A twofer: my interesting problem, and Freedom of Thought (long)

Heh. Once again, I have dug myself into the hole that is the inability to sleep, and against my better judgement, I am using that fact as an excuse to write a massive post for the SDMB. This instance of insomnia, however, is different from the rest, in terms of how I have come upon that state. What I have done this time is far from a unique occurrence for me, and yet never before can I recall having done it to the extent to which I appear to have done now.

It seems I’ve dug myself into a hole. I make it a point to play around with my subconscious at regular intervals, periodically using my metaconsciousness to restructure my thought patterns and make minor adjustments to individual ideas. I do this for a few reasons: to ensure consistency, making sure all beliefs jive with each other; to explore, generating new ideas based on combinations of the old which I can then contemplate; to grow, expanding the scope of current ideas to check their relevance (or lack thereof) in other areas; and to test myself, to ensure that I can still forcibly modify my consciousness if need be. It is this last effort that is both the most important and the most powerful; it allows me to convince myself of that which I logically know to be true, to maintain control over my emotions when the need arises (also useful in combating my temper), to indulge in the occasional bit of pragmatism such that I can shove idealism aside when action truly needs to be taken (clearly, this is not often put into practice, but I need to make sure I can still do it), and finally, to stretch my boundaries: to put new, wild ideas into my head and see how they interact with the rest of my beliefs within that thought pattern. It’s that last one, a form of self-imposed mental experiment, that gets me into trouble.

Sometimes, you see, my mind will take a particular experimental idea and decide that it has some merit. It then latches onto that idea, churns it around for a bit, extrapolates all that can be derived from it, and does a check to see whether the new expanded idea fits in with the rest of my belief system. Approximately one percent of these ideas are determined to be “correct” and are added to the belief set; about five percent are found to have a decent correlation and are placed aside for further contemplation/modification; and the rest are discarded immediately as having one or more fatal logical flaws. This works fine when the idea being introduced is logical in nature. Emotion, however, does not fare so well in this system; as usual, it just screws everything up. It has done so in the past two days, and it is the cause of the quandary in which I now find myself.

I have had this happen before. Many times I have introduced an emotional concept into my mind. Generally, they take the form of “Emotion X often results from stimulus Y if Y also produces inductive conclusion Z”. Most of these are rejected as illogical, and leave little more than a lingering trace upon the sum total of my psyche (more than a purely logical idea would have, but insignificant nonetheless). The problem begins when the idea in question is self-referential, i.e. “Hypothesis: I feel X about Y.” When I introduce one of these, my mindset alters to a point where I begin to feel that emotion, and I must maintain an excruciatingly careful level of metaconscious detachment in order to remember that I am experimenting, to enable myself to “end task” if unforeseen danger should arise. That need for mental stability and control is exactly why I shouldn’t do this sort of thing at night. Unfortunately, that’s not the way the chips fall. There’s a reason most people are at their creative best at nighttime; fatigue lends itself both to introspection and relaxation of consciously-imposed boundaries, allowing the mind to explore thoughts to the wildest limits of imagination without the cold hand of logic and structured belief smacking it into oblivion, but allowing it also to wreak havoc upon itself with an equal lack of constraint. When left unchecked, a self-referential emotion-based idea can work its way through one’s consciousness, implanting itself into the core of one’s psychological structure, becoming in essence a part of one’s very being.

Of course, the extent of this implantation is directly proportional to the relevance of the idea itself. If “I feel X about Y” is analogous to “I like pepperoni on my pizza”, it will manifest itself in a purely surface-level form, and can be dismissed if and when it is found to be contrary to the ideas that precede it (for example, if I did not like pepperoni on my pizza, I would come upon that newly-formed “conclusion” next time I called Domino’s, and my memory of not liking pepperoni would immediately nix it, leaving only a passing curiosity as to why it was there in the first place). Should the idea happen to be correct, or else a logical extension of a currently held idea, it will stick around. That second part is key; a little precedent goes a long way where this sort of thing is concerned. The problem is, though, that some emotions are not nearly so innocuous as topping preference. Of those emotions, perhaps the greatest is Love. You can guess where this is going.

