Reintroducing Three Words We All Know
Conscious, subconscious, unconscious—three words we all know— thanks to Sigmund Freud who first used them to posit a "topographical" model of the human mind. Here Freud uses imagined space to make a great idea understandable. Thus like a "topographical" map of the Earth—which helps us to picture Earth's mountain tops and ocean bottoms—Freud's topographical map helps us to picture the landscape of our minds.
Why focus on the topographical aspect of this theory? Because there are many ways to describe the human mind. For instance, Freud's later model—the id, ego and superego model—is what we might call a "logically anthropomorphic" model. Here Freud uses logic to describe three imaginary "people," whom together represent how the human mind works. Then again, if we took as more prominent the duties he assigns these three people, we might also call this model, a "logically functional" model—a model based on these people's job descriptions. Either way, the point is this model is based on logic, as opposed to his first model which is based on visual analogies.
In this article, I'll be limiting my discussion to Freud's topographical model—his visual model. I believe this model is still quite viable, albeit, with two major omissions. Freud does not focus much on how this topography comes into being. Nor does this model explain what happens in the mind when we get wounded or heal.
As it turns out, visual models offer the best path to these answers. I'll be offering visual answers to both questions here. I'll also be talking about how Freud's topographical model directly integrates with my own theory of personality, Emergence Personality Theory. No coincidence, both models are visual models.
My goal in writing this article is to help ordinary folks to better understand themselves. I also hope to help students of the mind to see the value in visual models. After all, most people use the terms conscious, subconscious, and unconscious without much thought or understanding, let alone a sense of what they look like. How ironic. A visual theory most people can't visualize.
My ultimate goal here will be to begin to build a bridge between the worlds of the personality theorist and the non theorist. What's the point of creating wonderful theories if the objects of these theories—human beings—can't understand the ideas. We'll begin with a brief description of what makes visual models important.
The "Love" Experiment
So why, when it comes to modeling the mind, is a visual model preferable over a more traditional, logical model? Here the answer is simple—we humans learn best what we can see. And to experience this for yourself, you need only consider the idea of love, arguably one of the more important in all of personality. Indeed, love is something we all desire. Yet the word love is one of the more difficult to describe.
Oddly, we never stop to ask ourselves why it's so hard to describe the word love. And yes, it's obvious love is a complex topic. But still, shouldn't we be able to communicate to others a clear sense of this thing we so desire? More important, how can someone give you what you want if they don't know what you're asking for.
Do you want to learn to see this for yourself? Then take a few moments to write down your own sense of what love is. Please actually do this rather than merely continuing to read. Only then will it be possible for you to have an aha about this. No curious effort. No aha.
Okay. So you've written a few paragraphs or at least, made a list. And if you've been serious about effort, you'll be feeling the first part of what I'm trying to show you. Do the words "complicated" and "beyond words" come to mind? How about "frustration" and "impossibly hard?"
Now go get a picture of someone or something you love and look at it for a few moments. Your three year old daughter. Your floppy-eared beagle. Your trip to the Arizona red rocks. Now contrast and compare these two experiences. Which feels more accessible? More human? More alive? More true?
The point is, when it comes to describing human nature, pictures win hands down over words every time. And yes, words can guide us as we look at pictures. The where and when notes on the backs of photos come to mind. But without pictures, trying to understand anything about human nature becomes frustrating, boring, and impossibly hard. Think of where and when notes with no photo. Certainly, they wouldn't tell you much.
Learning about personality without pictures is like memorizing the times tables. It shouldn't have to be like this—it should be be fun. Moreover, I'm claiming that if the model you're studying is visual as well as logical, then the learning will be fun.
The "Hand on Knee" Experiment
Are you beginning to see why Freud's beginnings—including his topographical model—were rooted in the visual? And why his early attempts at therapy (hypnosis) were rooted in the visual as well? Curiously, Freud later abandoned his visual model for a logical model. Even here though, in his office, Freud actually made his logical model somewhat visual. He taught his patients that the mind is three picturable persons—the "it" (the Id), the "me" (the ego), and the "above me" (the superego).
This said, the question to ask yourself here is—why, when visual models are so much more potent, do most personality theorists, therapists, and people in general use logical models? The answer? Logic numbs the heart, and relieving pain is what brings most people into therapy. And most folks see this pain relief as the proof that they're healing.
Ironically, a moment ago, you did an experiment wherein you saw how logic causes people to detach from experiences and pictures cause people to connect. So is detachment really a good way to heal, grow, and learn to love? Or is what I'm saying—that logic makes the heart grow colder—not really true? To see for yourself, try the following experiment. Again, to benefit, you must take this seriously.
Sit and place one hand on your knee. Now concentrate on the feeling of this hand on your knee. At the same time, explain why your hand is on this knee. Take your time and really try.
If you tried hard to simultaneously do both, what you found is this. You can either explain (offer logic) or experience your hand on your knee (sense feelings). But you can't do both. In truth, doing both simultaneously is humanly impossible. And if you just made a serious effort to do this, you should have more than seen this. You should have been surprised.
Now consider what this means with regard to the mind. Logic and feelings are mutually exclusive. This is why, each time you displace feelings with logic, you turn these feelings off. Hence our obsession with acquiring logical explanations in therapy. These explanations make us feel better.
Unfortunately this means most of what talk therapy accomplishes is not healing. It's what I call, "psychological anesthesia." Here logic causes us to distance ourselves from the visual content of a painful event, allowing us to hurt less. Worse yet, doing this also keeps us from learning the true nature of our wounds. You can't change what you can't see, and if you don't see a wound you can't heal it. But because logical distancing makes us feel better, we choose logic over healing time and time again.
Know this holds true even for the more efficacious therapies like NLP and EMDR. They too include requests for logical processing. They do this because they base their methods on logical models of the mind. So while these therapies literally employ visual experiences as methods, they inadvertently include logical aspects which numb us just the same.
Therapies based entirely on visual models evoke the opposite reaction. They give us pictures for incredibly complex ideas, including our wounds. They also evoke more feelings in us each time we witness this content. So while visual models still need words to guide the process, when it comes to understanding human nature, they are simply more potent and alive.
The "Trauma Stories" Experiment
As I just mentioned, most therapies base their methods on logical models. These methods use logical distancing to make people feel less pain. When people feel better, they then interpret this as healing. But better ideas about blindness don't make a blind person see. And to see what I mean, we'll need to address what is arguably the most important idea in all of personality theory, the nature of a wound. What is a wound anyway, its actual nature? More to the point, how do models of the mind model wounds?
Most current models, including the DSM-V, define wounds as painful changes in personality that result from trauma. To see this, just visit the psychology or self-help sections in your local super-bookstore. Then pull any book down from these shelves.
Now open this book and look for a trauma story. Take a moment to read a bit. What you'll find is that these stories are in general pretty potent. Why? Because they get you to picture the traumatizing event.
Now read the part where the author explains her take on what happened. What you'll find is that these pictures quickly fade as your mind gradually numbs. Amazingly, despite this being true, the explanation part is what most people focus on. Hence the stereotype of therapists as cold and detached.
This also explains the lay person's preference for story-laden, self-help books. Stories get them to picture their lives and this teaches them to identify their pain. Ironically most professionals see self-help books as less valid than professional journals, when in truth, most self-help books get people closer to the wound. At least until the part where the authors offer their explanations for what has happened, at which point your mind becomes just as numb.
