Tag Archives: Psychology

Nothing Changes

It’s been over a year since I started writing here. It’s been almost two years since I’ve been having a psychoanalysis. I understand a lot more now. I understand how my brain works in intimate detail. I can recognise the voices now, and understand their agendas. I can physically sense my anxiety creeping up, like a burning sensation in my forehead, just like Harry Potter when he senses Voldemort coming. I see it like a cloud coming over my eyes when the anger starts to boil up, and I’ve learnt when to turn away. Some days I truly believe I’m healing.

Yet nothing really changes. I still feel the same as I always have. A feeling of hopelessness. A feeling of isolation. Like I will never truly know what it is to connect with another person. It keeps me awake at night. Itching, like a dog scratching at the inside of my mind.

I’m starting to see that some things can’t be healed. The anger, for instance, will always be there. It’s like a load bearing post for my personality, and I must either retain it or discard everything that I am. The only hope for not feeling what I feel is death. This makes me sad, deeply so, because I don’t know if anyone can truly love so much anger. I’ve learnt to redirect it somewhat, and turn it in circles. Yet, it still remains.

I have many reasons to be angry. This isn’t simply selfishness. If you had the memories I have floating around your brain you would be angry too. So many memories. When they all start to flow out there are so many thoughts I can barely focus on any single one. This makes it hard to know what is even real, when your thoughts aren’t even opaquely conscious, more of a miasma of anger and half remembered things. They keep me awake at night, like I am now. They taunt me.

People often make romantic notions, such as “you chose to continue being the victim”, but this is simply not true. If you believe this then you probably were either never really a victim in the first place, or you have deluded yourself that you’re not now. For instance, when I was young my family was poor, something you can’t really understand unless you’ve truly known what that is. Even though, in some measures at least, I am quite wealthy now, I will ALWAYS suffer from poverty. There are just some scars that can’t be healed. No, it’s not even that exactly. It’s that you can’t kick the monkey off your back if the monkey is you.

I don’t even know who I am any more.

It’s still just as painful to write. I still hear the voices judging every word I put down. My overwhelming desire is to delete everything and run away so that I don’t face the risk of discovering that everything I think and say is self indulgent nonsense. I just don’t know what else there is I can do. One thing I’ve come to realise is that the moment you think you’re somewhere is the moment you suddenly realise it all runs much deeper than you ever imagined.

“Well the tiniest little dot caught my eye and it turned out to be a scab
And I had this funny feeling like I just knew it’s something bad
I just couldn’t leave it alone, I kept picking at the scab” Only, Nine Inch Nails

I have learnt one thing about myself. Well, not learnt exactly, more came to recognise the obvious truth. There is one overwhelmingly defining trait that has allowed me to make it as far as I have. I will never quit. I refuse to lay down and die. I will find a way to beat this or I will die trying. Sometimes, though, the road seems so long. I spend a lot of time wondering if I’ll make it to the end before I die, and if I don’t is there really any point?

The Bottom

Eat your veggies. There are children in Africa who would love to have food like this

Every Parent Ever Dinner Time

A lot of things in life go completely unexamined. We have far too much to do in our busy lives, it’s much easier to just take a short cut on some things. If a handy saying SOUNDS like wisdom, that’s “good enough”. We go through life, thinking we know a lot, calling it common sense, but actually know very little.

Australia is called the LUCKY country. It’s people are lucky to live here, or so they say, and in many ways we ARE lucky. We have very low rates of illness, homelessness is rare (although unfortunately growing in recent years), we have a (somewhat) healthy democracy within which everyone has the right to free speech. That’s all well and good but it ignores big problem: poverty.

Many of my friends are probably aware of how much it annoys me when people make flippant remarks of “glass is half full”. This is one of those sayings that is so common it goes completely unchecked. On the surface it seems like wisdom, but underneath lies a dark side that, to me, is a representation of everything that is wrong in a modern wealthy society.

Glass half full economics is, in many cases, the perfect cover for shifting the blame from the rich to the poor. It takes the focus off “who has more and why” and shifts it to “who has a little and why are they complaining”. This is privilege at it’s very worst. It is widespread, rampant, and so institutionalised as to be seen in plain sight: not as a force for control but AS COMMON WISDOM.

I have been incredibly lucky. I am wealthy (to a point), I have access to care (such as psychology) that others could never afford, I have the kind of job that many would die for, and I never need to worry about how I will pay the next bill. I was lucky enough to live in a time when university was more or less free, and lucky to have passionate teachers who pushed me to attend. I was also lucky beyond belief that my father fought for me to have these opportunities. To put it another way, my glass is quite full.

It wasn’t always the case though. Many people may not realise that my family was fairly poor when I was younger. We were never homeless, but we often had to go without. It wasn’t all bad. It’s actually quite amazing what you can do in a small country town with enough land to grow food.

But it wasn’t all good either. I couldn’t say for sure, but if I had to guess, the number one issue preventing migration from poverty to wealth isn’t opportunity. There are definitely big problems in this regard, especially for remote and isolated areas, although even if these problems were to be solved an even bigger one remains regardless.

The truth is far more insidious than that. Our whole social structure is constructed to keep poor people down, and it’s an endless struggle fighting against that beast. It’s a two pronged sword, firstly overcoming the indoctrinated belief that you are not worthy of success, and secondly accepting the position of outcast if you try to change your fortunes.

Both of these problems stem from the same reasons but they effectively form two completely separate neuroses. It all comes down to what Nietzsche referred to as slave morality. It’s hard to pinpoint exact instances of this behaviour, because in many ways, especially to those who have grown up in the lower classes, it is almost indistinguishable from reality. In fact, one might say, to those living under it, SLAVE MORALITY IS REALITY.

Reality is a kind of wibbly wobbly thing. In fact, people who state things as fact and call themselves REALISTS couldn’t be further from reality. What we know as reality is in fact more truthfully, the reflection of the natural world as refracted through our moral prejudices. You see freedom fighter, I see terrorist. Essentially speaking, if you could reprogram a persons morality and stereotypes you could completely change the story of their life.

At some point in the past, so the theory goes, the cultures of the rich and poor gradually evolved. To the rich, riddled with a nagging guilt at owning most of the property, positive (but still delusional) neuroses gradually evolved to form the master morality. Master morality is all about convincing yourself that you deserve everything you have. As an example, imagine the son of wealthy parents who invested his inheritance in a risky venture, and worked hard to make that venture a success. Master morality for that man is believing that he deserves what he has because he had the courage and the determination to risk everything in order to win big, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that he was born with infinitely larger table stakes.

On the other side of the coin, slave morality evolved from the neurotic desire to have an intact sense of personal power. As a slave, there is one obvious salient point when it comes to power: you have none. Since the prospect of being powerless is perhaps the single biggest fear one can experience, slave morality evolved as a way to convince ourselves (also delusional) that, in fact, it is us with the “power” to resist the temptation of success, as opposed to being too poor to have any.

