DO Look Down

DO Look Down

Mental Health is a Matter of Degree!

My reading tells me that we are all neurotic and some of us are so neurotic that we cannot function satisfactorily in normal society and are then considered to be mentally ill.

All humans repress aspects of their life that might cause anxiety. This repression is called neurosis. It is the constant conflict wherein the ego constantly struggles to hold down thoughts that will cause anxiety. Freud discovered the unconscious in life and there exists a constant conflict between the unconscious and the ego. The ego keeps that in the unconscious that can cause anxiety from becoming conscious.

Humans are the only species to be self conscious. We dread death and repress that dread because we cannot live with a constant consciousness of our mortality.

Conflict is the essential characteristic of humanness.

Regression to animal existence is one answer to the quest to transcend separateness. Wo/man can try to eliminate that which makes her human but also tortures her; s/he can discard reason and self-consciousness. What is noteworthy here is that if everybody does it, it ain’t fiction; anything everyone does is reality, even if it is a virtual reality. For most people, reason and reality is nothing more than public consensus. “One never ‘loses one’s mind’ when nobody else’s mind differs from one’s own.”

Regression to our animal form of instinctual behavior happens when we replace our lost animal instincts with our own fully developed symbolic instincts; we can then program our self to uncritically follow these culturally formed instincts without further consideration. We can then do like the elephant parade; we hold the tail of the one in front of us with our trunk and march in file without any other thoughts to disturb our tranquility.

“The great characteristic of our time is that we know everything important about human nature that there is to know. Yet never has there been an age in which so little knowledge is securely possessed, so little a part of common understanding. The reason is precisely the advance of specialization, the impossibility of making safe general statements, which has led to a general imbecility.”

The steel worker on the girder
learned not to look down, and does his work
And there are words we have learned
Not to look at,
Not to look for substance
Below them. But we are on the verge
Of vertigo.
George Oppen

Norman Brown informs us that to comprehend Freud one must understand “repression”. “In the new Freudian perspective, the essence of society is repression of the individual, the essence of the individual is repression of the self.”

Freud discovered the importance of repression when he discovered the meaning of the “mad” symptoms of the mentally deranged, plus the meaning of dreams, and thirdly the everyday happenings regarded as slips of the tongue, errors, and random thoughts. He concludes that dreams, mental derangements, and common every day errors (Freudian slips) have meaningful causes that can be explained. Meaningful is the key word here.

Since these psychic phenomena are unconscious we must accept that we have motivation to action with a purpose for which we are unconscious (involuntary purposes). This inner nature of which we are completely unaware leads to Freud’s definition of psychoanalysis as “nothing more than the discovery of the unconscious in mental life.”

Freud discovered that sapiens have unconscious causes which are hidden from her because they are disowned and hidden by the conscious self. The dynamic relationship between the unconscious and conscious life is a constant battle and psychoanalysis is a science of this mental conflict.

The rejection of an idea which is one’s very own and remains so is repression. The essence of repression is in the fact that the individual refuses to recognize this reality of her very own nature. This nature becomes evident when it erupts into consciousness only in dreams or neurotic symptoms or by slips of the tongue.

The unconscious is illuminated only when it is being repressed by the conscious mind. It is a process of psychic conflict. “We obtain our theory of the unconscious from the theory of repression.” Freud’s hypothesis of the repressed unconscious results from the conclusion that it is common to all humans. This is a phenomenon of everyday life; neurosis is common to all humans.

Quotes from Ernest Becker Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction “Denial of Death”

Define “meaningful cause” and differentiate it from simply “cause”.

Where does the meaningful come in?

The great truth of the nineteenth century was that produced by William Dilthey, which was what wo/man constantly strived for. ”It was “meaning” said Dilthey, meaning is the great truth about human nature. Everything that lives, lives by drawing together strands of experience as a basis for its action; to live is to act, to move forward into the world of experience…Meaning is the relationship between parts of experience.” Man does not do this drawing together on the basis of simple experience but on the basis of concepts. Man imposes symbolic categories of thought on raw experience. His conception of life determines the manner in which s/he values all of its parts.

Concludes Dilthey, meaning “is the comprehensive category through which life becomes comprehensible…Man is the meaning-creating animal.” Quote from “Beyond Alienation” Becker

Objectivists claim:

“Linguistic expressions and the concepts they express are symbolic structures, meaningless in themselves, that get their meaning via direct, unmediated correlation with things and categories in the actual world (or possible worlds).”

[b]SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) claim that the underlying error in this comprehension of meaning is that meaning depends in no way upon the nature of the thinking, communication, and experience of the human agent. SGCS takes this to be the central problem with the objectivist approach.

The SGCS approach is far different; it attempts “to characterize meaning in terms of the nature of the organisms doing the thinking.”[/b]

Experience is construed in a broad sense; it is construed as “the totality of human experience and everything that plays a role in it—the nature of our bodies, our genetically inherited capacities, our modes of physical functioning in the world, our social organization, etc. In short, it takes as essential much of what is seen as irrelevant in the objectivist account”

Experimentalism, i.e. SGCS, characterizes meaning in terms of embodiment. Conceptual structure exists in a preconception form that is hardwired, it is genetically formed. This structure is in the form of basic-level categories, which are defined by our gestalt perception, and kinesthetic image schematic structures, which are simple structures that enter into our everyday bodily experience.

These preconceptual structures are directly meaningful because they “are directly and repeatedly experienced because of the nature of the body and its mode of functioning in our environment.”

Abstract conceptual structures are indirectly meaningful because they are understood due to their “systematic relationship to directly meaningful structures”.

[b]The word ‘meaning’ has at least two meanings. The meaning of something can be its definition as found in a dictionary; also the meaning of something can be what association it has with me. For example: the Iraq war had some meaning to me as an aware citizen of America but that same war has a great deal more meaning to me if my grandson joins the army and is sent to Iraq.

Is it possible for the word, i.e. language, to come before the meaning?[/b]

Quotes from “Women, fire, and Dangerous Things” by George Lakoff