So—is it beginning to dawn on you why many of us spend years trying to unravel what's in our minds, only to end up just as confused as when we started? Logic by its very nature causes us to detach from what we're trying to see. But because we mistake this numbness for healing, we see logic as the better path. Hence our tendency to choose logical models of the mind.
In this article, I'll be referring to the tenets of these logic-based models as "logic-of-the-psyche." I prefer this term over the word "psychology" as psychology includes many visual as well as logical references. Thus to better discern between visual and logical models, I'll be using a term which more obviously refers only to logical descriptions. As opposed to only visual analogies.
Finally as for whether I can prove this numbness is not healing, before I can offer you a scientifically sound answer, I'll first need to show you a model for wounds which does not detach people from their wounds. In other words, I'll need to show you a visual model.
Logical Questions vs Natural Questions
In a moment, we'll look at a visual model which explains the nature of wounds. But first I need to get something out of the way. This something is the confusion caused by the way we ask questions which start with word why. In essence, there are two ways to interpret these questions—as logical questions, and as natural questions. With logical questions, the why refers to the logical reasons for something. I call this why, logical why. With natural questions, the why refers to the natural reasons for something. I call this why, natural why.
So say if I asked you why politicians waffle so much on issues. If you treated this as a logical why question, you might answer "because they're all bullshitters." But say I asked you in January to explain why there are no leaves on the trees in New York. If you treated this as a natural why question, you might answer "because it's winter." Or say I asked you why you married your x-husband. If you treated this as a logical why question, you might answer "I wanted to get away from my family." But say if I asked you why Canadian birds fly south in the winter. Saying "it's just what they do" would treat this questions as a natural why question.
Why take the time to point this difference out? Because the why I've been talking about—the why most talk therapists focus on—is the logical variety—the why we use to numb ourselves. Whereas the "why" we experience when we look at a photo—or picture a story—and then wonder what is going on is the natural variety—the why which describes the nature of something.
Seeing the Two Kinds of Why Questions as Complementary Opposites
What's especially interesting here is that taken together, these two whys have special qualities. For one thing, together, they comprise all possible references to reasons and causes. Either an explanation is logical—or it's natural. No other possibilities exist. At the same time, they each contain none of the other. This makes them a special kind of opposites—the kind we call "complementary" opposites. And as you'll see by the end of this article, these kinds of opposites hold to key to understanding human nature, including the nature of another pair of complementary opposites—wounds and healing.
The Myth of Unconscious Choices
Are you having trouble seeing the oppositeness in the two why questions? Then recall that we've already looked at one part of this oppositeness—the idea that logical and visual experiences evoke opposite reactions in us. In other words, one why disconnects us and the other connects us, and never the twain shall meet.
It turns out though that there's a far more important difference—the degree to which the why we use implies we've made choices, conscious or otherwise. To wit, logical whys assume people do what they do because they choose to do things for reasons. Ironically, people claim this is true even when they have no memory of ever having made these choices.
Realize that each time people do this, they've reinterpreted Freud's concept of the unconscious. In effect, they're claiming we can make choices we don't remember. The thing is, logically, it's impossible to make an unconscious choice. To make a choice, you need to see the choices. For example, say you ordered food from a blank menu. Could you then claim you chose what the waiter delivered? Or say you answered multiple choice questions on a test where the answers were hidden. It you failed the test, could you claim you failed it because you didn't study?
The point is theorists include the idea of an unconscious in a theory to account for the things that are hidden from your mind. This means if you do something while you're unconscious, then you can't have made a choice—your nature must be programmed to do this thing.
Enter the idea of natural whys. Natural whys assume we do most of what we do because it's become natural for us to do things this way. We do things this way because it's who we are. This idea—that our natural responses to life events are "who we really are" is what makes me call this second why, the "natural why." We do these things because it's our nature to do them. Thus despite what many theorists tell us, clearly, if we weren't able to picture the choices when we did something, then logic can't be the reason we did it. This is true even if we were thinking these about reasons in the moments in right before we acted. Why? Because there are no unconscious choices.
The Myth of Choosing Who We Fall in Love With
Is what I'm saying confusing? If so, I'm not surprised. People often go to great lengths to claim they did what they did for reasons. This includes some of the most intelligent and dedicated personality theorists. No surprise, Ben Franklin commented on this tendency once. He said, "a reasonable man is a man who can make up reasons for everything that happens."
Do you need more evidence for that we make up these reason? Then consider the experience of falling in love. Obviously no one can use logic to choose who they fall in love with. We can't choose to fall in love with someone even if we try. And many of us try. In truth, in the moments in which we fall in love, we experience a moment of unconsciousness—a blank menu. Yet when later asked by friends why we fell in love with this person—or when asked by the person themselves why we feel in love with them—most folks spout a whole lot of logically sound but patently false reasons. You can't choose off a blank menu.
In truth, falling in love is never based on logic. It occurs largely because of how life has programmed us. In effect, we fall in love with people under special circumstances and with people whose internal nature matches our own.
This means when we blame ourselves and say we keep choosing the wrong person—while this makes sense logically, it's patently absurd. What this really points to then is yet another evidence for the absence of logic in our personal choices—rarely is the person we "choose" the logically right person for us. Indeed, people's choices often seem downright mystifying and grossly illogical. For instance, how many times have you wondered what one person sees in another.
The Myth of Being Able to Promise Not to Fight Again
Another example this false kind of logic would be the way many couples promise not to fight the same fight again. Despite these vows, somehow it happens anyway. Then when our therapist asks us the why this happens, we again did into our logical mind and spout false reasons.
So is fighting like this logical? Obviously, it's not. We do this simply because we've been programmed by life to act like this. How do our natures get programmed like this? We already know. We experience traumas.
The thing we don't know though is how traumas program us. Here again, we assume there's an underlying logic. In truth, only traumas which startle us can program us to act badly. How? By programming a blank spot into our natures.
How Traumas Wound Us
Are you getting this? Being startled renders us unable to picture things. This inability to visualize situations then prevents us from accessing the logically healthy choices we can easily refer to in calmer times. And since you can't change what you can't see, you make the same mistakes again and again. But since this hurts—and since logic calms us—we explain the whole process with logic.
This in fact is what makes practitioners of Emergence Therapy prefer the word, "blocks," to the word, "wounds." We call wounds, "blocks," because wounds block people's ability to visualize themselves making these choices. Traumas literally program our minds to go blank in certain situations. After which we respond to any and all similar life events in predetermined and often illogical ways. In other words, each time we experience an event which is similar enough to the trauma, it's this illogical programming which renders us unable to access potentially good choices.
The obvious question now becomes, can you heal these blank spots in our natures. The answer? Yes—but not with logic.
Before We Move on to the Actual Models, Let's Summarize What's Been Said
- I began with the idea that there are many ways to model the mind. Two of the more common are logical models and visual models. Logical models use logic to describe the reasons why we do things. Visual models use imaginary spaces to allow us to picture our minds.
- Ironically, while most people are familiar with the words conscious, subconscious, and unconscious, few ever learn to picture Freud's visual model. This leads people to treat these words as if they are part of a logical model. In the process, we lose the good in Freud's system, as this good comes largely from the ability to picture it.
