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On "the Topography of the Mind"

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of January 30, 2006






these questions were based on the article
"The Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious, a New Look at an Old Metaphor."


Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2


This Week's Questions


[posed by Austin S.]
  • What is fuzzy language?
  • What makes “why logic” so detrimental to healing?
  • How does "knowing how our minds develop" protect us from injury?

Do you know?



This Week's Ten Questions

[Question 1] Why does the subhead of the article say, “reintroducing three words that we all know” when in fact, the words "conscious," "sub-conscious" and "unconscious" are meta words that we can not possibly know in the true sense of knowing? Should the subhead say something like “reintroducing three words of which we have all heard”?
[Answer] My first reaction? Picky, picky, picky, Austin (grin). Seriously though, your question is a good one, as it demonstrates how incredibly confusing words can be. In fact, in some ways, I think it is a miracle we understand any of what we say to each other, what with how differently we each can interpret the meanings of words. To answer your question though, start with the idea that the answer involves several distinctly different and yet overlapping Emergence concepts; [1] the concept of "meta" sized ideas and how this concept applies to the meanings of words, [2] the idea that these word meanings can range from "fussy" to "fuzzy" and [3], the idea that "what we know" and "what we know of" are the not same thing. Let me start with this last idea first.

To most people, the phrases "what we know" and "what we know of" mean the same thing. We Emergence Practitioners however, at times, draw a clear distinction between these two phrases. When we are helping someone heal, we define what we know as "what the person can picture," while what we know of means "what the person can logically or emotionally infer, or can intuitively sense, but cannot picture."

Now when you suggest I might better have phrased my subhead as reintroducing three words of which we have all heard, in the literal, Emergence Practitioner as healer's sense of the word "know," you are right. However, as I was not focused on healing here, I used this word in the more common, figurative sense of the word, as in "the things we know of" or "the things of which we know." Both these phrases, of course, are simply alternate ways to say what you suggested I say; the things "of which we have all heard."

So why use these words in my subhead if what I wrote can be so confusing?

My answer relies on yet another Emergence concept, the distinction we make between "fussy" and fuzzy" language. Fussy language (both spoken and written) tends toward using words in their literal, precise, scientific meanings. Fuzzy language (both spoken and written) tends toward using words in their figurative, everyday, lay person's meanings. So how do you know which form the author is using?

Knowing which form an author intends is complicated to say the least. A good guideline though, would be to ask yourself which form would better connect you to what he or she is saying, the common figurative terms, or the precise technical terms? Even here, knowing which interpretation to use can still be very difficult. Why? Because sometimes a word which began life as a technical term evolves into a more commonly used, everyday lay person's term. When this happens, the word can literally mean either meaning. For instance, the word "alcoholic" generally means someone who "frequently drinks too much." To an addictions counselor though, the quantity and frequency of alcohol consumed are but two of many factors, including family problems, legal problems, job difficulties, and so on.

Here, then, is what makes what I wrote so potentially confusing. The words "conscious," "subconscious," and "unconscious" have long been used both by professionals and by lay people. So which meaning did I intend? At the risk of confusing you even more, I meant these words in both senses, both in the fussy sense and in the fuzzy sense. Why? I wanted to connect as many people as I could to what I wrote. Thus I chose to ignore what is in fact very good advice; write to an audience. Austin, my audience is everyone. I guess I think big (smile).

As for your referring to the words "conscious," "sub-conscious" and "unconscious" as being meta-words, meaning, words that we can not possibly know in the true sense of knowing, here again, as we Emergence Practitioners use these words, you are right. Literally. These words are indeed meta-words, meaning, they are concepts which attempt to state the essence of a broad area of human existence with no direct visual reference. Other examples of meta-words would be words like the one I just used; "alcoholism," as well as phrases like "mental illness," "implicit memory," and "being in shock."

So why use meta-words at all if we can not know them in the true sense of knowing? Because meta-words are the basic raw materials from which all theory is made, from theories on geometry to those on personality. More over, there actually is a way to know them in the true sense if you realize these words are designed to be seen as metaphors; meaning, they are words which can be known only after a visual essence has been added. Why? Because this visual essence is the only way we humans can know ideas, or anything else for that matter. For example, consider the visual essence we add to some commonly used meta-words; "God" (the bearded old dude?);"evil" (the red-skinned, pointy tailed deceptive fellow?); "art" (the content of the MOMA?); and "love" (the two lovers floating across the flower-filled summer field?). In each case, were we to have no image for the word or phrase, we would be unable to know this word or phrase in any but the most cold and logical of ways, a great loss to say the least.

