The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Insects in our brains

I was perusing the news via Google and came across this article from the UK's Daily Mail..

How to tame the monsters in your mind

"In his new book Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, Dr Amen identifies the infuriatingly common scourge: the ANT (Automatic Negative Thought), which he describes as ‘the ­little voices that pop into your head and tell you you’re not good enough, not thin enough, a rubbish daughter, mother, worker’.

A few ANTS, he says, can be managed.

Didn't the Dianetics folks think of this first? Engrams, I think they called them.

I once visited a Dianetics center. I was intrigued enough to read a little bit of L. Ron Hubbards' book and take some kind of survey thing and then drop by a center. This was in San Diego sometime around 1977, I believe. I was less than impressed. As they seemed to be with me.

I am sure I didn't quite understand it all. I suppose I was not expected to. In fact, I suspect I was not supposed to understand so they could then "guide" me to clarity and understanding. Something which would have cost me money, fostered my dependence on Scientology, and generally made me into someone I wasn't.

I politely turned them down. I think it was politely, I don't recall being escorted out of there by security.

The premise of ANTs is similar to those engrams. Negative thoughts which we can learn to control, to suppress. Of course, that suppression can get out of hand, can't it? How do we know which thoughts to suppress and which to let out and examine in a positive manner?

As we grow up, our experiences "program" our brains. How we interact with people and how we perceive that interaction form the "program" which controls future human interactions. Think of an infant as a new computer, fresh out of the box (so to speak). It has only its basic operating system. You will give it a name, you will "teach" it many things. Each person the child meets and interacts with will enhance its programming by expanding, or restricting, its operating parameters.

When "bad" things happen as a result of our interaction, we learn to avoid similar interactions. For instance, we become more shy when those we are exposed to treat us poorly or seem threatening. I say "more shy" because I believe we are all (generally) born shy. A defense mechanism, you might say, tied into the instinct for survival. We learn to overcome that shyness in order to function in society. It's all part of socialization.

When "good" things happen, we tend to repeat or seek out similar interactions.

But things don't always go well in our programming. "Bugs" are introduced. And "flaws" in our basic mechanism interfere. We develop certain reactions to interaction events. These "bugs" can impede all future interactions. They can impede our chances of success in life, they can hurt our chances of having a stable relationship, they can literally drive us crazy.

Scientology claims they can eliminate the engrams (or, perhaps, reduce their impact on our psyches) so we can have fulfilling lives. I actually think the basic concept is not a bad one. I just don't think Scientology really knows what they are doing. But I do think those involved in it believe in it.

I have not read the book that the Daily Mail mentions. And I probably won't. It is a self help book and I have felt beyond help for many, many years. Still, I think it might be useful to many people. These things have been around for many years ("The Power of Positive Thinking", "How to Win Friends and Influence People", "I'm OK, You're OK", etc) and are the poor man's means of self-analysis. I have always been a poor man and full of angst and neuroses so I have gravitated toward these all along. I do not actually read them, though.

I am afraid they will work.


Pearl said...

I, too, read part of the Dianetics book. Even at 17, by the time I hit the third chapter, my head was screaming "cult!"

I don't mind guidance -- although no easily led -- but too often my opinion of the person attempting to do the leading is that they're trying to control me in order to fulfill something in themselves...

Yeah. That's what I think. :-)


The Jules said...

Anything which pertains to be remotely scientific and is lauded by the Daily mail is probably guff.

I remember reading (about half of) Dianetics, and I thought Mr Hubbard was just taking the piss.

And then lots of people fell for it.

Douglas said...

Pearl and Jules, I think Dianetics is probably the most half-read book in history.