Certain recent discussions about the lack of empirical evidence and the plenitude of anecdotal evidence has provided much fodder for some lively discussions between finbar and I as well as providing me with some extensive musings I’ve enjoyed very much. (god, I love the fact that the reality of the human beast allows access to esoteric thoughts and musings totally unrelated to the boring reality of staying alive!)
I have a huge problem with the whole concept of the “unconscious”… by definition if something is “unconscious” would that not mean it is insentient? And if insentient, thus not accessible to the reality of existence?
Skinner or Freud? Straight cognitive behavioural therapy or the more esoteric (and unquantifiable) delving into the psychosis of our behaviour?
Ultimately, the human psyche is NOT quantifiable simply through logic and rationality. There is hard evidence in each of our lives that influences brought to bear on our minds at various stages of our lives can have a very real (if not always understandable) impact on current actions.
Sometimes, the impact is negligible, a simple reactive, knee jerk action or reaction to a process, comment, question or something more concrete – a barking dog or a dog that does not bark ("To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time." "The dog did nothing in the night-time." "That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes, Silver Blaze). More subtly, it can weave strands of control into the fabric of real life without an innate understanding of its persistence.
I find it immensely distasteful – this concept that “unknown”, “unseen” imperatives are controlling my behaviour.
Yet like the glimmer of light through the barely perceptible crack at the bottom of a door, I experience those eureka moments … and the dawning realization that as much as I would choose to deny the concrete reality of links between past experience and present behaviour, the sky is indeed – this time – falling …
Each of us experiences at some point (really, at numerous points) in our lives, those “eureka” moments – those visually distracting (light bulb on) times when something suddenly makes total and utter sense – when a connection is established that is unequivocal but to this point, unmade – when the truth about a situation is suddenly revealed when before it was obscure.
I’ve been getting a fair number of those lately. Frankly, I’m not sure whether this is because I am actually gaining insight or conversely, perhaps I’m just miring myself even deeper in psychosis.
Of course, the bottom line is that you can have all the “moments” in the world – the true test is whether having made the connections you can actually change the course of an action, reverse a behaviour or in fact, elicit ANY benefit from figuring out WHY you are acting a certain way …
Ultimately, I think humans tend to be creatures of habit who, even when the impetus behind a behaviour is noted, continue that same behaviour (destructive or not) regardless. Add to that the reality that to “unlearn” something requires far greater effort than “learning” it and often that “eureka” moment is an exercise in futility.
At one and the same time, I find a certain delicious pleasure in recognizing the root of motivation – something to savour and reflect upon even if not acted upon. There is an almost palpable delight in figuring out WHY you fuck up in the same way again and again which supersedes the necessity of actually stopping your determined self-flagellation.
Does recognizing how fucked up you are make you more or less screwed up?
There is also a certain freedom inherent in feeling the bottom is rapidly coming up to meet your soft, vulnerable body … although the adage “when there is nowhere else to fall, you can only go up” doesn’t ring true with me. It seems to me, rather, than JUST when you think it is as bad as it could possible get – it gets worse and there is ALWAYS somewhere further to fall.
Having said that, there are some ultimate truths that each of us recognizes about ourselves – that no matter what is going on in our lives, they remain constant.
But, big, fat HUGE BUT … ANY learned behaviour, especially one ingrained and patterned in an almost inescapable pathway of repetition is VERY difficult to alter. It takes not a few hours of a tape nor even a concentrated burst of ‘want to change” – it takes rather, sometimes YEARS of conscious and concentrated determination.
Further, there are certain behaviours that while heavily influenced by thought and desire, motivation and emotional and spiritual desires, there are ALSO certain realities that no matter how they are dismissed or undermined, are realities that cannot be denied. Realities to do with bodies, with what our bodies are physically capable of achieving, with what our bodies can physically DO.
And all the denial in the world, all the claims in the world cannot shake my belief about certain physical realities.
and yet … and yet ..
for 35 years, finbar and I have danced the dance and woven our realities in and around each other and damned each other and loved each other and through it all, remained for each other, the be all and end of our simplistic existence … the existence of my universe without him there is simply, to me, inconceivable … and that in itself is unquantifiable, isn’t it?