This had always been a problem for me, although I only recently found a name for it. I’d been brought up on a diet of television four hours a day. For the most part television is exactly as they say, it rots your brain. At least though it gave me one gift: it fed my subconscious on a diet of romantic heroes and epic journeys. The side effect of television being largely controlled by sociopathic inbred families is that they mostly write what they know. In their own lives master morality is so prevalent as to seem like reality.

This works to suppress the slave class for the most part. The heroes are portrayed as gods, something a “normal” person can never be. Even more so, a lot of fiction serves to reinforce the idea of the rich (batman) and powerful (superman) as protectors of the “helpless” common man. No wonder that we idolise our politicians and take their demands for obeisance as love.

As for me though all I saw was something I wanted to be. No, it’s more complicated than that, although I’ll try to summarise since that might be another story into itself. For various reasons I believe my unconscious took these heroes upon itself as it’s own persona. It saw something that I needed. I needed something to “exact revenge” against those who would bully me, and the power to protect the weak, and so my mind took from these fictions what I needed.

There was another factor at work. I was obsessed with computers and especially video games. Back in the dawn of time, in the year zero ][e, the vast majority of video games were power fantasies, inspired by the epic stories such as Lord Of The Rings and War Of The Worlds. What’s even more important, the video games portrayed YOU as the hero, and in doing so secretly trained a generation in the morality of the masters. This is perhaps why the younger generation seems so distasteful to the older generation: they LIVE BY A NEW MORAL CODE. (Not to get too far ahead of myself but this may even be a distinct shift that explains the extreme split in modern politics). For me, however, it presented a vast and complicated problem.

From a very early age, it seems so obvious now, I suffered from extreme levels of anxiety. My parents, who had the best intentions, were only doing their duty to “slave morality” and following the moral code that told us all, “We are the bottom. It is not our place to rise above our station, and it is an abomination to even imagine so.” I dreamed of greater things, of epic journeys and worldly exploration. This was simply not possible in the world I came from, and so I kept my dreams secret. They were pushed deep down to a place where they could hide, and I formed a mask of steely resolve that would define the next twenty years of my life. And in doing so, I became the slave.

Something strange happened next though, and even then I doubt I had barely the understanding as to the significance of these events to the years that would follow. For a few years my pushed down dreams had turned sour inside me, and a rage was bubbling up, almost out of control. I found myself arguing with my family at random times about random things. I guess they just couldn’t understand the things I thought. How could they? They had grown up in a different world. This conflict grew and grew until I could barely stand it any more. I made an unconscious choice: kill myself or get away. Lucky for me, I chose flight over fight. So this led to my failed attempt to run away from home. I had a bag with a few things and my skateboard, which, in spite of the amusement others had in imagining I skated towards freedom, I merely carried with me. At one point on the way I was attacked by a protective magpie, and I used the skateboard like a weapon to defend myself, heroic in the most romantic sense. I made it about fifteen kilometres before my dad found me.

It was all so long ago that I don’t even remember the order of all the events, but I guess something must have shifted in dad that day, when he saw my bed empty. Or maybe he’d been noticing something wrong for a long time. Either way, for whatever reasons, my father did something that was very unbecoming to someone of his upbringing. He fought for me.

I remember the rowdy arguments my parents would have, even to this day. I never asked but I think that time was the closest they ever came to leaving each other. Through some stroke of chance, for that time at least, my father chose my life over his marriage.

It’s important to understand the significance of these events. To my parents, brought up on their morality, I was a pariah. In many ways they still see me this way. In fact, it’s possible they will never quite understand me. I had become the worst of all things, the man who dreamed of breaking away from the chains of a normal life. Even still, in an act akin to rejecting the culture of his family and history, my father took the chance to be the heretic, and joined my side. And, somehow, we won. With what little power my father had, he pushed me as high as he could. It was somehow enough, and I escaped that world.

One might be forgiven for thinking this is where the story ends. The epic hero had overcome the dark world and escaped it and all of it’s demons. Alas, the end of one story is the beginning of another, and the demons of my childhood would return in a most unexpected way. That, however, is a story for another time.

Sociopaths And The Collapse Of Conservatism Prologue

A Tale Of Two Blogs

This is part of a series on politics and psychology. You can jump to other parts here:
Prologue: A Tale Of Two Blogs
Part 1: The Most Annoying Thing
Part 2: Sociopaths, Losers and the Clueless

It all started in a weird sort of roundabout way. Here was an article, full of moments of incredible insight. About small things, and about large things. Maybe about both at the same time, as is the way of most thought travelling from the unconscious forward.

Perhaps, it’s impossible to say for sure, this was how it was meant to be. As though a philosophy was slowly forming, and my conscious mind had just not been made aware of it yet.

This piece I had written, I sought feedback, but the same thing kept being said: this is two blogs. Disjointed. Skipping from one random thought to the next. Now psychology, now sociology, now politics. Perhaps they were right, even though social proof is often misleading in these cases, it seemed likely that the writing hadn’t hit the mark.

I put the article aside to think some more. I must admit I had trouble defining what it actually was that I intended to communicate. Something about it confused me, yet, at the same time, something about it seemed to connect, in my mind at least. It remained unpublished for many weeks, my unconscious pondering the problem.

There was some not very good writing in the meantime…writing experiments more than proper articles. Then one morning as I lay half awake this idea popped into my head. It was a grand idea…well a hypothesis really, at first. It was politics, but it was also sociology, and again psychology (of the pop variety at least)…and yet one more thing: math. An idea of set theory, so applicable it seemed like a bolt of an idea. But politics and maths? I’m not talking obvious connections like economics. Rather the kind of connection that leaves people saying things like, “but we’re not talking about maths, we’re talking about politics”.

I’ll get to that idea soon. But first it occurred to me that these ideas that had been bubbling around inside were all somehow intimately connected. And therein lies the first problem.

Many times I’ve found myself confounded, when attempting an analogy, or a metaphor, by a miscommunication. At first, well at least the first time my understanding started to clarify, I saw this as a pattern/facts dichotomy. Perhaps I should explain a little more clearly.

As far as I can tell, given my background in computer software, and understanding of people, as well as pop psychology, there are, as is usually the case, two types of people.

First there are those amongst us, who primarily deal in facts. Now, perhaps there needs to be a better word for what I’m talking about here but I’ll try to elucidate. I’m not talking about facts in the sense of something being true or not. Rather I’m talking about facts in the sense of discrete pieces of information, easily measured, and all in their own little clearly marked boxes. For instance, and I’ll coin a phrase just for the sake of the argument, it is a thoughtlet that in democratic societies politicians tend to gravitate into two dominant parties.

“But the hour presseth them; so they press thee. And also from thee they want Yea or Nay. Alas! thou wouldst set thy chair betwixt For and Against?”

Excerpt From: Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. “Thus Spake Zarathustra.”

