24 January 2007

A personal pop-psych manifesto

To focus my own thoughts for the next little while, and also to give some suggestions to some of our readers who feel the need to step up to the level of tinkering with their own psyche - aka "metaprogramming"...

I am a conscious body existing in a physical world.

The only sources of information which my consciousness gets about that world are electrochemical sensations produced by my body. Filters and conditioned processes in my subconscious mediate the information which comes from my five senses before it gets to my conscious mind.

My body's emotional reactions and inhibitions are in turn produced by electrochemical reactions based on these mediated signals. If I feel pain, or fear, or sorrow, it is because my subconscious mind has instructed my body to release the appropriate chemicals. (I'm pretty sure that once, in a very stressful situation, I actually physically felt my adrenal gland release the appropriate fight-or-flight chemicals.)

To survive in this world, I have developed automatic psychic processes to keep me safe and functional. Some of these are simply those which develop naturally as a result of having to live under capitalism (aka "bourgeois ideology"). Others I came up with myself in order to deal with specific problems which affected me growing up.

Mistaking the signals fed through my subconscious filters for objective reality limits my effectiveness and damages my psychic health. I can not tell what's really going on (and make appropriate plans) if my subconscious demands that I do X or Y without thinking, or insists on telling me that something in the real world is actually something else entirely, or that certain helpful kinds of behaviour are impossible or "too much work". It is very difficult to tell the difference, precisely because these functions are automatic, and are to some degree necessary for the "ego" and rational thought to be possible. (In particular, fear/avoidance procedures restrict my freedom of action and choice something terrible.)

I want to only have those automatic processes which benefit me. I want to fuse my reason and my physical instincts to eliminate conditioning which no longer benefits me. I want my subconscious filters to give me input which enables me to change physical reality, not hide from it. I want to eliminate all subconscious programming that impedes or blocks rational thought and conscious action on any level.

The big problem is that in this culture unconsciousness is more or less demanded - simply because life becomes much more difficult if you actually have to think about things, if your consciousness is not rigorously compressed into immediate questions of obeying orders, earning money, consuming, fucking, etc. In this sense, this kind of mental reprogramming is in itself a political act - or at least the precondition of effective political action.

The only way you can bring the subconscious processes into view is analysis (although many also trumpet the effectiveness of psychotropics). Rational analysis, comparing your image of the present with images of past and present. If they look too much like one another, or too different, you may well be coming up against conditioning. You can generally tell an insane idea because it doesn't change depending on circumstances.

Therefore, the process consists of taking the time to examine all my conditioned reflexes; and if they seem counterproductive, to disestablish them by counter-conditioning. This is what we call a "banishing" or an "exorcism" in magical jargon - and it will take practice, not just symbolic actions. Only by action is the subconscious reprogrammed.

The other side of the coin is to create a reality tunnel which is more appropriate for my purposes. I think you can pretty much choose to live in whatever ideology you feel like - *given that* it can cope with whatever input from the real world it comes across, either by reacting to it or censoring it out of existence. (When the real world breaks your reality tunnel, I think that's what's called a "psychotic break".) The reality tunnel I'm looking for it for myself will be one that maximises my effectiveness in causing change-in-accordance-with-will in the real, physical, material world.

(Note: I will rewrite this as and when necessary.)