writing about my life

Know thyself, know thy voices – Consciousness and emotion

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How interesting it is that as a child, when I would do something “naughty” I wasn’t supposed to, that parents or teachers would say: “what were you thinking ?” . They never said “what were you feeling ?” Yet surely it is wanting to do something that makes us more likely to do it as opposed to thinking about doing it. Wanting is a feeling, an emotion and is thus more likely to decide behaviour than the average thought.

I have found this a helpful idea when in extremis fearing that my life might go out of control and possibly end up with me hurting people or doing something antisocial. Diagnosed people can sometimes be troubled by fears they will do bad things or hurt people. This can be misinterpreted as an actualy intention to do the bad thing. It is not, it is usually an unrooted fear.

I said to a friend who had phobic feelings that he would do evil things roughly the following:

“It is your feelings that make you do what you do far more than your thoughts. You have a thought you might do something bad but how likely is that to happen when it is just a stray paranoid thought totally unconnected to any reserve of feeling. I know you (i said) and I know the kinds of feelings that are in you and that you live by. These feelings are not negative, angry or aggressive, I’ve never seen it in you after knowing you for years. Thus your single, lone and meaningless thought that you might do harm is not substantial enough to make your fear come true.”

I think it helped him.

Our motivation is through our feelings , yet we do still bury and repress them. The proverbial iceberg juts out of the arctic water… we can only see its tip (and call this the conscious mind). The bulk cannot be recognised by the eye since we may only break off small chunks at a time and examine these bit by manageable bit.

I do…
and I think I know why I do…
soemtimes I am right too
but maybe sometimes I just act,
and hold a conscious justification
ready to reel it off to the spectators.

Thus we have to wait to see what we felt like doing in order to know what we wanted and meant to do. This is a way of expanding the conscious mind cos its easy to see our motives in the concreteness of real actions rather than in the wispiness of thought. It is the best practical method of learning more about yourself to manage you illness better. We can also introspect though and for those who hear voices there is a rich “inner theatre” of drama in our voice experiences. Voice dialogues to me are an internal workshop where I experience my fears and conflicts, my desires and dreams. Sometimes the voice experiences are very hard but the fantasies are always educational.

I am convinced we can make personal progress like this, by diverting our vision into the inner depths. There are depths of powerful and rich (and often troubled) emotions in this great dark vault. It must be said that progress is slow and there are multiple repressive forces acting to inhibit such a descent into the underworld. Our personal denial and defensiveness is a trickster that must be outwitted. That of others is a barrier that must be tackled too. In connection with this I must state that I believe it is wrong to see denial and defensiveness as a barrier to be smashed. This can lead to the highly aggressive approach of certain therapy and encounter groups which are too forceful in getting people to face their problems. Some writers have called it defense busting and, a hallmark of badly run groups, it can be very traumatic and damaging.

if consciousness is a curve
then the unconscious must match its arc
and nestle in its crook
thus I can sip little tastes of the great black ocean

And yes, things that are highly creative are always part conscious part subconscious. I am writing words to you but I am not willing every single thought to manifest through my fingers at the keyboard, I just type what I “want” to type.

All human activity is creative
for do we not author our deeds ?
although to act unoriginally is not always beautiful
there is creativity in any action of the brain
even making a cup of tea

to feel is the poet’s light
to grok feelings
it is the brightest way to see in to myself
it turns the guttering flame of detached enquiry into the fierceness of self-knowledge
i breathe and swallow down the energies
and they qualitatively change my awareness
not a mere shift of focus or intensity
but an enriching of being
into unsuspected dimensions
it is moving from a 3 d world into 4 d

Psychiatry can sometimes be a bit like the people who asked “what were you thinking ?”. It is always talking about “ideas of guilt” or “ideas of anger”. This could be seen as part of an outmoded knowledge system that denigrates the emotions as weakness. It thinks man is an intellectual being, primarily, and the use of the term man also shows a masculinist bias.

