Mental Illness and the internal narrative

Most mental illness can be traced to narcissism.

Previously I said that mental illness is when the self society demands of an individual is something the individual cannot attain to. The conflict between the real self of the individual and the self society glorifies being mental illness.

Now this still holds but it doesn’t go deep enough.

Most people spend their whole lifes as if they are on stage; as if they are playing a role in a drama. Of course this role is the central role.

Just listen to the internal dialogue you have when you are feeling depressed, anxious or whatever.

“Poor me, why are they looking at me, what did I do to deserve this, why is this happening to me, they aren’t showing me enough appreciation…”

The problem with perceiving yourself in this way is that in any drama (or even comedy) there has to be suffering, conflict, and unattained desires.

Happy people have a different dialogue.

“My life is so good, everyone loves me, I’m so happy…”

Very happy and content people have no dialogue.

In a sense we construct a narrative about ourselves and then we project ourselves into that narrative. The problem here is that society doesn’t applaud positive narratives about the self.

Try telling people you think you are a genius and try telling people you think you are shit. Compare the results. I bet that you will be called names and put down if you declare a positive narrative concerning yourself but people will rally around you if you declare a negative narrative. Just look at Russell Brand and Kanye West.

What this essentially does is positively reinforce a negative opinion of yourself that few people are able to overcome or even realize as the cause of their suffering. Few people have access to a realm of knowledge that transcends the opinions of others.

No matter how much they may affirm that all because everyone says something is so doesn’t mean it is so they still cannot let go of popular opinion. They cannot let go of that crutch and learn to walk on their own.

There is a way out though but it is slow and gradual. There are no on and off switches, you are not a computer; you are a plant and plants grow slowly.

The way out is to recondition your mind to shut-up. Don’t try to replace the negative narrative with a positive narrative. Just practice shutting that voice in your nut up. This is the power of mindfulness and meditation.

Love is a Circus

[An email I sent to my lover who is in an abusive and controlling relationship after watching “Water for Elephants” which she told me to watch because she thought it described our predicament]
If I hadn’t learnt the skill of controlling my mind I’d be in torment in our present predicament.
Basically mind says something like “She’s just coming to you; to cheat on him to; get back at him for cheating on her”, “He’s hurting her right now.”, “He won’t let her go” and such thoughts.

That thought then causes an emotion.

Now most people go into a feedback loop.

The emotion makes them think the kind of thought that caused the emotion which causes them to think that type of thought which causes the emotion…
The loop goes on and on like a spinning top; except it doesn’t slow down but whirls faster and faster and faster until you’re in a frenzy and don’t know what to do with yourself.
The trick is to focus on the emotion.
Ignore the thought.
The thought will continue speaking in your head for a bit because it craves your attention. It feeds off your attention; sapping you of all your positive energy and feelings like a vampire.
The trick is when your mind produces thoughts you enjoy have fun with them; pay attention to them, revel and whirl till you’re a tornado of ecstasy.
When your mind produces thoughts that cause you pain or suffering pay attention to the feelings. The physical feelings.

Treat your mind like a dog. When it does what you want give it a treat: your attention. When it does what you don’t want give it a tap on the nose: with-hold your attention.

Treat your mind like a garden. Water and fertilize the flowers; give drought and famine to the weeds.

The cool thing is that the emotional turmoil negative thoughts produce is often such an intense feeling that it’s quite easy to keep your attention on that feeling and ignore the thought.

Like training any dog it takes time.
I’ve been doing it for years.
I’ve fully analysed our predicament. Realized there’s nothing I can currently do. Realized that in fact the power is in your hands. I’m like the vet in that film “Water for Elephants” and you have to choose whether to jump with me or not.
We just need to find an elephant.

Advice I gave to a Beautiful woman on how to Deal with Period Pains.

My advice to you is to lay in bed and focus on the pain.

If you’ve read my things on meditation you should get this.

Meditation is basically where you pay attention to something. When you realize that your attention has wandered; you just bring it back to what you have chosen to pay attention to.