The second type of person is the type that thinks in patterns. They don’t concern themselves too much with facts and figures (although this doesn’t necessarily mean they believe in nonsense or oogity boogity), but rather concern themselves with organising general patterns of ideas. They more easily see the connection between, say, the movement of atmospheric pressure and the political vacuum of war and peace. This gives them advantages in predicting general outcomes for an unknown discipline, but less understanding of specific areas of knowledge.

I am more of a pattern thinking person, although I only realised this a few years ago. Till that point it hadn’t occurred to me that there was any reason to suspect that others didn’t even understand the general style of thinking I was using.

Pattern thinking is the basis behind such things as fables. Almost no one would suggest that “slow and steady wins the race” only applies to tortoises, so at least on some level pattern thinking must be understood by most people. And yet in most topics it seems to be almost anathema.

Where does this resistance come from? It’s probably out of my range of skills to make conclusions, although I do have a certain suspicion. Most of us, from the age of about five, are sent to school. It becomes a (if not THE) dominant influence on our modes of thinking. For (I assume) reasons of efficiency all the information is delivered via a number of discrete categories: maths, science, history etc. Therein, with increasing levels of difficulty, we are presented with gruelling examinations, testing us on each topic individually. Is it any wonder than that we develop minds that try to separate conversations to singular discrete topics? It’s probably also the reason why we hear arguments like: why should I learn statistics if I’m never going to be a statician? (Answer: you’re an idiot.)

There is perhaps nothing more preposterous a notion than that of separating ideas into their own baskets. LIFE IS MESSY! Life doesn’t separate itself, it just is! Economics (to use an example) can be no more separated from philosophy, can be no more separated from politics, can be no more separated from psychology, can be no more separated from baking, building, designing, nor living than a heart can be separated from a living being. Sure, you CAN separate these things but what you have left is a pile of human remains WITHOUT life, only death.

As if one can play soccer without considering the importance of a healthy heart and diet! In that regard, at least, perhaps sports people are a little ahead.

And yet we must never let the disciplines cross. And why? Why must we talk about political climate WITHOUT discussing the mental state of those in charge of it?

It’s obvious, in retrospect, that Adolph Hitler was seven hens short of a dozen, but if he was around today, and there ARE MANY JUST LIKE HIM, we would excuse him and mark the naysayers as deluded conspiracists!

It’s no longer viable to talk about these things as separate ideas. EVERYTHING IN LIFE IS CONNECTED. DISCONNECTION IS DEATH, and it’s high time we talked as so.

“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues….” George Orwell, Why I Write

Sociopaths And The Collapse Of Conservatism Part 2

Sociopaths, Losers, and the Clueless

This is part of a series on politics and psychology. You can jump to other parts here:
Prologue: A Tale Of Two Blogs
Part 1: The Most Annoying Thing
Part 2: Sociopaths, Losers and the Clueless

Looking back over the approximately forty years that I’ve lived, it’s a strange observation that in spite of modern ideals, like socialism for example, it can appear at first glance that as a society we are devolving. Conservatism seems stronger than it ever was, at least in places like the U.S.A and Australia. And what’s more it is gradually becoming more idealistic and extremist. While conservative governments have always had some bad ideas, when you compare the likes of Tony Abbott to John Howard, or George W. Bush to Ronald Reagan, it seems almost as though we’re living in some kind of dystopic world. Those politicians that many once saw as villainous seem almost leftist by comparison, which is a sad state of affairs indeed. So why is this happening? There are several possibilities that come to mind.

The first, and perhaps the most intuitive, especially to right leaning people, is that left policies are out of control. We’ve gone too soft and our society is headed for doom. Only flipping the switch the entire opposite direction can possibly save us now. There are two reasons for which I would discount this theory. Firstly, this idea comes out of a sort of collection of morals and ideals that were common to pre modern times. That is to say things like, every person should earn his own living, food is scarce and everyone needs to pull up their boot straps, or even to say that there is an abundance of employment and anyone who is not working is lazy. I’m not criticising this view point, per se, but rather pointing out that this viewpoint is the basic ideal of conservative parties. Surely if this was the reason driving a return to conservatism we must believe that a massive number of otherwise left thinking people suddenly changed their minds about everything and became conservatives. This is unlikely beyond belief. In fact studies have shown that many who vote conservative actually have ideals that support left policies, like fairness and equal access to jobs, health, education and so forth. The second reason I find this hard to believe is that the underlying basis of the position is absolute bollocks and I suspect that people are as a species more intelligent than we give them credit for.

Another leading argument is that the standing governments are on the take and through the power of financial investments have ceased to listen to the common person, who is too stupid to realise it. This does sound appealing to myself and I suspect many generation x’ers. We grew up amongst scandals like watergate, so we learnt to distrust the position of politician. There is also a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest this, such as special meetings with tycoons such as Rupert Murdoch or Gina Rhinehart, or policies that go against all scientific evidence in favour of big business. I am tempted to believe this is the truth, but I fear I would be lacking objectivity. There may be more than a few grains of truth to this theory, but at the end of the day I must throw suspicion on this as a total explanation of current affairs. Firstly it breaks the adage “you can’t fool all the people all of the time”. There are cognitive biases such as illusory superiority, the tendency to believe we are above average, that allows us to be convinced that everyone else is stupid. It’s an easy leap to make, but difficult to prove, and I think there’s more to it. Something specific must have changed because it’s safe to assume people are not dumber now than they were in the eighties, and we didn’t have regressive policy then.

In order to understand the reasons for the resurgence of conservatism, there are a few ideas we need to understand: the psychology of politicians, the psychology of the voter, and, perhaps the most important part, the economics of political parties and affiliations. But first politicians.

I’d like to borrow an idea here from one of my favourite bloggers Venkatesh Rao (although this specific idea he borrows somewhat from an earlier source). If you’ve never read The Gervais Principle I highly recommend it. It is the kind of article that can change how you view all interactions. The idea we’ll be talking about is that the world is made up of three basic types: sociopaths, clueless and losers. It took Venkatesh six extremely long posts to cover so I won’t do it here, just explain the basic mechanism.

Sociopaths in this model are essentially detached realists. They see the world for what it is and will do anything that benefits themselves in some objective way (money, happiness, power etc). That’s not to say that they are all morally bankrupt, per se, just that they do not bind themselves by a traditional sense of what is wrong or right. Sociopaths set their own morals.

The clueless are the opposite. They are naive and driven by a repressed lack of basic childhood needs. For example, if a clueless grew up without family they may seek to have an unrealistic number of friends. The clueless ARE morally bankrupt, not necessarily because they’re not good people nor want to be, but rather they never learnt to understand moral reasoning to begin with. Their morals are held by society at large and they look to society to validate or disallow their behaviour.

The third group, the losers, are the every person. Not meant in a negative sense (and ignorant of the fact that most losers value more social things and are therefore much happier, at least in the sense that they believe they are happy) the term indicates those that give up the lion’s share of the economic pie in return for security (eg a wage job). To put it in a (possibly too) simplistic manner, if life were a game of monopoly the losers would be, well, the losers.

