Friday, November 19, 2004

Introspection


It's weird how the very week I ponder the banality of most conversation, I have two independant chats that help give me some insight. But as I keep count, most conversations that occur are pretty plebian - wow, I'm an elitist snob sometimes.

Anyway, the first conversation was with Andrew on monday. Talking about spending some time in the woods pondering life, we wandered off onto a tangent about the values of self introspection. Since we started wandering down religions pathways, we got back to our favorite discrepency on life which would be his dont-deny-self attitude against my almost puritanical view on the world. But he talked about all the actions that we perform that betray ourselves, and trying to identify and work around them. I always viewed my decisions as coming from two sources: The Id or Ego. You can't deny the urge to sleep, eat, and fuck, but that part is offset by the rational mind, which I always viewed as having the final say. Guess that's what comes from being paid to think rationally.

We'll get back to that thread in a second, but before I do, let's talk about the other conversation. I was talking with Mel and Mike about some behavior that teens exhibit. The relevant part of the converation was when I couldn't understand why teens act out specifically for negative attention. I've never really understood that psychology (btw - thanks mom and dad for that). But when it was explained to be in 'dog training' terms, i.e. a behavioralist view of direct consequence of actions reinforcing behavior, it started to make sense. Well that and the assumption of an absent parent which I still have to work hard to imagine.

I've been applying the 'dog training' mentality to thinking about how humans behave for a while now, and realize more and more that it controls a lot of how people behave.

How does this all lead to an epiphany? Well the thing is, as I went to sleep one night this week, the thought crossed my mind "what do I do simply because I have been trained to?", which then leads back to the idea of betraying oneself. And the answer crossed my mind easily. My social behavior. I think that it might be that a lot of what I interpret as fear may just be a trained response. I've never been able to quantify what I was afraid of in a lot of the cases where I avoided social situations, and if it comes from a nebulous fear of some past bad, well I think I need to get some positive feedback going.

It's not often that I have to revise my mental models of how parts of the world work, but I'm much more on the side of three forces in the brain than I was before. At the very least I hope I'll be on the outlook for trained behavior.


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