Finally, notice how these Emergence concepts can all fit together. [1] Meta-words are words which attempt to state the essence of a broad area of human existence with no direct visual reference, while [2] what we know of is "what we can logically or emotionally infer or intuitively sense but cannot picture." In reality then, these two ideas are simply the same thing voiced in two different ways. More over, because you asked your question from the technical view of an Emergence Practitioner, while you are technically correct about my phrasing being unclear, it might be helpful to keep in mind to whom I was trying to connect. And that you yourself might connect to more folks if you were a bit less fussy (grin).

Good question though.

[Question 2] In the article, Freud’s anthropomorphic model is described as being his "functional" model. Does this model relate to or have any threads of similarity to our functional model, the model posited in the Layers of Aloneness?
[Answer] Good question. Actually, no, although Freud's functional model of personality itself would fit into one of our functional Layers. It would fit into our Layer 2.

Now to see understand what makes me say this, consider what makes us see his earlier model of the mind as being more accurate than his later model, albeit with a few adjustments. His earlier model, which is a model of the mind, sees all of human personality as residing in one of these three fundamental compartments (in the Conscious System, in the Pre Conscious System, or in the Unconscious system). Thus Freud's earlier system is said to be "comprehensive," in that addresses all the possible ways in which we humans can experience life, the entire range of human personality.

In his later model however (Id, Ego, Superego), Freud narrows his focus to only the roles from which he sees us life our lives. He then aspires to connect these three roles to everything we think, feel, say, and do; to all of human personality.

Is everything we think, feel, say, and do connected to these three roles? In a very vague and arguably generalist sense, yes. But the way in which Freud uses these three words; as words which connect all we do to all we are, is backwards from the way personality theories normally get constructed. Personality theories (and theories in general) normally work best if they go from the general to the specific. Thus, while Freud's earlier model follows this advise, his later model reverses this and goes from the specific to the general.

Said in other words, Freud's functional model (Id, Ego, Superego) uses words which we can picture, albeit, not as literal real world things but rather as meaning-limited metaphors. This makes them macro-words. On the other hand (and as I stated in the previous answer), Freud's topographical model (Conscious, Preconscious, Unconscious) uses words we normally cannot picture. Thus, when we add pictures to them so we can grasp what they mean, we make them metaphors which have no limitation. This makes these words meta-words.

My point is, theories are best constructed from meta-words (visual scenes which typify an abstract), while schools of therapy are best derived from macro-words (meaning-limited, categorical scenes), and therapeutic techniques are best derived from micro-words (concrete, meaning-precise scenes). Can you now see what made Freud's focus change over time? He went from being a personality theorist to being the founder of a school of therapy. Thus, he went from being a meta-word user to a macro-word user.

Finally, can you see why we Emergence Practitioners have three models of human existence; our model of the mind; our personality theory, and our therapy? Our model of the mind (our consciousness metaphor) uses meta-words to help us to envision what is ordinarily not visual; human consciousness. Our personality theory uses macro-words to describe all of human personality, and these descriptions are the basis for our whole school of therapy. Finally, our therapy is based on using micro-words (words which directly refer to the things we personally can and cannot see.)

What all this means then is that no, Freud's functional system does not directly relate to ours. His is meaning-limited, while our is meaning-unlimited.

[Question 2a] Why do we believe that Freud’s topographical model is still the most accurate? What does his topographical model look like?
[Answer] See the previous answer. Also, at the risk of confusing you, we actually see Pierre Janet's model of the mind as being even more accurate. It's just that very few people have heard of Janet and so, I use Freud's model in hopes I will connect more people to our ideas and also, because many of his ideas were equally brilliant to say the least.

[Question 3] What would the architect's idea of "integral ornamentation" look like if applied to emergence principles? In other words, what concepts would best express this phrase in emergence terms?
[Answer] The best Emergence concept to use would be our idea of "visual threads of similarity." In effect, this idea is what " integral ornamentation" derives from. In other words, integral ornamentation (using visual themes from the building structure as the basis for the ornamentation design) directly mirrors a part of human personality, the part which describes how we organize our minds at the very deepest and most primitive level.