- We then began to look at why this happens, by exploring how we react differently to pictures and words. To do this, we used the love experiment, wherein we compared the efficacy of words about love with pictures of love. Clearly pictures affect us more.
- We then used the hand on knee experiment to show how feelings and logic are mutually exclusive. This time what we saw was that experiencing either one shuts off the other experience. You can either feel or reason, but you cannot do both, at least not at the same time.
- We then talked about psychological amnesia, the idea that logic distances us from the visual content of a painful event—allowing us to hurt less. This is how therapies based on logical models get us to hurt less. The logic turns off the pain. Unfortunately, most people misinterpret this as that they have healed. They haven't.
- We then contrasted logic based therapies with those based on visual models. Unlike logic based therapies, visual therapies give us pictures for incredibly complex ideas, including our wounds. The thing is, they also bring any painful feelings to the surface each time we witness this content. And human beings are programmed to avoid pain.
- We then took this idea further by doing the trauma stories experiment. Here we looked at how reading trauma stories provokes feelings, but reading explanations for these stories makes us numb.
- I then gave this numbing logic a name. I called it logic-of-the-psyche. As opposed to psychology which contains both logical and visual aspects.
- We then talked about that there are only two kinds of questions theorists and therapists can ask—those that seek logical reasons, and those which seek natural causes. Here, neither kind of question contains any of the other. But together, they account for all possible questions. And this idea—the idea of complementary opposites—will turn out to be one of the most important in all of personality. More on this later.
- We then explored a common belief—the idea that we can make unconscious choices. This time we used the idea of food ordered from a blank menu to see the truth about these so-called "choices." The point is, the things we do unconsciously cannot be caused by reasons. They can only be coming from our built-in natural reactions to life events.
- We then looked at another common belief—the myth that we can choose whom we fall in love with. This can't be true because the falling-in-love moment is a moment of unconsciousness. This is why no one can remember these moments. We go blank.
- We then explored the myth of promising to not fight the same fight again. And while this promise sounds good on paper and is perfectly logical, logic alone never changes our nature. Here again we see yet another proof for that logic does not make us do things. Rather, logic is how we explain the things we do.
- Finally we looked at some evidence for why picturing wounding scenes makes us feel more pain. When traumas wound us, the actual mechanism is that we get startled, and this causes our minds to go blank. Once startled, each time we're in a similar situation, we relive this trauma by going blank. Thus despite knowing logically well what we should do, in those moments we lose access to our good choices, because we're momentarily unconscious.
Are you beginning to see why learning about the topography of our minds is so important? Visual models give us access to our true nature in ways logical models can't, including the nature of our wounds. In addition, if you know how this topography came into being, you can use this knowledge to pinpoint the times when your wounds most likely occurred. We respond to traumas differently at different ages, and most of these differences are simply knowable parts of human nature.
What's the first step to learning these skills then? We must first learn the basics of this visual, developmental map of the mind. We'll begin with the idea that this model represents the mind as a container which holds our experiences, rather than a character like the superego who secretly directs our moves.
Is the Mind Our Thoughts and Feelings, or is it a Container for Our Thoughts and Feelings?
So what do I mean when I say the mind is a container? Here there are two possibilities—either it is or it isn't. Models that say it is treat the mind as the repository which holds all our thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Models which don't treat these thoughts, feelings, and ideas as the mind. The thing is, if we treat the mind as a container, we get amazing ways to visualize who we are. For instance, Freud's container includes the three compartments we've been talking about—the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious.
The "Fretless Bass" Experiment
What does these containers look like? Each model uses a different metaphor. Freud's model treats the mind as a three layered lake—Emergence Personality Theory, as a ten layered onion. And yes. As I've just said, these are metaphors. But in the sense that frets exist on a fretless bass, they also literally exist.
Have you ever seen a fretless bass? If not, then imagine the neck of an electric bass guitar. Now imagine you look closer at this neck, so as to see the horizontal metal wires running at intervals across the neck beneath the strings. Know that these metal lines are actually quite similar to the lines on a ruler. In both case, the lines measure something. Rulers measure physical space. Frets measure musical space. Or to put it in more technical terms, frets measure musical intervals—the distances between musical notes.
Now imagine a bass which looks exactly the same, except that this bass has no metal lines on the neck—just strings. And if you have trouble envisioning this, try imagining an upright acoustical bass, the kind classical musicians play. These basses do not have frets wires either. In either case, musicians call these basses, "fretless,"
So here's the important question. Do frets exist on a fretless bass? The answer. To a bass player, they do. But only in the bassist's mind. In fact, without being able to "see" these markings, a bass player could not play a fretless bass. At least not in tune, that is.
Is Seeing the Compartments of the Mind Necessary?
So is being able to literally see Freud's three compartments of the mind important? In a way very similar to how a fretless bass player must see the frets on his or her bass, yes, to know the mind, you must see them. What does not literally exist, of course, is any physical separation between these three containers. These three states of consciousness are, in truth, only a way to measure approximate "degrees of consciousness." And just in case you haven't caught on yet, the consciousness we're talking about here is our ability to picture things—visual consciousness.
In truth then, we each have within our minds a "continuum of visual consciousness"—a scale of which ranges from fully conscious (fully visual) to profoundly unconscious (fully blank). We could also use this continuum to refer to moods—from seriously manic (hypervisual) to seriously depressed (in shock).
The question is, why pretend this continuum exists in three separate parts if it doesn't really? Because, by dividing this continuum into three separate sections, we get an incredibly useful way to grasp how our minds function. And develop. How? We're about to find out. We'll begin with a question about how this container comes into being. To wit, do you think we are born with this three-section container intact? Freud and others have assumed we do. But do we? Let's see.
Are We Born With a Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious?
So was Freud right? Are we born with all three compartments of the container of our minds fully formed?
Let's start with this. Some modern theorists do not believe we have an unconscious. One, John Kihlstrom, believes we do, but not in the way we're discussing it here. The thing is, we've already looked at the power of visual models. These theorists, including Kihlstrom, describe the mind entirely with logic. So for now, let's assume there's value in a visual model of the mind, including a model wherein we assume there is an unconscious.
Of the theorists who do believe we have a conscious, subconscious, and an unconscious, pretty much all of them believe we're born this way. Or in Freud's original words, we're born with a fully-formed conscious system, preconscious system, and unconscious system (the word "subconscious" is Pierre Janet's term). Indeed, people so take this for granted that few ever mention any other possibility. But is this true?
In fact, there is much empirical evidence to support this not being true, including direct observations of children. Rather, it appears these compartments develop over time. Indeed, most evidence seems to point to that we have only one level—a conscious level—at birth. The other two levels then develop later in life, beginning with the subconscious at around age two, and the unconscious around age seven.
Now let's explore the evidence. Can we in fact find enough evidence to support this hypothesis? Before we look, we'll need to develop a picture for what we're looking for—a three level model. We'll begin with the first level to come into being—the conscious level. What is it like to be in this level of the mind?
Living with a One-Level Mind
What's a baby's mind like? To begin with, it's very similar to the state hypnotists put people into. They focus intently on whatever their eyes land on, giving this thing their full attention. In part, this is what makes them so good at learning. They exist in an ongoing state of meditation.
Unfortunately, this ongoing focused attention is also what makes then so vulnerable to injury. In truth, this is the only state in which we can learn. Learning requires this kind of openness to visual content. No surprise stage hypnotists cause this kind of rapid learning in people. Stage hypnotists put us into this same state.
