Friday, January 18, 2013

The Diversity of the Mind and the Unifying Force of Identity


Sub-Minds and Self Identity

This article follows from Your Mental Diverse is Composed of Many Minds. It goes into more detail analyzing the dynamics of a system of sub-minds, the management of these minds and the issue of "self made constructs" that define our self identity.

CONNECTION AND DISCONNECTION
The prefrontal cortex is connected in with other sub-minds: logic, creativity, emotions, sensory etc. It receives the inputs and coordinates the large array of information. In addition the left and right hemispheres are connected so they can communicate and work together. Emotions arise from different parts of the brain and also they are utilized in the right hemisphere to give feelings to memories.

Disconnection is as important as connection in the mind, so we have "disconnectors" or "negators" that stop or limit the supply of information channeled to the prefrontal cortex where judgment and coordination are done.

We have the natural ability to separate from a channel, a skill already present in the brain's ability to ignore certain communications or send them to the background. This ability to select and focus is essential for survival and is present in most animals. Further we have the ability to perform a task and watch ourselves performing this action at the same time.

In turns out that we have disconnectors like meditation, not necessarily a natural ability but one that can be learned. Meditation is a highly effective negator in that it is complete, quick, reliable and it is temporary, allowing us to return to other behaviors and activities.

Meditation to some degree is essential because it is so thorough in its result. It causes a break with a current behavior and allows a retreat to the prefrontal cortex in a disconnected state, free of the agenda of other sub-minds and other activities or drives or the combination of other sub-minds. It is the most dependable technique of all the negators.

Mediation comes in various forms: first the actual act of meditating, and secondly the residual skill and perception you carry around afterwards, a mindset that builds up and becomes durable. Just as emotions manifest themselves in long term drives or passions, or creativity is manifested in an ever present skill, we also can have a degree of disconnection at any moment and can have the ability to quickly move into a greater disconnection if events require.

Meditation represents one half of a pair of opposites: one polar state is disconnection, the other polar state consists of increased activity and general connection of neural regions. The two behaviors represent a whole, a managerial whole.

There are secondary negators that help you break with a behaviors. We also employ disconnectors of a less thorough or partial type which enable us to switch off a certain neuro-region and hop to another site. These minor techniques might include taking a walk, exercise, eating, play etc. These behaviors may be drives, emotions, relief, other tasks and various combinations of things. We also have the abilities to simply focus on a new project or through habit or willpower to leave a subject.

And many of us have a natural home base we seek in the mental system and we may return to it after tasks, threats or reality are dealt with. Some people may also have old learned behaviors that allow one to move around easily for one sub-mind to another and they naturally float about avoiding a fixed position and fixed behavior. They moment circle about their neuro-geography getting perhaps pleasure and freedom, and use this technique to manage an array of chores over the day in a sequential manner. We may see this as a new form of "bipolar" perception as a person cycles through differing sub-minds, and not necessarily a bad thing.


SUPPRESSION AND PROMOTION
Related to connection and disconnection is, of course, suppression and promotion.
Suppression reduces a focus, and promotion increases focus. One retards activity, the other accelerates it.

The trick in a complex mental system is how to promote an activity. We can shut it down through negators but how do we restart it? Clearly, we also need promoters to overcome the suppression of the negators. Between the two is the "middle way" of neurology, the dialectic of mind mechanics.

Take creativity as an example, let us say that we have meditated and have cleared our focus, we are securely in the prefrontal cortex. We have gotten ourselves out of some habitual and annoying behaviors, we have shut the analytic brain down with its cold critical commentary, we have suspended the brain region that demands conformity to rules, we have cut loose some negative emotions that undermine our ability to observe or judge or act prudently or engage in work itself.

Now we want to be creative. We want the creative mind employed. How do we start it up?

Well, if we have experience with creativity, we can bring our focus to this sub-mind, we can occupy it or "go home" to it.  We engage in a project, and try to employ our skills. And perhaps starting slowly, eventually the mind increases its level of performance.

But if you have not developed your creative mind at all, then you are at a loss as to what to do.

