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Freedom From the Machine

Everything comes down to the question of how honestly we can relate to what is going on in our lives – not simply the external circumstances we find ourselves in but the mental state we find ourselves in as a result of these circumstances. ‘Honesty’ is the only thing that can bring back our actual integrity as individuals, but the pertinent question here is “Who can help us to become more honest in our way of relating to the particular situation we find ourselves in (or the particular mind-state we find ourselves in) other than ourselves?” The responsibility to be honest with ourselves is very clearly not something we can devolve onto others, no matter how highly trained or highly qualified they might be.

 

 

We live in a world in which our ‘mental health’ has somehow become the domain of others. Not just our mental health but our health in general has become a technical matter resting in the hands of trained experts; as Ivan Illich argues, it has been very thoroughly ‘expropriated’ by the healthcare industry. When health becomes the domain of others then this development is in itself extremely unhealthy, as Illich says here in this quote taken from Medical Nemesis

 

Man’s consciously lived fragility, individuality, and relatedness make the experience of pain, of sickness, and of death an integral part of his life. The ability to cope with this trio autonomously is fundamental to his health. As he becomes dependent on the management of his intimacy, he renounces his autonomy and his health must decline. The true miracle of modern medicine is diabolical, it consists in making not only individuals but whole populations survive on inhumanly low levels of personal health. Medical nemesis is the negative feedback of a social organization that set out to improve and equalize the opportunity for each man to cope in autonomy and ended by destroying it.

 

 

The most effective way of expropriating mental health is to define it, is to say what it is. When this comes under the jurisdiction of some professional body (or any consensus at all for that matter!) this does not bode well for anyone. Even though it may not be immediately obvious, this is the most sinister (or as Illich says, diabolic) development of all! The fact that our understanding of what mental health is and how it should be maintained has been decided by the collective viewpoint, rather than the individual concerned, has absolutely tremendous ramifications – albeit ramifications that we are culturally not in the least interested in exploring! Possibly the biggest difficulty in seeing what the issue is here comes from the fact that we don’t on the whole tend to see why the definition of mental health should not (or rather cannot) be a technical matter. Physical health can be defined in terms of various technical parameters (temperature, pulse rate, blood glucose levels, etc.) so why not mental health?

 

 

The confusion here comes from our understanding of the term ‘health’. Health is not merely a matter of how well our bodies are (or are not) functioning – if we were mere machines (like automobiles or washing machines or photocopiers) then ‘health’ would of course be synonymous with how closely we approximate our design specifications, but the status of being an efficiently running machine (in some kind of narrow biological or societal sense) does not mean that we are ‘healthy’! The very word ‘healthy’ implies inconceivably more than this – the world comes from the Old English hale (as in ‘hale and hearty’) which means ‘whole’ – and this indicates straightaway that there another dimension entirely to the notion of what it means to be truly healthy, namely, that we should be ‘ourselves’, in our wholeness (whatever that entails). And who can say what ‘the wholeness of ourselves’ consists of? What does it mean to be whole? Who would be brash enough (or downright arrogant enough) to claim that they have the answer to this question?

 

 

Straightaway this way of looking at health puts the discussion of what health is or is not right out of the technical realm purely because it doesn’t limit it to some narrow or circumscribed domain – how can draw a line around what it means to be healthy or not healthy? Who decides where the line goes? Who decides if there even should be a line? And if I take it upon myself to decide for you where that line goes then surely this in itself is profoundly injurious to your health since an outside agency (governed by some agenda of their own) is now making decisions (or judgements) on your behalf as to what is right for you and what is not right for you?  To say that this ‘seriously erodes the freedom of the individual’ is tremendous understatement. It utterly annihilates the freedom of the individual. To use a kind of general, everyday definition for the word ‘health’ is fine and is perfectly useful within the rough and ready sense that we mean it, but as soon as we start to get technically exact about it (in what we imagine to be a ‘scientific’ way) then instead of using the word in any sort of useful way we are using it as tool of an unstated ideology.