Unfortunately, the other thing which puts us into this state is trauma. This is why trauma makes us so vulnerable to wounding. And yes, most learning does not include alarming, "oh, my God" moments. But regardless of the mood it puts you into, being in this state opens the mind.
Can you see yet how these things parallel each other. Painful events program us the same way stage hypnotists do. Only with stage hypnotists, it's all done in fun and no one gets harmed. Whereas with traumatic events, we suffer a kind of permanent damage, something I call, "wounded learning."
What is wounded learning? To begin with, it's the complementary opposite of what babies do. Baby's learning is "healthy learning" in that it opens their minds to new possibilities. With wounded learning, trauma permanently narrows then closes our minds. Thus what we learn from traumas is that, in those situation, we have no choice but to relive what happened in the trauma.
Know that wounded learning is actually a three-step process.  We become hyperaware.  We get startled. And , we go into shock. Realize too though that not all traumas result in wounded learning. In order for this to happen, we must be startled while in the hyperaware state.
When this happens, being startled functions just like a hypnotist. Only rather than harmless fun, startles program us our minds to go blank. This in fact is what keeps us from seeing our choices. In these situations, we're effectively rendered blind. It's also what makes us freeze right after the startle. Being unable to see our choices causes us to freeze in indecision.
How exactly do startles program us? They do it the same way rapidly collapsing, electrical fields program ferrous metals. What I mean is, when you expose ferrous metals to a rapidly collapsing, electrical field, the pattern of this electrical field gets permanently programmed into the metal. Of course, in the case of traumatized people, we're talking about being exposed to a rapidly collapsing, experiential field—the experiential pattern they experience in the last moment before the startle. Regardless of the differences though, the nature of these two events is the same. From then on, both we and the iron become programmed with the pattern of the field. In effect, this pattern has been programmed into our natures.
One final parallel exists between what happens to iron and what happens to us. To me, this parallel is odd as it involve what we call this process. With ferrous metals, we call this, getting "magnetized." And with people, we call this getting wounded. But for more than half a century we called healers, "magnetizers."
Having No Choices
What's it like to live as if we have no choices? In a sense, it's very similar to how people respond to stage hypnotist's cues. We literally become unable to see anything other than what we've been programmed to expect. Indeed, we more resemble Pavlov's dogs than healthy people.
Worse yet, these wounding scripts so bias our behavior that for the most part, we just stand there and take it. It's as if we are merely passive participants in our own lives, more voyeurs to these painful events than participants. Indeed, even when the outcomes of these relived events vary from the original outcomes, we experience them as if they were exactly the same.
Again, why does this happen? Because we've been programmed to go blank. This is why we feel certain we have no choices in these events, including that our efforts cannot effect the outcome. It feels this way because even if the outcome varies, we can't see it. No matter what we do, it feels the same.
The "Blinded-By-A-Light" Experiment
What is life like after you get wounded? To see, you'll need to do another experiment. In this one—the blinded by a light experiment—you'll need to picture yourself getting startled by a suddenly-bright light. Here, two good examples would be a wedding photographer's flash bulb and a night watchman's flashlight. Either situation will do.
Now picture yourself in either of these situations. Then try to sense what you'd experience in the blinding moment and the few moments beyond. Again, to get something out of this, you'll need to do the experiment. If you do, what you'll see is that in the blinding moment, you saw nothing—you suddenly lost your ability to see. Moreover, not only couldn't you see what was right in front of you—no outside-you stuff. You also couldn't picture anything on the screen of your mind—no inside-you stuff.
If you continued to look, you saw that you froze in indecision. Being blinded made you unable to see your choices. So you couldn't move. In effect, even if you mentally knew and could later see that there were possible choices, in that moment you'd be a deer caught in car headlights.
Finally, if you really hung in there, you experienced what I call the "visual hangover"—a fast-frozen bit of visual information which reverberated on the screen of your mind. Know this fast-frozen bit of visual information has a very special significance. It's the functional equivalent to a hypnotist's cue. More on this in a moment.
So now, let me ask you. Were you able to picture yourself in either of these two events? If so, then consider this. Regardless of which event you just pictured, if you pictured either one, then even though you did not just literally experience the event, you felt as if you did. Why does this happen? Only one reason. When you pictured this situation, it had already happened to you. Thus you relived an already existing injury.
Want to know for sure? Then try this test. Try picturing either of these events as having turned out differently. For instance, picture yourself not losing you ability to see what was right in front of you. Try really hard.
If at any time in your life you've been blinded by a light, then you'll be unable to picture anything other than being blinded. Nor will you be able to picture seeing right after being blinded. This event will be written in stone for the rest of your life.
So why can't you imagine alternate outcomes? They're buried under the shocking experience of the startle. Along with all your alternate choices and any pleasant endings.
Finally, what does it mean if you couldn't imagine yourself in either of these events?
Then you are the rare person who has not been blinded by a light.
Why Don't You Notice You've Lost Your Choices?
So what prevents us from realizing we've lost our ability to make choices? Whenever we relive a wounding moment, we freeze and go blank. And yes, we can logically infer other choices. But even trying to imagine these choices causes us to freeze and go blank. In effect, because being startled blocks our ability to see anything after the startle, we experience startles as if there's a wall between us and any visual material which occurred right after the startle. This mental wall is what prevents us from seeing our choices. It's also what makes us freeze. The minute we go blank, we stop.
What about when we relive a wound though? What makes us go blank and freeze then?
This is where the hypnotic properties of startles come in. Startles cause us to hypnotically associate whatever we saw in the instant before the startle to the experience of the startle itself—the frozen blankness. This turns whatever we experienced in that last instant into a kind of painful "hypnotist's" cue. So if we were looking at a red traffic light right before an accident, seeing any other red lights would also make us go blank.
Filling in the Void in Our Minds with Why-Logic
Lastly because, as Freud believed, minds follow the same laws as physics, we then follow one of these physical laws—the one which states, "nature abhors a vacuum." Applied to us, we're programmed to abhor an "empty state of mind." This is why we feel compelled to fill in the void with why-logic. And because we do, afterwards, we return to our lives never having realizing we've missed anything.
This includes not realizing we've been programmed to believe we have no choices. We literally emerge from traumas programmed to picture any and all similar life events as if there's only one way for them to turn out. We then overlay this experiential pattern onto any and all similar life situations, including any similar life situations which occurred before this wound. We simply lose our ability to imagine ever having experienced these events in any way other than how the wounding event occurred.
Said in other words, if we get startled while we're in the first level of the mind—consciousness—this causes us to hypnotically associate the pattern of whatever we experience at the time with the experience of being startled. This pattern then becomes our script for all similar, future situations. This is what Freud's intellectual rival, Pierre Janet, called, "automatisms." Once wounded, we respond like automatons to this wounding script.
No coincidence Janet's therapeutic interventions centered on hypnosis. And that the hypnotists of his time we called, "magnetizers." Trauma literally turns small bits of life experience into hypnotic cues. And from then on, we respond to these bits of experience like trained dogs.
Of course, like plots in a movie, there can be variations to the stages and props. Which is why, changing people, places, and things doesn't really keep us from reliving wounds. Moreover, no matter how healthy and spiritually evolved we may become, reliving one of these scripts makes us freeze and go blank. Permanently. For the rest of our lives.