Pain is awesome for this because it is such an intense feeling that it is easy to keep your attention on it.

At first the pain may intensify when you look at it. That is your ego throwing a tantrum because it uses pain as one of the ways to make you think that you are it.

You say things like “this is my pain” and thus the ego affirms itself as you.

You are the silent witness; like the screen onto which images are projected isn’t affected by those images but remains unchanged.

Pain is just one of those images.

Ask yourself the question:

What makes pain different to any other experience?”

“Because it hurts!” Is not an answer; it’s a tautology; hurt and pain are synonyms.

What makes pain different to other experiences is that you don’t like it.

Set a timer for 20 minutes and during that time pay attention to the pain and whenever your attention wanders and you realize it has wandered bring it back.

That’s what meditation is.

It isn’t not thinking; it’s just choosing to pay attention to something other than thought.

If you do this for 20 minutes you will have moments when you experience the pain as something happening outside of you.

You will see it has interesting qualities.

Maybe you’ll get a brief experience of enlightenment where all there will be is the pain; but there’ll be no-one there experiencing the pain to not like it.

The pain will become like a dance you are watching.

It’s one of whatever-it-is-that-controls-this-whole-shabang’s little tricks it plays to get you to realize your true nature: the silent witness.

The ego has tricked us into thinking that it’s the important thing. Once you realize you are not your ego then you can have fun with the ego.

You can play around by putting on different egos.

The ego is necessary to interact with other people; but the ego should not be in control.

It has tricked people into thinking it’s in control and this has caused the suffering which you’ll realize is an illusion once you realize you are not your ego but that the ego is your tool.

Problems with the Phenomenological Rebuttal of Free-Will cont….

The other way it could be is that all that you call your actions, intentions, emotions and experiences are all the actions of a kind of performer. You are just watching the performer do its thing and this performer has tricked you into thinking you are it. Much like a good movie or theatre company can make the audience forget themselves for a bit.

This would account for why we don’t know what we are going to choose before we choose it; what we will think before we think it. It would account for the opaque nature of the black box out of which all our experiences (I include intentions and decisions within that category) come.

Though both these pictures could be the case I genuinely believe we are merely passive observers in our lifes.

We have become so caught up in the drama on the stage that we have forgotten that it isn’t us up there.

Just like a play has a beginning and an end; life has a beginning and an end. Maybe at the end we’ll get to take our masks off and discover we were the same entity playing or the parts.

Or we might just go into oblivion knowing nothing forever which ain’t that bad if you think about it.

Problems with the Phenomenological Rebuttal of Free-Will

I have a number of prongs in my attack on the traditional conception of free-will (the conception that states that if two worlds were identical in every way then it would be possible for a person x in one world to make a different decision to person x in the other world).

Recently I have thought of an analogy, or model, to show the problems in the phenomenological rebuttal of free-will.

If you try to distinguish between what you have control over and what you don’t have control over you will find that the closer you look the less you have control over; until it becomes apparent that you are nothing but a passive observer.

Your thoughts just pop spontaneously into your mind. Intentions I would say are thoughts to and like thoughts they just spring up out of no-where. But it is intentionality (that is the feeling of intending to do something) that we use to distinguish between what we have control over and what we don’t have control over.

The will to act upon an intention is no different. It’s not as if you will to will to will to act upon an intention. The will just appears magically.

Now this could be the result of a necessary bifurcation in our being brought about by our self-aware nature.

It is a bit like watching your reflection in the mirror. Whilst you are aware of yourself and your reflection you know that your reflection raising its arm is caused by you raising your arm.

If all you had available was the reflection then you could be forgiven for thinking it was moving itself and not being moved by your own actions and in a phenomenological analysis we may be just looking at the mirror and nothing else.

There is no You!

So the other day I was talking about identity and how it isn’t a fixed thing. I think I was really talking about the ego, super-ego and id triad. The nature of which is protean.

The Id doesn’t always want the same thing. So the Ego has to constantly change its interactions with the super-ego. Out of this process arises the protean identity; which is the triads projection into the world.