Said in yet one more way, architects at times draw on "visual threads of similarity" between their buildings and the way they trim these buildings. In other words, they use visual threads of similarity to create integral ornamentations.

[Question 4] How does "knowing how our minds develop" protect us from injury?
[Answer] Begin by considering the following two ideas; first, the idea that there is much truth in our belief that babies are quite vulnerable and second, the idea that there is also much truth in our belief that we are considerably less vulnerable in adulthood. What makes these two ideas true?

As babies, we spend most of our time in the only state of consciousness in which we humans can be injured; in a conscious state. As two-to-seven year olds, we spend most of our time in a changing blend of conscious to subconscious, with the subconscious gradually overtaking the conscious. This makes us somewhat less vulnerable to injury. As after-seven year olds then, we become increasingly less vulnerable to injury as we spend more and more time in an unconscious state, the state in which we are most protected from injury.

By puberty then, most of us have become somewhat impervious to injury. Why? We spend most of our time in an unconscious state (the state wherein we are protected from injury), a moderate amount of time in a subconscious state (the state wherein we are protected from most injury), and rare moments in a conscious state (the state in which we become vulnerable to injury).

Seeing how our being in these three states of consciousness (being conscious, being subconscious, and being unconscious) affects our vulnerability to injury allows us to better raise children. And to better heal our injuries. In addition, seeing "wounds" as "wounded learning" leads us to even more awareness, by revealing how these states of being affect our abilities to see normal learning, teaching, falling in love and growing as the different faces of "healthy learning."

In the end, we can even feel less guilty about our injuries, if we keep in mind that knowing how states of consciousness affect us, at best, only improves our ability to prevent injury. More over, even if we were able to prevent all of our injuries, there is good reason we should not do this, as it would create a serious, secondary problem. The problem? That before we get injured in any given life area, we have what I call, "naive consciousness" about this area of life, whereas after healing an injury in this life, we have what I call, "tempered consciousness." What am I saying?

Naive consciousness is the state wherein we are conscious but remain vulnerable to injury. In fact, whenever we go into this kind of conscious state, we can not imagine we can be injured. Can you remember ever feeling like this as a child or as a young adult, especially with regard to what our parents considered dangerous situations? Most people feel this way a lot during their youth.

Being wounded changes our how we experience being conscious to what I call, fixed consciousness, at least with regard to the affected life area. Here, we become programmed to automatically respond to some class of life events as if we have no choices other than to relive these experiences as if were again being injured. In a sense then, we respond to these kinds of events as if the script has been written, meaning, as if the process and outcomes have become "fixed."

Finally, when we heal one of these "fixed" events, we convert what was fixed in our consciousness into what I call, tempered consciousness. Thus healing alters what we previously experienced as fixed, seemingly fated events back into events in which we see endless possibilities. More important, because healing permanently associates what we experienced as shocking in the original moment of injury to the amazement we feel in the moment of healing, even if we experience this same kind of event again, we do not get more wounded. Why not? Because we simply relive these experiences as if we are healing this wound yet again. In other words, we first relive the shock of being injured then immediately relive being healed. More over, we do this with no effort on our parts whatsoever. Thus, healing renders us impervious to further injury from this particular and any similar kind of life event.

So what do we gain from knowing all this?

For one thing, we get to discern safe situations from unsafe situations. This includes everything from knowing which movies can injure children to how we can modify learning situations so as to make them both excited and safe.

We also learn to better recognize when we ourselves have already been wounded. This allows us to blame less, and to heal more.

In addition, we also get to focus our healing efforts on the precise moment of injury, rather than having to dredge through years and years of negatively charged events.

Finally, we also get to know with certainty if and when we have, indeed, healed an injury.

In effect then, while we cannot actually prevent all injury, we can heal injuries right after they happen. This means we minimize our suffering. It also means we get to temper our consciousness. Which ultimately allows us to see the "good" in suffering.

[Question 5] If “why logic” is the main barrier to healing, can knowing how the mind develops help us to see the futility of “why logic”?
[Answer] Yes. However, knowing how the mind develops also helps us to see the beauty in why logic as well. Let me elaborate.

