Complex mind, simple thoughts

I strongly believe a major cause of neurotism, emotional agony, and mental illness is our minds are more complex than much of our thinking and most of our communication.

This causes us to be like prisoners trapped in small space when we are capable of much greater freedom.

A new study illustrates why this happens.

The study show how auditory hallucinations can be induced in people who are not otherwise prone to hearing them.

Pairing a stimulus in one modality (vision) with a stimulus in another (sound) can lead to task-induced hallucinations in healthy individuals. After many trials, people eventually report perceiving a nonexistent stimulus contingent on the presence of the previously paired stimulus. (Pavlovian conditioning–induced hallucinations result from overweighting of perceptual priors)

Since this effect can be induced fairly simply it shows that:

These data demonstrate the profound and sometimes pathological impact of top-down cognitive processes on perception… (from the study itself: Pavlovian conditioning–induced hallucinations result from overweighting of perceptual priors)

Note that these hallucinations “result from overweighing perceptual priors.”

A “perceptual prior” is, in these cases, a mistaken assumption about reality.

If our auditory and visual “realities” are susceptible to mistakes like these, how much more is our psychology?

Due to our generally very simple ways of interacting with other people, we are essentially forced to hallucinate who they are and at the same time who we are.

That is, our complex minds are essentially forced to see ourselves and others in simple, hallucinatory terms that cannot possibly be true.

I believe this is the cause of great mental and emotional distress for all people everywhere.

I also believe that this problem can be largely overcome by practicing FIML

FIML allows us to remove our psychological hallucinations about our FIML partner as they remove theirs about us.

FIML works because it allows partners to escape the simplicities and many hallucinatory traps of ordinary communication.

As far as I know, there is no other method for doing this. FIML is practical psychotherapy that will optimize your mind and psychology by providing the data you need to overcome hallucinating most of your life.

Psychological projection is a limited concept

Psychological projection is a well-known defense mechanism used by humans to:

defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities… by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.

The concept has some value as an analytical guideline but can also be highly misleading by pointing analyses in wrong directions.

One wrong direction is confirmation bias where an assessment of projection can lead to cherry picking and/or ignoring counter-evidence.

Another wrong direction can arise due to the false consensus effect, which “tends to lead to the perception of a consensus that does not exist.

From a FIML point of view, psychological projection is a macro and meso level analysis which fundamentally ignores the importance of micro information. (See Micro, meso, and macro levels of human understanding.)

From a FIML point of view, a great deal of human psychology can only be understood by analyzing micro-level interactions in real-time.

This is so because only a FIML-type of analysis can access the actual micro-data that go into the formations of actual interpretations. In contrast, meso and macro level analyses arrive “fully loaded” with the biases endemic to those levels of communication and understanding.

Like the psychological concept personality, the concept of psychological projection has general descriptive value in some situations.

These concepts become counterproductive and limiting, however, when they are accepted off-the-shelf as important insights into specific situations or the behaviors of particular people.

I am very confident that micro data generally will not support most ready-made meso and macro analyses of human psychology or behavior.

How the brain processes new information

A new paper provides fascinating insight into how our brains amass information and organize and assess it in real-time.

The paper—Cliques of Neurons Bound into Cavities Provide a Missing Link between Structure and Function—proposes that “the brain processes stimuli by forming increasingly complex functional cliques and cavities.”

The full intro to the paper:

The lack of a formal link between neural network structure and its emergent function has hampered our understanding of how the brain processes information. We have now come closer to describing such a link by taking the direction of synaptic transmission into account, constructing graphs of a network that reflect the direction of information flow, and analyzing these directed graphs using algebraic topology. Applying this approach to a local network of neurons in the neocortex revealed a remarkably intricate and previously unseen topology of synaptic connectivity. The synaptic network contains an abundance of cliques of neurons bound into cavities that guide the emergence of correlated activity. In response to stimuli, correlated activity binds synaptically connected neurons into functional cliques and cavities that evolve in a stereotypical sequence toward peak complexity. We propose that the brain processes stimuli by forming increasingly complex functional cliques and cavities.

The cliques of neurons that grow and connect in real-time make up the transient “architecture” of awareness as it changes and responds to stimuli.

You can observe a process that seems to fit this description by simply turning your head and looking around. As your eye settles on something to consider in more detail, neuronic cliques will grow in your brain based on that stimulus.

Depending on the significance to you of what you are looking at, further associations drawn from memory and emotion will aggregate around it.

Interestingly, the concept of transient neuronal cliques that grow into larger structures fits very well with the Buddha’s Five Skandhas explanation of the path between perception and consciousness.

This paper also seems to explain why FIML practice works. FIML interrupts the (re)formation of habitual neuronal cliques in real-time, thus preventing the (re)association of established mental states with new perceptions.

By consciously interfering with habitual neuronal cliques, FIML eliminates the false and unwanted psychological structures that give rise to them.

FIML works because large psychological brain structures rely on reconsolidation through the continual processing of “new” information that falsely reconfirms them.

As such, human psychology to a large extent is an ongoing self-fulfilling prophesy.

Here is an article about the paper: Brain Architecture: Scientists Discover 11 Dimensional Structures That Could Help Us Understand How the Brain Works.