Oddly, the similarity we spoke about a moment ago—between us and ferrous metals—does not end at being programmed with a pattern. Thus like ferrous metals which after becoming magnetized attract other magnetized metals, we too feel magnetically attracted to similarly injured people. This explains why we keep getting involved with similarly wounded human beings. Traumas program us to be magnetically attracted to them. This almost guarantees we'll keep reliving these painful events, all the while feeling like failures for not being able to change. But because no human being can access choices they can't picture, even when you know of healthier choices, you can't make them because you can't see them.
Shock (unconsciousness) as a Protective Mechanism
Obviously being in shock has its down side. But being in shock also has an upside—it protects us from further injury . Can you see why? As I've already told you, to get wounded, you must be in level of the conscious mind. In other words, for trauma to hypnotically program us, we must be in a heightened state of awareness. The thing is, shock puts us into a state of "deadened awareness"—into the unconscious. And while we're here, we cannot be wounded. This is similar to how a blown electrical fuse protects a building from burning down. Once the fuse blows, no more electrical current flows through the wires.
For us then, shock is a blown fuse, at least as far as incoming experience. Indeed, this idea—that we can only be injured while in the first level of the mind—is one of the more important in all of personality. Moreover to see this as true, just ask someone who has suffered a trauma to try to picture the situation. If you do, what you'll find is this.
All people, when asked to picture being wounded, will go blank at some point. They will literally lose their ability to visualize, both inwardly and outwardly. Moreover if—at the point of this loss—you were to ask this person to try to make up what happened next, you'll find they'll still be unable to picture anything. Nothing at all.
Oddly this same blocked visual ability occurs in people after they heal. Only in this case, it happens in reverse, time-wise. Thus if you ask people—after they've healed—to imagine being in this situation and having no choices, even if you ask them to imagine not having choices, they won' be able to.
What Does Being in Shock Prevent Us From Seeing?
What kind of stuff gets visually blocked? To see, consider how people's ability to see choices changes after healing. After people heal, they can easily bring to mind clear pictures of the choices they can make. Moreover these choices always include an almost unlimited amount of "good' choices.
More important, this ability to picture "good" choices never diminishes. Why? Because healing hypnotically bonds these good choices to the startle in this scene. In truth then, healing never actually removes the block. It just adds a visual override which kicks in automatically.
As for the previously blocked choices healing reveals, they are almost unlimited, including the many good choices which were previously hidden. Moreover this idea—that the wound is "what you can't see"—and—"what you can't see" is the choices—applies to all healing disciplines. You simply get people to divide their inner life into two piles—what they can picture and what they cannot picture. You then work on getting them to be pleasantly surprised by what they see. And it doesn't matter how you do this. Do it, and they'll heal.
The Importance of the Two Scripts
What's so important to see is that these two scripts— the wounding script and the healing script— never vary. This is why I sometimes call the theory underlying emergence, "The Geometry of Personality." Like physical geometry—wherein a "square" is always a "square" no matter how you make one—the geometry of wounds and healing is always the same no matter how the circumstances vary.
To wit, "wounds" will always be visual blocks and healing will always be visual emergences. In other words, being wounded will always center on being startled into the inability to picture choices of the screen of the mind. And healing will always center on reclaiming this blocked ability picture choices. Especially, the "good" choices.
Knowing this; how being in the first level of the mind is connected to understanding wounds and healing; is what amazes me about how Freud abandoned hypnosis. He literally was looking in exactly the right place. Which brings me back to the point at hand, which is what living in a one level mind is like.
In essence, it is like being constantly in a state of openness to learning, whether this learning involves discovering the wonder in life, as in Madame Curie's "Eureka," or the wounded learning of Janet's automatism's; as in life's "scripted responses."
Understanding this level of the mind—the level in which babies live for their first two years of life—explains much about how we begin life. We begin life by spending almost two full years in a constant state of "meditative trance." This is to say we live entirely in the First Level of the Mind; "The Level of Consciousness." Or you might call it, "baby consciousness."
What Causes the Subconscious to Begin to Develop?
What causes this wonderful time in our lives to end? More important, what causes the next layer of consciousness—the Layer of the "Subconscious"—to begin to develop? Essentially, it's the baby's desire to verbally label the objects in its world. Along with the loving reinforcement which usually accompanies this learning.
Usually this happens around age two. Here babies quickly learn they'll receive much love and attention if they can correctly name an object. For instance, if they can pick up a ball and say, "ball?," the baby's parents, and everyone else around this baby, excitedly grin, smile, and gloat.
Of course, no one ever realizes what this is doing to the baby's mind, and in a way, this is fortunate. Since babies (and all of us, in fact) can be psychologically injured only while in the Level of the Conscious, developing a Level of the Subconscious actually serves an important purpose. It decreases the baby's vulnerability to injury. In fact, this change is the first protective mechanism of the mind to develop. In other words, because all babies, for about their first two years, spend most of their time in the Level of the Conscious, they are literally quite vulnerable to injury.
As time goes on, babies spend more and more time in the Level of the Subconscious. As they do, they increasingly become more protected from injury. This continues up to about age seven, that is, when an even more protective level develops. More on this later.
For now, let's take a deeper look at what being in the Level of the Subconscious is like.
The Subconscious Mind Emerges
So what is it like being in the Level of the Subconscious? It is somewhat like witnessing things out of the corner of your eye, only sometimes you see whole images. In a way, it's like being in a world of fleeting shadows, a world where images have form but have little to no color.
This, in fact, is where male babies feel most comfortable. Male babies, at birth and for the rest of their lives, have more rods than cones in their eyes. This biases their visual preferences toward "forms" more than "colors," and especially toward forms that move. Conversely, female babies, at birth, have more cones than rods. Thus, their visual bias is toward "colors" rather than "forms," and especially toward things that sit still.
What does all this mean?
It means that baby girls, right from the moment of birth, are biased toward learning about the nature of consciousness. The Level of the Conscious contains the most vivid colors and steady images. Conversely, baby boys right from the moment of birth are biased toward learning about the nature of the subconscious. The Level of the Subconscious contains the most vivid forms; Jung's "shadow world," if you will, a world of vaguely visible, moving shadows.
Know that these two biases remain intact for life, for one thing, because males will always have more rods than cones, while females will always have more cones than rods. This, in fact, is one the main points in a book on gender by Dr. Leonard Sax, "Why Gender Matters." In this book, Dr. Leonard posits some very interesting ideas as to the true nature of why girls seem to adapt to being in school more easily than boys. And how this bias plays out over peoples' lifetimes.
Now for those educated in Jungian theory, please excuse my oversimplification. I realize there is much more to the "albedo" of Jung's shadow world than literal shadows. Even so, I would now posit, there is much more to the literal visual nature of this connection than anyone has ever realized.
Whatever the case, my point here has been to try to offer you a way to imagine being in the Level of the Subconscious. Thus, imagining a shadow world, a world of vague, moving images, is very much the essence of this experience. Perhaps this is why boys seem to be drawn more to seeing what is in the shadows? And more afraid that something is lurking there?
Now let's move on to the next stage in the development of the mind, the discovery of "historical time." What is "historical time?" Let's look.
