Emotional Illusions (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 252)

If emotions are constructed from limited data rather than direct perception, similar to the way vision and memory are constructed , then, as with perception and memory, there must be circumstances when the way the mind fills in gaps in the data results in your “getting it wrong.” The result would be “emotional illusions” that are analogous to optical and memory illusions.

For example, suppose you experience the physiological symptoms of emotional arousal for no apparent reason. The logical response would be to think, Wow, my body is experiencing unexplained physiological changes for no apparent reason! What’s going on? But suppose further that when you experience those sensations they occur in a context that encourages you to interpret your reaction as due to some emotion—say, fear, anger, happiness, or sexual attraction—even though there is no actual cause for that emotion. In that sense your experience would be an emotional illusion.

To demonstrate this phenomenon, Schachter and Singer created two different artificial emotional contexts—one “happy,” one “angry” —and studied the physiologic aroused volunteers who were placed in those situations. The researchers’ goal was to see whether those scenarios could be used to “trick” the volunteers into having an emotion that the psychologists themselves had chosen.

Subliminal, How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior

Leonard Mlodinow          2012

Cribb Comment: Several experiments have been performed to explore and examine the validity of this theory. The results have strongly suggested that most people are not perceptive or engaged enough with reality to even accurately understand the root cause of their emotions. In other words, they make shit up that fits into the “reality” that they prefer to believe or that happens to be pervasive in the herd so that they can comfortably conform. It further logically follows that this psychological maneuver is the linchpin enabler of withdrawal and withdrawal is the primary means of avoiding auto-corrective objective reality to maintain persistent excusable or justifiable delusion.

2018

If You Can Just Answer the Question (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 251)

She was always the victim. It did not matter how much effort I willingly expended to be with her or how many uplifting and supportive direct compliments I gave her which she simply refused to hear or how much I stabilized her entire pack. She was always the victim unless she got to be the silent bully and do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, without complete consideration of the ultimate consequences to the entire pack, the pack that she said she loved. She was broken. I knew why and I had pity and empathy and resounding faith in her fractured spirit that it would choose to heal itself instead of slinking deeper into false excuses of fear and victimization; deeper into withdrawal from objective reality so that she might rule her own universe without question, without balance. . . without her having to expend the vulnerable effort and posture of maintaining respect for someone she could not control.

I said “I need you to do this for me. Name one time, anytime at all in his whole life, that your father hasn’t considered himself the victim. Just one time, anytime, that he wasn’t always running around doing whatever the hell he wanted to despite the wishes of and responsibilities to his wife and children. Even as he was over-dominating you and breaking your spirit as a little girl, he was always the victim, always, right? I’m not talking about blame right now. I’m just talking above his behavior and his perception. If you can just answer that question, you’ll break through, you’ll see it. So, tell me please, tell me one time in your father’s entire lifetime that he wasn’t the victim in his own mind while he bullied everyone else around him.”

She started crying, but she refused to answer the question and in doing so, in turning away from her fear of reality, she reset the cycle to continue in its revolutions of delusion, madness, and suffering.

Cribb          2018

A Promethean Act of Free Will (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 247)

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William James widely considered the father of American psychology and a co-father to the philosophy of pragmatism, received a MD from Harvard Medical School in 1869. James had always been exceptionally bright and was well educated since his earliest youth. He suffered from severe depression and insecurity (self-loathing) which apparently hit a high point in his life after his graduation from Harvard and as a result he checked himself into an asylum for treatment.

James left the asylum in an improved state and perspective, but not as a result of the therapy he had received at the institution. He experienced a self revelation of awareness and understanding after reading an essay on free will by Charles Renouvier, a French philosopher. His epiphany has been referred to as “A Promethean Act of Free Will” and in essence lead to his profound belief that mental illness could only be accurately addressed and/or cured via the free will of personal choice.

Though James continued to struggle with his mental illness in some form for the rest of his life, his approach to his depression improved his quality of life significantly and kept it from crippling him severely anymore in the future. He went on to teach physiology and psychology at Harvard, published significant data and theory on human emotion (now referred to as the James-Lange theory), and eventually settled on the in depth contemplation and study of philosophy and spiritual energy in the later period of his life. He published numerous books of ongoing significant relevance including The Principles of Psychology (1890), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), and a groundbreaking work on education, Talks to Teachers on Psychology and to Students on Some of Life’s Ideals (1899).

The sketch is a self portrait James produced around the age of 24 and the year 1866.

Information borrowed and paraphrased from:

1) Subliminal – How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, Leonard Mlodinow 2012

2) Introduction Notes for The Varieties of Religious Experience, Wayne Proudfoot 2004

Cribb          2018

Nothing. Everything. (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 246)

“They don’t like me,” she said. “And I don’t like them.”

That did make him chuckle, especially the brazen, arms-folded way she said it, like she’d decided they were her eternal enemy.

“Are you laughing at me?”

“No,” he said. “No, I’m not. You’re a curious person. You ask questions. That’s why they don’t like you. That’s all.”

“What’s wrong with asking questions?”