The real you is just a passive awareness through which experience passes. You experience trees, roads, cars, shame, guilt, sadness, choices and so on. If you watch carefully you will see that there is no “I” experiencing any of this stuff; there is just the experience.

I’ve been suffering hiccups recently so I’ll use them as an analogy. A hiccup seems to pop up out of no-where. You don’t strive to hiccup it just happens. Watch your thoughts and you will see the same thing. You don’t strive to think a thought it just pops into your mind.

Watch your internal experiences and you will see they have the same character. Sure you may feel sad when someone dies. You see the death as the cause of the sadness; but there was no “you” there who acted as an agent to feel sad in response to death. It just happened.

In fact we are never aware of an “I” that is perceiving. Rather we just see stuff.

This “I” is an illusion created by language because language requires a subject to act upon an object.

Comparison between the individual session of meditation and the road one walks in the life of practice.

I’ve noticed similarities between the individual act/session of meditation (micro) and the way in which mindfulness – combined with meditation – effects me in my day to day life (macro).

So during a session of meditation I’ve found it goes through phases. When I first sit down, close my eyes and start paying attention to my anchor there’s a tug of war between activity and non-activity. There will be a sensation of boredom which manifests itself as a restlessness and inability to maintain contact with the anchor for extended periods of time. During this phase I have to have faith that the process – the method – will cause this to subside.

A similar thing occurs when one first begins to practice mindfulness. It seems a bit silly. The mind is so used to nattering on all the time, to trying to solve your problems. You’re so used to avoiding pain and seeking pleasure and a deep almost subconscious part of you believes that the mental activity you have engaged in in pursuit of contentment is the only way to that end. So you need to have faith in the method of mindfulness at first. You have to give it a go so to speak.

After an indefinite period of time in meditation you find that your mind calms down. A thought will pop up, you’ll be “hooked” by it into diverting your gaze and after a period you will realize you’ve been hooked and just pay attention to your anchor again. The time you spend paying attention to your anchor will increase the calmer you get. The longer you stay in this place the calmer you become. But I noticed that this period would last for a time and then the mind would start getting busier again. And it goes round in cycles.

The same with mindfulness. In my life there are periods of time – sometimes weeks sometimes days – where i’m in a constant state of peace. It’s almost as if i’m not doing anything; it’s all happening by itself. But then I’ll get interested in stuff again and as a result I become slower at realizing I’m not being mindful which makes me less peaceful.

Creating Part of a Possible Answer to “What is Consciousness?” that would Account for consciousness’ Inexplicableness Part 2

In order to make a way of seeing consciousness that would explain why it is unexplainable more comprehesable I’ll have recourse to the concept of a formal language. A formal language is a language that is made up of strings all of which are derived from axioms via rules. To bring this out I will use a simple formal language as an example. The language I will use I have borrowed from “Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas R. Hofstadter (which is a damn good read by the way! It doesn’t treat you like an idiot like a lot of “Popular” science/philosophy books do).

The “MIU-System” is made up of 3 letters: M, I, and U.
It has one axiom: MI
It has 4 rules (These I have quoted directly from the book):
1. If you possess a string whose last letter is I, you can add on a U at the end.
For example MI can become MIU. MIUI can become MIUIU. MIII can become MIIIU
2. Suppose you have Mx. Then you may add Mxx to your collection. For example MI can become MII. MIUI can become MIUIIUI. MIII can become MIIIIII.
3. If III occurs in one of the strings in your collection, you may make a new string with U in place of III. So MIII can become MU.
4. If UU occurs inside one of your strings, you can drop it. So MIUU can become MI.
The book offers a puzzle as a means of getting us to play with the system. The puzzle is can you make MU from MI in the system.

So an example of a try would be:

MII (via rule 2)
MIIII (via rule 2)
MUI (via rule 3 (note you could also make MIU with the same rule))
MUIU (via rule 1)
And so on….