The Unconscious Mind Emerges
What is it like to be in the third level of the mind? Here again, the best way to understand this level of the mind is to understand what provokes it into being. What triggers the development of the third level of our consciousness—the Level of the Unconscious? To see, let's take a brief look at what is arguably one of the more important things to develop in our minds; our awareness of "historical time."
What is "historical time?"
It is the state of mind children begin to experience at or around age seven. At this age, children become able to understand "watch," "clock," and "calendar" time, and this allows them, for the first time, to see causality in their lives. In effect, when children realize that time exists as a river, they realize there are currents in this river—patterns in the underlying sequences of their life events. And as we're about to discuss, this allows them to learn from their mistakes.
Learning From Mistakes
Pre age seven children cannot learn from their mistakes, at least not in the adult sense of the word "learning." These children are conscious of only one moment at a time. Thus they can't see cause and effect. What they can do of course is they can make associations between pleasant and painful life experiences. Being that they live in what meditators call, "now" moments, these moments are for the most part quite intense.
Realize that it's only by learning to see these events as sequences that children begin to connect their successes and failures to their suffering and mistakes. Not coincidentally, for the past century, the Catholic Church has said that children before age seven can't sin. To be responsible, they must be able to place their experiences into a historical sequence, and this doesn't happen until age seven.
So what do children learn from their mistakes before age seven?
At first, they learn nothing. They simply gather visual data. Little movies, if you will. Then, at about age two, they begin to be able to identify the pain of an event as a separate element in the event, whenever they recall this event. In other words, at this age, children begin to be able to identify the pain in painful pictures. Then finally, at about age seven, children begin to realize that the pain in these pictures has been preceded by something not necessarily painful, some action or inaction which appears to be the logical cause of this later occurring pain.
This allows them to see the pain present in these events as being historically separate from parts of these events. In effect, what children begin to believe at or around age seven is that the pain in life results from what happened before the pain. In essence, they come to believe that there is a causative sequence within all painful events, and this knowledge pushes them to think about their choices.
So am I saying the conscious experience of making healthy choices comes into being just because children learn to tell "watch time?" Yes, I am saying this, although few people, parents included, ever realize how significant learning to tell time is. Which is why most parents waste so much time trying to teach their pre age-seven children how to learn from their mistakes. Young children simply cannot logically connect behavior to consequences.
The Down Side of Being Able to Tell Time
Obviously, being able to sense how things play out over time gives these children a powerful tool. Unfortunately, this tool also pushes children into a lifelong habit of examining the events themselves from a distance. Thee do this in an effort to understand these events and in doing so, make better choices—or at least avoid re-experiencing the pain. Unfortunately, each time you review life from a distance, you decrease your psychological experience of these events.
In truth, the pain and pleasure in these events is never separate from these events. Nor is the cause of this pain limited to the sequence of events in this one scene. Rather, it's being startled while in the state of "baby consciousness" which causes most of the pain in these events. Moreover, to see this as true for yourself, you need but consider this idea.
If the part of the event which you see as the cause of an injury does not injure most people who experience this cause, then how then can this causes be the logical source of your injury? In other words, if the events we claim are the cause of our injuries were actually the cause of our injuries, then why do the majority of people who experience these situations emerge unscathed? The answer? Because it is never the event itself which causes the injury. It is only our experience of being startled during the event which injures us.
Sadly this is what most cognitive and behavioral therapies overlook. They overlook the idea that healthy learning always involves the conscious experience of making healthy choices and not just the doing of healthy choices. They also don't recognize that most wrong doing is not the result of wrong choices but rather, the result of wounded learning—scripts implanted in people's minds from having been startled. Rather, because logically better choices exist on paper, they see people choosing to make bad choices rather than responding robotically to wounds.
As for how this third level of the mind comes into being, unconsciousness is simply another way to describe the state wherein we relive our injuries. In visual darkness. And personal uncertainty.
The Illusion of Knowable Causality
One more point before moving on. This point is that without believing in the illusion of causality, we could never justify blaming anyone or anything. Ever. Why? Because if the sequence of the event is not the root cause of the pain—and if our state of mind and a randomly occurring event are the actual cause of our pain—then our injuries happen by chance. Not choice. Moreover, while attempting to learn to see the underlying patterns in life is healthy, believing it is our mistakes that injure us is simply a flaw in the way we naturally see our world.
Where does this flaw come from? It comes from the simple fact that we cannot visualize what is in the Level of the Unconscious. And what is in there? The true nature of all of our injuries, from babyhood through the end of life.
Are you beginning to understand what makes this metaphor for consciousness so important?
Finding the Parallels Between Freud's Theory and Emergence Personality Theory
So far we've focused entirely on the Three Levels of Consciousness—what they're like and how they develop. In a sense, this metaphor simply describes the degree to which we can access the life experiences contained in our minds. The thing is, if Freud's Three Levels of Consciousness accurately describe human nature, then any real personality theory should parallel these levels. It turns out, Emergence Personality Theory does.
To see this, look at the diagram I have placed above. On the left side, you'll find a drawing of Stage One of the levels of consciousness. On the right side, you'll find the first stage in Emergence Personality Theory—the Age of Consciousness. Now if you look closer, you'll find quite a number of parallels. Both sides refer to human beings in the same age range—birth to age two. Both refer to the age in which human beings are fully conscious (fully visual). And both describe a system of containers in which we store our life experiences.
So what do we gain from going beyond Freud's three level system, aside from the obvious—that ten layers describe personality in more detail than three?
For one thing, we not only get a system which describes our level of conscious access (consciousness, subconsciousness, unconsciousness). We also get a system which describes our functional focus. Here, by functional focus, I mean each layer in Emergence Personality Theory functions as a container for a certain kind of life experience. In layer 10, we store life experiences in which we connect to all things without personalities. In layer 9, we store life experiences wherein we connect to other beings. In layer 8, we store life experiences in which connections get broken. And in layer 7, we store life experiences wherein these broken connections causes us to feel needy.
In a way then, these four layers break consciousness down into four kinds of experience—connecting to the Universe, connecting to each other, all disconnecting, and all pure neediness. Together these four layers describe the nature of personality from birth to age two, and any time we are conscious we have access to these four layers.
Yet one more thing to notice here is the order of these four layers. Layer 10 is at the top. Layer 7 is at the bottom. Here in layer 10, we are the most consciously conscious and in layer 7, we are the least consciously conscious.
Finally, know these four layers form in this same order. Layer 10 forms first, then layer 9, 8, and 7.
What Does This Drawing Tell Us?
So what can we learn about personality from the layers in this drawing? For one thing, the number of layers present here (four out of ten) represents the degree to which the container for personality has emerged. In addition, the size and position of these layers represents how prominent each layer is at this point in a person's life. Thus in the Age of Consciousness, layer 10—the Layer of the "Divine Us"—takes up the most space. And layer 8—the Layer of Disconnections—takes up the least.
Now consider what this drawing tells us about babies this age. For one thing, that they spend most of their time consciously connected to the divine. Can you picture this? Of course knowing what this divine state is, is a matter of some difficulty for most adults. Indeed, even the greatest mystics have difficulty putting this experience into words. However, being able to picture this state in a drawing is a step towards knowing. And connecting this picture to observations of babies can add depth to what we know about ourselves and our world.
Next in importance comes Layer 9; the Layer of "Personal Us." So what is being in this layer like? Here again, in order to know, we must use our imaginations. Fortunately, with this layer, we also have a class of experiences which adults normally experience to guide our search. This class of experiences is "falling in love."
