Friday, August 28, 2015

The Piece, the Player & the Passerby at... The Game

I had run down an heuristic model for a friend in an attempt to clarify our levels of awareness of The Interpersonal Game (as per Berne; see (aka "social exchange theory;" see the Karpman Drama Triangle (see from pretty much none whatsoever... through aware but still engaged... to aware and disengaged. I called those levels Game Piece, Game Player, and Curious but Disengaged Passerby. She asked for further explanation. 

Her: It's all a game. Okay. But -- and I asked you once before -- what is out of the game?  

Him: The Game does not exist at all for the Game Piece. Totally distracted and "conscious" (in Jaynes's sense) but not aware, the Game Piece is the I-Eye whose ego is totally under the control of the Players. 

[I-Eye and other the ego state concepts used here are described at I's & Eye's: Three States of Cognitive Consciousness.]

The I-Eye ^ (hijacking) I+Eye Players may or may not be aware of The Interpersonal Game itself, but they are attached to and focused upon winning The Game as they unconsciously define "winning" (e.g. getting the attention and approval of the other Players; getting the other Players to do what they want them to do, such as fuck or fight with them to make sure they feel secure or distracted from the situations in their lives than make them anxious and in-secure). 

Only the Eye>I Passerby is truly aware of The Game as a game. This is because the Passerby is not enmeshed with the other players nor attached to the outcome of The Game. While the Piece and Player are attached to The Game and the other Pieces and Players in The Game -- because they live in the Past and Future, not in the Present -- the Passerby lives only in the Present moment. The Passerby is the pure, unadulterated observer who has no stake in The Game.

Her: To do all this but without naming it with judgments and values that we were taught to? To live a life that Rousseau dreamt of?  Isn't it... well... utopian?

Him: Of course. It is totally conceptual and actually impossible. The Social Construction of Reality (see interpersonal interaction for the purpose of getting what we want from infancy. There is No Other Way. We will play The Game, and we will be wholly unconscious I-Eye Pieces and only partially conscious (and un-aware) I-Eye ^ I+Eye Players to interact with others because there isn't another way to do so. We will be sucked into The Game. BUT...

One can do one's best to spend as much time as possible in the observing frame of mind of the Passerby. So doing makes it possible to get up from the seats around the game table -- as well as get up off the Game Board -- as the result of observation-driven awareness and truly free will.

Her: Talking with that guy is so frustrating. Makes me want to pull my hair... literally. 

Him: Are your Pieces and Players involved? What do you think?

Her: "I cannot allow myself to give a shit about anyone" he said. I asked him, "Is sanity equal to indifference?"

Him: Isn't that equivalent to trying to get him to get up off the Game Board as well as out of the chair at the table? But, also, isn't that being a Piece and Player at his Game Table? (I am not saying being a Piece or Player in his or anyone else's game is "bad," "wrong" or "stupid.")

Her: It is so funny. You are trying to enlighten me, and I'm trying to plant those seeds in his mind.

Him: Have you moved "up" to Passerby and asked yourself why? And, "Given that your lover suffers from a very severe psychopathology, is it actually possible for him to integrate into a single, reliable persona that can be reasonably expected to observer to notice to recognize to acknowledge to accept to own to appreciate to understand to digest what is?"

Her: Really, I know all this stuff. 

Him: So do I, at the level of I-Eye ^ I+Eye Player. But the Eye>I Passerby may not retain the complex conceptual awareness of that from one Game to the next because it exists only in the present moment of observing >>>>>> understand. The second that awareness moves from Eye>I to I+Eye, it is being invaded, hijacked, contaminated and corrupted by I-Eye Piece and I-Eye ^ I+Eye Player. It is the Great Cosmic Joke. Can you see that now? 

Her: I understand that we live in the culture of competition, of forced fake happiness, culture of simulations and entertainment, and that we are nothing more than little children seeking an approval from the Big Other (in Lacan's sense). We are prisoners of common sense from the moment of birth. From the moment when we get our gender and name label. And to the death when we will land in a very particular part of the land.