The hypothetical relationship between these three groups is as follows: the sociopaths promote the clueless to positions of power as a buffer to take all the anger and hate from the losers (apt readers from Australia may have some idea where this is heading).

Amongst the three, in a political sense, it is perhaps the clueless that are the most dangerous. Sociopaths may be immoral, but at least we can make predictions of their behaviour based on past actions. The clueless however are unpredictable. Their behaviour depends entirely on the zeitgeist of the moment. It wasn’t because Adolph Hitler was crazy with power that tragedy occurred (although he was crazy with power). One man alone can not execute so much destruction. It was the fact that THE CLUELESS FOLLOWED HIS LEAD that lead to actual atrocities being committed. In fact it has been commented by many that one of the leading reasons for complicity was the common following of the Lutheran church, that teaches people to obey their elected leaders, the religion of the clueless if there ever was one.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Hanlon’s Razor

You don’t have to look very far to see this in action. For years we mocked one of the stupidest men in political history, by the name of George W. Bush. But apart from being clearly out of his depth, and somewhat naive, was he really an arch villain? Or was he just the pawn of more powerful men? Still today the mention of his name will cause flames to appear in eyes everywhere, but does the same visceral anger appear when we remember the investment bankers that almost brought the world economy to a stand still in 2008, or the oil companies that lobby for regressive laws that put our very climate at stake? Of course, we all have a feeling those things are bad, but we reserve the real anger for politicians. That’s fine. That’s exactly how the sociopaths with the real power want it. They don’t want to be your friend so they don’t care too much if you are a little upset at them. Anger, on the other hand can be a motivating factor for change. It needs to be funnelled away. And that’s where politicians come in.

There are two basic types of politicians in the modern world, and if you understand this simple point you will be better equipped to see that in fact the different factions of politics are in fact not similar at all, and in fact, DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE.

The first politician is the one that some would believe all politicians are (to their own detriment). The politicians that genuinely care about their country and their people. It’s fairly easy to spot these politicians. They don’t champion groups or specific people, they champion ideas. As they say, follow the money. If there’s no obvious direct beneficiary (eg oil cartels) then the only rational conclusion is that the politician, at least believes, they are doing the righteous thing.

The second type of politician is the polar opposite. The bottom feeders of the psychopolitical spectrum, they eat the scraps falling off the table of their masters, in return for policies that grossly increase the powers of said masters, and further the economic divide between those that have power and those that do not. If a politician talks about specific interests, for instance, specific industries, and specific fears, such as the DRASTIC personal effects you will suffer if you do not give way, then you can bet a pony you’re talking to the clueless.

The clueless don’t even UNDERSTAND that the rationale thy pedal is ignorant nonsense. They haven’t evolved past a three year old mentality. Everything boils down to, what do I PERSONALLY lose, what do I PERSONALLY gain, and IS ANYONE ANGRY AT ME? It often doesn’t have to be things of material value. To the clueless the prestige of being in a position that they clearly have no right to attain can be reward enough.

Take modern Australian politics. Just when we’d finished spending years laughing at America, and could only assume that a stupider leader would never be elected again, Australia, not one to be beaten at anything, topped the expectations of even the most pessimistic of observers. We elected Tony Abbott, such an imbecile that he SOLD OUT THE FUTURE OF THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS for a mere SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. Let’s look at some facts: recent comments from the University Of Western Australia suggest that fees would increase by thirty percent under new legislation. Let’s take a conservative position and suggest that they have only one thousand students per year at the lowest expected cost of sixteen thousand dollars. This equates to a windfall of no less than THREE MILLION dollars a year. This is not the type of corruption we imagine in the movies, this is an imbecile trying to play with the big boys, and getting short changed in the process.

It’s no coincidence that Tony Abbott resembles, almost to a T, Hugo Weaving’s character, Agent Smith from The Matrix, in his most insane moments. Hugo once described his performance as trying to portray a robot, that has no concept of emotion, attempting to mimic the emotions of humans. Is it coincidence then, that many of the most iconic photos of Tony Abbott show approximate, yet at the same time, completely inappropriate expressions? Is it political opportunism or simply a child trying his best to be recognised as appropriate by his peers?

And finally, at the risk of giving away the villain before the end of the story, if you need more convincing take a look at the infamous Fox News. The comments that flood from the presenters are all the evidence you need to see that the clueless really are the center of attention. Is it any wonder? Remember that the clueless have some overpowering need, and the need for attention is one of the very earliest childhood needs that can be oppressed. When presenters on the likes of Fox take a dog eat dog attitude to the world, it’s not just because they are ignorant, it’s that by and large these people have never known real empathy. They are incapable of feeling ethics for themselves so they gather together, never even aware, that they truly are the blind leading the blind.

That’s it for the clueless for now. There are more parts to this puzzle as we will explore in coming parts. In the mean time, remember the old saying, “two dumbs don’t make a smart”.

slc

Not to belabour the point, but…

An Open Letter To Penelope Leach

As I write this, I’m actually supposed to be photocopying some legal documents to finalise my divorce. We’ve been separated for well over a year now, and well, let’s just say it’s on my todo list. No really, take a look:

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I know it must be kind of difficult to compare the above tasks, what with my generation being so completely lazy and unmotivated, that we see the job of doing one’s own washing as a monumental task almost as challenging as climbing a mountain larger than your ego. But rest assured that I see the task of getting divorced as a trivial item on my todo list. If I’m lucky I can divorce several times in the future because the thrill of being judged by members of our society, not to mention our glorious government, is the best fun I believe I’ve ever had.

I read an article about your recent claims that a child sleeping over with his father might damage his brain. I would liketo fully endorse this suggestion of yours. It’s great to see someone FINALLY validating the opinions of crazy right wing men’s rights activists, and through carefully planned ineptitude, furthering opinions about feminism back towards the 1950s ideal where they belong.

I felt that as a separated father with a son of only twenty one months old I was in a unique position to help you with evidence for your “scientific” “research” *wink wink*. I am even happy to share some of this “evidence” for free, although I am quite open to whoring myself out at the expense of real science for a quick buck, something I’m sure you and I both love doing.

Being the unworthy male that I am, when my wife and I separated, I could only think of putting my own needs first, such as my desperately selfish need to know that my son felt loved and cherished by his father. I would like to share with you some of the horrible things that this led to.

