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Transforming the Mind ~ by Peter Shepherd



Consider what it is like to have just won a game or to have lost it. Imagine, for example, that you have just come off the tennis court, tired and sweating, having finally beaten someone you have been trying to defeat for a long time - or alternatively that you have just lost to someone you considered to be less skilful than you. You may be experiencing an internal, somatic emotion such as excitement or anger, but also you will feel a transactional emotion, such as triumph or humiliation: emotions that arise particularly out of relationships and transactions with other people or situations.

In interacting with another person, one either puts oneself first at any given moment, or one puts the other first. In other words either one empathises and identifies with the other or one does not; it is either what happens to oneself or to the other that is your primary concern - this is the difference between self-determined action or other-determined action. Referring to the diagram of emotional structure, consider two scenarios.

The first concerns the mastery mode, implying any way of 'being on top of things', in control enough to be able to have things your way. Thus, if you attempt to impose your sexual needs on another, depending on whether you succeed or not, you will feel some degree of pride in your prowess and irresistibility, or humiliation at your impotence and unattractiveness. If on the other hand you put the interests of the other first, then any feeling that you have taken advantage of the other will be associated with shame, while self-discipline will be associated with modesty.

Or to take another situation, in the sympathy mode, to do with the need for caring, attention and giving. Suppose you are at a party. If you show off in a self-centered way, then you will feel gratitude or resentment to the degree that others pay admiring attention to you. But if you then identify with the others, the realization that you have been showing off and not paying attention to anybody else will produce feelings of guilt, whereupon an active interest in the others for the rest of the party will finally produce feelings of worthy virtue.

Disturbance occurs within these structures, when a person uses inappropriate or anti-social strategies to meet his motivations, if his strategies are inadequate and he is unable to achieve satisfaction of the modes he is in, if he is unable to reverse at the appropriate moment for the circumstances, or if he has a fixation for a particular state (normally reversal will occur when the needs of a state have been satiated or convincingly frustrated, or if there is some contingency that intrudes).

This may take a neurotic form: for example, in the case of anxiety-depression, there is an inability to reverse out of the telic mode and to reduce arousal levels; inappropriate strategies give rise to compulsions and further anxiety; as a result such a person becomes concerned not only about the goals he means to pursue and that give rise to the anxiety, but also about the anxiety itself, which adds to the arousal and results in panic attacks and at other times a feeling of helplessness.

Boredom-depression on the other hand, is a failure to reverse from the paratelic state and yet inability to achieve the satisfactions of this state, so the person experiences boredom in a great many areas of life, especially sex, sleeping and eating, and feels despair. The delinquent is locked into the paratelic state and does have some effective strategies, but they are socially inappropriate - he can only achieve the excitement he seeks by extreme behavior, often at the expense of others, such as vandalism or gratuitous aggression (dominance of the negativistic state may also be implicated here).

A set of emotional responses may be present at any one time. The individual is periodically reaching out into the world to perform transactions and withdrawing to take stock. In this reflective state (especially telic relaxation) he will be most aware of the success of his transactional effort and the accompanying emotion. If he has been successful he will feel pride, modesty, gratitude or virtue, depending on the mode he has been operating in; if he has failed he will feel humiliation, shame, resentment or guilt respectively, or the shades of color between. This gives an incentive for further action, either in the previous modes if things have gone well, or maybe with an element of reversal if they have not. This assessment is also colored by an emotional response that is not state-dependent, but is based on the success or failure that he perceives to be occurring during the transaction.

This scale ascends according to the degree of success in carrying out a particular intention (especially the primary intention in life: 'to survive'), and corresponds to the individual's 'self tone' and amount of psychic energy available for determined actions towards creative goals, and if necessary, motivational reversals. The scale also corresponds to the sequence of emotional reactions experienced in the face of a threat to survival.

(Final success - Identity change)


























(Final Failure)

“Accompanying any intention is an identity - a role or 'way of being' appropriate to carrying out the intention and achieving the intended purpose.”
Success is the fulfillment of an intention, and the perceived success or frustration of transactional motivations will cause a corresponding emotion on the above scale, which will also affect accompanying motivational (somatic and transactional) emotions, and affect the person's interpretation of circumstances in progress, possibly precipitating a reversal.

Accompanying any intention is an identity - a role or 'way of being' appropriate to carrying out the intention and achieving the intended purpose. So this is a cycle of action: to BE, to DO, to HAVE. One starts something and continues it to its completion. When the intention is fulfilled or abandoned, there is no longer any role for that identity.

In looking at the emotional scale, we can see that in the upper levels, the person's strategy involves movement towards: being causative - confronting and handling any barriers that prevent understanding - and being in control. Midway down the scale, actions are directed against the perceived obstacles or threat, with destructive intention. Towards the bottom of the scale, the direction of motion reverses away from the situation; the person is mostly being the effect of it - instead of handling it, he is mostly avoiding it.

In the mental realm, aversion or rejection is repression - a refusal to be aware of something, 'sweeping it under the carpet' and forgetting it. When this is applied whilst reflecting on a situation that has gone wrong, the net result is that the person does not learn adaptive (realistic) behavior. Strategies of repression include the following:

Failure to perceive. The learning cycle may be interrupted at the point of perception; the person may sub-consciously filter the sensory input, may cease to pay concentrated attention, may look away or may faint.

Failure to interpret. The person may have perceived the reality but refuses to make the 'obvious' interpretation or to think further about it.

Failure to verify. Even if an interpretation is in mind, the person may find this too uncomfortable and refuse to verify (or disprove) it.

Failure to accept. The person may fail to accept something that he 'knows' and has found out is true. The interpretation is invalidated - this is the defense mechanism of denial. Alternatively he may validate another (previously rejected) interpretation and feel unable to decide which is 'correct', in order to procrastinate the decision.

Delusion. Repression is often aided by the introduction of delusion: distorting, altering or fictionalising an acceptable interpretation of the facts. rationalization is a form of delusion - various reasons and justifications that avoid the crux of the matter, the uncomfortable truth.

What we have been examining is a complex model, but previous simpler models have failed to take account of the complex structure of paradoxical intentions that underlie emotions, and that cause the incredible diversity and seeming unpredictability of human behavior. To add to this picture, we also need to take account of other COEX factors, and the effect that they have on transactions.

Move on to Primary Beliefs

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