 

 

Ivan Illich – who we have already quoted – defines health (in a typically uncompromising fashion) purely in terms of personal autonomy:

 

“Health,” after all, is simply an everyday word that is used to designate the intensity with which individuals cope with their internal states and their environmental conditions. In Homo sapiens, “healthy” is an adjective that qualifies ethical and political actions. In part at least, the health of a population depends on the way in which political actions condition the milieu and create those circumstances that favor self-reliance, autonomy, and dignity for all, particularly the weaker. In consequence, health levels will be at their optimum when the environment brings out autonomous personal, responsible coping ability. Health levels can only decline when survival comes to depend beyond a certain point on the heteronomous (other-directed) regulation of the organism’s homeostasis. Beyond a critical level of intensity, institutional health care—no matter if it takes the form of cure, prevention, or environmental engineering—is equivalent to systematic health denial.

 

 

So if we do define health as autonomy (which comes down to the same thing as defining it in terms of wholeness) then it can be seen that the idea of mental health being the rightful domain of ‘experts in the field’ is a rather bizarre kind of a development. Other people (professional groups of people, at that) get to say what is mental health is (or is not) for me? What’s autonomous about this? How can we not see this situation in itself as ‘a profoundly unhealthy state of affairs’? If we go back to what we were saying at the start of this discussion, which is that mental health comes down to the question of how honestly we can relate to what is going on for us at any given point in time (which is as good and as unbiased a definition as any) then what role can other people (experts or not) have in this? How can someone else (i.e. some external authority) help me to be more honest with myself? After all, if I go along with the external authority in this regard then I am failing grievously to be honest with myself – I am failing to be honest with myself because I am conforming to an external force instead of listening to myself!

 

 

There is no way that I can be compelled (or in any way influenced) by some eternal source of authority to ‘honestly relate to my own situation’. This is not something that can happen as a result of ‘authority’ – external or otherwise. As we have said, the more I conform to external pressures the less ‘honest’ I am – the more I conform to external pressure the more I betray myself, in fact. And in any event, how can someone else (no matter how highly educated they might happen to be) know what constitutes honesty for me? This is my own business and no one else’s. No one else can do it for me – no matter how well-meant the intervention might be. This becomes particular clear when we look at health as Illich does in terms of autonomy – no one else can either tell me to be autonomous or go about explaining what steps I can take in order to reach this state of ‘autonomy’. Naturally not, since autonomy essentially means being independent of external determining influences! If I tell you to ‘be more autonomous’ then this is paradoxical – this is the paradox of ‘instructing someone not to follow instructions’ or the paradox of ‘ordering someone to disobey all orders’…

 

 

As soon as we see health as autonomy then we have to abandon any idea of ‘technical intervention’ or ‘control’ in relation to it. These words have to be dropped from our vocabulary! They have no place at all. When Illich defines health as the degree of autonomy that an individual has in dealing with whatever difficulties they might happen to be going through at the time this may not necessarily immediately make a hell of a lot of sense to us. After all, I might be sick or injured or even dying, and so even if I am autonomously dealing with my situation, how can it be said that I am ‘healthy’? This difficulty, as we have suggested earlier, lies in the narrowness of our definition of what it is to be healthy. Lots of people are physically challenged on an ongoing basis, or in pain on an ongoing basis, and so does this means therefore that we can never be healthy if we find ourselves in this situation? Can only the biologically perfect be ‘healthy’? We all die, so is it meaningful to say that it is ‘unhealthy’ to die? Is it really ‘unhealthy’? And yet the narrow definition of health would lead us to assert that someone suffering from chronic pain (for example) can’t ever be healthy, and that when we do die, then this is a very unhealthy sort of a thing… Moreover it is clearly the case that because we do tend to use narrow (or technical) definitions of health hospital interventions very often extend life for no other reason than the undeniable fact that we implicitly see dying as being unhealthy, and therefore something to be avoided.