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Here you can see one night when he stayed over at my house, or as I prefer to call it, the “Den Of Inquity”. I keep him in a cage (some call it a portable cot but we both know that things such as meanings of words and truthfulness are completely open to interpretation). Note the hand against his forehead. That’s because he was trying desperately to beat himself unconscious. It’s true that it looks like he’s having the time of his life but this photo was taken after he’d gone completely mad and was laughing like a maniac.
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I doubt I will ever forget this day. It haunts me in my dreams. I had thought (obviously incorrectly as all the women in my life have since informed me) that children can be left in the open without supervision for several hours. My son had gone missing and I was in a complete panic. Lucky for me he was wearing his red and white striped jumper, which meant I could put my years of practice reading Where’s Wally books to good use (finally). You may (understandably) be confused into thinking he was happy to see me, but what you can’t see is behind me is the social service lady that he had in fact called using a phone he constructed from a shoe and a leaf. Who knew that we were confused about that little fact: when we see a child pretending a shoe or a banana is a phone, in fact they are actually doing Macguyver like research.

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Sometimes it doesn’t even take a whole evening for my son to go mad. As you can see here, just a few short minutes having a barbecue (eating what my coven likes to call blood cakes), and he’s quite clearly gone completely insane, as evidenced by the vacant stare and intense frown. You and I see him eating a piece of bread, but to him it’s the rotting corpse of a long dead god from either Babylonian or Egyptian mythology. I wasn’t quite sure which as it was difficult to tell his words amongst all the inane babbling that he speaks every time he is in my presence.Image

One day he went so completely bonkers that he even started to believe in…I even shudder to say the words…environmental responsibility. I sincerely hope future generations can forgive me.

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Here is a photo containing my wallet and what my son refers to as a phone but we all know is a switch box to the violence indoctrination device. On this day, as you can clearly see, my son was suffering from the insane delusion that he was in fact my ex wife.

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He even got so stressed one day that he wanted to take his own life. It took me several hours and an entire packet of corn cakes to bring him down safely.

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You can see him here playing a guitar with a toy car. I seemed to have understood from the mad ravings that he was trying to explore what sound a plastic automobile would make when put together with nylon strings. This is obviously completely loony as we all know that only devil children play music. Next to him you can see my step son. He’s a teenager, but even that didn’t save him, as he visited my house once and he hasn’t worn a shirt since.

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Talking of music, ever since he started visiting, he can’t see a tin of hot chocolate without busting into a rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight. It must haunt him because I often here him chanting the words, “Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeoooooo”. I’ve considered going to a pastor for an exorcism but I’m intently afraid my demonic form would burst into flames the moment I stepped through the doors.

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It’s quite infectious. Here you can see the both of us, slipping slowly, slowly, slowly into madness.

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I’ve become quite scared for my own safety. Ever since he built his own autogun mounted flying robot he’s developed a quite sincere case of megalomania. He’s murdered thirty seven conservatives, and even a few innocent people to boot. To be honest it’s getting quite out of hand. If I had only read your works earlier it would never have had to come to this.

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He’s even managed to indoctrinate his older brother to become his slave/personal automotive mechanic. He’s looking for new recruits as we speak and I’m quite afraid as I write this, less he finds out I am working against him (trying to break him out of his madness) and puts my name on what he refers to as “the list”.

I have one small request if I may. I was hoping you might be able to point me to a reputable child psychologist. As far as I could tell from reading about you, I had the feeling you’ve never met one, but I’m desperate and I thought “what the hey?”

I could literally go on for hours with these photos, for instance I have hundreds of photos of him partaking in such sordid activities as visiting art galleries, attending “cultural awareness” (shudder) festivals, and even more. But I’m afraid I hear the whirring of robotic motors in the hall as I type. So I will just finish with one last warning.

I know that many people in the wider community think that a son spending time with a loving and caring father is a harmless, nee positive, experience. A lot of these so called commie pinko socialists would even have us believe that “non traditional” (devil) families give us even more chances to love our young ones and turn them into confident adults (which apparently they see as, obviously deluded themselves, the role of parents, as opposed to what was really intended, hitting them with sticks until they become subserviant enough to become slaves to a corporate empire). But I hope with yours and mine helpful guidance we can break this blight upon our world. I will finish with one last photo that I think displays the horror of this problem in a way that my words never could.

A baby driving a car.

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Behold, the TRUE face of evil.

With Teeth

Lately I’ve been filled with so much anxiety. It’s like I’ve been experiencing a mild anxiety attack almost all day every day. It’s been paralysing. There is a constant burning sensation in the frontal lobe of my brain, that gets stronger when I’m in a particularly anxious situation, like, you know, near any person whatsoever. I’m basically the inwardly directed version of Harry Potter.

I’m not entirely sure why this is happening. I have a few theories. For one I’ve been trying a new medication. It’s a tricyclic which is the original type of anti-depression medication. Usually any side effects subside with continued usage so I’ll wait and see. I’m not a big believer in medication for depression…at least not the type I suffer. I feel it often just hides away the real problems. That being said I thought I’d give it a try.

Another theory I have is that maybe it’s a passage I must go through in order to heal. Much anxiety is driven by phobia…and well a lot more is driven indirectly by phobia. In order to get from where you are to where you need to be you must overcome fears that other people perhaps can’t understand. Next time you consider telling a depressed person to just stop being sad, consider “just putting your hand in a jar of red back spiders”. Back to my current situation, it’s possible I’m just exposing myself to more anxiety inducing situations, therefore creating more of the anxiety that I’ve been experiencing. As the saying goes, “It always gets darkest before the dawn”.

It’s been getting harder to write. Lately it seems like a struggle just getting through each day. Something just recently though sparked a realisation that inspired me to write this article.

It was the most trivial of things that put me on this path of thought. I was moving bedrooms to have a little more space for when my son visits. Part way through cleaning up I discovered a stack of CDs that I had been meaning to download onto my phone. One of those was an old favourite of mine, With Teeth, by Nine Inch Nails.

I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of Nine Inch Nails. I haven’t even listened to all of their (or his really) songs. Well I have written a song in tribute to “Closer” but that’s more incidental. It’s not that I don’t like NIN. In fact I consider Trent Reznor to be one of the greatest musical and lyrical geniuses of our time. It’s just that for whatever reasons his works never journeyed much through my headspace. I only even initially became interested in With Teeth because a friend had shared it on the network at work (many years ago). I did like it, so much so that I purchased a copy and listened to it on repeat. That’s a thing I do.

Completely unrelated but earlier this year I listened to almost nothing but Journey Of The Sorcerer by The Eagles on repeat for about two months. Is that a normal thing? I don’t know. Maybe it’s related to growing up without much money I had to listen to the one thing over and over. Perhaps that’s related to what people call “thinking too much”. When you only have one record you have a lot of time to consider the meaning of said music.

“What if everything around you
Isn’t quite as it seems?
What if all the world you think you know
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection
Is it all you want it to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks?
Would you find yourself
Find yourself afraid to see?” Trent Reznor, Right Where It Belongs

With Teeth holds an especially important place in my mind. It was this album, or to be more specific track thirteen “Right Where It Belongs”, that defined a moment that led me down my current path. I had earlier that year broken up with my then fiancé. I was in a total funk, not depression per se, it was more of a resigned zombification. If you’d asked I would have said I was like an old man. And as I was listening to this song for like the fortieth time, in my bathroom just having showered, to look at myself I saw a damaged person. The lyrics clicked with a long dormant part of my brain. For perhaps the first time in about twenty five years I felt a pulse.

