The Place of Feeling in Life

© C.O. Evans, 1973[mentalstates.net]


One of the characteristics our age is noted for is the loss of the capacity to feel. People go in droves to psychotherapists with the worry that they no longer feel anything; they want to feel again. This numbing, this desensitization, is the other side of the coin, of which the facing side is man the machine; the operative, the bureaucrat, the organization man, the role player. A world ruled by technology, efficiency, control is a world that overrules human feelings. The more successful we are in this world, the more divorced from our feelings we become, until we reach the point of wondering why nothing any more moves us to feel, no matter how stark the sight before our eyes.

The fact I am referring to hardly needs developing. It is one of the pervasive themes of modernity: An aspect of alienation.

It follows from this fact that there is widespread ignorance of what feeling is. Those people who have lost the capacity to feel only know that something is vaguely wrong with them. They do not know precisely what feeling is, and, not having it, they cannot know just what it is that they lack.

Now supposing it were possible to say just what feelings are, it would not follow that a feelingless person who listened to the explanation of what it is to feel would be able to recover the capacity to feel just by listening to an explanation of what feeling is. It is possible to understand intellectually what it is to feel, and yet still not be able to feel. Now although is does not follow that we can bring back feelings by describing them, it is still important to have an account of what it means for a person to have feelings. No matter how large a percentage of the population has ceased to feel, if the capacity to feel is valued as an important characteristic of the population, the first step in trying to save it is to be able to identify it. The act of identification is not enough by itself, but until it is completed, we cannot begin to alert the population to the danger of the loss of the value of feeling. The obviousness of this point can be brought out by comparison with a parallel case. Men have been worried that something alarming has been happening to nature, but until they found a way of saying what was wrong there was no way to alert the population to the loss of a value. First of all we had to have an account of ecological breakdown before we could even think of what to do about it. But obviously understanding the process of ecological breakdown is not by itself going to prevent its continuance. Talking about it isn't going to stop it. But until we can talk about it, we can't stop it.

This is what I am claiming in the case of feelings. Until we can talk to each other about them, we cannot ensure their survival in human populations.

The difficulty for us today is that we are handicapped in our attempts to explain the nature of feeling by the fact that the process of desensitization has to a greater or lesser extent infected all of us. We are all much less sure what it is like to have the capacity to feel in full. By comparison with a full-blooded capacity to feel, our own feelings may be pale copies indeed.

Quite apart from this difficulty, there is another difficulty preventing us from adequately explaining what feelings are; at least if what I think of them is true. A large part of what I want to communicate to you concerns this difficulty, but as I have expressed myself exhaustively on this point elsewhere 1, I want to make the point as succinctly as I can right now.

Think of anything you experience, a single specific experience, as having the property of a gestalt figure. That is to say, look upon the experience as forming the figure in a figure-ground gestalt. To carry this idea further think of the attention you pay to a particular experience as dividing consciousness into foreground-experience and background-experience. That which is foregrounded in experience we can identify with the object of attention -- the gestalt figure. That which is relegated to the background by attention forms the background experience -- the gestalt ground. My way of describing what happens when consciousness is divided in the act of attention is to say that attention polarizes consciousness into projected consciousness (object of attention, gestalt figure) and unprojected consciousness (gestalt ground). Unprojected consciousness must not be thought of as existing below the threshold of awareness. We are indeed aware of the presence of unprojected consciousness even though our attention at the time is taken up with projected consciousness. To grasp this we may think of our awareness of the relation between

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unprojected consciousness and projected consciousness as analogous to our awareness of the relation between peripheral vision and focal vision. Notice that we cannot turn our attention to peripheral vision without it ceasing to be peripheral and becoming focal. In just this way we cannot make of unprojected consciousness an object of attention by paying attention to it without that act turning unprojected consciousness into projected consciousness and creating in turn a new unprojected consciousness and thus preserving the gestalt configuration of consciousness.

We fail to catch our unprojected consciousness by swinging our attention around to it just as we fail to catch our own coattails which are behind us by swinging around fast enough to catch them.

