New Civilization News - Category: Counseling, Psychology    
 Framing, Cognitive Symmetry and Enlightenment5 comments
picture 24 Sep 2004 @ 23:01, by ming. Counseling, Psychology
Have you stopped beating your wife?
We all know that kind of trick question. If you accept the question at all, whatever you answer, you've admitted to something you didn't want to admit to. Doesn't have to be a question either.
Today the captain is sober
Which, however correct it might be, of course squarely plants in one's mind the idea that there probably are plenty of days when he isn't sober. Whether that is true or not, it is now stuck in our minds. The magic of framing.

Now, Seb Paquet mentioned an article, Cognitive Symmetry-Breaking by Nicholas Williams. It talks about the paradoxical thing that happens the moment we overlay any kind of model on a system. You know, any kind of labels or categories or ordering. The surprising thing is that we start losing information the moment we describe things and try to slot it into a certain expected pattern. Well, it shouldn't really be surprising, but it is somewhat counter-intuitive to the person on the street. Or to most academics, for that matter. It seems like we're wiser when we can describe a system and say what it IS. And, yes, there's a lot to say for the practicality of being able to label things, but the truth of the matter is that we inevitably are losing information by applying any kind of model to a system.

Reality, before it is described and ordered, is infinite. Everything is possible, but nothing is finite yet. As the author describes it, there's symmetry there, because nothing is determined. Everything about the system is what is is, and is equally right.

But we humans are not very comfortable with something that is infinite and undescribable. It is chaos, it is confusing and seems meaningless. So we tend to break the symmetry by describing it, and by starting to be discriminating, and pick out certain pieces of reality as being more important or interesting or known than others. And we think that the system is now more understood and ordered. Really, the system didn't change. We just (over-)simplified it in some abstract way that we could manage to fit into our limited mind. And we left out a helluva lot of information. We practiced cognitive symmetry-breaking.

Cognitive symmetry-breaking allows us to feel right about a whole bunch of things. And it also starts trapping us in all sorts of faulty thinking patterns. Black and white thinking. We start thinking the map is the territory. We start beliving our limited models to be more real than reality itself. Because we have a lot of trouble facing the real thing, so it is easier to pretend it doesn't exist.

At this point in our evolution, we can't really live without labeling things, and categorizing things, and being discriminating about what we do and what we don't do. We couldn't talk with each other if we didn't. We couldn't convey knowledge. We couldn't stay alive if we didn't know what to eat and what to do. And it seems to be our innate ability to use abstract thinking to do these things. Abstract thinking, which we think is really cool and advanced, but which really amounts to reducing an infinite universe to a cartoon format we can understand.

Nothing terribly wrong with that. It seems to be in part what we're here to do. But there's a balance to find there. Specifically, thinks start going wrong when we forget the simple fact that we're abstracting (simplifying, representing as symbols) a vast and mysterious universe into something that is at best a vaguely workable model. And when we forget that, we open the door to just about any mental illness or cognitive fallacy there is. Fundamentalism and our tendency towards hurting and killing each other for stupid abstract reasons - it all comes from the same error.

Now, because we have gotten into the habit of thinking of things that can be described as real, we're often easy prey for the type of manipulation by framing I started by mentioning. We very easily grab on to the implicit frame we're presented with, just because it seems more comfortable than the great unknown of "everything else". So if you look at CNN's website, and they present you with a multiple-choice poll like:

a. Are you satisfied with the progress of the war in Iraq?
b. Should we send more troups?

a lot of people are not going to notice that there's no place to indicate your preference for any of all the other possibilities, or for rejecting the choice, and that you get trapped in a certain mindset without necessarily noticing.

OK, so the awareness of basic things like that really ought to be something we learn in kindergarten. But the opposite is what is taking place. We get cemented into certain fixed models and perceptions, more and more thoroughly.

It can be reversed of course, but not easily. Going from comfy certainty of abstract banalities towards the scarey uncertainty of the universe as it is - that's in many ways difficult and counter-intuitive. And there's no help to get from some easy system that takes you through the steps.

