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The original essay was published in October 1998.
An addendum (containing further thoughts and reflections) appeared in December.

ESSAY (October 1998)
ADDENDUM (December 1998)


(October 1998) [Printed in "Reality Module No.6."]

INVAGINATED SHADOW MIND


Searching for a Beginning
Hardware Considerations
A Lotus Unfolding
Models of the Mind
The Nature of Shadow
DREAM: Opulent Tableaus / Dissection to Animate
DREAM: Cesspool
Invaginated Shadow Mind
DREAM: Two Worlds / Witch Dream
DREAM: Two Worlds II
Conclusions and Evolutionary Considerations
Works Consulted

Related Works
Feedback and Discussions

ADDENDUM (December 1998)

Searching for a Beginning:

How to begin this the most difficult of essays? To turn the lens inwards. This is an essay about mindstuff.

Hardware Considerations:

At the simplest level the brain is a model-builder par excellence. It processes the data gathered by our sense organs, and reconstructs the whole world in our own heads.

How the brain does this is still imperfectly understood. Its primary structures are inherited - shaped by millions of years of evolution. These are the systems that control the body - feedback from the heart and lungs, perform the simple processing of signals of light, of pain, of cold, of sound, of warmth. Processing so innate, consciousness is not required.

Babies experiment with the world. They play with objects and learn how objects feel, how they look, what inertia and gravity feel like. They learn patterns of light and sound. They learn to recognise tastes and textures.

The brain is shaped by experience - its neural net is formed, and is then constantly refined and modified throughout life. (This is the second layer - the networks defined and tested by experience.) The mind - in a sense - is shaping its own tool, striving to build a more efficient organic computer, attempting to better understand and analyse the world and everything in it.

[[We build mental models of everything in our experience and of everyone we meet, but our models are imperfect and incomplete - which is why, for example, people we are comfortable with and who we think we know and whose behaviour we think we can predict - sometimes surprise us. There are always things other people have experienced and thought-patterns they have which we do not know about, and which we haven't put into the models of them we carry around in our heads. Knowledge is always incomplete.]]

We are all experiencing real-time simulations of the real world in our own heads. We know this is so because of how radically these perceptions can be altered by hallucinogenic drugs for example.

How is our brain structured? Neural nets - linkages of concepts and associations. The brain constantly reassesses the information, the value of its inputs, and changes the structures and weightings of its semantic network. (The deliberate attempt to consciously restructure this net and the underlying assumptions is called Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). The concept is sound - we remodel our brains all the time - but I am unsure of the ease of wholesale brain rewiring. I don't think the experiment has ever been tried - though we will soon, very soon, have the technology to observe neurons at work in the living brain.)

There is another feature that needs to be emphasised here. It is this: the brain is always striving for automation. Old learning is made automatic and we no longer need to consciously bring it to mind. It locks habits into the web of our neural net. The brain strives for order, efficiency. All kinds of skills and thought patterns become enmeshed - we have a robot inside us which walks, talks, eats, rides a bicycle, drives a car, does up buttons, ties ties, may type, may play the piano, may intercept tennis balls with a racket - all without us having to think consciously about how we move, or how we do these things.

Surprisingly sophisticated things can be automated, like all the steps in getting in work (so that we can get there with no clear memory of the details). This automation has the advantage of letting our minds dwell on other things as we go through the motions, but sometimes repetition can cause things to be automated which we'd prefer were not - such as the appreciation of our favourite piece of music.

There is also a danger of indulging in pre-learned behaviour patterns too much of the time - so that consciousness shrinks or dims - and we become grey- mooded automatons.

There is nothing in the brain that cannot be automated. Even thought processes can become fossilised, become tired liturgies, draining away to dust.

The other side of the paradox is that it seems to be the nature of consciousness to clasp onto the new.

The next question is - Where does mind arise?