What I'm saying is, you can get a good idea of what being in this layer is like by remembering what it is like to fall in love. Please know that when I say "fall in love," I mean with a person, not with a non person. Here an example of falling in love with a non person would be to fall in love with The Grand Canyon. And if you think about it, this happens to be a good way to know what it's like to be in Layer 10.
Remember, too, that according to the theory of the Layers of Aloneness, Layer 9 began in utero. Thus the essence of being in Layer 9 is the experience of how we felt before we were born. Connected to a person. Really connected. How important was this experience? To see, consider this. This connection seems to have been so profound that most of us make it both our life's goal to get again and our life's goal to avoid ever getting again.
The Birth Separation Wound
What I am saying is that the psychological pain of separating in childbirth is so great that we each get programmed with what I call, our "original wound." This wound, in fact, is our first experience of the wounding sequence;  hyperawareness,  being startled,  and going into shock. This sequence then becomes the script of all future wounds, regardless of the nature of the events and or the outcomes.
So what makes us hyperaware during childbirth? Moving down the birth canal, of course. And what startles us? Our first experience of total aloneness; the blinding light of the still point moment, the instant which immediately follows leaving the birth canal.
And the shocking part of the event? The extreme neediness which underlies our first cry; the shocking realization that we and our mothers are actually two separate people, and not just one person. In essence, we realize we have ceased to happily-ever-after with our mothers. And that we have been thrown out of paradise.
Here then, is the event which programs us to be vulnerable to injury for the rest of our lives; the sequence of the birth moment. And because this moment is the very first painful event wherein we experience pain alone and separately; by ourselves; we, as babies, arrive with no wounds to speak of, other than this birth wound. Afterwards, we then quickly return to what very much resembles our pre-birth state; being consciously connected to our mothers.
This, then, is the first stage in the development of the mind. In this stage, babies live in a constant state of consciousness and only occasionally cycle through reliving the birth sequence, whenever they get startled. Moreover, because they have yet to develop a sense of either logic or historical time, as babies, we literally have no way to distance ourselves from the pain of our injuries. Which means, we experience these injures very deeply. And very completely.
Moreover, this is also what makes the scope of these early injuries so great. With so little in the way of defenses, they literally affect our whole personalities up to this point. And everything which develops afterwards.
Why Begin Numbering the Layers at Ten, Not One?
Before moving on to the second stage in the development of the mind, some may be wondering why the Layers of Personality are numbered from ten down rather than from one up. The reason? These numbers refer to the visual intensity of the things we experience on the screen of our minds. Things we experience in Layer 1, we visualize at a very low intensity. In other words, we experience them very unconsciously. Whereas things we experience in layer ten, we experience very consciously. Indeed, everything we experience in Layer 10 we experience as very visually intense. No surprise then these visions—which some people refer to as spiritual experiences—last for the rest of our lives.
Strangely, it turns out we've all had many of these experiences. Indeed, at one time you and I experienced these visions almost constantly. All people, in fact, experience life this way from birth to about age two. and it's a good thing we do. We have a lot to learn in a short amount of time.
Unfortunately, because by adulthood we have so little access to Layer 10 (and to this state of consciousness), we rarely access these memories. Except, of course, when we re-experience this state during meditation or during hypnosis. Or during major life events, such as witnessing the birth of a child. Or during the kinds of spiritual experiences which change the rest of our lives, the experiences we call, "emergences."
What happens next in our development then? In a way, we gradually forget this loss of connectedness. The more visually blocked we get, the more we lose our ability to feel pain. Unfortunately, we also begin to lose our overall ability to feel life. But since human nature is such that avoiding pain trumps feeling joy, we actually learn to prefer this stage in our development.
In truth though, for the most part we have no memory of either of these changes. They lie hidden in the Level of the Subconscious. What is not hidden however is the source of the shadow side of our personalities—Layers 6 and 5 of our Personalities—Blocks and Symptoms. so while we don't know this consciously, we see the effects of this every day in our reactions to symptoms.
What are symptoms anyway? It turns out that when it comes to understanding the mind, this is one of the most important questions to ask.
Asking Babies "What's Wrong?"
All babies experience symptoms as they grow older and at first, we have no way to know the nature of these symptoms other than to guess. After all, babies do not speak words. Thus they cannot direct us to what they see as the source of their suffering. In the onset of the third year of life though, babies begin to offer at least some vague words to describe their pain. Moreover this process gets reinforced and refined each time the baby's parents ask them, "what's wrong."
Unfortunately, no one teaches parents about the two ways we humans sense time. Worse yet, no one teaches parents that babies cannot grasp time unfolding. This means these parents never realize how much pressure they put on two year olds, each time they ask them a cause and effect question like, "what is wrong?" Because the "cause" of something is assumed to precede the "effect," babies cannot logically associate causal events with their outcomes, including "what's wrong".
What babies can do of course is they can associate feelings with experiences. In effect, these feelings become an integral part of these life experiences. This means, while babies cannot make decisions based on logical time, they can use the emotional components of their life events to differentiate between things that feel good and things that don't. Thus while babies can't make logical decisions, they do make decisions.
These decisions are almost entirely based on the baby's sense of "good" and "bad" feelings. No surprise this is the age at which babies begin to see themselves as being good or bad. How? They associate these good or bad feelings with the pictures they have of themselves. In a way then, babies become the "good" or "bad" feelings, rather than the cause of the good or bad feelings.
The Age of Moral Judgments
What is profoundly important to realize is that it is at this age—the Age of the Subconscious—in which all moral judgments develop. Moreover, once these feelings become integrated with these scenes, people have a hard time seeing their feelings as being separate from their moral judgments. Of course, parents contribute to this mistake as well each time they encourage children to be good, not bad. Then again, since all parents themselves go through this stage of development, most parents are as blind as their children to this error. Most times, even more blind.
Said in other words, in this stage of development, babies make such strong associations between their experiences and their feelings that they lose their ability to see these two things as separate. Then because babies experience these life experiences and the feelings which get associated to them as one and the same, they then spend the next five years of their lives mostly guessing at what is right and what is wrong. Why? Because parents demand this from babies in increasing amounts throughout the rest of their childhoods.
Demands aside, because babies have yet to develop the skill to see how life unfolds in time, what they do in no way resembles cause and effect decisions, even when they feel very strong feelings. Thus, when parents demand children explain their behavior, they are wasting their time. And hurting their children. Why? Because these unreasonable demands reinforce in babies that they should at least be able to fabricate a logical explanation. Or more likely, memorize what their parents see as reasonable explanations. Which is why most talk therapies seek to help people to have these explanations. Fabricated or not. These therapists are simply acting as surrogate parents to Age of Subconsciousness children.
Of course, at around age seven, most children learn to tell time. When this happens, children begin to be able to create their own sense of "why things happen," using why-logic. Before this time, when babies relive injury, they relive it as if the event never ended. And during this age; during the Age of the Subconscious; babies relive injury a little less painfully, as they relive injury in this half conscious state.
This means these babies feel more pained by their injuries than older kids.
It also means they have plenty of reasons to want to use why-logic to escape life.
How the Final Four Layers Form
Finally we arrive at the last four layers of personality, the part of the mind we refer to as the Level of the Unconscious. Here the easiest way to grasp what being in this part of the mind is like is to focus on the idea that these four layers (4 - 1) are the only layers in which we can blame. Why? Because in order to blame, we must have a sense of historical time, and this develops at about age seven.
