(..wait, who are you? .. I dunno who she is.. some sort of lurker I 'spose..)
I feel bad about it often, and wish I had more capacity for interaction :/ Truth be told, I'm in rather poor physical health as of lately, which makes it difficult to engage in much of anything.
But when I can, I have been working on writing down some of my hypotheses about the psyche. I've shared some of these with Erifrail, but wanted to start sharing with you guys too, so I'll be posting my ideas here as they're completed. I dunno if I'm completely out in left field about some of this stuff! I may well have overlooked some information that would change many of these ideas, but I figure that's why it's a good idea to share with others.
1. The Nature of Perception as an Underlying Factor of Projection and Individuation
Intellect is humanity’s most recent evolutionary adaptation. Just as any vital functionality – the instinct to feed, breed, defend one’s self from predators, etc. – we have an instinctual drive to consciously comprehend and understand our environment. The more accurate our understanding of our surroundings, the more capability we will have to adapt to them.
But because of a certain happenstance that exists in our process of perception, this drive toward knowledge isn’t limited to the outside environment. Our most instantaneous recognition does not differentiate between the inner and outer world, as is evidenced in the phenomenon of projection. By default, objects outside of ourselves are perceived to be one and the same as the emotions, memories and other contents they evoke in us. Likewise, that which originates within us is at first seen to be objective in nature; we project the concept of gods, fairies, spirits and the like onto the world as our expectations for reality. And so, to our mind’s eye, the environment is continuous between the objective and subjective. We are, therefore, driven to understand our internal world just as much as the external (or perhaps even more due to its immediate relevance to us). Hence, our pursuance of self-knowledge and individuation.
The curious phenomenon of psychic projection may be a result of the way signaling occurs between the brain and eyes. The eyes may not be just a sensory instrument, but an active aspect of our neurology and therefore psychology. There are some peculiarities about the eye’s behavior which indicate that it doesn’t differentiate between data received from the outside world, and that sent to it from the brain. REM during the dreaming stage of sleep, and the 'searching' seen when someone is accessing their memory – as described in the book– show that the eye engages with internal content in the same way as it does with the external world. This would indicate that the optic nerve is a two-way street, exchanging data back and forth. If this is the case, it has an interesting implication.
It’s been long known that our psychological state affects the way we perceive incoming data. But if the eye is a part of our neurology, then it could be that the way it is affected by our psychology directly impacts its data collection from the moment photons hit the retina. If the precedent chemical state of neurons in the eye when they receive data predisposes them to see certain things, this could account for the persistence of projection over time, as well as things such as hallucinations. If the eye is subjective in its operation, colors can literally appear differently to two people (without color blindness), the size, texture, and other qualities of an object may be affected as well, and we may even see the gods and fairies we feel to exist. In visions or hallucinations, it may be that the chemical state of the feedback loop between the eye and the visual cortex causes the production of an unusually vivid visual manifestation.
If the operation of the eye truly is subjective to this degree, then it’s likely that the rest of the senses are as well. This begs the question; how can we ever know whether we’re seeing reality as it is? But we’re aware at this point of the fallibility of our senses, which is why we developed the scientific method which utilizes external instruments in order to measure reality. If projection is a fundamental quality of our neurology, it may be that the only way to fulfill our intellectual instinct toward accurate comprehension of the environment is to become aware of our psychological operation.
Perhaps this is also part of the reason why we’re so passionate about coming to understand ourselves..
Generally, an emotion is the psychic comprehension of an unconscious conclusion. It is an imprecise way of navigating our reality, based on archaic information and the immediate impression we gain from our senses.
Emotion is the most immediate method with which the body interfaces with the environment. It guides us in our response to a situation in a similar way to how conscious deduction helps guide our actions. Unlike conscious thought, however, emotions are abstract, non-literal sensations. Their meanings are general and usually at least partly derived from incorrect or wholly fantastical conclusions, which makes them less reliable guides for behavior than rational thoughts.
Emotion is, in a sense, the language of the body and its intrinsic instincts as it communicates to the mind. We ‘feel’ things, and can interpret what that means in order to gain some sense of the reality of our internal self. The intrinsic logic of emotions plays a major role in the way we organize ourselves socially. Even though this emotional logic is irrational in many ways, we’re quite accustomed to its operation and don’t expect it to be rational or efficient. This shows how innate emotional causality is to us, and how long-standing it is to our species.
Emotion is a nuanced, multi-layered way of experiencing our environment which leads to the phenomenon of human creativity. The reason why music and colors evoke an emotional response is because they are things brought into our psyche through the senses. They relate directly to our unconscious notions of the world and therefore evoke emotional sensations; our recognition of the meaning in the unconscious. Without the irrational conceptions which underlay our emotional responses, there may not be such things as music and art.
