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The Total Perspective Vortex

Article #277 • Written by Christopher S. Putnam

Most people think of the "mentally disordered" as a delusional lot, holding bizarre and irrational ideas about themselves and the world around them. Isn’t a mental disorder, after all, an impairment or a distortion in thought or perception? This is what we tend to think, and for most of modern psychology's history, the experts have agreed; realistic perceptions have been considered essential to good mental health. More recently, however, research has arisen that challenges this common-sense notion.

In 1988, psychologists Shelly Taylor and Jonathon Brown published an article making the somewhat disturbing claim that positive self-deception is a normal and beneficial part of most people’s everyday outlook. They suggested that average people hold cognitive biases in three key areas: a) viewing themselves in unrealistically positive terms; b) believing they have more control over their environment than they actually do; and c) holding views about the future that are more positive than the evidence can justify. The typical person, it seems, depends on these happy delusions for the self-esteem needed to function through a normal day. It’s when the fantasies start to unravel that problems arise.

Consider eating disorders, for instance. It’s generally been believed that an unrealistically negative body image is an important factor in the self-abuse that characterizes anorexia and bulimia. A 2006 study at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, however, came to a very different conclusion. Here, groups of normal and eating disordered women were asked to rate the attractiveness of their own bodies. They were then photographed from the neck down, and panels of volunteers were brought in to view the photos and rate the women’s appearances objectively. The normal women, as it turned out, evaluated themselves much more positively than the panels did, while the self-ratings of the eating disordered women were in close agreement with the objective ratings. The eating disordered subjects, in other words, had a more realistic body image than the normal women. However, it is important to note that the study was based upon the broad concept of "attractiveness" rather than body weight specifically—while the eating disordered women may have rated themselves poorly because they felt "fat," their weight was a controlled variable and not the basis of the volunteers' assessments.

Studies into clinical depression have yielded similar findings, leading to the development of an intriguing, but still controversial, concept known as depressive realism. This theory puts forward the notion that depressed individuals actually have more realistic perceptions of their own image, importance, and abilities than the average person. While it’s still generally accepted that depressed people can be negatively biased in their interpretation of events and information, depressive realism suggests that they are often merely responding rationally to realities that the average person cheerfully denies.

Lear's Fool speaks wisdom disguised as madness
Lear's Fool speaks wisdom disguised as madness

Those with paranoid disorders can sometimes possess a certain unusual insight as well. It has often been asserted that within every delusional system, there exists a core of truth—and in their pursuit of imagined conspiracies against them, these individuals often show an exceptionally keen eye for the real thing. People who interact with them may be taken aback as they find themselves accused of harboring some negative opinion of the person which, secretly, they actually do hold. Complicating the issue, of course, is the fact that if the supposed aversion didn’t exist before, it likely does after such an unpleasant encounter.

As one might imagine, these issues present some problems when it comes to treatment. How does one convince a depressed person that “everything is all right” when her life really does suck? How does one convince an obsessive-compulsive patient to stop religiously washing his hands when the truth of what gets left behind after “normal” washing should be enough to make any sane person cringe? These problems put therapists in the curious position of teaching patients to develop irrational patterns of thinking—patterns that help them view the world as a rosier place than it really is. Counterintuitive as it sounds, it's justified because what defines a mental disorder is not unreasonable or illogical thought, but abnormal behaviour that causes significant distress and impairs normal functioning in society. Treatment is about restoring a person to that level of normal functioning and satisfaction, even if it means building cognitions that aren’t precisely “rational” or “realistic.”

It’s a disconcerting concept. It’s certainly easier to think of the mentally disordered as lunatics running about with bizarre, inexplicable beliefs than to imagine them coping with a piece of reality that a "normal" person can’t handle. The notion that we routinely hide from the truth about ourselves and our world is not an appealing one, though it may help to explain the human tendency to ostracize the abnormal. Perhaps the reason we are so eager to reject any departure from this fiction we call "normality" is because we have grown dependent on our comfortable delusions; without them, there is nothing to insulate us from the harsh cold of reality.

Article written by Christopher S. Putnam, published on 14 June 2007. Chris is a writer and bomb-disposal expert for the Damn Interesting A-Team. He posts from an undisclosed location in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Article design by Alan Bellows. Edited by Alan Bellows.
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644 Comments
raycombs
Posted 14 June 2007 at 05:56 pm

FIRST!!!


mjunk
Posted 14 June 2007 at 05:56 pm

FIRST??? Oh, Wow. Now I have a much inflated impression of myself that will help me get through another day.


mjunk
Posted 14 June 2007 at 05:59 pm

Dang, 2nd. Head in the oven time. Sigh.


Coherent
Posted 14 June 2007 at 06:04 pm

Very interesting! Consciousness itself is a subjective phenomenon, so we might expect that self-deception is part of the motivational process. Exactly what does it take to get up out of bed in the morning? Does everyone actually accomplish the things that they expect to every day? No, but they continue to be motivated on the same premises day after day.

It's likewise possible for people to hold unrealistically negative perceptions of various subjective judgements. But this is less common because it's a demotivator instead of motivating factor in someone's life. The positive self-deception is more common because, ironically, it's good for you. It leads you to exert more strenous efforts because you deceive yourself into thinking that your efforts have more effect than they actually do.

As a survival trait, positive self-deception gets things done, and that's why everybody does it.


Burning
Posted 14 June 2007 at 06:16 pm

A fascinating article!

It’s interesting to consider how the ideas in this article interact with those in the article about Hyperbolic Discounting…which should be linked to in the related articles, in my opinion. According to the “HD” article, people are too optimistic, not giving enough thought to the long-term negative consequences of their actions, be it smoking, unhealthy eating, etc. That’s one side of the spectrum. On the other side, an overly realistic view tends to make one depressed. How bizarre!

Alcoholics Anonymous has long taught us that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Maybe this only applies to the problems we can influence. We can decide whether or not to go on a drinking binge or to live a sober life. However, there are many things we cannot change about our circumstances. In these things, it seems that we must cling to hope, however unlikely that hope is. If we do not, despair is right around the corner.

But do we really need to believe in a lie in order to stay sane? Hope does not need to be unrealistic. AA encourages its attendees to look to a higher power for help overcoming their addiction. Many people believe that this is a fantasy, and a dangerous one at that. However, I know that I have a Father who has control over the circumstances where I am powerless. Time and time again, he has proven to me that I can rely on him and things will turn out okay. Even when life turns sour or—more than that—my peaceful existence turns into a living nightmare, I know I can trust him and things will always work out for the good of those who love him. The longer I know him and the more I trust him, the more peace, happiness, and hope I experience. It is a hope that no one can take away.

Some people are blind optimists, believing that everything is okay when it is not. It will make their life more pleasant, but trouble will inevitably come. At that time, an illusory hope will help them in only the most superficial ways. My hope is in my Father, and his is the origin of all life and all true hope. He is my wellspring of hope, and this well runs deep!


brienhopkins
Posted 14 June 2007 at 06:24 pm

Coherent put it very coherently. Realistically, life is more hopeless and out of our control than we are comfortable with accepting. Positive self-deception, though false, motivates us to at least try. Then maybe with a little luck one of us will accomplish something.


Spike
Posted 14 June 2007 at 06:25 pm

DI article, Christopher Putnam, nicely done. Interesting and thought provoking. I think I will stick with my positive self delusion. Although, when it comes to my body image, I think I fall more in the depressive realism catagory. People for the most part are attracted to people who are positive and upbeat. Being around them tends to make other people feel good and full of positive energy. Isn't it possible, that people who are depressively real, so to speak, are ostracized because they are negative and thus perceived as energy draining. Not that I'm saying this is good behavior, it's just the way it is.

Deep down, I believe most people just need a really comfortable pair of shoes and plenty of fiber and they will be right as rain.


SmarterChild
Posted 14 June 2007 at 06:29 pm

Congratualtions Christopher nice article.

Burning makes a good point, when we can control the problem it is better to admit it is there.
It might sound arrogant but I like to think I can handle the reality and try and look at things without those three happy delusions. It is bad luck for those who cant face it but still see it.


Old Man
Posted 14 June 2007 at 06:55 pm

DI article, nice work!

Nietzsche wrote over 100 years ago that untruth, injustice and illogic (under the cover of truth, justice and logic) were the qualities that allowed the human race to survive.

Here's to delusion!


Astrophysician
Posted 14 June 2007 at 07:09 pm

Hey, this new guy's pretty good.

Well done! :-)


Chris
Posted 14 June 2007 at 07:18 pm

As a survival trait, positive self-deception gets things done, and that's why everybody does it."

I agree with your observations, Coherent. I belive I am a "realist" yet that is not generally accepted as much as the "optimist" positive perception. Recently I was accused of being "negative" when someone asked about the weather for the weekend and I replied "bleak." "Stop being so negative!" was the response. "Negative?" I replied. "I just saw the weather report and it said 70% chance of rain." Now, I would rather have nice ,rain free weekend, but since when is stating the most likely a "negative?! Not what they wanted to hear!

Anyway, great article! And that is a "realistic" answer!


debbiebf
Posted 14 June 2007 at 07:21 pm

But it is hard to measure what a person "thinks" about himself or herself or a situation, because even that will change from time to time. Part of me is happy with myself. Part is depressed. If you ask me and I don't feel threatened or lonely at the time, I will be far more positive than if you get me at ten o'clock at night, for example, or when my arthritis has kicked in. As an ADD person, I can even think a LOT of things at the same time, and as we talk you will see that I can take several sides of an argument.

Personally, I think reality itself is so multi-faceted that we can't confine it like this. It is like the story of nine blind men and an elephant. One described him as a big tough fan (the ear), another a rope (the tail), another a smooth pointy thing (the tusk), one a wall (the side), one a snake (the trunk) and another a tree trunk (the leg). Don't ask me the other three, you get the idea.

Not only do we all see reality differently, and beauty differently, and right and wrong and good and bad, but our own perception of these will vary from time to time. Still, we are all looking at the same elephant.

Personally, I think when we die, we get to see the whole elephant and be amazed and embarrassed that we hadn't figured it out better!


debbiebf
Posted 14 June 2007 at 07:22 pm

I LOVE the head in the sand picture.


BarryW
Posted 14 June 2007 at 07:49 pm

It looks to me like religion is another facet of positive self-deception. When life sucks you can still maintain a positive outlook as long as you have an imaginary friend who has the power to make everything all better if you just believe hard enough.


ChrisW75
Posted 14 June 2007 at 08:37 pm

Great article. I'd be interested to see how self perception and self confidence tie in. For instance, I'm well aware of my own faults, I'm selfish and self absorbed, I'm lazy, I frequently don't think things through properly before doing them, I'm terrified of conflict and will do anything to avoid it, and I'm quite needy when it comes to seeking validation and approval from my peers. Also, I'm underweight and look like a scarecrow in any pictures I've seen of myself (an image which is strangely different from what I see in the mirror). That said, I'm not lacking in self confidence. I understand and accept my flaws as part of what makes me, Me. And I like Me... so is an awareness of shortcomings what is responsible for the depression, or does the depression merely make these molehills seem insurmountable?


ballaerina
Posted 14 June 2007 at 08:57 pm

Thank you so much for writing this - I had an eating disorder in high school and to this day, looking at pictures of me from back then, I still think I look too big when everyone else says I looked fine. I never understood until now. I guess one of the best ways of dealing with problems is pretending they don't exist in the first place.


nbsp
Posted 14 June 2007 at 10:22 pm

ballaerina, I bet the "spotlight effect" (the tendency to believe that others are scrutinizing one's behavior and appearance far more than they actually are) was a lot of it; to everyone else you probably DID look just fine. Since we're all so used to our own appearances, we see flaws where others just see another image of us. Our own self-perceived problems are often easily overlooked, disregarded and/or forgotten by anyone else.


j4m3sb0nd
Posted 14 June 2007 at 11:24 pm

Personally, I think that reconditioning a depressively realistic individual is in a way unethical in that it perpetuates delusion. Oh well, I suppose it'd be their fault if they chose to undergo such conditioning.


leob
Posted 14 June 2007 at 11:54 pm

BarryW, what worries me more is that someday atheism and agnosticism could be considered "abnormal behaviour that causes significant distress and impairs normal functioning in society" and treated by "building cognitions that aren’t precisely “rational” or “realistic.”


Dr. Evil
Posted 15 June 2007 at 12:47 am

My name is Dr. Evil...and I'm a DI addict...it has been 2 hours since my last visit to this site


babu
Posted 15 June 2007 at 01:55 am

"Take the life-lie away from the average man and you take away his life."
-- Henrik Ibsen (The Wild Duck)


ninyule
Posted 15 June 2007 at 02:08 am

Thank you Christopher for this article. This is almost exactly how I feel !! I have suffered from clinical depression for nearly 10 years and am now stabilised (more or less) by antidepressants. But for years and years I was accused of being negative, of always seeing the bad things. The trouble was that in many cases I would be proved right. I could see what was going to happen, but people all around me seemed to be perfectly happy and literally unable to perceive what to me was as clear as day.

When I was in the depths of my last episode it was as if the veil protecting me from harsh reality had been stripped away. Life was futile, work was completely pointless, etc etc. The truth is that many many people are working at jobs they hate, but somehow we get through it day after day. After treatment, I was able to get back to 'normality', and in fact I have changed work, moved to a different country - all in order to achieve a liveable life...


kakun
Posted 15 June 2007 at 03:05 am

A question for ninyule and others who have experienced similar conditions: does knowing and comprehending your state of mind actually help you deal with the "problem"? Is it possible to do some sort of a mental exercise to change your perception of reality?

And another one:
How do antidepressants alter these cognitive states? Does "My job is pointless" become "My job is pointless but I don't really mind that", or rather: "My job is important and interesting"?


Bogroll
Posted 15 June 2007 at 03:52 am

Great article Christopher. Loved the nod to Douglas Adams 'Hitchhickers Guide to the Galaxy' in the title.


justjim1
Posted 15 June 2007 at 04:18 am

I don't carewhat any of you think! I'm still the King!


jarvisloop
Posted 15 June 2007 at 04:34 am

It's good to see some studies that support what I've been saying.

One way that I use to escape depression without drugs is by amusing myself through writing random thoughts, most of which deal with a depressed view of life. (Of course, I call it a realistic view of life, especially in regard to any thoughts that I have for the future.) I began calling them "Lines, by J.L." Here are just a few of the many that I've written:

1. Just because I'm old, bitter, and cynical, that doesn't mean I'm wrong.
2. Hope is the last refuge of the defeated.
3. I can trust those who hate me because I know that they are out to get me. It's the people who say they're my friends I worry about.
4. I'm not depressed; I'm merely acutely aware of reality.

This last one is by the most prolific author of the ages: Anonymous. "The ability to see clearly is often called cynicism by those who haven't got it."

Kudos to Mr. Putnam for his superbly clear, tight thinking and writing! If he had been a student in one of my advanced composition/philosophy classes, I would have given him an "A" on the spot and then told him not to bother coming to class for the remainder of the quarter.


GeorgeAR
Posted 15 June 2007 at 04:46 am

I know you wrote this because you are all against me.

Good job Mr. Putnam. This again is truly Damned Interesting.
"O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!"
Ode to a louse - Robert Burns


jarvisloop
Posted 15 June 2007 at 04:53 am

I just read a comic strip that applies perfectly to Mr. Putnam's article.

Go to http://www.peanuts.com, and look at the strip for Fri 15 June 07.


mohdowais
Posted 15 June 2007 at 05:02 am

Excellent first attempt, Christopher! I did have to read the article a couple of times to understand it fully, but the subject is quite complicated, to be fair, and I'm no Einstein.

I guess this has been part of every society for as long as humans have existed: an unwritten definition of what constitutes normalcy; and any serious deviation from this standard constituted lunacy, anti-social behaviour, blaphemy, etc etc.

Reminds me of an old Arab tale about a kingdom stricken by an unknown disease that turns people crazy. It quickly spreads throughout the population and the king, in a desperate attempt to save the only heir to his throne, orders his son to be locked away in a distant castle for a year. By the time the year is over, every person in the kingdom had gone mad, including the king. And when the prince came out of his confinement, they would laugh at his ideas and call him crazy! The very definition of normalcy had been altered and in the end, it was the prince who was mad.


jarvisloop
Posted 15 June 2007 at 05:09 am

"To see ourselves as others see us is fatal; our lies keep us alive."

"Of all the lies I've told, I like the ones I've told myself the best."


capito
Posted 15 June 2007 at 06:04 am

"How does one convince a depressed person that “everything is all right” when her life really does suck?"

Even worse, how do you convince a depressed person their life really does suck when they think everything is ok?


Dublin
Posted 15 June 2007 at 06:31 am

How many times growing up did you hear the phrase "You can be anything you want to be", or "you can do anything you want to"? It's hardly surprising that we have inflated views of ourselves and I wonder is it a modern psychological development, or has it always been a crutch to shoulder our ever developing ego?