Having got this picture of unprojected consciousness, the difficulty I referred to as a difficulty we have in describing feeling can now be stated. Unprojected consciousness is largely made up of an undifferentiated mass of feeling. I will explain this more fully in a minute. In the meantime you can appreciate that if we surmise that unprojected consciousness is made up of a feeling mass, it will be perfectly intelligible why feeling should be so elusive to pin down. As soon as we turn our attention on this feeling mass we destroy the precise phenomenon we wanted to observe more closely, and find instead that we are examining another phenomenon instead: namely a particular feeling that has entered projected consciousness. It is this background character of feeling that makes feeling what it is.

It is this background feeling that makes up life as we know it. It is always there, the phenomenon of feeling alive; feeling life. Some writers have called it the felt quality of life. It is there even in people who from a psychiatric point of view can officially be pronounced dead, even thought the 'dead' people themselves don't notice its presence. When they do discover this feeling within themselves they call it anxiety. This discovery creates the modern neurotic -- the man who is aware of his condition of feeling anxiety. Anxiety is the pervasive sort of feeling about life which reveals itself in a man who, when faced with the question "How are you feeling today?" seeks to cover up the true condition of his feelings and has to lie about them. It is a condition he would like to escape from  "I wish I didn't feel this way" -- but daren't because he is held in his situation by love?/guilt. Notice the question mark behind "love". The neurotic is always questioning himself. The desire for self-knowledge we call it.

But behind it, and unseen, behind the struggle for self-knowledge lies unnoticed, the feeling you want to get rid of -- unhappiness. The search for self-knowledge is a search for happiness: that all-pervasive state, that total feeling condition that reminds me most of serenity and grandeur.

I raised a question about the question mark behind love for the neurotic personality. It is understandable that love should be a question to him, since whatever state it is, is now the state of an ambivalent man, of a man who wants to feel differently from the way he does. Any love, any real feeling such a person could create with the other would have to be won against a background of feeling unhappy with life.

But notice this interesting implication of the situation of such a man. He is possessed of a feeling, if not possessed by a feeling, of unhappiness with life. The feeling is turning him away from itself since it is unpleasant. It remains hidden as unprojected consciousness because it is a painful feeling, and we try not to think about painful feelings. In other words, we block them. Alternatively again, we don't admit that they exist: we refuse to become aware of them.

A neurotic man is a man with an unprojected consciousness filled with a pervasive feeling mass which we can reach in our minds by imagining a man for whom the question, "How are you feeling?" is a nasty question. It is there all the time, but the man is running away from it. Such a feeling I am going to call a "segregative feeling".

For a man in whom unprojected feeling is a segregative mass, i.e., a mass driving us out of the present, seeking fulfillment in the future, looking for happiness in life, that is just where he finds himself.

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He has been brilliantly described by a host of great recent writers. The modern alienated man.

He is, then, the man who denies his own feeling condition.

He is very different from the man he is hoping to become: The happy man. The happy man is also a man with an unprojected consciousness, but he can afford to become aware of his, since his unprojected consciousness can become apparent to him, not only because it "feels good" to be aware of it, but because he can recognize its beneficial effects in his achievements. That is to say he becomes aware of this feeling mass by becoming aware of what it is making him do. That may be hard to connect up in your minds, but I hope I can clear it up in due course. By now you will have noticed how hard it is to keep a whole flow of conversation in your mind at once without losing thread, become aware of the need to have the text in front of you, and even then that may not be enough.

So let me once more go back to ground we have covered. I have been imagining the situation of a neurotic man looking for an escape from the mass of segregative feeling pervading his unprojected consciousness, and himself imagining a condition of being in which his unprojected consciousness consisted of a mass of integrative feeling pervading his unprojected consciousness.

In that condition of being, the man would no longer have any need to disown his feelings. His feelings would feel welcome. He would credit his achievements to his feelings. He would like to become aware of his unprojected consciousness -- recognize its being there.

He would want to identify himself with it, and be satisfied to call it the self. He would attribute all his actions to it, and it would be the seat of his individuality, and I almost said originality, so let me add it.

Perhaps by now I have gone some way to bring before your minds what I mean by feeling insofar as we are talking about something that is a whole, that is present at every moment of ordinary waking consciousness, in other words, is continuous, and occupies the ground position in the figure-ground gestalt into which attention divides consciousness. In talking about feeling in this way I am talking about an experiential phenomenon of a very particular sort. Just think that we have alternative modes of access to experiential phenomena. We have access by means of the outer senses -- seeing, and hearing, and so forth -- and access by means of an inner sense. Physiologists identify these two modes of access as the exteroceptive system and the interoceptive system respectively.