I never really gave much more thought to the album after that. I did recover and for a while at least I felt confident and with a lot of hard work I turned my life around. Over the years a melancholy still remained but I was able to push it aside. At some point I started writing electronic music and I do remember some people saying it sounded like NIN, although I just saw it as pure coincidence. Perhaps this whole time unconsciously my brain was working away on the memory of the music.

When I finally came to listen to the album again, it sounds peculiar, but it all made a sort of perfect sense. I’ve learnt a lot since those old days. In a way it was like I was reading a favourite book and realising all the answers had been right in front of me the whole time. Ever the skeptic I wanted to read what other people thought. Song meanings is a great site for reading how different people interpret lyrics. It’s not authoritative (nor should it be) but it’s a nice way to see how your thoughts match the zeitgeist.

“I pick things up
I am a collector
And things, well things, they tend to accumulate
I have this net
It drags behind me
It picks up feelings
For me to feed upon” Trent Reznor, The Collector

It was The Collector that first intrigued me: in a metaphorical way it seemed to mirror my anxiety so perfectly. Was it possible that’s exactly what this was about? I found it odd to see different interpretations that seemed wildly off the mark to mine. As I’m wont to do I started researching more. Wikipedia revealed the element of truth. Trent had in fact struggled with not only depression but something I know only too well, social anxiety disorder (also the most appropriate acronym ever: SAD…awww).

It may seem like I’m taking a small thing and making a big mountain out of it, but for me it’s an extremely big leap. I find it almost impossible to talk about this. Even now I feel I’m being judged and I fight the urge to delete this entire article. I’ve tried to tackle this topic about ten times by now.

But at least now I feel like someone strong and respected shares my same fears I feel a little more able to talk about it.

Many people in the past have commented that they feel I’m dragging a huge weight. I couldn’t have put it more succinctly then the lyrics above. Every social interaction I have gets put into the web of my collected memories. Each interaction becomes more anxious as I’m weighing it against a long trail of memories. There are even things that happened over twenty five years ago that I still stress about.

“I tried to send myself through — tried to get to the other side
I had to patch up the cracks and the holes that I have to hide
found a little bit of time even made it work okay
just long enough to make it really hurt
when they figured me out and it all just rotted away” You Know What You Are

This is pretty much every relationship I ever had. For me at least, social interaction becomes an overbearing demand. I have a persona that’s carefully controlled that I present to the world. It hides the real me long enough for people to think I’m an ok guy…though, that’s where the connection begins and ends.

Every word I write is carefully chosen. I think that’s why people who respond to these kind of artists have such polarised responses. There are those who say “you’re reading too much into it”, and then there are the others for whom, as Dexter Morgan says, a monster can always recognise another monster. Or was that Monkey? I’m always getting those two confused.

I guess you could say that I write the articles but the super ego is my editor. Is that a universal truth? I think it’s easy for people to identify with these kind of ideas. That’s something about anxiety, it spawns from a natural behaviour…just in my case it’s out of control.

“I think I used to have a voice
Now I never make a sound
I just do what I’ve been told
I really don’t want them to come around” Every Day Is Exactly The Same

I also have an intense fear of speaking. In my mind I assume that I will be punished for speaking my thoughts. It’s extremely difficult just getting through each day. During the worse times I just put on headphones and keep my head down.

“I’m still inside here
A little bit comes bleeding through
I wish this could have been any other way
But I just don’t know, I don’t know what else I can do” Every Day Is Exactly The Same

It’s reached the point where the things I think just can’t come directly out. I have to speak through symbols and analogies. I assume to other people it sounds like crazy talk. In truth it’s a combination of deep thought, deflection and insanity. Think of it like a cryptic crossword and if you solve the puzzle you get to see me run away.

“I can feel their eyes are watching
In case I lose myself again
Sometimes I think I’m happy here
Sometimes, yet I still pretend” Every Day Is Exactly The Same

Oh yeah, I also feel like I live in some kind of Orwellian nightmare. Or maybe like Pink Floyd’s The Wall. You know that scene where all the people become walking hammers? That’s my life. Except maybe instead of hammers I picture people as giant walking hands getting ready to judge and attack. That will have to be another article.

I don’t really have a point here. If you’re looking for some kind of answers you’ve come to the wrong place. This is more like a maze. Tread too deep and you’ll be lost for a long time. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

See you on the other side.

“just how deep do you believe?
will you bite the hand that feeds?
will you chew until it bleeds?
can you get up off you knees?
are you brave enough to see?
do you want to change it?” The Hand That Feeds

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False Equivalency, Nonsense Thinking, And The Grand Delusion

There’s something that’s been bothering me immensely for quite a few years. I’m certain I’m not the only one. It seems to be getting worse every year.

The Pit Bull And The Chihuahua

Once there was a lonely person named Charlie. One day they went to adopt a dog. Two were awaiting adoption: a chihuahua and a pit bull. The chihuahua was yapping and snapping. The pit bull growled a deep growl.

“I have to warn you,” said the pound attendant, “the pit bull has had a hard life and he’s very violent.”

Charlie thought about it, since they really wanted a big dog, and finally said, “But both dogs are growling, and we all know what violent dogs chihuahuas can be. I think I’ll take the pit bull.”

Later that night the pit bull mauled Charlie to death while they slept.

Moral: don’t be Charlie.

Charlie suffers from what is known as false equivalence. They also suffer from being mauled, although I hear it was a quick death, which, compared to a life time of stupidity could even be considered a silver lining.

You see, in Charlie’s case, any amount of violence, whether harmless or deadly, is seen as equally bad. In terms of moral judgement this may have some validity, but clearly in terms of physical danger the results speak for themselves.

“We all feign to ourselves that we are simpler than we are, we thus relax ourselves away from our fellows.” Nietzsche, Beyond Good And Evil

Herein lies one of the big delusions of society. You see, the human mind is not as simple as you might believe. In fact often when we think we’re making careful rational decisions, we are actually driven by a vast array of processes known as cognitive biases. Essentially these are kind of shortcuts that the brain uses to help us think quicker. They developed, presumably, for survival, however, often they can lead to false conclusions and disastrous results.

In fact a lot of research has been done into cognitive bias over the last half a century or so, yet we continue to pretend that we are all completely rational beings. Don’t think this applies to you? Think again!

One that stands out in false equivalence is neglect of probability. Humans have a natural tendency to ignore probability when making comparisons. Therefore in Charlie’s mind, the risk of being hurt by both dogs is non zero, and therefore equal. As an aside, this is the exact bias that allows insurance companies to dupe people into giving them all their hard earned money, much like lotto companies.

