Thursday, April 7, 2016

The 10 StEPs for Recovery from the Consensus Trance

Socialization, Normalization and Consensus Consciousness

Radical as some of these notions may seem to the vast majority of us who were in-struct-ed, conditioned, socialized, habituated, normalized and institutionalized to "consensus consciousness," the following facts are inescapable for one who has used the most research-proven and widely-accepted techniques of clinical psychology to overcome his own mind's dysfunctions, as well as with and on behalf of hundreds of others to overcome theirs. 

1) The empirical evidence that supports the cognitive basis of psychopathology (as well as the use of the cognitive psychotherapies to treat it) is overwhelming: Most people who suffer from depression, anxiety, mania, neurosis, psychosis, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and various personality disorders do so because they believe things to be the way they are not... and fail to see, hear and otherwise sense the way things actually are.

2) Virtually everyone is at least somewhat disconnected from actual reality via use of various "defense mechanisms." These defense mechanisms are built on beliefs, ideas, ideals, assumptions, presumptions, convictions, misunderstandings, fantasies, prejudices, instructions, commands, rules, regulations, requirements... many of which have become relatively normalized in the common culture as the result of parental, peer and other behavioral modeling. 

3) Emotional distress is caused by specific collections of such belief-based defense mechanisms, aka "cognitive distortions." These defense mechanisms may have been acquired to "protect" us from actual threats of physical, verbal and/or emotional abuse (e.g.: criticism, devaluation, invalidation, covert control, cynical manipulation, intimidation, bullying,  battery, rape) or abandonment (e.g.: rejection, neglect, being ignored, being marginalized, being "excommunicated"). But they often set up "feedback loops" of beliefs, emotions and dysfunctional behavior that cause more problems in never-ending cycles of uncomfortable emotions and ineffective efforts to avoid them.  

4) People who have "psychological problems" tend not to realize, recognize, acknowledge, accept, own, appreciate or understand that their behaviors -- and the beliefs that drive those behaviors -- are the cause of their emotional discomfort, including frustration, resentment, anger, worry, anxiety, sadness, regret, remorse, guilt, shame and grief. 

5) Most people who have "psychological problems" were innocently conditioned, taught, trained, socialized, habituated, accustomed and normalized to believe that they are either entirely responsible for their mental illness... or that other external forces are entirely responsible. They are not able to see, hear or otherwise sense that neither circumstance is absolutely or totally the cause.

6) Most people who suffer from depression, anxiety, mania, neurosis, psychosis, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and various personality disorders will begin to recover from such difficulties as they begin to observe to notice to recognize to acknowledge to accept to own to appreciate to understand that they believe things to be the way they are not... and fail to see, hear and otherwise sense the way things actually are.

7) Most people who suffer from depression, anxiety, mania, neurosis, psychosis, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and various personality disorders will almost wholly transcend such difficulties when they are consistently and reliably able to see, hear and otherwise sense the way things actually are, as well as see, hear and otherwise sense the way things are believed to be in the consensus trance. 

Understanding the Issues

Firstly, we need to define some relevant terms as to what they actually mean with respect to unobservable mental operations and the effects of those operations on observable sensations, feelings, emotions and behavior.

Grasp of the definitions is helpful (some say "crucial") for those who wish to escape from the painful effects of the unconscious beliefs, thoughts, ideas, instructions, codes, rules, regulations, requirements, assumptions, presumptions, prejudices in their minds. Beliefs, thoughts, instructions, etc., that influence the interpretations, evaluations, appraisals, analyses, assessments, judgments and attributions of meaning that govern their emotions and behaviors.   

So, let's start with Tart's concept of "consensus consciousness" (or, as it is more popularly known, the "consensus trance"):

"Together, human groups agree on which of their perceptions should be admitted to awareness (hence, consensus), then they train each other to see the world in that way and only in that way (hence trance)."

above from -- which should definitely be at least scanned before one moves on here -- as well as


a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.

the adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture

the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs, values and ideologies


the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something

the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people

a quality that makes something seem true or real

power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior 

grounds, warrant <had excellent authority for believing the claim>; convincing force <lent authority to the performance>

social proof

a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.

Social proof is the concept that people will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.

normalization processes through which ideas and actions come to be seen as "normal" and become taken-for-granted or 'natural' in everyday life. ... the construction of an idealized norm of conduct. The effects of social influence can be seen in the tendency of large groups to conform to choices which may be either correct or mistaken, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as herd behavior.


...a standard, perspective, or set of ideas. A paradigm is a way of looking at something.

a model or pattern for something that may be copied

a theory or a group of ideas about how something should be done, made, or thought about

a philosophical and theoretical framework of a school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; 

broadly:  a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind

a framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a community. 

such a cognitive framework shared by members of any discipline or group


general agreement... "a consensus of opinion among judges" ... synonyms: agreement, harmony, concurrence, accord, unity, unanimity, solidarity ...

a formal concord: "there was consensus among delegates" ... general opinion, majority opinion, common view: "the consensus was that they should act"

general agreement :  unanimity

the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned 

group solidarity in sentiment and belief

majority of opinion: The consensus of the group was that they should meet twice a month.

general agreement or concord; harmony.

a ​generally accepted opinion or ​decision among a ​group of ​people: The general consensus in the ​office is that he can't do his ​job. Could we reach a consensus on this ​matter? Let's take a ​vote. We were ​unable to ​reach a consensus about ​membership fees. There is little consensus about the ​issue of ​smacking children. We ​managed to get a consensus about not ​smoking in the ​office.


the normal state of being awake and able to understand what is happening around you

a person's mind and thoughts

knowledge that is shared by a group of people

What consensus is NOT:

empirical evidence

based on testing or experience

originating in or based on observation or experience <empirical data>

relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory <an empirical basis for the theory>

capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment<empirical laws>

Relying on or derived from observation or experiment: empirical results that supported the hypothesis.