As a serious distance runner, I'm very critical about my weight and it bothers me when I'm carrying extra pounds. I chastise myself if I get suckered into a nights drinking or if I miss a run. Despite this I would consider myself extremely happy, and I have ambitions in athletics far beyond my abilities, as do most sportspeople I would imagine. I mention this because for many of my friends in athletics (myself included), there is a combination of brutally honest self image, which in turn perpetuates the possibility for a healthy positive outlook on future performance. Without looking at ourselves objectively for training purposes, we could never harbour desires beyond reality.

Perhaps I'm looking at this from the wrong point of view, but certainly the concepts raised in the article are reflective of thoughts and observations I've made in the past!

DI!


bbeoj
Posted 15 June 2007 at 06:32 am

leob said: ...someday atheism and agnosticism could be considered "abnormal behaviour that causes significant distress and impairs normal functioning in society" and treated by "building cognitions that aren’t precisely “rational” or “realistic.”"

loeb, as long as we're going down a slippery slope...

It seems that many in today's society are "too well adjusted" - don't save any money for a rainy day, sit around and watch tv, smoke, drink, and eat to excess. They tell themselves "I'm doing just fine thank you very much". And, generally, (American) society agrees. And that is considered "normal".

But those who eat/drink in moderation, work with some passion, and experience life by traveling, hiking, camping, surfing, skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, or a thousand other active pursuits - they are labeled "extreme".

Ankle & wrist sprains in these sports are common, and generally an accepted risk. But in a society where nearly any minor injury is explored for litigious potential, how long is it before so-called "extreme sports" are considered "abnormal behaviour that causes significant distress and impairs normal functioning in society"

BTW, nice work Christopher - you got this long time reader to come out of the woodwork and make a first post.


robo
Posted 15 June 2007 at 06:32 am


Some people are blind optimists, believing that everything is okay when it is not. It will make their life more pleasant, but trouble will inevitably come.

Not necessarily. If tomorrow they get run over by a ten ton truck they will have lived their life in ignorant bliss. They never had to face reality.


InterestedOne
Posted 15 June 2007 at 06:37 am

My concern with this thinking is the circuitous logic involved, with the addition of outside forces- and I do not see that addressed in the article. (Although I see it mentioned in the responses by burning and mohdowais among others.) How "me" thinks about "me" is a cycle that, yes is effected by "me" and everything else that affects me, but it includes dynamics that are both internal AND external. I believe the premise that (my belief that) my reality is a comfortable delusion is too heavily weighted on what (as Chris said) are negative viewpoints. Who is to say what is or isn't negative. Rain is good and beneficial for our crops (in moderation of course), just not for our vacation plans - unless we're going to the Amazon and want to experience the rain forest in all it's glory. I believe what is a closer look at the truth is that we're more comfortable with those that make us feel good, such as those that are either more "positive and upbeat" as expressed by Spike, or those that express any negatives they feel in exaggerations and witticisms meant to make us laugh - which also makes us feel good, such as the "Lines, by J.L." written by Jarvisloop (very witty, thanks, - and BTW- a great way to interject your work). Either way, both are outside influences that effect our reality. Like Pie ;-)


alexeyg
Posted 15 June 2007 at 07:12 am

Treatment is about restoring a person to that level of normal functioning and satisfaction, even if it means building cognitions that aren’t precisely “rational” or “realistic.”

From a utilitarian perspective having congitions that provide normal (or above normal) level of functioning is indeed very "rational."

This article assumes that there is a "way things really are" and a "way we think things are." It assumes those are stationary, and they can agree/disagree/overlap/etc. This assumption is fundamentally flawed as it requires absolute objective reality.

In other words, our cognitions can and do change the reality.

This is still a fun article though.


Thag
Posted 15 June 2007 at 08:39 am

Spike said: "DI article, Christopher Putnam, nicely done...


..Deep down, I believe most people just need a really comfortable pair of shoes and plenty of fiber and they will be right as rain."

Spike has is nailed down. Although somewhat Gumpish this thought process can be extremely helpful. During an exceptionally nasty year filled with fear and depression I learned to find value and enjoyment in many of life's little gifts. Not so much on the fiber, but things like a clear blue sky, birds tweeting, a funny story or close examination of an odd texture all paid huge dividends in altering the perception of reality and counteracting negative states.

When a person becomes to focused on one negative aspect of their life such as weight or poverty, it can become consuming to the point of being debilitating. Taking a step back to appreciate even the smallest of things can provide a needed respite and with enough frequency can help turn things around.

Every morning I make it a point to give my undivided attention to what the birds are doing and I start my day with a smile.


jimmiebean
Posted 15 June 2007 at 08:40 am

"You mean I'm gonna STAY this color?"

-Navin R. Johnson


Circlehead
Posted 15 June 2007 at 09:07 am

Very interesting article.

I liked the bit about the bulima/anorexia body image test. The politically correct philosophy (as espoused mostly in soap operas and chat shows) is that any person who chooses to follow an unusual eating regime, or chooses to have plastic surgery, is suffering from a mental disorder and simply can't see how beautiful they are. But what if the person really is fat and/or ugly? Is it not a reasonable thing in our society to want to change that, even it means taking extreme measures? Like it or not, society puts a high premium on bodily beauty, and it seems to me that the desire to be physically attractive is just as rational as the desire to be intelligent, fit, and wealthy.


eatthebiscuit
Posted 15 June 2007 at 09:11 am

I thought this was really interesting. I just have one thing to say in response to depression. If you think everything will go wrong it inevitably will (self-reinforcing), whereas with hope and optimism you have more of a possiblity of things turning out well. Speaking from personal experience when I have thought positively it has usually turned out better, also the ability to cope with things, seeing the flip side of the coin (ie the bright side).


leob
Posted 15 June 2007 at 09:27 am

bbeoj, you may be right, but the simplest way to deal with "extreme" sports is to stop insuring people practicing them. There is no need for a treatment or building of cognitions contrary to reality.


KireSunfer
Posted 15 June 2007 at 09:36 am

So usually people who are able to be happy all the time can only do so because they ignore the truth of how bad life can be at times. The key word being ignore. People DO know the reality of the world somewhere in the back of their minds; some of us just block it out. That intentional self delusion to aviod the blatantly obvious can come off as ignorant, spawning "Ignorance is bliss" as a common saying everyone is familiar with. So people who view the world realistically are negative and depressed, where as people who delude themselves to make life bearable are stupid. So where is there room for people who are just genuinely happy and the people who have it good and are just depressed anyway? What about people who seek knowledge; the ability to access situations and catagorize human behavior, is it just a means of elevating oneself to a class of higher thingking individuals?


Xoebe
Posted 15 June 2007 at 10:27 am

Happiness and Wisdom are two different things, and are probably mutually exclusive.


alexeyg
Posted 15 June 2007 at 11:12 am

Xoebe said: "Happiness and Wisdom are two different things, and are probably mutually exclusive."

Nonsensical statement.


Fírinne
Posted 15 June 2007 at 11:22 am

Wisdom doesn't equal intelligence or total awareness.


Merciless
Posted 15 June 2007 at 12:19 pm

Very nice job on the article. Sorry I don't have two cents to add about it. I do like the head in the sand picture. I think someone should pull his finger so he can come back up for air. Haha. Well I guess I that answered myself portrait of reality. Cheer up, it'll all be over soon.


debbiebf
Posted 15 June 2007 at 02:27 pm

What is the worst thing that can happen in your life?

When asked to a class of high schoolers, they discussed wars, disease, handicaps, financial ruin, etc. and decided that being lonely is the worst thing that can happen to someone and make them the most miserable.

And negative people tend to be pretty lonely.


Touchy
Posted 15 June 2007 at 03:53 pm

DI indeed.

However, I was a little confused by this statement.

"People who interact with them may be taken aback as they find themselves accused of harboring some negative opinion of the person which, secretly, they actually do hold. Complicating the issue, of course, is the fact that if the supposed aversion didn’t exist before, it likely does after such an unpleasant encounter."

So if I don't secretly hate someone, then I find out that they think I am secretly hating them, do I start secretly hating them?


timtimes
Posted 15 June 2007 at 04:14 pm

Religion definitely plays into this. Of course the world, your life, your job...is shit, but believe in (fill in your favorite deity) and it'll all be ok in the end. Toss in a little afterlife and you've got yourself a really good sales pitch.

On secretly hating someone. I read that as the individual being able to read thru your smokescreen even though you may not be aware. Kinda like tells in poker. Great site. Keep up the good work. I'll drop by every now and then and mingle with the riff-raff.

Enjoy.


Silverhill
Posted 15 June 2007 at 04:59 pm

debbiebf said: "[Life] is so multi-faceted that we can't confine it like this. It is like the story of nine blind men and an elephant. One described him as a big tough fan (the ear), another a rope (the tail), another a smooth pointy thing (the tusk), one a wall (the side), one a snake (the trunk) and another a tree trunk (the leg). Don't ask me the other three, you get the idea."

A very good analogy, debbiebf. A nice illustrated example of this Indian fable (there were only six blind men, BTW), put into poetic form by John Godfrey Saxe, can be seen here.


Christopher S. Putnam
Posted 15 June 2007 at 07:08 pm

Thanks, all. Good to be onboard.

Now... I believe I was promised pie?

Or was that a delusion?


debbiebf
Posted 15 June 2007 at 07:31 pm

Google the elephant story: I found three men, five men, six men and nine men. There may be more. Six is probably better because nine gets kind of obsessive.


Emmy
Posted 15 June 2007 at 09:18 pm

I am a depressive realist.

One day, all of us depressive realist will unite and we will show you all how bad your lives really suck!!! XD just kidding


jkschlitz
Posted 15 June 2007 at 10:14 pm

ChrisW75 said: "so is an awareness of shortcomings what is responsible for the depression, or does the depression merely make these molehills seem insurmountable?"

I've recently emerged from a two-year depression that got pretty bad. I was aware of my shortcomings before, but the depression really did make them seem insurmountable. My depression made me believe that everything about me was wrong and that the rest of my life would be a slow descent and there was nothing I could do about it. This is not my normal personality at all. I was always a very positive person, and my optimism had always been the thing that got me through the hard times. Losing that made life extremely difficult to handle.

Of course, that's just my experience; depression is different for everyone. It can be caused by one thing or many things, or it could have no recognizable cause at all.

Thag said: "When a person becomes to focused on one negative aspect of their life such as weight or poverty, it can become consuming to the point of being debilitating. Taking a step back to appreciate even the smallest of things can provide a needed respite and with enough frequency can help turn things around."

That might work when you're only focused on one or two negative aspects of your life, but when you're so depressed that you develop a negative view of everything in your life it's hard to appreciate the small things. It's hard to see the good in anything. Aside from the past couple years, I was always the kind of person who takes joy from small things and who tries to see the bright side of every situation. But depression took away my ability to do that. Being an optimist, I was never able to understand it until it actually happened to me.


fuzznubbins
Posted 15 June 2007 at 11:55 pm

I cannot by definition be depressed, because of a solipsistic worldview based upon my own flexible definition of reality; Should I feel "down," I adjust my reality to suit the new paradigm and those who would impinge upon my thought processes no longer exist. Allow me to sit here and contemplate the tip of mytail, massage my pointed ears, and dream of what YOUR reality may be.


ninyule
Posted 16 June 2007 at 01:43 am

kakun said: "A question for ninyule and others who have experienced similar conditions: does knowing and comprehending your state of mind actually help you deal with the "problem"? Is it possible to do some sort of a mental exercise to change your perception of reality?

And another one:

How do antidepressants alter these cognitive states? Does "My job is pointless" become "My job is pointless but I don't really mind that", or rather: "My job is important and interesting"?"

Answer to first question, in my experience, the answer is no. The big therapy these days is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT, which in crude terms aims to teach your brain to be more positive. Unfortunately in my case there are chemical imbalances going on - I can literally feel the adrenalin bouncing around first thing in the morning - so it doesn't work for me.

The point for me is that even when I was 'well', my friends and work colleagues would always go on about how negative I was. I would always see the worst side of a situation.

Answer to second question: yes, antidepressants act by altering the chemical processes in your brain which then alters your cognitive state. Scientists don't really know why the magic pills act in the way they do...

What seems to happen in my case is that the imbalance becomes so bad that the 'self-deception' is stripped away, and 'my job is great' suddenly becomes 'my job is pointless'. Once the pill has kicked in, it does go back to the 'norm'.

However, once you have a major depressive episode, in my experience you never fully recover.


ExperimentNo6
Posted 16 June 2007 at 01:46 am

So in other words, you're not crazy, everyone else is?


ExperimentNo6
Posted 16 June 2007 at 01:47 am

That was directed at Fuzzynubbins, i just did it too late.


jarvisloop
Posted 16 June 2007 at 04:19 am

alexeyg said: "Nonsensical statement."

From my perspective, not nonsensical at all. If anything, it's one of the truest statements about the state of humankind that I have read. To a degree, it's analogous to "Ignorance is bliss." On the other hand, Albert Camus' "The Myth of Sisyphus" supports your statement.


jarvisloop
Posted 16 June 2007 at 04:20 am

Emmy said: "I am a depressive realist.

One day, all of us depressive realist will unite and we will show you all how bad your lives really suck!!! XD just kidding"

"The secret to being happy is ignoring the obvious."


jarvisloop
Posted 16 June 2007 at 04:22 am

"The unexamined life is not worth living" - Socrates.

"But the examined life will drive you crazy" - J.L.


uncle frogy
Posted 16 June 2007 at 10:07 am

Is depression the perception that your life sucks? Is depression looking at the way things really are? Should we foster "positive self delusions"? What about unbelief does it cause distress? Does mental illness partly stem from a more realistic view of things?

Burning mentioned AA and his belief in His Father for helping him live and get out of the negative thinking.

here is a common prayer that all the 12 step programs use

God grant me Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the thing I can
and the wisdom to know the difference

From my own personal experience it is not the perception of reality that is at the root of depression or even other degrees of mental distress it is my attitude.
There are many things about myself that do not align with mainstream social norms nor with accepted ideals.
Some of which I do have power to do something about others I do not. Like Popeye the sailor "I am what I am."
Whether I believe in a "personal God" or not makes no difference to my level of mental distress. There are many true believers who suffer from the same patterns of thoughts that lead to depression.

It is like the alluded to Zaphod in the title of this post when place into The Total Perspective Vortex and came out the only person so doing that suffered no ill effects.
Here I am in all of this universe past and future
positive and negative images
reality and delusion so tangled together it is hard to separate them into discrete parts

ME!

It is not seeing things as they are that is the problem it is stopping there. It is my attitude.


Sulevis
Posted 16 June 2007 at 11:21 am

But for years and years I was accused of being negative, of always seeing the bad things. The trouble was that in many cases I would be proved right. I could see what was going to happen, but people all around me seemed to be perfectly happy and literally unable to perceive what to me was as clear as day.

You and me both. :(

This article just confirmed what I had known all along: people really don't think logically. :/


Nonesuch
Posted 16 June 2007 at 11:27 am

Alright I enjoy reading DI articles as much as anyone, but in fairness I don't see where people regularly deceiving themselves happily to go off to work or play in poisonous environs such as painting luminous clock faces or throwing lawn darts in Love Canal backyards, let's say... is such a great survival trait... and I imagine the folks in those same circumstances who were saying to themselves "this really blows and I look like hell" could give themselves a solid vote of mental confidence and more positive esteem in the longer run, if not actually motivated to correct the environment themselves..


rhea_sun
Posted 16 June 2007 at 03:25 pm

Well done, Christopher Putnam, very enjoyable article and responses.


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 16 June 2007 at 05:02 pm

Someone get this guy a piece of pie! Well done Chris!

Thag, Spike, you guys have a great way of thinking. I think personally I am aware of how much life has a tendency to suck and that nothing is sunshine and roses. However, being aware of that doesn't make me a pessimist, and I think most people who know me would suggest that I was a very happy person. Being happy and "optimistic" doesn't mean you don't know there are more downs than ups, but you have to pick some way of going about life. For those of us who choose to "live life to the fullest", having a happy disposition helps achieve that.
We're here, right? May as well make the best of it. And if that makes me delusional, I will gladly walk through this life as nutty as an acorn tree.


Floj
Posted 16 June 2007 at 10:56 pm

Christopher S. Putnam said: "Thanks, all. Good to be onboard.


Now… I believe I was promised pie?

Or was that a delusion?"

Haha! Sorry I'm late on this one! That's a Damn Interesting theory! Perhaps, many who are not considered mentaly unstable feel the same that people that have issues, and the difference that separates them is the developement of mechanisms to combat the bleak reality of many situations. I used to wash my hands excessively from a fear of germs and such. Eventually I realized that all the bacteria that I fear is always around, yet I'm still alive and feeling fine. (I still wash my hands everytime after using the restroom... for the record). Of course another fine mechanism would be to simply enjoy a slice pie and remember to enjoy the occasional simple things in life. mmmhmm

Oh! and that's no delusion at all Chris! I'd say double scoop the whip cream for Damn Interestingnes. Hope to see some more pie like articles soon!


tednugentkicksass
Posted 17 June 2007 at 01:15 am

Nonesuch said: "Alright I enjoy reading DI articles as much as anyone, but in fairness I don't see where people regularly deceiving themselves happily to go off to work or play in poisonous environs such as painting luminous clock faces or throwing lawn darts in Love Canal backyards, let's say… is such a great survival trait… and I imagine the folks in those same circumstances who were saying to themselves "this really blows and I look like hell" could give themselves a solid vote of mental confidence and more positive esteem in the longer run, if not actually motivated to correct the environment themselves.."

