Psychology and mental illness

The essay The Myth of Mental Illness by Paul Lutus hits hard. I agree with Lutus that there is a great deal of deceit and self-deceit in psychology and a grotesque paucity of physical evidence, but it’s not just psychologists who are to blame—many school teachers are involved in the support or even initiation of dubious psychiatric diagnoses while general practitioners are responsible for the majority of psychiatric prescriptions.

I still believe there is a valuable role to be played by psychologists, if only because they have spent more time with troubled individuals than most of us. That said, readers can make up their own minds about Lutus’s essay, which I recommend.

What I want to do in this post is point out the ways that FIML practice does not have the sorts of problems Lutus describes. FIML is not (yet) supported by large studies because not enough people have done it and we don’t have the money to conduct the studies. Nonetheless, FIML practice is based on real data agreed upon by both partners and in this respect is evidence-based, though the kind of evidence used in FIML practice is not the same kind that is used in large studies of many people. (Please see A Theory of FIML for a rough idea of how FIML can be understood from a scientific point of view, and how it could be falsified.)

In my view, FIML is a growing tip of science. It is an idea coupled with a practice or technique. It works with real data that is objective in that both partners must agree on it. It is based primarily on words just spoken, thus limiting distracting generalizations and ambiguity. It allows for and relies upon comprehensive mutual understanding of what partners are actually saying. Normally, both FIML partners will experience a sense of relief after a FIML session because both have achieved a fuller, shared understanding of whatever was in question. Normally, both partners will also be capable of describing the event in question in ways that are essentially the same. Ultimately, partners will realize that many of their FIML discussions have been arising from on-going mistaken interpretations that they had always believed were true. Partners will also come to understand that simply using language to communicate—indeed, to communicate in any way at all—will lead eventually to serious misunderstandings and emotional suffering if their communication is never analyzed in a way similar to FIML practice. And all of the above will help partners understand how neuroses (mistaken interpretations) are formed and how they perdure. And this will gradually free them from neurosis and, it is hoped, most of what we now call “mental illness.”

Today, FIML is mostly an idea. That’s how science progresses. New ideas are explored, improved upon, or discarded. Though FIML has worked very well for me and my partner, I will happily discard the idea of it working for others if it can be shown to be ineffective.

On this site, we have frequently tied FIML practice to Buddhist practice because: 1) several core Buddhist ideas and practices greatly support FIML practice; 2) Buddhism is fundamentally a truth-seeking enterprise, somewhat like modern science but with greater emphasis on the experiences of the individual; and 3) we believe that in many ways FIML practice leads to the same liberative ends as Buddhist practice–freedom from delusion, unnecessary ambiguity, false ideas, emotional suffering.

first posted FEBRUARY 25, 2012

UPDATE 7/16/21: We are still doing FIML and still strongly believe it is a powerful catalyst to positive transformation, both spiritual and psychological. ABN

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.

first posted DECEMBER 21, 2017

A psycholinguistic “process philosophy” combining both theory and action

I just learned the term “process philosophy” and am happy to say that FIML is “a psycholinguistic process philosophy combing both theory and action to both understand and improve what we are.”

Process philosophy is based on the premise that being is dynamic and that the dynamic nature of being should be the primary focus of any comprehensive philosophical account of reality and our place within it. Even though we experience our world and ourselves as continuously changing, Western metaphysics has long been obsessed with describing reality as an assembly of static individuals whose dynamic features are either taken to be mere appearances or ontologically secondary and derivative.

Process Philosophy

Another fundamental point is FIML is super objective within an area of cognition, perception, and belief that has traditionally been inaccessible to objective assessment and measurement.

first posted APRIL 23, 2021

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.

first posted DECEMBER 16, 2017

Narcissistic power trip

A core part of narcissism is the narcissistic power trip.

A narcissistic power trip is “the power to define other(s) and act on that definition.”

It is narcissistic because the narcissist defines others based on self-centered criteria and acts on that definition either with excessive cruelty or callous disregard. Or excessive “kindness,” rewarding the defined person based on their “supplying” the narcissist with what they want (praise, adulation, attention, etc.).