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A Lotus Unfolding:

Brain is the mind's substrate - material it works with. Mind is the directed consciously-controlled energy flow in the brain. (The difference between dead things and living things is that living things exhibit continuous dynamic energy cascades and associated biochemical and structural modifications. Dead things are passive recipients of changes caused by other agencies.)

[I'll refrain from any attempt to explain the origin of this organised energy cascade.]

Mind and neural net begin simple - and are actively changed and developed by us.

Thus - active mind is ever growing, changing and developing. Perhaps the ancient symbol of the Lotus ever-opening is appropriate.

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Models of the Mind:

My psychology textbook defines the mind as the "Individual consciousness and personality that we possess." [p.129]

Thus we move from considerations of energetics and brain anatomy, to mind structure and function.

Freud defines three types of mental activity:

CONSCIOUS MENTAL ACTIVITIES-
All the thoughts and feelings that are being experienced at the moment.

PRECONSCIOUS MENTAL ACTIVITIES-
All the thoughts and feelings that are outside immediate awareness but easily available.

UNCONSCIOUS MENTAL ACTIVITIES-
The reservoir of childhood and current memories, wishes, impulses, fears, and hopes that lie beyond awareness.

If we were to attempt to draw a diagram of the mind (as opposed to the brain) we might imagine it as like a giant billiard ball. The billiard ball represents all the contents of the mind. On the surface of the billiard ball is a small illuminated spot - this is conscious thought, and it moves about. The areas just around consciousness and easy to reach would correspond to Freud's preconscious mental activities.

It should be obvious that the greatest part of the mind is the unconscious part. (Freud was the first fellow to recognise the importance of unconscious mental activities. Indeed he believed they played the dominant role in shaping personality - which is defined as: "The characteristic way in which a person thinks and behaves as they adapt to the environment, including visible behaviour patterns as well as less apparent characteristics as values, motives, abilities, attitudes, and self-image." (Personality may be influenced by our own uniquely-structured neural net - which is of course shaped by experience and inheritance.))

But of course this diagram is static - and mind is characterised by its activity. What kind of processes/forces are active in the mind?

To stay with Freud for a bit longer: he saw the personality as having three parts: Id, Ego, and Superego. My book "The Mind" describes them rather well:

"The id is the wholly unconscious component of the personality, and is made up of primitive urges and instincts which seek gratification without regard to the consequences. The ego, in contact with the external world, stands between the id and the real world, and mediates the competitive necessities of the two....Partly unconscious, the superego involves the inner acceptance of social values and ideals, and judges between good and evil. Obedience to the superego produces a feeling of self-esteem, while disobeying it produces guilt."[p.86]

Here's a Freud-like illustration: Id might relate to the desire to have sex; Ego to our delicate negotiations/interactions with someone we are interested in, to try and make sex with them possible; Superego is our aversion to sex on the first date, and our guilt at seeing someone else as a sex-gratification object.

(I include these theoretical constructs in an attempt to show the complexity of relationships and the interaction of forces within the mind.)

The next stage in my argument is the concept of repression - "where unpleasant thoughts or dangerous impulses are barred from conscious awareness."

It is a defensive mechanism - one that attempts to shift psychic contents from the circle of consciousness, and dump them out into the unconscious mind somewhere.

Freud had a relatively simple idea of repression - he saw it as like throwing something in the dungeon and locking the door. (But things grow there as we shall see.) His psychoanalysis often involved drawing these repressed contents out into awareness, so that they can be clearly seen - and their power diminished.

But consciousness is quite small, and things are always drifting off the edges into unconsciousness - which is why we forget.

Both bad and good things are lost in the shadows.

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The Nature of Shadow:
(Dreams and Interpretation).

To Freud the unconscious was like a dark ocean - but one whose waters could poison. It was essentially passive.

But mind is always active - it can be characterised by its activity! Consciousness is an active process, reasoning is an active process, even - it has been found - remembering is an active process. (Always the neural network is being changed.) Even the exchanges between the conscious and the unconscious are active. Nothing in mind/brain is passive - it is all processing like crazy! (Even automatic stuff like the control of your heartbeat and your breathing and your digestion involves constant processing and responses to feedback deep in your medulla.)

