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Revelation about the human mind

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Jul. 20th, 2005 | 09:38 pm
mood: excitedexcited
music: Tool

I just had a revelation about the human mind.

I take it as self-evident that the mind is only capable of making new associations. An association, once made, will
remain in the mind forever, although its final destination may be changed through guided thought. For example, it may
be for someone that spiders are linked with fear. This association will remain forever. But it is possible to make a
further association, associating this fear of spiders with something else which dissipates the fear. The result being
that the fear is no longer the final association of spiders.

Given this, how is it possible to alter the mind? It is possible only by this method of making new associations. As a
child, we start with only the associations built in to the structure of our brain. As we grow older, we make new
associations, building on our existing ones. At first we just experience colours. Later, we associate each of these
colours with words. As time goes on, we will further associate shades of colours with different words, continuing this
process until we die.

As it is with colours, it is with all other things. When we see a spider, we (perhaps instinctively) feel fear. But
we may further associate this spider-fear with safety, and so our final feeling when seeing a spider is one of safety.

Then we are no longer afraid. But the mechanism remains, that we have associated spiders -> fear -> safety.
This implies that an emotion may come from multiple sources, and each source leading to an emotion can be directed to
another emotion, depending on the source. As an example, we may still have no control over our fear of heights, even
though our fear of spiders has been associated with safety, and no longer causes fear in us.

So, what is the mechanism of creating a new association to alter the final association in a sequence? I have a theory
on this.

Suppose that we can become "present" to that fear of spiders. Once we have that fear foremost in our minds, we are
capable of creating a new association. To create it, we must have courage in the face of that fear, and not let
ourselves start acting on it. Instead we must keep it there, and create the new association. At that point we can say
"Spiders are not dangerous to me. I will feel safe when I see a spider." By our declaration, the new association is
created. But the declaration must be made while the spider-fear is present, or else it will not create the new
association we want.

On a bit of a tangent, as humans get older they tend to be more stingy with the associations they make. Perhaps they
start to believe that the final associations they have made are "correct", and no new associations need to be made. Or
perhaps they are afraid of what may happen when they make a new association, due to bad experiences in the past. Said
another way, the final association of the experience of making new associations is fear.

Anyway, that is my revelation :)

Going on further, I remember the concept which me and Jerry named "coming around again", back during a (possible drug-
induced) conversation long ago. Imagine you are walking along, and your mind wanders off along a trail of thoughts.
After a while, the trail finishes, and BAM you realize you are walking along in the real world. This is "coming around
again". It's as if your mind goes off on a little journey, and then returns to reality to see what's going on.

I believe that when this happens, normally the thoughts lead nowhere and no new associations are made. Such thoughts
simply occupy time and do nothing else, except perhaps creating stress and/or boredom.

But sometimes the process is finished by a feeling of revelation, and it is here that a new association has been made.
The train of thoughts has been followed to its end, but now a new extension has been added. This is the new
association, and it will remain until the death of that person (excluding brain damage of course).

Thinking further about this.. the mind can be in many states.
- Present to the world around it
- Present to its own thought process
- Following a thought process (but not present to it)
- Creating a new association (briefly)
- Present to bodily feelings (perhaps part of being present to the world)

So, what is the process of creating a possibility, as described in the Landmark forum? It is the process of becoming
aware of the final destination of a thought process, and becoming present to it. In that state, with sufficient
courage and conviction, to create a new association. This new association is the "possibility", and it then becomes
the final destination of that chain of associations.

Any comments? I'm keen to hear what people think about this (especially you Jerry)

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Comments {2}

The Mind

from: anonymous
date: Jul. 21st, 2005 05:13 am (UTC)

Most of what you say fits my experience, and very well.

Is this revelation based on programming, hence AI?

I ask this because I thought Godel's Incompleteness Theorem had opened up the way for us to always be able to construct a true but unprovable statement - we know it to be true by some association but we can't prove it by every other association at our command?

I specially like what you say because it fits my gut feeling that we live in a "constructivist" or "intuitionistic" realm where we associate or construct out our world rather than "discover" a platonic world which exists independently of us.

The bit I initially disagreed with is the "I take it as self-evident that the mind is only capable of making new associations. An association, once made, will remain in the mind forever, although its final destination may be changed through guided thought."

I did work at diminishing my fear of spiders but in the end, I think it came and disappeared through some other process than my conscious effort. I suspect it of having an hormonal origin.


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Re: The Mind

from: btherl
date: Jul. 21st, 2005 05:27 am (UTC)

Actually it stemmed from reading the Mind Map book, as well as all the previous associations already existing in my mind.

That mapping of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem to the structure of the mind is interesting. I wonder what it would look like when expressed as associations?

On reflection now, I believe that it may be possible for associations to dissipate. Perhaps the mind's structure also includes a way to destroy associations. And it is difficult for us to see this in ourselves, because an association which is not there cannot be observed or thought about.

I feel like making the argument "Do you remember any associations that you no longer remember? No, therefore it's not possible to forget associations." :)

So the fear of spiders just disappeared? Perhaps there was some fundamental association caused by the hormones which, once missing, broke the chain. All we can do is speculate I suppose. But if you were never conscious of it disappearing, then that seems to rule out creation of a new association. Unless it is possible to create associations without being conscious of their creation. Like the way ads and logos imprint themselves upon our minds.

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