Thursday, May 5, 2011

Themes in the Evolution of Personality and Identity

A human being undergoes a long process of differentiation in its evolution from infant to adult to middle age and beyond. Differentiation is the process of creating differences, parts, particularities, complexity. 

Some of the major differentiations in Human life include: 

·                     The differentiation of emotions from a small primitive set into a Diverse of emotions
·                     The differentiation of the child’s fused mind into distinct sub-minds such as memory, reason, creativity, emotion, wisdom-judgment etc.
·                     The differentiation of a personality into a true “individual”
·                     The differentiation of the individual through a self conscious process that results in “identity”
·                     The acquisition of the skills of imagination and innovation which produces a creative individual, this is the differentiation of action and work.
·                     The differentiation of thought processes so that the person begins to understand diverse thinking and leaves behind iso-thinking and its simplistic and absolute views.
·                     The differentiation of life needs, desires and goals creating a Complex Life to manage
·                     The differentiation of personal action which leads to thinking in terms of directness and being an empiric
·                     The differentiation of personality that leads to developing a personal mythology
These differentiations and more are fundamental to the development of a healthy Human being. It is interesting that many of these differentiation processes are subverted by institutions, forces and beliefs of modern culture.

Emotions and no education
Lack of education and counseling about emotions leads to lack of knowledge about one’s emotions, but also a lack of development of them. We are kept in a very narrow range and do not explore new emotions, nuances, combinations, and the vast range of degrees and forms of a single emotion. We avoid new experiences and summing them up. We do not get to the more sophisticated levels of emotion that come from learning about our feelings, and very importantly how your thoughts and feelings interact.

Undermining the development of sub-minds
A child’s mind is not encouraged to diverge into its proper sub-minds or departments. The education system focuses on the development of the logical mind but not other psychological spheres such as the subconscious, emotions. Memory is trained to be objective, that is, to remember objective facts. Subjective memory which is fact combined with emotion and myth is discouraged, though this form of memory is highly important to emotional stability and identity. Understanding the messages from your subconscious is highly important, these are not nonsense -- dreams, voices and signs are telling you something.

Lack of focus
Further, a cultural ADHD reigns, where it seems that mental focus of any sort is discouraged. This means not only that individuals cannot go deep into a topic or project but also they cannot plumb the depths of a certain mental realm such as creativity or savor a certain emotion. In addition, true analytic logic does not arise for the victim is constantly distracted from a focus.

Wisdom as the enemy
Wisdom and judgment are faculties of the pre-frontal cortex. These skills arise in one’s 20s when this region of the brain is fully formed. We have no curriculum to teach young people the management of this sub-mind when it matures. Further, marketing and advertising target the destruction of this faculty as its number one goal. Understandably, when a citizen develops the capacity of judgment and begins to live independently, and thus must make many life decisions, then this behavior must be stopped -- for anyone with good judgment will not buy consumerist nonsense. Hence, business produces the gray shamans who employ their magic of impulse buying, emotional manipulation, clique think and more.

Alienation substitutes for Individuality
Individuality does not arise automatically it must be taught and nurtured. American individuality is actually alienation and disconnection. And this is condition of cultural life imposed by many institutions and practices. Alienation and disconnection mean we are cut off from each other, being cut off from others does not make you an individual, any more that being in a large group situation makes you a group thinker.

Our initial condition of separation can lead us in different directions, one is to an unhealthy individuality of self absorption, selfishness and greed. Another path is toward group think provided by marketing, education and politics.

Healthy individuality cannot arise spontaneously, it requires education in values and ethics, education in emotions and psychology, support for identity growth and much more.

Clique think and group think
Young adults evolve toward individuality by first going through a mixed phase that has elements of individuality and elements of group think. In this adolescent state, individuals develop likes, dislikes, heroes, models, common terminology etc. This is a half step toward individuality. In the next phase we break fully into the realm of individuality where one discards vestiges of group think.

Modern marketing and consumerism do not want young people to make this transition, they want them stuck in this phase of clique think. Because this psychology perfectly matches marketing strategy – to develop select groups of individuals that join groups that offer new self images, lifestyles. Corporations do not sell unique products to each consumer, they sell millions of the same product to millions of people, hence, the strategy is to put consumers into groups and to discourage individuality...though the trick is to make the buyer think she or he is gaining some new identity, some superior identity, a clique identity.

Other Forces
There are other beliefs, practices and institutions of modern culture that undermine healthy differentiation of a personality: 

·                     We have the myth of spontaneous creativity. There is a belief that no education or support is required in the development of creativity, that it arises quite automatically. The appearance of creativity in our culture is a testament to its potential in all of us and its drive against a school system that is anti-creative and businesses which suppress creative behavior in employees, and political parties that suppress creativity in solving national problems.
·                     We have the maintenance of iso-think, which is thinking in terms of isolations. This is thinking that looks for singular causes, solutions. This kind of thinking is anti-diverse.
·                     We have the encouragement of impulsive and chaotic living. This is important for consumerism and marketing. And is a general result of not thinking in more diverse terms about issues of life and handling one’s own psychology and emotions.
·                     There is also the practice of the substitution of middle men, professionals and ‘saviors’ for your own direct participation in life and in civil society. Directness is the proper path for a healthy individual in a Social Diverse. 
·                     Also, there is the practice of myth substitution, the substitution of someone else’s myth for your own. Media and entertainment rather than helping individuals develop personal myths often offer substitute myths that are irrelevant or distracting or worse destructive. 

This is just a provisional list of institutions and practices that undermine the Human process of differentiation. Identity and personality evolve out these 9 paths of differentiation. Modern society it seems has created a mitigating or negative response to all of them.

Cage Innoye

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