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Living Under Compulsion

When we represent reality to ourselves in an oversimplified (or reductive) way then everything we do becomes compulsive or driven. There is absolutely no way that this won’t happen! We become compulsion-driven because, unbeknownst to ourselves, we are always looking for that ‘missing element’ that our crude model of reality (and all models are crude) won’t allow us to see as ‘missing’. We’ll think we’re looking for something else, something that does exist in our map of things, but we won’t be – there’s always this hidden motivation behind what we’re doing. This is a basic psychological principle therefore – when we operate on the basis of a model or an idea of what reality is then we are always going to be ‘pushed’ in everything we do without knowing that we are being pushed.




It might naïvely be thought that we would notice that we are being driven rather than operating under our own free will and consequently, that we would puzzle over the question of where this pressure is coming from. This is not at all the case however – of all the various matters that we may puzzle over or wonder about, this is not going to be one of them. We never see the compulsion and so we never wonder about it. This is because the compulsion disguises itself in a very clever way – it hides itself in plain sight. If ever there was an example of ‘hiding something in plain sight’ this is it! The ‘trick’ that the compulsion plays is the trick of pretending to be us, and we fall this little ruse ‘hook, line and sinker‘.




This ruse is how we resolve the tricky problem of ‘where to hide the compulsion’ – you yourself become the compulsion and this turns out to be the perfect solution because we are never going to question ourselves! What we are actually saying here therefore – looking at this in a slightly different way – is that when a crassly oversimplified view of reality is taken (i.e. when we arbitrarily limit ‘possibility space’) then the result of this operation is ‘the creation of the self’! In some odd way, therefore, the ‘oversimplification of reality’ equals the self…




Whether we say that the result of representing the world to ourselves in an oversimplified or reductive way (as thought always does) creates ‘the phenomenon of compulsivity’, or whether we say that it creates ‘the phenomenon of the self,’ makes not the slightest bit of difference therefore – we’re saying exactly the same thing in both cases. As soon as we understand this we have actually ‘cracked’ the single most important thing we need to understand it in order to obtain a ‘non-illusory view’ of psychology (which is very different from what we usually understand as ‘psychology’). We have  – in one go – understood the essential ‘hollowness’ (or ‘deceptiveness’) of the self construct.




The self does not come into being in the usual way that we understand things to come into being. It’s not a question of ‘beforehand there wasn’t anything and now there is’; it is – on the contrary – a question of ‘beforehand there was no restriction of possibility-space and now there is‘. The self is a ‘disguised deficiency’, in other words – it’s a ‘camouflaged lack’. And if we can’t see it to be such then we can’t see anything! We can’t see the self – which is of course the fundamental basis of our existence in this world – as a restriction (or constriction) of consciousness, we can’t see that the whole world is going to be filtered through the ‘inverting lens’ of this thinking mind (which as we have said operates purely on the basis of oversimplification) and so are we always going to see this world, and all the things in it, in terms of a restriction that we never recognise as such, in terms of a ‘lack’ that we assume to be a ‘positive addition’ to the situation.




So here we have the difference between the’ positive’ and’ negative’ viewpoint of the world – the positive viewpoint (which is the viewpoint which is produced by thought) sees everything in terms of edges and boundaries, the thing about edges and boundaries being of course that they parcel up the world into separate or distinct compartments. This is a ‘hoax’, we might say, because we then see the world in terms of all these different positively emphasised ‘things’, which owe their apparent existence to the edges or boundaries which surround them and which doesn’t actually exist anywhere apart from in our minds. An inversion has taken place here whereby all the emphasis is on the illusory boundaries and none at all on what it is that is supposedly being bounded! This is a quite extraordinary perverse situation therefore; it is a quite extraordinary perverse situation that never ever gets remarked upon.




The ‘inversion’ happens because of the way in which we forget that these edges (i.e. the ‘outlines’) are only there because we drew them in ourselves. The structure is there therefore because we say it is and this is nothing other than pure raw aggression. ‘Representing reality to ourselves in an oversimplified or reductive way’ is pure raw aggression; in doing this we are saying – of course – that no other, subtler, version of the world exists. All manifestations of a higher, more complex, more nuanced world are automatically ‘shouted down’, ‘denied’, ‘rubbished’ and this is always the way when the thinking mind takes over the show. When the crude and the crass are celebrated across the land and anything more nuanced is lost without a trace this then is ‘the violence of the oversimplified view of reality’. Everything precious and unique is flushed unceremoniously down the toilet, whilst the crass and the generic becomes the golden idol that we worship.




Politically speaking, this tenancy is – needless to say – a very familiar one. We see it in history and we see it enacted in the present time. Freedom is lost and yet everyone takes this to be a good thing – we go out and shout about it in the streets. This happens in cults, it happens in religious communities, it happens in organizations, and it happens in society as a whole – the social fabric of reality degrades or downgrades before our very eyes and – as this happens – there is widespread approval and jubilation! Whenever this ‘downgrading process’ takes place two things happen, as we have been saying – [1] The world around us becomes more and more defined, and [2] Life becomes more and more mechanical, more and more driven in nature. This downgrading process means therefore that we get turned into mere ‘dummies’ obeying compulsions that are inescapably built into the very structure of the crude world that we now believe in. There is no freedom in the oversimplified reality because it’s not actually a real thing; the only place freedom can ever be found in is reality, after all – it is certainly not to be found in some crass jingoistic description of what we make out reality to be….




There’s no freedom to be had in the defined version of reality because it’s a hoax, fiction, a fantasy, a lie. All there is ‘the lie’, and ‘the constant and unremitting pressure of the lie’. ‘The lie’ and ‘the pressure of the lie’ is all we ever know – this is what we call ‘life’ because we don’t know any better! The lie (we might say) is that ‘reality is less than it actually is’ – the lie is the world we believe in, and compel others to believe in as well. The lie is also ‘who we aggressively say that we are’ – the lie is ‘the crude idea that we have of ourselves’ – this idea that we have of ourselves is a lie because it is a crass oversimplification of reality and reality cannot ever be oversimplified. The ‘self’ is a positive construct, after all – how can it not be a positive construct? It’s a description that we have made and then got trapped in; it’s a description that the rational mind has made, and then sold to us as ‘a fact that we can’t ever do anything about’. The ‘self’ is a set of boundaries that supposedly bound (or ‘define’) something, the only problem here being that reality can’t actually be bounded or defined, so that what we end up with when we perform this action is a deficiency (or ‘lack’) which we invertedly perceive as a ‘real thing’.





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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