The power of a single sign

Signs are units of thought.

A single sign is central to the ongoing opioid addiction catastrophe in the USA.

The single sign is a 40-year-old misquoted sentence taken out of context from a letter written to the New England Journal of Medicine by a graduate student.

Here is the sentence:

We conclude that despite widespread use of narcotic drugs in hospitals, the development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction. [emphasis added] (Source)

What was taken out of context is the letter was about patients who were being treated for pain while in hospitals.

On Wednesday, the journal published an editor’s note about the 1980 letter and an analysis from Canadian researchers of how often it has been cited — more than 600 times, often inaccurately. Most used it as evidence that addiction was rare, and most did not say it only concerned hospitalized patients, not outpatient or chronic pain situations such as bad backs and severe arthritis that opioids came to be used for. [emphasis added] (How a 1980 letter fueled the opioid epidemic)

The deep significance of this misinterpreted sentence shows the incredible power of signs and how even a single sign can influence an entire society for decades, even centuries.

That this massive mistake occurred within the medical community, which is science-based, shows that blind consensus can overrule reason even among the brightest and best trained among us.

Add similar mistaken consensuses within the medical community concerning dietary fats and salt and we have even more evidence of the human tendency to believe in and act on nonsense.

I mention this because it is interesting and also because it shows how irrational or non-rational we humans can be. All of us are susceptible to making mistakes of this type.

While most of us cannot do much about large-scale mistakes in medicine or politics, most of us can do a great deal about our own individual psychological mistakes that harm our ability to function. We can do this by practicing FIML.

Basic FIML practice corrects small mistakes (misinterpretations) in real-time. FIML focuses on how our minds are actually functioning in real-time.

If the entire medical community can make such a huge mistake based on so  little evidence it should be obvious that as individuals we are just as susceptible to error.

Consensus works only when it works. When it doesn’t it can be very dangerous.

I believe the lion’s share of “delusion” in Buddhism is stuff like the above—individuals or groups getting something terribly wrong and then acting on it with little or no self-reflection.

Short-term memory is key to psychological understanding

Short-term memory is where the rubber of human psychology meets the road.

It is the active part of human psychology as it functions in real-time.

New research indicates that the thalamus, which relays almost all sensory information, is central to the operation of short-term memory. Without the thalamus, short-term memory does not occur.

See Maintenance of persistent activity in a frontal thalamocortical loop and New research: short-term memory depends on the thalamus for background.

Short-term memory is a changeable “program” that deals with and responds to the world quickly. It is the main determinant of how “you” are in the moment.

Short-term memory maintains persistent activity (in the brain/body) by relaying its components through the thalamus in response to real-time conditions.

If we discover a mistake in our short-term memory, it is typically very easy to change. For example, if you realize you forgot to set your clocks ahead, your short-term memory will quickly adjust. You might feel a little dumb for a moment, but usually it is no big deal.

This example shows how our short-term memory is connected to long-term memories, to planning, expectation, and our general sense of the world around us and what we are doing in it.

FIML is an effective form of psychotherapy largely because it focuses on the short-term memory.

By targeting short-term memory loads, FIML helps partners discover how their psychologies are actually functioning in real-time during real-world situations.

Correcting mistakes in short-term memory immediately changes how we function.

Changing the same mistake several times very often removes it entirely from the long-term memory, from the overall functioning of the individual.

FIML provides an artist’s point of view

Through real-time inquiries during real moments of real life, FIML reveals the palette and tools of the artist, as they are being used.

As the receiver of a FIML inquiry, you are asked to reflect on the moments just passing.

Your answer provides a lot of information to both you and your partner.

Your partner also has information and insights into what their mind was doing.

These shared insights are the details of your psychologies as they are actually functioning in a real situation.

It is transformative to see these details often.

To do this, I think you have to use a “game” like FIML because FIML has no presuppositions. FIML does not ask you to believe anything; just do the method.

Memory-guided behaviors employ spatial “maps” in the brain

A new study seems to show that the brains of rats—and by extension ours as well—use a spatial “mapping” system to encode more than just space.

This suggests that mammalian brains encode “continuous, task-relevant variables” in “common circuit mechanisms” that can “represent diverse behavioural tasks, possibly supporting cognitive processes beyond spatial navigation.” (Mapping of a non-spatial dimension by the hippocampal–entorhinal circuit)

It does seem that we do a lot of thinking, remembering, and associating in systematic or roughly systematic ways. And it does seem that these systems resemble spatial ones.

Ever notice how amazing it can feel to stumble upon a new view of a spatial system you already know well? “So that’s where the duct goes through the wall!” Or, “I never realized that Bob’s Street intersects Jones right here!”

When we explore our psychological “maps” in interpersonal settings using FIML techniques, we gain access to details that reorganize those “maps” in a similar way to the example above. Small insights can yield amazing results.

Typically, normal psychological maps are distorted impressions of the psychological space around us. FIML allows us to see in our psychological “maps” a level of detail or resolution that cannot be gained in any other way.

Understanding verbal, emotional, semiotic, and associative details is key to understanding our “psychological locations” in this world.