I second that notion (I always love references to past articles). I also think that Chris did one hell of a job on this article. Can I hear three cheers for the noob? I certainly hope so.

BTW Floj... you forgot the second s in "Damn Interestingness," but I'll forgive you if I can also get a slice of pie (no extra whipped cream required-- I know I'm skeezing it). Also (and I'm not sure here but I think I heard this somewhere) an overly clean environment can lead to a greater weakness (I do love those two words in proximity) to sickness.


Stanislav
Posted 17 June 2007 at 04:01 am

This comes as no surprise to me. Many of the intelligent and rational folks I know (including myself) are disproportionally inclined towards depression. We don't have the ability that most "normal" people have to sugar-coat reality with religion, susperstition, magical thinking, or just plain ostrich syndrome. We see the world and life as they really are, and it ain't a pretty picture.


alexeyg
Posted 17 June 2007 at 09:17 am

jarvisloop said: "From my perspective, not nonsensical at all. If anything, it's one of the truest statements about the state of humankind that I have read. To a degree, it's analogous to "Ignorance is bliss." On the other hand, Albert Camus' "The Myth of Sisyphus" supports your statement."

I wouldn't say that a statement suggesting Wisdom and Happiness to be mutually exclusive is analogous to a statement assigning a property to Ignorance.

Even if you take definitions of words to be static, which they never are, saying "Ignorance is Happiness" is not the same as saying "ONLY Ignorance is Happiness." You cannot draw any conclusions about the relationship between Happiness and Wisdom from the first statement.


willy
Posted 17 June 2007 at 02:36 pm

I had severe clinical depression, and was cured by buddhism. Pure Buddhism is a religion with no gods, no superstitions, although it may seem otherwise to those who are unfamiliar with the core teachings. I would prefer to call it a psychological tool more than a religion.

In Buddhism, depression is caused by 'self cherishing' meaning that you think you are more important than you really are. Thinking you are less important is also unhealthy. Balance is what is important. Acceptance. Equanimity.
It is interesting to read psychology articles and relate them back to the Buddhist view, for essentially, the Buddhist view is the oldest psychological doctrine we know, and is very similar to Maslov's Theory of Self Actualization.
Ask not 'what is the probem?' but 'where is the problem?' and the answer is always ' in the mind.'
For here, now in the present moment, if we care to focus on it, we may see that there actually isn't any problem, and that the problem is one of our own creation. Clinging to ideas and memories, creating the problem ourselves.
Higher consciousness may mean union with god, but it really means choosing the best mental state for current circumstances.
Rid yourself of your delusions! We all have them. Get back to reality. It is only an illusion anyway.

Breathe!

Be still!

Enjoy your inner silence!


willy
Posted 17 June 2007 at 02:44 pm

However, once you have a major depressive episode, in my experience you never fully recover."

You can recover. Fully, when you see that it is not chemicals that cause it, but your interpretations about things. Why not try forgetting about yourself? It worked for me.


Emperor Condore
Posted 17 June 2007 at 06:00 pm

sorry if someone else already said something to this end, but here goes.

Has anyone here ever read into hindu/buddhist/tantric enlightenment? I own a large "bible" of tantra, and much of the philosophy in it is related to or directly discusses this article's topic. It is hard to explain, but allow me to give an example:

Tantra is a series of techniques to become elightened, and a specific one that comes to mind is "be hopeless." Supposedly, giving up all hope, optimism, etc. will result in liberation (moksha) from the dream that is life. There is also whole plethora of other techniques that run along the same lines, such as pretending (and thusly, mentally becoming) dead. Death [of the mind] is a common theme in tantra, allowing for total attentiveness on "the inner" (which i assume is an objective reality.)

of course, don't take my word for it, i'm only a teenager who doesn't entirely feel like exerting the effort of explaining a few thousand year old religion.


Floj
Posted 17 June 2007 at 06:23 pm

Hmmmm.. depression. I not a big fan of such an idea. What defines depression and what causes depression? Is a state of introspect? I think about this alot actually, and I wonder what thoughts trigger it. Is it questions you ask yourself? If so, what words are the most common in these questions? Is it 'I' or 'me'?

I see so many depressed people joining groups that provide community service and asking friends for help or some form of therapy. Is that selfish, to act on the motivation of helping yourself? Thinking only of yourself closes your world to yourself.

Perhaps, depression is ultimately a selfish state of mind. A state of desire for personal gratification by means that does not return the favor to those around you.
Perhaps, thinking of yourself and wondering why you have problems is the reason you have them.
Sorry if y'all hate me now, this is just a personal analysis.

In conclusion,this is how I feel:

Live in service of others, not yourself.


mysticfarm
Posted 17 June 2007 at 07:05 pm

I am a OLD WOMAN and I tend to agree that one never recovers from a major depressive episode. It has been 50 years since my unsolicited departure from my "personal perceptions of reality". Buddhism is close, very close, in quelling the demons that rage in a shattered mind..it allows that inner silence and peace to be present within and heal, BUT, You never will be the same again. Better or worse,but never the same.

It has taken decades to realize that CONTROL over reality is an illusion. "ME" has also come close ,"God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change". God ,Self actualization or depressive realist ,in the end we control nothing and in that knowledge is freedom.
"WHO BINDS YOU
NO ONE BINDS ME
then
WHY SEEK FREEDOM"
After the fact;
I feel more evolved as a person. I am almost free of the weight "control" placed on on spirit and one day I will be completely free and be able to give back positive energy into Others Reality.


blurrzy
Posted 17 June 2007 at 11:28 pm

I loved this.
DI for sure.
The comments were great as well.


debbiebf
Posted 18 June 2007 at 05:08 am

I WISH my depressed friends would get a life and start helping others instead of dragging me down with how blue they are! I am too busy to even listen to them, but they call to talk anyway.

It certainly isn't selfish to help others, knowing it will help you. It is a silly excuse NOT to. A lot of depression is based on silly excuses.

Had depression/took meds/learned better ways to cope with the problems/improved diet/cured for ten years/don't look back. My religion helps.


alexeyg
Posted 18 June 2007 at 07:01 am

Tantra is a series of techniques to become elightened, and a specific one that comes to mind is "be hopeless." Supposedly, giving up all hope, optimism, etc. will result in liberation (moksha) from the dream that is life. There is also whole plethora of other techniques that run along the same lines, such as pretending (and thusly, mentally becoming) dead. Death [of the mind] is a common theme in tantra, allowing for total attentiveness on "the inner" (which i assume is an objective reality.)

Graet point. I just wanted to clarify a bit and point out that the underlying idea here is to give up wants and expectations, not necessarily become the kind of "realist" this article is talking about. We automatically project our feelings and expectations onto situations, which makes us unable to see the situation "as-is." In this sense giving up optimism is really the same as giving up pessimism, you're essentially transcending the whole "expectations" framework altogether.

To clarify the part about death... this may be talking about death of the ego. The ego keeps the mind in a neurotic state of monitoring itself, trying to draw wanted things closer, trying to push unwanted things away, trying to impose ignorance on everything else... creating projections and expectations, dealing with pain of discovering that these projections do not correspond to reality, which they cannot possibly do. This occupation is very real, very immediate, very palpable. It also seems very important. We feel like we have to do it. It makes our world seem solid, reliable. We fear not doing it. This is the fear of death which prevents us from seing what's really there.

By the way, the difference between the internal and the external is an illusion as well. So when you're talking about death allowing "total attentiveness on the inner," you're really talking about transcending the illusory difference between "inner" and "outter."

Hope this helps!


Evil Twin
Posted 18 June 2007 at 07:13 am

Damn fine article. So ultimately, we all are a little crazy. Our perception of things will always be a determining factor, as with the age old question of is the glass half full or half empty. The article made me think of the scene in "Signs" where Joaquin Phoenix and Mel Gibson are discussing the two perceptions of God. Guess I side with Joaquin on that one I am a miracle person.

PS: Spike is right, comfortable shoes and fiber fix most things.


kris
Posted 18 June 2007 at 09:53 am

DI article!

But its actually not very surprising. If you look at innovation theory a lot of scientific break-trhoughs and businesses are made by people who just didn't understand their own limitations - and therefore weren't hindered by them:-) Guess that would be the same for happiness - your interpretation of the world is just hampered by being too reality-oriented!


pacificwhim
Posted 18 June 2007 at 11:23 am

This is my first visit to this blog, and I have to commend all the commentarians here for your maturity and respect of each other. As a journalist, I spend a lot of time on blogs, forums, etc. and get mightily fed up with the incessant flaming, angry retorts and general disrespect for others' opinions that I see. Bravo to you all for discussing and disagreeing with candor, humor and consideration.


sulkykid
Posted 18 June 2007 at 11:30 am

debbiebf said: "Google the elephant story: I found three men, five men, six men and nine men. There may be more. Six is probably better because nine gets kind of obsessive."

I have to wonder, in the nine blind men versions of the story, just what were they grabbing?


willy
Posted 18 June 2007 at 12:23 pm

Certainly the idea that depression is a selfish state of mind is true for me, a depression sufferer, and the cure is to give up the me me me stuff. And, I agree that you are never the same afterwards. Even the psychiatrist I was seeing said that depression is an exellent opportunity to find out what is really important. The answer is just simply happiness. When you see this and understand this, you also see that happiness is a selfless state of mind. A compasionate state of mind, and a joyful state of mind. These things you can learn to control, and with practice you get somewhere. So to say that you are never the same again would be true for me, but in a very positive and enlightened sense.

Even in nueroscience these days it is possible to see the depression mechanism in the brain (it is not just simply chemical imbalance, but an actual brain function!) being 'switched off' by compassionate or kind thoughts. These things were known and understood by the old Eastern religions, and now proven by nueroscience.
In other words,
You can't be happy and sad at the same time!
Common sense! Not esoteric mysticism!
Also someone made the comment about tantra killing the mind. That is baloney. What tantra is, is understanding the mind, and how thoughts determine your own quality of life. To switch off thoughts, as in tantric or meditative techniques allows you to see reality as it is exactly. Stuck in the moment and forever changing, including thoughts, beliefs and so on.
A tantric practitioner is someone who never judges or blames anyone for anything, (including themselves) and takes complete responsibility for their own emotions and experience. The make friends with uncertainty, rather than trying to control it as we do in our western materialistic lifestyle.
This is actually a much simpler and easier way to live, but it does take practice.
It is the lazy mind that relies on other things, people, places and so on for well being.
Remember the happiest man in the world was asleep on a train and his laptop was stolen. His only regret was he didn't know where to send the power cord....

Reality is made of only of energy and information, and truth is made only of observation and choice. Choice is interpretation, and this is most absolutely the key to happiness. So throw your antidepressants away!


willy
Posted 18 June 2007 at 12:51 pm

By the way, the glass half full is the optimist's view, the glass half empty-the view of the pessimist. But to an engineer, the glass is too big.

ha ha ha...


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 18 June 2007 at 01:41 pm

alexeyg,

Well said.


Emperor Condore
Posted 18 June 2007 at 06:20 pm

Well, in the great words of the Beatles:

"Nothing is real"

so why worry about it all in the first place?


scratchy888
Posted 18 June 2007 at 07:07 pm

Instead of teaching those with a more rational perspective to see the world optimistically, consider what we can learn from these realists, in applying their critique to the political, social and educational realms!


Tink
Posted 19 June 2007 at 02:01 am

Someone mentioned that to open and give of ones-self to others will help. (Too many good comments to give proper credit,forgive me.)

This is a very true statement.
I believe Debbie said that she has depressed friends that refuse to see the lighter side, and drag her down. I do understand this also, when some depressive's get so self absorbed in wallowing in "poor me" they become human black holes, ready to literaly suck the life out of anyone who volenteers to help them.
When you meet these types, run, do not walk, as quickly away as you can.

Now yall who know me, know my mantra is "Have an attitude of Gratitude". It has served me well. I have found that when I run into an excessive case of the Me-me-me syndrome someone mentioned, then the best thing to do is go out and give something away.

It can be as simple as allowing the person behind me in line at the grocery with three items, step ahead and check out first. Or pitching a ten spot there to pay for those diapers, or formula that young couple are asking the cashier to put away.

Did a homeless person ask you for change today?
Take a large ziplock bag to your bathroom and drop in a few of those old hotel soaps and shampoos, that 50 cent tube of toothpaste, that old perfume you never wear, a comb, and deodorant. Order two sandwiches and coffees when you stop on the way in, and then ask that person if they would like to have these items. If that one says no, then ask another. You will find someone who will be grateful and that simple "thank you and God bless", will brighten your mood for a week.

I cater to a certain extent to my depressed residents. Several of the women I have known have intertained the delusion of pregnancy; case workers, doctors,et all, have tried unsuccessfully to curb these fantasies. I say "why"?
What the hell harm is this delusion doing to this person? They know deep inside that a 10 yr, pregnancy is not reality. So What?! I buy them a baby doll and they are delighted. They care for "their baby" and are happier than they have been in years. No harm, no foul.

When one is wallowing in depression, we find something that person can give to another. (Miss so-n-so can not read, your job is to see that she understands the chore chart each day. You have all these extra clothes that you have outgrown, lets sort through and give them to one of the others who has less. Can you run the microwave? Hows about fixing lunch for the group today, while I run errands, everybody loves the Cook around here, LOL.)

Sometimes though,you just have to look at the cause or root of the depression and mourn. If this is the case, then allow yourself 15-30 minutes a day to dwell and wallow, rant and sob, piss-n-moan. Then put it away (literaly)in a box under the bed or in a closet, and decide to live the rest of your day in blissful, irrational joy. Sounds silly, but it works for almost everybody I know.


Tink
Posted 19 June 2007 at 02:03 am

Well hell, I forgot to thank you, Christopher S. Putnam, for this DI! article. Hope to read many more of your contributions in the future!


jarvisloop
Posted 19 June 2007 at 05:44 am

willy said: "By the way, the glass half full is the optimist's view, the glass half empty-the view of the pessimist. But to an engineer, the glass is too big.

ha ha ha…"

But to a realist, it's a glass that hasn't been knocked over yet.


jarvisloop
Posted 19 June 2007 at 05:46 am

Happiness for most people lies in ignoring the obvious.


jarvisloop
Posted 19 June 2007 at 05:54 am

alexeyg said: "This is the fear of death which prevents us from seing what's really there."

Interesting that you should mention that. Have you read the Pulitizer-Prize-winning "Denial of Death"? I can't remember its year of publication, but it is an incredible philosophical work. It contains some interesting ideas as to why humankind has developed religions, builds great structures, ... and has children.

One more item: I once taught a class that used the Christians' Holy Bible strictly as a work of literature, and my students looked for poetic and literary devices, character development, etc. One of the textbooks contains a preface that refers to the first several books of the Old Testament as "Hebrew mythology." That caused an interesting discussion, as you might imagine.


jarvisloop
Posted 19 June 2007 at 06:02 am

pacificwhim said: "This is my first visit to this blog, and I have to commend all the commentarians here for your maturity and respect of each other. As a journalist, I spend a lot of time on blogs, forums, etc. and get mightily fed up with the incessant flaming, angry retorts and general disrespect for others' opinions that I see. Bravo to you all for discussing and disagreeing with candor, humor and consideration."

Pacificwhim: Ordinarily, I never bother to read blogs, etc. because of the general tone of the conversation and of the level of the writers' comments. More often than not, most resemble talk radio programs of any political persuasion or some of the "debate" programs on the cable-news channels.

You are right about the participants here in DI. Speaking solely of the others and not myself, I can safely state that they are a rare breed, and I look forward every day to reading the new postings. In all truth, the vast majority of the posters think and write far better than do my students, even those students who are older and supposedly "advanced."

Usually, I never post anything, but, because of the others' thought-provoking comments, I have been on a posting jag lately.


Plank
Posted 19 June 2007 at 07:32 am

Carrying on from what Tink said, I personally believe that one of the major things lacking in society these days is consideration for other people. The world has become too much about people worrying about what benefit they can gain from their actions and too little about just doing something for the satisfaction of helping others. I know not all people are like this but from what I see on the news and even in my life, it just reinforces this view. Just think about how often people push in front of a queue, or refuse to let a car in on the highway. It just seems people are getting more and more selfish.

I am constantly told that I am a pessimist and way too negative and I suppose the above reflects that. I like to think I am a realist. That could just be me viewing myself

a) in unrealistically positive terms

;)


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 19 June 2007 at 08:04 am

It is odd that we deceive ourselves by thinking that others will care about our faults as much as we do and by also denying that our faults exist. We deceive ourselves both negatively and positively. Do we achieve dynamic equilibrium by inflating and deflating our egos constantly?