Another that rears its ugly head is wishful thinking. This one is interesting. If we think about survival, people who judge their odds purely rationally are likely to conclude that the future will contain a certain amount of happiness. People who suffer wishful thinking will perceive MORE future happiness and therefore be less likely to suicide. What this means is that wishful thinking is a subtle survival tactic. What this means in Charlie’s case is that fido is feasting on long pork tonight.

Also displayed, not so much considered a bias as a natural process of the mind, is motivated reasoning. Herein lies one of the cornerstones of modern delusion in so called “rational” thinking. It causes the human mind a lot of stress to introduce new information. This stress is known as cognitive dissonance. As it turns out, it is much less stress on the mind to create (valid or otherwise) reasoning to rebuke the information than to accept the information.

There’s a darker side to false equivalence though, known as false balance, that threatens to tear our world apart. It’s the increasingly dominant thought that for some reason we MUST tell both sides of a story, especially in media. This is possibly the worst kind of nonsense thinking in modern society.

And here is the big delusion that people seem to have been tricked into believing. Sometimes, in fact MOST of the time, there simply AREN’T two sides of a story. Who came up with this ridiculous form of non thinking? Often sayings can become a mind trap, where we don’t review the meaningfulness of a heavily repeated statement till eventually it is the statement doing the (non)thinking for us. “There are two sides to every story” is one of the worst.

Even though it is true that some issues have many sides, on what basis does any person have an obligation to perpetuate any of them? Take this recent example where a SCIENTIST was criticised for not discussing creationism. Lets not beat around the bush here: discussing an idea, even innocently, perpetuates an idea. Pretending that one unlikely idea has equivalence to another heavily probable idea, creates support for the probably false idea.

I refuse to do it.

We have no obligation to teach others about ideas that we do not support. This is not an issue of discrimination. It is in fact the opposite. Freedom of speech means not only freedom to say what you want, it also means freedom to refrain from saying what you don’t want. Repeating nonsense just to make someone feel good about themselves serves no one in the long run.

It could be even worse. These studies show that presenting someone with a falsity that appeals to their beliefs, followed by clear evidence to the opposite, actually STRENGTHENS belief in the false position. Any wonder that dodgy politicians and fundamentalists are the people banging this balance in media drum the hardest?

Next week: Global warming, is it myth?

My Sweet Anxiety

I’m feeling it today. Like a huge pressure bearing down. I am the rabbit among the wolves. Everyone is out to get me.

Here we go again. Trying to broach “that” topic. Another article you’ll probably never read. Because it never works…and there’s a reason why. You’d understand if you knew the answer but until that point you may just have to guess.

Some days it’s just so hard to see the humorous side of things. I know it shouldn’t matter, it’s just I guess people like that kind of thing…and well…that’s part of the problem. I feel an intense compulsion to perform, like a rabbit in a cage.

Attention can be my worst enemy. When I know someone is reading I feel I need to please them. My best work comes when I’m writing “into the wind”, so to speak. When someone is watching I feel trapped. Like a rabbit in a spotlight.

That’s how I’m feeling right now. That’s how I feel almost all the time in fact, just now it’s a little extreme. There’s a tightness inside, like I’m getting ready to defend myself from…well something. My eyes are sweating a little. I hardly move aside from the small almost imperceptible movements of my fingers as I type on my phone. Ok, here we go…

When I was younger I lived in a small town. Well several small towns really. My father got shifted around a lot, due at first to working in a bank and following where the work was I guess. Later it was just bad luck. But it’s all the same, either way, and the end result is I really have no place I can call home.

It’s really difficult to form real bonds when you’re moved from town to town. Most people come from families that have lived in these towns since their grandparents. They’re afraid of outsiders…not necessarily in a direct sense (although there is that too). It’s more of a deep sense of foreboding. And among the children that becomes expressed as hatred. There were times, especially just after I’d moved town, when it wasn’t just my imagination, everyone really did hate me.

God it’s hard to talk about the past. It comes back to “that” thing. I could explain but the first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club. Suffice it to say, in my mind, every single word is being judged.

Maybe that’s why I’ve developed such a critical eye for analysis of literature. I know what it’s like to write from a tortured soul. Every word carefully weighed and measured. Nothing left that shouldn’t be there.

I can feel the eyes of strangers staring at me. Like they can see the words I’m typing. Like they are judging me. Getting ready to attack. My sweet anxiety.

That’s what I fear will be judged the most. It’s almost romantic. ALMOST like I love to be the anxiety guy. It gives me definition. How else can one talk though when we’re surrounded by romanticism on every side. So much of our literature in modern times is dominated by it, I almost want to throw up at the thought.

Entire subcultures have arisen around romanticising anxiety. Emo, goth. There are others but its all the same. It’s a little insulting in some ways, but in other ways I know how they feel so I can feel some sort of bond. Part of me thinks its just pathetic romanticisation but I’d like to think that at least on some level it’s an attempt to express the unspeakable.

So anyway, back to the story. One thing that we did (semi regularly) when I was growing up was to go fox and rabbit hunting. It was fairly common in the country, partly because both are quite a nuisance to farming. I would go with my cousin shooting. Funny to think now that we used to let our children go out “playing” with guns.

I was never any good at it. In fact I never once even shot an animal. I’m not sure why but I just didn’t have an aptitude for shooting. It’s possible I was a little nervous at the thought of killing. Well at least, I never shot anything until one day.

I must have been about nineteen. I’d gone out with a friend I had made at university as well as my dad. Or at least that’s how I remember it but sometimes my memories get jumbled up. I don’t completely remember the events leading up to it, but I remember the moment. It was like time stretched out for eternity. The rabbit had ended up sitting before me, possibly entranced by the spot light. It looked kind of dumbfounded, like the empty look you see in a sheep’s eyes just before you cut it’s throat. I stood with the gun in my hand, aiming. The others stood by watching. He looked up at me, almost begging for me to finish it, but how could I possibly have known that?

When I was really young, like five years old, I had a lot of cuddly toys. Teddy bears and the like literally (I mean the classic sense of the word) covered my bed and filled our toy box. My favourite however was a little white rabbit. From memory it was shaped like an actual rabbit, not one of these Bugs Bunnyesque “rabbits”. It was actually kind of off white, and it had a fuzzy exterior almost like soft carpet.

I don’t think anyone else knew but I loved that little rabbit. I would sleep with it every night. There are certain things that I would just find sublime and could probably never explain exactly why. Like the sensation of going up and down stairs. Or the Down syndrome girl I made friends with at school. The feeling of quiet solitude in a school library. And that little toy rabbit. Few things in life make no demands, and that was one of them.

One day a lady came to the door (at least I recall mum saying it was a lady) asking for donations for poor children. I believe they were looking for old toys to give to the less fortunate. A room full of toys were there, if only I’d been asked I probably would have chosen several. Except that I wasn’t asked and just like that my first friend was gone. It wouldn’t be the last.