An important foundation of social and psychological understanding is knowing that pretty much all human behaviors exist on a spectrum that encompasses all people and all societies everywhere.

For example, using the definition of narcissism above, we should be able to say that all people and all societies define others. A narcissist is characterized by the degree to which they do this.

A glaring example of this is the NKVD Bolshevik officer who daily interrogated people who had been arrested for “offenses against the state.” This officer would demanded a signed confession from his victim after which they often would personally shoot the victim in the back of their head.

This process could have lasted a few minutes, several hours, or even many days. It always involved psychological torture and frequently involved physical torture.

It is narcissistic sociologically because the real reason for it was to terrorize the population while removing potential enemies. It is narcissistic psychologically for the individual Bolshevik officer because that officer knew the sociological reasons for what they were  doing. There is no doubt in my mind that a great many of those officers derived narcissistic pleasure from the power they held over their victims. In those days it was said you were drafted into the Red Army but you had to volunteer to join the secret police.

A minor example of a narcissistic power trip comes from someone I know. He is alcoholic and as with so many alcoholics also exhibits narcissistic traits. What happened was he asked a woman out on a date and she refused, so he slit her tires. Most people when rejected feel bad, maybe they will cuss out the person in their own mind, but only a narcissist will act vengefully on their definition of the other.

It is very important to recognize that narcissism is defined by the person going too far, by their being on a power trip. Just imagine psychologically torturing a frightened prisoner, knowing that you are going to kill them with your own hand once you have played with them long enough to satisfy your narcissistic rage. That really happened many times and not just in the Soviet Union. It was a defining feature of communism almost everywhere it was practiced.

Complex system are defined as systems with a lot of factors any one of which, no matter how small, can affect the entire system. Our minds are complex systems.

In this respect, notice that FIML practice focuses especially on small details to prevent partners from forming false impressions of each other or the world around them.

By removing false impressions or interpretations from our minds, we avoid many problems, not least of which is the narcissistic power trip.

first posted DECEMBER 22, 2016

Random notes on FIML

Sometimes things become clearer when we have just a bit of information, or several small bits. A single detail can sometimes make us perceive the whole in ways we had not before; we may notice connections we had not noticed or recall pertinent memories that had been submerged. I hope the following short notes will be helpful in this way.

  • When we speak to someone, we speak to what we think is in their mind. FIML practice helps us know with much greater accuracy what is in the mind of the person we are speaking to.
  • FIML helps us avoid the worry of wondering if our partner is bothered by something we said (or did) because we know that if they are, they will bring it up.
  • FIML allows far more leeway in how we speak to our partner. It allows us to speak creatively and exploratorily with our partner. We can speak tentatively without the need for strongly expressed conclusions. We can share doubt, wonder, uncertainty with our partner.
  • Our minds are dynamic processes. FIML helps us access the dynamism of our minds in the moment with our partner. We can share and communicate dynamic states without clinging to static interpretations.
  • Interpretations of what others say or of what we think they are saying are all too often static interpretations based on things that happened in the past. With FIML practice, by simply asking, we avoid making harmful or mistaken interpretations. There is no need to guess at what our partner means, and every reason not to.
  • If you wonder what your partner means but don’t ask, you will still make some sort of interpretation. If you don’t ask them because you think it might feel awkward, you are still making an interpretation and limiting your understanding of yourself and your partner.
  • Neuroses (ongoing mistaken interpretations) are fed in the moment. Conversations move quickly and are dynamic. If we withhold a FIML query from our partner, we will almost certainly feed one of our ongoing mistaken interpretations of them, we will strengthen our own neurosis and miss a chance for mutual liberation from it.
  • When we speak or listen, we all tend to be self-centered, in a neutral sense of the term. I don’t mean selfish here, but simply self-centered. When we listen, we tend to listen first of all to how our partner’s speech impacts us. Did I do something wrong? Did I do something right? Will that cost me energy or money? Does that refer to me somehow? Our fundamental self-centeredness  is based on being in a body and having a mental autobiography. There is nothing wrong with that unless we use it mistakenly as an integral part of our interpretation of what our partner is saying. If you are wondering if their comments are being directed, subtly or not, at you, just ask them. If you don’t ask, you will either come to a conclusion based on insufficient information or you will continue to wonder about what they said. In either case you will be wasting both your own energy and your partner’s. It’s always “cheaper” (more energy efficient, more truth efficient) to do a FIML query than to avoid it.
  • It’s always “cheaper” (more energy efficient, more truth efficient) to do a FIML query than to avoid it.
first posted NOVEMBER 16, 2011