Him: Exactly. But is keeping that in mind to trigger the Eye>I to observe to notice to recognize (etc.) it's manifestations automatic? I wouldn't think so until one has practiced that mantra enough to build sufficiently dense neural circuitry to condition, accustom, habituate and normalize the brain to the process. (Which, when normalized, can be incredibly edifying and comforting in the face of all the challenges life throws at us.)

Her: How many of them do you know who have managed to obtain the benefits of society while escaping the costs?

Him: None. Including myself. As a very wise young boss of mine told me in 1980, "it's all about trade-offs." But I can say this: The ratio between the cost of getting that 10 StEP mantra (see down vs. the cost of not using it improves (at least for me and others who use the thing) every single day. 

© 2015 by Rodger Garrett; all rights reserved. Links are permitted. Please contact with comments or questions. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I's & Eye's: Three States of Cognitive Consciousness (with new material 06-16)

For the sake of therapeutic use in the framework of the mindfulness-based cognitive psychotherapies (MBCTs), I began in 2012 to develop the notion that there are three basic states of perception combined with representative, lingual thought as well as (mostly visual and aural) processing. Three states of consciousness, or more accurately of perceptual and cognitive operation. 

I will discuss them in an approximate -- but inherently inaccurate -- nosology of "lowest," most common or basic state that most everyone uses daily, to the "highest," least common, and most "evolved" state that one becomes able to use when one has sufficient experience using the Vipassana-style, mindfulness meditations common to both Tibetan Buddhism and the mindfulness-based cognitive psychotherapies like DBT, ACT, MBBT, MBSR and 10 StEP.

I will also reduce the three states to brief notations that can be easily recalled by those who evolve sufficiently to be able to observe to notice to recognize to acknowledge to accept to own to appreciate to understand their empirical and cognitive operations. 

The three notations are:

1) I-Eye (which may also be inconized with the letter I, a mathematical minus sign, and the shape of an eyeball, which is exactly what the word "eye" is meant to represent: vision, or more broadly, perception);

2) Eye>I (which may be iconized with the eyeball, and the right-pointing arrow indicating directional flow from the eyeball -- or pure perception -- to the I, self, or ego); and

3) I+Eye (which is similarly iconized).


1) I-Eye is the state of being locked out of conscious perception of what is and in mental appraisal of what is perceived according to some combination of conscious and (for most of us, unconscious) belief. This is the state of complete "egotism" and refutation of sensory, empirical perception in favor of verbal explanation, evaluation, interpretation, assessment, or analysis or and/or attribution of meaning to perceived events... without further resort to empirical observation, noticing, recognition or acknowledgement. 

In practice, this state rarely exists in the "normal" human mind. While most people do perceive and process phenomena largely in the I-Eye state of consciousness, they will utilize Eye>I and I+Eye on a regular basis. More so if they are scientists, medical professionals, professional athletes, race drivers or attorneys who have to utilize the Eye>I and I+Eye to function adequately in their occupations.  

But in the neurotic human mind it is the polarity toward which mental operations gravitate, owing to a powerful, largely unconscious need to explain phenomena according to beliefs, ideas, ideals, assumptions, convictions, codes, rules, requirements, dogma and other internalized mental constructs... so as to prevent having to experience ostensibly "intolerable" affective sensations and/or emotions.

And in the psychotic human mind, I-Eye describes the "learned helpless" and/or paranoid-delusional ideation of an appraisal system stuck "inside" a box of its own design and construction, without resort to observation of what is actually so in the world, either "out there" or in the person's internal, corporeal, body space. If one is wholly dominated by the I-Eye state of consciousness, there is no accurate sense of external or internal reality; there are only ideas about it. 

2) Eye>I is the diametrically opposite state (vs. I-Eye) of being wholly locked into complete empirical observation of ongoing, current phenomena with no "contamination" or "corruption" by any beliefs, ideas, ideals, assumptions, convictions, codes, rules, requirements, dogma and other internalized mental constructs stored in verbal or sensory memory. It is pure perception. 

It is also, as the Sufis, Taoists, Buddhists, Hindus and other "high Brahmans" like to say, "timeless" or "out of time" because the perception is locked into the current moment as a series of ongoing current moments experienced and then immediately discarded so that perception of the next moment is not distorted, contaminated, adulterated, corrupted or otherwise effected in any manner. 