Philosophers and psychologists name the mode of access of the exteroceptive system "perception", and that of the interoceptive system "feeling".

The suggestion of this line of thinking is that we look upon consciousness as containing among other things perceptions and feeling.

Now it is the thesis I am presenting to you that the predominant relation between feeling and perception is the following. Feeling is to perceptions as unprojected consciousness is to projected consciousness. That is to say, again, in the gestalt division of consciousness into figure and ground, perception becomes figure and feeling becomes ground.

The next thesis, or more precisely, implication of the original thesis, is that what we perceive depends on how we feel. The unprojected mass of feeling makes us perceive the way we do.

We can now go back and compare our neurotic man with our self-actualizing man. The neurotic man is made to perceive the way he does by his unprojected feeling mass, and in his case his unprojected feeling mass is a segregative feeling mass. For that reason it is essentially invisible to him: he attributes no motive force to it, hence the definition of anxiety as objectless.

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Anxiety seems to have no outcome, hence it appears to have no object to be what philosophers, or should I say phenomenologists might call an objectless feeling. Just because his unprojected consciousness of segregative feelings is invisible to him (because, in Sartre's terms he is a man living inauthentically or in Collingwood's terms, he is a man with a corrupt consciousness) his consciousness seems to him to be made up of perception and thoughts only, and feeling is missing.

By contrast the self-actualizing man will have an unprojected mass of feeling which is of the integrative variety. Once again we have many beautiful modern descriptions of what life is like for the man whose feelings are wholly integrative. We only need to think of Maslow's description of peak experiences to have a good idea of what it is like to have an unprojected consciousness of integrative feeling.

I use the word "feeling" in the singular instead of "feelings" in the plural for a definite reason. It brings out the fact that another characteristic of this feeling mass I am talking about is that it is an undifferentiated mass. That is to say, it is not the subject of a classificatory system of terms identifying variations in the feeling state as it fluctuates in quality. It is undifferentiated because attention cannot be turned on it. Only projected consciousness can be subjected to a classificatory system of description. Because it has to be thought of as a single enduring mass, I use the word "feeling" to refer to it rather than the word "feelings". But there is another reason for its unity, which I will introduce at this time, because it will help us to get still closer to the particular phenomenon of feeling I am talking about -- closer to understanding the oneness of feeling.

Let us ask the question "What is it that is having this feeling?" "To what does the consciousness which encompasses it belong?" And the answer is that it belongs to an organism: At least.

Now we don't fully understand the concept of an organism until we understand that it is necessarily connected with an environment. We cannot define an organism unless we can perceive a boundary at which organism ends and environment begins. Just as we cannot define a valley without defining a mountain, organisms can as little live without environments as can valleys exist without mountains. This perhaps is the whole truth of the ontological argument for the existence of God. Organisms are dependent beings in that they only live while they are metabolizing, and metabolism consists in processing the environment. From the point of view of the organism's consciousness this unity of organism and environment, this organism-environment field, is something that he feels, and perceives as being-in-the-world.

The being-in-the-world of the neurotic man with segregative feeling is felt as anxiety. The being-in-the-world of the self-actualizing man with integrative feeling is the feeling of happiness, and absence of anxiety.

Now if we look at what we have got when we have got an organism-environment field, and what we have got in parallel as a man aware of his world, we can see that it is true for both cases (as it must be since both cases are the same, the one seen from the outside, the other from within) that the organism/man will be influenced both by relatively unchanging factors of environment/world as well as by relatively changing factors of environment/world.

What I am suggesting is that you think about the possibility that the way you feel need not be attributable entirely to the features of your life situation that are peculiar and personal to you, and which you do not share with other people, but that in addition to those factors affecting feeling, there is the factor that affects every organism-environment field, because the feeling is a response to the basic conditions of life itself, conditions that every living form of life is equally subject to. I am referring to inescapable conditions of life. If you look at things this way, you will see that there is direct feeling-contact between organism and environment at the contact boundary. And let us note that the most common boundary of organic life is the surface of the skin. On one side of one's skin is organism, on the other side is environment. This means that the most basic contact is felt in two senses: it is not only felt tactilely, it is felt emotionally. It can hardly be accidental that when man wanted to find a name for his most basic mode of perceiving, he chose to think of it on the analogy of feeling. Since what

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was most important to him about his discovery of perception was that it confronted him with what made him feel the way he felt, and alter the way he feels.