It is not for nothing that the state of Enlightenment often is described exactly as the result of letting go of all these little mental and emotional falsehoods and needless categorizations we're holding on to. You know, going back to allowing the universe to be what it is, without having to have any preference as regards to what happens. Simply being keenly present with what is.

Well, there's a balance somewhere, I'm sure. Where we can harness all the advantages of abstract thinking, without getting lost in any of the insanities of its misuse. Starts with a continual awareness, I think. Of the difference between the universe and a picture in our head.  More >

 Living your Type10 comments
picture 6 Sep 2004 @ 23:59, by ming. Counseling, Psychology
I kind of like taking personality tests. Probably because I'm searching for a more clear and simple idea of who and what I am. Most of them probably helped a bit and came up with something I could agree with. Didn't make much pervasive difference though. They're mostly too simple, or telling me things I already know. Dividing all of humanity up into 4 or 8 or 16 types might have use, and might help us notice our differences, and be able to communicate better once we're aware of them. But they don't really tell us who we are.

And most of the well-known tests are somebody's copyrighted, heavily guarded intellectual property and business. I.e. some psychologist invented it, put his name on it, and charges 100 bucks for letting you answer a bunch of multiple choice questions and getting the canned answer. That should raise a bunch of red flags right there. Trying to own a personality assessment, and trying to stop other people from using it, is kind of a strange thing. Even if they're good. Here's an article describing different tests. Hey, maybe I should make my own test. The Funch Holographic Mind Spectrum Instrument. $500. And if you don't pay, you just don't have a type, hahah.

I think I prefer more open, but complex and difficult systems. A good astrologer can talk to me for hours about myself, revealing lots of insights I wouldn't think anybody could know. Or there are systems that simply outline many different kinds of programs people might be running, and ways of dealing with them. Like, NLP has Meta Programs. For example, one might have a preference for moving towards desirable things or for moving away from undesirable things. Or one might be internally focused versus externally focused. One might insist on making one's own decisions or one might require the guidance of others. One might have a preference for looking for options and possibilities versus looking for what must be done and what the procedure is. One might sort the world by differences versus sorting it by similarities. One might be active or passive. Etc. And one might use different of these programs in different situations, or one might use them in a certain sequence. For example, I have to work through different possibilities before I can arrive at what needs to be done. I want input from others, but I ultimately want to make my own decision. Other people do it in the opposite order. Anyway, those are more tools than they're personality types, even if some people might keep a certain constellation of them through their life.

Anyway, what I wanted to mention was the idea of Jung's that one gets to be in trouble if one isn't living according to one's type. I.e. if one tries to be somebody else than one really is, and thereby one "falsifies" one's personality type, by presenting a different one than what really comes natural. It is implied that we'd have one personality type which would be stable and unchangable through our life, and that our life would be most happy and smooth if we stay true to it. And if we try to live another type, our life will be stressful and ineffecient.

Now, again, I'm not sure I believe we really ARE one of 16 or so types. But there's something to the idea of staying true to who we really are. We might experience being in the flow if we're in harmony with our own nature, and we might experience hardship and stress if we don't.

Here's a brief overview history of Jung's personality types and the idea of falsifying type.

A number of well-known tests are based on Jung's categories, but leave out any assessment on whether one is just pretending to be that or not. The Myers-Briggs test, or rather the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, which is more comprehensive, helps people find out whether they're predominantly an (I)ntrovert or an (E)xtravert, whether one is (S)ensing or i(N)tuiting, (T)hinking or (F)eeling, (J)udging or (P)erceiving. One ends up with a four-letter type, one of 16 different constellations. When I take it, I'm usually split on Introvert and Extravert, or it might go either way depending on what mood I'm in. But let's say I'm ENTP. That is the Inventor type. Those are non-conformists who are probing for new possibilities, and who pragmatically work on implementing new solutions. Now, looking over the types, there isn't any other one that would suit me better. So I might not have fooled myself in terms of my answers. I'd know nothing better than sitting around exploring interesting possibilities and inventing new things all day. And I guess I do that part of the time, and that's great. But the more stressful parts of my life might be when I do everything else. Which I might not have to if I had been really successful in what I'm good at. I.e. if I actually had invented something and gotten it out to the world, I'd probably be deriving an income from it, and I could get quite some milage out of it. So, instead, I've spent a significant portion of my life trying to do work for other people, conforming to their needs, and sort of muddled through, trying to keep up with paying rent and taxes and things like that.