This sense of time is what allows us to understand cause and effect. Blame is rooted in our sense of cause and effect. Without it, we can't blame. No coincidence, these four layers cumulatively make up the level of the mind we call, the "unconscious." Here "unconscious" is simply a way to refer to the blankness injuries cause in our minds. No injury, no unconsciousness.
Now think about the ideas I've told you so far.
 All blame exists in Personality Layers 4 - 1, because our sense of historical time originates here. Moreover all blame stems from our sense of cause and effect. The experience of historical time generates this sense.
 Personality Layers 4 - 1 exist entirely in the Level of the Unconscious, and this phrase refers to a state of mind wherein we are mostly blank.
 This blankness—which we refer to as the unconscious—is simply the state wherein we relive our injuries.
 This makes reliving injury and blaming simply two faces of the same experience. Thus blame is simply the word we use to refer to acts wherein we use why-logic to explain suffering.
 Said more succinctly, why-logic is blame.
What does all this mean? Simply this. There are four layers of human personality contained in the level of the mind called, the "unconscious." In all four layers, we blame in different ways. And this is not our fault. It's just our way of dealing with sudden onset blankness.
What prevents us from seeing this error, and what is being in the Level of the Unconscious like? To see, we'll need to consider a simple math problem. A very simple math problem, in fact. At least, on the surface. It turns out though this problem is not quite as simple as it first seems.
Trying to Find a Solution When You are Missing a Number
To see what being in the state of unconsciousness is like, imagine this. Imagine you've been asked to add up five numbers. The thing is, when you look at the list of numbers, the last number is blurry. So could you come up with an answer? Clearly not. You can't add up what you can't see. Despite this being obviously true though, when I ask people for the answer to this problem, most of them actually try to add up this column of numbers. In fact, most people offer some sort of answer.
To say the least, this behavior is odd. How can anyone offer me an answer? Logically, you can't solve this problem without knowing the last number. What makes people do this? As I've already mentioned, human nature abhors a vacuum, even when this vacuum is in the mind.
Did you feel an urge to guess what the last number is? If so, know we all feel these urges at times. We feel them most in times wherein trauma has injured our ability to picture something. In other words, whenever we relive an injury, we'll feel urges to "make up numbers." Moreover despite this act being illogical, we do it anyway. We act like we can substitute logic for the missing visual information. Hence my calling this made-up material, why-logic.
Know this problem—in a sense, the emperor's new clothes addition—is far from the worst part of why-logic. The worst part is that these solutions always blame someone. So no matter how carefully we try to assess these situations, our assumptions always lead us to find fault with someone or something. And to see what I mean by this, let me tell you a story.
Seeing the Good in Scenes Where You Panic
Years ago, a man asked me for help with his social phobia. People with social phobia panic when they need to be out in the world around people. To help him, I asked him to come up with three scenes in which he could remember panicking. In each case, at some point in the story, he became hyperaware, got startled, then abruptly went blank.
At first, I focused on gathering more details all the while looking for patterns. Right away, I saw he could neither see nor imagine anything good happening in these scenes. So while he could recall people laughing and ridiculing him, according to him no one in these scenes cared about him. In effect, he blamed all people for his having felt ridiculed.
Ironically, after he healed, in all three cases he saw kindness on the faces of at least some of the people present. Obviously, having never pictured this kindness before, he'd repeatedly relived these experiences—and all similar life experiences—as if the only possible outcome was to be painfully humiliated by being ridiculed and laughed at. In truth though, this man's mind had been fabricating much of this ridicule, as in reality he'd been unable to picture anything after the startle. So according to him, people were just callous and hard on him.
Filling in the Blankness with Painful Assumptions
Are you seeing the importance of being able to visualize past the startle in painful scenes yet? If we can't see what happened, we fill in the blanks with painful assumptions. Because the last visible moment was painful, we assume this pain extended on indefinitely. In effect, we "fill in the blanks" with similarly painful material. And we do this simply because we are wired to do this, just a part of our nature.
More important though, when we fill in these blank spots, we never fill in the blank spots with good stuff. We assume the last visible moment sets the tone for the whole rest of the scene. And since startles are always painful, we always imagine painful outcomes.
Good or Bad Depends on Where We End the Story, and on How We Fill in the Blanks
Aren't there times, though, when these scenes do end painfully?
In truth, this depends on which moment you pick to represent the end of the scene. For instance, if the man I just told you about picked the painful laughter as the end of the scene, then yes, this scene ended badly. But if you pick the compassionate smiles and softly voiced concerns which came after that moment, then no, it did not end badly.
Now imagine that your sense of how well you did in school was based entirely on one bad grade. Or what if your sense of all your romantic relationships depended on the quality of a single bad day? What if your overall sense of life was based on the day 9/11 happened? What if your entire self worth was based on a single failure?
In truth, each time we relive a wound, this is exactly what happens. Which is why the man with social phobia had repeatedly assumed all social events would end in pain. Inadvertently, he'd also been assuming that the missing visible material was unimportant. in effect, he'd been overlooking the fact that there were missing numbers. So he kept coming up with the same painfully wrong answers.
Most Suffering Comes From Our Exceptions of Pain, Not From Painful Events
Ironically, these painfully wrong assumptions had been causing him to keep suffering— not the event itself. Here the proof for this is that once he became able to see beyond that one event, he saw the good he'd been missing in all three stories—kind faces looking back at him and so on. He then began to question his lifelong assumptions about people ridiculing him. At which point, his curiosity took over the healing process.
As for how the four least reality-based layers of personality relate to the Level of the Unconscious (the least connected state of mind humans can be in), it's obvious. From age seven on, we spend most of our lives inferring logical, cause and effect explanations for every pain we experience. Admittedly many of these answers are logically sound, which is why they seem so true at times. Since logical words are two steps removed from directly perceived, literal reality though, rarely do these inferences represent the truth, let alone lead to lasting solutions.
Whatever the case, you cannot ignore part of a problem and arrive at a real answer. So when it comes to managing your life, you must learn to see what lies beyond the painful moments. If you do, you will often find, things ended well.
What Do We Gain From Using this System?
Some may be wondering why I've used such a complex system to model human consciousness. In truth, I didn't. Whomever or whatever created us created this system. I've simply discovered a few of the patterns hidden within this system. And named these patterns with words I hope will make them memorable. And useful.
On what is this theory based though? To be honest, offering you empirical data is far beyond the scope of this already long article. Also, in order to grasp the significance of such data, you'd first need to have enough ahas to internalize at least the basics of this system. In essence then, what I've just given you is more akin to opening a box of crayons and naming the colors, with a few passing comments about how the colors have been organized.
In other words, being able to see the colors of personality and knowing how the human mind uses these colors is very different, at least as far as how these ideas play out in real life. My point? If you are interested in learning more, then you are in luck. Much of this site is dedicated to this very task.
Finally know I welcome respectful feedback as to what is and isn't clear or logical. After all, I too am only human and I have my own blocks. Which is why, the longer I look, the more I see. This said, my hope here is that I have in some way provoked new questions in you, or at least enough curiosity to go out and find your own truth about human nature.
Only then, will you have the kind of life you've always wanted. About this, I know. I have this kind of life.