How unsurprising then that it completely rules out the possibility of emotional work as key in recovery from mental illness. It doesn’t really refer to the emotions at all directly in fact. It is so controlling because it sees emotional freedom and spontaneity as threats to the established order. To be fair most psychiatrists don’t have the kind of professional self-awareness needed to understand this. Nor have most of them read Foucault, who examined clearly the power relationships inherent in psychiatric and mentalist language. Could mania just be enthusiasm ? could bizarre language just be creativity ? Could social withdrawal just be meditation ? I could go on…


All you geriatrics have left seems to be to watch the same news 15 times a day, yet always missing that perpetual infinite news that lies outside your front door I concern myself with the whole story in its un-mappable complexity.

As I stumble through these angular subject changes you vegetate in front of the telly – what boredom ! And do you secretly hope that another killing will be featured to ignite your sluggish senses and brace yourself for something else to complain about.

No Pressure, please man

There’s an unceasing pressure in my head. It is a reflection of the pressure to study I have been putting myself under. I repent of it and conclude education must be done with joy. Mine started this way but soon enough the pressure of achievement took over and now I have lost all the freshness and mystery.

Steve, another graphomaniac sends me some of his word fragments.

There is a pressure attached to everything in society. I want to stay in and a pressure to go out manifests. I want to study x and am distracted by some inner voice, some executor of pressure, urging me to study y instead. We are all coerced by each other and by the group, to attempt escape from this force is to risk madness. Too unique for their own good the dissenter stands alone and utterly vulnerable to conspiracy.

I must do it though because I desire freedom, and I see this great ideal as only possible when I can be at peace with myself untouched by the accursed pressure. I want to do what I want to do not want anyone else thinks I should do, in their blind projection.

Why is advice so commonly offered, and so uncommonly inappropriate. evey second soul out there will venture their opinion on your life. To apply the advice is to sell out to coercion. I refuse all advice because my own still small voice is all I need to pursue my destiny.

When the voices swarm and multiply and bother you all the time, you lose your own will in a sea of coercive currents. I cannot listen to others because I will interpret what they say as more forcing. I cannot talk to myself because my own voice has been confused with the bullies. to reason feels like self bullying, maybe it all started when I got in the habit of talking to myself and saying “you” instead of I.

There’s no doubt that when education becomes coercive something is lost. even self education can become too driven. The talented amateur sees all who avoids temptation of power through knowledge. The dilettante steps so lightly through the flora and fauna of the intellectual world, his only desire personal enjoyment of the panorama, not possession.

I want to be normal

Note to self: Don’t watch your thoughts and be perpetually judging them as ill. normalisation implies realising how most of what you go through is “normal”.

Strange though when the whole initial message of diagnosis by the services is that you are not normal. Then they start to realise how much damage they have done and try to go back on their statements and stop you taking the natural interpretation of the treatment’s message. paradoxical. they label you and then realise they shouldnt have and try to make you disown the label yourself. of course this is only partial because really they don’t want full normalisation which would actually mean you realised you were never ill in the first place ! A tricky business is it not ?

magical thinking… how does it work?

I think an aggressive thought and a man shouts outside my window. Magically it seems the two are connected, as if my thought caused his outburst. Is this an inevitable and universal cognitive error or a symptom of illness ? If everyone does it then why do I think I am any different ? I seem to set myself high standards of rationality.

There’s a Psychosynthesis technique where you focus on your whole sensorium…

feel an internal sensation in your toe
and then observe a bird in the air
meditate on how both are in the same realm
that of your personal sensorium
present to consciousness
one stimulus external, one internal, all part of your world

Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras asserts that the experiencer is at the centre of the perceived world, the outer a mere shadow of the inner. After all when the mind seeks causal connections plenty of correlations between inner and outer events are then found. (even though they may be erroneous I add hastily in skepticism) .

Why does this happen ? Is it because the inner realm can be rendered to consciousness as so vivid that it is placed at the same level of priority as the outer ? Introspection inevitably confusing us. But which should have precedence ? my thoughts or what I see around me? “horses for courses and as the mood takes you” comes an answer from a voice

Contrary to psychiatric dogma I feel it is the external world that I perceive too vividly. In the street peoples senses seem closed off…I notice this when I walk through the town with my mother, and she never sees the moods and emotions of passers by like I do. I believe there is indeed a damaged mental filter involved, so that I can’t ignore noises and people out in the street or world.

Is there a social consequence to my magical thinking ? Does it make me seem more assured, in touch with a mysterious world others don’t know how can the psychiatric team tell I am doing it when they accuse me of confusing form and content?