Tink
Posted 19 June 2007 at 10:06 am

Nicki the Heinous said: "It is odd that we deceive ourselves by thinking that others will care about our faults as much as we do and by also denying that our faults exist. We deceive ourselves both negatively and positively. Do we achieve dynamic equilibrium by inflating and deflating our egos constantly?"

Wow, that is very deep Nicki! You may have hit the nail on the head, so to speak.

Want to thank all yall for the witty and funny comments you have made in the past four or five articles, laughter is the best medicine. The best new cure for depression? Go read Damned Interesting.com lol.

Oh, and thank you Alan and friends for all the recent articles on the mental lately.
With all due respect to the Techies out there, it is a refreshing change from bombs, warcraft, isotopes and espionage! ;-)

The first article I read on DI! was about feral children...still a facinating read!
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=537


Floj
Posted 19 June 2007 at 12:51 pm

Tink said: "Want to thank all yall for the witty and funny comments you have made in the past four or five articles, laughter is the best medicine. The best new cure for depression? Go read Damned Interesting.com lol.


Oh, and thank you Alan and friends for all the recent articles on the mental lately.
With all due respect to the Techies out there, it is a refreshing change from bombs, warcraft, isotopes and espionage! ;-)

The first article I read on DI! was about feral children…still a facinating read!
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=537"

Hey! don't leave yourself out of the DI comment credit!
Good suggestion on how to work with depression, I won't try to paraphrase it. Y'all need to go read it yourselves. It's kinda' like pie! mmmhmm

Spike said: "

Deep down, I believe most people just need a really comfortable pair of shoes and plenty of fiber and they will be right as rain."

Haha! High fiber. Helps things pass.

Oh! That also made me think of the frist article I read! It's another science one (sorry Tink):
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=337
Damn Interesting indeed!

Thanks again Christopher M. Putnam for sparking this deep discusion! We get to see alot of different philosophies on life!


willy
Posted 19 June 2007 at 01:58 pm

jarvisloop said: "But to a realist, it's a glass that hasn't been knocked over yet."

No, to a realist, there is a glass. Someone who predicts that the glass will be knocked over and worries about it is a pessimist. Someone who thinks the glass will remain as it is forever is also a deluded optimist.

When the glass gets knocked over, the unaware will freak out, lament, regret, hate what has happened. The enlightened will clean up the mess and get on with life.
But for the time being, i.e. the present moment, the only thing that is real, and not a projection of the mind, there is a glass.

Perhaps you see the point?

It doesn't matter.


willy
Posted 19 June 2007 at 02:03 pm

In other words, it is not the glass which is important, but the thoughts that are applied to it.


willy
Posted 19 June 2007 at 02:04 pm

Such is life.


Liquid
Posted 19 June 2007 at 04:40 pm

I've been lurking on this website for a long time now but this is my first post. Welcome to DI, I look forward to more of your articles!


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 19 June 2007 at 06:20 pm

willy said: "No, to a realist, there is a glass. Someone who predicts that the glass will be knocked over and worries about it is a pessimist. Someone who thinks the glass will remain as it is forever is also a deluded optimist.

When the glass gets knocked over, the unaware will freak out, lament, regret, hate what has happened. The enlightened will clean up the mess and get on with life.

But for the time being, i.e. the present moment, the only thing that is real, and not a projection of the mind, there is a glass.

Perhaps you see the point?

It doesn't matter."

Surely if it exists it does matter. That's as if saying a tree in your front yard doesn't matter. Definitely a philosophical debate, to which I'm sure you'll mop the floor with me on, but worth debating. BECAUSE IT [the debate] EXISTS :)


Emperor Condore
Posted 19 June 2007 at 11:46 pm

forgive me my transgressions, but aren't we all forgetting the guy who likes to ask: "what glass?"

on that note, willy, a poet and a thinker can sound more like a buddha than buddha himself, but he still is not, in fact, buddha.

this isn't a contradiction to anything you've said, but merely a question of how necessary it is (i couldn't think of a proper word good god there's a firefly in my bedroom)

willy said: "Perhaps you see the point?

It doesn't matter."


Hoekstes
Posted 20 June 2007 at 02:02 am

I don't get it. Should I eat more or less now?


jarvisloop
Posted 20 June 2007 at 05:07 am

willy said: "But for the time being, i.e. the present moment, the only thing that is real, and not a projection of the mind, there is a glass."

Even in this area, different thinkers have had diverging opinions. Think of Descartes' "ergo cogito sum."


jarvisloop
Posted 20 June 2007 at 05:10 am

Emperor Condore said: "forgive me my transgressions, but aren't we all forgetting the guy who likes to ask: "what glass?"

on that note, willy, a poet and a thinker can sound more like a buddha than buddha himself, but he still is not, in fact, buddha.

this isn't a contradiction to anything you've said, but merely a question of how necessary it is (i couldn't think of a proper word good god there's a firefly in my bedroom)"

When you have the time, please consider reading Hermann Hesse's "Siddhartha." It is a novelized account of Sidhartha Gautama Buddha's early years and of the path that led to his comprehension of "the holy Om."


willy
Posted 20 June 2007 at 01:48 pm

EVERYTHINGZEN said: "Surely if it exists it does matter. That's as if saying a tree in your front yard doesn't matter. Definitely a philosophical debate, to which I'm sure you'll mop the floor with me on, but worth debating. BECAUSE IT [the debate] EXISTS :)"

Well, whether you think the tree is important or not doesn't matter, because it does not really change the tree in anyway does it? (unless you cut it down for some reason...)

And regarding Buddha... anyone can be a Buddha. When I am a Buddhist, I annoy everyone, but when I am a Buddha, I don't bother anybody.

Perhaps I should shut up now.

I have not read Siddharta by Hess, but I am familiar with the history. He was just a man who searched out and saw the truth about thought, the human condition etc. Not the only one either. Einstein also 'noticed' similar things.
A lot of what these people talk about is counterintuitive, which is why it is so hard to grasp for most people. If you tell someone that time does not exist, and that there is merely a constantly changing present, for example, you run into what has been described as 'pre philosophical intuition' - it seems that time exists, since we have all these memories ( which also only exist in the moment too...) So most people don't want to accept the counter intuitive. But closer exmination of what is really happening will tear the covers off the illusion.
The past is history, the future is a mystery but the moment is the gift.
That is why it is called ' the present'....
Anyway, I'll shut up again!

Cheers!


willy
Posted 20 June 2007 at 02:04 pm

And you are right. What glass? The glass is only a thought. You might also notice that that thought is not you.

Interesting isn't it?


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 20 June 2007 at 04:37 pm

Willy that's one heckuva point.

Our brains process 400 billion bits of information per second but we are only aware of 2,000 of them. Perhaps the tree, or the glass, isn't really a tree or a glass at all.


alexeyg
Posted 21 June 2007 at 06:32 am

Just think about how often people push in front of a queue, or refuse to let a car in on the highway. It just seems people are getting more and more selfish.

Well, this is what you will see if you have that particular pre-conception. If you have a different mindset you may see tens of cars that are standing in line instead, or people letting each other through. The funny thing is that you are being a "realist" in both cases.


alexeyg
Posted 21 June 2007 at 06:35 am

But for the time being, i.e. the present moment, the only thing that is real, and not a projection of the mind, there is a glass.

Just "there is," because "glass" is a projection of the mind as well :)


alexeyg
Posted 21 June 2007 at 06:41 am

Our brains process 400 billion bits of information per second but we are only aware of 2,000 of them. Perhaps the tree, or the glass, isn't really a tree or a glass at all."

Interesting numbers... Brains are not digital, so I'm very curious as to what can be considered a "bit of information" in this case :) Would you happen to have the source?


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 21 June 2007 at 07:33 am

Is there a glass? We can't know.


alexeyg
Posted 21 June 2007 at 08:57 am

Nicki the Heinous said: "Is there a glass? We can't know."

What does it mean to know there is a glass?


sillyokio
Posted 21 June 2007 at 10:37 am

EVERYTHINGZEN said: "Willy that's one heckuva point.


Our brains process 400 billion bits of information per second but we are only aware of 2,000 of them. Perhaps the tree, or the glass, isn't really a tree or a glass at all."

Source?


Liquid
Posted 21 June 2007 at 12:25 pm

alexeyg said: "What does it mean to know there is a glass?"

To know is to believe, right? Does it all come down to faith in the constructs our minds have built for us? We are all connected through matter and energy yet all seperated by relative perception. Like the blanket analogy from," I


Liquid
Posted 21 June 2007 at 12:27 pm

I was refering to the film, I heart Huckabee's but it cut that out for some reason... :(


willy
Posted 21 June 2007 at 01:12 pm

Believing is probably the problem. The point is to try and not believe. When we do that, we take away the sunglasses that distort our view. I think I could sum this up with the example of the electric sign board. The matrix of little flashing lights gives us the illusion of words moving from right to left. You all know the one. Like the thing in the stock exchange. The mind fills in the meaning, and instead of seeing simply flashing lights, we see moving words. But if you look closely, you notice there are only flashing lights.

While not digital, the same property of emergence is what makes things seem the way they are, when you get down and look from the subatomic level and so on.

So it is the challenge to experience the pure, 'flashing lights' version of yourself and the world.

Are words meanings or just vibrations in the air?

Or the old Zen story:
wind moves.
flag moves.
No- it is the mind that moves.

Getting back to the subject of depression - I have this belief that I am important. Things are not going as planned. My thoughts and ideas are important to me. All these are like the flashing lights. I see them through a set of beliefs, tendencies, instincts, conditionings.... and low and behold, I get depressed. The emergent phenomenon (the depression) results from a bag full of beliefs, ideas, moral standpoints, condtionings and memories.

A wave in the sea becomes enlightened when it knows it is only water.

So to is the human being.

A wave.


willy
Posted 21 June 2007 at 01:16 pm

alexeyg said: "Interesting numbers… Brains are not digital, so I'm very curious as to what can be considered a "bit of information" in this case :) Would you happen to have the source?"

I think you could postulate that at the quantum level, things are digital, but not binary.


willy
Posted 21 June 2007 at 02:27 pm

Coherent said: "Very interesting! Consciousness itself is a subjective phenomenon, so we might expect that self-deception is part of the motivational process. Exactly what does it take to get up out of bed in the morning? Does everyone actually accomplish the things that they expect to every day? No, but they continue to be motivated on the same premises day after day.


It's likewise possible for people to hold unrealistically negative perceptions of various subjective judgements. But this is less common because it's a demotivator instead of motivating factor in someone's life. The positive self-deception is more common because, ironically, it's good for you. It leads you to exert more strenous efforts because you deceive yourself into thinking that your efforts have more effect than they actually do.

As a survival trait, positive self-deception gets things done, and that's why everybody does it."

I think this idea of positive and negative is very interesting. What about neutral? It is an interesting thing to contemplate. What happens in neutral? Rest. Total peace.
Neutral is the midpoint between positive and negative. The total and unbiased view. Balance. Acceptance and unbiased observation of all the phenomena that make us what we are. Clarity.
This does not lead to expectations born of positive thinking that lead to disspointment, nor the depression, hate or cynicism that is born of a negative bias.

This neutral stance leads to absolute truth.

That truth is the truth of love.

Acceptance=peace=forgiveness=love.

What greater motivation do you need in life?

Simple isn't it?


anazgnos
Posted 21 June 2007 at 04:01 pm

On the subject of the vagaries of classifying mental illness, might I suggest a piece on the Rosenhahn experiment as a follow-up...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenhan_experiment


alexeyg
Posted 22 June 2007 at 07:39 am

Liquid said: "To know is to believe, right? Does it all come down to faith in the constructs our minds have built for us?

I'm a little allergic to the word "believe," to tell you the truth :) Beliefs seem to originate during attempts to assert and project certainty. Seing what's there is difficult when one is busy to asserting and projecting because the flow if information is going out instead of coming in :)

We like to think of knowledge as something static, but it is actually very dynamic. Knolwedge is dependent on the context.

Consider these very different kinds of knowledge: "this is a glass, we can pour something in it and drink from it," "this is a glass, it is not a part of the table, it is not attached to it," "this is a glass, it will fracture if it falls."

Or this example: "I know how strong this pedestrian bridge is, I know it can support my weight" vs "I do not know how strong this pedestrian bridge is, I do not know if it can support a car"


alexeyg
Posted 22 June 2007 at 07:51 am

willy said: "I think you could postulate that at the quantum level, things are digital, but not binary."

Unfortunately my knowledge of the qunatum theory is somewhat vague... It sounds like you are talking about breaking it down until we get a bunch of really small particles each having a finite number of states... It makes sense, but certainly not in a context of "let's calculate how many bits of information are being processed by the brain" ;)

Frankly, I don't even think we can meaningfully define what it means for a brain to "process" something :)

hmmm maybe when they say "our brains process 400 billion bits of information per second" they are talking about all the information that gets received, assuming it gets processed as well... that could be somewhat easier to estimate... then again, stating that we are only aware of 2,000 bits of it is just plain silly :)


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 22 June 2007 at 11:36 am

sillyokio said: "Source?"

Pretty sure it was Fred Wolfe, quantum physicist, refer to the movie "What the Bleep: Down the Rabbit Hole" (a documentary you can rent at your local blockbuster, however if you have no working knowledge of quantum physics or interest in it you'll have a tough time sitting through). You can check out this link, I do recommend the quantum edition because it has interviews with all the scientists that are quitre interesting indeed.

http://www.whatthebleep.com/rabbithole/

Don't be repelled by the intitial sort of "strangeness" at the beginning. It really is an amazing film.


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 22 June 2007 at 11:53 am

Also for reference, another scientist in the aforementioned movie, Dr. Stuart Hameroff, wrote the book "Ultimate Computing: Biomolecular Conciousness and Nanotechnology". For a more proper citation, the pdf for of the book, please see page 12 bottom paragraph for computations on brain computing in humans.

http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/pdfs/UltComp_v51.pdf

Took me a second to find it, enjoy.


alexeyg
Posted 22 June 2007 at 01:25 pm

Everythingzen,

Unfortunately this film seems a little suspicious:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_t%D0%BDe_%E2%99%AF%24%2A%21_Do_%CF%89%CE%A3_%28k%29%CF%80ow%21%3F

There is plenty of very interesting and very exciting information out there about the brain... Ideas that involve quantum mechanics are at best immature.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind


Quantum mind theories are based on the premise that quantum theory is necessary to fully understand the mind and brain, particularly concerning an explanation of consciousness.

This would be great resource for somebody interested in finding a starting point into the current state of consciousness research:
http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Sources-Scientific-Consciousness-Bradford/dp/0262523027/ref=sr_1_1/105-5044685-0591634?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1182543589&sr=8-1


willy
Posted 22 June 2007 at 02:39 pm

alexeyg said: "I'm a little allergic to the word "believe," to tell you the truth :) Beliefs seem to originate during attempts to assert and project certainty. Seing what's there is difficult when one is busy to asserting and projecting because the flow if information is going out instead of coming in :)


We like to think of knowledge as something static, but it is actually very dynamic. Knolwedge is dependent on the context.

Consider these very different kinds of knowledge: "this is a glass, we can pour something in it and drink from it," "this is a glass, it is not a part of the table, it is not attached to it," "this is a glass, it will fracture if it falls."

Or this example: "I know how strong this pedestrian bridge is, I know it can support my weight" vs "I do not know how strong this pedestrian bridge is, I do not know if it can support a car""

I like 'allergic to beleif' thats a goody!
What I think we can learn to do with practice, as you say reagrding interpretation, is learn to shift our consciousness around at will. You can focus on a concept, or you can focus on a sensation in the body and so on. you can start to see how you are actually making little tiny choices all the time.
In other words, you stop having 'moods' and move around 'consciousness matrices'

That is the result of the practice of awareness. And its a goody too!


willy
Posted 22 June 2007 at 02:48 pm

alexeyg said: "Unfortunately my knowledge of the qunatum theory is somewhat vague… It sounds like you are talking about breaking it down until we get a bunch of really small particles each having a finite number of states… It makes sense, but certainly not in a context of "let's calculate how many bits of information are being processed by the brain" ;)


Frankly, I don't even think we can meaningfully define what it means for a brain to "process" something :)

hmmm maybe when they say "our brains process 400 billion bits of information per second" they are talking about all the information that gets received, assuming it gets processed as well… that could be somewhat easier to estimate… then again, stating that we are only aware of 2,000 bits of it is just plain silly :)"

Yes I would agree. If I could be aware of 2000 different things at once I would be a super guru!

I'll just stick with 2 things, observation and choice.

I think the idea of the quantum mind is interesting, however, even if we knew the mechanics of it, would it really change the phenomenon of experience?

It is interesting to note that the nonlocal theory of quantum mechanics , the same thing being in two places at once, can be experienced by anyone.

