What you think, you do. What you do, you experience. What you experience, you feel. Be conscious of that cycle and you can know freedom.
You have a conscious world, and, to adapt a Jungian archetype, a shadow world. That place we fear to go, that place we fear is our destiny, that place we fear could creep up on us at any moment. You have seen your shadow world in your dreams when your subconscious mind recognizes a pattern of information or behaviour that seems to be resolving itself in an attention getting way.
They have proven in sleep research that we have nightmare like dreams more commonly than pleasant or seemingly neutral dreams. The theory being is they keep us primed to enact a rapid response should we encounter threats while awake, but the brain doesn’t make the distinction between the hypothetical and the real, and events in your nightmare life will have a very real impact on your body and mind during your waking life. You are having that nightmare all day every day. You don’t notice this because your brain is trained to ignore it. It surfaces at most as vague feelings, but it does create patterns in what they call your implicate memory.
In your experience does your conscious memory often seem almost like reliving an experience? Like watching someone stub their toe hard is almost like reliving that experience yourself, no? They say that has a survival value as well to ensure that we feel aversion to doing whatever hurt the other person, as well as motivating cooperative behaviour, seeing to the well being of the group.
Well, the implicate memory is unconscious. It stores all the reactions you didn’t pay attention to when you went through your day. The subconscious things that tell you things like should someone befoul your food you have reason for anger, or should someone behave as if they intend to strike you you should feel nervous. You didn’t start out knowing to have that reaction. The infant has almost no defensive reactions.
Can you control your defensiveness? Most likely no, or it would seem that you couldn’t. It takes over your gut or emotional reactions, and you can have even very complex reactions before you have the time to think it over. Arguably, you have thought those reactions over in your nightmares. How often have you had experiences that made you think, “What made me do that?”
But are they applied differently when sorted by your waking brain? Usually not. They can change over time. With reflection on your past experiences this part of the mind can be retrained though it doesn’t happen as quickly or easily as does conscious change.
So, antipathy could be thought of as a psychological allergic reaction, an immune response to components of your environment you have tried to exclude from your conscious constitution. And just as your immune profile can have a huge impact on your well being (it can be the difference between life or death really) so can this unseen part of your consciousness. Self destructive behaviour could be thought of as an auto-immune reaction to the collective body of experience that the consciousness has rejected, an effort to expunge the unacceptable by expunging the basis for experience itself. It would seem something to get a handle on, doesn’t it?
Ancient cultures had structured ways of doing this and arguably the content they had to confront was a bit more concrete than modern concerns. Rites of passage, vision quests, rituals of initiation. The various spiritual mysteries of ancient culture were never hedonistic parties. They were frightening, distressing experiences, that after were the basis of reconciling the initiate to the observations taught by that order. Sort of encouraging the brain to let go of its habits before it adopts a new framework of perception or realization. Is there a reason we don’t need to do this anymore?
How logical. The reasons may have changed due to our changed lifestyle, but no.
There was even a fringe practice among Native American communities where someone who had seriously alienated themselves from the community would be isolated and monitored away from home in a hut. Monitored both by a shaman and a medical professional, but deprived of food and water, and human contact with strategic scenes staged just outside of the hut. Spaced apart so the person would have time to clear their head and lose conscious track of what they had heard. I guess it could be considered a form of psychological torture, but it doesn’t go on indefinitely, and when they emerge they often express gratitude for the intervention both to the shaman as well as to the other members of their tribe and family and go on to display meaningfully changed attitude and behaviour after that, sort of like the change of attitude people often report after a near death experience. Is this morally wrong to do?
No more than today’s methods of intervention for the “good of the patient.”
Not with a willing participant or with someone who is in critical condition.
They don’t do it casually, only in serious cases, chronic violent behaviour, spousal abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, things like that. Really, where life is on the line.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.