And is this sensitivity I focus on others the same which I use to discern my own thoughts and moods ? Is it just a more refined mode of the external sense so that to observe another truly closely is to see within them…and to see within myself with the same microscopic acuity.

This is how easterners are said to perceive,to see personality in the inanimate, the personality or soul the subtlest layer of the reality of things. We perceive it when we observe most finely After all it was the human social brain that exploded through evolution into cognitive superawareness. So we could out-think (or help) our friends and enemies and join the great human game of social emotion. Or is this all just primitive anthropomorphism ?

We know reality best when we see it as a lifeless field of particles, no vitalist spark in life just naturally interacting cyclic chemistry… no high magical essence of consciousness just an organic computer navigating a body through an environment. I don’t know which way to swing, but I sometimes feel I have been wounded in the soul by scientific society’s scalpel.Other times I will feel I have gone soft in the head to believe in spirituality…how do I escape the cyclic repetition of my obsession ?

The invisible world…the unseen thing we sometimes sense…what is it ? What is it that made me meet the eye of the woman in the shop ? Is it “The Forces” that Strindberg saw ? Are these forces in fact our passions?

No, I think it is society, which lives in the mind of the individual and in the group too. It is the larger entity of which we are all a part, it is the thing every human spends their whole life within, like a giant vessel. every thought and feeling we have joins us to society. society is the matrix of ideas we access to be able to “think”, it is the linguistic jungle we wade through when we communicate. It is judge jury and executioner on our every moment. It is a giant organism that can bless us sometimes or be fantastically cruel at others depending on our status and position within its flows.

or am I wrong and we don’t sense this other this supernatural level. is it my illness making me think like this ? Well it is not really ill to speculate about the supernatural, plenty of human beings do it. Is the only thing that’s ill about me the fact that I believe I am ill when i’m not ?

Social groups seek power by political means. Oppressed groups should be empowered – the word empowerment carries a normative tone saying “seek the right kind of power – the power to assert but not dominate, to speak out but not to drown out, to take what’s your’s but not to steal”.

How can we empower psychiatric users ? As individuals and as a group. The two domains are linked and overlapping, to achieve individual empowerment is to empower the group and vice versa.

Group empowerment means having spokespeople to defend our interests to institutions, other groups and leaders. Individual empowerment will be helped when users know they are part of a group that has its own consciousness and interests.

Individual Empowerment may require interventions by helpers, and which helpers ? Do we need consciousness raising groups like the feminists pioneered.

Then there is political correctness. How to avoid euphemistic language policing which doesn’t impact the real issues, like changing the name of manic-depression to “Bipolar”… does it make any difference ? Also, does knowing you are in a so called oppressed minority actually make any difference because plenty of people do just ignore calls for anti-racism or other bigotry ?


Empowerment implies standing up to people who have taken your power away, but too much blame denies personal responsibility and can be emotionally damaging. There is no single cause for mental health problems – its more complex… multiple causes.

Empowerment and learned helplessness

Extreme libertarians say the nannying state has taught us to be dependent …dependent for care, welfare, guidance, education, health. does the state makes us its pathetic slaves ? after all hunter gatherers from free tribes support themselves entirely by their own efforts.

Empowerment can mean breaking free of our giant carer and knowing the rush of freedom or feel like a teenager who outgrows and breaks free of their parental home. Being free, but responsible too, to hunt your own food know which plants you can eat know how to survive. similarly we must learn to live and move in the modern world, and just as with the old tribes, knowledge is the key. Educate yourself for survival.

To live in a tent for a bit is my Gaia-given right !

Slaves don’t have to take responsibility for themselves: let our aims be to educate ourselves beyond the propaganda of the media, to break free of the legacy of those mass conditioning camps that are our schools and universities, and to wave goodbye to the bullying over-hierarchical hothouse of the conventional workplace.

Also to take responsibility for our own health beyond second rate medical care and profiteering pharmacaeutical companies, where doctors treat you like an idiot and conceal the truth about your health issues from you, because they believe you are not clever enough to sope with the truth.

We also demand the empowerment to live a free life of self respect without having to live in fear of being “protected” by the police who treat every good citizen like a suspect, and control by bigotry and the perpetual threat of violence


Written by Luke Dunn

October 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Prose

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