“Nothing.” Everything. Once questions snuck in, whatever had been certain became uncertain. Questions opened the way for doubt.

“But you’re curious, too,” she said.

‘Why do you say that?”

“You guard the light. And light sees everything.”

Acceptance

Jeff Vandermeer          2014

 

 

So It Doesn’t (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 242)

I don’t believe that there has ever been a lack of genuine love in the universe. I think it has always been there since the moment of creation and perhaps it was even the primordial or originating flame that climbed out of darkness to produce that fulminating event. What I do see are the overwhelming number of souls everywhere suffering in isolating fear. Instead of turning to the light, they turn much more often and much more readily to the dark, defaulting to an existence based on overcontrolling and over-dominating all else within their sphere of influence. These confused souls obsess on their destructive orientation even as they vehemently deny such intentions and instead adamantly proclaim that their motivations are harbingers of unifying love. The majority of humanity spends its time not on the contemplation, fostering, and actualization of genuine love enacted, but on denying, sabotaging, corrupting, bastardizing, and defiling this inherent energy of union, grace, and peaceful bliss, which is just too simple, too pure and vulnerable, too calm and quiet, to otherwise ignore.

Humanity is too scared to listen, so it screams and shrieks instead. Humanity is too scared to be kind and gentle and peaceful, so it wars and kills and rapes and pillages in the name of justice and freedom for all. Humanity is too scared to be stable and uplifting with unconditional respect for everyone, so it becomes a fear mongering leviathan, eating itself and branding all in destabilizing doubt, confusing uncertainty, and paralyzing paranoia. Humanity is too scared to make love with one another, so it either fucks its fellow beings instead or chooses to simply fuck itself in a perverse anti-union effort of celebratory climax. Humanity is too scared to live, so it eviscerates life, cuts everything vivacious, organic, and perceptively aware, out of our collective and individual existences.

Humanity is too scared to love,

so it doesn’t.

Cribb          2018

The Relativity of Expertise (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 239)

My brother recently adopted a new puppy and my dad has aided and assisted him throughout the process, as well as with some of the follow up veterinary care required. My brother doesn’t talk to me, that’s another lengthy story, but my dad and I are closer than ever and we have real conversations with one another; you know, the ones where both people speak and both people listen.

My dad, to his credit, has learned to listen and abide by the veterinary recommendations and behavioral advice I give him. He has seen the repetitive objective evidence and listened to my observations and justifications for why I approach things the way I do. He has accepted my expertise.

Oddly enough, even after I graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, my mom would continuously argue with me about the facts of physiology, anatomy, diagnostics, historical case evidence, and behavior. She was discomforted by my knowledge and expertise on the subject, framing these qualities as “my opinion” while framing her own uneducated and unchallenged rationale and comforting delusion as “indisputable fact.” Let’s just summarize and say my brother eventually went down that same wormhole of delusion for the same exact behavior glitch in his psyche.

So, my brother is failing in house training his dog, effectively walking his dog, and in setting up the other proper pack boundaries and structure for his dog which expresses itself in other undesirable manifestations. He had decided his puppy had “physical” issues to explain these failures, which is highly unlikely, up until recently.

My dad tried over and over to pass along my advice to my brother without success, without heed or hesitation, for the longest time. That all met a deaf ear and a closed mind.

My father finally established some breakthrough success getting creative and giving my brother a book written by Cesar Milan (of course, a sensational society approved celebrity). My brother apparently read at least some of the book and since doing so he has improved much of the puppies behavior. He was even proud of his learned knowledge and took the time to show my dad some of the tricks “he knew” about puppy behavior.

My dad and I laughed about this the other day. It wasn’t to be mean and it wasn’t to be ugly. It was to process the stultifying denial and delusion we all tend to inflict upon ourselves in some vain attempt to avoid our fear of one thing or the other. My brother was in fulminant denial until he could twist reality enough to his liking to accept its validity. It seems so bizarre and so backward, but I promise you I see the same behavior from some other pet owners quite often.

At the end of our discussion about this issue, my dad suddenly turned to me and chuckled a good bit as he seemed to stumble upon an internal epiphany. He said “Jeff, can you imagine what kind of reaction or response Steven would have if you strolled into his civil engineering office and started telling him how to build things, manage a project, or compute a critical and complicated engineering formula that carried great liability with it? Can you just imagine what kind of hellacious hissy fit and temper tantrum he would have?”

I smiled back at my dad and I thought “Wow, dad just keeps surprising me with his observations lately, how awesome is that?” But I held the thought silently and only chose to reply “Absolutely, I have no doubt whatsoever how he would react. He would lose his shit like Mount Vesuvius.” And we laughed a little bit more together about all of it because we both knew how profoundly true that statement happens to be.

