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.

Consciousness as reality itself

In Buddhism the idea that consciousness is reality and reality is conscious is called “mind only” or Yogachara.

David Ray Griffin, a process theologian, has come to similar conclusions—that reality is fundamentally conscious.

As has Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at UC Irvine.

Hoffman came at this subject from a mathematical angle, but arrived at a similar conclusion to Yogachara Buddhism. Hoffman says:

As a conscious realist, I am postulating conscious experiences as ontological primitives, the most basic ingredients of the world. I’m claiming that experiences are the real coin of the realm. (The Case Against Reality)

I tend to reach similar conclusions when I think about everything in terms of signals.

The advantage of thinking in terms of signals is we get a good picture of “reality” without needing to say what is real beyond the signal itself.

This kind of thinking is helpful for metaphysics but it is also extremely practical when it comes to human psychology.

Rather than posit personality types and what goes wrong or right with them, we analyze how people send and receive signals instead.

In thinking along these lines, I have come to the conclusion that most psychology as most people understand it uses “arms-length” language, the language of meso and macro signals rather than the much more precise language of the micro signals that actually comprise our shared “realities.”

The difference can be illustrated in this way: Rather than explain your most recent signal (sent or received) in terms of personality, explain it by accessing the micro-signals of short-term memory to find its true antecedents.

If you do this again and again by using a game such as FIML, you will probably come to conclusions similar to the above—that there is no deeper substance to psychological reality than your consciousness of it.

How do you talk to yourself?

A new study seems to show that addressing yourself in the third person can relieve anxiety without you doing any other work.

Third person means your name or your third-person pronoun of choice.

Jason Moser, lead author of the study, says of it:

Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others, and you can see evidence for this in the brain.

That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions. (Talking to yourself in the third person can help you control emotions)

The study is here: Third-person self-talk facilitates emotion regulation without engaging cognitive control: Converging evidence from ERP and fMRI.

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.

Narcissism, a semiotic interpretation

The simplest definition of narcissism is “narrow or reduced interpretation(s) of psychological signs.”

This is a functional definition that provides insight into a wide range of human psychological reactions.

A broad example of psychological narcissism using the above definition is alcoholism which reduces sign interpretation due both to inebriation and toxicity.

Notice this definition does not presuppose anything psychological about the alcoholic. Alcoholism reduces sign interpretation due to the chemical properties of ethanol.

Alcoholism damages and simplifies the brain’s capacity to entertain multiple interpretations of signs. This is the core reason why so many alcoholics display narcissistic behaviors.

Somewhat similarly, small children can be functionally “narcissistic” because their brains are not developed. Like an alcoholic on the other side of life, a small child simply does not have the brain complexity to entertain multiple interpretations.

Narcissism is a simple and very basic operating system. This is why it is a normal option for both undeveloped and alcoholic brains.

The cure for narcissism is help the narcissist see multiple interpretations.

I believe that most if not all psychological analyses of individuals should be applicable to groups of people and vice versa.

Thus, a group with a reduced interpretation of signs will probably be a narcissistic group.

Groups that insist on a single interpretation of the past or the present are examples of this.

 

Error, ignorance, and disproportionality

Error, ignorance, and disproportionality are important factors in all forms of human communication.

They underlie and often dominate all individual psychology, all interpersonal communication, and all social arrangements, including economics, politics, science, media, societal norms, and so on.

We can see these three factors—error, ignorance, and disproportionality—in the recent revelation that the opioid addiction catastrophe was based on a single misconstrued sentence.

That single sentence was interpreted erroneously due to ignorance of its true context and then blown out of proportion.

Many thousands have lost their lives due to those mistakes.

Yes, science did eventually notice and will eventually correct this error, and that is good, but medical science also messed up prescriptions for dietary salt and fat based on even worse information.

For many years, and probably even still today, an obese person could go to a doctor’s office for a sore knee and be prescribed addictive opioids while also being advised to eat less fat and salt while increasing carbohydrate intake.

If even science can do this, how much more can it occur in politics, economics, and social norms?

When error, ignorance, or disproportionality happen outside of us, there is usually little we can do. Usually it is best to be stoical or Buddhist about it.

When error, ignorance, and disproportionality happen within interpersonal relations, there is much we can and should do. FIML can completely fix these problems when they arise between two people.

As mentioned, science eventually fixes its own problems. That is a foundational reason for the success of science and why humans admire it.

FIML is a kind of scientific inquiry into interpersonal psychology and functionality.

When people do not do science, they become even worse victims of error, ignorance, and disproportionality. When they don’t do FIML, the same bad things happen interpersonally and within individual psychology.

Error, ignorance, and disproportionality are often exploited for financial or emotional gain. If you know anything that someone else does not know, you will probably be able to exploit that knowledge to your advantage and their disadvantage.

And if you don’t do that (thank you for your goodness), you can be certain that many of the people around you will.

That is the world we live in. You have to be philosophical to accept that and to change that.

Thought alone tells us that removing error, ignorance, and disproportionality when we can is a good thing to do. Thought alone also tells us that in many cases we will pay a price for doing that as our good will will often be misinterpreted or used against us.

I see much of this as what the First Noble Truth is all about. A lotus grows out of mud much as our minds grow out of and beyond these kinds of delusions.

Philosophical psychology

Are your thought patterns valid? Are your premises true? Is your mind sound?

Buddhism further asks are your mental states wholesome? Are they conducive to enlightenment, wisdom, freedom from delusion?

There are many things we can do while alone to clean up our thought processes. And there are some things we can only do with the help of another person.

Only another person can tell us if our premises, thoughts, and conclusions (however tentative) about them are true, valid, and sound.

Buddhism has a concept of a “spiritual friend,” a “good friend,” a noble friend,” or an “admirable friend.” All of these terms are translations of the Pali Kalyāṇa-mittatā, which is well-explained at that link. (Chinese 善知識.)

From the link above and from many years of working with Buddhist literature and people, my sense is that a Buddhist “good friend” is someone who is to be admired and emulated. They are similar to what we mean today by mentors or “good role models.”

I deeply respect the concept of a Buddhist good friend, but find it lacks what I consider the preeminent virtue of philosophical psychology—real-time honesty based on a teachable technique.

Indeed, I cannot find anything anywhere in world philosophy, religion, or literature that provides a teachable technique for attaining real-time honesty with another person.

I also do not quite understand how this could be.

For many centuries human beings have thought about life but no one has come up with a technique like FIML?

How can that be?

I do not see a technique like FIML anywhere in the history of human philosophy nor anywhere in modern psychology.

The importance of a “good friend” who does FIML with you cannot be overemphasized because it is only through such a friend that you can discover where your premises about them are right or wrong, where your thoughts about them are valid or not, and through those discoveries where your mind itself is arranged soundly or not.