Flash forward fourteen years and there I was standing in the field, my friend looking up at me. Asking me to forgive him. Asking me to forgive myself. Not moving, an easy target. Finally here was a shot I couldn’t miss. Then boom.

Goodbye childhood.


Does this explain why I love this ending so much…?

The Moral Mind Trap

Lately I’ve been struggling. It’s a kind of mish mash of feelings, somewhere between fear of offending, feeling like my thoughts aren’t good enough, and a feeling (justified or otherwise) of not being able to bring my thoughts to the forefront of what it is I’m trying to write. For someone who writes, it’s kind of paralysing.

The mind is a strange beast. Intuitively (especially in this age of computerisation) we imagine it to be very simple. The standard (naive) mental model is something like this: input goes in, intelligent man (because of course we have a completely different prevailing mental model for women) applies his carefully constructed logic, and decisions come out like manna from heaven. Who would question the results of rational thinking?

But the reality of the situation is of course much deeper than this, and much more dangerous for our misconceptions of the process. I’ve talked before, for instance, about the different voices that vie for control when we think, such as for example (as Freud termed it) the superego. This is just the tip of a very large iceberg of ignorance, hypocrisy, and just plain bad thinking. Not to be deterred by the vastness of the problem however, that’s exactly where we shall begin.

Freud described the superego as that part of our mind that seeks to impose moral ideals onto our conscious thought. It’s not an actual part of our brain hardware, but rather it can be thought of as a piece of software that is intended to protect us. You can think of it as the squishy gray version of antivirus software (unless you find the thought of squishy gray things slightly erotic, in which case your superego has been informed and has got his eye on you). You probably know it under several incarnations: the conscience, the little angel on your shoulder, self criticisms (like repeating catch phrases that an influential figure from your childhood might have said), or that image of father that comes to me at night and insists I spank myself for all the bad deeds of the day (I “swear” I just tripped and fell into this harness). Mostly (at least as Freud theorised) it is even unconscious, that feeling of dread you get when doing something that may not be in the publics (and therefore vicariously your) interest.

For the most part the superego is a super neat guy. It’s the part of our brain that stops society from descending into chaos. Don’t rape people in the street, don’t eat your sister, don’t murder your neighbour (no matter how annoying country music is…but that’s another story).

When distorted through trauma or extreme oppression (which I suppose is a kind of trauma as well) however it can become a destructive force in your mind. It seeks to punish you for natural feelings, to the point where you are not making decisions in life from a position of clear rational thought, but simply out of trying to avoid the wrath of the superego. Left unquestioned, or even worse, reinforced by certain seemingly rational behavioural patterns, and we become its slave.

This becomes a real problem for society, because the next step (once the thinking has ceased) is to turn the fear outwards. Hatred very often is fear inverted. It’s almost certainly not true (in spite of being completely comforting to imagine) that most people hate something because they secretly desire it themselves (like the classic “You’re only homophobic because you’re gay”). But there may be a shred of truth to the concept. More likely, when confronted with something that contradicts someone’s personal moral code, the superego steps in and starts a conversation that goes something like this: “Are you sure you’re strong enough? Maybe you’ll be doing that next. And if you do I’m going to whip you like a butter pancake. If it was me, and I sincerely mean this as a suggestion devoid of any threats, I’d stop that person.”

We don’t like to think about this effect. Part of the superegos makeup is to punish us for even thinking of discussing it. The first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club. The second rule of fight club is you do NOT talk about fight club. Well fuck the rules. I’m talking about fight club.

For the sake of the argument I’m going to coin a phrase. It may not be of my devising since it most likely comes from my subconscious which may have come from others writings. Regardless it’s a term I often use in my thoughts. I call it a mind trap.

A mind trap could be defined as “a series of (seemingly) logical statements, which taken together form an unbreakable circular argument, that specifically ensnares our thoughts so that we can’t break our pattern of thinking without extreme effort”. I’ll also add that usually we are oblivious to the mind traps that ensnare us, primarily because the logic seems so sound and rational. It’s often not a passing thought but a fundamental way of life. It will be seen (by the person ensnared) as a part of WHO they are, and therefore by definition to escape said mind trap is to deny oneself (this is even a mind trap in itself).

There is a common mind trap I’ve observed, and it goes a little something like this. Thomas is good. We know Thomas is good because Thomas does good things. How do we know the things Thomas does are good? Because Thomas does them. To question Thomas’s actions is heresy. Thomas said so. I call this the moral mind trap.

This is one of the most insidious traps a mind can fall into. Since morals are so fundamental to our identity we will fight to defend it. It will come as a personal front for another to suggest we question our reasoning.

Taken alone, I suppose, this isn’t the most terrible thing someone could fall privy to. A well balanced mind could probably overcome Thomas. It’s when the superego becomes a fan of Thomas that the problem arises. That is when hatred is born, both inward and outward. The moral mind trap becomes the holding pattern the superego uses to divert our incoming critical thought. By diverting our regular rational thought, terrible things are done in the name of reason and decency.

My name is Tyler Durden. This is my story.

“We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives.” – Fight Club

Analyse This

I thought I’d just put this down here and see what people think. Freud said dreams are wish fulfilment. I’m not sure if this is true or not, or even if that’s a statement that can be proven one way or another, but it’s a good way to start thinking about your dreams anyway. That being said, analyse this.

I had this dream when I was about five. I had a lot of strange dreams from a very early age. This is unusual apparently. Most children have fairly simple dreams like getting the cookie from the cookie jar (which is partially what lead Freud to his theory). Not me however. The more disturbing dreams I’ll leave for another day, but today it’s the dream of the giant chocolate crackle. Yes, this is one of the LESS disturbing dreams.

Obviously one can only ever relate a dream starting at the point they remember. So don’t take the beginning as statement of fact but it’s a good enough place to start.

At the time I was very good friends with the neighbour child whom I went to kindergarten with. The dream starts with my mother asking the two of us (five year old children) to go down the street to buy bread and milk. Oh just by the way, I was living in Bairnsdale at the time. I have good memories of living there even though I only lived there for about a year an a half.

On the way to the store we walked past the local football field and a game was in progress so we decided to stop and watch. There was a lot of people in the crowd, which if you know Bairnsdale is a little unusual since its kind of a small town, but maybe my memory is just hazy.

The football game was progressing and that’s when things got weird. I heard screaming from the crowd and the next thing I knew people were running for the exits. I looked to the source of the screaming and saw a giant chocolate crackle. Not just an inanimate chocolate crackle, but one with a face and arms and legs, as was in the marketing for the cereal at the time.

It was in a total rage. Something like a tasty version of the Incredible Hulk. It definitely seemed like it was a male crackle but clearly that wasn’t the case because the cause of her rage became immediately apparent. She was, in fact, having a baby. And god forbid anyone who was near.

The whole thing resolved fairly quickly and we both decided to continue with our task. We bought the bread and milk and continued home. A great time was had by all.

So what do you think? Any ideas?