You may think I am going a bit far when I make feeling a phenomenon that is present throughout organic life. Surely feeling is confined to organisms with higher nervous systems? Well, to begin with I want to be clear about this. People are beginning to wonder, and the first ones in the West were Spinoza and Leibniz, whether consciousness does not extend all the way down the evolutionary scale. Some, like Whitehead, have even gone beyond that and made it a property of everything existent, including the inorganic (which by implication is ruled out). The point I want you to see is that this speculation about how far down consciousness extends must be understood as a question about how far feeling extends, since at the level at which we are thinking, feeling is the most primordial manifestation of consciousness.

The thesis I am presenting is that wherever it is true to say that you have an organism-environment field it will also be true to say that you have creature feeling world. In this sense, I am suggesting that every organism, all life, feels.

We take it for granted that we can only feel what we perceive; that without perception of world we would feel nothing about the world, would indeed feel nothing at all. We take it for granted that we are not in contact with the world until we have perceived. Thus we would take it for granted that the fetus in the womb lives unconsciously -- as in dreamless sleep. Well, as many of you know, it has been discovered only in this century that belief is false. The child is conscious in the womb, and by all accounts enjoying its environment immensely. The point is to understand that this enjoyment, this experience, is an experience of feeling, not of perception. The outer senses have not yet come into function. But the baby is alive and feeling, thank you very much.

I am asking you to entertain the hypothesis that feeling one's world is not a process that requires the mediation of perception as a necessary condition. The relation is rather the other way around exactly. Perception of world is always mediated by feeling of world. And this is just as true of the "dead" modern man who feels nothing -- our segregative neurotic -- as it is of the man who enjoys satori, the whole and healthy man with integrative feelings.

There are then certain environmental conditions that are unchangingly present for all organic life, and to these conditions organisms react as well as reacting to changing environmental conditions. But neither the conditions themselves nor the felt reactions to them are noticed by the organism concerned, even when he or she is man or woman. Just as we are no longer aware of hearing the clock that always ticks, so too are we unaware of the feeling reaction we are having to the tick of the clock. That at least is meant to be an analogy for the relation between the effect the environment is having on us without our perceiving it, and our unawareness of our feeling reaction to it.

In addition to the feeling-reaction of the organism-environment field to the unchanging conditions of life must be added its feeling-reaction to the changing conditions of life. We must not make the mistake of thinking that we have two different kinds of feeling here because they are causally produced by two different types of factor. We have just one feeling mass, and two different factors that contribute to its overall felt quality.

As organisms we have a much greater interest in those environmental factors that are always changing and in their effect on our feeling-response. We do so because in respect of changing environmental conditions there is some promise of relief, or escape, or bringing them into being. We are interested in them because in respect of them there is some prospect of manipulating our environment or ourselves.

Hence we name the quality of the feeling mass according to the way we identify our feeling-responses to the changing factors in the environment. We call them our emotions. For them we construct our vocabulary of feelings. Now we can talk of them in the plural at last. They constitute that part of the undifferentiated feeling mass that can be projected by an act of attention. And our verbal identification of our emotions, our feelings, permits us to project them. Our emotions are the way

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we feel when . . . Where what follows the "when . . ." is a description of some changing situation in the organism-environment field. The classification is always a classification backwards, if you understand what I mean. We first identify the situation that we believe gives rise to the particular quality of the feeling mass at the time.

From this it follows that our emotions are only the passing high points of our total feeling state during a stretch of ordinary waking consciousness. If we take them to exhaust the feeling-reaction of the organism on the whole, we leave out precisely our most intimate feeling of life -- the pervasive ground of consciousness as such.

Our emotions come and go as we move through the situations of daily life, but the felt quality of life is always there. It is not made up by aggregation of the individual emotions that come and go, but, rather, these emotions are nothing other than the historical record of the quality of the feeling mass as it changes in response to noteworthy episodes of the day's events. Emotions are like markers in a stream showing the height of the water at different times.