 

 

This – needless to say – is an extraordinarily challenging thing for us to take on board. If health is all to do with the autonomy which we bring to bear on our internal states and our physical situation (and it doesn’t make any sense at all to deny this) then there is no way to avoid seeing that the health-care industry is all about taking people’s autonomy away from them, and making money in the process! The more of our lives get to be ‘medicalized’ the more we deem ourselves ‘unfit to take responsibility’, and the more therefore we have to depend upon this specialist and that specialist. This tendency to ‘devolve autonomy’ onto various structures and agencies within society goes far beyond medicine of course – so much so that the state of being a properly adapted member of society is the same thing as being entirely dependent upon society for everything, even for how we ought to be thinking about things. The collective viewpoint (or ‘hive-mind’) which is society tells us everything, and we just go along with what we’re told without thinking twice. It doesn’t ever seem to occur to us that we don’t actually have to live our lives in the way that society tells us we should. The more society advances, the less autonomy we have as a result! As Illich states –

 

An advanced industrial society is sick-making because it disables people from coping with their environment and, when they break down, it substitutes a ‘clinical’ prosthesis for the broken relationships.

 

 

There is another angle we can take on the process whereby we are rendered heteronomous (i.e. ‘externally defined’) rather than autonomous by the systems we conform to and this has to do with ideology (i.e. ‘the manipulation of reality’). The larger and more technically-developed a social system gets the more it seems to ‘replace reality’ – it becomes a sort of game that we can’t refuse to play. The reason it becomes a game that we can’t refuse to play is simply because we aren’t allowed the mental space to see that the way of doing things we are offered isn’t the only way – we can’t see that there are more ways of thinking about the world than the one that we have been provided with.

 

 

The more global the social system gets the better it gets at replacing reality – if a small group of people get together and have ‘their own take on things’ then we can take it or leave it (which is to say, we can easily see this ‘agreed-upon version of reality’ to be a collusion and so we won’t feel under obligation at all to go along with it). If on the other hand everyone we know and ever meet is a member of the collusion then this is another matter altogether because we have no way of seeing that the collusion is a collusion. We have no way of knowing that the ‘agreed-upon way of seeing reality’ is only an ‘agreed-upon way of seeing reality. And even if we did (momentarily) see it, everyone around us would very quickly pressurize us into thinking that it is us who is seeing the world in a strange or stilted way, rather than all the paid-up ‘conformist’ members of the global collusion. Collusions are of course always like this – this is what makes them collusions and not ‘loose associations of free-thinking individuals’. There are rules to follow and if you don’t follow them then you quickly get to feel the weight of public disapproval. Everyone knows what happens when you go against the rules of a tightly knit society – all of a sudden you discover than no one wants to know you. It’s rather like what happens in Philip K Dick’s novel Flow My Tears – all of a sudden you discover that you ‘no longer officially exist’!

 

 

The basic mechanics of how a ‘group’ function make it impossible to question the group and at the same time remain a member of the group. And not only this, the fact that we have been born into the group (i.e. the fact that there never was a time when we weren’t in the group) makes it extraordinarily difficult to see that the group norms are only group norms and not absolute laws of reality. The undeniable truth of the matter is that we take part in the global social collusion without knowing that we are taking part in anything – we collude without knowing war ae colluding. We have given our assent to ‘see things this way’ without ever noticing that we have assented to anything in the first place – without ever seeing what it is that we have (unwittingly) assented to…

 

 

