When we think about ourselves, we like to think in terms of one "self". A self that is unique in some ineffable way. One, which means we work with who
we are as if we were simply one.
The problem is, this idea of being one and singular doesn't jibe either with experiential or neurobiological studies of human consciousness.
The self is plural; we our composed of veritable different "selves". They are selves, not merely in any pragmatic way (how we can speak of it) but in
structure and neural representation. The study of dissociation has shown that essentially all human experience is dissociative. Dissociation means a
separation between one "state" and another "state". Just think, right now, about anything. Isn't there something hypnoidal about it? Why think about
it? What is there about what you're thinking about that draws your attention outwards and into the object of your attention?
Its quite mysterious how we overlook this movement outwards, seemingly hypnotic process of conscious experience.
Every object in our environments is paralled by an object within our mind. This is just the way it is, because structurally speaking, our own minds
When we think, were an observing consciousness that "identifies" with some content of consciousness. In the beginning, there is just the void, the
ever-present oberving self. But then the other appears: life, the mother. The mother is our primordial image - and even somatosensory precursor to all
self-other relations (not imaginary, but coded somewhere in lower limbic and upper brainsteam areas) that replays itself in our mental structure
without our even knowing it.
Why? Why do we not see how we have been affected by life?
Waddingtons canal tries to explain neural development but it applies equally in the realm of social psychology and the development of personality.
Early exposure to aberrant self states in others
becomes for the infant an internal object in it's own personal thinking. For a consciousness
that is initially open to all experience - the mind of an infant - life can reify and proceed from whatever early objects (or relationships with
parents) the infant encounters.
The reason Self evolves the way it does is for the same reason as an organisms body develops the way it does: The instinct for survival. Consciousness
experiences states of self. This is the issue. For humans (as well as for animals, to a lesser extent) when we think, we not only represent what is
affectively indicated by our body, but we also develop whats called a secondary representation: the implicit awareness of myself as BEING THIS WAY: as
existing as this person
. The facts we discover about ourselves do not evaporate: we form unconscious perceptions simply by perceiving
something, in the sense that we "know something" but do not symbolize it in our minds as thoughts. The psychoanalyst Donnel Stern refers to this area
of human cognition as unformulated experience.
Its these background, implicit insights in our own experiences that sabotage our body state and plays with our shifting states of mind. For example,
since all thinking occurs as a dialogue between an observing consciousness and its internal object of perception all states of perception is
simultaneously a state of self. Because we experience ourselves contradictorily sometimes, without symbolizing and giving "form and order" to an
experience by thought (the symbol), we allow the now unconscious (or dissociated) content to affect the formation
of our next perception.
Dissociation is ultimately an unconscious system which maintains positive bodily affect (how you feel) by dis-associating uncomfortable self states
from normal "ego" consciousness. This process is present in everything we do and everything we believe.
So what does this mean? If we are plural beings, what is it about our sense we have of being one and singular? Since the observing consciousness feels
anterior, in a sense, it is a "owner" of all its self states, and thus, is one. On the other hand, the "Self" does not operate properly if it does not
recognize that there are parts - or self states - within its mental structure which are stranded in a "not-me" state relative to the states he
affirms. When we affirm something, sometimes we implicit deny something else. Not necessarily, of course. We can have an attitude of acceptance and
also a preference for one particular thing. But if something "bad" comes our way, we do not need to experience the badness as something we need to
disown. It appears mental health - true mental fortitude - exists in an orientation of gentle openness and compassion to all states of being. Pushing
away and putting yourself into aggressive opposition, in most cases, creates problems.
Ultimately, and ideally, people can become mindful of the different parts which make up their plural self experience. And by doing so, consciously
accept and orient yourself compassionately to the person you experience yourself to be when you "feel" that way. For example, if I'm arguing with
someone and I find myself disagreeing, though a part of me recognizes the validity of his argument, the part that is currently occupying my mental
stream "affirms" what I'm thinking because I - the ego - want to feel good and therefore need to be right. Though, if you pay attention to your body,
its telling you, its reminding you of that part in yourself which had THAT perception, which is now being dissociated from consciousness and enacted
in bodily experience. Knowing this, seeing that your own body is telling you, first of all shows how the body is actually a source of wisdom - and not
an evil thing to be disavowed, as so many religions teach - but, on the contrary, if we pay attention to ourselves, we discover information in the
Somehow, we can know things. We can be "wise". There are certain things about life and reality that commands priority to our attention. Love,
kindness, compassionate, charity, joy, laughter, fun, silliness, sensitivity, maturity, responsibility. There is truly much to be known only if we put
the magnifying glass first on ourselves, recognize within our own needs, and feel the need to recognize those same exact needs in others. People need
affirmation. They need to be recognized. We also need to be loved and treated with respect and honor. Most people experience empathy, or a sense of
identification with other selves; though there appears to be a very small subset (less than 1%) with a genetic predisposition to sociopathy; that is,
even with a supportive, they'll still fail or struggle to experience a sense of identifcation with other people emotional states.
The point is, lifes deeper metaphysical structure seems to be centered around the concept of relationship and how we orient ourselves in relationship.
Our observer and the contents of our minds (our own self states). And then on the outside, we see physical bodies just like ourselves. The same
situation, but in a physical and temporal context.
This is currently what is happening in our world. Affirming the oneness of the personality means accepting all our different self states. In doing
this on the inside, we come to see how the same dynamics are operating on the outside: in physical appearance, cultures, language, organized belief
edit on 5-9-2014 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)