We always make a decision. I type these words and you will decide what they mean to you. It doesn’t have to be deliberate. We are conditioned if we aren’t instead mindful. It will happen one way or another.
The Buddhists have always told us that “self” is an illusion. Useful, but not a place to stop with inquiry. There is a rare form of brain damage that leads someone to believe they do not exist. They believe the world around them exists. They believe that people talking to them exist. They even believe the words they say exist, but they have lost their ability to orient in such a way as to experience “self.”
A psychological defense? Recognition failure. The injury can be brought on by brain infection. They do not perceive there to be any such person as the one people insist they are speaking to. They do not believe that they exist even in the room, but they are aware of the room. There is more than one documented case.
Can they still function independently? In general, their function is seriously impaired.
They are at the stage of being before the concept of ‘I’? Yes. Generally their process is fairly resilient, and if I recall correctly it can even be recovered by extensive rehabilitation without the loss of “higher” memory.
The person exists like a computer that needs us to put in the software? In a sense.
Now they generally cannot convince you that you are not real, that you do not exist or are not present, not without extreme and generally illegal procedures, but what they can do is confuse your sense of your “physical” self. In one experiment they even got the person’s nervous system reacting in such a way that they flinched and responded to a pin prick that was being given to a mannequin’s hand. Another experiment, involving sensory isolation protocols, can have you believing that you are laying on a table beside yourself.
These are examples of “projection”? In an overt sense, but our life experience is a subtle case of projection at all times. My point is that your behavior arises not from your conscious thought or even your singular brain, but from environmental processes around you which you broadcast out into as well. This is why you can so regularly do something and seriously not know why you behaved or reacted that way. They are finding all sorts of patterns in nature that verify this.
Is it even possible, then, not to be “reactive”? It is, and I will touch on that before we conclude.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.