Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Primitive Minds and Minds of Primitives

I'm always receiving notices in the mail for continuing education courses and seminars. Yesterday's flier from a psychoanalytic institute has several offerings that remind me of our current attempt to reach down into the mindset of human sacrifice.

One is called Treating Primitive Mental States. You might say that human sacrifice was the treatment for certain primitive mental states. Before there was psychotherapy, there was murder. I'm not sure which is more effective. Certainly murder is more popular.

Another seminar is called Forms of Things Unknown: An Approach to Ineffable Experience. It goes to how we manage to translate unconscious experience into language.

Here again, this goes to the problem of thoughts and what to do with them. Human sacrifice had to be a mode of expression, but expression of what exactly? Clearly, it involved acting out instead of thinking. The acting out is a kind of thinking-in-action, the way children act out their thoughts and emotions instead of reflecting upon them.

Recall what was said about innocence only being seen retrospectively. It is no doubt the same with human sacrifice. It could not be seen for what it was when it was occurring -- which was the whole point. Acting out is defense mechanism, the purpose of which is to avoid thinking, precisely.

Here's another: The Fragmented Self: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Dissociation. As we've discussed in the past, we begin life with a fragmented self that eventually becomes integrated through what is generically called good-enough-mothering.

But any number of things can happen along the way that keep the self fragmented: trauma, neglect, abuse, etc. This is how the mind parasites take root. A mind parasite is essentially an unintegrated and semi-autonomous fragment of subjectivity that takes on a life and agenda of its own.

Each of these concepts is essential to understanding human experience and behavior: primitive mental states, unverbalized experience, and fragmentation. The more primitive the mental state, the more fragmentation, dissociation, projection, etc.

The question is, can our current knowledge of primitive mental states tell us anything about the mental states of primitives? I don't see any other way. Humans are humans; just as our physical form develops along certain universal lines, so too do our minds. Indeed, if they don't develop the same way, then we're talking about a different species.

That was abrupt. Work suddenly beckons. I gotta get going. To be continued...

8 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

"Forms of Things Unknown: An Approach to Ineffable Experience"

Bob -- is there a website with more info on this seminar?

12/13/2016 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

"Forms of Things Unknown: An Approach to Ineffable Experience"

Poetry, music, visual art?

12/13/2016 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Humans are humans; just as our physical form develops along certain universal lines, so too do our minds. Indeed, if they don't develop the same way, then we're talking about a different species.

Along those lines, I was just reading somewhere this morning a study of why other apes don't talk. Apparently, they have all the hardware - the mouth, voice box, etc. are theoretically capable - but they don't have the software. Some may be able to learn rudimentary signs, but actual talking - and presumably the thinking that happens along with it - is right out.

12/13/2016 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Here is a link to the brochure. "Forms of Things Unknown" is all about O --> k.

12/13/2016 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thanks, Bob. I was wondering if there might be an online option. I assume I'd have to be credentialed..

12/13/2016 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm sure anyone can attend, but I doubt if there's an online option.

12/13/2016 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Ah. Are you going?

12/13/2016 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Nah. These things over-promise on what they can deliver. More generally, the disciples always ruin the master.

A long time ago I realized that there are geniuses and there are diverse modes for expressing it. The discipline almost doesn't matter, but is simply the form through which the genius expresses his genius. A follower can take the same form and make it sound banal. So a genius in psychoanalysis such as Bion will have more in common with a genius in religion such as Schuon than he does with one of his followers.

12/13/2016 05:34:00 PM  

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