There is a girl with whom I work that I have had my eye on for quite some time. Over the past couple days, it is no exaggeration to say that I have talked to her longer than all the times during the rest of the year I’ve been working there combined. I have determined that, in addition to being her physically attractive, she is funny, interesting to talk to, fun to be around, and without a doubt the sweetest, happiest, most – and this is an odd way for me to compliment somebody, especially if you know me personally – most positive person I have ever met. Simply being around her makes me smile, and (if this makes any sense), I find it nearly impossible to talk to her without just reaching over and hugging her. I made up my mind tonight to ask her out tomorrow, and with that, I set off to go to sleep. That was when I made a crucial mistake. I wondered what it would be like if I ever fell in love with her. My mind got started, and I drifted off into that state where consciousness subsides, yet sleep does not fully take hold. Slowly but surely, the ethereal substance of my emotional psyche began to alter. At this point, the “logical extension” theorem bit me in the ass; I’d likely have noticed the change taking place had I decided to contemplate hating her, but as I already felt a significant amount of affection for her, the individual alterations were so subtle that it was no trouble at all for my mind to re-mold itself with no intervention on my part. I began to have a very pleasant dream of holding her in my arms, watching her smile, and being wonderfully content in the moment. That was when my VCR decided to turn itself off, and I awoke.

Which brings me to the present. I currently find suddenly (and, I am certain, artificially) in love with a girl I have little more than a friendly acquaintanceship with. I now cannot think of this girl without this feeling coursing its way through every fiber of my being, and what’s more, I cannot attempt to go to sleep again without thinking of this girl. You may be thinking that the preceding was a whole lot of preamble to a revelation that I have a crush on somebody. I can assure you that that is not the case. A crush would’ve been what I had before. I have been in love before, with a girl I dated for the better part of three years, and I know that feeling well (how can one ever forget it?), and this is it…albeit decidedly more artificial in flavor; there is no doubt whatsoever that I caused this to happen, whereas the first time was quite real and quite the spontaneous. Thanks to my own carelessness, I am now pretty much screwed. I’ll see her again tomorrow, and while I’m positive I won’t say or do anything untoward (such is the advantage of acute self-awareness), it will be interesting at the very least to see how my emotions behave. I have great faith that I’ll sort it out eventually; I always do, but something as strong as this will take a while to completely eradicate. If it is as firmly embedded as I suspect, I will have to take care not convince myself that I actually dislike her in the process.

I realize that the above may well sound completely insane. This would probably be because, by the commonly accepted definition, a part of my mind is likely partially insane at any given time. An overapplication of introspection tends to do that. The trick is to train oneself, as I have done, to be self-aware enough to realize what’s happening and maintain a sense of perspective. The entity that does this would be the real “me”, or, as I have termed it in the past (and in the second paragraph of this post), my metaconsciousness. As long as my metaconsciousness remains active and unaltered, going completely schizophrenic (as happens to those who overindulge in this process without boundaries, and as has happened to more than one member of my family) is simply out of the question. Oh, and if anybody was going to bother, please don’t tell me to see a psychologist; even if I didn’t keep myself in check, I have my best friend, who helped me to create and explore the processes I’ve described here. Whenever either of us feels unsure as to what’s what, the other one grounds us abruptly and firmly back to reality. That doesn’t happen often, but it’s a good system to have in place regardless.

But I’m rambling now. Funny how 30 hours without sleep (not counting the aforementioned hour) will do that. Anyhow, I just thought I’d share my little dilemma with you. You have to admit, it’s an interesting quandary.

The rest of this post is for the folks who were curious about my Freedom of Thought Movement that I’ve mentioned in a couple other threads. If you don’t care about that, feel free to stop reading (if you haven’t grown tired of my ramblings already :wink: ) The technical terms contained within are the products of my own mind; if any of this meshes with standing psychological theory, it is entirely unintentional. In other words, I made this crap up; take it for what it is, and nothing more.

The Freedom of Thought Movement involves teaching people to perform introspection and idea/belief analysis through the methods I’ve described above (and many others). It’s incredibly liberating in terms of what it allows you to do and learn, not only in regard to yourself, but to others. Through self-examination, you can learn about what you think, why you think it*, and how* you think about it. You can explore the ways in which your own ideas relate to each other, and form solid beliefs based on correlations between existing thoughts. The more you do this, the stronger your belief system becomes, and the more confidence you have in it…and therefore, in ourselves. Then, empowered with this self-confidence, you can apply what you’ve learned to the people around you. I can guarantee you will be amazed at what you discover. You’ll be able to confirm what you perhaps already suspected; that everyone else is not actually so different from you as you once thought. By interpreting their actions and words, you will be able to determine the major elements of their thought processes, and you will discover that those same algorithms exist in your mind, whether they are the ones you use most often or not. With these realization comes a greater understanding of your fellow man. You will be able to relate more effectively to those around you, which translates into the pragmatic benefit of improved communication, and the idealistic benefit of a greater range of empathy and compassion. Even if, upon examining another person’s beliefs to their fullest, you still disagree, you will have an understanding of that person based on your knowledge about yourself that will allow you to tolerate, and maybe even ultimately accept, that person to a degree that would before have been impossible. Stretch it out a bit further, and maybe…just maybe…one day we can even learn to love each other. The movement’s motto embodies this essential principle.