We are unaware of most of this activity.

Even repression is an active process, and one that can happen without us being aware of it.

This is important - it brings us to Carl Jung and to the concepts of the shadow and the shadow self.

These relate to repression.

The shadow is essentially all that we have actively (though perhaps unconsciously) repressed. It contains stuff that we would rather not think about and which we do not want to acknowledge.

The shadow self contains all that has been rejected and repressed in your own personality.

Carl Jung saw the shadow and the self as being complementary. (This makes sense - if you pride yourself as being brave, your repress your cowardice. If you are a miser, you repress any spendthrift tendencies.) We are all actively engineering our personalities (There is always a gap between who we are and who we would like to be -we strive to be better/different people), we shove a lot of stuff out of conscious sight.

The next question is: "What happens to this stuff?"

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[What follows are extracts from "The Enchanted Diary." Readers will find them disturbing. You have been warned!]

<TRANSCRIPT Begins>
-->pp.3769-3772.

Dream N+70. Opulent Tableaus / Dissection to Animate. (5 May 1992.)

a). Prior Dream:

A series of opulent tableaus.

With a graceful throng of maidens dressed in Greek togas, I enter an enormous place like vast blue oyster shells slightly apart.

At elegant trestle tables we have food with flowers. I remember picking up a plate with aesthetically arranged grapes and blue rose petals.

Each hall of the series we enter has a different style and colour.

b). Dream:

I am in a white room with a white gowned woman. In this room are several tables covered with white sheets and on the tables are lying a number of female bodies, which I take to be dead. (We are slowly dissecting them or they may already exist as dissections).

Later we are to have a new female assistant. My companion tells me that we should wrap up the bits of bodies in white paper because seeing them would disturb her.

Remember wrapping up two portions, and her being told: "Do not open these. The contents will disturb you."

She opens the one in her hands and finds the top of a woman's body (like a bust) with the flesh sliced so that it can be delicately pushed apart.

*My companion reanimates a corpse and walks around in it. She tells me that this "will kill the worms." (She means the maggots in her crevices).

I am not very happy with this description. These are the original notes-

- [Dismembered selves].
- All [female].
- [Female] reanimates corpse.
- Identity -

The analysis will, hopefully, dig out the dream.

Atmosphere:
a).Soft, romantic.
b).Bright, clinical.

Mood:
a).Celebratory.
b).Increasingly harrowing.

Signs and Symbols:
(b. only). Corpses, dissection, reanimation. [Anima].

Words:
"Do not open these. The contents will disturb you."
"This will kill the worms."

....

Discussion: There are associations between b). and a). [I am not sure whether a) and b) are separate dreams, or b) continues from a). But there are thematic links]. Both involve maidens (alive and active vs. cold and "dead") and tables with white cloths (food vs. dismemberment). Both feature an excess of anima - one bright and cheerful, the other deeply disturbing.

Let's get into the analysis of b). In Jungian terms a corpse refers to a discarded/dead aspect of the self. For some reason these dead and dismembered selves have been exhumed.

These dismembered selves are all female. What I took to be dissection is a particularly harrowing surgical operation to reanimate the dead. (Actually, and this is frightening, these maidens are not dead [nothing in the psyche ever really is] they are just inanimate, but the process to bring them back to full life is, of necessity, a harrowing one.)

My anima speaks the obvious to the female stranger (who is a me-surrogate): "Do not open these. The contents will disturb you." My romantic interlude has lead me to a direct encounter with one of the more frightening psychological processes.

*It is this being-so-close-to-death-but-still-being-capable-of-reanimation aspect I find terrifying.

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-->pp.3830-3830.

Dream N+73. Cesspool. (28 May 1992.)