Verifiable or provable by means of observation or experiment: empirical laws.

Guided by practical experience and not theory, especially in medicine.

"...a collective term for the knowledge or source of knowledge acquired by means of the senses, particularly by observation and experimentation ...  information that justifies a belief in the truth or falsity of a claim ... observation, experience, and experiment serve as neutral arbiters between competing theories..."

What consensus consciousness is NOT:


the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. "the normal limits to human perception"

the state of being or process of becoming aware of something through the senses. "the perception of pain"

formal cognizance

Though the word "perception" is confusingly misused in the vernacular to mean the exact opposite

a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression. "Hollywood's perception of the tastes of the American public"


Clearly, the first two definition and list of synonyms above refer to empirical process, while the latter definition and list of synonyms refers to the operation of rational processes that often have little -- if anything -- to do with empirical observation.

a result of perceiving :  observation (see perceive)

a mental image :  concept

obsolete :  consciousness

awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation<color perception>

physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience

quick, acute, and intuitive cognition :  appreciation

a capacity for comprehension

the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.

immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment:
an artist of rare perception.

the result or product of perceiving, as distinguished from the act of perceiving; percept.

Psychology. a single unified awareness derived from sensory processes while a stimulus is present.

Linking the Definitions Together

Terrific. Now that we have the definitions down, we can proceed with connecting the dots between them more or less as the authors listed at the end hereof have done (at least partially) over the last 75 years.

Is it evident yet that if one is unaware of and/or does not accurately understand the concepts of...

1) authority,
2) social proof,
3) socialization,
4) normalization,
5) paradigm, 
6) consensus,
7) consciousness,
8) empirical evidence (or lack thereof), and
8) accurate perception (or lack thereof)...

that it is likely that one will

1) not only be unable to grasp the meaning and implications of consensus consciousness, one will also...

2) be very likely to be unable to see beyond or outside the paradigm (or "box") of consensus consciousness?

Because if one relies on unexamined authority, social proof, consensus and unconscious paradigms to the exclusion of accurate perception and (resulting) empirical evidence, one can expect to be socialized and normalized to the "consciousness" (or paradigms) of those who establish, control and maintain the consensus. For example,

1) If one identifies oneself as a fan of a particular type of popular music and relies on social proof, consensus and paradigms from within that music culture to the exclusion of accurate perception and (resulting) empirical evidence, one can expect to agree with any new version of reality offered by a peer or authority from that musical culture.

2) If one is a member of a particular religious sect and relies on social proof, consensus and paradigms from within the sect culture to the exclusion of accurate perception and (resulting) empirical evidence, one can expect to agree with any new version of reality offered by a sect member or authority.

3) If one is a member of a particular political party and relies on social proof, consensus and paradigms from within the party culture to the exclusion of accurate perception and (resulting) empirical evidence, one can expect to agree with any new version of reality offered by a party peer or party.

In fact, if one identifies consciously or unconsciously with any particular group or culture, one can expect to agree with, support and act upon the points of view expressed by peers and authorities from within that cultural paradigm regardless of whether what they assert is factual or not. That is the nature of social proof.

The upshots on unconscious reliance upon authority, social proof and unconscious paradigm without resort to accurate perception and/or empirical evidence is that one may believe in gross falsehoods. And if one relies habitually on authority, social proof and unconscious paradigm, it is likely that he or she will slip into the paradigm of the consensus trance.

That wouldn't be a problem if the beliefs, thoughts, instructions, codes, rules, regulations, requirements, assumptions, presumptions, and prejudices commonly found in the consensus trance were (even relatively) accurate. But those beliefs, etc., are so often at least partially misleading and sometime just plain grossly erroneous that relying upon them as guides to functional behavior is patently risky.

How can one tell if one is too far IN to the consensus trance?

Based on observing hundreds of people who had fallen into the paradigm of consensus consciousness for more than 35 years (since I studied my own way out of a large group awareness cult in the 1970s and then recovered from alcohol and drug addiction in the 1980s), I have to assert the following:

1) Life will be very painful.

2) One will experience a great deal of emotionally loaded mental conflict because they have beliefs that do not square with each other. 

3) One will repeat the same mistakes again and again expecting different results.

4) So-called "intimate" relationships will not be, and they will either crumble... or continue with relentless emotional discomfort.

How can one get out of the consensus trance?

Any of several cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based cognitive psychotherapies will be helpful, including those listed immediately below:

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

Mind-Body Bridging Therapy

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Schema Therapy

But it has been my experience with the use of all of these psychotherapies that...

1) they only produce the desired, emotion-relieving results so long as they continue to be used at least every few days,

2) the skills one acquires from these therapies may be too complex to recall and/or accurately utilize after even a few weeks of disuse, and

3) the skills are usually grossly under-utilized to deal with the challenges in patients' lives which they do not see as "psychological."

I began to observe to notice to recognize to acknowledge to accept to own to appreciate to understand, both conceptually and experientially, that this was the case several years ago. Some time later (while I was studying the "non-traditional" psychotherapeutic techniques used many years ago by Siddartha Gautama, George Gurdjieff and Jiddu Krishnamurti in relationship to family and cultural influences on the development of schizophrenia) I began formulate a solution

As did the Buddha, Gurdjieff and Krishnamurti with their methods, I began to use those 10 StEPs of Emotion Processing myself, refine them... and then to teach them to others.

One can read about the simple method -- and even pretty much learn how to use it at no charge -- at the following link.

The 10 Steps of Emotion Processing


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