Understanding the Psychological Structure that Guides Us
So whatâs new?
This is what you are about to discover
in Part I of this discussion:
You cannot exist unless you do so relationally.
Conditioned reflexes, Manâs strive for perfection,
the psychological repercussions of the human sex drive, genetic
imprinting, the power of the sub-conscious, bio-chemical activity
of the brain, lifeâs âactualizing tendencyâ, archetypes, the
presence of micro or exo-systems, Manâs lust for power, the
influence of human culture, your birth order, forces of human
attachment, psychological hedonism etc, etc, are neither in
part nor in whole, the primary cause of your behavior. Your
behavior is driven by an existential structure that determines
the behavior of all living things.
The traditionally accepted notion
that some human conduct is created by mechanisms of defense
is false. Oneâs behavior is neither mechanical nor
driven by irrational fears. Your behavior is a direct
structural response to your own particular psychological reality.
Structural contradiction is the primary cause of mental illness.
The artificial modification of human brain chemistry may artificially affect the results of structural contradiction.
Your self is not created by your Ego. Your self is created by your object world.
The Ego is a direct representative of Manâs genetic past in relationship with the genetic future it is becoming.
The structural balance that exists between the Ego and the self profoundly affects mental health.
The vast majority of Manâs psychological life is spent in an imaginary or virtual state. Only those relational events, which involve active thought, constitute true states of self-consciousness.
THE EXISTENTIAL STRUCTURE THAT GUIDES US
First things first
The following is the result of research designed to reveal the ultimate causes of Manâs behavior. In order to better insure the accuracy of that research, the broadest possible point of departure was chosen: Existence itself.
When closely examined, existence reveals itself as a well-defined structured force composed of powerful self-evident imperatives. It is postulated that given the obligatory presence of these imperatives in all things existing, they implicitly exert a decisive influence not only over the behavior of our inanimate object world but over the behavior of all living things including, quite naturally, Man.
The most fundamental existential imperatives are:
Relationability, continuance, conformity.
Relationability: Nothing can exist unless it does so relationally. Either an existing object is, in some way or another, in relationship with that which it is not, or it cannot exist.
Continuance: Existence is, by self-evident necessity, a process of continuation. Once an existing object no longer continues its existence, that existence becomes self-contradictory and, therefore, ceases to be.
Conformity: All conscious beings must have their existential realities confirmed by those objects with which they are in relationship or sense a contradiction of that reality and, subsequently, an inability to maintain their relational status with the object in question.
speaking, you are defined by the aware relational being that you
are. Indeed, your entire psychological status depends
upon your ability to relate to the object world around you, that
is your Context. Because you are literally defined by who you
are relationally, either youâre able to have your Relationability
confirmed for you by your Context or your existence cannot continue.
The only way you can have your Relationability confirmed for you,
however, is by having it echoed back to you by your Context. If,
however, instead of confirming your Relationability, your Context
contradicts it, the structural integrity that defines who you
are is placed in jeopardy and so, quite naturally, is the integrity
of your psychological status.
The relational challenge before you then
is indisputable: Either be consistently confirmed by
your Context, or successfully defend yourself against, compensate
for, or neutralize those contextual contradictions that may come
you are born, you do not arrive as a clean slate, nor as some
sort of pre-programmed, unchangeable machine ready to be let loose
on an unsuspecting world. At birth, your Ego is like
the first half of an already created relational puzzle; a puzzle,
however, that must be completed by having you relate to your Context
(all those things and events that surround you). Only then; only
when you become actively relational, can the relational process
that defines you be completed, and you can psychologically exist.
The first half of the relational puzzle that you are at birth
has already been painstakingly put together for you by millions
of years of genetic imprinting. Now, like a huge electric power
plant waiting for someone to turn on a light, your job is to relate
to your Context so that your relational Existence can be confirmed
and you can begin your lifetime task of creating the person you
are to become.
after childbirth, your existence is undistinguishable from your
motherâs. Your level of awareness is exclusively sub-conscious
and your âselfâ is still just a promise. Indeed, it will be the
relational interplay between your Ego and your Context that will
eventually shape your âselfâ or your âidentityâ, a process that
will begin shortly after you are jolted from subconscious awareness
by the first breath you take.
Becoming aware of your Context begins when your Ego becomes
separated from the nine months of physical âonenessâ it enjoyed
as part of another beingâs existence; that of your motherâs.
Now, little by little, you start noticing the world around you.
All of a sudden there are things you enjoy, and things that you
donât. There are objects that interest you and others that mean
almost nothing. You realize that there are parts of your life
that are missing: You feel hungry or thirsty. You sense discomfort.
