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Open Letter to the Human Mind

A candid essay on the hazards of confusing the mind's concepts of reality for the real thing.

Dearest Human Mind

d.s

Following millennia of Human suffering and conflict despite all fervent pleas for peace and harmony; with the continuing abuse and neglect of children, the fragile wellspring of Human evolution; under the incessant and willful suppression of truth in favor of self-serving ideology; with little advance in the reverence for life or the delicate equilibrium it requires, and the rampant bloom of Human life with its insatiable wants and the looming prospect of its collapse; and all this proceeding from your individual perception of reality; it's time to get straight to the point:

 

You are insane!

 

Honestly, by the definition you invented:

insane |inˈsān|

adjective

in a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behavior, or social interaction; seriously mentally ill.

(Definitions from Apple Dictionary)

You laugh?

What's so funny about the lunacy of insisting that reality conform to personal wishes?

Or are you incredulous? "Not true!" you're thinking?

Look around you. See what your person and your kind are doing to each other and the planet that's created your existence – all in the pursuit of personal wishes. Can you honestly claim as sane a sentient form of life that so readily precipitates its self-ruin?

You say "I'm not one of the bad ones." But can you sincerely pretend that you have not played a role, no matter how small, in the spread of misery, conflict, the impairment of life? Of your own life, someone close that you've hurt, someone unknown to you who will inherit the consequences of your choices long after you're gone? Or some other form of life losing its place in existence so you, apathetic to all but your own needs, may exist in comfort?

Perhaps you're offended now. “These words are harsh and judgmental – and not helpful.” Does an uncomfortable truth not belong in your comfortable world view?

Well – yes, these words are harsh, and applying your own definition of insanity to you may be offensive – but mind, where is your honesty? Truthfully, how well are you getting along with reality? How do you decide what portion of it is acceptable? what truth is tolerable or not? Sincerely, how is it that you enable your person to indulge or overlook so much misperception and harmful behavior or social interaction – as per your definition of insanity?

Honesty requires recognition of the truth, and harsh as the reality of it may be, you Human mind, aren't particularly adept at discerning truthfulness. Which is to say your grasp of reality is questionable – even as it is so cherished.

Your word for this condition:

delusion |diˈloō zh ən|

noun

an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.

Do you perceive the delusion behind your mental disorder? Likely no, as it wouldn't be a delusion if you did. Admittedly, self-delusion is notoriously difficult to recognize or remedy in that it is so firmly maintained; but isn't it you, idiosyncratic mind, that would be so stubborn?

Though it may not initially be willful, your self-delusion arises with the mistaken impression “Reality is as I conceive it” – not recognizing that a conceived reality can't actually exist. Under this conviction you confuse what you think reality is, or think it could or should be, with what you and your person actually experience, and pretend these are one and the same. Simply, you fail to distinguish the conceived from the perceived.

The crucial problem here is that the conceived isn't real, and never can be, yet, preserving the belief that it is, you come to prefer it over the perceived, and both initiate and justify your person's behavior with misconceptions – then quite literally suffer the consequences.

Here's how it unfolds:

The correctly perceived is the only actual reality you have access to, but you correctly perceive that this isn't the whole picture, which you find unnerving, so you fill in as much of the unknown as you can with concepts of what reality may be, wagering that your concepts are accurate and truthful; i.e. realistic. And often they are – easing your discomfort with the unknown, but encouraging the incorrect impression, the delusion, that concepts are a reliable substitute for actual reality.

“But they are reliable” you say. “My conceptual understanding of reality serves me quite well – or well enough to get by – most of the time.” Is this sufficient, Human mind? If your purpose, presumably, is to correctly understand reality, is “realistic enough to get by” enough to justify reality's experiment in your existence?

Mind, how can the realistic, no matter how realistic, be real? Do you understand the difference between these words? A representation of anything could never be the thing itself. What sort of substitute is a realistic painting for the actual scene being depicted? Your conceptions of reality paint just such a picture. But is your conceptual canvas, captivating as it may be, blocking your view of what could be directly, and possibly correctly or more truthfully, perceived?

What portion of a realistic concept taken for fact is delusional? The whole thing? What portion of any concept represents the reality you have yet to perceive correctly? None of it?

Unconcerned with answering this sort of question, betting on the realism of concepts, you gamble that the de facto and continuous unfolding of reality will consistently match your conceptual painting of it. Again, quite often it does – for which you then take credit – equating a successful wager with foreknowledge of the outcome. Winning the bet of course feels good and encourages more speculation, but deepens the delusion that a conceptual modeling of reality is the only or best way to relate to it.

The charade is revealed though when you lose the bet – when reality doesn't match your conceptually based expectations. But rather than simply admit your mental portrayal of reality is ineptly rendered, and set about the effort to improve it, you fault reality! – placing yourself in direct conflict with it – and proving your psychosis.

Insisting reality conform to what it isn't, you are compelled to resent it's conditions; then you most willfully but blindly set about the attempt to manipulate the reality you experience to match the non-existent one you desire – with all the inevitable discontent, strife, and unintended consequences; which is to say the unexpected repercussions that result from actions undertaken with an errant understanding of reality. These undesired repercussions become fresh contrary conditions that you resent, and so on – perpetuating the cycle of your insanity and suffering.

And so goes the Human mind's self-deluding conflict with reality; which, when you examine the issue honestly, is the basis of all Human psychological misery, neurosis, mis­apprehension, bias, prejudice, discord, feuding, and warring – not to mention the origin of all anthropogenic blowback – the individual and collective Human incompatibility with its habitat, i.e. The Earth.

Wouldn't this be a good working definition of mental illness?:

dysfunctional behavior based on the mental construct that actual reality should conform to a marginally realistic mental construct of it.

How about this actual definition:

schizophrenia |ˌskitsəˈfrēnēə; -ˈfrenēə|

noun

a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.

Like the fragmentation of self-awareness? (the self aware of the self) Or dualistic thinking? (the real and unreal) So which self are you? Where is the reality in the unreal-ness of anything?

You so readily apply this definition to some poor soul who meets the clinical criteria, but what Doctor of Human Nature wouldn't honestly diagnose the normal Human mind as schizophrenic? if just a little higher on the spectrum?

Human mind, if you must delude yourself to pretend to sanity, how will you ever find the real thing?