In actual practice, full-time Eye>I operation is itself an ideal. It is nearly impossible, though some Buddhist meditators claim to be able to do so, reaching a state called "nirvana," which is experienced as "total bliss" as the result of complete detachment from earthly or material concerns.

3) I+Eye is the state of attempting to retain what is experienced in the Eye>I state as  "memory," or "lessons," or "experience." In theory, one might be able to retain such experience "100% perfectly," but in actual practice, the very operation of nervous system will begin to adulterate, contaminate or corrupt the memory-stored lesson or experience immediately, and ever more so as time marches on. 

Proof of this is often demonstrated by having a dozen or more people stand in a circle. One is told an unfamiliar ten-word phrase and asked to whisper it to the next person. By the time it reaches the starting point, it will invariably be different from the original phrase or sentence. 

This is called "perceptual degredation via representation" (or, as McGilchrist calls it, "re-present-ation"), and it cannot be overcome in any manner we yet know of by those who are not skilled Vipassana- or Zen-style meditators.

Now, in actual practice, none of these three states actually exists over any period of time beyond a fraction of a second, and two of them not at all... ever. I-Eye and I+Eye exist only as metaphorical concepts for the sake of conceptual explanation. And even Eye>I exists only momentarily. It cannot be ongoing at the neuro-anatomical, neuro-physiological or neuro-chemical levels. But I-Eye and I+Eye exist conceptually as polarities one can utilize to convey the notion of absolute cognitive dysfunction vs. absolute cognitive functionality, even though neither actually exists.

In fact what exists over any length of time is a fluid activity I have called "hijacking" of the 

a) post-perception cognition (in the I+Eye) or even the 
b) pure perception (in the Eye>I) by pure, belief-based explanation. 

This is symbolized thus: 

a) I-Eye ^ I+Eye or 
b) I-Eye ^ Eye>I+Eye. 

(The caret sign "^" is used here to indicate that I-Eye "takes over" or "runs off with" the perception and adulterates it on the way to (ostensibly) pure recollection. (Very small children may not do this, but as soon as they start to have memories of past events -- let alone hear words and attach meanings to them -- their minds begin to hijack, run off and adulterate.)

Not truly "knowing" how non-lingual animals "think," we don't know what happens or does not happen in this regard, but we can at least afford to presume that they have sufficient memory and associative capacities to be able to confound their experiences... especially under stress

But that leads conveniently to the next point. And it is this: 

Under stress, all three states of cognitive consciousness will become degraded: Eye>I will see, hear or feel things that actually did not occur... or... fail to see, hear or feel things that did occur. I-Eye will mis-interpret, mis-evaluate, mis-assess, mis-judge, etc. And I+Eye will store ostensible "pseudo-memories" of observed events that never be entirely accurate. In fact those memories will be far more fragmented and less accurate under stress than they are even under normal conditions of I-Eye hijacking and contamination. 

There is in fact such a thing as false memory syndrome (FMS), and it tends to occur in people who have post-traumatic stress disorder. This is the result of having been overloaded with unmanageable levels of sensory stimulation and/or inability to tolerate what was perceived owing to the effects of their internalized beliefs, ideas, ideals, assumptions, convictions, codes, rules, requirements, dogma and other internalized mental constructs upon their explanation, evaluation, interpretation, assessment, or analysis or and/or attribution of meaning of those events.

But even when the stress-impacted memories are not truly "concocted" (as in FMS), they will be fragmented into components usually defined by specific sensory input channels, e.g.: vision, hearing, smell, taste and somato-sensory "gut feeling," as well as bits and pieces of recalled heat, chill, pressure, pain, etc. 

This, by the way, appears to be precisely what occurs in the minds of schizophrenics during childhood and adolescence owing to genetically and/or epigentically pre-disposed over-sensitivity along the afferent neural tracks leading from their sense organs to their emotion regulation centers. In that "limbic" emotion-processing area, the actual (or perceived) hyper-stimulation coming to the brain through the insula runs into the programmed instructions in the amygdala relative to what is threatening vs. what is not. Once that occurs, two very signifcant things occur: 

1) the hypothalamus gets a jolt from the amygdala that is too much for it to handle, it slams on the pituitary gland, and the pituitary whacks on the adrenal cortices to set off the fight or flight syndrome in the autonomic nervous system (ANS); and

2) the hippocampus becomes too saturated with input on too many "channels" to be able to feed the neural energy upwards in a properly codified manner to the memory banks in the neocortex.