....

i). Periodically the cat cleans out the cesspool. It digs down about 30 feet - scraping everything out and mixing it all up together. (This allows better bacterial decomposition.) The cesspool will be scraped out and all its contents buried in a nearby newly dug 30-foot hole. [This is a continuing process at intervals].

ii). I am speaking with three university staff members (one man, two women - one dark, one fair) whose dead partners corpses have been buried in the cesspool. (The bodies have so thoroughly decomposed as to be like mush.)

iii). It is dusk. There is a black bicycle leaning against a railing in the university grounds. I am preparing for a night ride.

iv). The three have been digging in the cesspool with their hands. Their hands are covered with dark red sticky mud - like ancient blood.

v). They all wash their hands under the tap scraping the sticky mud away. The young man has got the stuff under his fingernails - and chews his nail. There is great alarm - he has become infected. He says to me: "If I was a woman I'd be pregnant!"

vi). It is like a police investigation, a murder enquiry. I prepare to ride my black bicycle (without lights) into the night.

Atmosphere:
Overcast day, towards evening.

Mood:
Disturbing in the way that visiting a charnel house is disturbing - the constant aura of death and decay.

Signs and Symbols:
Cat, cesspool, cleaning the cesspool, bicycle, dried-blood, decay, washing hands, infection, darkness.

Words:
[Male]: "If I was a woman I'd be pregnant."

....

Previous Associations:
university dreams, corpses, dried blood.

Discussion: This is a rather complex dream with several linkages to other dreams:

i). The setting is like other dreams which have been set on campuses.

ii). The bicycle has been in other dreams....

iii). The mood is similar to that of N+70, but less sharp, more final. This is even longer after death.

iv). The dried blood(!) like sticky mud reminds me of that dream I had a few years ago in which I was a red-haired woman in a cottage washing off freckles of dried blood from my face.

The dream has two motifs:

i). The minor motif is my preparation to ride a bicycle into the dark. (Using my own efforts to launch into an unknown future.)

ii). The cesspool motif - this is more complex.

I never see the cat - I am told how the story begins. I come into the action when the three are gathered around the newly filled cesspool.

*I should point out that although I am told that it is a cesspool - it is probably more like a pit where dead and decaying material is left to rot and be reduced to its simplest terms.

It is very important to realise that this stuff is neither inert or truly dead. It has been reduced to an even more elementary form than the corpses in N+70 (which have the capacity to be reanimated through harrowing surgical procedures, which peel back the layers of the body to reveal the core you work with).

The three university staff are me (displaced) and my two animas. The deceased companions have decayed beyond the corpse stage - and can never be resurrected in their original form.

Though incapable of regaining human form and having sentient life - they still possess, even in this heavily decayed state in the cesspool, one magnificent feature! (Remember my surrogate's remark: "If I was a woman I'd be pregnant.") This highly-decayed life has not lost the capacity to pass on characteristics of itself (pseudo-gametes) to other agents. [This capacity means that it is not absolutely dead. I am beginning to believe that nothing inside can ever be absolutely dead!].

A tragedy is that because of my surrogate self's gender - he is incapable of incorporating any of his deceased partners characteristics into a new life.

*Another intriguing aspect is that nothing is ever dead and buried in the subconscious - it is all exhumed and reburied again and again.

Why is this?

<TRANSCRIPT Ends>

Shadow stuff does not lie passively where it is put, but is constantly growing, developing, and being changed.

These are *all* natural processes.

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Invaginated Shadow Mind:
(Dreams and Interpretation).

We have an active shadow mind of which we are mostly unaware. What is its nature, and how does it relate to our active waking conscious 'daylight' mind?

<TRANSCRIPT Begins>
-->pp.1594-1598.

Dream 27. Two Worlds / Witch Dream. (16 October 1988.)

"I live in a house which is the opposite to the house where my sister lives.

"I travel from my house into a laundry section and then through a white sliding door and duck under a table leaning against it on the other side. I am in the garage section of the other house.

"I walk into the other house which faces in the opposite direction, and open the sliding glass back door onto a large garden where Fiona and Stephen are playing.