Communication at arm’s length

Most communication is done at arm’s length.

By this I mean our deepest levels of meaning, emotion, and intention are either implied or more often concealed from the person(s) we are speaking with.

In professional and formal settings (school, clubs, church, etc.) this is pretty much how it has to be since there is not enough time to delve more deeply and no good reason to do so in most cases.

Problems arise, however, when the arm’s length habits of formal settings are imported into intimate private settings such as close friendships, marriages, families.

Arm’s length communication is effective in formal settings, but its use of reduced messaging techniques in private settings invariably enters gray areas followed by conscious lying.

I think people do this in their private communications mainly because they don’t know how to communicate in any other way. Humans are basically somewhat smart apes who have a fairly complex (for us) communication/language system grafted onto the instincts of a wild animal.

When the inevitable ambiguities and lies of arm’s length communications build up within the intimate communications of couples or close friends, the result will be explosive emotions or alienation and apathy.

The simple arm’s length system is a primitive, basic system for communicating obvious things. To be honest, if you enjoy your communications at work or the clubhouse more than at home, you are basically showing how primitive you are.

In formal settings communication is entirely based on predetermined mutual agreement concerning values, beliefs, etc.

Private settings require much more nuance and thus a much more nuanced communication technique.

FIML is designed for private, intimate communication. It allows partners to open their minds to much richer and much healthier interactions.

You cannot achieve optimum psychological health if you engage only in arm’s length communication. You can only do so by using a technique like FIML that allows you and your partner to consciously share the profound world of interpersonal subjectivity.

You have to have a clearly-defined technique and an agreement to do this. FIML is not about sitting around drinking herb tea while doing “compassionate listening.” That is bullshit. That’s just another form of arm’s length communication.

FIML takes some time and practice but it is no harder than learning how to ski or cook  or play a musical instrument moderately well.

first posted JUNE 7, 2016

Why FIML queries need to be asked quickly

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A fascinating Swedish study claims to show that:

…the sense of agency for speech has a strong inferential component, and that auditory feedback of one’s own voice acts as a pathway for semantic monitoring, potentially overriding other feedback loops.

The source of that quote can be found here: Speakers’ Acceptance of Real-Time Speech Exchange Indicates That We Use Auditory Feedback to Specify the Meaning of What We Say.

In an article about the study above—People Rely on What They Hear to Know What They’re Saying—lead author Andreas Lind says that he is aware that the conditions of their research did not allow for anything resembling real conversational dynamics and that he hopes to study “…situations that are more social and spontaneous — investigating, for example, how exchanged words might influence the way a… conversation develops.”

FIML partners will surely recognize that without the monitoring of their FIML practice many conversations would veer off into mutually discordant interpretations and that many of these veerings-off are due to nothing more than sloppy or ambiguous speech or listening.

If speakers have to listen to themselves to monitor what they are saying and still misspeak with surprising frequency, then instances of listeners mishearing must be even more frequent since listeners (normally) do not have any way to check what they are hearing or how they are interpreting it in real-time.

That is, listeners who do not do FIML. FIML practice is designed to correct mistakes of both speaking and listening in real-time. FIML queries must be asked quickly because speakers can only accurately remember what was in their mind when they spoke for a short period of time, usually just a few seconds.