I can be in the top of my head and the souls of my feet at the same time...

ha ha ha....


HiEv
Posted 23 June 2007 at 06:32 am

alexeyg said: "This article assumes that there is a "way things really are" and a "way we think things are." It assumes those are stationary, and they can agree/disagree/overlap/etc. This assumption is fundamentally flawed as it requires absolute objective reality.


In other words, our cognitions can and do change the reality."

I'm afraid that's wishful thinking, my friend. There is much evidence to support the existence of "absolute objective reality" and none that "our cognitions can and do change the reality" (or at least the reality outside of our heads.) Science is based on objective reality, and it has done a better job at describing reality than anything else. Think about it, if believing something was true made it real then delusional and hallucinating people would be changing reality all over the place.

Also, I remind people that the opposite of being overly realistic and depressed is being overly unrealistic and incompetent, as in the other DI article "Unskilled and Unaware of It".

eatthebiscuit said: "I thought this was really interesting. I just have one thing to say in response to depression. If you think everything will go wrong it inevitably will (self-reinforcing), whereas with hope and optimism you have more of a possiblity of things turning out well. Speaking from personal experience when I have thought positively it has usually turned out better, also the ability to cope with things, seeing the flip side of the coin (ie the bright side)."

Or perhaps your optimism is based on a biased memory where you tend to remember the successes and forget the failures? Are you sure your optimism is based in reality, or is it your unrealistic view that makes you optimistic? ;-)


HiEv
Posted 23 June 2007 at 06:44 am

debbiebf said: "I WISH my depressed friends would get a life and start helping others instead of dragging me down with how blue they are! I am too busy to even listen to them, but they call to talk anyway. "

Tink said: "I believe Debbie said that she has depressed friends that refuse to see the lighter side, and drag her down. I do understand this also, when some depressive's get so self absorbed in wallowing in "poor me" they become human black holes, ready to literaly suck the life out of anyone who volenteers to help them.
When you meet these types, run, do not walk, as quickly away as you can."

Wow, what great friends you guys are! For the friends who need you the most you either ignore them or flee them. I'm sure they find that soooo helpful. With friends like you guys it's no wonder they're depressed. :-P

Have you considered talking with them seriously about how to deal with their problems instead? It seems like that would be a far more helpful response and something you should do for a friend.


alexeyg
Posted 23 June 2007 at 07:48 am

HiEv said: "I'm afraid that's wishful thinking, my friend. There is much evidence to support the existence of "absolute objective reality" and none that "our cognitions can and do change the reality" (or at least the reality outside of our heads.) Science is based on objective reality, and it has done a better job at describing reality than anything else. Think about it, if believing something was true made it real then delusional and hallucinating people would be changing reality all over the place.

Yes unfortunately at this point there is no documented way to change that reality science deals with using thoughts alone. hmmmm well, on the other hand it was human thought that invented airplanes and changed the reality of "humans cannot fly" :) Also, somehow people become more capable if they believe in themselves, more attractive if they do not think they are ugly, etc.


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 23 June 2007 at 02:25 pm

Alex-

No science is unrefutable, so you can refute what the scientists in the movie say all you want and that's perfectly okay. Food for thought, I don't agree with 100% of the stuff in there, but don't knock it til you watch it. Very good science in it, and please really consider the sources. These aren't just your every day average Joe's making stuff up...the credentials are all listed on the website, and most of them have their own sites as well.

But the movie, just like this website, gives us commentors something we all have in common; more reasons to ponder, question, and learn!! Delicious thoughts....


willy
Posted 23 June 2007 at 03:10 pm

HiEv said: "I'm afraid that's wishful thinking, my friend. There is much evidence to support the existence of "absolute objective reality" and none that "our cognitions can and do change the reality" (or at least the reality outside of our heads.) Science is based on objective reality, and it has done a better job at describing reality than anything else. Think about it, if believing something was true made it real then delusional and hallucinating people would be changing reality all over the place.

What about hitler? Delusional, Unrealistic. Changed reality all over the place. Or Ghandi? Realistic, Informed. Changed reality all over the place.

Perhaps not in a stictly material sense can we change things ad infinitum. Surely for example, a human being cannot create life with his mind. Biology takes care of that. But we do have some control, especially over our interpretations. This changes the quality of experience. Experience is, after all, only a quality.

It is also a well know scientific fact that there can be no science without observation, and therefor no science without an observer. Who is the observer that sees your own thoughts inside of you?

And 'outside of our heads' is a little conundrum isnt it? Reality happens Inside the mind. Always, without exception. Think about that. There is no movie without a screen. The brain is the screen, nature the projector, and the mind is the audience.

And, just like a movie, it is an illusion.

Do you like the movie or not? It's your free choice to decide.


alexeyg
Posted 24 June 2007 at 06:38 am

EVERYTHINGZEN said: "Alex-


No science is unrefutable, so you can refute what the scientists in the movie say all you want and that's perfectly okay. Food for thought, I don't agree with 100% of the stuff in there, but don't knock it til you watch it. Very good science in it, and please really consider the sources. These aren't just your every day average Joe's making stuff up…the credentials are all listed on the website, and most of them have their own sites as well.

But the movie, just like this website, gives us commentors something we all have in common; more reasons to ponder, question, and learn!! Delicious thoughts…."

A lot of things can be considered food for thought... Some of those are indeed worth eating. Stating that humans use only 10% of their brains deserves automatic disqualification.


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 25 June 2007 at 07:24 am

I never stated that?


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 25 June 2007 at 10:52 am

I've only process about 10% of the comments on here, not because I'm not using full capacity but for lack of a longer coffee break! DI everyone!


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 25 June 2007 at 10:53 am

The grammar part uses that not working apparently is either.


HiEv
Posted 25 June 2007 at 03:44 pm

HiEv said: "I'm afraid that's wishful thinking, my friend. There is much evidence to support the existence of "absolute objective reality" and none that "our cognitions can and do change the reality" (or at least the reality outside of our heads.) Science is based on objective reality, and it has done a better job at describing reality than anything else. Think about it, if believing something was true made it real then delusional and hallucinating people would be changing reality all over the place.


willy said: "What about hitler? Delusional, Unrealistic. Changed reality all over the place. Or Ghandi? Realistic, Informed. Changed reality all over the place."

I didn't say people can't change the world, I said that our cognitions do not change the reality outside of our heads. Hitler and Gandhi didn't change the world with their thoughts alone, but by their actions upon the world. Remove their actions, which includes communicating their thoughts, and they wouldn't have affected anything. My point is, simply thinking and believing something does not change reality, it only affects our own behavior and perceptions. It should be obvious that acting upon the world can change it, so I don't know why you're treating me as though I didn't know or was arguing against that fact.

willy said: "Perhaps not in a stictly material sense can we change things ad infinitum. Surely for example, a human being cannot create life with his mind. Biology takes care of that. But we do have some control, especially over our interpretations. This changes the quality of experience. Experience is, after all, only a quality."

But that means that you've only changed your perception of the world, that doesn't mean the world has actually changed. Changing how you experience reality is not the same as actually changing the reality that exists outside of us. If I wear rose colored glasses that doesn't mean that the world actually becomes rose colored, it just means I perceive it differently.

willy said: "It is also a well know scientific fact that there can be no science without observation, and therefor no science without an observer. Who is the observer that sees your own thoughts inside of you?"

That's a non sequitur. "I" am the observer who "sees" my own thoughts, but that has nothing to do with science or reality. Reality exists without observation or science; "science" is merely a highly successful method of studying reality through the use of objective measures and such. Still, all of the evidence supports the idea that events continue to occur even when unobserved.

willy said: "And 'outside of our heads' is a little conundrum isnt it? Reality happens Inside the mind. Always, without exception. Think about that. There is no movie without a screen. The brain is the screen, nature the projector, and the mind is the audience.

And, just like a movie, it is an illusion."

I beg to differ. Reality happens outside the mind, the mind merely interprets the senses and tries to comprehend reality. All of the evidence supports the idea that reality existed long before there were eyes to look into the heavens and minds to wonder what was there. So, yes, there was a "movie" long before there was a "screen," and that "movie" is no illusion. It might be accurate to say that some percentage of our perception of reality is an illusion (i.e. inaccurate,) but that doesn't make reality itself an illusion.

willy said: "Do you like the movie or not? It's your free choice to decide."

Yes, but it's not your choice to decide where the movie exists. It exists where it exists even if you want to believe otherwise. You can choose your own opinions, not your own facts.


willy
Posted 26 June 2007 at 02:04 am

That's a non sequitur. "I" am the observer who "sees" my own thoughts, but that has nothing to do with science or reality. Reality exists without observation or science; "science" is merely a highly successful method of studying reality through the use of objective measures and such. Still, all of the evidence supports the idea that events continue to occur even when unobserved.

No it does not at all. In quantum mechanics, an event can only be proved to exist when there is an observer. In fact, it is quite rational to assume, however as counterintuitive as it may seem, that events do not exist without the interaction of an observer, a mind to do the percieving. And since reality IS quantum physics, then the assumtion that things exist only because of circumstantial conceptualizations merely proves the existence of the concepts, not the events themselves.


willy
Posted 26 June 2007 at 02:06 am

And also, I am the observer who sees my own thoughts has nothing to do with science or reality?

You are not real? Neurophysics is not science?

I don't understand.


Jeffrey93
Posted 26 June 2007 at 02:36 am

willy said: "No it does not at all. In quantum mechanics, an event can only be proved to exist when there is an observer. In fact, it is quite rational to assume, however as counterintuitive as it may seem, that events do not exist without the interaction of an observer, a mind to do the percieving. And since reality IS quantum physics, then the assumtion that things exist only because of circumstantial conceptualizations merely proves the existence of the concepts, not the events themselves."

Hang on a second here. If there is no observer then the event did not exist? What qualifies as an observer? If I've been starting to defrag my hard drive...then going to sleep...it better darn well still be happening even though nobody is there to observe it!! Knowing how Microsoft operates...it probably isn't. Damn that Gates!

This sounds a lot like the 'If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it really make a sound?'. Sure it does. Depending on your definition of 'sound'.

Reality happens outside the mind, inside the mind I analyze the reality and percieve it how I see fit.
A guy picks up a rock and heaves it...smashing a window.
The reality is - the guy threw the rock, the rock smashed the window
My mind perceives this reality as - the guy meant to throw the rock over the building, miscalculated his throw and accidently broke the window.
What really happened and what we believe really happened are two different things. Which is why science is the best way to measure reality and what is actually happening. It isn't open for much interpretation or opinion.
I'm blabbing...sorry. Woke up in the middle of the night and the brain is all over the map.
Great article though, and I agree. Sometimes the most "normal" people, the people with the high self-esteem and strong motivation are the ones that have absolutely no clue. They are the ugly people that think they are the cat's meow. They are the fat people that think they look hot in a bikini. They are the morons that think they are all knowing.

However, I might think the fat chick in the bikini that thinks she's hot is in fact quite ugly, but the guy standing next to me might think she's the hottest thing he's ever seen. So who is off their rocker? The fat chick? The horny guy next to me? Or my nauseated self?

Regardless of your answer, maybe you are actually the one that is off your rocker for answering the way you did. This is getting deep.

It is weird though...I have encountered a few people going through their bouts of 'depression', they talk about how things just suck and nothing goes right for them and how maybe they should just end it all. You blow a bunch of sunshine up their ass and try to switch the topic, but in your mind you're in totally agreement with them. Their life does suck, things always do go wrong for them...you couldn't blame them if they decided to meet their maker. But, we insist on spinning things to make the person feel better, to make the person believe in a different reality than what both of us know is true. Once they believe this alternate and fictional reality....they are "cured". It really is strange. Either way, shrinks seem to be getting rich off of this. Convincing people of a fairy tale reality, not a bad gig I guess.


willy
Posted 26 June 2007 at 02:49 am

HiEv said: "I didn't say people can't change the world, I said that our cognitions do not change the reality outside of our heads. Hitler and Gandhi didn't change the world with their thoughts alone, but by their actions upon the world. Remove their actions, which includes communicating their thoughts, and they wouldn't have affected anything. My point is, simply thinking and believing something does not change reality, it only affects our own behavior and perceptions. It should be obvious that acting upon the world can change it, so I don't know why you're treating me as though I didn't know or was arguing against that fact.

I agree with that, but the actions emulate from thoughts right? so therefore, it is the thoughts which change things, in the final analysis.

But that means that you've only changed your perception of the world, that doesn't mean the world has actually changed. Changing how you experience reality is not the same as actually changing the reality that exists outside of us. If I wear rose colored glasses that doesn't mean that the world actually becomes rose colored, it just means I perceive it differently.

The world, you your thoughts, everything is constantly changing. Every single moment. That is ALL reality is. Change. Nothing more. Take a closer look!

And, just like a movie, it is an illusion."

I beg to differ. Reality happens outside the mind, the mind merely interprets the senses and tries to comprehend reality. All of the evidence supports the idea that reality existed long before there were eyes to look into the heavens and minds to wonder what was there. So, yes, there was a "movie" long before there was a "screen," and that "movie" is no illusion. It might be accurate to say that some percentage of our perception of reality is an illusion (i.e. inaccurate,) but that doesn't make reality itself an illusion.

Right down on the base level of things there is only energy and information. These things are the elements of reality. Like a rainbow is made of sunlight and raindrops, and is an illusion. So too is everything else. It just that most things feel harder, thats all. And the evidence you talk of, is merely concepts created by human beings. Also in stuck in the ever changing present moment.

Yes, but it's not your choice to decide where the movie exists. It exists where it exists even if you want to believe otherwise. You can choose your own opinions, not your own facts.

I choose my facts extremely carefully. This is a fact: There is only the present moment. That is constanly changing. Memories are in the present too. From these, we get the illusion of time. We think we are moving through time, but all that is happening is we are stuck in an ever changing moment. I don't think anyone can succesfully dispute that fact. For, it is a simple observation of reality, or the illusion, whatever you want to call it.
To say you can change things merely by thinking about them I agree is not clearly possible, and action surely is required. But to postulate that reality happens outside the mind is logically incoherent. I mean, if there was no mind, how would we know there was reality? I think it is safe to say that it is an interaction of elements, one of which is the mind, the stage for it, that create reality. There can be no play without a stage, no movie without a screen.

It makes sense to me anyway.


alexeyg
Posted 26 June 2007 at 06:19 am

HiEv said: "My point is, simply thinking and believing something does not change reality, it only affects our own behavior and perceptions. "

This statement is incorrect. By thinking I change the strength and location of electrical fields in space. This is how thinking does change the very physical reality, the kind which can even be measured by instruments.


alexeyg
Posted 26 June 2007 at 06:23 am

HiEv said: "My point is, simply thinking and believing something does not change reality, it only affects our own behavior and perceptions. "

Also, would you argue that changing one's behaviour and perceptions does not change reality?


HiEv
Posted 26 June 2007 at 01:42 pm

HiEv said: "Still, all of the evidence supports the idea that events continue to occur even when unobserved."

willy said: "No it does not at all. In quantum mechanics, an event can only be proved to exist when there is an observer."

In any science an event can only be proved to exist when there are observers. However, it is a mistake to confuse that fact with the claim that events don't exist unless they have been observed, because there simply is no scientific basis for such a claim. What you are saying requires a kind of "retrocausality" that contradicts known science. Events occur because of what happened before that event, not what happened after that event (i.e. observation.)

willy said: "In fact, it is quite rational to assume, however as counterintuitive as it may seem, that events do not exist without the interaction of an observer, a mind to do the percieving."

Sorry, no, that's not rational at all. Think about it. When we observe the furthest reaches of the universe we are seeing the consequences of things that occurred near the beginning of time. Are you seriously telling me that none of that actually happened until someone looked at it? That's not only irrational, it's preposterous. Billions of years worth of event history cannot be generated instantly merely by looking at something.

willy said: "And since reality IS quantum physics, then the assumtion that things exist only because of circumstantial conceptualizations merely proves the existence of the concepts, not the events themselves."

That's simply not correct. You seem to have a vague concept of wave function collapse and have misapplied it to reality in general. The Copenhagen interpretation, which says that "measurement" resolves the wave state. "Measurement" is not formally defined, but it does not have to be a conscious observer, simply interacting with other particles and such counts, thus events most certainly can take place without an "observer" as you mean the term. Furthermore, the Copenhagen interpretation is merely one of several possible interpretations, some of which do not even require wave function collapse. The rest of what you wrote there ("circumstantial conceptualizations"?) appears to be nonsensical gobbledy-gook.

You may think you understand quantum physics, but it sounds like you got most of your information about it from fiction or some New Age source, which isn't a particularly reliable source for science. I'm not saying I understand it perfectly myself, but I know enough to say that it doesn't indicate the mystical "observer effect" you're claiming it does.

willy said: "And also, I am the observer who sees my own thoughts has nothing to do with science or reality?

You are not real? Neurophysics is not science?

I don't understand."