In this case, creativity is a vast unknown horizon from which the individual draws a complete blank. And creativity seems to be result of pure magic because the individual cannot fathom the techniques to be used, because she or he have not entered their creative sub-minds to know its perspective and learn some methods.


And logic only knows itself and has no idea how imagination and innovation manifest themselves. And the same can be said for wisdom and judgment for these faculties can make a decision about creativity but they cannot create creativity. Memory, of course, is not creativity, memory at best produces models to copy. And emotion is not creativity though emotion can support or undermine creativity.

Also, our senses are not creativity but they produce important information. The senses can help us break out of the domination of reason but in themselves they are not creative (unless of course you are in chemically altered state then the senses present images and patterns that do not reflect reality and thus can be said to be "creative" in a sense -- but not in the sense of conscious creative technique).

Habit takes over if we can use a negator to stop some tangential activity. But you can have no habit if you have no experience in a sub-mind. How do you get into that mind if you know nothing of it?

So the first thing in promotion of a sub-mind is the knowledge and development of the sub-mind.

This requires in the case of creativity:
•           Introduction and familiarity to the mindset
•           Gaining knowledge of its nature
•           Learning skills native to the perception
•           Enjoying the pleasures of using your sub-mind
•           The joy and inspiration and confidence that come from successful projects
•           The promotion of creative desire
•           The growth of curiosity
•           A hunger for more knowledge and skill
•           An increasing identification with the sub-mind as a major personality trait
•           And so on

These are the main promoters that result in increased focus and activity in a sub-mind like creativity. But many of these themes apply also to logic, wisdom, managing emotions etc. Knowledge, Skill and Joy are themes that repeat universally.

So without training in a sub-mind it is difficult to promote any significant activity. A dormant faculty cannot be kicked into gear if it has no self knowledge. Potential can only be realized through use and work, Potential in itself is not concrete, the Actual is material and immediate.

Secondary promoters in creativity are varied. These can include a setting or environment; finding inspiration to be creative in a music, book, movie or personality; giving oneself permission to be creative; reviewing one's past work; even, a complement from someone helps, etc.

FOCUS AND RESONANCE
All of this leads to another issue already touched upon: selected performance vs. system performance or singular focus vs. a global resonance.

Normally we are using many of our disparate faculties at once, assimilated and coordinated by the prefrontal cortex. But often we are focused in one region such as reason, creativity, decision making etc.

The prefrontal cortex is the one region that is connected to all others because it is the coordinator, this is one of its important functions. So when we focus here we are not using the front of our brains so much if we are in other sub-minds. If we are in the prefrontal cortex then we can be processing information to make a decision or plan. (Meditation is also located in the front of the brain, highlighting a special skill of disconnection that is also necessary to access and evaluate information, remain detached to make an "objective" decision. Improvisation another disconnection skill also resides here too.)

Opposed to focus is the idea of utilizing many neuro-regions at once. This might be called "resonance" in the sense of all of your faculties resonating together simultaneously.

For this resonance to be effective and not descend into chaos, this combined activity must be orchestrated by the prefrontal cortex.

Consider some difficult situations:
•           Running a meeting full of emotion, argument and demanding creative solutions to problems.
•           Enduring a stressful day in a business where equipment breaks down, employees call in sick, and customers will make no concessions.
•           Managing funeral events for the family where we must be controlled, though we are distraught and we must solve problems as they arise.
•           A creative project encounters difficulty and you swing into a temporary depression and a deadline looms.

In these events much is going on in your brain, you are reasoning, creating, emoting, sensing, remembering, trying to be detached to offer good judgment and so on. In addition, in a crisis, your subconscious may communicate to you in its intuitive and symbolic language some important but neglected bit of information throwing you off balance.

On a smaller level we utilize combined activity all the time. For example: infusing ideas with passion, combining creativity with a detailed and linear activity such as writing, giving memories new meanings and emotional messages…

The prefrontal cortex has many functions, one of them is to manage the whole of your brain.


MANAGEMENT/PRAXIS
Wisdom is located in the front of the brain. Here we access and collate and analyze and decide.

This also requires the skill of detachment or disconnection, that is, a distance from the information and feelings, distance from other sub-minds and faculties. Detachment is also required to manage the whole affair.