Youâre either too warm, or too cold. Sounds startle you. You hear,
see, taste, feel, and smell objects but do not understand their
meaning or significance. So what is it that is happening to you?
You have began to relate to your Context for the first time and
even though you are unable to sense the significance of your activity
nor understand that it is you that is involved in the relationships
you are establishing, your psychological development has
taken its first steps to creating the person you are to become.
Speaking of genetics: Which is it, nurture or nature?
âpartâ of us is most responsible for our behavior? Is
it the body or is it the mind; the heart or the head? What is
it that carries the most weight in our psychological development:
the nurturing we receive from others, or the powerful influence
our genes exert upon us?
From a relational perspective that question cannot be answered. You, after all, are governed by an existential structure that works in synergy with both the genetic you and your Contextual world. Indeed, the existential structure that guides you is not only unchangeable but will never leave your side as it steers your head, your heart, and everything your are to become, until the day you die. If any changes are to occur in your life, they will take place according to those circumstances that are prevalent during each relationship you establish. In a word, your psychological development is the result of that interaction which takes place between who you genetically are and who you are genetically becoming. Remember, in this relational world of ours, it takes two to tango. What you genetically are may be a powerful influence on how you relate to your world, but that is not the only reason you behave the way you do. Your genetic make-up is perfectly susceptible to changes created by the relational experiences you may engage in with your Context. Indeed, that is precisely how your genes were formed and modified in the first place: Through relational experience.
is not just a relational phenomenon. It is also a continually
evolving one. It has to be. Evolving continuance
forms the very nucleus of all that âis.â
Therefore, since you are purely existential in nature, if at any
time your future should darken, structural contradiction
will surely show its ugly head.
This is why when that which you are becoming no longer looks
promising to you - appears no longer able to confirm you - your
Ego will sense the underlying contradiction and become itself,
This is why you are naturally drawn to new opportunities, second
chances, fresh adventures, things to look forward to, and promising
tomorrows, even the latest news. The Structure loves anything
that opens, promotes, or catalyzes future confirmations and loathes
closed doors, blocked pathways, dim futures. After all,
that is precisely what the structure that guides you is all about:
Your potential, your future, the new you. Remember, âcontinuanceâ is one of existenceâs primary imperatives, without it, we can simply no longer be.
of relational evolution and renovation, note just how interested
you are in almost anything thatâs new. Interestingly,
that is what the news is: Something new, and nothing grabs our
interest quite like the latest scuttlebutt. Thatâs why any news
from virtually any source seems to interest us. Marketing executives
even slap the word NEW across the products they sell to make them
sell better and the latest model of anything will always seem
more interesting than that modelâs previous version. This is why
we are drawn to finding out something new we didnât know
before and the reason we pay so much attention to almost anyone
who has something new to tell us. Basically speaking,
the renovation of our existential status (our future) forms an
integral part of who we are because it forms an integral part
of the existential structure that guides us.
Your existential structure in action
The Structure that creates who we psychologically are,
implicitly frames our behavior during the entirety of our lives,
and it does so in rigorous loyalty to its own reality. That
means that each time we relate to a real or actual object (not
something virtual or just imagined) the Structure will encourage
us to actualize or make real the relationship
we are having. After all, that is what real or actual relationships
are: Actual realities or real actualities; that which is now or
that which is present.
In essence, then, guided by the Structure, we tend to
confirm that which is confirming and contradict that which is
When, for example, we hear a tune we enjoy (we âenjoyâ the tune because its melody and / or rhythm confirms a state of our Ego's reality), we tend to sing, hum or rhythmically become a part of the tune. Why? Because we have, in fact, become 'relationally' a part of a confirming event; a relational reality that structurally should be manifested. Remember, the Structure will always tend to somehow manifest the state of our psychological reality. Becoming a part of the relationship clearly brings us closer to more perfectly reflecting the relational reality of having become almost identified, as subjects, with the confirming object in question.
infancy, your participation with your Context starts simply:
Your five senses are stimulated by the relational activity you
maintain with the events and people around you. This kind of relational
activity provides you with the basic confirmations you need from
your Context in order to survive. The more explicit the relationship,
the more explicitly you respond to the experience. Therefore,
those objects that you sense are confirming are experienced as
such because they confirm your Relationability and, therefore,
you are attracted to them. Those objects that threaten contradiction
you experience contrarily and, therefore, as objectionable.
In essence, from the time you rise in the morning until
you go to bed at night, the search for confirmation and the avoidance
of contradiction is what makes you tick.
Your existential structure, then, requires you be constantly
in relationship with your Context. You are, after all,
a living relational being, so not to be relationally active would
be âcontradictoryâ to the Structure, and the Structure implicitly
rejects all contradiction.