"I go out into the yard (it is dark there) and encourage them to follow me into the house. Fiona leads and opens the white sliding door into my house. I close this door, the old world lies behind it.

"We walk through the house and open my glass sliding door. It opens onto a small blighted yard with a high black fence close by. It is daylight.

"We go outside and walk around the house. (Stephen thinks about how large it is, and therefore how large his own house is.) The house is large and gothic and made of glass. Black curtains block off all view of the inside, they are trimmed with red.

"I look around. All the landscape I can see is dead. There is dried grass on the hills and ugly dead gnarled trees in the distance. 'There is no tree on one tree hill.' (Stephen's world has the same topography but is green and wild, and facing in the opposite direction.)

"(When Stephen entered my yard he was pleased when I told him he would have no gardening to do, for everything is dead here.)

"On a hill to our right is a military base, there on the blighted hill.

"I ask the children if they would like to live here. They would have less responsibilities than in the other world where my sister lives.

"We are walking along a tarred road, very old, patchy, leading up the hill. I warn Stephen of how radioactive the ground is. It would kill us in time.

"We meet a messenger walking down the hill. He is dressed like an old- fashioned postman. I know him and we talk briefly. He will be leaving his post in a few months - he has contracted a carcinoma of the feet from too much walking on the road.

"We approach level with the base. A road to it leads off to our right. An old-fashioned yellow American school bus drives out of the gate, stops at a bus-stop just outside, and then turns around, goes down the road towards the house and then off to the right past it.

"For some reason (perhaps because the road gets too patchy) we turn around and run back towards the house.

"We have to stop as a cable-car clambers up the hill. The tracks are still visible in the road. It is the first time it has been used in a very very long time.

"We cut across a lawn of dead grass in front of the house. Fiona leading as usual. We pass some red and black (mostly black) balloons tied to a stick. One of the black balloons has deflated to become something black and convoluted like a brain or a rose.

"We enter the yard of the house. We look for the witch's black dragster.

"The dream ends before I can get the children into the house and across the threshold."

[[Map of the locale of the dream, which I am currently unable to reproduce here.]]

ATMOSPHERES -

1. GREEN WORLD-
Very calm, very quiet, very empty. Slight sense of unease - as if something may jump out at you.

2. WITCH WORLD-
Gentle air of menace...Touch of despair, sense (faint) of appalling horror.

....

I believe that it is an illumination dream. The super-ego has decided that it is time to reveal to me more about the nature of mind, specifically the relationship between self and shadow self. (Will have to examine the symbolism to get more.)

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-->pp.6712-6714 & 6717-6718.

Dream N+276. Two Worlds II. Pts.1&2 of 4. (27 October 1995.)

I.

A house - many small rooms in which are many people who are my allies and friends.

In an isolated room I glimpse an Energy Doorway - translucent, spinning, glowing. (I seem to recall a still cloaked figure in the room.)

[The spinning door reminds me very much of the one at the beginning of "The Twilight Zone." I have to adjust my eyes to see it. If I attempt to look at it directly and focus on it - the image fades away. It is like a spinning hologram - large filling much of the room].

I am looking into the room from the doorway - but for some reason I am compelled not to enter that way.

[It is like the old house - but grey and empty of furniture. The isolated room corresponds to my old bedroom].

I leave there - excited by the energy doorway and looking for someone to tell about it.

I find no-one - and find myself in a narrow room which runs behind the isolated room.

I create a virtual door into the room from the wall on the other side. I pass through into the dark isolated room.

I say spells at the Energy Doorway - they have no effect.

I finally say words of power - and the Doorway expands all around me.

I pass through the Doorway. (Concerned that I am alone - no witnesses.)

II.

I wander through vast rooms and auditoriums, brightly-lit, modern, primary-coloured carpets. A sense of spaciousness - few people around.1

In this place I meet the shadow Margaret. She is friendly. [This pleases and surprises me].