The point is not necessarily the typing system. But what if I somehow, by any means, learn enough about myself and how I work. And I actually respect it and live my life accordingly. If I'm good at starting things, but not at continuing them, well, then I should be starting things, and get other people to continue them. If I thrive on exploring different subjects and talking about it, then I should arrange my life so I do that. Doesn't matter what exactly our modus operendi is. What matters is that we do what works for us. Seems so obvious, but we so easily miss it.

The trouble is of course that we usually need some of that which we aren't good at. For example, most of us need to either structure that which we're good at as a viable business, or we need a job that allows us to do it. And if the business-making part is not one of those things that realy flows for you, you'll need somebody else to help you with that. Or you might be really frustrated if you try to force yourself to do those things that are needed, even though it isn't you.

In an ideal world we'd all be doing exactly that which we're excited about and really good at. That which really flows for us. And we'd be free to do mainly that. And we'd discover to our delight that those things we're good at dovetail really nicely with what some other people are really good at, so we can complement each other, and form teams.

Maybe it already is an ideal world, and we just haven't noticed. So we go around trying to pretend to be something we aren't, trying to do things we'll never be good at, when we really ought to let somebody else do those things. And when other people really could use that I started doing my particular part a little more directly, rather than futzing around.

I'm looking for the magical button. Something that makes me and others just snap into their true self, acting accordingly. A test or divination or process might give hope that it will make it happen easily. I suddenly have an epiphany and realize what I'm really like, so clearly that I start living my life that way. And everything then is flow and synchronicity and I effortlessly make great things happen, now that I realized what it was I was supposed to be doing. I wish it were that easy. No test or workshop has done that for me so far. It might take real work. Probably on an ongoing basis. But one never knows. Life might surprisingly turn out to be easy, if one just runs into the missing piece. And the missing piece might be you.  More >

 Direct Polarity Access (DPA)4 comments
picture1 Sep 2004 @ 10:08, by jhs. Counseling, Psychology
Some more notes (make sense only for a few, but this is the easiest way for me to distribute this).

Some of the dire warnings as usual.. But then.. without preparation it is unlikely that these things work easily anyway...

But, as a reminder, it should be clear that one doesn't work with the Odu directly in these exercises but instead these are SOME of their manifestations as energies as they are perceived in one's emotional field. In turn, however, and this is important to note for the following, they WILL invoke the according Odu (which themselves are beyond but immersing space).

Direct Polarity Access (DPA)

With Girapoli exercises come new abilities. One of them is the ability to directly access energies from polarities. This opens up a new world but also the problem of overaccessing such a polarity. The problemn as such is already well known even though its parameters are not very well known at this time.

Overaccessing will result in an inversion of the polarity, going from full positive to full negative. See the attached graph.

Still unknown are: ...  More >

 Yes, and ...9 comments
picture 24 Jul 2004 @ 17:07, by ming. Counseling, Psychology
Tom Munnecke, in commenting on Mass Listening, says:
Listening is also part of the "Yes-And" Improv dialog form I am now researching. Improv actors have to listen to their partners... what a concept. They also learn that accepting a partners' offer is different than agreeing with it. And that "yes,but" creates a zero sum conversation, while 'yes, and' opens up a much more richer dialog.
Ah, yes, thanks for reminding me. I've done Improv too. You know, improv is when one creates a reality together on the spot, which hopefully becomes interesting and maybe funny. One of the ground rules is to accept whatever anybody else brings into it, and build on it, rather than reject it if it doesn't suit you. If I come into a scene, and I had in mind that I was going to be Doctor Shtrumpfswanz, head of the psychiatric department, and somebody else beats me to it and greets me with: "Oh, the plumber, I'm glad you finally came!" - then I'm the plumber from then on. No use protesting and rejecting it, it would just ruin the scene. If somebody establishes that there's a table in the middle of the room, then there's a table in the middle of the room, no matter what clever alternative ideas I might have had. The answer is "YES, AND..". I must build on whatever everybody else have brought into the scene. For that matter, good improv comedy arises exactly when the participants are willing to accept what is there, and some rather surprising elements might have been brought together. And you find yourself playing tennis in a submarine, or something else you might not easily have found logical.