The Swedish study showed that in a great many cases words that speakers had not spoken “were experienced as self-produced.” That is speakers can be fooled into thinking they said something they had not said. How much more does our intention for speaking get lost in the rickety dynamics of real conversation?

This study is small but I believe it is showing what happens when we speak (and listen). Most of the time, and even when we are being careful, we make a good many mistakes and base our interpretations of ourselves and others on those mistakes. I do not see another way to correct this very common problem except by doing FIML or something very much like it.

In future, I hope there will be brain scan technology that will be accurate enough to let us see how poorly our perceptions of what we are saying or hearing match reality and/or what others think we are saying or hearing.

It is amazing to me that human history has gone on for so many centuries with no one having offered a way to fix this problem which leads to so many disasters.

first posted APRIL 30, 2014

Using truthful statements to lie

A recent paper explored the effects of using truthful statements to deceive others.

The authors of the paper call this behavior paltering and define it as “the active use of truthful statements to convey a misleading impression.”

The paper, Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others, says:

…we identify paltering as a distinct form of deception. Paltering differs from lying by omission (the passive omission of relevant information) and lying by commission (the active use of false statements). Our findings reveal that paltering is common in negotiations and that many negotiators prefer to palter than to lie by commission.

The paper tests the effects of paltering during business negotiations, but paltering can happen in many other contexts. Examples of paltering by public figures can be found in the news every day.

The concept of paltering is also interesting psychologically. I am going to speculate that individuals often palter to themselves concerning their own internalized autobiographies and reasons for doing many actions.

If we use our inner voices to palter to ourselves—that is use the best “truthful” description of our actions that also just happens to place those actions in their best light—then we are not living with full integrity even in the privacy of our own thoughts.

At the same time, we have to be careful about how we assess our own paltering. We might be right to use the best version of events because that really is the correct version.

The problem is there is no good standard for an individual alone to decide what is objectively right or wrong.

For example, if someone smokes pot in a state where it is illegal are they paltering by telling themselves the law is stupid so why follow  it?

FIML partners will want to avoid paltering at all times but especially in the midst of a FIML query. Properly done, FIML can help with internalized paltering because this sort of subject matter lends itself well to FIML discussions.

As with all moral questions, where we draw the line is not always easy. The more tools we have the better. Awareness of paltering and its effects on others is good tool to have.

First published 12/16/16

Retroactive Revision

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Retroactive revision means changing what you said. Anyone can do it but retroactive revision is especially designed for FIML partners. Partners can use it whenever they feel a statement they have made has boxed them into a corner or is making the conversation take a turn they had wanted to avoid.

For example, you say “I like XYZ cars the best.” What you actually meant is I very much like XYZ cars. Your partner starts talking as if you really mean you like them the best. This is a very simple example, but sometimes it can be difficult to keep things on track even with a simple mix-up like this.

If you feel your partner is wasting time talking about the good points of other cars to show you that XYZ may not be the best, just say you want to retroactively revise what you first said. Say: “I want to retroactively revise what I said. I want to change my initial statement to I very much like XYZ cars. I didn’t actually mean I like them the best of all cars; I was exaggerating, I guess.” Your partner will understand that you were using words loosely and that they need not take your original statement literally. They will change their tack and your conversation will become more in keeping with what you really think and feel.

Once learned, that technique will give both partners a lot of freedom. It’s relaxing to know you can easily change what you have said to be more in line with the thinking that has evolved in your mind since you made your initial statement.

As with most FIML techniques, FIML partners should do retroactive revisions the moment they feel a jangle that their partner may have misunderstood them. If it turns out your partner did not misunderstand, there is still a major benefit for both partners because the mistaken impression you had about your partner will not cause any further confusion for either of you.

first posted MARCH 29, 2012

Pre-emptying

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Pre-emptying means excluding something from consideration during a conversation. Anyone can use this term/technique, but it is especially useful for FIML partners who have come to realize that they are spending a lot of time trying to control how they are being understood. Whether they are indeed being misunderstood in subtle ways or not does not matter all that much because, as we know, if one partner even thinks they are being misunderstood, it is definitely best to do something about it.