I ask her: "Is this TARDIS or SARDIT?"

"SARDIT."2

This is an alien environment (it feels different at all levels) but I feel quite comfortable here. [This surprises me].

I know that I'll have to leave the shadow Margaret. [I accept this calmly - I know she cannot be part of my real world].

Picnic tables (outside?). Banquet dishes. People eating.

I notice a miniature Energy Doorway on an isolated table. (It is translucent, spinning.)

I say spells. Nothing happens. Then I realise/remember this is shadow world - and things work differently here.

I lean down on the table, and attempt to squeeze through the Doorway (like going through a letterbox). I use "get smaller" spells to help me squeeze through.

The people sitting eating at a nearby table think it's a great joke, I hear them in the background making comments about my bizarre behaviour.

....

Discussion:

There's a lot here! Firstly-

1 Reminds me of universities & 1970s.

2 See "Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible." [[New Doctor Who Adventures]] A SARDIT is a kind of inverted TARDIS - with time and space dimensions reversed - an inwardly delimited pocket universe. TARDIS is normal, SARDIT is strangely inverted. Very much a sense of "matter" and "antimatter", or normal and "mirror" worlds. (Margaret's "SARDIT", tells me I am indeed in a strange world.)

The dream has two valuable messages:

1. In many ways the shadow world is better than the world I inhabit - it is colourful, convivial as opposed to the dark claustrophobic "normal" world for me. There's a lot of very valuable stuff in my shadow self which it would be worthwhile to assimilate into my self. (It is frightening to realise I was more comfortable generally in the shadow world than in this one.) The balance is not as it should be.

2. I have to rely on myself if I want to achieve anything remarkable. (Notice in this dream that I am the only person with initiative or curiosity.)

Elements to think about - dream begins in a version of my old house (the House as remodelled by Wendy)[[The old house in Morwell where I grew up]] / Energy Doorway is a new motif, located in my old bedroom (the energy centre in the remodelled House) / The cloaked figure may be the Enchanter (long inactive) / The two worlds motif goes back at least as far as the Witch Dream - at first the "other side" was eerie and strange, but as time passed I became more comfortable with it - perhaps eventually I'll more fully integrate my shadow. / With the "shadow Margaret" I may finally be admitting the death of our romance - I realise "we move in different worlds." / In my world I travel through a big Energy Doorway by making it larger, in the shadow world I travel through a small Energy Doorway by making me smaller. / I use many types of dream magic - creating doorways, moving through closed doors, shrinking, "spells".... / My world has many small rooms, the other side fewer vast rooms....

<TRANSCRIPT Ends>

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What am I getting at?

It was with dreams like these that I realised the vastness and complexity of the shadow mind. The shadow mind of repressed things is at least as elaborate as our 'daylight' mind.

This really should not surprise! It would be silly to expect all the repressed stuff to just sit there and do nothing when our daylight mind is constantly growing and changing.

All this growth has been going on in the 'dark' - away from conscious gaze.

(Our subconscious awareness that there is something 'odd' in our own skulls growing beside the more familiar "stuff" - may have given rise to legends of another enchanted world somehow next too but linked to our own world, to the notion of mankind's dual nature as god and beast, and even to such books as David Grigg's "Halfway House." Carl Jung calls these ancient and powerful myth-images archetypes.)

Since I first realised the existence of the shadow mind in about 1988, I have been trying to work out how it related to the 'daylight' mind.

At first I thought they were entirely separate domains. Later I began to think that they grew like two trees planted in one plot of ground, their branches intertwining and touching in many places. But repressed stuff lies everywhere and they all grow and can link up. Your whole 'daylight' mind is filled with strands of shadow mind, shielded apart, but able to be crossed.

Of course - I cannot prove all of this.

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Conclusions and Evolutionary Considerations:

It may seem daft to base a psychological theory on dreams, but I have to start with something, and a mind is not something you can extract onto a petrie dish or bombard with gamma-rays. (Both Freud and Jung developed their theories from dreams.)