MEDITATION: Detachment is a theme of the prefrontal region. It appears also in the skill of meditation which is a special action that disconnects with many behaviors, silences the mind and creates its own unique kind of focus on "nothing".

IMPROVISATION: And surprisingly in the prefrontal cortex we have the talent of improvisation. Why? Improvisation requires accessing a library of actions and selecting one or a simultaneous group, and then following this action up with another selection and then another in a long sequence. This power of accessing is one of the talents of the frontal area.

In addition, the selection and then dropping of a choice for the subsequent action indicates the ability to attach and detach very quickly without feelings of dwelling or longing or compulsion. So this is a refined level of rapid disconnection.

The prefrontal cortex manages or coordinates. We can call this the manager mind, the wisdom manager or judger manager etc.  We might also call it the "Praxis" mind, the sub-mind that is a certain kind of "boss" in charge of doing. Its job is to collect communications, assess, decide, judge, plan, set goals and monitor progress and feedback. Further, it must compare plans and goals to self identity, accepted moral actions, general life goals, a chosen philosophic paradigm, and even spiritual concerns to achieve a harmonious agreement. Also, it is responsible for eliciting the emotions, drives, inspirations and passions necessary to make the overall plan happen. 

SELF AWARENESS: And more, this mind has the unenviable job of assessing itself, that is, while it is working on some issue, it must also watch itself working on this issue. Self awareness is another property of this mind.

That allows evaluation and self correction. This double consciousness is essential and does create some conflict and angst, and at times an overly self critical background personality. And those who have more intense focus that others are bound to have more intense focus on the self too, meaning enhanced self criticism that can be debilitating from the hostile negativity and also debilitating from the sheer load of the double work being performed: the subject at hand and then watching your performance dealing with the subject at hand.

In the case of judgment, we have wisdom making its astute decisions and then wisdom watching to see if its performance is wise. And it is this self aware wisdom that propels us to higher levels of perception and skill. And also gives us the suffering that accompanies struggle and striving. It is the self conscious that urges us to transcend, to improve and to seek the ideal, if it is operating properly.

And in the course of things it teaches us about the pain of endeavor and potentially opens us up to the pain of other Human beings through the inborn talent of Empathy.

Self awareness is a property of the brain that accompanies other abilities. Self awareness is required to learn about our faculties of emotion, logic, creativity and so on. Through self awareness we learn, develop skills, and aim for joy. So we have self awareness of information on a more basic level, and we have self awareness of our sub-minds, and we have a self awareness of the self awareness itself, that is, a critique of the general plan of the managing mind and then also a critique of the methods and outlook of the managing mind, and the mind of judgment too. We thus have self awareness of self awareness of self awareness, as we climb up to more complicated levels of watchers watching watchers.


DEMOCRACY IN THE WHOLE NEURO-DEVICE
The Praxis mind has the tricky assignment of harmonizing and synchronizing the whole brain, that is, all of the other sub-minds. The problem it faces is that of ego and self identity. Each other sub-mind has a very distinct view of the world with very different needs. Each mind has its own "home-truth" which it wields against all others. Neurological hubris abounds. And charges of brain imperialism are rampant.

This forces the managing mind to observe principles of democracy or the whole enterprise will fail. Either minds will rebel and not cooperate until their needs are met, or the Praxis mind will set a dominion where some minds are completely neglected such as creativity or emotion or memory or sensation or the subconscious realm, or the "inferior" minds will subjugated and forced to perform in restricted modes. In the present age of the domination of reason, we have seen all of these variations when we have favoritism.

More, the managing mind could simply declare all sub-minds without rights and privileges and rule in some sort of cerebral Stalinism. But this would be a disaster because the prefrontal cortex does not do the work of logic or science or innovation or feelings. It can manage these realms but it cannot reproduce or replace them. It does not understand their nature and needs. The result would be very poor quality products ordered from the top by a central committee without a clue.

The notion that comes to mind and perhaps best explains the predicament is "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity". Here is a classic and enduring slogan that applies to social relations, organization and politics….and especially the demands of your pet cat. It also applies to neurology and psychology.