Freedom of Thought: from Thought to Acceptance to Love.

Introspection does not come naturally to most. For the many who have rejected intense self-examination, whether due to fear, societal discouragement, or simply because they never thought of doing it, the Freedom of Thought Movement will teach, at a slow and gradual pace, the processes involved in introspective self-analysis. For the already introverted, we will monitor their progress, functioning largely as a friend whom they can talk to if they want help in sorting things out. Such undertakings as the sort of experimentation I performed on myself tonight, and the multiple simultaneous analyses that lead me to permit myself to do it, are considered high-level and will not be introduced to those who do not have a solid grasp on the basics of multi-leveled thought (the metaconsciousness, the conscious and the subconscious, along with countless subroutines that exist on separate stages of these three levels). So, what are the beginner-level processes? How do we teach people to move from one level to the next while still maintaining control? How do we introduce multi-leveled thought to people who’ve never so much as counted to 10 before speaking without risking a mental breakdown? These are the questions I don’t have solid answers for, which is why I have not yet started the active portion of the movement. I absolutely refuse to do so until I am 100% certain of the answers to those, and a few other pertinent questions, and have inflicted the processes upon myself and reached the same conclusions I already have (in other words, to ensure that I’m teaching people to do the same thing I am doing). The dangers of haphazardly proceeding with what I propose here are very real and very frightening (trust me, I’ve glanced over the edge of the wrong side of sanity, and it isn’t a pretty sight). I realize that, which is why the idea of the movement is, at present, just that: an idea. The way I see it, I’m 20 years old, and I’ve got the idea; I have plenty of time to figure out the rest.

The beauty of the thing, and the reason I believe it can and will be successful, is that it doesn’t make a difference what specific ideas are being examined. Anybody, with any belief system, of any persuasion, with any ideals can experience Freedom of Thought.

Oh, and please, don’t get the impression that I’m some self-righteous jerk who thinks that he’s a genius and everybody else is beneath him. Very much the opposite, actually; my whole point is that if I can do this, anybody can. I’m not a genius, just a normal guy who thinks about stuff too freakin’ much, and is lucky enough to have a best friend who does the same. I don’t think I’m qualified to lead this movement because I’m smarter than everybody else…I think I’m qualified to lead it because it’s a path I’ve already beaten, traveled hundreds of times, and know like the back of my hand. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I think it’s wonderful, and I want to show people. That’s all.

Well, that wraps that up. One hell of a long post, this is, and one that I hope will generate at least some commentary. That’s fine; I welcome comments on my ideas, since how else would I get any conflicting viewpoints to experiment with? Please, go ahead; tell me what you think.

Bah. Upon review after actually getting some sleep: this is why I shouldn’t post when my inhibitions are relaxed. Repeat to yourself, Roland: these are the sort of things you think, but you don’t say to anyone (except Ben).

I’m not insane. Really. The OP is true, but it requires a bit of relevant context to sound…well, not totally batshit crazy. But hey, I did post it, and we’ve got to live with our posts, and I do wonder what people made of the above mess. So:


I skipped several parts, because, well, it was long and boring. I’m just wondering if you had a main point you wanted to convey, because I couldn’t find it :stuck_out_tongue:

First there’s the Sleep sex story, now there’s sleep rambling.

Eh, that’s fine. It’s there, but I don’t know how to make it meaningful to anyone who isn’t me. Actually, that in itself was kinda the point of the second part; I’m trying to figure out how to make this crap mean something to people, because it really is useful and meaningful if you understand what’s going on in it.

Let me put it to you this way: what you have read is the untranslated text of the flow of a mental process. In other words, an unfiltered glimpse (well, filtered through the English language, but that doesn’t seem to have helped) into the workings of my mind. If you could follow it, it probably wouldn’t be boring, but it’s not your fault that you don’t. That’s why, as I said, this is the sort of thing I need to not tell anyone yet. Apparently I haven’t even made as much progress as I thought; I expected it to sound a bit odd, but apparently it’s still entirely subjective (at least to some), making it come out as jibberish.

