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Thread: Using dissociation to your advantage

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    creator kali's Avatar
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    Using dissociation to your advantage

    In my pursuit of personal apotheosis, I'm obsessed with first crossing the bridge from animal to man, and then crossing the mountain from man to God. It sounds like an impossible feat since by all means I'm still a freaken baby amoeba in my own spiritual ontogeny.

    The first bridge is not easy to cross by any stretch of the imagination, though many think they've already crossed it. Many people think they are man when they are still merely an animal in a well-fitting suit.

    Even sociopaths, who are naturally immune to some of the animalistic urges of the fruits of evolution (such as emotional-based empathy, though they are often capable of intellectual-based empathy), fall victim to their own biology (due to indulgences in other emotional compulsions, such as shame).

    After some light research I believe I know how to cross it.

    The solution is dissociation.



    Adventure One: Dissociation
    from animal to man

    Here we first establish several first principles:
    • The brain is functionally dualistic in nature.
    • The cortical moieties the are Intellectual Brain and Compulsive Brain, which is akin to Freud's Ego and Id respectively.
    • The compulsive brain is primal in nature. It is the animalistic and automatic instinct that evolved to optimise evolutionary survival. It is the part of the brain that compels us to eat, find shelter, hide in fear, or respond aggressively to threatening stimuli.
    • These compulsions are by all means very healthy expressions of normal brain functioning, and certainly help us for the most part.
    • Compulsions from this part of the brain are ego-dystonic when they contradict the beliefs of the intellectual brain. This is when the compulsions become pathological.
    • The intellectual brain was also borne out of evolutionary adaptation, and since it stands on the shoulders of the giant that is the compulsive brain, it is more sophisticated and fine-tuned.
    • The intellectual brain possesses the advantage of consciousness, which is a high level of awareness that allows us to tailor our actions to respond to environmental dilemmas in the most optimal and economical way.


    Since we have relied on the compulsive brain for most of our evolutionary trajectory, it exerts a very powerful influence over the body's executive functioning.

    When we feel like we are out of control, or in a trance to a certain passion or addiction, it is because our executive seat has been taken over by the compulsions of our animalistic need for survival.

    It's not just passions or addictions either: the compulsive brain (limbic brain) also gives rise to emotional reactions of undesirable or painful stimuli, in the form of depression and/or anxiety.

    A very common solution in today's psychological paradigm is to quell, silence, or control the urges of the compulsive brain. Everyone is trying to find the "off" switch for sadness. This is the aim of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It is also hinted at through everyday speech: like when a neurotypical tells the depressive to stop being sad, or tells the GAD sufferer to stop being anxious.

    Now there are three ways to respond to undesirable emotions:
    1. Control them.
    2. Appease them.
    3. Dissociate from them.


    Of course I will argue that dissociation is the correct response. Controlling leads to fatigue, and is ultimately unviable. To try and control that very large and imposing constituent of your brain is to try and eviscerate your spirit. Appeasing usually involves substitution or distraction, and creates secondary problems.

    Dissociation is superior because it allows for several things:
    • Mindfulness of the compulsion
    • Acceptance of the compulsion
    • Endurance of the compulsion
    • Moving forward despite the compulsion.

    There's a passage in the book The Happiness Trap that illustrates the idea of dissociation very well. Imagine that your depressive thoughts are like like a broken radio: it is constantly playing in the background, telling you are worthless. You can't turn off the radio, since the knobs are broken. You have the option of believing these thoughts. But a part of you know, deep down, it is all make-believe. Herein lies the CHOICE. The pathological depressive will start to believe the stories on the radio. The healthy man will learn to tolerate the broken radio, refuse to fuse to it. One day, the radio might run out of battery.


    Once you learn how to dissociate yourself from the ego-dystonic parts of your brain, you will have crossed the bridge into sapience.

    Knowing all this, then the crux of man is FREE WILL and AGENCY.


    Adventure Two: ???
    from man to divinity

    I believe once I conquer the first part, I will get a clearer view of the second. For now I have no idea what this entails but I will sometime mid-2017. If anyone has any suggestions, pls msg or rep me, but ONLY if you have already crossed the first bridge. If you have you are probably INTJ.
    Last edited by kali; 12-27-2016 at 06:14 AM.
    "I fucking hate the cold!" - Wim Hof

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    creator kali's Avatar
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    A lot of people like to personify their compulsions, and make it easier to dissociate from, because it separates the "I" from the "Compulsion". For example, Jack Trimpey calls it "The Beast". People suffering from Anorexia or Bulimia will call it "Ana" or "Mia" respectively. I think I will use "Lucy", derived from Lucifer, a fallen angel. I think it's fitting because animalistic impulses are kind of like fallen angels in a way (in the sense that they are healthy survival drives-cum-addiction drives).
    "I fucking hate the cold!" - Wim Hof

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    (╯□)╯︵ ┻━┻ Deckard's Avatar
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    Could you describe what you mean by dissociation? It sounds a bit like you're describing the principles of mindfulness or zazen, but I assume there's a distinction there.

