The Mind’s Flaw

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Reference: Mindfulness Approach

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The Unassimilated Experience

The mind operates flawlessly as long as all its experiences are well assimilated. The flaws originate from experiences that do not get assimilated. The unassimilated experiences are the source of all aberrations of the mind. These aberrations then manifest as sickness in the body, and irrational behavior in the person.

Any cure of mental disorders depends on accessing the unassimilated content of the mind. However, it has always been very difficult to do so. Here is a brief summary of the major attempts to cure mental disorders.

 

Mesmerism

Mesmerism became popular in 18th century as it provided some cures by directly addressing the mind of the person, and much hope. Franz Mesmer was a German physician with a flamboyant personality. Wikipedia states:

“According to d’Eslon, Mesmer understood health as the free flow of the process of life through thousands of channels in our bodies. Illness was caused by obstacles to this flow. Overcoming these obstacles and restoring flow produced crises, which restored health. When Nature failed to do this spontaneously, contact with a conductor of animal magnetism was a necessary and sufficient remedy. Mesmer aimed to aid or provoke the efforts of Nature. To cure an insane person, for example, involved causing a fit of madness. The advantage of magnetism involved accelerating such crises without danger.”

Mesmer was able to produce crises in his patients by looking fixedly into their eyes using certain hand gestures, gently stroking their arms, and pressing abdominal area of the body with fingers. Mesmer was apparently triggering hitherto suppressed experiences in people. Such experiences caused crises when first brought into consciousness. But the person got better as those experiences got assimilated.

 

Hypnotism

In 1841 James Braid claimed to produce the phenomenon of mesmerism without the proximity, acts, or influence of a second party. He defined the phenomenon as “a peculiar condition of the nervous system, induced by a fixed and abstracted attention of the mental and visual eye, on one object, not of an exciting nature. His theory of hypnotism dispelled many fallacies in the theory of Mesmer. Wikipedia states:

“In his later works, Braid reserved the term “hypnotism” for cases in which subjects entered a state of amnesia resembling sleep. For other cases, he spoke of a “mono-ideodynamic” principle to emphasize that the eye-fixation induction technique worked by narrowing the subject’s attention to a single idea or train of thought (“monoideism”), which amplified the effect of the consequent “dominant idea” upon the subject’s body by means of the ideo-dynamic principle.”

Thus hypnotism tried to provide a better theory to explain the phenomenon of the mind observed under mesmerism. In the course of his investigations Braid reached the conclusion that hypnotism was wholly a matter of suggestion, implying that cures were affected by suggestions. But this was not what was happening under mesmerism.

Hypnotism merely explained and demonstrated the influence of mental impulses on the systems of the body. Hypnotic suggestions merely implanted ideas in the person below his awareness. Hypnotism did nothing to assimilate the unassimilated experiences in the mind.

 

Psychoanalysis

In early 1890s Freud came up with the system of psychoanalysis for treating mental disorders. He theorized that psychological disturbances are largely caused by personal conflicts existing at the unconscious level. Liberation from the effects of the “unconscious” is achieved by bringing this material into the conscious mind. This was done by patient talking to the therapist, and the therapist guiding the patient until the patient became aware of the hidden causes of his conflicts. Wikipedia states:

“During psychoanalytic sessions…the patient… may lie on a couch, with the analyst often sitting just behind and out of sight. The patient expresses his or her thoughts, including free associations, fantasies and dreams, from which the analyst infers the unconscious conflicts causing the patient’s symptoms and character problems. Through the analysis of these conflicts… the analyst confronts the patient’s pathological defenses to help the patient gain insight.”

Freud recognized the importance of the assimilation of unassimilated experiences. However, his methods involved the psychoanalyst interpreting the contents from the mind of the person, and giving those interpretations back to the person to induce insight. This method has the liability of such interpretations acting as hypnotic suggestions.

 

 Dianetics

The next advance came in 1950, when Hubbard expounded the Dianetics process of auditing the mind. He theorized that the cause of all psychosomatic illnesses and irrational behavior was an unknown reactive mind that was always “conscious”. Relief came when a person analytically accessed the painful contents of the reactive mind.

Hubbard came up with a much more efficient procedure that minimized hypnotic suggestions. He was able to get the person to recall the unassimilated content of the mind through codified processes on a gradient. However, Hubbard ended up intertwining his own esoteric beliefs of “thetan” and “past lives” into his upper level processes. Such processes lead to deep religious conditioning.

 

The Eastern Approach

When we look at the Eastern background we find an emphasis on the “therapist” being the person himself. Thus the Eastern approach does not have many of the liabilities accrued in the Western systems.

The modern Eastern approach started with Buddha 2600 years ago. Buddha taught mindfulness, which emphasized looking at things as they are. The discipline of mindfulness requires that one does not avoid, resist, deny or suppress the activity of the mind. This allows the mind to assimilate data more readily.

Buddha’s efforts led to a grass roots movement that spread like wildfire. It not only cured but also uplifted a large number of people.

 

Summary

After reviewing the past efforts to handle the mind’s flaw we shall now look at how such efforts may be improved. We start by looking at the goal of these efforts in the next chapter.

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