Pre-emptying is used when one partner does not feel the need to do a full-on FIML query because they do not see anything serious happening. They are not very much concerned about any potential misunderstanding and do not feel a serious neurosis is involved. All they want to do is avoid some kinds of interpretations from occurring in their partner’s mind. They want to prevent the conversation from going in a wrong direction.

For example, you want to say something about a hot political topic but do not want to discuss that topic at length. You just want to point out that, say, so-and-so said exactly the same thing two years ago. To do that you say: I want to pre-empty my next topic of all political argumentation or further analysis. I just want to point something out and use that example to say something else. Your partner will understand that this is not the time to bring up other things about that subject. They will understand that you are going to say something with a special purpose.

Yesterday, we had a post about retroactive revision. Retroactive revision can be used in conjunction with pre-emptying to deeply rework a conversation so that it can conform more closely to your current understanding and not be held back by discarded ideas or the need to keep making small distinctions. An example of how to do this with a topic that has included material from your own life is this–just say: I want to retroactively revise what we have been saying about topic QRX and pre-empty that subject of all of the autobiographical examples I have used so far. I no longer think they apply and may be seriously misleading. So from now on, this topic does not contain any reference to the autobiographical statements I have made and statements that were made are now retroactively pre-emptied from it.

This may sound like a lot of verbiage, but it just takes a few sentences to say. The special terms will alert your partner that you are using a meta-control technique to reconfigure your conversation. With a little practice, you will both see that using this method saves a great deal of time and makes conversations much more interesting since neither of you has to waste time explaining and re-explaining the same things. The more meta-control you can gain over your conversations, the better.

On this site we have frequently emphasized the importance of catching small mistakes and identifying them as the first germs of a new neurosis or as a micro-instance of an ongoing neurosis. That is all still true, but experienced FIML partners will eventually come realize that some of their mix-ups are occurring simply because that is how language works. This meta-understanding arises from having successfully resolved enough FIML discussions that both partners can see the same sort of thing happening and neither partner feels any (or hardly any) emotional jangling regarding it.

For example, if I start to talk about a difficult relative and introduce the topic in a vague sort of way (which is very common/normal), my partner may mistake my intentions (which may be only vague in my own mind) and start talking about some aspect of that relative’s problems that will lead away from what I really wanted to say (which is coming into clearer focus for me only now). My partner’s misunderstanding of my vague conversational gambits are not neurotic. They might become neurotic if either of us fails to understand how they have arisen, but at this point in a new conversation, they are nothing more than normal potential associations on what I first said.

To forestall neurotic development and make everything much more pleasant and interesting, at this point, I need only say that I want to pre-empty the topic of anything that may lead away from what I was aiming at. In most cases, your partner will be quite willing to do that. If they see something else to say about it, there is no problem; just discuss it with them.

Pre-emptying, as with all FIML techniques, requires high levels of honesty and integrity from both partners. Partners who are in a stable relationship should not find it all that difficult to treat each other with honesty and integrity. To be clear, no FIML technique should be used to deceive or take advantage. Watch yourself carefully because the ego is biased and it is natural for all speakers and listeners to act from a self-centered position. Properly done, FIML can easily deal with those very normal aspects of being human.

Note: The term pre-emptying recalls the English word “preempt” and the Buddhist term “empty”. We are using a new term because we are doing something different from preempting or realizing the emptiness of something. At the same time, pre-emptying is sort of close to both of those concepts.