The manifestation of our relational activity
The way our relational activity is manifested is simple;
we experience it. Relational experiences, in turn, produce
emotional responses, and our emotional responses not only manifest
themselves as behavior but create human behavior as well.
Manâs emotional responses, no matter how insignificant, not only constitute human behavior in and of themselves, but confirm the structural significance or meaning of all human relational activity. When contradiction threatens us, we feel âfearâ. When we are in coincidence with our Context, we sense joy. Loss of confirming relational objects or events create sadness and the inability to neutralize past or present contradictions make us angry. Although, the emotions can reflect profoundly complex structural states, (to be discussed in detail later) all confirm we are relationally active as well as allow us to know exactly what that activity means to us from a structural perspective.
Being that the Structure demands we behave in accordance to the
way the Structure is configured, when we find an object or event
that confirms us, we will tend to confirm the object or event.
(Confirmation of an object or event can be, for example, as insignificant
as sensing its presence). When something threatens contradiction,
we will sense the threat and attempt to avoid it. And if contradiction
takes place, the Structure will drive us to âcontradictâ or âneutralizeâ
the contradiction. When the confirmational pickings are slim,
(not much interesting going on out there) the Structure will utilize
stored virtual experiences to exercise its requirement for progressive
relational activity and we will âday dreamâ, âthink aboutâ or
âreflect uponâ the relational activity we require. Interestingly,
the emotional impact and confirmational value of virtual relationships,
although not as effective nor satisfying as âactualâ ones, can
serve as perfectly satisfactory replacements for the âreal thing.â
The more an object is identifiable with our Egoâs Relationability,
the more we desire for the object to confirm us and the more we
desire to confirm the object. The less an object is identifiable
with our Egoâs Relationability, the more distant we will place
ourselves from the object. The Egoâs prime goal, after
all, is to experience its own Relationability in object form,
so the closer we can get to having relationships that do just
that, the closer we are to fulfilling the Structureâs relational
Take body odors for example; those that one normally is repulsed by when coming from someone else. Interestingly, when you sense that an odor is yours, the Structure recognizes an effective way of confirming your Egoâs Relationaiblity and immediately takes action. What, after all could be more relationally perfect than to perceive oneâs own Relationability, not just as something from its object world, but as something directly associated with the Ego itself.
Attraction and repulsion:
The aesthetic experience
The perception of value, including your aesthetic perceptions,
are peculiar psychological events; peculiar because they do not
come from the object itself but rather from you, the subject.
Given that the perception of value in general is directly
derived from a subjectâs relational experiences and each
human subject is destined to experience his or her object world
in his or her particular way, that which makes things attractive
or repulsive to you, might be totally meaningless to someone else.
Indeed, for an object to be significant in any way, that
objectâs Relationability must first resonate within your Ego or
your self, or it will mean nothing to you at all.
Clearly there are values that may seem universal to us all, but
theyâre not:Not everyone is necessarily attracted
to ice cream or Mozart, nor repulsed by death or live TV. Indeed,
that which ultimately determines how or in what way an
object or event is valued is not only how each one of us is psychologically
composed but in what way we relate to the world around us.
Relationships which involve the self typically create emotions
such as joy, jealousy, elation, or anger -- emotions which include
factors of control, judgment, approval or condemnation. When the
self is bypassed, however, and the Ego is allowed to relate âdirectlyâ
to objects or events, very different emotions are involved. Indeed,
your Egoâs direct relationships allow it to do a kind of exercise
in `free-basing,â thereby creating feelings of euphoria, elation,
awe, or amazement or, on the contrary, repulsion, repugnance,
dread or disgust. The reason we sometimes find ourselves âtransfixedâ
when in the presence of certain objects (a sunset, an exceptionally
beautiful painting or person, a specific musical composition,
or a particular kind of food, etc), is because that kind of experience
takes place âdirectlyâ between the object and the Ego, bypassing
any existential corruption often present when the self becomes
What is thought?
Who is your âself?â
What is consciousness?
âI am always blabbing to myself inside my head. I wonder who is doing the talking and who is doing the listening? Who is my self anyway?â
You are a unique animal. Mostly because you are not only able to sub-consciously reflect on the world around you, you can consciously think about it as well. âReflectionâ takes place when your Ego makes conscious comparisons between objects and events . Thought, not just reflection however, can only occur when the Ego not only makes comparisons between objects and events, but does so in relationship to the self. It is, indeed, the activation or use of the self during reflection that which allows for human consciousness and thought to take place. Given, however, that the Ego is unable to perceive its self without it first being objectively ârepresentedâ, in order for a subject to become conscious and âthinkâ, that representation must first be created.