The sensation of an emotion may be quite literal and physical in a way. It may be that the sensation is the nervous system’s direct perception of its own chemical state. If this is so, it would offer an explanation for why emotions are such temporary phenomena which are subject to one’s physical state and environment. The chemical state of our brain – really, our whole body – is constantly changing in response to what’s happening both outside and inside of ourselves. With these changes, our mood also shifts, sometimes in subtle ways.
Emotional states fade with adaptation to a stimulus. This correlates with what we see in the long-term use of drugs, the longer a certain chemical is used, the more tolerance we build toward it. Just like an administered drug, one would need perpetually greater amounts of neurotransmitters – dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, and the like – to perpetually maintain an emotion. There seems to be a natural threshold of neurotransmitter levels which results in the transience of any psychological state. It’s possible that neurotransmitters become depleted over time with greater degrees of use as well, and so we could expect the sensation of an emotional state to not just plateau, but to decline over time.
What Constitutes Emotional Deductions?
According to the theory of analytical psychology (and my own personal observations), we are born with perhaps thousands of unconscious preconceived notions about how the world works. Some of these notions manifest as the Archetypes which Jung described, but I believe there are countless others of lesser importance to the psyche which work to form the intricacy of our thoughts every day. These notions are a primary basis of our intuition and emotions.
Added to these collective, universal concepts are our personal notions formed through interaction with our culture and the rest of the world. These alter the way we approach our instincts – the collective notions – and make their manifestation more unique to us. And so, the potential meanings of an object - a certain color or symbol, etc. - are narrowed into a selected few. This is why different people will have different emotional reactions to the same thing depending on their personal development.
Emotions aren’t just formed from unconscious notions, however, they are obviously affected by our conscious thoughts as well. Our conscious mind interacts with the unconscious, and we feel our own thoughts, and react emotionally to our conscious conclusions. These conscious conclusions also shape our worldview, which directly affects the unconscious content within us.
As noted, sense perception plays quite directly into our emotional responses as well. Physical sensations are perhaps the most direct evocation of emotional states; for example, pain often induces fear or anger, human touch produces feelings of calm, warmth and satiety. These reactions are involuntary and in large part universal, they are intrinsic to the body and mind from the time we're born.
And so, with the congealing of all this information, our nervous system produces a plethora of feelings and moods; the unconscious conclusions which define our experience.
The term Arcana means 'mysteries'. It is used as the name for a pack of tarot cards, something quite interestingly representational of the Archetypes and their subjective meanings. Someone I once spoke with liked to use the term 'Arcana' to refer to the structure of the unconscious psyche. I think this is a very fitting term, and use it often in my personal writings on the topic of psychology. So, as in this article, when I refer to the 'Arcana' the definition is that of the form of the unconscious.
The Arcana is the part of the genetic code which deals with psychological causality.
It forms a neuropsychological matrix - the unconscious - which takes the form of latent tendencies which are activated via input from the environment. It is the basis of our behavior; it informs us of the proper response to a perceived situation.
Emotions, being our awareness of these unconscious causalities, are the most prevalent form of consciousness in our beginning years. As we develop our worldview consciously - from the outside in, using rational logic to judge the world and form behavior guidelines - we modify the expression of the Arcana in ourselves and emotions take a more secondary role.
The realization of the irrationality of our emotions and subsequent development of a rational mindset is an inevitable effect of the function of the intellect. Thus, we witness the dreamlike perspective of the child form into the practical perspective of the adult. But the Arcana remains our most immediate notion of the world, and so such things as creativity and religion persist into adulthood.
One may think, upon first analysis of the process of maturation, that conscious awareness of the unconscious would naturally develop. However, curiously it seems to tend to result in an ignorance of the unconscious. From the most basic cellular functionality up to neurology, the body operates autonomously from the genetic code. This is an inescapable fact of a living creature, but one which is ironically challenged by the intellect because of its operation. Although the mechanism of the intellect also derives from the genetic code, part of the evolutionary value of its functionality is its impetus to have complete awareness and control over the world around it. This goes for the rest of the body as well as the outside world, and so when the intellect encounters the realization of the unconscious, it rebels against it. The automatic, irrational operation of the deepest most psyche is quite contrary to the decisiveness of the intellect. And so we see, especially in such cultures as the West, condemnation of irrationality and exaltation of rationality. This sort of attitude results in a splitting between our mind and soul - the intellect and the unconscious, and an unawareness of our fundamental operation.
This is why we see such a prevalence of mental disease in the same proportion that we have an intellectual resistance toward the fact of our irrationality.