If an invaginated shadow mind exists it will be reflected in the neural-nets of the brain. In a few years time when we can stimulate individual neurons from outside the skull non-invasively, I predict that they are going to make a remarkable discovery. They will find adjacent neuron clusters which when stimulated produce opposing responses, and they will trigger versions of remembered events with complementary emotional overtones - a 'conventional' one, and a unpleasant seemingly-eerie one which will be the "shadow mind version."

We are always colouring memories. Where do you think the complementary colours go?

My last thoughts are: If invaginated shadow mind does exist, what evolutionary advantages does it bestow? Why would it be selected for?

Shadow mind enables different emotional responses, opposite ways of acting, perceiving, etc., to be stored next to each other. It is like having a bifurcated decision tree, if one course of action doesn't work - you can "patch" into shadow mind and quickly adopt a very different course of action.

Its evolutionary advantage is that you can quickly adjust to a sudden change of circumstances. (Shadow mind already has an alternative template you can use.)

"The shadow is not so much like a dusty attic, as like a workshop full of elves."

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WORKS CONSULTED:

Birth of the brain. (Documentary broadcast on SBS on 24th September 1998.) (Insights into the development of the brain, and how the brain's neural nets are shaped by learning.)

Butler, Gillian & McManus, Freda. Psychology : a very short introduction. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1998. [ISBN 0-19-285323-6] (Valuable insights into the state of knowledge about the human mind in the late 1990s.)

Freud, Sigmund. A general introduction to psychoanalysis. New York : Touchstone, 1963. (English translation.) [No ISBN]. (Introduction to many aspects of Freudian psychology.)

Jung, C.G. (Editor). Man and his symbols. London : Aldus Books, 1964. [ISBN 0-904-04124-7] (Written for the average intelligent reader. Fascinating stuff.)

Jung, C.G. Memories, dreams, reflections. London : Fontana, 1963. [ISBN 0-00-654027-9] (Miscellaneous writings by Carl Jung on his theories about the nature of the mind and especially the unconscious.)

Loftus, Elizabeth F. "Creating false memories." Scientific American. Vol.277. No.3. September 1997. p.50-55. (Insight into the active processing of memories.)

New Scientist. No.2150. 5th September 1998. (Contains a series of articles about the unconscious mind and the phenomena of 'automation'.)

Price, Richard H. et al. Principles of psychology. New York : CBS College Publishing, 1982. [ISBN 0-03-048411-1] (Valuable background information about many areas of psychology.)

Wilson, John Rowan. The mind. Netherlands : Time-Life International, 1965. [No ISBN]. (Old but containing lucid chapters on a range of topics in psychology, and having many fascinating picture essays. Part of the 'Life Science Library.')

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Related Works

See The Addendum further down.

Some of these ideas are considered further in Is There Meaning in Dreams?

See also the 1995 piece Dream Magic.

 

Feedback and Discussions

 

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(December 1998) [Printed in "Reality Module No.7."]

This piece has been slightly rewritten and reformatted for the web. (My word-processor in 1998 was not able to create tables.)

Invaginated Shadow Mind - Addendum


ESSAY (October 1998)

Brain Specialisation
Automation
Transactional Analysis
Memory

Brain Specialisation

Specific regions of the brain are specialised for differing processing tasks - the locations of these specific regions are pretty constant between individuals and analogous across animal species.

It is known that when parts of the brain are damaged, the processing that used to be done in the damaged areas can be taken up by other regions.

Someday when we understand neural nets better, we'll know what properties of the neural nets in differing parts of the brain make them especially well suited to specific processing tasks.

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Automation

I first came across the concept of the "automation" of mental processes in a panel session on "Science and Creativity" at the Melbourne Writers' Festival in September 1993. There was Damien Broderick, James Gleick, Miroslav Holub and Colin Wilson.