It follows from the thesis that there are two opposite types of unprojected mass of feeling, namely integrative feeling and segregative feeling, that emotions and feelings that are projected feel different depending on whether they are highlights of an integrative feeling mass or are lowlights of a segregative feeling mass. The common underlying emotional depth of all integrative feelings is the feeling of love which is felt in a being as love of life. The converse common emotional depth of segregative feelings is hate, betraying a feeling of fear and hatred of life.

Because love and hate identify the unprojected side of consciousness -- the underlying feeling state, these feelings are commonly mistaken for elements of projected consciousness, giving us so many concepts of love and hate. But this feeling mass, that can go either one way or the other as far as its feeling-response to life is concerned, is pre-conceptual. Concepts of it introduce boundaries where there are none.

When a person has an integrative feeling mass for unprojected consciousness, this feeling of love, all his emotions have a life-affirming quality, and we have such emotions as compassion, generosity, friendliness. When the feeling is hate, we have such emotions as anger, fear. Thus is to be understood the idea that emotions always come in pairs such as love/hate, angry/friendly (alright, you don't agree that they are opposites exactly, but I'll go on), gentle/rough, (again not emotions perhaps), trusting/untrusting, and all the others.

The point is what we call the emotions is nothing other than that aspect of our perceptions that are overcast with this emotional basis I have been calling the integrative/segregative unprojected mass of feeling.

Some of this will become clearer as we go along. Some of it will become more obscure!

As an example of an organism-environment field locked into feeling of the segregative type is the "learned helplessness" of a dog that has been taught by conditioning that he cannot escape an electric shock no matter what action he takes. He "gives up" and resigns himself to the adversive condition, or in other words, gets used to feeling bad and suffers it.

How different feels the dog that knows how to avoid the shock, having not been taught "learned helplessness". Discern its immediate responsiveness to the subtlest environmental adjustment!

I have just one further dimension to add to my portrait of feeling before I go on to give an account of the way feeling affects our life.

It concerns a certain kind of evidence (what to some will be called inadmissible evidence) for the hypothesis that every organism-environment field enjoys an integrative/segregative feeling mass, which by the time it has reached our point on the ladder of evolution has come to be recognized as love and hate. It is evidence that lower life forms on the ladder feel in

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much the same way we do; that it is the property of the organic as such to have an inside and an outside such that the inside is feeling and the outside, changes occurring at the bio-chemical level. The thesis is that all metabolizing systems are conscious at least to the extent that they feel. This thesis must be interpreted as applying all the way down to life at the level of the individual cell.

The evidence I am about to give does not speak for itself. It has to be interpreted and argued over, and my interpretation is but one, but if you succeed in following my interpretation you will get a better idea of what I mean by feeling, and enter deeper into its meaning.

The first piece of evidence has to do with the organism-environment field classified as plant life:

Consider this experiment by Clive Backster A "plant murderer" was arbitrarily selected from a group of six men. Each of the six, in random order, walked into a room which was inhabited by two plants. When all the visits had been completed only one plant was left alive; the other had been torn from its pot, mangled and finally crushed into the floor by one of the visitors. The only witness to this gruesome event: the remaining philodendron. Spotting the criminal was simple, however. Backster attached the electrodes to the plant, then had the six suspects walk into the room in lineup fashion. When the murder came through the door, the plant emitted the electrical equivalent of a shriek. 2

One reads in the same book that:

Other underground experimenters are trying to demonstrate that plants and humans are capable of emotional relationships, such as love, hate and even religious communion. Marcel Vogel has already found at least six people who have the ability to tune into plant consciousness, "They can mentally go into a plant," reports Vogel. "They and the plant become one. These people can clearly describe the cells, the finer detail of the cells, the color, and even the movement of moisture up the leaf. 3

My suggestion is that we interpret this report of two-way response between human being and plant as a feeling interchange.

Their oneness is a oneness of feel. They have harmonizing vibrations to use the language of the love generation.

The second piece of inadmissible evidence comes from the type of organism-environment field we call animal life.