Liberty refers to independence, Equality refers to impartiality, Fraternity refers to community. For the managing mind all principles are essential, with fraternity as the third and final principle.

If handled improperly, the manager mind journeying out from the prefrontal cortex may cause great problems:
•           Lack of employment of the sub-minds causing boredom
•           Disregard of message and products from the sub-minds
•           Overwork of a region thereby causing strain for one sub-mind and indolence for the others
•           Distortion of a faculty, causing a sub-mind to perform in a restricted mode according to someone else's tune
•           And lack of observation, knowledge and development of neuro-regions which absolutely requires the front of the brain

Without a proper approach the result is exploitation and manipulation, rebellion and noncooperation, neglect and dwarfing, a counter-egotism and centrifugal chaos.

The manager mind must learn to coordinate all behaviors and perceptions. In the spirit of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, the manager mind must rule with respect and prudence.

If it does not difficulties ensue. In a sense the praxis coordinator can be subjected to an "instant recall" through a boycott, trust can be lost, and any overall plan for the individual can attract no participants.

The model of an elected leader, of course, does not quite apply because Nature does not utilize a ballot box in any of its systems -- but in its more complex operations where many entities work independently we do have more sophisticated organization and communication. In the Human brain a vote for the emotions to run the show is possible, but the materially they are not designed to manage the brain or themselves actually. What we have is choice in the sense of how to best use our brains, but at the same time we have equipment that has already been provided and cannot be fundamentally altered, so that choice is not available, but on the other hand the given device is quite impressive.

In the case of the brain, we are dealing with culture, training and education that contain within itself a view of the brain. When this model is wrong, the brain does not work well. This contradiction between the objective nature of the mind and the subjective view of the nature of the mind is a very Human predicament that gives rise to science and education in the best cases…and misery its worst cases.

MORE DETAIL ON SUB-MINDS
Let's take a look at a provisional list of the various sub-minds or neurological departments:

WISDOM/JUDGMENT. Skills of detachment, accessing multiple streams of data, evaluation of information, synthesis of complex information, prioritizing of issues, risk assessment, decision making, determination of right from wrong.

Information processed includes emotions, drives, needs, ideas, facts, memories, subconscious messages etc. Also, there is the harmonizing of judgment with personal themes such as morality, philosophy, personal character etc. Located in the prefrontal cortex. This variety of "reason" is different from that located in the left temporal region.

MANAGEMENT OF TASKS. Skills of observing, developing and orchestrating other mental realms according to a plan and notions of self identity and personal rules. Located in the prefrontal cortex.

LOGIC AND ANALYSIS. Skills and perceptions of deduction, hierarchy, models, rules-operations-equations, detail, linear phenomena such as language and mathematics, scientific detachment, abstraction and separateness from the world, self notion of "I-me", linear view of time, hierarchical organization and personal relationships, tendency to ignore the changing for the fixed, prefer specific over the general, non-metaphorical, lack of insight but stress on pre-existing knowledge, seriousness, joy in the repetitive, non-acceptance of a mystery, memory over gestation of new ideas, stress on theoretical rigor, deletion of discordant information and contradiction etc. Logic and analysis are located in the left temporal region.

CREATIVITY.  Located in the right temporal region. Skills and perceptions such as thinking in terms of wholes,  stress on form, method of randomness, scientific induction, insight and flash thinking, gestation of ideas, linking of emotions to memories, non-hierarchy, rejection of rules and models but creation of new rules and models, non-detachment from a situation, no self notion of "I-me" ego, stress on commonality and not distinction, view on change and evolution, metaphor, thinking it terms of singular bits of information, stress on the new, recombination, juxtaposition, refusal to imitate models, absurdity, negation, play, intuition, generality over detail, vagueness, collecting and building up of a library or inventory, excepting, acceptance of a mystery, avoidance of the repetitive, management of depressions which are natural to the creative process, observation of sensory information, use of subjective memory, comfortable with contradiction etc.

In addition there are the skills of improvisation which inhabit the prefrontal cortex where creativity and its memories are accessed to provide a sequential cascade of actions.

MORAL RULES. In the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is the region where moral rules are handled.