Taking into consideration what we have just been saying about mental health (i.e. that it is a state of personal autonomy) we can see very clearly that this shady business of ‘assenting without knowing we are assenting to a way of looking at the world’ constitutes a fundamental loss of mental health. The lack of freedom to make an informed choice – the lack of autonomy in even being able to see that we have made a choice – constitutes a high degree of mental ill-health. If mental health is the same thing as autonomy, then where exactly is the autonomy in having our minds ‘made up’ for us? Where is the autonomy in some external mechanical factor deciding for (without it telling us that it is deciding for us) how to see reality? Where is the autonomy in having our freedom taken away from us in such a pervasive way that we no longer even have the means of knowing that our freedom has been taken away from us? The collective way of life that we call society is itself a state of ‘compromised mental health’, therefore – it is in fact a way of being mentally unwell (i.e. not ourselves) and yet at the same time having this ‘unwellness’, this unnatural way of being massively validated by everybody else at every turn. The only time we won’t be massively validated in ‘not being ourselves is’ – paradoxically – if we start to actually be ourselves!

 

 

Looking at mental health as being synonymous with personal autonomy makes us aware of a very great irony therefore – if I start to experience mental distress or suffering of an acute or persistent nature then what will, in all probability, happen to me is that I will end up in the care of the mental health services. This is what the mental health services exist for, after all – to take care of people who are experiencing acute and enduring mental distress. When under the care of the services I will meet people who have expertise in field of mental ‘ill-health’, so to speak. I will meet people with ‘technical knowledge’ of conditions like mine and who possess the skills needed to put this technical knowledge, this theory, into practice. This of course sounds just fine – this is just what I want to hear! These guys know something I don’t (by virtue of the fact that they have been to medical school, been to college, or whatever) and so they are in a position to help me. This is the best possible news.

 

 

The irony is this however – the mental suffering that I am undergoing is mine alone, it is known about – for what it subjectively is – only by me. It might be possible to say certain things about how this pain makes me behave, but nothing can be said about the pain itself, as it is experienced by me. The pain is mine to contend with, at the end of the day, no matter what some expert might say! It is not an ‘object’ to be examined and discussed at team meetings. Yet at the same time it is these experts – who really know nothing of my subjective experience – who are supposedly to help me. These ‘professional helpers’, by virtue of their training and their clinical experience, know more about my pain than I do myself and can tell me both what it signifies and what I should do about it. This might sound like excellent news to me – since I stand to be helped by their expertise – but if my mental health is to be gauged by the degree of autonomy which I manifest in dealing with my inner state, painful though it may be, then buying into ‘outside help’ offered by these so-called health-care professionals (with their ‘objective view of things’) is a clear indication of how profoundly unhealthy my situation actually is! It is, in other world, an incontrovertible indication that I am in a heteronomous rather than an autonomous state of being – even if it is a heteronomous state of being that is sanctioned by the agreed authorities in the field…

 

 

Most of the specialist knowledge possessed by the healthcare professionals in question is not made available to me – I would not be able to understand it in any event, since it is highly technical – and this in itself (by anyone’s standards) constitutes dependence rather than independence. How can the state of my mental health be too technical for me to understand? And even if a certain amount of knowledge or information is imparted to me it is someone else’s understanding of my situation  – it has nothing to do with me or my own understanding. All it does is ‘objectivize’ me – when I am not an object, when ‘objectivization’ is an act of violence. Even if I am taught skills or techniques (such as relaxation skills or the basics of CBT) this does not represent an increase in independence for me because I am now dependent on an external supports, on a motley collection of mere mechanical tactics that some external agency had provided me with. If my mental health is to be facilitated by some method, some theory, some prescribed way of thinking then this inevitably means that some ‘mechanical response’ (no matter whether it is ‘evidence-based’ or not!) is taking the place of my own autonomous way of being with my pain. Anything that is not my own spontaneous (i.e. non-thought-moderated) response to my situation is a loss of autonomy, a loss of mental health. Anything that leads to me ignoring my own spontaneous ‘inner life’ and relying instead on some tried-and-trusted collection of techniques and tactics is a loss of autonomy, a loss of health. If I put my trust in external ideas or theories (and the methods and procedures that derive from them) rather than in the non-mechanical (and non-thought-based) self-regulating psyche then I am – whether we are culturally capable of recognizing it or not – turning my back on the one thing that ever can help me.