The second part (about the Freedom of Thought Movement) ought to be much more comprehensible than the first. I stop with the self-analytical rambling and actually start talking about why I’m doing it in the first place. I should’ve eliminated the first part entirely; I ought to know better than to assume anybody would be able to (or want to, at least right now) follow that. The point of the thing would be to train people to think about themselves to the extent (if not in the manner) that’s exemplified in the incomprehensible rambling above. Believe it or not, it truly is coherent, even if only three people in the world know the lingo in which it’s written.

That help at all? No? Well, that’s okay. Trust me; don’t worry about it. It’s my own little world, nothing more. :slight_smile:

I’m not one of them, but, uh, thanks for sharing.

Anytime. :smiley:

Roland Orzabal botches Philosophy Attack roll and hits self with Sword of -2 Credibility, dealing 5d6 points of Aggravated Perceived Image Damage, healable only by repeated long-term use of the Concise/Coherent Post Spells. Game master gives Roland a nasty look, and tells him to keep this stuff to himself.

While you may have lacked a certain amount of clarity I have to admit that most of it made sense. Of course, I was incredibly tired when I read through it and was thusly more open to ideas. But yes, I guarantee others made sense of this.

However, I don’t think you should expect everyone to make sense of your ideas at first. Roland, you have to remember that while we may all be capable of a deeper, more self-aware, and self-analytical style of thought processes, we are not all able to immediately jump into this mindset. You yourself recognize that the movement must go in steps, phases in which you teach your students the various pieces that will come together to form the entirety of Freedeom of Thought. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who will understand the basics of what you’ve written. Plenty of people who also employ mental tactics to refine their beliefs and actions.

One thing a teacher must always know is this: if the idea is worth teaching, then it is worth the perseverance.

Perhaps, as you follow through with the movement, you may find that you need to “dumb down” your initial teaching methods. Make the introduction simpler. Use this thread (as I’m sure you planned) to test the waters and see what percentage of people can sift through your open mind. Lower things down as much as possible and then build them back up infront of others. Framework. Think of this as a construct.

When I read over your post last night, I decided to wait until today to write a response, hoping the lapse in time would afford me more clarity. Saddly, I waited long enough to where I’ve fallen back into the land of incomprehensibility.

It definitely makes some sense to me, although I’m not up on the lingo, as far as I know. The first part of the post rang some loud memory bells for me, so much so that I had to stop and do something else for a while so that I could understand the Freedom of Thought parts a bit better.

I will have to think about it more later, as right now domestic chores and little worries are consuming me and I can’t get far enough away from them.

Made sense to me. Though I disagree with your conclusions.

Still, it’s nice to see another poster use the word metaconscious.

Congratulations, you seem to have found a way to drive yourself around the bend.(Or is it mobius loop?) You can now forego the whole psychiatric swamp and proceed to your local laughing cademy for the very, very disturbed, and sign yourself in.I’m sure you will find many fellow, ah…discoverers of esoteric truths, to discuss your revelations with.

I plan to save your OP in case the day comes when I find myself overly happy for no good reason, and need to temper my mood with rampant paranoia. Thank you.

Two answers to this immediately spring to mind. I shall post them both.

Gut-level snarky response

True, one of the side effects of thinking about things is that you discover that some of them don’t make you happy. Welcome to the world.

Response that pretends your post was not meant to be insulting

It is indeed true that overindulgence in this kind of thing can, at times, lead to fits of depression and hopelessness. Being largely cyclical (a quality which the more astute will recognize almost immediately upon trying it), it can also lead to moments of euphoria and inner relaxation. I will grant that the former moments are, for me, more frequent than the latter. I never said otherwise. Personally, I believe that the things I’ve learned about myself and others from going through these processes are worth far more to me than an ignorance-based happiness. I find the application of thought exhilirating, and am more than willing to deal with it if and when the results are less than encouraging.

Your “laughing academy” comment, sarcastic though it may have been, was not entirely unwarranted. As I pointed out in the OP, anything less than the utmost concentration on reality when proceeding with this sort of thinking can and does lead to full-blown paranoid schizophrenia. Just ask my uncle Glenn. The danger of this is the reason that multi-leveled thought absolutely must be understood and consciously practiced before embarking upon this sort of thing. The metaconscious must remain engaged during this process, while remaining totally inactive in it save for pulling oneself back to reality should one find oneself standing on the brink. Been there, and, thankfully, done that every single time. For those that have any idea what I’m talking about, the cardinal rule of applied Freedom of Thought:

Experimental introspection must never be performed on the metaconscious.