(sigh...) You and alexyg are both badly misinterpreting my words by ignoring what I've said previously. I know I'm anything but brief, so I didn't want to repeat things I'd said before, thus I left out some precision that I had given earlier. I'm simply saying that outside of your own head your thoughts alone do not change reality. Your actions, such as your behavior, does affect events, but simply thinking does not. (Yes, if you want to nit-pick it does generate a minor amount of heat, a tiny electromagnetic field, and change a few chemicals which normally only has a minuscule affect outside of your head, but that's not the kind of "reality changing" we've been talking about here, now is it?) The point is, merely believing something is true does not make it become true (especially not retroactively, as would be required in many cases.) Such a belief may change your perceptions and behavior, but a regular brick does not become a gold bar because you absolutely believe it is a gold bar.

My simplest example of this is to remind people of the times they've gone up or down stairs in the dark, and they thought there was one more or less stair than there actually was. You may have totally believed the stair was or wasn't there, you may have even fooled yourself into thinking you could see a stair or landing that wasn't really there, but the reality of how the stairs were laid out did not change due to that belief. Thoughts and belief simply don't change reality in that way.


HiEv
Posted 26 June 2007 at 02:29 pm

willy said: "I agree with that, but the actions emulate from thoughts right? so therefore, it is the thoughts which change things, in the final analysis."

I don't think "emulate" is the word you mean to use there. Anyways, it is not the thoughts which change things (outside of your head, of cource,) it is your actions. Thoughts without any change in your actions have no effect on the rest of the world, so it is silly to say that the thoughts change things. The thoughts may be the basis for the change in your actions, but it is the actions that affect the rest of the world.

willy said: "The world, you your thoughts, everything is constantly changing. Every single moment. That is ALL reality is. Change. Nothing more. Take a closer look!"

No kidding. I'm not stupid. I didn't think the universe was static (though most of the laws of nature are.) My point is that thought, belief, and/or perception alone do not change the reality that exists in the rest of the world.

willy said: "Right down on the base level of things there is only energy and information. These things are the elements of reality. Like a rainbow is made of sunlight and raindrops, and is an illusion."

Huh? How is a rainbow an "illusion"? It's light refracted by rain to produce a curved spectrum of colors. That's not an "illusion," that's just what a rainbow is.

willy said: "So too is everything else. It just that most things feel harder, thats all. And the evidence you talk of, is merely concepts created by human beings. Also in stuck in the ever changing present moment."

I'm sorry, but that isn't science, that's sophism. Everything is not "an illusion," and evidence for an objective reality isn't "merely concepts" nor were they "created" by people. Yes, reality may be more complicated than it looks by simple observation (like "solid" objects are actually mostly empty space) but the evidence supporting an objective reality has been gathered, measured, and observed (not "created") by many people through many means, and it is quite consistant.

willy said: "I choose my facts extremely carefully. This is a fact: There is only the present moment."

Sorry, no, that isn't a fact. We can quite readily recall earlier moments, and can to a degree sucessfully predict future moments.

willy said: "That is constanly changing. Memories are in the present too. From these, we get the illusion of time."

You seem to use the word "illusion" quite freely to mean what "illusion" doesn't really mean. There is no evidence that time is an "illusion," and there is plenty of evidence that it is not. Heck, where do memories come from if not the past?

willy said: "We think we are moving through time, but all that is happening is we are stuck in an ever changing moment. I don't think anyone can succesfully dispute that fact."

LOL. I think anyone can quite successfully dispute that fact by telling you things that they've done and/or probably will do. Time stretches both backwards and forwards, and because we can act only in this particular moment does not mean that the rest of it does not exist. That's like saying, "Normally you can only affect or perceive things in your immediate vicinity therefore the rest of the universe is an illusion." It's just silly.

willy said: "For, it is a simple observation of reality, or the illusion, whatever you want to call it.
To say you can change things merely by thinking about them I agree is not clearly possible, and action surely is required. But to postulate that reality happens outside the mind is logically incoherent. I mean, if there was no mind, how would we know there was reality?"

Ugh. You're going from one silly argument to the next. What does reality care if minds exist? Reality existed long before minds existed, and it will likely continue long after minds cease to exist once again. You are not special. You do not create reality. Reality can get along fine without you. Whether we know about it or not is irrelevant to whether it exists or not.

Do you seriously believe that reality didn't exist before there were observers? That kind of belief leads to a "chicken or egg" paradox (Which came first, the reality or the observers?) that can easily be avoided by following Occam's Razor, and going with the far simpler explanation that reality doesn't need observers.

willy said: "I think it is safe to say that it is an interaction of elements, one of which is the mind, the stage for it, that create reality. There can be no play without a stage, no movie without a screen.

It makes sense to me anyway."

That makes no sense at all to me. Your metaphor is broken because reality exists independent of observers. The "play" really does go on, even when there is no one there to watch it.


HiEv
Posted 26 June 2007 at 03:08 pm

Addendum:

willy said: "We think we are moving through time, but all that is happening is we are stuck in an ever changing moment. I don't think anyone can succesfully dispute that fact."

Aren't those simply different perspectives on the same thing? If you view yourself as a "fixed point" then sure, it looks like you're "stuck in an ever changing moment." But, if you view time as the "fixed point," then it is us, in our "ever changing moment," that is moving forward through time. I think I can quite successfully dispute the claim that we're not moving through time, because how you describe the situation is merely a matter of the perspective you choose to describe it from.

From the side of the road the car seems to be rushing by, but from the inside of the car it seems like the side of the road is rushing by. Neither perspective is really right or wrong, they're simply relative to what you've chosen as your "fixed point" of observation.

Point of view isn't the only thing that's relative either, don't forget time is relative too. If you travel near the speed of light then your "ever changing moments" will pass more slowly than someone else's who isn't traveling as fast. It's hard to argue that we don't move through time when we know that it is possible for it to pass at different rates for different objects simultaneously.


willy
Posted 27 June 2007 at 02:36 am

That makes no sense at all to me. Your metaphor is broken because reality exists independent of observers. The "play" really does go on, even when there is no one there to watch it."

Prove it. How can you prove it without observing it?


willy
Posted 27 June 2007 at 02:46 am

I think the difference between you and me is this: You have concepts which you hold dear, I simple look at what is happening. I don't believe any of it, as a matter of fact. So there.

This is the nature of my experience as a human. It is just thoughts, feelings. A body. Some memories. an imagination. Dreams. Ideas about stuff. Choices. Volition. This is what I experience, and it is all happening in the ever changing here and now, from which I can never really truly escape. Can you? Please teach me how. I would love to find a way to be truly solid.

ha ha ha...


willy
Posted 27 June 2007 at 03:08 am

HiEv said: "Addendum:

Aren't those simply different perspectives on the same thing? If you view yourself as a "fixed point" then sure, it looks like you're "stuck in an ever changing moment." But, if you view time as the "fixed point," then it is us, in our "ever changing moment," that is moving forward through time. I think I can quite successfully dispute the claim that we're not moving through time, because how you describe the situation is merely a matter of the perspective you choose to describe it from.

From the side of the road the car seems to be rushing by, but from the inside of the car it seems like the side of the road is rushing by. Neither perspective is really right or wrong, they're simply relative to what you've chosen as your "fixed point" of observation.

Point of view isn't the only thing that's relative either, don't forget time is relative too. If you travel near the speed of light then your "ever changing moments" will pass more slowly than someone else's who isn't traveling as fast. It's hard to argue that we don't move through time when we know that it is possible for it to pass at different rates for different objects simultaneously."

That is very interesting. According to the theory of relativity, if you were to travel on a wave of light, you would experience no time at all. In other words, were that wave of light to come from say, Alpha Centauri, some 4 light years away, then that means that the wave of light is on Alpha Cetauri and in your eye at the same time.
Strange isn't it.


Jeffrey93
Posted 27 June 2007 at 04:59 am

willy said: "From the side of the road the car seems to be rushing by, but from the inside of the car it seems like the side of the road is rushing by. Neither perspective is really right or wrong, they're simply relative to what you've chosen as your "fixed point" of observation.

Point of view isn't the only thing that's relative either, don't forget time is relative too. If you travel near the speed of light then your "ever changing moments" will pass more slowly than someone else's who isn't traveling as fast. It's hard to argue that we don't move through time when we know that it is possible for it to pass at different rates for different objects simultaneously.""

I'm not sure what sort of cars you travel in...but when a person is standing at the side of the road views the car as rushing by, inside the car it would seem like you (and the car) are rushing past many things, including the putz standing at the side of the road. I'm kind of getting lost in these neat analogies, are you suggesting that because you are in a car and see the illusion of everything rushing past the car...that everything is in fact rushing past the car and the car is remaining still? Spinning it's wheels to simply remain in a fixed point as everything rushes past it?

The next thing...about the speed of light and time. Isn't that all theoretical? Or have we sent a monkey screaming through space at the speed of light with a Timex on his wrist? Isn't it also a theory that if you were to travel at the speed of light you would break down into individual particles? I'm not too up on this stuff, all I know is that once you hit ludicrous speed everything turns plaid.


alexeyg
Posted 27 June 2007 at 06:55 am

HiEv said: "

(sigh…) You and alexyg are both badly misinterpreting my words by ignoring what I've said previously. I know I'm anything but brief, so I didn't want to repeat things I'd said before, thus I left out some precision that I had given earlier. I'm simply saying that outside of your own head your thoughts alone do not change reality. Your actions, such as your behavior, does affect events, but simply thinking does not. (Yes, if you want to nit-pick it does generate a minor amount of heat, a tiny electromagnetic field, and change a few chemicals which normally only has a minuscule affect outside of your head, but that's not the kind of "reality changing" we've been talking about here, now is it?) The point is, merely believing something is true does not make it become true (especially not retroactively, as would be required in many cases.) Such a belief may change your perceptions and behavior, but a regular brick does not become a gold bar because you absolutely believe it is a gold bar.

I am not arguing that thought can change a chemical makeup of objects.

You say a thought cannot change reality... then you admit there is indeed a chande in electromagnetic field and heat. Isn't that a part of reality? How do you define reality? Is it just bricks, or is there space for electromagnetic fields in your definition of reality as well?

You write this off as a matter of percision... but you are making several fundamental mistakes here:

1) assuming that "this all the effect we know *something* can have" is the same as "this is all the effect *something* can possibly have."

2) saying that the difference between "very small" and "not at all" is a matter of percision.

3) attempting to make meaningful statements about "reality" without defining "reality" in meaningful way.

Hopefully you will address these concerns.


willy
Posted 27 June 2007 at 11:15 am

I can define reality. It is an illusion. The only thing that is real is constant change. This is the only consistent observation I have ever made regarding reality.

Nothing abides but change.
Simple.


willy
Posted 27 June 2007 at 12:57 pm

Of course thoughts alone do not change the material nature of things on a gross level, bar telekinesis which is not a well documented phenomenon. However, on a subtler level, thoughts do change reality. Raise you arm. A thought has just changed reality.

Or perhaps, if we include action in the equation, as with the raising of the arm, or speech for that matter, then we find that thought is meaningless without action (be the action even just a change of mood), and visa versa... there can be no action without thought, even if the thought is subconscious. I would also include interpretation as a type of action, not a transmitted actioin but a receptive one.
Therefore, it seems to me that the interdependence of things is really what we are looking at, in a more total view.
And going beyond that, to the realm of origin and interdependence, I have the notion that even my thoughts are made of a whole lot of other things. The languages that I speak ( I am bilingual) come from other places, people and cultures, none of which is a pure creation of my own mind. The body which I inhabit is also made of a whole lot of other things, genes from my parents, the result of evolution, the food I have eaten, energy from nature... etc. etc etc...
So, this leads me to the conclusion that everything is made of other things, and nothing exists by and of itself in its own right. All we do is stick labels on stuff. A car is a car. If we take away the lable 'car' then we have wheels.. metal.. engine... then you go deeper to atoms.. then to quarks.. then strings... I mean, there is probably a point where you get to nothing, from which everything springs.
It is an interesting theophilosophical idea that science and religion begin to merge at these fundamental levels of reality. In the moment... things constantly springing into being... constantly disappearing... The Perfectly Balanced and Undefinable knife edge between the past and the future... the 'isness' of stuff...

The cannot ever be known center of the circle....

Someone asked Carl Sagan what it would be like inside the Big Bang.

'This is it' he replied.


willy
Posted 27 June 2007 at 01:01 pm

I would say then that reality is more about elegance than anything else.


sentinentpuddle
Posted 01 July 2007 at 03:43 pm

hello to everybody !
Newbie here.
Damn interesting article I must say since I work in mental health and what is said definitely goes against the grain of what I try to do about depression.
It definitely seems to true that 'Ignorance is bliss'.
If that be the case all the realists are sitting at home and world is being run by ignorant bunch what an interesting theory. Hey wait ! that's true for at one leader (oh ! god where am I getting into, I have caught damn interesting bug).


Mez
Posted 02 July 2007 at 04:12 am

Jeffrey93 said: "The next thing…about the speed of light and time. Isn't that all theoretical? Or have we sent a monkey screaming through space at the speed of light with a Timex on his wrist? Isn't it also a theory that if you were to travel at the speed of light you would break down into individual particles? I'm not too up on this stuff, all I know is that once you hit ludicrous speed everything turns plaid."

We haven't (and with our current state of knowledge it doesn't seem possible) accelerated anything to the speed of light, but time dilation doesn't only happen at the speed of light - it happens increasingly as anything accelerates, but of course it's easier to measure at greater speeds. We have actually measured this effect by sending one atomic clock round the world in a plane while keeping a synchronised atomic clock stationary - although minute (hehe it's re a clock but no pun intended), we were able to measure that time had passed more slowly for the travelling clock.


willy
Posted 03 July 2007 at 01:55 am

sentinentpuddle said: "hello to everybody !

Newbie here.
Damn interesting article I must say since I work in mental health and what is said definitely goes against the grain of what I try to do about depression.
It definitely seems to true that 'Ignorance is bliss'.
If that be the case all the realists are sitting at home and world is being run by ignorant bunch what an interesting theory. Hey wait ! that's true for at one leader (oh ! god where am I getting into, I have caught damn interesting bug)."

Dear sentient puddle. What a lovely blog name.
I am a former mental health patient, and going against the grain seems to be how I cured myself. I did the antidepressants and it got me nowhere. Lots of meditation worked. so whats your take? I'm curious.


Mez
Posted 03 July 2007 at 02:52 am

I read some of the more solipsist views expressed here rather dismissively, but then I opened the latest New Scientist - the cover story is "The ultimate quantum puzzle: Does the universe exist when nobody is looking?" Typically, the article was inconclusive, but essentially the basis of the article was an experiment which could only have worked if we "abandon the idea of an objective reality." Mind-boggling stuff.


willy
Posted 03 July 2007 at 11:40 am

Mez said: "I read some of the more solipsist views expressed here rather dismissively, but then I opened the latest New Scientist - the cover story is "The ultimate quantum puzzle: Does the universe exist when nobody is looking?" Typically, the article was inconclusive, but essentially the basis of the article was an experiment which could only have worked if we "abandon the idea of an objective reality." Mind-boggling stuff."

That is what the old Buddhists have been doing for 2,500 years, and the even older vedic science also.
The problem is one of intuition. Intuition born of prephilosophical (i.e. ignorant) observation of the reality of the human experience gives us a false perspective of ourselves and the world. However, we begin to notice the conclusive and observable elements of what we call reality. There are only 5 parts. The senses, thoughts, the body, sensations, and the conscious.
All of reality that we can directly and unarguably observe is made of these things, without exception. I do not think that is mind boggling at all, conversely, it is mind simplifying.

All of it impermanent, all interdependent. All stuck in the everchanging moment.


willy
Posted 03 July 2007 at 01:02 pm

Since this discussion is about essentially about psychology, I think the real difference comes when a person makes the decision to take complete responsibility for their life. This means nurturing equanimity. Not judging or blaming others, or yourself. Solipsist it is not. It is compassion, forgiveness and selflessness that make a person happy.

Let's look at an example. My wife falls in love with someone else. I'm devastated. She is evil, her lover is evil. That is the western way. The object-orientated way. All of my happiness is his/her responsibility.

OR...My wife falls in love with someone else. It hurts, but I forgive, and I am no longer angry. Maybe even see her joy that she feels for the other person. Share it. Let go. My happiness is my own responsibility. Thats is the Eastern way. The self-orientated way.

Of course that is an extreme example but the point is is this, my thoughts, conditioning and beliefs about things are what cause me to suffer. The suffering is an emergent quality of interdependent elements. I place my happiness in someone else, due to a whole lot of cultural factors, beliefs and so on, the result is emotional devastation in this case.
If I look at the truth about what I think and feel and believe, change my attitude to self-orientated, then I no longer suffer. Love and sex don't hurt. Beliefs do. I own them. I can change them. I can choose to see other's joy rather than my own selfish delusions of jealousy and anger, of damaged self asteem and so on. That's choice. And it takes practice, but it works.