 

 

All of this is not to say that one person cannot help another. No one can be ‘fixed’ by someone else, or by the application of a body of ‘expert knowledge’, but this is not to say that we can’t be part of each other’s ‘healing process’ – which nevertheless remains at all times our own, and not susceptible to being controlled or directed by anyone else (or even by ourselves, for that matter). We can help each other – it could be said – not directly by exercising ‘control’, but indirectly  – via some kind of ‘serendipitous process’ which no one can ever hope to understand or exploit. Helping can’t be done ‘on purpose’, in other words, but only by being there, and being completely ‘open’ to whatever process is taking place…

 

 

The irony of being a professional healthcare worker in mental health is that we get to be ‘the expert in mental health’ without necessarily having to have any interest at all in our own mental health! We just assume that we’re mental healthy because we’re ‘socially adapted’ – which as we’ve said isn’t the same thing at all! I do not get to be the highly qualified professional that I am by working on my own autonomy but by buying into some external structure, some extrinsic ‘system’. My officially-sanctioned capacity to serve as the professional I am is therefore the result of my heteronomy, not my autonomy! There is nothing of my unique, individual process in what I am doing as a professional health-care worker therefore – I am merely a faithful extension (or ambassador) of the external authority which has granted me the status of ‘professional’. My own spontaneous being has nothing to do with it! Spontaneity can’t have anything to do with it because spontaneity can’t be trusted not to interfere with the tried-and-trusted protocols that I have been trained in. Everyone has to sing from the same hymn sheet after all – there’s no room for individual interpretation, no tolerance for ‘making it up as you go along’. The whole point of ‘manualized therapy’ is that it comes straight from the manual – unadulterated, as it were. It’s the same every time because if it isn’t then the ‘proven efficacy’ of the process can no longer be guaranteed. We’ve wondered ‘off the map’, in this case, and that isn’t sanctioned.

 

 

The point that we are making here is that I can’t be an influence for mental health in others if this is something that I have no interest in for myself. The fact that I have qualified in ‘this, that or the other profession’ shows only that I have managed to successfully adapt myself to some system, to some external authority. It doesn’t show any more than this. And the very fact that I have managed to successfully adapt to some system or other is – as we have been arguing – very far from being evidence that I am in a state of ‘good mental health’. Quite the reverse is true since successful adaptation to an external authority does not happen in accordance with the degree of autonomy that one has displayed, not by a long chalk! It is not my autonomy that is being assessed or evaluated when I sit my final exams, but the degree to which I have faithfully internalized the system that I have been taught!

 

 

We cannot direct others on how to become mentally healthy, any more than we can direct each other on how to have more integrity as human beings. This sort of thing goes on all the time of course (telling others how they can be better people is a kind of universal human pastime!) but it is never more than an empty façade. There is no integrity in the least in doing telling other people how to be either ‘better people’ or mentally healthy! What we can do however is ‘teach by example not by intent’. We don’t intend to teach by example because if what we are doing is ‘merely for show’ then it isn’t authentic, it isn’t honest. If I have an agenda to ‘help someone by my example’ then this is also an empty façade! So we don’t tell others ‘what to do’ as mental health workers, we do it ourselves. This is just another way of saying that what we are doing is not a job, not a role, not a façade; on the contrary, it is something that we’re doing because we ourselves are sincerely motivated to work towards being more honest with ourselves. This whole business is delightfully paradoxical therefore – if I am doing what I am doing because I ‘have to’, because it is my job or role, then my personal work is to relate honestly to this truth (just like I would any other truth) and this ‘inner honesty’ would then make it quite impossible for me to continue to believe in the role in the way that I was previously, when I was unconsciously or automatically identifying with it. Honesty (or integrity) means that all roles, all games, are dropped – or at least rendered perfectly transparent. If my role is transparent then I can be seen behind it, my authentic self is visible not hidden; whereas if my role is opaque (as it supposed to be in the regular type of healthcare professions) then I cannot be seen at all…