The work grew from observations made by Rudolf Reutler, director of the Malaria Institute at Rosh Pina in Israel. Reutler noticed that when the temperature was sufficiently high, the exposed inner organs of grasshoppers were apparently directly affected by the mere bodily presence of the experimenter, contracting violently while the experimenter was quietly sitting by, and reverting to a slow rhythmic movement in his absence. Attempts were made to make sure that the contractions were not due to changes in temperature or humidity. The effect on the intestinal muscles of the grasshoppers varied with the breathing movements of the experimenter who was quietly looking through a microscope. The effect was more marked when the observer sharply contracted a group of voluntary muscles, such as suddenly bending a leg or moving his fingers rapidly. These experiments were repeated in 1940 at the Brain Research Institute at Leningrad University. Using the same methods as Reutler, locusts and cockroaches were used in these tests. Steblin Kaminsky achieved the same results as Reutler ... For instance, a deep sigh on his part ... seemed to effect strong contractions in the insects' intestines. 4

The view of feeling I am taking is the one that allows us to say that the organism-environment field experiences such internal modifications of its muscular and visceral reactions as the strong contractions observed in insects' intestines, as feeling. (If

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there is one thing modern philosophy has taught us, it has taught us not to doubt that you can tell the state of feeling of an organism from such evidence as contractions in the intestines, electrical discharges in the brain, and such like.)

At this point you may be muttering to yourselves that I have made it more than painfully obvious what I am identifying as feeling, and why don't I just get on with it and say what I have to say about feeling. And, of course, this is the point I have been waiting to reach.

I want to conjecture with you about the possible relationships that might be found between the various branches of consciousness: feeling, perceiving, thinking, and doing. I want you to think of these different phenomena of consciousness as interdependent parts of a self-adjusting system, with one part in control of the system: namely the part that all the other parts have to keep in a state of equilibrium. This is the state of feeling. The organism-environment field seeks an equilibrium of feeling. Now we have been talking about two possibilities here. The possibility of equilibrium being reached around a segregative feeling mass, as opposed to equilibrium being reached around an integrative feeling. And according to which it is so will be determined the whole way all other parts of the system will function. Thus our perceiving mechanism, eyes and all that stuff, will be geared to the organisms unprojected feeling mass. Our feelings dictate what we see. We see what we feel is there.

I am asking you to think of unprojected feeling determining the total way we react to our environment. First of all through the effect it has on our perceptions. To take an example, imagine someone getting up in the morning in a bad mood. She immediately seems irritable, and she picks on all the things that "aren't right" in her surroundings, situation in life even. She quarrels with the kids by raising the stringency of her demands on there conformity to rules of her stipulation, and in this way, the segregative unprojected mass of feeling discharges its energy in the subject's actions viz-a-viz her environment. But before you can pick on something as offensive to your eye, you have to have perceived it that way, and it is right at this point that our feelings alter the way we perceive.

Now this thesis is just one leg of a whole model of consciousness that I wish to put before you. I am asking you to imagine that our feelings alter our perceptions, and our perceptions in turn alter our actions. I want you then to imagine the completion of the circle and think of our actions in turn themselves affecting the way we feel (i.e. alter the unprojected feeling mass), and thus sending off a new cycle with a further perceptual alteration resulting in turn from the latest modification in feeling, and so on in a cyclical process. Let us call this process the reactive-process, since each part reacts to each other part in a feedback process. I call it reactive when the organism's feeling state is predominantly of the segregative variety. It is reactive because the subject does not see that his actions flow from his own feelings, but instead sees them only as responses to cues he thinks he sees objectively coming from the environment in the world he perceives.

An organism is functioning as a reactive system when the organism is unaware of the source of its perceptions and actions in unprojected consciousness, because it is unaware of its feelings. Then the organism's feelings can entirely dominate the subject, and the domination is possible because the subject is not aware that he is in any way dominated; he is as far as his own mind is concerned simply making intelligent responses to an objectively changed environment. "Yes, the kids are more obnoxious today. Of course, that's what it is."

When the unprojected feeling mass of consciousness is of the integrative variety, the subject is in touch with his feelings. According to others, he gives in to his feelings, but according to himself he acts on a creative impulse. In this sense it always takes courage to feel, at least in a society dominated by feelings of the segregative variety. Let us carry our thinking one step further and describe the man with integrative feelings as the integrative personality and the man with segregative feelings as the segregative personality. We can then construct two opposite psychological types: the neurotic being the segregative personality and the self-actualizing individual the integrative personality.

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Now let us carry this thinking one stage further and imagine that an individual can get locked in to being a segregative personality in such a way that he has no control over anything that happens to him. He is in a state psychologists call a state of total identification with his world. Subjectively he sees only the world out there, he does not see himself in his world at all (unless he looks at the mirror to shave -- which may give males an advantage over females, but no, not when you think about it). And for this very reason, he can't understand that his unseen feeling is in control of his consciousness and therefore his world.