Truth is made of observation and choice. The western material way is oblivious to choice. We think that means having bigger shopping malls. We are slaves to our desires and unhealthy states of mind. We spend so much time on 'education' so we can understand the mechanisms of the material world but no time on nurturing a healthy, stable and joyous mind.

It is the choice to live with a healthy state of mind, and the nurturing of that wisdom that changes things. To the point were your consciousness is no longer ruling you, but you are ruling it. Moving it in and out of the myriad of possible experiences which are available all around.

Higher consciousness means union with god to many people. However, to me it means choosing the right state of mind for current circumstances.

I mean, if a bomb goes off, you can stand around and freak out, or you can help the injured and clean up the mess.

Or if its a beautiful day, you can worry about your future of just enjoy the nice weather.

Death? Our greatest fear or our greatest adventure.

You choose.

Psychology?

Those old blokes from 1000's of years ago got it right.


Mez
Posted 04 July 2007 at 05:01 am

willy said: "Since this discussion is about essentially about psychology, I think the real difference comes when a person makes the decision to take complete responsibility for their life. This means nurturing equanimity. Not judging or blaming others, or yourself. Solipsist it is not. It is compassion, forgiveness and selflessness that make a person happy.

Let's look at an example. My wife falls in love with someone else. I'm devastated. She is evil, her lover is evil. That is the western way. The object-orientated way. All of my happiness is his/her responsibility.

OR…My wife falls in love with someone else. It hurts, but I forgive, and I am no longer angry. Maybe even see her joy that she feels for the other person. Share it. Let go. My happiness is my own responsibility. Thats is the Eastern way. The self-orientated way."

I've struggled to accept everything you've said here willy, but I like this. My attitude is actually fairly close to this (in theory - I don't always succeed), although perhaps not quite so far. But I'm definitely a big fan of non-judgmentalism, trying to see the brighter side and alternative views, and not stressing about things out of my control.

Like when my sister is worried that her boyfriend doesn't like her anymore because he hasn't called her exactly when he said he would. I point out that he might have got caught in traffic.


willy
Posted 04 July 2007 at 05:22 am

Mez said: "I've struggled to accept everything you've said here willy, but I like this. My attitude is actually fairly close to this (in theory - I don't always succeed), although perhaps not quite so far. But I'm definitely a big fan of non-judgmentalism, trying to see the brighter side and alternative views, and not stressing about things out of my control.


Like when my sister is worried that her boyfriend doesn't like her anymore because he hasn't called her exactly when he said he would. I point out that he might have got caught in traffic."

Views are of course very useful, but I think there is more to it than just views. Its actually training the mind so that you can move it wherever you want, rather than it moving you wherever it happens to fall. Focusing on breathing is very good practice. After all, air is more important than anything else. I find the more I live with my mind on my breath, the more stable and happy I become.


willy
Posted 04 July 2007 at 03:19 pm

Mez said: .... not stressing about things out of my control.

That IS control. We think control means intentionally changing the things and people outside ourselves. Of course we have some ability to do that, but real control comes when you are able to change your mind. That means changing your interpretation of things, and practicing that.
This is what I mean by counterintuitive. When we realize that our intuition is based upon blind and ignorant conditioning, and start to look at things the way they really are, then we find we have great control. To the point where there no longer is any fear.

For example, we think that the past, the present and the future exist, a delusion created by our ignorant intuition. But when you really look at the fact, that we are just stuck in the ever changing present moment, then we start to see the truth.

Another would be life and death. We say some things are alive and some are dead. But, the whole universe is alive with energy and constantly changing. So it it not all alive? and what is dead? no consciousness? then we are dead when we are in deep sleep.

Words. Are they meanings or just vibrations in the air or marks on paper or computer screens?

What do we find when we stop thinking and searching and just look, with a completely open mind?

Modern humans spend way to much time in their intellect and ego. Balance comes when we observe the five parts of our reality, the senses, the thoughts, the body, the feelings and the consciousness equaniminously. The interpretation and the volition.

Real intelligence is not universtity degrees or huge vocabularies or scientific or worldly knowledge. Real intelligence is only awareness. Total awareness. Omniscience, in terms of the self.

And it is available to all humans, with a little effort.

Have fun!


HiEv
Posted 08 July 2007 at 04:34 am

HiEv said: "Your metaphor is broken because reality exists independent of observers. The "play" really does go on, even when there is no one there to watch it."

willy said: "Prove it. How can you prove it without observing it?"

I can't "prove it" any more than you can prove it doesn't happen. What I can do is show that it is highly likely based on the simple fact that the world behaves exactly as though that is what occurs, and that it is illogical to think things don't happen simply because you're not looking at them and they somehow occur retroactively once you do look at them. I just cooked myself some food in the microwave, but it's ridiculous to assume that it wasn't actually cooked until the moment I looked inside the microwave to get my food. Occam's razor should lead you to the most likely conclusion here.

willy said: "I think the difference between you and me is this: You have concepts which you hold dear, I simple look at what is happening. I don't believe any of it, as a matter of fact. So there."

I may have concepts I hold dear, but you clearly do as well. However, I would be willing to abandon any of my "dearly held beliefs" if I was shown good evidence that they were wrong or illogical. You say you simply look at what is happening, but you don't, you extrapolate conclusions based on those observations and then you state them as facts. You just did so. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as your conclusions are well supported.

willy said: "I can define reality. It is an illusion. The only thing that is real is constant change. This is the only consistent observation I have ever made regarding reality.

Nothing abides but change.
Simple."

"Simple" is not the same as "true". You expect consistency all the time, you simply don't realize it. You expect the ground to hold you up and gravity to pull you down every time. You expect to be a human being every day of your life. You expect water to always be wet and ice to always be cold. And you expect the sun to rise in the morning and set in the evening fairly consistently (unless you're near the poles.) Sure, plenty of things change, but they all change in ways that are consistent with how the world works. Wombats do not suddenly become lemmings, for example. If reality is an illusion, it's one far more complex and consistent than any you could dream of. (And I use the word "dream" quite deliberately.)

willy said: "Of course thoughts alone do not change the material nature of things on a gross level[...]"

And that's all I've really been trying to say. Unfortunately everyone has been misinterpreting my attempt to make that point left and right over nit-picky and/or irrelevant details. Whether you can move your own arm, change your actions, or emit essentially insignificant amounts of EM is totally besides the point. I'm talking about people who believe that reality can be bent to their will by thought alone. People like the Breatharians, who say that we only need to eat because we believe we need to eat, and we could actually survive without food, on just sunlight and air, if we truly believed that we could (though they mix in all sorts of nonsense about 3D vs. 5D "base frequency" when saying that.) The reality is that the body needs nutrients, and you can't simply will away reality. Prayer, crossing your fingers, "jinxing" things, etc. are all quite literally "wishful thinking," but have no effect on reality. (Please do not repeat past misinterpretations of that line. You should know the kinds of things I'm talking about by now.) Yes, prayer may make you feel better mentally speaking, but prayer will not help a recovering heart surgery patient. The latter is what I'm talking about, not the former.


HiEv
Posted 08 July 2007 at 05:15 am

alexeyg said: "I am not arguing that thought can change a chemical makeup of objects."

OK, but I'm arguing against the people who assert things exactly like that. If you weren't arguing things like that then I wasn't arguing against you.

alexeyg said: "You say a thought cannot change reality… then you admit there is indeed a chande in electromagnetic field and heat. Isn't that a part of reality?"

Yes, it's part of reality, I never said it wasn't, however that's simply not the kind of change of reality I was talking about. I'm talking about things like affecting the outcome of random dice rolls or other such gross effects without any kind of significant physical interaction, just your thoughts.

alexeyg said: "You write this off as a matter of percision… but you are making several fundamental mistakes here:"

No, you are fundamentally misunderstanding my point, despite my abundant attempts at making it clear.

alexeyg said: "1) assuming that "this all the effect we know *something* can have" is the same as "this is all the effect *something* can possibly have.""

I was assuming no such thing, I was only saying what the evidence supports. If all the evidence supports the claim that water goes down the drain into the sewers then I shouldn't have to acknowledge the remote possibility that it gets swallowed by invisible monsters or falls into temporary black holes instead every time I talk about that topic.

alexeyg said: "2) saying that the difference between "very small" and "not at all" is a matter of percision."

First of all, the word is "precision", not "percision". Second of all, I wasn't saying that at all. I was saying that the tiny amount of EM produced by thought is simply not the kind of "reality changing" I am talking about. (see my previous reply)

alexeyg said: "3) attempting to make meaningful statements about "reality" without defining "reality" in meaningful way."

I'm using the standard dictionary definition of "reality". (If it helps, definitions 3 & 5-7 from that link all apply.) I shouldn't have to define a word that is already defined.

To quote Phillip K. Dick, "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

alexeyg said: "Hopefully you will address these concerns."

Hopefully I did, though only the last concern was potentially relevant to my point.


willy
Posted 08 July 2007 at 03:16 pm

HiEv said: "I can't "prove it" any more than you can prove it doesn't happen. What I can do is show that it is highly likely based on the simple fact that the world behaves exactly as though that is what occurs, and that it is illogical to think things don't happen simply because you're not looking at them and they somehow occur retroactively once you do look at them. I just cooked myself some food in the microwave, but it's ridiculous to assume that it wasn't actually cooked until the moment I looked inside the microwave to get my food. Occam's razor should lead you to the most likely conclusion here.

I may have concepts I hold dear, but you clearly do as well. However, I would be willing to abandon any of my "dearly held beliefs" if I was shown good evidence that they were wrong or illogical. You say you simply look at what is happening, but you don't, you extrapolate conclusions based on those observations and then you state them as facts. You just did so. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as your conclusions are well supported.

Nothing abides but change.
Simple."

"Simple" is not the same as "true". You expect consistency all the time, you simply don't realize it. You expect the ground to hold you up and gravity to pull you down every time. You expect to be a human being every day of your life. You expect water to always be wet and ice to always be cold. And you expect the sun to rise in the morning and set in the evening fairly consistently (unless you're near the poles.) Sure, plenty of things change, but they all change in ways that are consistent with how the world works. Wombats do not suddenly become lemmings, for example. If reality is an illusion, it's one far more complex and consistent than any you could dream of. (And I use the word "dream" quite deliberately.)

And that's all I've really been trying to say. Unfortunately everyone has been misinterpreting my attempt to make that point left and right over nit-picky and/or irrelevant details. Whether you can move your own arm, change your actions, or emit essentially insignificant amounts of EM is totally besides the point. I'm talking about people who believe that reality can be bent to their will by thought alone. People like the Breatharians, who say that we only need to eat because we believe we need to eat, and we could actually survive without food, on just sunlight and air, if we truly believed that we could (though they mix in all sorts of nonsense about 3D vs. 5D "base frequency" when saying that.) The reality is that the body needs nutrients, and you can't simply will away reality. Prayer, crossing your fingers, "jinxing" things, etc. are all quite literally "wishful thinking," but have no effect on reality. (Please do not repeat past misinterpretations of that line. You should know the kinds of things I'm talking about by now.) Yes, prayer may make you feel better mentally speaking, but prayer will not help a recovering heart surgery patient. The latter is what I'm talking about, not the former."

I think I agree with you . A dream and an illusion are different things. But it is interesting to look at the constituent parts of reality in terms of the mind only.
All things are made of other things. Nothing exists by itself, and nothing is permanent. A car is made of constiuent parts, and so too are our thoughts. We have memories, and our experience of the changing present moment. From these two constituent parts, we get the concept of time. I don't for one minute assume that I can just wave a magic wand and change things, or that I have a skewed something. Just observed.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

I like that. That is why I try really hard to not believe. If you want to see truth, then you have to take away the beliefs and just look.

I have this human experience. What is it made of?


Christopher S. Putnam
Posted 08 July 2007 at 08:11 pm

Wombats do not suddenly become lemmings, for example.

Great, now you tell me.

Does anybody want to buy a box of wombats?


alexeyg
Posted 09 July 2007 at 09:24 am

HiEv said: "

"

The evidence also supports a theory that stress can play an important role in making people fat. So thinking in ways that reduce stress can cause a very real change in one's physical body. Can that be considered changing of reality by thought?

The evidence shows that smiling alone causes people to be reated as more attractive by others. Happy people are more attractive. Happy people are happy because they think about things in certain ways. They can change their attractiveness by thoughts. Can that be considered changing of reality by thought?


misanthrope7
Posted 09 July 2007 at 12:42 pm

Christopher S. Putnam said: "Does anybody want to buy a box of wombats?"

Yes please. Can I have fries with that?


willy
Posted 09 July 2007 at 02:11 pm

alexeyg said: ""


The evidence also supports a theory that stress can play an important role in making people fat. So thinking in ways that reduce stress can cause a very real change in one's physical body. Can that be considered changing of reality by thought?

The evidence shows that smiling alone causes people to be reated as more attractive by others. Happy people are more attractive. Happy people are happy because they think about things in certain ways. They can change their attractiveness by thoughts. Can that be considered changing of reality by thought?"

That would be changing the quality of experience. And since reality is ulimately, in the final analysis 'experience' then that is what that is.

There lies the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is facts about things, speculations etc. But wisdom, although similar, is gained from experience and used as a tool for experience.
In other words, a person can have great wordly knowledge and be unhappy. This is for lack of wisdom. That is why often people say that depression is the thinking persons disease. A wise person, on the other hand, may not necessarily have great wordly knowledge but still maintain a sense of well being.
My mother in law is one such example. She is a happy person, not well educated, and she says ' I only think about what is infront of me' My father is another such person. Has many degrees from university, and is very smart. He also says ' I only think about what is infront of me.'

We tend to think that having a powerful intellect means something important. Of course, it can be useful, but it can also be a hazard.

You can grab the knife by the handle or by the blade. That's wisdom.


xenphonic
Posted 11 July 2007 at 06:03 am

Think positive =)


willy
Posted 11 July 2007 at 01:29 pm

try this thought experiment. Think of a banana. Are you that banana? No, you are just looking at a thought. The real question is, what is the thing that is looking at the 'thought banana'?


willy
Posted 13 July 2007 at 03:13 am

Life is only thoughts. Anyone noticed that?


pogmog
Posted 13 July 2007 at 10:47 pm

willy said: "Life is only thoughts. Anyone noticed that?"

Too true.
and life is only YOUR thoughts.

Brilliant article I believe in this whole heartedly, unless the disorder is physical. If we are all born with an empty head that gets filled with our thoughts and our perception of the world how would someone start acting bizarre and irrational?


willy
Posted 14 July 2007 at 11:56 am

pogmog said: "Too true.

and life is only YOUR thoughts.

Brilliant article I believe in this whole heartedly, unless the disorder is physical. If we are all born with an empty head that gets filled with our thoughts and our perception of the world how would someone start acting bizarre and irrational?"

Because perception, or interpretation is the key. And it is easy to get skewed. Some people say that religion is a problem, because it causes terrorism and so on. But religion is not the problem. Delusions are. And we all have them, to more or less degrees.


durgadas
Posted 14 July 2007 at 08:37 pm

Hello. I wanted to post a comment about one of HiEv's comments "Your actions, such as your behavior, does affect events, but simply thinking does not. (Yes, if you want to nit-pick it does generate a minor amount of heat, a tiny electromagnetic field, and change a few chemicals which normally only has a minuscule affect outside of your head, but that's not the kind of "reality changing" we've been talking about here, now is it?)"

My point here is that thought clearly DOES affect things. Tell me anything which would exist without having it being thought of first? Thoughts are clearly more subtle and therefore more powerful than what you would call reality. There are other realities than this physical one, and this is the simplest example of that I could show you. Vedanta takes this quite a bit further using another group of logical examples about perception to strip away the illusions one holds about oneself, but for the end of achieving the total perspective. Since the goal of Yoga practice is "Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha"- i.e. "Yoga is the suspension of the modifications of the mind."

Swami Sivananda asserts a very different thing, and it's clear that he wa someone with a "total perspective". I know this may sound like a vacuous assertion to someone not familiar with him, but look into it further, and you will see what I mean. Swami Sivananda says that thoughts have properties as clear as any physical thing: color, weight, power, etc. I can no more discount this man's assertion than I can Einstein or Hawking or Bohr. In fact, I give more weight to Swami Sivananda's assertion, as it's something he's directly experiencing, not something simply "proven", no matter how many times your proof is borne out in the world, it's nothing compared to your personal example.

I would also assert there are some logical inconsistencies in his arguments. I would suggest clarifying the places where you are getting Newtonian like in your "missing stair in the dark" example, and where you are getting into the quantum. Mixing this up only creates confusion. Vedanta is clearer in this way. Understanding quantum mechanics is an extremely counterintuitive thing. I would suggest that understanding the truth about perceptions is also. I would also suggest that the real truth here is that most of us do not experience daily anything like a total perspective and so because of this it is dismissed as being both scientifically impossible, implausible and unprovable. I would suggest that there are some who have achieved this state, I would suggest also that we do not understand them, or their perspective properly (since we are not experiencing it) and yet should remain open to the possibility that it does exist. Because it's not "prove-able" doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

I like the traditional Yogic and Vedic sciences in this way, as they take the largest possible perspective and work backwards from that, assuming that all things are possible. I can see that many thousands of years of consistent experiences elucidated by the ancient rishis of India are well-documented and internally consistent to a great extent. I liked the reference link to Douglas Adam's work because in that he basically makes fun of this total perspective- except for the one guy. He explains the philosophy of Yoga quite well using humorous names and so on to explain negatively the basic understanding of a highly evolved Yoga Master like a Swami Sivananda. Substitute ego for humility and bingo! you have a clear idea about it as well as group of best-selling books!