I frequently go back to find wisdom in the things I learned in improv. There's really a lot there that applies to life in general.

Improv works great when one is totally in the moment. One accepts everything that is there, and addresses it as real, and at the same time one channels something that might take it in just about any direction, and one has to track continuously with several other people who do the same. The moment you get stuck in your own head, getting bright ideas about what is supposed to happen, and not noticing what is really happening, it stops working. It is sort of an odd thing, like starting sentences without having any clue how they'll end. And finding that things often are better that way. Certainly more funny.

Anyway, I think Tom's point was how that kind of thing applies to regular conversation, and relating to others. The Yes-And principle. Hmm, I actually hadn't considered completely doing that in regular life.

What if I just accepted everything anybody brought into the scene? Hm, that's actually a hard one.

I was once waiting for a while in the reception of an insane asylum, as that also happened to be where one kept people who were on drug rehab. And some of the, eh, residents came up and chatted with me. Which was delightful. You know people who see spiders on the wall, or tell about their life as tabloid journalists or secret agents. None of which really was happening, but I didn't mind at all jumping into their reality and accepting what they were experiencing. Now, the psychatrist on the other hand was somebody it was no fun to speak with, but that's another matter.

But in the real world? What if I accept somebody else's reality, and just build on it, and see where it goes, rather than introducing any kind of "Yes, but ...[you're wrong]" kind of thing. I suppose that would really make for good listening. You allow them to reveal more of their reality, and see where it goes.

For that matter, that has also been a key ingredient in my work as a counselor. I'm not going to argue with the client. Whichever way they experience the world is what we'll start with. OK, my job is to help them transform it into something that is more useful to them. But I don't do it by negating what they believe. I do it by a kind of conversational judo. I use the force of their own worldview, and the way they structure themselves, to lead them towards transforming themselves. Works very well, if you manage to stay neutral, and you know something about how these things work.

But I must admit that I don't necessarily do that in a normal conversation. Oh, I'm open to many views, and I can leave many of them alone, but there will always tend to be some kind of tendency towards bringing you over to my view.

Can I give that up in all circumstances? Maybe. I do notice that it almost never works to negate what other people really believe in. It rarely works to try to WIN an argument by methodically destroying the 'opponents' statements. And yet that's what most of us do half the time.

It is the 'shoulds' that get in the way most of the time. How somebody else 'should' think, and how things 'should' be. But the fact of the matter is usually that they actually aren't like that. The 'shoulds' are a mental hallucination we superimpose on reality. Really, the best way of changing anything is to accept what is already there, and then look for available paths of maybe helping it change into something else. And if there are no available paths, you might just allow things to remain the way they are.

Interestingly the more in balance we ourselves are, the less we feel a need for correcting everybody else's worldviews. The more enlightened you yourself are, the less you are obsessed with making everybody else be like you. Ironically, as we could say you had all the more reason to do so, if you've found some kind of nirvana that most others haven't.

But maybe the bigger truth is that the world really would work better if we could accept different world views, and simply allow them to evolve naturally. And maybe life would be more interesting and entertaining if we dropped the mistaken idea that we all live in exactly the same world, and we're supposed to live by the same rules.  More >

 A Smile Costs Us Nothing7 comments
picture 3 Jul 2004 @ 00:26, by nemue. Counseling, Psychology

This morning I was in one of my local shopping centres. I am off travelling tomorrow so needed to pick up a few things before I leave. I popped into the supermarket and came face to face with a sad looking man, he appeared to be African. I smiled (as I am prone to do) and his face lite up with this wonderful smile in return. He asked how I was – we exchanged a few words and each went our way.  More >

 What Makes People Happy4 comments
12 May 2004 @ 19:26, by raypows. Counseling, Psychology
By Marilyn Elias
December 10, 2002

The happiest people surround themselves with family and friends, don't care about keeping up with the Joneses next door, lose themselves in daily activities and, most important, forgive easily.