Colin Wilson (a gentleman who was very fond of his own voice and his own opinions, but fortunately said things which were extraordinarily interesting) expressed his idea like this: "Every person has a robot inside who does things for them [e.g. riding a bicycle]. The trouble is that he does things for you which you don't want him to do. [e.g. listening to a symphony. The first time you hear it, it is magical. But upon subsequent listenings the robot takes over and listens to it for you. The magic fades.] The secret is to stay in the non-automatic state!"
[E.D. pp.4875-4876]

Conscious thought is a newly-evolved state in human beings - maybe only a 100,000 years old. We still haven't mastered it.

The "New Scientist" article describes this inner unconscious automation as our 'zombie' - but I think robot describes it better. It is not suppressed - it is mechanised.

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Transactional Analysis

I wanted to say something about Transactional Analysis (TA). This is a psychological theory/model which states that we have three co-existing ego-states, which develop as we mature, and which continue to exist in us like a series of shells.

The earliest to develop is the CHILD. (This has three stages/components - the NATURAL CHILD, the LITTLE PROFESSOR, and the ADAPTED CHILD.) The second ego state is the ADULT, and the third ego state is termed the PARENT.

Ego State


Structure


Function


NATURAL CHILD


Innately given feelings


Spontaneously expresses needs and wants and responses


LITTLE PROFESSOR


Hypotheses, insights, creative ideas


Makes intuitive sense of the world through exploration, and reconciles and synthesises the information received by all parts of the CHILD


ADAPTED CHILD


Inhibitions imposed on the expression of the FREE CHILD1


Ensures safety and socialisation


ADULT


Facts and skills


Objectively collects, stores and analyses data, and reconciles information gathered by all ego states


PARENT


Beliefs, values, morality


Nurtures and controls the CHILD of self and others


1 The NATURAL CHILD and the LITTLE PROFESSOR are collectively referred to as the FREE CHILD. [E.D. p.4154.]
*Table based upon one in "Discover Your Real Self" by Mavis Klein (1983). ISBN 0 09 151680 3.


We shift around between ego states.

TA deals a lot with communication mixups (we make mistakes about the other person's ego state and misunderstand the motivation of their words), and with the recognition and dismantling of belief systems imposed on you in early childhood which have had long term destructive consequences (e.g. If your dad kept calling you "bloody hopeless" when you were growing up, you'll come to believe it, and you will come to subconsciously set up situations for yourself where you will fail! Thus - confirming your belief.)

I carried out the exercises in Mavis Klein's book, but found that I didn't fit any of the ten personality types. This made me feel terrific! (The tests had failed to categorise/define my inner nature.)

Transactional Analysis is an imperfect model.

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Memory

The fluid nature of memory is described pretty well in the "Scientific American" article.

Basically memories are enmeshed in the neural nets just like any other factor the brain works with, and are weighted, simplified and linked with a whole host of other things (past and present) in the net of associations.

To clarify - in general we do not have a host of individual memories for childhood parties. We have a sort of 'generic' memory containing features which are common to the majority of childhood parties. (A childhood party will only hold a specific memory if something really unusual happened during it.)

Because these memory models are generic they will tend to mesh invisibly with other related memories.

[It is a way of simplifying memories I suspect - so that they can be stored more compactly. It is probably not important to remember in detail every party you have ever gone to - it is enough to have a generalised memory map called "parties" so that if you get invited to a party you'll have some idea of what sort of things to expect there!]

Because our memories are vague and unfocussed around the edges and tend to bleed into one another - cross-contamination is possible. It is at these unfocussed edges that artefacts can arise.

We can be told that something happened at the party that did not happen at all - and we will sharpen that unfocussed portion of our memory into an image of something untrue, something which we have imagined. [I don't know what proportions of our alleged memories are reconstructed or imagined. I don't really want to know - but I suspect it may be the larger portion. In mindspace memory and imagination can be impossible to distinguish between.]

*Repressed and 'edited-out' memories are contained in the Invaginated Shadow Mind.

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Last Updated: 16 March 2003