Healing requires the guide know both how to accelerate the healing process and how to decelerate the healing process. Why must a guide know both? Because in order to heal, the wounded person must both relive the injury and while doing so, become consciously connected to the guide. Unfortunately, even in the course of healing, reliving an injury renders us unconscious and unable to connect to anyone. This then is the source of the terrible aloneness we feel, both during and after injury.

Emergence Guides use why logic to move people away from this suffering, by moving them out of Layer 1 and into to Layer 2. People need this whenever they get so overwhelmed by the injury that they have little chance to connect during the reliving.

Said in simpler terms, when we guide a person's healing with emergence, we take a person back into their injury and then help them to suddenly become conscious while in the midst of this painful experience. In a way, what we do during healing is we help people to relive the wounding event then add to this the reverse experience. This works because "healing" is literally the opposite of "wounding." In every way. Thus the states of consciousness we experience during healing are the same as we experience during wounding only in the reverse order.

[Question 6] Is “why logic” a meta-principle?
[Answer] Yes.

[Question 7] Is “why logic” a wound? Can it be healed? Is it a design flaw?
[Answer] No. Why logic is not a wound. Thus, it cannot be healed, nor is a design flaw. Why logic is simply a normal part of all of our natures. More over, like all natural things, there is an up side and a down to this part of ourselves. The down side? Why logic can and often does put our healing efforts on the wrong trail. The up side? Using why logic as the brakes during healing works very well. Thus, while why logic is not a wound, we would suffer more without it.

[Question 8] Is there such a thing as a meta-wound? If so, would birth be a meta-wound?
[Answer] Has anyone ever told you, Austin, that you are a deep person?

The answer is yes. Birth is THE meta-wound, the wound which sets the pattern for all future wounds. This is what makes picturing our own births so difficult. Thus, while most people can imagine this happening to someone who is in reality them ("I" can see "me" being born), people cannot usually picture their birth in any way other than as this kind of "observer-of-the-self."

Finally, please know that picturing our birth as an observer of the self is not a meta-activity. If we can literally picture something, we do this neither at the meta (theoretical) level nor at the macro (all of humanity) level but rather, at the micro (personal event) level of life. Thus, most people will never be able to picture their own birth, and the few that do learn will actually have healed a good portion of this birth wound. And since the birth would is the meta-wound, healing parts of it means people can picture parts of what happens during all other injuries, at every level from the meta-level to the micro-level.

This ability then is the one to which we emergence practitioners aspire. In fact, it is this ability which has allowed me to discover and evolve what I've learned about Emergence into a practice.

[Question 9] What does the process in which “why logic leads to psychological anesthesia" look like?
[Answer] Hold a pillow in your hands and comfortably in front of your face. Now try to say the word "pillow" while continuing to consciously picture the pillow and also while consciously hearing yourself say this word.

In truth, we cannot consciously picture something and at the same time, consciously refer to it with a word, although we can alternate so rapidly between these two states as to make us believe we can consciously do both simultaneously. In reality then, while we can see a pillow on the screen of our mind and while we can consciously hear ourselves say the word "pillow" out loud, we cannot be simultaneously conscious of doing both.

Herein lies the essence of psychological anesthesia. The experience of trying to consciously picture ourselves saying a word temporarily renders us unable to picture anything else, because the mind can picture only one thing at a time. Thus, while we may be aware that we are doing both, we cannot feel both as what we cannot picture consciously, we will have trouble feeling.

So where do thoughts come in?

Thoughts function like place markers for whatever pictures we have waiting in the cue of what we would like to see on the screen of our minds. This is why "thoughts" are the essence of non-emotional states, the counterpoint to our visual lives.

Of course, being able to picture something does not guarantee we will understand it. Thus having feelings with no thoughts is no better than having thoughts with no feelings. We need both to be fully conscious.

This means, whenever we speak words, to some degree, we become numb. Further, this happens to us regardless of how passionately motivated we may have been right before we spoke. In a way then, what I'm saying is, words always generate some degree of detachment. Why? Because as William James said, we always come from both the "I" and the "me," meaning from both the subjective view and from the objective view. This infers roughly that we feel emotions as the "I" and speak words as the "me." In other words, "words" are voice of an observer of life and not the voice of a participant of this life.

This is why we call logic, "cold."

[Question 10] What makes “why logic” so detrimental to healing and learning and yet so hard to see? Why has no one seen it as this detrimental before?
[Answer] Simple. Why logic is merely the spoken voice of our unconsciousness; sounds without pictures; captions without paintings. Now to see this as true, try again to notice how differently you experience saying words and picturing yourself saying words (the "I" - "me" difference I described above in the pillow exercise.)