first posted MARCH 30, 2012

Some notes

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  • Retroactive revision is a tool that allows partners to clear elements of a conversation that has already occurred. Pre-emptying is a tool that allows partners to clear, or preclude, elements from entering into a conversation that is just starting.
  • The origin of many neuroses and misunderstandings is our unavoidable tendency to speak and listen from a self-centric point of view. Experienced FIML partners should find it fairly easy to clear this sort of mistake quickly and as it is happening.
  • Another major initiator of neurosis is our need to guess about the fullness of what others are saying to us. Without FIML tools, communication–even between loving partners–is too vague to promote mental clarity and emotional security.
  • I wonder sometimes if socially awkward people appear that way because they lack greed or the need for self-aggrandizement. Without greed, or strong self-interest, they don’t use other people or groups of people because they don’t particularly want anything from them. This can make them appear unfocused or awkward.
  • Wonderment is an aspect of wisdom. It opens the emotions and allows us to use all of our senses and faculties in pursuit of understanding.
  • In deep wonderment the neocortex and limbic system work together to gain deeper understanding. It is one of the finest and most productive states of mind/brain/body.
  • FIML provides partners with the tools to describe and discuss their different frames of reference while they are being accessed. It allows them to deepen their understanding of each other without becoming lost in poses, excuses, or appeals to outside authority.
  • Ideally, FIML discussions should be largely unemotional and not employ histrionic tones of voice, except occasionally to further understanding. There should be no posturing or arguing, but rather a shared attempt to fully understand what each partner had been thinking at the moment in question.
  • Our morality should sound like this: “This is the way to be and I am trying to do it, too.” Rather than: “I am moral. Be like me.”
  • A great deal of what we call temptation is fundamentally neurotic (based on mistaken interpretations).Temptation can be user-defined or defined by the larger culture.
  • Since FIML practice removes neuroses, FIML partners will find it easier to control temptations than many other people
  • .FIML practice shows partners the value of honesty, integrity, mutual helping, and mutual harmlessness. FIML partners will see for themselves the rewards of following the basic moral principles described by the Buddha in the Five Precepts.
  • first posted APRIL 2, 2012

    The brain as a guessing machine

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    A new approach to the study of mental disorder—called computational psychiatry—uses Bayesian inference to explain where people with problems are going wrong.

    Bayesian inference is a method of statistical reasoning used to understand the probability of a hypothesis and how to update it as conditions change.

    The idea is that people with schizophrenia, for example, are doing a bad job at inferring the reasonableness of their hypotheses. This happens because schizophrenics seem to be less likely to put enough weight on prior experience (a factor in Bayesian reasoning).

    Somewhat similarly, “sensory information takes priority [over previous experience] in people with autism.” (Bayesian reasoning implicated in some mental disorders)

    Distorted calculations — and the altered versions of the world they create — may also play a role in depression and anxiety, some researchers think. While suffering from depression, people may hold on to distorted priors — believing that good things are out of reach, for instance. And people with high anxiety can have trouble making good choices in a volatile environment (Ibid)

    The key problem with autism and anxiety is people with these conditions have trouble updating their expectations—a major component of Bayesian reasoning—and thus make many mistakes.

    These mistakes, of course, compound and further increase a sense of anxiety or alienation.

    Like several of the researches quoted in the linked article, I find this computational approach exciting.

    It speaks to me because it confirms a core hypothesis of FIML practice—that all people make many, significant inferential mistakes during virtually all acts of communication.

    In this respect, I believe all people are mentally disordered, not just the ones who are suffering the most.

    I think a Bayesian thought experiment can all but prove my point:

    What are the odds that you will correctly infer the mental state(s) of anyone you speak with? What are the odds that they will correctly infer your mental state(s)?

    In a formal setting, both of you will do well enough if the inferring is kept within whatever the formal boundaries are. But that is all you will be able to infer reasonably well.

    In the far more important realm of intimate interpersonal communication, the odds that either party is making correct inferences go down significantly.

    If we do not know someone’s mental state, we cannot know why they have communicated as they have. If our inferences about them are based on such questionable data, we are bound to make many more mistakes about them.

    first posted MAY 15, 2016

    Our psychologies are unnecessarily confined within narrow ranges of meaning and understanding

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    Human psychology is greatly affected by human language. Since humans normally use language rather crudely and almost always are confined within meanings already established in language, their psychologies are fundamentally both crude and unnecessarily confined within narrow ranges of meaning and understanding.

    This causes emotionality, discord, dependence, frustration, anger, and violence. Our normal uses of language often stimulate basic instincts that we either have to control or be controlled by.