EMOTIONS. The various emotions are located and managed in different areas: ventromedial prefrontal cortex, right temporal region, limbic system, amygdale, hippocampus region, thalamus.

Drives and needs are related to emotions but are separate categories.

MEMORIES. They are stored in the hippocampus and frontal cortex. Important issues with memories are number, quality and access. Also the emotions are entangled with memories, they are positive and negative. And memories are plastic and can be re-spun.

CRYPTEGO. By this the author means a particular subconscious mind that involves dreams, voices, intuitions and signs, the cryptic ego. This is hidden personality with views, emotions and needs that expresses itself in a coded fashion, because it has no qualities of consciousness. Its notions may be suppressed by the conscious mind.

The Subconscious itself is a wider concept that seems to include any behavior that is not conscious -- thus habits, reactions, impulses, parallel processing of thoughts, creative gestation of ideas, behaviors that arise from the more primitive part of our brains, suppressed thoughts and needs, a library of thoughts and reactions in the background but ready to be triggered and so on. So "subconscious" is a fairly large and eclectic category where things are going on separate from our main focus or where we are conscious but we do not know why we are doing what we are doing etc.

Subconscious thus becomes a relative concept applied to improvisation, reaction and doing, and even to highly conscious acts whose source is unclear, for example, an obsession with mathematics.

MIND OF DOING. This mind may be connected with the sub-conscious. It is the faculty that simply does, it acts with no thought. It is the capability spoken of in Zen, ancient war, sports, peak performance. If it is directed, which it usually is, then it also bears a similarity to improvisation and has something in common with the manager mind in the pre-frontal cortex. This mind sacrifices learning for reaction.

SENSORY MIND. By this is not meant senses such as taste, visual, time etc. although these are important inputs to the sensory mind. The author means the alert mind that observes, records, classifies, prioritizes and notes the importance of information from the senses, from data, math, concepts, discussion etc. The sensory mind plays an important role handing basic material to other sub-minds. When it is shut off learning is impeded and creativity has fewer options and judgment cannot see the whole picture. This shut off of the sensory mind occurs for many reasons: fear, self gain, ego, dogma etc. This state might be called Censorial, the censoring of incoming information.

In brief we could say that:
•           Wisdom/judgment is the decider.
•           The Manager is the coordinator
•           Logic and analysis is a worker
•           Emotions are your drivers, they give you energy and direction
•           Cryptego is your warning system
•           Creativity is another impressive worker
•           Memory is your ground
•           The Sensory connects you to the outer world
•           Moral rules keep the workers and managers honest
•           The Mind of Doing gets things done
•           The Subconscious is a dark city of multiple activities
•           Etc.

All of these sub-minds are obviously essential. But as individuals we tend toward preferences in our modes of perception, whether genetic, taught or chosen, we tend to favor certain sub-minds. Basic personality types can be defined by a bias, an imbalance of sorts. The above pushes the Jung-Myers-Briggs personality scheme much further based on neurological regions and sets of opposites. Further we can add direction of concern (internal or external, introversion or extroversion), modes of energy, types of cycles between various sub-minds and so on.

Also, from this list we can get an understanding of the types of problems that might occur in a mental system: not enough wisdom/judgment, too much wisdom/judgment, too much creativity, not enough creativity, too much emotion, not enough emotion, too much sensory, not enough sensory, too many rules, not enough rules, too much management, not enough management, too much doing not enough learning, not listening to your Cryptego, listening too much to your Cryptego and so on.

Next, we can identify combinations of sub-mind behavior that can by unproductive to the host. We thus get a sort of framework for a "DSM" on neurological departments.

Next, in addition to these neuro-regions we have something else: self made constructs.

A CONSTRUCT
Another complicating force in the perceptual system is a "Construct".

A Construct is a self formed structure that guides the individual through life. They are NOT neurological departments. They do not deal directly with thought or perception modes, although they do have indirect impact on these basic faculties. Constructs are not the workers or processors, they utilize the material produced by these and also steer them because of their points of view.

Constructs are the "content", the "goals", the "meaning", the "me" of the brain system. Your skills at logic or creativity or judgment will help you achieve a construct objective. At the same time, your construct will modify, for example, your decision process by providing additional information and rules on ethics or personal self image etc.