Ever. Under any circumstances. It’s hard to do, but it is possible; I have done it in the past. Luckily, I have emerged relatively unscathed, as the ideas I have introduced have been largely in line with my current thinking. It is, however, a VERY bad idea. The reason I will be able, in time, to resolve the specific problem I mentioned in the OP is that, although that particular idea has embedded itself into my consciousness and subconscious, my metaconscious is adequately trained in detachment from the other levels to allow me to manipulate them even after the fact. It’s harder to do that than to simply stop oneself from creating the problem in the first place, but still entirely possible. Were I to introduce an oddball metaconscious idea (which, almost by definition, would have to be an ecclectic brand of worldview), I easily could and in all likeliness would f*** myself up beyond repair. Careful detachment of my metaconscious – the entity, as I said, that can most accurately be termed “me” – allows me to engage in the above-mentioned processes on the lower two levels with no risk of damage to my sanity.

Remember when I said that one part of my mind is usually quite insane at any given time? That is true, and that part must be carefully isolated until such time as it has: 1) reached its conclusion and terminated, or 2) continued on its cycle to the point where it is clear that it will not terminate, and is nixed by my metaconscious. If a part of my mind is found to be driving itself around the “mobius loop”, as you quite accurately termed it, it is immediately and unequivocably halted before it can cause any damage. That kind of thing is why I don’t recommend introspection on that level right off the bat.

My final comment to you: there is nothing esoteric whatsoever about the truths that are discovered through Freedom of Thought (which, by the way, is little more than a fancy term for guided introspection). They can be frightening, they can be confusing, they can be depressing, they can even be damaging…but esoteric? No. Try universal…even if most have never bothered to find out. Come back after you’ve taken the first step of this path, and depressed yourself “for no good reason”, and have reached some kind of conclusion based on your own inner truths; then I’ll listen to what you have to say about my own ideas.

Speaking of others’ inner truths: DocCathode, I would love to hear the conclusions you’ve produced. If you’re willing, please either post them here, or drop me a line at RolandOrzabal “at” gmail.com.

Try http://www.mentalhealth.com/drug/p30-a01.html

:eek: :eek: :smiley:

First, none of my posts in this thread are part of any ‘Ether Psychologist’ routine. I’m being serious here.

I do understand what Roland is talking about, or at least most of it. It isn’t dificult to make yourself believe or feel something, if it’s a minor feeling or emotion for a short time. Many actors do this when getting into character.

With practice it’s possible to make more major changes. Sir Francis Galton once studied paranoia by convincing himself that there was a conspiracy against him. He walked out to see how the world was different. A block later, he ran back home in terror because the horses in the street were watching him.

I’m not quite sure what is meant by multilevel thinking. If I understand it correctly, this refers to keeping a part of your awareness detached so as to study and control other thought processes.

I disagree quite strongly with Roland’s statement that introspection leads to the conclusion of similarity between yourself and others. Years of studying the human mind have shown me that my mind is very different from the standard type. This does not, in and of itself, make my mind better or worse than the standard type. They are simply different, much the same way a saxophone is different from a guitar.

Roland I think you aren’t doing yourself any good by using a capitalized phrase either. It makes it seem as though you’re advertising an infomercial course or recruiting for a cult.

Oh, to be certain. If I implied that everybody was the same, it was not only unintentional, but a grievous error on my part. What I meant was that, to a mind that lacks a working model of self-awareness, a different mindset (or a different “type of mind”, if you prefer) seems alien and entirely incomprehensible. Through self-analysis, I believe that we can better understand the minds of others, even if we don’t necessarily share them. Believe me, I know I’m wired differently from most.

Yeah, I caught that. That was why, at the end of my last post, I included that throwaway line about Freedom of Thought being nothing more than a fancy-pants term for a guided routine of introspection. It’s not a cult, it’s an algorithm, or a series of algorithms. While I do intend to eventually start a movement under that name, centered around this style of thought, I believe I will take your advice for the time being and stop using the capitalized phrase. If, once the thing gets under way (at least ten years in the future, mind), people hear the name and think I’m running a cult…well, things happen, and people are welcome to their opinions. People who rush to judgements based upon the ambiguous name of something are not likely to be suited for heavy introspection anyhow.