omitting or not mentioning psychological truths.
We do a lot of truth elision to save time. In professional or group settings it is hard to communicate any other way because there is not enough time to be perfectly truthful and most people will not care. They just want to socialize and/or get the job done, not search for truth.
Most communication is like that. Most messages are not even superficially analyzed. Semiotics glide through our minds without any thought to their deep origins or interpretations. Truth and falsity are frequently elided.
Like all instincts, our instinct to cooperate by ignoring the truth or falsity of many statements can be misused to consciously deceive.
Indeed, we frequently deceive even ourselves by accepting our own statements as true when analysis would show they are not. One way we succeed in doing this to ourselves is by simply avoiding the analysis—analysis elision.
This is where a simple instinct starts to go bad. A basic need to cooperate on the signs and symbols of communication gets twisted into tricking people, deceiving them, even deceiving ourselves.
The way to see this most clearly and to stop doing it with at least one other person is FIML practice. One of my main goals for this website is to show how and why communication goes bad and how and why it harms us. At the same time, I present a practical way to fix the problem described—FIML.
NM: I can’t believe [recently-deceased spouse] NF would have spoken against me…
There are five “roles” within a Narcissistic Family structure:
- The head parent/spouse – Will be an overt N with a virtual God-complex within the home, or a covert N who controls the family using an overt N spouse as a shield. Usually a Malignant Narcissist who may take extreme measures to maintain the status quo.
- The secondary parent/spouse – A weaker-willed enabler/codependent of the overt N, or the overt N thug and scapegoat of a covert N who will set up the secondary as the public head of the family. The Overt N may also be a Malignant Narcissist, though not as consistently malicious as the Head N.
- The Golden Child – A common term referring to the preferred child within a family. Anointed as such by the head of The Family.
- The Scapegoat – The child who bears the brunt of any family turmoil. Will often have the most expectations placed upon him/her.
- Other children – In families with more than two children, the non-GC/SG children can usually move up and down the spectrum between GC/SG. If a GC(less likely) or SG separates from The Family, one of the other children will be placed in that role.
The above post very clearly and concisely describes the structure and dynamics of a narcissistic family. Please click on the link and read the entire post. If you recognize this structure, you very probably are in a narcissistic family. ABN
- FIML clears up communication problems in the moment (at the time they occur and just afterward) while establishing a valuable precedent for clearing up future problems, which are inevitable.
- FIML helps partners see their own neuroses (mistaken interpretations) and understand how those neuroses operate in their lives during a real moment of their lives. Each basic FIML discussion is based on a real problem identified by one or both partners.
- Being able to efficiently and effectively fix real problems as they occur gives partners a sense of confidence and joy.
- If only one partner had a problem with something, both partners still benefit because the second partner will come to understand how the first hears or speaks and why. Partners will increase their understandings of each other as well as of language, semiotics, communication, emotion, psychology, etc.
- Each FIML discussion can be extended into other fields (history, science, art, Buddhism, etc.) as much as partners want. This helps both partners increase their awareness of how the large “net” of cultural semiotics is put together and where they stand in relation to it.
- Each FIML discussion forms a basis, or can serve as an example, for the next discussion. After a single neurosis has been identified a few times, partners will learn to recognize it immediately and deal with it very quickly.
- Fixing one neurosis increases confidence and skill, making it easier to fix the next or to deepen discussions to include other kinds of psychological material.
- Once partners are reasonably skilled at FIML, they will find they are able to deal with a much broader range of subjects because they have communication techniques that allow them to quickly overcome misunderstandings.
- Once the skills are developed, FIML discussions are a lot of fun. In many ways, there is nothing more interesting.
- FIML practice greatly supports Buddhist practice and should serve to help Buddhists gain immediate and very personal experiential comprehension of the Dharma.
- Buddhist terms like delusion, suffering, liberation, wisdom, karma, compassion and more will take on new meaning as they become less an abstract code for behavior and more a personally understood aspect of our own behavior.
- FIML helps us see for ourselves in real time how our own particular delusions create suffering, and how we can attain liberation from those delusions.
- FIML works with very small instances of delusion so it is neither painful nor embarrassing. Indeed, it is a great pleasure to eliminate delusion.
First posted May 13, 2012
Normal socially-defined communication—business, school, professional, etc.—operates within known limits and terminologies. Skill is largely defined as understanding how to use the system without exceeding its limits, how to play the game.
Many other forms of communication must be imagined. That is, I have to imagine what you mean and you have to imagine what I mean. This is so because many general rules of communication are not sufficient to encompass broad psychological realities or account for individual idiosyncrasies.
In many cases of this type I will imagine that you are normal to the extent that I am able to imagine what normal is. And I will imagine that you imagine me to be normal. As I imagine you I will probably assume that your sense of what is normal is more or less the same as mine. This is probably what the central part of the bell curve of imagined communication looks like. People in this group are capable of imagining and cleaving to normal communication standards. If you reciprocate, we will probably get along fine.
If my imagination is better than normal, I will be able to imagine more than the normal person or given to imagining more. If this is the case, I will tend to want to find a way to communicate more than the norm to you. If you reciprocate, we might do well communicating. If you don’t, I might appear eccentric to you or distracted.
If my imagination is worse than normal, I will have trouble imagining or understanding normal communication. I won’t have a good sense of the cartoons we are required to make of each other and will probably appear awkward or scatterbrained to most people. If you reciprocate, we might do well communicating and find comfort in each other.
Normal communication, even when imagined, is based on something like cartoons. I see myself as a cartoon acting in relation to the cartoon I imagine for you. If my cartoon fits you well enough that you like it and if your cartoon of me fits well enough that I like it, we have a good chance of becoming friends.
A great deal of normal imagined communication is cartoon-like, and being normal, will take the bulk of its cartoons from mass media—movies, TV, radio, and, to a lesser extent today, books and other art forms.
People still read and learn from books and art, but normal communication has come to rely heavily on the powerful cartoons of mass media.
The big problem with our systems of imagined communication is they are highly idiosyncratic, messy, and ambiguous. We have to spend a lot of time fixing problems and explaining what we really mean.
It’s good to have idiosyncratic communication, but we have to find ways to understand each other on those terms.
First posted May 25, 2014; slightly edited
In our modern era, there are surely few organizations that so terrify powerful Americans as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith, a central organ of the organized Jewish community.
Mel Gibson had long been one of the most popular stars in Hollywood and his 2004 film The Passion of the Christ became among the most profitable in world history, yet the ADL and its allies destroyed his career, and he eventually donated millions of dollars to Jewish groups in desperate hopes of regaining some of his public standing. When the ADL criticized a cartoon that had appeared in one of his newspapers, media titan Rupert Murdoch provided his personal apology to that organization, and the editors of The Economist quickly retracted a different cartoon once it came under ADL fire. Billionaire Tom Perkins, a famed Silicon Valley venture capitalist, was forced to issue a heartfelt apology after coming under ADL criticism for his choice of words in a Wall Street Journal column. These were all proud, powerful individuals, and they must have deeply resented being forced to seek such abject public forgiveness, but they did so nonetheless. The total list of ADL supplicants over the years is a very long one. (Source)
Ron Unz’s American Pravda series is essential reading. His choice of subjects is fascinating, his tone measured and personable, and his arguments devastating. Buddhist readers in particular will benefit from Ron’s work because he clearly shows that public “reality” has many faces and that the most prominent one is often false.