Jul 12, 2005

introspection \in-truh-spek'-shuhn\, noun:

The act or process of self-examination; contemplation of one's own thoughts and feelings; a looking inward.

I've never been this sort of person. Okay, so that's complete and utterly flummery. They ought to call me Narcissus I'm so damned inward turned. My third eye? It's rolled backward in it's spiritual socket, all the better to examine my own thoughts and motives.

I wonder sometimes if the whole zodiac thing isn't just a tiny bit correct. I don't mean the hyper-generic horoscopes you get in the papers, the ones that are so vague it's a wonder you can read them at all. And I'm not talking about the Chinese zodiac, which says that every year a whole generation of people is born with a certain set of traits, which seems to me a lot less fair than our own, which says that a month worth of newborns every year will be cursed with weak bowels and a tendency to over analyse everything. So what if it happens to be true in some instances. Law of Averages, right?

But no, I'm too much a realist to believe that anything as happenstance as the day you were born and what planets were aligned with what suns could affect something as incredibly sensitive and highly refined as the concious mind.

The problem, however, is that I'm not sure WHAT exactly makes us weak of bowel and introspective of mind. Hmmm...did I say "we?" Perhaps I'm talking in a wider sense, to encompass Virgos everywhere.


I know that the human mind, that tripartite, symmetrically divided lump of grey meat we carry around between our ears and above our teeth has a tremendous power to affect our bodies, far more than we yet give it popular credit for. I have seen sights that make me fill with trembling, things that people have trained their mind to do for them. I have seen people who can:

  • Control their body temperature so well that they can stand in a glass box naked, covered in ice, and still maintain not only their body temperature but conciousness throughout several hours, when hypothermia kills people within a few minutes
  • Forgoe food and water for extended periods of time
  • Endure tremendous amounts of self-inflicted pain, and go so far as to take enlightenment from it
  • Use their powers of persuasiveness to cause a tiny nation to make war on the rest of the world, and believe with iron certainly that their cause is holy and just
  • Engage their minds in feats of memorization and pattern recognition that utterly baffle and defeat the 'ordinary' person

The list goes on and on, naturally. I'm sure you know people who can do things that are outside of the range of what we would call ordinary. I know that after years of sleeping badly because of a hyper-active imagination and a lack of control over my own thoughts I finally discovered and implemented a self-hypnosis technique that has me able to fall asleep within a few minutes of being in bed. Granted it took years to get to this point, but it works, and works well.

So what sort of wonder is it when people go astray? How can we possibly shake our heads in shame when we see people who delude themselves, who have told themselves for so long that an adult woman who has no body fat at all is sexy, who firmly believe that the white fluffy ice crystal trail behind a high-flying aircraft is in fact our government spraying us with mind-altering chemicals, or who believe that they can only achieve true sexual pleasure if they are standing over a bound naked woman, smoking a cigar while wearing only a tuxedo shirt and sock garters.

Now then ladies and gentlemen, if you watch the monitor closely you can see here, at the 20 minute, 19 second mark, where Irrelephant made the fatal mistake that cost him his reason, his readership, his friends and family, and ultimately caused him to start wearing a brown paper bag over his head while ringing a bell and shouting "Unclean! Unclean!" while in public view.

So with all that in mind (just a little pun (\Puhn\, noun: a play on words)) let's take a look at something that makes me wonder.

Think of a deviancy. It doesn't have to be sexual, it doesn't have to be criminal, just something that does not fit the amorphous boundaries of moral behaviour. Got it? Okay, let's proceed. Think for just a moment about this deviancy from the status quo. What if, as the vast majority of learned researches seem to believe here of late, it's not caused by a chemical imbalance, or by scarring or misdevelopment of some vital bit of the brain. We've already proved that the brain is holographic in nature, that different parts of the brain can learn to perform other functions that are not assigned to it by nature's processes. So what if deviancy is, in simplest terms, a choice, and not a requirement of a physical distress?

Naturally this is not all-encompassing--we know that by damaging certain areas of the brain we can drastically and permanently change behaviour. What I'm talking about here is something smaller. What if the chronic shoplifter is doing so not because the poor dear has a chemical imbalance in her brain but because she has somehow linked that behaviour with fulfillment of some need? What if chronic depression could be treated by mental process modification rather than by injection of powerful and poorly understood chemicals? What if we could deeply study the Why and How of the mental processes that control our behaviour, with intention of changing the root, rather than simply pruning and shaping the unsightly leaves and branches that show above the ground?

I studied Psychology in college with the intention of finding a path to do something like that, to immerse myself in the study of what makes us do what we do. Imagine my surprise to find that I was way, WAY off base. Psychology is such an infant science that I'm surprised that we don't use leeches and trephining still. But I guess when you take the long view of it all, the staring-a-thousand-years-into-a-room look, it's all \ir-rel'-uh-fant,\ adj: Unrelated to the pachyderm being considered.

1 comment:

Caffeinated Mommy said...

I often wonder why we can't treat people for some things without the use of medicine. I want people to take responsibility for their own actions, and not blame it on some "chemical imbalance" or something else they can't "help." But, if we were to help people with different issues, it would take too much time, thought, effort to do it manually. Why not just pop a pill in their mouth and be done with it? Isn't instant gratification the only thing we seem to be striving for these days?