Don’t worry this is going somewhere – it is leading to a formulation of why consciousness is inexplicable! Well I will just state why in a simple sentence now but continue to clarify over the next few blogs.

In any formal system any theorum (that is a string that is derived from an axiom (either immediately or mediately)) is explicable by referring to the strings that came before, the rules of derivation and the axioms. But the axioms, rules, and components of the strings are not explicable but have to be taken on faith… Basically given at the beginning. Now I think reality is somewhat like a formal system all be it incredibly complex. I think consciousness is a fundamental and irreducible component of that system. That it is like a component, axiom or law if you will.

Creating Part of a Possible Answer to “What is Consciousness?” that would Account for consciousness’ Inexplicableness Part 1

I’ve recently been trying to think of ways of looking at consciousness that would explain why it is – or could be – something that is inexplicable. That is a definition of consciousness that would explain why consciousness cannot be explained by talking about the interaction of many discrete parts.

First I will try and communicate a distinction I have realized between what is consciousness and what is not consciousness as seen from the subjective viewpoint. That is I have been looking at my own experience – performing a phenomological analysis if you will – to distinguish between what is consciousness and what is that which consciousness is aware of. I have found that such things as decision making, emotions, character (or rather the illusory sense we have of there being a continuous character called me), thoughts, basically all phenomena which we designate as internal is not what consciousness is.

This of course rests on a basic assumption. That assumption is: Something cannot be what it sees. That for you to be aware of something that something must be outside of you. I don’t know how to proove this assumption but it seems intuitively right to me.

I believe that all these things of which we are aware will – one day – be explained satisfactorily and to a level where we will be able to construct a AI that will simulate… in fact do all those things (such as creativity, decision making (what some people inanely call free-will) and basically everything that most people would say makes a person a person). I don’t believe the same will ever be true of consciousness.

Now given this belief I have been trying to create a definition or description of consciousness that would explain why we will never be able to explain how consciousness comes about.

Meditation, Enlightenment and Letting Go


There are many things that meditation is good for. Calming the mind, dis-empowering the internal dialogue, and allowing oneself to see matters clearly without the baggage of emotions. One of the most beneficial effects of meditation is the ability to let go. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that the practice of meditation is the practice of letting go.




So as we all know in meditation – at least the meditation I practice – all that is done is that the attention is placed onto an object and whenever it is realized that the attention has wandered it is brought back to the object.




So where is the letting go? I hear you ask. Well when your attention has wandered it always clings to something. The more distracted you are the more your mind is clinging to something. That is why it is easier to bring your attention back to the anchor if it has only wandered onto something relatively boring like trying to remember what you ate yesterday. When it has wandered to a more appetizing realm like sex, food or how miserable you are then it is harder to bring back.




Often you can tell how much your mind is clinging to something by how long it takes you to realize it has been distracted (though this can also be caused by being full or eating sugary foods I have found).




What you call “difficulty” is really nothing other than the battle that takes place within you between two wants. On the one hand you want to do the practice but on the other hand you want to continue fondling those imaginary boobies. By bringing your attention back to anchor you are letting go of that desire.




Enlightenment can be seen as the complete letting go of everything. This doesn’t mean that nothing happens or that you no longer exist. It just means that you are totally passive in the face of everything. Whatever arises is fine.




See I believe that enlightenment is incredibly easy to grasp on an intellectual level. It is the cessation of suffering. That sentence is no harder to comprehend than the sentence “Peas are green”. The difficulty comes when we try to envisage what it would “feel” like to be enlightened. This is because we always place ourselves as we are into that picture and if we are suffering then suffering is so seemingly intrinsic to us that we cannot imagine it away. A blind person could understand on an intellectual level the sentence about peas but they couldn’t know what it felt like to see green peas.




Suffering is caused by clinging which is another way of saying wanting. The fundamental thing we cling to is our wants. We always hold out for our desires no matter how miserable not having them makes us or how unlikely it is that we we will get what we want. Even when we do get what we want and are satisfied for a bit but eventually return to Dukkha (suffering) we still hold out for that one want that when satiated will satisfy.