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This page may be beyond the philosophical
comfort level of many people


On this page:
PTSD | Ego

Let's start out with the fact that what we will be discussing on this page isn't recognized psychological doctrine. In fact, it's more a layman's observation and explanation of common behaviors. What we want to do is to point out common patterns among people who are facing the immediate threat of violence or trying to deal with the aftermath.

Is what you're going to read here 100% accurate? No. Is it psychologically proven? No. However, that isn't our goal with this page. When you see the same patterns over and over again, something is there. To the best of our knowledge, nobody has sat down and collated these common factors.

This especially to tell people "Okay, this is what you're going to be experiencing."

Although we address this more in depth on the PTSD page, one of the biggest points we want to address here is that what we think of as 'PTSD' isn't just psychological, it's physiological.

That is to say it is a physical rewiring of the brain. Your brain shifts and twists to cope with new situations. This is NORMAL after a traumatic event.

Your brain physically rewires itself and your more basic survival centers kick in. (This BTW is proven psychological/physiological data). Parts of your brain temporarily grow larger and your thoughts are rerouted down different pathways.

Your brain adapts to handle more trouble by going into 'crisis mode.' Pretty good survival mechanism that, eh? Your brain changes and adapt to increase your chances to survive.

What is now being realized however, is that in MOST cases, the brain returns to 'normal' on its own.

That means if the stimuli isn't constant (like you find yourself in a warzone), routine again takes over and the brain reverts. Think of this as a river that shifts course after an earthquake. In time the river returns to it's normal course. It does this without the aid of counseling, psychological treatment or drugs. (This is why the original idea of 'everyone needs grief counseling after a traumatic event' is being questioned).

Again, this is a wonderful survival mechanism. When the danger passes, we return to a more generalized functional mode.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is what occurs when your brain DOESN'T revert to more normal operating parameters. In other words, it stays stuck in 'crisis mode.' And when it is in that mode, it is still sending you 'crisis' signals even though no threat exists.

Most people when they think about the term 'ego' think of 'concept of self.' This with a strong emphasis on self-esteem. As in "he has a big ego"

We subscribe to a slightly different -- and more fundamental -- definition of the ego than most people. The explanation we use is: At its core, the ego is a binary program that defines everything into Me/Other.

We consider this to be a more 'look under the hood' approach to the concept of self (1).

An ego is a very useful tool to have to operate in this space time continuum. Number one it keeps us from confusing ourselves with a refrigerator. If you've never had any experiences with extremes of altered consciousness, this may seem like a silly premise. If you you do have some experience, then it isn't all that far fetched. (Here's a link to Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor experience of leaving normal consciousness).

Number two it defines us AND other people/things relative to us (e.g. MY car. MY spouse, YOUR car, YOUR spouse). This tendency has a strong influence on our concept of self as it gives us solid and external reference points.

Number three it allows for the incorporation of the idea of stimulus and response patterns. That allows us to ask "How much of our 'ego' is learned 'habits' when it comes to our circumstances and environment?  As we learn the requirements of a situation we become more adept at acting and thinking a certain way. Once that stimuli is present, we switch into that 'role' (e.g. being a parent or a career).

And with that also comes the question of 'How much does our thinking a certain way define our concept of self?" While that may seem like a silly question, it has MAJOR implications for the fourth point.

Number four -- and this where we finally get to many people's conception of the ego -- how does all of the above effect our self-esteem?

Now comes a final point that leave us rubbing our foreheads because it's one of those issues that give us a headache. That's because it's a "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" kind of problem.

How much of what we think is created by the pathways and chemistry within our own brain? Or if not created, then influenced by those same pathways? (2)

Before you write this concept off, re-read the PTSD section and realize that advances in neurological studies strongly support the idea that what we think rewires our brains to force us to think that way.

The analogy we use is an arroyo in the desert, in time these pathways become the only way that water runs. How much of our concept of self, is actually a blend of habit and engraved neural pathways?

Return to top

1) As we're not totally convinced that 'awareness' is totally self-contained within the individual, taking it to this basic level is a necessary action.
First, whether or not you believe in psychic powers, we have to point something out. Military experimentation with 'remote viewing' didn't find the issue true or false, but instead found it 'too unreliable' for their needs. That's an interesting choice of words. This especially in light of the fact that the Russians also had a similar program. Second, we have to ask is there a 'species awareness' or perhaps a 'greater awareness?
With species awareness is there some kind of group consciousness? For example: Is there a collective human consciousness? If you answer 'yes' there's a lot of work ahead of you to prove it.
Realize something, before you answer 'no.' If you say 'no,' you'll be stuck having to explain certain aspects of human psychology (like archetypes) and how isolated 'cultures' came up with the same idea at the same time (e.g. bow and arrow). Even thinking scientifically, we have to wonder: What triggers a massive evolutionary change in a species? How does evolution make those massive jumps that it apparently does?
As for a greater awareness, before you write that concept off, realize that religion is based on that idea. And unfortunately there is a lot of argument from ignorance on both sides. (Although most pseudo-skeptics are themselves arguing from 'personal incredulity.' )
With both questions, 'Yes' and 'No' answers have a lot going for them. They also have a lot going against them too. Our answer to both is "We don't know."  This isn't pseudo-skepticism, this the understanding that sooner or later any 'model of the universe' falls short. That's why we take the open minded approach. Return to Text

2)The 'plasticity' of the brain and the effects of the enviornment is discussed in The New Brain: How the Modern Age Is Rewiring Your Mind. Return to Text


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Defeating the Victim's Consciousness

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