The once-fuzzy picture of what makes people happy is coming into focus as psychologists no longer shun the study of happiness. In the mid-'90s, scientific journals published about 100 studies on sadness for every one study on happiness.

Now a burgeoning "positive psychology" movement that emphasizes people's strengths and talents instead of their weaknesses is rapidly closing the gap, says University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman, author of the new book, Authentic Happiness. The work of Seligman and other experts in the field is in the early stages, but they are already starting to see why some people are happy while others are not:

The happiest people spend the least time alone. They pursue personal growth and intimacy; they judge themselves by their own yardsticks, never against what others do or have.  More >

 El computador humano-Introduccion y Capitulo 1401 comments
4 Jan 2003 @ 05:28, by consultant. Counseling, Psychology
El Computador Humano
Estimados lectores,

 More >

 It's an alien world5 comments
picture 19 Dec 2002 @ 04:26, by ming. Counseling, Psychology
NY Times reports that a naive psychology researcher at Harvard advertised for people who had been 'contacted or abducted by space aliens', thinking that it would be a great way to find a few suggestible weirdos who were out of touch with reality, so that she could study how fabricated memories work. Instead she got overwhelmed, both with responses from lots of people with abduction experiences to tell about, and then from people ridiculing it, and finally from fellow Harward researchers who actually had been studying the phenomenon.

For the record, I have memories of being abducted by aliens as well, and I frequently had nose bleeds as a child. And I'm not a particularly suggestible or gullible person. But I don't have much urge to convince anybody about what is real and what is not. I think our universe is big and mysterious, and there is a lot of things we haven't really figured out yet about how reality works, so sometimes it is best to keep an open mind and reserve judgment for later.

As to the fabricated memory thing that the Harvard doctor was researching, yes, as a counselor and a certified hypnotherapist myself, I agree that this can be quite a problem in a therapeutic setting. Particularly when it comes to recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. I think that can possibly happen, but it might just as well be something else. Just because one remembers it, doesn't necessarily mean it physically happened that way. I've had clients who suddenly remembered childhood molestation, where I must admit I didn't quite believe it. It can be very productive to work on the issues related to that, regardless, but it is very problematic if the client considers making the jump to go home and actually confront somebody with what they supposedly did 30 years ago, if all you have is some suddenly recovered memories. Bad idea. Processing it emotionally and mentally versus acting on the reality of it in the material world are two different things.  More >

 The Duplicity of Complacence6 comments
4 Dec 2002 @ 15:13, by cho. Counseling, Psychology
deleted  More >

 Know Your Self
21 Oct 2002 @ 16:31, by sharie. Counseling, Psychology

Getting to know your self deep down in the depths of your soul means clearing away all the gunk you were programmed with by the institutions of government, religion, multi-media programming, the unhealthy patterns learned from parents, grandparents, older siblings, and other damaging relationships.

There's a fun way to do this emotional housekeeping:

Look back on your life, and review your favorite music, your favorite movies, and your favorite ways of spending your money over the years. What were the song lyrics you sung over and over, what were the albums and CD's you bought, and why? What were the themes of your favorite movies?

Take a long hard look at what you spent most of your money on? Did you really need to spend that much on housing, your car? What did you invest in? What did you blow your money on?

Take a look at these keys to your inner self, and you'll see things about yourself that you'd never quite looked at before.

Then take a long hard look at the people you spent your time with, and the things you spent your time doing. Were you happy hanging out with your friends, or did you do it just because you felt comfortable with them, or because you all complained about the same things?

What were you guided by? Joy? Complaints? Resentments?

Be willing to open up yourself and look at your motives in life.

And then if you want to create better motives, healthier motives, happier motives, go ahead.

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