 

 

Not all mental health professions involve the ‘acting out of opaque roles’. Most of them do, almost all of them do, but not all, and the reason for this is of course that it is hugely easier to train people to act our opaque roles than it is to ‘educate’ (using that much-abused word in the sense that it was originally meant) them be therapeutically transparent! If I want to work as a psychotherapist or an art-therapist for example, then I have to do a lot of work ‘squaring up’ with myself and bringing more honesty (or sincerity) to bear on my own life, in all its various compartments, not just the ones I want to look at. And even in the case of trained psychotherapists it remains the case that although we do personal work and look at ourselves more honestly than we are required to in most other jobs, the chances are that we are still going to be socially conditioned on the deeper levels. If I am unconsciously adapted to the society I exist in (as we almost all are) then how am I going to see beyond society’s absurd social conditioning? If I am unconsciously adapted to the society I exist in then how can escape passing my conditioning on to my clients under the guise of ‘therapy’? This is not so say to work with a psychotherapist who is in touch with his or her own spontaneous self isn’t infinitely preferable to working with a mental health worker who operates solely on the level of their ‘role’, but simply that there are very many illusions that we cling to that we are never going to be free from just so long as we continue to take societal values seriously.

 

 

‘Doing personal work’ (to whatever extent) is always going to be ‘going against the grain’ with regard to how our society is organized – which is on an ‘industrial scale’. Everything is done by reference to a mechanical template, everything is produced on an ‘assembly-line’ basis. Everything is done with regard to an ideologically brainwashed view of what it means to be a human being – and this means valuing the ‘generic socially-adapted human being’ over the actual individual. This is how the industrial paradigm works after all – this is the only way it can work. Society is a vast machine and for it to function it needs to obey machine logic – it needs to run according to a programme, it needs to operate in relation to set standards and protocols. It does not recognize ‘exceptions to the rule’ – in fact it does its best to eliminate them…

 

 

This is as we have said a question of scale – for an industrial process to work at all (never mind ‘efficiently’) there has to be a template that we cannot deviate from. There has to be a specified formula for operating the process, so that it can be ‘rolled out’ wherever necessary. But the thing about this is that any standardized process is always going to result in a ‘generic end product’. What else could we expect? How else could it work? All social roles are generic in nature – including the role of ‘health-care professional’. In order for us to know that the training programme has worked (and is working) the candidate has to jump through all the hoops that go to make up the course and at the end of the process he or she has to pass the final examination or assessment in accordance with whatever standards have been put in place. Otherwise, where is our quality assurance? Quality assurance is at the heart of everything – this is what it all rests on – but quality assurance can only take place when the end-product is compared to a template, a fixed technical description of what the product is supposed to be. The snag here of course is that there is not – as we have been saying – a technical description (or specification) for what an autonomous individual should be, any more than there can be a technical measure or definition of what a ‘mentally healthy’ person should be like. The generic person we can talk about – the mentally healthy (i.e. unique) person we can’t…

 

 

How can a machine produce anything other than what itself has been designed to create? How can a machine deviate from its own black-and-white specifications? Or to put this another way, how can a machine produce anything that is not itself?  Here we come face-to-face with a very familiar paradox – there can be no ‘rule’, no ‘method’ for becoming autonomous. There can be no rule or method for becoming ‘free from the machine’ because rules and methods are the machine!

 

 

The machine is its own literal specification – this is its inescapable predicament. The machine can only produce endless extensions of itself, ‘mini-units’ of itself. It can only replicate its basic assumptions, over and over again, and treat these ‘basic assumptions’ as if they were some kind of Holy Dogma… It can only replicate itself, and duplicate itself and ‘itself’ is its own assumption! ‘Itself’ is the Holy Dogma that it won’t depart from…

 

 

A mechanical system cannot produce autonomous human beings any more than a specific mathematical formula can be used to produce a random number (which is actually a mathematical version of this very same paradox). By the same token – since we are all random numbers really – a systematized collective of human beings can never give rise to mental health. Very clearly, mental health can never be obtained by conforming to any system!