A basic construct is necessary in a Human being. One must have a basic sense of self. This is common to all people, this type of construct is spontaneously generated, is rudimentary and is pre-intellectual. But this type of construct is not the subject here. Its features include a sense of separation from the environment, autobiographical features, self criticism etc.

An ideal construct has a developed sense of identity, needs, ethics and plans. However, in a number of people we find there is a Minimal Construct that does not have a sophisticated view of self. This level of "me" is partial and shallow. Thus, we have individuals unclear as to who they are, foggy on ethics, devoid of goals and so on. Those with minimal constructs are easy victims in a culture of marketing and consumerism because they have no counter image to present against a system of manipulation.

Another form of minimal construct might at first seem normal. In this case, a person seems to have an adequate construct, however, the construct is not deeply held, it appears to be pasted on, and can be quickly jettisoned. In this case, the individual drops one construct and adopts another in sequence.

One of the worst types of a minimal construct is that fashioned by Survival. The Survival Construct is generated by a "me" that is at war with the world. It has no lofty ideals, its sense of self is predatory. When a person descends to the level of survival or survivalism, then the mental system operates without any higher goals or principles. Further, it has no higher image of the self other than a victorious survivor, which bears some resemblance to a vicious carnivore.

When survivalism experiments in the realm of ideology and philosophy trying to justify its base behavior, the minimal construct gains some interesting delusions.

National Socialism it may be argued is the absence of a normal construct and the replacement with a minimal survival construct replete with paranoia, plots, enemies, war, humiliation, national salvation, predators and victims, and its own bizarre view of human evolution, euthanasia of the "unfit", and final solution concentration camps. Its noble ideals are hardly transcendent at all, they are low and beastial, as if a talking Hyena could have uttered them……only a Hyena would never go so low.

Constructs are chosen or imprinted by others upon you. They are necessary because we need direction, rules and models to reference. Logic, creativity and judgment in themselves do not necessarily provide these in their working life. We must create these structures to assist the faculties of our mind.

Constructs would include:
•           Moral code
•           Philosophical paradigm
•           Self-Identity
•           Life goals
•           Spiritual or Life Philosophy paradigms
•           Thought methods (logic, creativity, wisdom-judgment etc.)
•           Social vision
•           Etc.

More specialized constructs would include: I am creative, I am passionate, I am compassionate etc. And particular methods may be stressed such as Diverse Thinking, subsume thinking and more.

The variety in constructs is infinite allowing for great individual expression. And here is where the number of personality types becomes bewildering not only from the multiplicity of construct views but also the impact back upon our sub-minds, the modification of their operations.

CONSTRUCT IMPACT
The Constructs of a Human being operate with our neurological apparatus but they also may cause a conflict with these same tools.

If a construct embraces diversity as a thought method then the operation of logic and analysis meets a difficulty for multiple causes and paths in not its forte. More complex work is demanded from the left temporal region -- tracing each cause and then their interconnections, feedback and overall result.

A moral construct will demand that the faculty of judgment must only make decisions that incorporate a moral principle. It will limit the field of action. Morality also inhibits the creative process because some directions are simply not for consideration.

A self image of being an emotional being will require that judgment include emotions in its deliberations, taking into account feelings and reactions when it makes an important decision on a path forward.

Another example, Diverse Thinking opens up the sensory mind so it can acquire more information and be open to new inputs. This will force a change in behavior.

Another issue with constructs is that one can get stuck in the construct, that is, one can shut down mental operations because it has been decided that the construct disagrees with their products. This is common, we may find morality or self image or a philosophical paradigm rejecting the operations of logic, judgment, creativity, emotions. Here the construct or constructs go too far, and must be modified or replaced.

LEARNING AND EVOLUTION
This article is intended to lay out a general view on sub-minds and constructs and the management of them.
We can see that though an individual may have a certain basic personality that this can change.

Individuals can learn. They can revise and build new constructs for themselves reflecting new knowledge and higher goals. And way that we manage our faculties and which sub-minds we stress can change over time through new demands, new culture, new life stages and free choices. Though some personality features will not change, others can. Thus, the mind is in evolution and physically so is the brain.

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