The creation of the âself.â
The Contextâs representation of your Ego
During the initial months of infancy, your psychological life consists of a steady series of sub-conscious physical experiences. You taste, hear, feel, see and smell the world around you, yet have absolutely no idea that it is you that is involved in these relational experiences. Self-realization has not taken place yet because it canât. The self has yet to be created.
Development of the self occurs when those around you, (or your animate Context), begins identifying specific relational objects and events with whom they think you are. You sense from others that you are: Fabulous, in pain, cute, big, tall, enjoying yourself, thirsty, too loud, too quiet, handsome, sleepy, beautiful, bad, eating something sweet, good, hearing a loud sound, happy, hungry, not hungry, tired, smelling something, full of energy, funny, mean, kind, seeing the color red, sloppy, neat etc. As a result, little by little, your Context provides you with a representation of who and what âtheyâ think your Ego must be. It is precisely that information from your animate Context, that which eventually evolves into your self: That contextually dependent place, with-in your Ego, which makes consciousness and thought possible.
Your self, then, is created when your Context identifies objects and events with whom they think you are, then relationally echoes those identifications back to you. The self is, for that reason, a strictly contextual event whereby the Ego reserves a portion of its content for self-aware contextual activity. In a word, when you think, your Ego may oversee the relational activity involved, but it is your self that does the thinking.
So, who does the talking and who does the listening when we talk to our âselves?â Our selves do it all. Indeed, having one part of the self contextually communicate with another creates all of our âimaginary communicationâ. Keep in mind that with each representation of our Ego that our Context provides us, a representation of our selves is created. All it takes is for us to interrelate those representations and conscious thought takes place.
In relational terms, the difference between so-called ârealityâ and that which is âvirtualâ or imaginary, is miniscule. Indeed, attempting to differentiate between these two levels of existence can lead to relational confusion and misunderstanding. Frequently, âvirtualâ relationships can be experienced as if they were real, and vice versa. Indeed, the only difference between actual relationships and virtual relationships is that in virtual relationships the âsubjectâ controls the relationship, not the object. That means that the subject controls, simultaneously, both its âselfâ AND the object. When the relationship is actual or real, however, it is the object that controls the relationship, not the subject. Indeed, the psychological effectiveness of all relational activity is directly determined by the positioning of relational control.
When you relate to an object or event âin your head,â you do so virtually and, therefore, you are in control of the results of the relationship. When you carry out virtual relationships, although you may emotionally sense a portion of that relationshipâs impact, you will not feel the full force of it. After all, the relationship is virtual, and you know it. You are well aware that you are in full control of whatever occurs between you and your thoughts. When you relate to your world virtually, you can manipulate the relationship anyway you please. You can make objects confirm your Relationability, or contradict it at will. You can neutralize or compensate contradictions, create them or destroy them as if they were real. But, theyâre not. They have lost their true relational power and that is, sometimes, just the way you like it.
Exposure, and the relational nature of âeffortâ
Goal seeking is Manâs most common form of behavior. Goals are goals because they promise us confirmation of either the selfâs Relationability or the Relationability of the Ego, or both. Goal seeking is invariably accompanied by some measure of effort. Curiously, all human effort âexposesâ the Relationability of he or she who exerts it. âRelational exposureâ primarily refers to the exposure of the self to Contextual contradiction. If, for example, you have a paper to write for school, and you make an effort to do a good job, you have left your ability to relate or your Relationability exposed for your Context to judge. When little or no effort is made to reach a goal, your exposure will be less. No matter what, if and when you do make an effort to accomplish something, you place your Relationability âout thereâ to be confirmed or contradicted. In essence, the larger the effort you make, the more you expose your Relationability and the more vulnerable you become to the full emotional and structural impact of Contextual confirmation or contradiction. Equally so, reducing the level of the effort you make when dealing on a contextual level will always reduce your exposure to contextual contradiction.
Exposure and âsour grapesâ
When an effort made, brings an unsuccessful result, it isnât the effort that contradicts the effort maker, itâs the unsuccessful result that does. Thatâs why when Jonny learns that he canât go to the local air show, the air show implicitly becomes ânot all that much funâ. An unreachable goal, after all, is not a confirming object or event, it is a contradictory one and contradictory events are never âmuch fun at all.â When Sally fails to reach some seemingly succulent grapes that dangle overhead, she doesnât experience the grapes as sour because she needs to âdefendâ her Ego against some undesired occult reality. She experiences the grapes as sour because they contradict her goal of eating them. Sally does not âRationalizeâ the value of her objective, she just experiences its contradictory nature.
Human effort can be manifested in two ways: As coming directly from the Ego or coming from the âself.â If an effort is not Contextually driven, it will not be exposed to the effects of Contextual contradiction.