By contrast the self-actualizing individual is in touch with his feeling, and he understands how it determines what he sees, or at least his interpretation of what he sees, and in general, perceives. His feeling, too, therefore, determines what he does (his actions, including his action of perceiving himself).

The segregative personality is in the grip of this cyclical feedback process of feeling causing perceiving causing actions causing feeling, of a wholly reactive nature. Reactive for the reason given, namely that the subject is unaware of the feeling effect in the perception, and ignorant, therefore, of the self-caused origin of the intent of the perception. The literature of awakened individuals likes to describe man caught in segregative feeling as asleep. On this basis most of us are asleep, even while we are awake!

The self-actualizing individual knows that feeling makes him perceive the way he perceives, and with this knowledge we introduce another component of consciousness. This time "thought".

The subject is fully capable of thought by the time he comes to realize that he can modulate his own action-performances. That is, he can raise the performances - raise cane - or lower them. All that needs to happen for a subject to acquire the power of thought is to have his attention turn from projected consciousness to the projected signs of his unprojected consciousness; namely his behavior. When we become aware of our own behavior, we gain access to our unprojected feeling. We discover what feeling makes us do, and thus we learn, "I know the sort of way I feel when I behave like that." As Andre Malraux put it, we become aware of our own theatricalities what psychologists call our identifications, as we play the part we don't know we are playing. Not until it happens. And then we stop the reactive system with a thought, "Am I perceiving the situation rightly?" "Are they really laughing at me?" " Should I run away like I feel like doing? Or am I perhaps mistaken? Is it my feeling of insecurity that is making me see them all as laughing at me, maybe they are all the time laughing with me?" The question, the thought "Are they laughing at me?" is a detachment from identification with the perception of them as laughing at me. And as soon as I achieve this detachment from my perception, I find my feeling modified by the thought, the reassurance, that they are laughing with me. I look again, I reperceive, and after a moment I am satisfied that all is well, I relax and begin laughing too, and my desire to run away has left me. So, my reperception causes me to perform a different action from the one I would have done had I not stopped to think about feeling. From the point of view of our model we have another component of consciousness to integrate with the rest, and we fit this component in between feeling and perception in the following way. Feeling one causes perception one causes thought one causes feeling two causes perception two causes action one. Notice that here the main circuit now has to go through a sub-circuit before the cycle is completed. Thus perception one is followed by thought one, but perception two is followed by action one. The accompanying diagram will make this easier to image. (See figure II). Notice that the system modeled in figure one is the reactive system of the segregative variety. The system modeled in figure 2 is an action system of the segregative variety. Reaction gives way to action, and with action comes self-creation and freedom.

our thinking has led us to the possibility that the possession of an integrative personality is dependent upon the subject's capacity to re-perceive his environment, and this entails, of course, the capacity to exercise a certain amount of control over feelings, at least to the extent that thoughts themselves alter feelings, and we can produce thought any time we decide to modify our action performances: just by stopping them. It's as easy as that. And yet how hard, of course.

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The model I have given of consciousness may be described as a molecular model the atomic units of which are feeling, thinking, perceiving, and acting. You complete the idea of the model when you remember to think of feeling as forming unprojected consciousness, and perception, thought, and action as corresponding forms of projected consciousness.

With the ability to reperceive, to which we owe the function of thought, an organism environment field acquires the joy and power of freedom.

An organism that can develop out of a reactive system (identification) into an action system has acquired a higher degree of consciousness. In this sense of the word consciousness, a totally different sense from the one used throughout in this paper, an action system takes the place of a reactive system when the individual becomes aware of his identifications and steps out of them to do so. We may equate consciousness in this sense with the acquisition of the capacity of freedom. We give birth to ourselves as individuals.

[mentalstates.net]


Notes and references

1. Biofeedback, Ed., Marvin Karlins and Lewis M Anderson (Warner) p. 125
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2. Biofeedback, Ed., Marvin Karlins and Lewis M Anderson (Warner) p. 125
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3. Ibid.
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4. Psychic discoveries behind the iron curtain, Ed., Martin Ebon (Signet Books) p. 67-68
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