    With mindfulness, you acknowledge and allow yourself to feel a negative emotion. With zazen, you acknowledge a negative emotion and return the mind to stillness. Dissociation presumably is analogous to putting up a pane of soundproof glass between you and the negative emotion. How do you achieve that, and what do you do after dissociating? The emotion is still there on the other side of the glass, and you're expending energy maintaining the barrier. Perhaps it gives you some distance that allows you to process without getting overwhelmed?

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    creator kali's Avatar
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    Mindfulness is simply just non-judgemental awareness. That's a necessary stepping stone towards being able to dissociate from undesirable urges. Never heard of zazen before but I appreciate being introduced to the concept, it's very interesting.

    I wouldn't say it's a barrier - it's more separation. It's the understanding that it's not a part of you, and thus can't control you. No energy expended. In fact, you save a lot of energy not trying to fight it anymore.
    "I fucking hate the cold!" - Wim Hof

    art and flowers: https://www.instagram.com/cloudlilt/

  5. #5
    Member Guess Who's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kali View Post
    Now there are three ways to respond to undesirable emotions:
    1. Control them.
    2. Appease them.
    3. Dissociate from them.
    You mentioned in a post some time ago that lots of things were going wrong in your life (lost your lover, lost a good friend, lost your wallet etc.) yet you remained relatively happy.

    I suggest that you consider this time of your life and see if you can identify the cause. It might be one of the options you have listed but could also be something else.

  6. #6
    (╯□)╯︵ ┻━┻ Deckard's Avatar
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    Ok, makes sense. So, what do you do after separating? Does the emotion just quiet down on its own? I guess I'm trying to elaborate on this because I think there are healthy and unhealthy ways of doing this: healthy involves acknowlegement and acceptance of the emotion and unhealthy is pushing it down deep until you don't feel it anymore. Both approaches can have similar effects in how they feel in the short term, but suppressing emotion just takes it out of range of your executive mind, it's still stewing away down there.

    Intuitively I'd say you're describing the process of being aware and taking control of the component of choice in emotion. When I was a kid I'd get intensely frustrated with things, like being teased by my older brother. I couldn't reason him into stopping and didn't know how to deal with those feelings. At one point I had the idea of stepping back from the situation in my mind, and making the choice not to feel frustrated. I tried it and it just worked.

    I think our brains are wired to make us want us to indulge our emotions. We make up rationalisations for why we can't stop thinking or feeling a certain way, because part of us wants to keep feeling that way. Part of the challenge is overcoming that self-destructive urge to indulge our misery. I think some types of people have an easier time of this than others, but the process is basically the same for everyone. It's a lot like swallowing your ego, but instead it's swallowing the urge to continue an emotional tantrum and making the decision to stop.

    If there's underlying trauma that is triggering the emotions, that requires a more nuanced approach, and more formal techniques of mindfulness / zazen / processing are required. Certain drugs like psychedelics, mdma or dissociatives are extremely useful in therapy because they put you in a state where it's easier to think about the underlying trauma without triggering emotional fallout.

    I think your journey parallels buddhism in a lot of ways. You'd enjoy reading Siddhartha, it's a narrative about the founder of buddhism and his journey of self-discovery.

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    Senior Member Lurker's Avatar
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    This thread is absolutely amazing.

    I have some spin-off ideas that I will post in my blog so as to avoid detraction here.


    1. The "functionally dualistic" default must be challenged and deconstructed as much as possible before egosyntonic dissociation can effectively happen. Our traditional conceptions of language create the reality we experience. Even ripping away at one symbolic shortcut will give you a path, and that is really amazing. I doubt that most people ever get that far. Frequent dissociative experiences would be necessary. My goal would be to view reality with the unadulterated mind of a child, coupled with the lofty expansive aspirations of a high-minded adult.

    2. I think that bad feelings can simply dissipate. I'm not sure they need to be "handled."


  8. #8
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    I think I prefer to control them. I'm not really clear on the distinction between dissociation and control. If I dissociate from my emotions, then I can judge my emotions to be good or bad .... Thus, I can train myself to respond correctly.

    I like the ideas of Epictetus:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epictetus
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

  9. #9
    (╯□)╯︵ ┻━┻ Deckard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kali View Post
    It's the understanding that it's not a part of you, and thus can't control you. No energy expended. In fact, you save a lot of energy not trying to fight it anymore.
    This might come down to semantics, but undesirable aspects of our psyche are part of us. Perhaps what you're saying is that they're not part of the idealised version of us, the values we've consciously chosen? I think mindfulness is effective because it recognises that these negative emotions exist and are part of us, which reduces the cognitive dissonance load on the brain and allows us to engage & process the emotion and its root causes. But you've incorporated mindfulness as part of your process, so I assume you've resolved this apparent contradiction?

    I am curious about possible techniques for learning this kind of dissociation for people who are very close to their emotions and find it difficult. Or people who find it hard to step back from their emotions because of trauma, intrusive thoughts and the like. Any ideas?

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    凸(ಠ_ರೃ )凸 stuck's Avatar
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    4. Process your emotions and by doing so get better at processing emotions in general, thereby living a less complicated life.

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