As an example, letâs take Mary and her love for painting landscapes. Few members of her Context like what she paints. Mary, however, is not affected by her Contextâs contradictory judgments, as the relational confirmation she seeks has no Contextual connections. Mary paints landscapes to confirm her Ego, not her self. Efforts that are Contextually based, however, expose the self to possible Contextual contradiction. Using our example of Mary and the landscapes she paints, if Mary only paints landscapes to impress or satisfy her Context, if few liked what she does, her self will be affected but not her Ego.
Your flawless Ego
Your Egoâs Relationability is the psychological representation of your existence and, therefore, qualitative in nature. Being that the Ego is qualitative it cannot be quantified and, therefore, it should not be susceptible to judgment. It just either âisâ or it âis not,â. Our Egos Relationability, therefore, have no contextual value, they just either âareâ or they âare notâ. Simply put, one cannot have more or less existence, so clearly our Egos canât have more or less Relationabiliy. Oneâs Ego cannot be better or worse, stronger or weaker, or more or less significant than another. If you are alive, you have all the Relationability you can handle, and itâs perfect.
Your Ego, your self, and contextual âcontrolâ
As mentioned before, your Ego and your self are not separate physically defined parts of who you are psychologically but simply diverse ways the Structure relates to the world around it. Your Ego is your primary point of relational departure and, therefore, the primary representative of your existence. It is, in essence, who you really are and, therefore, the focal point of your vital search for confirmation. The Ego does not involve itself with evaluations or judgments. That job is reserved for your Context. The Ego focuses exclusively on searching and ultimately finding confirmation of the reality it is.
This does not mean that the Ego is not affected by the selfâs relational interactions as, indeed, it can be. If the self is contradicted the Ego will know it, as it is a primary representative of Manâs existence. Yet when the Ego has been touched by contradiction, there is little it can do. Contradiction is quantitative in nature yet the Ego is purely a qualitative entity. When contradiction blocks the Ego from acquiring the confirmations it needs (a kind of contradiction of the Egoâs structural needs) only the self may react to defend, compensate for or neutralize whatever is in the Egoâs way.
So what about Control and its link to contradicion?
Contradiction is a little like atomic power; it can either be the selfâs best friend or its worst enemy. That is; your exposure to contradiction can either help you to build a healthy repertoire of defensive, compensatory or neutralizing tactics against its destructive effects or it can render you insane. Interestingly, the only truly effective tool the self has for both obtaining confirmation as well as dealing with contradiction, is the amount of relational âcontrolâ it can wield over its Context. Indeed, from a relational perspective, being âin controlâ is synonymous with âbeing in powerâ. Curiously, although control is vital to the self, it is useless to the Ego. The Ego only deals with qualitative issues whereas control is only interested in that which is quantitative in nature. When the Ego is blocked from confirmation, however, it is often the self that is be called upon to run interference, and do whatever is necessary to get it the confirmations it needs. Remember, whatever affects the self, affects the Ego and vice versa.
So where does the Ego or the self go when it needs a good shot in the arm of pure, un-controlled, non-judgmental, confirmation? What sort of relationships fall beyond the critical eye of the Context and allow both the Ego and the self to maintain their relational balance?
In general, virtually all non-reflective relational activity (any activity which does not involve thought) provides the Ego with some degree of confirmation. Nevertheless, there are certain kids of relational activity that seem to provide more existentially significant confirmations than others.
Here are some examples:
When we eat or drink, we lose much of our control to the experience. Weâre allowed to by the Context because eating is linked to survival. The same holds true when we fall in love, the Context lets us behave as we wish. Weâre supposed to be out of control when weâre in love. If weâre tired and fall asleep, the Context rarely will criticize our decision to rest, and if we fall ill, it will leave us well enough alone; may even come to our aid. Body functions like sneezing, complaining from pain, urinating, verbally expressing pleasure, coughing, defecating, yawing, sighing, etc, are non-contextually relevant behaviors as well. Contemplating beauty, having an orgasm, stretching, laughing, or crying uncontrollably, are not considered Context pertinent either and, therefore, are perfect sources for non-threatening confirmation. In short, almost any behavior that the Context feels is â none of its businessâ; both the self as well as the Ego will experience as a good source for revalidation of their existential reality. This is why each time we find an object or event we sense is not susceptible to contextual intervention we go for it like a bear goes for honey. After all, the Structure is such that all living organisms implicitly lust for survival and we are no different. Relational confirmation is, after all, that which sustains our survival so quite naturally we will desire it.