I would suggest that the illusion we have in our Western society with our extremely left-brained logical thinking could stand some perspective from the fact that logic can be applied to the right brained thinker also. Vedanta shows this clearly.

If I can suggest to you a good book to read, it would be John Dobson's "Advaita Vedanta and Modern Science" as a way of bridging the gap. Yes, it's the John Dobson who invented and gave away to the world the Dobsonian telescope. If you want something Damn Interesting, I would do an article on him before he dies!


willy
Posted 16 July 2007 at 11:32 am

durgadas said: "Hello. I wanted to post a comment about one of HiEv's comments "Your actions, such as your behavior, does affect events, but simply thinking does not. (Yes, if you want to nit-pick it does generate a minor amount of heat, a tiny electromagnetic field, and change a few chemicals which normally only has a minuscule affect outside of your head, but that's not the kind of "reality changing" we've been talking about here, now is it?)"


My point here is that thought clearly DOES affect things. Tell me anything which would exist without having it being thought of first? Thoughts are clearly more subtle and therefore more powerful than what you would call reality. There are other realities than this physical one, and this is the simplest example of that I could show you. Vedanta takes this quite a bit further using another group of logical examples about perception to strip away the illusions one holds about oneself, but for the end of achieving the total perspective. Since the goal of Yoga practice is "Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha"- i.e. "Yoga is the suspension of the modifications of the mind."

Swami Sivananda asserts a very different thing, and it's clear that he wa someone with a "total perspective". I know this may sound like a vacuous assertion to someone not familiar with him, but look into it further, and you will see what I mean. Swami Sivananda says that thoughts have properties as clear as any physical thing: color, weight, power, etc. I can no more discount this man's assertion than I can Einstein or Hawking or Bohr. In fact, I give more weight to Swami Sivananda's assertion, as it's something he's directly experiencing, not something simply "proven", no matter how many times your proof is borne out in the world, it's nothing compared to your personal example.

I would also assert there are some logical inconsistencies in his arguments. I would suggest clarifying the places where you are getting Newtonian like in your "missing stair in the dark" example, and where you are getting into the quantum. Mixing this up only creates confusion. Vedanta is clearer in this way. Understanding quantum mechanics is an extremely counterintuitive thing. I would suggest that understanding the truth about perceptions is also. I would also suggest that the real truth here is that most of us do not experience daily anything like a total perspective and so because of this it is dismissed as being both scientifically impossible, implausible and unprovable. I would suggest that there are some who have achieved this state, I would suggest also that we do not understand them, or their perspective properly (since we are not experiencing it) and yet should remain open to the possibility that it does exist. Because it's not "prove-able" doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

I like the traditional Yogic and Vedic sciences in this way, as they take the largest possible perspective and work backwards from that, assuming that all things are possible. I can see that many thousands of years of consistent experiences elucidated by the ancient rishis of India are well-documented and internally consistent to a great extent. I liked the reference link to Douglas Adam's work because in that he basically makes fun of this total perspective- except for the one guy. He explains the philosophy of Yoga quite well using humorous names and so on to explain negatively the basic understanding of a highly evolved Yoga Master like a Swami Sivananda. Substitute ego for humility and bingo! you have a clear idea about it as well as group of best-selling books!

I would suggest that the illusion we have in our Western society with our extremely left-brained logical thinking could stand some perspective from the fact that logic can be applied to the right brained thinker also. Vedanta shows this clearly.

If I can suggest to you a good book to read, it would be John Dobson's "Advaita Vedanta and Modern Science" as a way of bridging the gap. Yes, it's the John Dobson who invented and gave away to the world the Dobsonian telescope. If you want something Damn Interesting, I would do an article on him before he dies!"

I really like this idea of dealing with the counterintuitive. It seems to me that intuition may actually restrict understanding rather than enhance it, as is commonly thought.


rob5435
Posted 17 July 2007 at 02:52 pm

Someone said positive self deception motivates, I dont see it that way, but its probably just me. If someone is better at something they have less to work for, if you tell yourself you're better at something then you won't have to try as hard. If you tell yourself you are worse at something wouldn't that motivate you to get better at it and try as hard as you can? I guess positive self deception would lead to contentness at a much faster rate. If you have 2 people who want to be socially adept and both are on the same social level, except one knows it and one thinks he is superior. The one who isnt as socially adept will realize he needs to work on his social skills while the other one will think he doesnt need to work on his social skills. All work ethic aside the one who is a negative self deceptionist (as this articles infers more of a realistic person) will be better off because they know where they stand, and a social dissapointment won't be as devistating to them. Whereas the one who is positively decieves himself will be wondering why or putting the blame on someone else and eventually come to a realization that will make them think even less of themselves then they actually are. Assuming the 2 people in contention have the same situations aside from the self deception.

That probably didnt make sense but oh well, lol


willy
Posted 18 July 2007 at 03:28 am

rob5435 said: "Someone said positive self deception motivates, I dont see it that way, but its probably just me. If someone is better at something they have less to work for, if you tell yourself you're better at something then you won't have to try as hard. If you tell yourself you are worse at something wouldn't that motivate you to get better at it and try as hard as you can? I guess positive self deception would lead to contentness at a much faster rate. If you have 2 people who want to be socially adept and both are on the same social level, except one knows it and one thinks he is superior. The one who isnt as socially adept will realize he needs to work on his social skills while the other one will think he doesnt need to work on his social skills. All work ethic aside the one who is a negative self deceptionist (as this articles infers more of a realistic person) will be better off because they know where they stand, and a social dissapointment won't be as devistating to them. Whereas the one who is positively decieves himself will be wondering why or putting the blame on someone else and eventually come to a realization that will make them think even less of themselves then they actually are. Assuming the 2 people in contention have the same situations aside from the self deception.


That probably didnt make sense but oh well, lol"

Void. It doesn't matter. Seek not the source of your problems or happiness outside yourself. Then there is no argument or running in circles trying to decide who is better or worse. Or more adept.

The really adept do no ever rely on circumstances outside themselves for happiness.
End of story.


willy
Posted 18 July 2007 at 03:49 am

To illucidate. This obssesion that the modern psychologist has with 'self' is anathema. When you really sit down and think about it, You will discover that you are mad of a myriad of things that are not you. The genes from you parents, the education you received, the language you speak, the ideas in your head, the food you eat.... etc... all of these things come from somewhere else. And all or those things, also come from somewhere else and so on and so on and so on.
Realizing this, you find yourself in the great sea of reality, and you feel humble. Selfless. Nothingness.

This is the point. This idea of positive self delusion, or negative self delusion, is just that. Delusion. Our survival instincts, sexual insincts are all there so we can exist. But when you realy look closely at what is really going on with the human experience, all happening stuck in the ever changin moment, and begin to throw away these delusions of 'self' then you start to see the truth.

And it is unexplainable. But you can see it. If you try.

All is interconnected, all is impermanent, and all is not you.

All you have to do is observe, like a scientist, and you will see the truth.

Simple.


YarrPirates
Posted 22 July 2007 at 11:39 pm

mjunk said: "Dang, 2nd. Head in the oven time. Sigh."

Good to see you have a realistic assessment of the importance of being a "first" poster.


YarrPirates
Posted 24 July 2007 at 05:53 am

Xoebe said: "Happiness and Wisdom are two different things, and are probably mutually exclusive."

Anyone who had ever met the Dalai Lama or heard him speak would disagree entirely with that statement. He is the apotheosis of both happiness and wisdom.


willy
Posted 25 July 2007 at 01:24 am

YarrPirates said: "Anyone who had ever met the Dalai Lama or heard him speak would disagree entirely with that statement. He is the apotheosis of both happiness and wisdom."

here here.


irishfairy123
Posted 06 August 2007 at 01:00 pm

I think is has more to do with what you choose to focus on. People can accept the reality that their lives may not be or become what they expected and worked toward, but still choose to focus on the possitive aspects of their lives. When I focus on the negative things in my life and either can't or don't change them, that's when I become depressed or angry. On the other hand, if I focus on negative things that I can change and change them, I feel great. Although sometimes, I just don't want to deal with it so I focus on good things and leave the bad for some other time when I'm feeling a little stronger.


boytoyjoey
Posted 11 August 2007 at 09:09 pm

I find this fascinating because I was jut having this argument with myself!! I have suffered Depression and Panic attacks... And found most of my fears and troubles sprung from fears I had about bad events occurring. When repeatedly my fears were justified, I found it harder and harder to "self comfort" myself, by reassuring myself that my fears were unfounded, and unlikely, when indeed they were likely! I struggled with the fact that my depressed and pessimistic outlook was most likely the most accurate one. I do however... Believe that the quality of life optimistic people have, is much pleasanter, and much more "normal" in the sense of daily functioning...
One thing not mentioned in the article is how mindset has a very key role in shaping our actual reality, in that, if we believe we are sexy, we come off as confident and sexy. If we believe we will get better, often miraculously we do. However I'm not sure it has an effect on entities other than ourselves... For example the healthy women who rated their bodies inaccurately, may have a better quality of life due to their unrealistic view, but whether others our influenced by that view I'm not sure.


Optimus
Posted 14 January 2008 at 11:21 am

It's a bit too late that I reply here but nevertheless after reading all the comments I felt like writting something.

First of all, the last disagreement is like a fight between materialism and spiritualism, which in my view or two different interpretations of reality that I both respect and find interesting. Maybe I am more influenced philosophically lately by the spiritual view that the world is inside our mind, yet at some points I don't like the totallity in which spiritualists see the world in only their own interpretation.

For example, tending to the spiritual interpretation doesn't mean that there exists no neurochemistry inbalance in the brain torturing those unfortunate mental disordered. I have seen the film "what the bleep do we know" and while I liked it very much and found it fascinating, 1) I don't like the new age feel/message of the scene where the girl throws her pills away, because I believe there is a truth also in chemical inbalance. Sometimes it's not enough to imagine that you are happy if you still get the negative signals in your brain. 2) Also, while I am fascinated by quantum mechanics and it's philosophical extensions to life, I think that quantum characteristics like superposition or entanglement while observed in the atomic level/microcosm, there is no real proof that they also apply in real life/macrocosm. Though it's still a fascinating theory.

I believe that neurochemical imbalance of the brain do play a role. It's more helpful at the end for the individual to know that it was the biological factor that made his life so hard, instead of thinking that it's just his thoughts just like the rest of the people and feel like he is just a stupid lazy person with excuses that tried less in life. The realization that it was harder for the individual because also of the neurochemical imbalance means for him that it was harder than the rest of the people and he really did fought against it under harder circumstances that other people can't understand.

Also, someone said that if you tell yourself you are worse at something you would be motivated to get better at it and try as hard as you can. Believe me, it's not the same on every person. Some might be frustrated by thinking negatively and quite while others might become more productive till they burn out. You can't make out a general rule for every person out there in my opinion.

And yet all this discussion doesn't have much to do with the main issue presented in the article which totally fascinated me, because I dislike the delusion of what's normal and what is considered a disorder. It shows an alternative side where the everyday social delusion might be the disorder and the mental disordered people being "normal". But I won't write more about this now..

..this article introduced me also to this great site!


romo
Posted 21 March 2008 at 04:00 pm

>>'How does one convince a depressed person that 'everything is all right' when her life really does suck?'

What defines a life that 'sucks'? There is no definition to this, because it is a perspective.


Watcher
Posted 26 March 2008 at 01:53 am

So normal people have an overoptimistic perception of themselves and people with some maladjustment have a more realistic cognition. This makes sense. The irony that if I think all around me are mad and I'm the only sane person means that actually I'm mad has just been turned on its head. How about another thing though. Two years ago I thought I was going to die. I didn't make a big fuss about it but I noticed everything in my surroundings with such heightened acuity. Every leaf on a distant tree sparkled in the sunlight. Every indistinguishable note of birdsong in the park came to me clearly. I noticed irregularities on the road surface, the way dust moved when the wind blew.. and I missed it. What was that?


Watcher
Posted 26 March 2008 at 01:57 am

So normal people have an overoptimistic perception of themselves and people with some maladjustment have a more realistic cognition. This makes sense. The irony that to think all around me are mad and that I'm the only sane person means that actually I'm mad has just been turned on its head. How about another thing though. Two years ago I thought I was going to die. I didn't make a big fuss about it but I noticed everything in my surroundings with such heightened acuity. Every leaf on a distant tree sparkled in the sunlight. Every indistinguishable note of birdsong in the park came to me clearly. I noticed irregularities on the road surface and the way dust moved when the wind blew.. and though it was in front of me, I felt that I missed it. What was that?


Watcher
Posted 26 March 2008 at 02:53 am

Apologies for the double posting. Browser glitch. Perhaps the moderators will kindly purge.


Anthropositor
Posted 08 April 2008 at 03:42 am

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." originally penned as the opening line of a novel by Dickens, caught me by the throat when I first read it.

It strikes me that both perspectives have a role to play. Perhaps they even need simultaneous attention. It is not so easy to do, much like trying to see both images in an optical illusion at the same time.

Our selfhood includes a tangible sense of being, and of a sense of isolation, along with a yearning to belong. These traits are all in conflict.

If each of the five senses are all brought to mimimal perception one at a time, the remainder are all enhanced very quickly in response.

But if you were to manage to effectively damp all the senses at once, an unusual state of mind might occur. A sense of identitylessness. Of beinglessness. Of ex stasis. Nothingness. And at the same time, a sense of effortlessly being one with everything about you. I am not so sure this is an illusion.

But be careful what you wish for. For some, such feelings as these are bliss, nirvana, soothing, perhaps even joyful or at least content.

Others respond with fear and horror. Perhaps it has something to do with where you are in your own spectrum of being.

Moods and attentional maladjustments are now the central focus of the "mental health" industry. And the emphasis is more and more on adjusting chemical imbalances in the brain with medications. Much can be done without them. To a great extent it is possible to learn to control moods without pharmaceutical help. Worth a try.


Meekay
Posted 06 May 2008 at 09:08 pm

"If each of the five senses are all brought to mimimal perception one at a time, the remainder are all enhanced very quickly in response.

But if you were to manage to effectively damp all the senses at once, an unusual state of mind might occur. A sense of identitylessness. Of beinglessness. Of ex stasis. Nothingness. And at the same time, a sense of effortlessly being one with everything about you. I am not so sure this is an illusion."

Just wanted to point out that there are more than 5 senses. If you were to damp the 5 senses you are speaking of you would not lose your sense of "self" or of "being". You would even still know where parts of your body (i.e. your Arms and Legs) are in relation to the rest of your body. Just a thought, but if you could manage to actually turn off ALL the senses of the body I wouldn't be suprised if you just died instantly. If your brain thinks you don't exist, there's a good chance your brain can make that true.

For further reading go to this article: http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=678


HiEv
Posted 10 May 2008 at 07:54 am

durgadas said: "Hello. I wanted to post a comment about one of HiEv's comments "Your actions, such as your behavior, does affect events, but simply thinking does not."

My point here is that thought clearly DOES affect things. Tell me anything which would exist without having it being thought of first?"


The brain.

The rest of your comment is nothing more than unsupported mystical BS.


Hamster_Herder
Posted 19 May 2008 at 06:39 am

daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn interesting


a1c
Posted 06 August 2008 at 07:14 am

This should be reasonably clear to anyone who reads Nietzsche or attends a cocktail party: the totality of truth is too terrible to utter, much less think about incestuously, I mean Freudianly. Ignorance is truly bliss, and this is why it's cruel to spoil the fantasies of others, even if it's Santa Claus, religion or that there's a purpose.

If "crazy" is the inability to relate reality / point-of-view / perception in a way deemed reasonable / customary to the accepted norm, then "to agree to disagree" takes on a whole other hidden dimension. Isn't it apparent to you too?

If someone wants to donate Mirtazapine to my cause, I'd be happy to write about the coming Malthusian crises and global overpopulation.


Radiatidon
Posted 16 January 2009 at 11:29 am

Do I detect a pulse?

Yes, faint, but definitely a pulse.

Seems DI still has some kick to it.
:)


Radiatidon
Posted 16 January 2009 at 11:32 am

Oh sorry,

not FIRST.

:)

And also not second.

:)


sachse
Posted 16 January 2009 at 11:42 am

you're right Don...I think it is a pulse...hooray..I knew somebody was listening


sachse
Posted 16 January 2009 at 11:45 am

at least...oh nevermind..nobody wants to hear it...least of all me...glad you're back anyway Alan and friends...thanks


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