1) the ANS is sent into severe sympathetic pitch; and

2) the brain will not have any organized, cohesive, ,multi-track, sense-making memory of what happened. (The brain will know, however, that something happened and have powerful but only partially connected emotions about it.)

In most people, that series of jolts will be quickly overridden by relatively functional operations of the neo-cortical Eye>I, I+Eye and even the I-Eye, if it is "well programmed" to deal with that particular stressful event. In the schizophrenic, however, the I-Eye is so adulterated, contaminated and corrupted with previously "dumped" and still disorganized misinformation that it will hijack the I+Eye and even the Eye>I operations governed mostly by the neo-cortex above and beside our eyeballs. 

And when that occurs, sense-making from the senses -- plus conceptual input stored relatively in the I+Eye (for "better") or I-Eye (for "worse") -- will be disrupted and manifested as hallucinations, delusions and "strange" explanations rooted in a highly corrupted I-Eye set-up.

But even in most people -- and certainly in the majority of us who are at least minimally "neurotic" owning to unprocessed, stressful life events -- I-Eye hijacking will take place, causing "conflicts" between various, embedded I-Eye mis-conceptions, as well as I-Eye conceptions vs. I+Eye "experience" and even with Eye>I perceptions as they occur

We see this daily in those who are mildly obsessive-compulsive when they continue to smoke, drink, drug, gamble, eat, over exercise, under-exercise, chase "bad ass" men (or women), walk out on relatively functional partners, hang in there in wretched marriages, self-harm, etc., etc., etc.

I have found that those who adopt these simple conceptual labels for their cognitive states in company with use of the 10 StEPs of Emotion Processing (see are able to move very quickly through DBT distress tolerance into emotion regulation, as well as CBT thought questioning and revision.

- - - - - - - - -

Further discussion added 05-05-16 upon reading the following in Batchelor, S.: Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening, New York: Riverhead / Penguin, 1997. "The denial of self [in formalistic, procedural meditation] challenges only the notion of a static self independent of body and mind... This notion of a static self is the primary obstruction to the realization of our unique potential as an individual human being. By dissolving this fiction through a centered vision of the tranciency [sic], ambiguity and contingency of experience, we are freed to create ourself [sic] anew."

Since this is (to me, anyway) a very significant sentence with respect to the understanding mindfulness and its upshots, it seems useful to explore / observe > notice / perceive > recognize / identify > acknowledge > accept > own > digest what is about it. 

I-Eye and I-Eye^I+Eye are clearly "static selves." I+Eye (and even I-Eye^I+Eye) may "evolve" over time, but even I+Eye is time-bound. It became what it is at a point in time that is forever in the past at the "port of entry" or "receiving dock" of that moment of dis-cover-y. But it is henceforth and forever caught at the memory of that dis-cover-y. I-Eye can only store conclusions made at an increasingly distant moment in the past. It's ability to reason on the basis of those empirical observations is enhanced, but the results of its reasoning are not the functional equivalent of further observation and dis-cover-y. 

Eye>I+Eye may be an edified or conceptually informed retainer of what was observed, thus being relatively or comparatively more plastic and amenable to change, but Eye>I by itself is pure observation, embodies complete and everlasting flux, as well as impermanence. There is "ego" in I-Eye and I+Eye. There is no ego whatsoever in Eye>I. It has no "stake" or "dog in the fight." Eye>I neither holds nor retains any memory or conclusion thereabout. 

Eye>I+Eye is quite literally Krishnamurti's "observer as the observed" and vice-versa, because it retains or "holds" objects after the event or action of its subjectivity. Eye>I, however, holds no objects. It is nothing but subjectivity. It only exists phenomenologically. It has no sense of itself because there is no retained or held self to objectify. It is merely empirical awareness or unobstructed consciousness without any connection to previous experience. It exists outside of time. 

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I clipped the list at the half-way point for the sake of trimming the file to fit this blog's parameters; I will provide the remainder to any legitimate requestor.

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