Your self then, is a purely contextual phenomenon. Given that all things contextual are quantitative in nature, the Context will expect your self to be controllable or self disciplined. Thatâs why when the self behaves, its behavior is susceptible evaluation or to judgment. Hereâs an example:
Lets imagine that you invited friends over to sample some of your famous cherry pie. This time, however, instead of creating a tasty desert, you burn your good intentions to a crisp. Your self looks for a culprit. After all, you invited friends over for some great cheery pie and theyâll be wondering what happened.
So who messed up? Whose Relationability wasnât good enough to bake that pie? You know it couldnât have been your Egoâs. Your Ego has perfect Relationability. Could it have been your âself?â You know that people screw up all the time. At least that is what your Context always tells you. So who burnt that pie, anyway?
As you look for a culprit, you might wonder if your oven needed repair or perhaps that you were distracted by a phone call, or that you were too tired to pay attention to what you were doing, or maybe you should have reviewed the recipe just one more time. No matter what the reason was that the pie got burnt, (a bad oven, a rogue phone call, fatigue or a lack of knowledge,) you know it wasnât you (the real youâŠyour Ego) that caused the error. It couldnât have been. No humanâs existential structure can identify itself with contradiction, yet that is precisely what your Context or even your self is accusing you of. This is why when we are blamed for being self-contradictory, we implicitly âdenyâ it. We canât be self-contradicting nor can we have a Context out there thinking we can. Accusations of self-contradiction are anathema to our psychological structure. Thatâs why when a subject âdeniesâ being identified with contradiction it isnât because they are mechanically defending themselves from some unwanted truth. They deny involvement with contradiction because they must always correctly represent the reality of their Structure. Given that Manâs Structure can never identify itself with contradiction that is the reality all human subjects must represent, or on the contrary, become themselves self-contradictory.
Why we love to hate
As we continue to observe, our Contexts incessantly search for and find fault anywhere they can. It is almost as if oneâs Context were on some sort of permanent witch-hunt. But why? Why do our Contexts, or we as someone elseâs Context, so often enjoy finding others guilty? The reason once again is, of course, structural.
Each time we, as Contexts, are able to identify a guilty party,--someone who has contradicted themselves by making committing an error, we are given an opportunity to âneutralizeâ their contradictory behavior with impunity, an opportunity which we are always are ready to cease. After all, all of us have a history of past un-resolved contradictions in our own lives; contradictions that beg for neutralization yet have not yet been neutralized. When we feel someone else has âunjustifiablyâ contradicted themselves by contradicting, (through insult or non-compliance with contextual rules), their Context (us), we will jump at the opportunity to neutralize their contradiction as by doing so, we are able to neutralize a portion of our own accumulated contradictions. This is why we âlove to hate.â as we love any opportunity to successfully neutralize our own errors and, thereby, make one more step toward a renewal of our existential balance.
The entirety of our behavior is driven by the value of every relational event we experience. All relational value, however, is not necessarily the same. The value or significance that your mother, your new car, or your next vacation may have for you will not necessarily be the same for anyone else. Relational values and meanings are the result of relational circumstances and perspectives; but nothing else.
Given that relational values depend upon relational circumstances and perspectives, that which appears logical to one subject or a group of subjects may not appear logical at all to another. Nevertheless, when relational perspectives become âcommonâ to one or more individuals, the logic or âsenseâ active in the relationship also becomes âcommon.â
So-called âcommon sense,â for example, is derived exclusively from the relational circumstances certain perspectives offer for a specific individual or group. Therefore, that which is common sense for individual X or group A, may be completely âillogicalâ for individual B or group Y.
Matt and his family, for example, might think it âsenselessâ that their neighbor spend $1,000.00 dollars for an old table they found at a garage sale. Yet when Mattâs family discovers that the garage sale table brought $6,000.00 at a local auction, the familyâs view of the logic behind buying the table may change. After all it is âcommon senseâ that making money is a good thing to do.
As you have seen, your psychological survival is a relational phenomenon and, therefore, dependent upon how and in what way you relate to other things and other people. In a reciprocal way, the psychological survival of others, depends upon how âtheirâ Relationability is echoed back to them by âtheirâ Contexts (you and me and everyone else). We all are, as it were, in the same relational boat.