Saying a word is an unconscious activity. Picturing yourself saying a word is a conscious activity. Or at least a subconscious activity.

This idea is what lies beneath the opening words of the Tao Te Ching. This book opens with the lines, "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao." Translation. Consciousness is not verbal. It is visual. In other words, "words" are the voice of unconsciousness. Saying them makes us detach from what they are said about.

Do you see what makes using words to teach emergence, or anything else, so difficult? This is why great teachers rely so much on stories, diagrams, and experiences to teach, rather than on words.

By the way, consciousness is not just "feelings" either. Consciousness is the natural blend of both thoughts and feelings. What happens to us each time we picture a story on the screen of our mind.

[Question 11] Does the statement, why logic changes our logical experience of painful events" imply that “why logic” exists in the outer functional layers?
[Answer] Yes. And its function is to act as the brakes for our personality, as in "vision" is the gas, and "why logic" is the brakes.

[Question 12] If healing happens in all 10 layers, is there a specific sequence for the passage or travel thru the layers during healing?
[Answer] Yes. Most times, we begin healing in either Layer 2, 3, or 4, the layers of blame. Less often, we begin in Layer 1, the layer of personal non existence.

Most traditional talk therapy exists entirely within these four layers.

This is why healing happens so infrequently in these therapies.

Better therapies get the person to re-experience the symptoms and when this happens, we transition from Layers 4, 3, 2, or 1 into Layer 5, the layer of symptoms. Here, we relive the pains and fears we originally felt right after being wounded, the physical and emotional trauma which resulted from this wound.

Unfortunately, because most therapists have a hard time hurting people in the service of their healing, this is where even the best non-emergence related therapies stop, at least as far as consciously guiding a wounded person's healing process. Thus, although people who use the better therapies do go past Layer 5 more frequently than people who use the more traditional therapies, this still happens mostly by accident rather than by design.

Emergence Practitioners guide people past this point by design. Thus, at this point, at Layer 5, the guide helps people to notice that in the midst of this pain, they lose their ability to picture. If they do, they then have what I call, the "pre emergence." In other words, if they can consciously see their own suffering and how it has stemmed from the previous layers, at this point, people realize they have something painful "in a box." What I mean is, at this point, people realize that there actually is something which has been hidden from their sight, something which has been BLocked from their vision.

When they do, they then move out of Layer 5; symptoms, and into Layer 6; the layer of BLocks. Once here, if the guide can keep them focused inward and on their inability to picture, people then transition rather rapidly into Layer 7, the layer of need. Here, they experience their "raw" needs as at this point, these needs cease to be obscured by the layers of BLocks, symptoms, blame, and non existence.

This state mirrors the experience during wounding of the "after startle," the state into which we get propelled at the end of an injury, otherwise known as "shock," If we can at this point enter baby consciousness, we then have a chance to heal our injury. How? We get a chance to see our injury from the innocent eyes of a baby. In other words, we get a chance to see our injury as being infinitely interesting rather than as being infinitely painful.

Note, it is at this point which even the best non-emergence based therapies fall apart, for instance, the alphabet therapies such as EMDR and TFT. Why? Because even these therapies, in the name of remaining objective, require the therapist to use why logic to detach from the person's suffering. This differ markedly from Emergence guides who know they must stay connected to injured people in the midst of their suffering. Otherwise they will be guiding from outside the box rather than from inside the box.

Of course, this means Emergence Guides suffer a lot at times in the course of helping someone heal. In effect, like Hawaiian Shamans, Emergence guides are trained to "let the person's bear eat them" in order to find out what happens next. Thus, if injured people, while healing, are really courageous, and if they have a really courageous guide, they then transition from Layer 7 into Layer 8, wherein they momentarily experience the incredibly painful instant which created this wound in the first place. Here, in Layer 8, peoples' suffering peaks. But only for an instant.

Finally, if they find it in themselves to open their "inner eyes" and to see what is on the screen of their mind in this very painful instant, they then get to emerge out of Layer 8 and into Layers 9 and 10. Here, they experience the feelings of amazement which signal the onset of healing. And the beginning of the end of their suffering. At least in this area of life.


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