 

 

So – in perfectly plain language – what this means is that we can never become ‘mentally healthy’ by conforming to society. As we have already said, the planet-wise collusion that constitutes society can only function as a collusion because of the fact that every member is in a state of heteronomy rather than autonomy. To say this is actually tautological – the whole definition of society is that its members are functioning heteronomously rather than autonomously! That’s what ‘a group’ means – it means that each member allows themselves to be ‘over-ruled’ by the dictates of the collective. Who ever heard of a group that is made up of autonomous individuals?

 

 

When it comes down to it, all collectives are – inevitably – concerned with the continued in integrity of the group rather than the mental health of those people making up the group (particularly since the two are incompatible!). Group members are expendable, replaceable, disposable – the group is not. The group may be said to be like an idea in this sense – history shows that we will happily die for an idea (or kill for it) despite the fact that all the ideas in the world aren’t worth the life of one person! Individuals are real – they are as Jung says ‘the carriers of all values’ – whilst the idea, the collective, the state is thoroughly unreal, for all that it counts itself above the lives of the disposable individual people who make it up!

 

 

What is more, as we have said, individuality is always a threat to the collective – just as James Carse says creativity (‘poesis’) is always a threat to society. Membership of the group means that we have to take the rules and regulations that allow the group to persist seriously, whereas no true artist ever takes rules and regulations seriously! Collective thinking (with its adherence to the unquestionable template and creative (or autonomous) thinking move in two different directions – the former has a goal, an agenda, whereas the latter only gets to be what it is (i.e. quintessentially free) by not being tied down to any defined goal, any taken-for-granted agenda. Social collusions (i.e. groups) are by definitions static entities, whereas the autonomous individual is – as Jung says of consciousness – ‘on a journey to an unknown destination’. How can blind adherence to a fixed and unquestionable ‘dogma’ be reconciled with Jung’s ‘journey to an unknown destination’? It’s either one or the other – it’s either ‘inverted fear’ (i.e. fear that has been turned around so that it looks like a virtue) or it is the spirit of adventure. It can’t be both…

 

 

The only way we can recover our mental health (i.e. our spontaneity, our creativity, our fearlessness) is by dropping out of the social collusion, the fear-based collective way of looking at things. We have to ‘quit the group mind’, in no uncertain terms! We have to let go of all of it, and all that it assumes. Giving up playing the game that no one admits to being a game is the only way we can get to continue our journey into the unknown, the only way we can free ourselves from the dreadful fate of staying stuck forever in the sterile consensual hallucination known as ‘society’.

 

 

And as we have been saying over and over gain in this discussion, no one can tell us or show us how to do this. No one can give us advice about how to set about going on the ‘journey into the unknown’ (which is the Hero’s Journey). No one can help us on this journey because no one we meet knows about it, no one believes in it. The option of ‘not seeing the world the same way everybody else does’ is a non-existent option, as far as society is concerned. And even if you do meet someone who is on the journey themselves they still can’t give you instructions on how to proceed – it’s a different journey for every single person who treads it, after all. It is ‘new every time’. It’s ‘non-generic’!

 

 

Who can instruct us on how to go beyond instructions? We can receive plenty of instruction on how to bring ourselves back into line with the ‘collective way of thinking’, bring ourselves back into the ‘static consensus picture’, bring ourselves back into the fold of the ‘social equilibrium’ but none on how to move beyond it. That we have to work out for ourselves…

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Nick Williams

Nick Williams works and writes in the field of mental health and is particularly interested in non-equilibrium states of consciousness, which are states of mind that cannot be validated by standardized experiments or by reference to any formal theoretical perspective.

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