Your psychological dependency on contextual confirmation then, is absolute. After all, because you are a relational being, without a Context, you simply cannot survive. Confirmation of the existential reality that you are, therefore, is a 24-hour a day requirement. Without a consistent flow of sub-conscious or conscious confirmation, you would be, as it were, âdead in the water.â
In fact, it is your dependency on Contextual confirmation which forms the person you are becoming and, therefore, is a primary factor in the creation of your evolving behavior. Given that your primary psychological goal is to have your Relationability confirmed, and your Context is your only source for confirmation, you implicitly identify the âconfirmational processâ with how âyouâ have received confirmation in the past. If kindness, love and understanding were the way your Context was accustomed to confirming your Relationability during your formative years, there is a good chance that that is how you will confirm the Relationability of others later on. If, however, cruelty, abuse and violence were the way your Relationability was confirmed, it is likely that that is how you will confirm the Relationability of others as an adult. Having been confirmed the way you have during the initial formation of the self is your primary source for knowing âwhat confirmation looks and feels like.â That experience, then, is all you have as a reference point when you search for a way to âconfirmâ the Relationability of others. This, indeed, is the reason we tend to repeat behaviors of our predecessors.
Do keep in mind, however, that because one does not arrive on this earth as a âclean slateâ they may already possess strong personality or character traits that can weigh heavily on the outcome of any relational exchange, even that of oneâs primary Context. This means that according to our genetic past, how or in what way one individual might understand what âconfirmationâ feels like may differ substantially with the way their Context understands it must feel. Yet with all things being equal, our primary Contextâs confirmational behavior -- that of our moms, dads, sisters brothers or friends -- will significantly influence the way we will confirm and contradict others as our lives develop.
Existential contradiction is our worst enemy, yet all relational activity can produce it. We are all different and differences unavoidably create contradiction.
There are two basic kinds of contradiction: Direct and indirect, both are interrelated. Direct contradictions are those that reverse a subjectâs confirmational intentions: Peter tries repeatedly to close a mayonnaise jar but is unsuccessful. Indirect contradictions are those that come from demand or non-coincidence: (the needs of the Ego are contradicted by the Context) Markâs parents expect him to become an astute businessman but Mark has no talent for business. Direct contradictions are commonly dealt with through âneutralization:â The contradiction is contradicted: Peter throws the mayonnaise jar across the room and breaks it. Indirect contradictions are dealt with through compensation by reaching expectations âon oneâs own terms.â Mark becomes an astute businessmanâs right arm instead of becoming an astute businessman himself. At least that way he will be successful âin business.â
No matter what a contradictionâs origin may be, or how a contradiction may manifest itself, subjects will often attempt to eliminate its destructive effects through any means available. Direct contradictions, for example, may be met with attempts at compensation and non-coincidence may be fought with neutralization. No matter what the case may be, most attempts to eliminate contradiction are either insufficient or ineffective and often can even become catalysts for further structural conflict.
Contradiction and relational balance.
Relational balance and mental health.
Finding balance, equilibrium or coincidence between the Ego and its Context, is a key requirement for maintaining mental health. Coincidence with oneâs Context creates joy, contentment and satisfaction. It also provides a positive âself imageâ and, subsequently, strong feelings of âself-confidence.â Non-coincidence or relational imbalance, on the other hand, brings unhappiness, frustration and despair; a poor self-image and little self-confidence. If you love to read, build things, are a good organizer and are passionate about music, as long as those are the traits your Context admires, your Ego will âcoincide withâ or be in âbalance withâ your Context and all will be well. If, however, your Ego content does not âcoincideâ with contextual values, you will be âout of balanceâ with your Context and subsequently feel continually contradicted by your non-coinciding Context.
All I have to do is look at my girlfriend and I know right away if Iâm in trouble. My dog seems to know what Iâm thinking about too.
Among all the objects contained in our Reference Contexts, itâs the animate object that wields the most relational power. Animate objects have an exceptional capacity to express themselves and, therefore, communicate the degree of relational value they sense you have. A single cell ameoba or your common house fly may not be such good examples of a living thing that is all that expressive, but when you start talking about a well trained parakeet or your pet dog Spot, you are getting closer to those kinds of animate objects that are pretty good relational communicators. So who are the best communicators of all? Humans are. Humans are powerhouses of relational expression and, therefore, the most effective source of relational echo we have at our disposal.
The power of human thought
Even though what others think of us and what we think of others is almost a virtual experience (guess work) it is still that which makes a lionâs share of our psychological world go around. After all, when we âthinkâ about other things or other people, our thoughts invariably contain some sort of value judgment concerning the status of their Relationability. Value judgments as youâll remember, either confirm or contradict relationships so, quite naturally, theyâre important. Given that our behavior is governed by the confirmations or contradictions we receive from our contextual world--the way our thoughts value the Relationability of others and the way we can best estimate that others value our Relationability--is a primary motivator of our behavior.