    I usually discuss this problem as it occurs during interpersonal conversation, where it is generally most serious and where our “personalities” are generally formed. But it also exists in texting, emails, news stories, and even scientific peer reviewed papers.

    The basic underlying problem is we do not communicate well, almost no one does. Even very articulate, well-educated, intelligent people with good upbringings and admirable personalities have this problem. In fact, they often have it even worse than everyone else because their considerable skills have trapped them even worse.

    The trap is using established meaning or interpretation to override mistakes in interpersonal communication. The established meaning can be learned from others or self-generated. Either way, when it is used to override mistakes in communication (and this happens often) the person is trapped in a labyrinth of false references: the lived and learned matrix of their personality; the neuronal structures of idiosyncratic memories and behaviors that constantly misguide the sufferer through a tautological existence.

    When data is bad the output will be bad. When interpersonal data is bad, and far too much of it is, the output in speech, listening, and cogitating will be bad. When everyone is like this, the output will be horrendous. Look around you at our world as it becomes less truthful and more absurd daily. The root cause is massive amounts of uncorrected bad data at all levels of society.

    My contribution toward fixing this mess is FIML, which deals “only” with the enormous problems of close or intimate interpersonal communication.

    When two people do FIML conscientiously, all of their problems born of long histories of many mistakes can be cleared up. If you want to do this, if you want to optimize your being; find a good partner and do FIML. As of today, there is no other way. If you can see the problem, you will understand why FIML works. If you do FIML even without fully understanding it, you will still fix the problem and will eventually come to see how it’s not just your problem: all people everywhere have it and have always had it. I do not know why I am the first person to provide a solution to it.

    The problem is very obvious but it is so big and widespread, people either do not see it or believe it cannot be fixed.

    A study that supports FIML

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    This study–Preventing the return of fear in humans using reconsolidation update mechanisms–supports FIML practice, which works by having partners volitionally interfere with neurotic responses as they occur, thus preventing reconsolidation of the neurotic memory (habitual response).

    Truthful data supplied by a FIML partner provides much better (updated) information to the partner inquiring about their incipient neurotic reaction than that partner has had up to that point. This new non-neurotic information that is “provided during the reconsolidation window” results in neurotic responses “no longer [being] expressed”, often within just a few sessions.

    The linked study is about fear, but I bet the findings will apply to all sorts of neurotic responses. In FIML practice, we have defined a neurotic response as a “mistaken response” or one not based on good data or evidence.

    The technique used in the study produced “an effect that lasted at least a year and was selective only to reactivated memories without affecting others.”

    Since most FIML partners will continue doing FIML practice for more than a year, the effects of FIML sessions and follow-up sessions dealing with neuroses should last as long or longer. If an old neurosis regains its power, skilled FIML partners should be able to deal with it rather quickly.

    FIML posits that neuroses are very often the result of nothing more than mistakes in listening or speaking. This means that we can expect proto-neurotic mistakes to arise with great frequency (several per hour in most conversations). And this means that FIML partners will want to continue using basic FIML practices whenever they interact.

    Another point: the linked study concludes that the effect of their technique is “selective only to reactivated memories without affecting others.” This seems to be the case with FIML practice as well. Memories are not being erased by drugs or other kinds of physical interference. Rather, they are being upgraded during the crucial “window of reconsolidation”. This upgrade does not directly change other memories, though in FIML practice since core neuroses are being confronted, effects will be widespread throughout the organism, causing beneficial changes in personality, behavioral strategies, autonomic responses, ancillary neuroses, and so forth.

    I, for one, do not see any other way than FIML practice to deal with the plethora fundamental mistaken interpretations that occur in all human minds and with great frequency. Traditional talk therapy or the more common drug therapies used today can only deal with very general aspects of the fundamental cause of neurotic suffering–humans tend to make a great many mistakes when they speak and when they listen and these mistakes tend to compound and turn into ongoing mistaken interpretations (neuroses) of the self, the world, and people around us.

    first posted APRIL 13, 2012