Jeff Cribb DVM          2018

An Affectation of Simplicity: Tolstoy on Insecurity and Misperception (Love vs Sex 250)

Another thing that used to rile me but which I afterwards enjoyed was his complete indifference and, almost, disdain for my appearance. Never, either by word or look, was there a hint that he thought me pretty : on the contrary, he would make a wry face and laugh when people complimented me on my looks in front of him. He took a positive pleasure in picking out my defects and teasing me about them. The fashionable clothes on which Katya liked to dress me up and the way she did my hair for festive occasions only provoked his mockery, mortifying the kind-hearted Katya and at first disconcerting me. Katya, having made up her mind that he admired me, was quite unable to understand his not liking to see a woman he admired shown off to the best advantage. But I quickly came to see what was behind it. He wanted to be sure that I was devoid of vanity. And so soon as I realized this, I actually was quite free from any trace of affection in the clothes I wore, or the way I did my hair, or how I moved; but a very obvious form of affectation took its place – an affectation of simplicity, at a time when I could not yet be really simple. I knew that he loved me; but whether as a child or a woman I had not then asked myself; I prized his love and, feeling that he considered me better than all the other young women in the world, I could not help wishing him to continue in the illusion. And involuntarily I deceived him. But in deceiving him I became a better person myself. I felt how much better and more worthy it was for me to show him the finer side of my nature than any of the physical attractions. My hair, my hands, my face, my ways – whether good or bad, it seemed to me he had appraised them all at a glance and knew them so well that I could add nothing to them except the wish to deceive him. But my inner self he did not know, because he loved it and because it was in the very midst of growth and development; and there I could – and did – deceive him. And how easy my relations with him became once I understood this clearly! My groundless confusion and awkwardness of movement completely disappeared. I felt that from whatever angle he saw me, whether sitting or standing, with my hair up or down, all of me was known to him and, I fancied, satisfied him. If, contrary to his practice, he had suddenly told me, as other people did, that I was beautiful, I believe I should have been anything but pleased. But, on the other hand, how happy and light-hearted I would feel when, after something I said, he would gaze at me intently and say in a voice charged with emotion which he would try to hide with a humorous note : ‘Yes, oh yes, there is something about you. You’re a fine girl, that I must admit.’

Happily Ever After

Leo Tolstoy          1859

Cribb Comment:

In this passage Tolstoy writes from the perspective of Masha or Marya who is married to Sergei. Masha’s description of her own feelings is intended to display her inaccurate perception and interpretation of the behavior of her husband Sergei due to the insecurity and immaturity which plagues her soul. Sergei finds Masha to be the most attractive woman that he has ever known, but his profound love for her originates even more so in his awareness and appreciation of her drive and inner spirit. Sergei perceives and appreciates the unique exquisiteness of the totality of Masha’s essence far beyond any other person mentioned within the novel.

I would suggest that the conundrum and potentiated expression of Masha’s insecurity and misperception is buried within the “dominance challenge” created by the union of these two special souls. Masha’s unusually profound love for Sergei is both a supreme blessing and a curse to her as it bombards her relentlessly. Due to her youth and her lack of mature comprehension of the “simplicity” of genuine love and genuine life, she throws herself into an undulating and unstable fear-love pendulum of  perception and assumption. Her fear of losing Sergei’s love, which is too simple and too unexcitable to satiate her preconceived notion of such things, leads her to subconsciously exert efforts to justify her own attempt to dominate and/or demonize him.

The first third of the passage ends with a clarifying explanation. Sergei’s befuddling behavior has been focused primarily on a true appreciation of Masha’s exquisite beauty and, because of such awareness, not wanting her to run to ruin via the all too temptible sin of such exceptional attractiveness, vanity. Masha goes on to state that she “could not yet be really simple” and that she wasn’t sure if he “loved her more as a child or a woman.” She continues by saying that nonetheless “she prized his love” no matter how unfounded it might be and that she could not help herself from wanting to enable “this illusion” of his. To paraphrase, she is saying that she is scared and unable to comprehend how a man of such worth could love her in such simplicity. This fear leads her to doubt the true nature of his love, and though she cannot escape that insecurity, she also cannot let go of the possibility that his love could actually be genuine. Thus, she must continue down her undulating path of uncertainty by “wishing the illusion to continue.”

Masha’s many references to Sergei knowing, seeing, and perceiving her in every respect, also illustrates a dynamic rift in her psyche which she is unable to resolve at this time. On one hand, she is enamoured and overjoyed by his attentions, but on the other, she feels looked down upon, pitied, and too exposed by her vulnerability to be a worthy equal. As a result, she focuses on the mental triumph of “deceiving him” in order to raise herself up in confidence and self worth. That deception takes place secretly or passive aggressively in her psyche to avoid the direct or natural correction that would confront such behavior if she employed it directly or consciously.

Masha’s unwarranted fear and confusion turns into an undulating mind game which is then used to justify her passive aggressive need and employment of willful deception to bolster her self worth and confidence. Because she cannot fathom how Sergei might love her otherwise in simplicity, she attempts to turn herself into the exact opposite of such simplicity and/or his direct opponent. She cannot sustain the vision of how Sergei sees her. She can only sustain the vision of how she sees herself.

In the last line of the passage, we swing back once more into the slight glimmer of a faint flame of hope. Paradoxically, a simplicity is displayed in that sentence by Sergei that seems to somehow slip through all of Masha’s defenses to keep a tiny lingering tendril of her love for him enduringly intact.

Cribb          2018