In order to better understand the power of thought, consider the following:
Every year, writers publish millions of books, magazine articles, and newspaper editorials solely to let others know what theyâre thinking. Your physical appearance is important, but only because of what it makes others think. People put bumper stickers on their cars, paste political posters on walls and send out personal resumes just so that others will think about them in a specific way. That which we think a loved one thinks of us either brings us joy or sadness, hope or despair, pride or shame. Few would refuse having a monument of them placed in the middle of their town after they die. At least that way, others would think of them. (Could it possibly be that the thoughts are so powerful as to give life?) We lay flowers at loved ones tombs and think about them on the outside chance our thoughts might affect their existential status. We feel guilty if we forget to wish a friend happy birthday; arrive late to a social function; or accidentally insult someone we admire, but only because of what they might think of us. We even care what those with whom we have the slightest of contact may think about us like a simple passer-by on the street or our local newsvendor. Indeed, that which we think of others or imagine that others think of us is as vital to our psychological existences as is the very air we breathe.
Expectation and demand: Public enemy # 1?
âThe other day I was about to grab my dark blue shirt out of the closet when I heard Karen shout from downstairs, âKnow what? Youâre wearing that dark blue shirt of yours tonight.â It was weird, right after that I couldnât bring myself to put it on.â
Demand and our relational structure
When someone demands something or expects something from us, we often find ourselves unable to meet the expectation or complete the demand. Why? Because the demand doesnât relationally belong to us and someone is telling us it has to. Remember, relationships take place between subjects and objects: You and the other guy, you and the other thing. So in order to maintain your Structureâs relational integrity, everybody--including your self, has got to know who your behavior really belongs to: you, or someone else. In a word, every time you behave in a specific way, your behavior must have the correct relational polarity (subject-object) or you simply wonât be able to carry out that behavior. Thatâs why we often are so decidedly affected by expectation or demand. When someone demands we do something, they are not only demanding that we ignore the reality of our Structure, they are demanding that we contradict it.
Demands, of course, are met every day, but only because their relational polarity is properly positioned: That is, that everybody knows where the demand has come from. If, for example, someone demands something from a subject that the subject doesnât want to do, a simple demonstration on the part of the subject of non-accordance, is sufficient to re-position relational polarity and allow the subject to complete the demand. All Jerry has to say to his mother is: âAw come on, do I have to?â thereby allowing all concerned to properly position Jerryâs relational polarity and Jerry can complete his motherâs request. If, however, Jerry is unable to communicate his non-conformity with the demanded task, he wonât be able to complete it.
The power of demand can sometimes surprise us. Some types of behavior can even be stopped in mid-action because of the appearance of unexpected demand. If, for example, you plan to do something that, all of a sudden, someone tells you they now âexpectâ of you, the only way you can fulfill the expectation is if you can demonstrate that you were the original author of the action to be completed (âI was just going to do thatâ). If, however, you are unable to set your relational polarity straight, ( making a declaration to others or even just to your self ) try as you may, you will not be able to complete the demand.
Your Context, your âself,â and Contextual demand
As you relationally grow, Contextual âdemandâ slowly creeps into your daily life. It has to. Oneâs Ego cannot always be in coincidence with the relational goals of its Context (Billy wants to play all day then cuddle up in bed with mom and dad. Mom and dad, however, have their own lives to lead as well.
Once a child enters into relational contact with their Context they quickly find that âits one demand after the other.â After all, the childâs Context is in need of confirmation just as much as the child is, and sometimes the way the child might be behaving can get in their Contextâs way.
Thatâs why when relational imbalance occurs--you want to do something your Context doesnât want you to--the Context is forced to use demand to acquire the confirmations it needs, and all of a sudden, itâs no longer is enough for you just to be you. Now, in order to acquire the contextual confirmations you need, you must do what your Contexts wants you to. That means that as infancy turns to childhood, gratuitous Contextual confirmation grinds quickly to a halt and the need to âearnâ oneâs relational confirmations appears for the first time.
Now you have to eat when youâre not hungry, or not eat when you are; take a nap when youâre not tired but wake up when you are. Stop shouting; put clothes on when you want them off, take clothes off when you want them on; smile on command; stop crawling, start crawling; get off the couch, get back on it; eat a piece of fruit when you really want cake; walk when you want to run, run when you want to walk; put your toys away, get your toys out. In short, as long as your self remains under construction, the list of demands you must comply with goes on and on. Itâs a good thing you sense that everyone knows where all those demands are coming from, or you, pretty much, couldnât move.
How we deal with demand.
Having to fulfill demands is clearly not something you do just during infancy. Demands fill your relational life. The only difference is, sometimes you voluntarily submit yourself to demand scenarios, (join a club or organization and happily follow their rules), and sometimes you donât, (find yourself involuntarily born into a demanding environment).
Be that as it may, there are three basic ways one can deal with demand or expectation: 1) by neutralizing the contradictory nature of the demand (contradict the demand, by refusing its completion); 2) by properly situating the polarity of the demand (reveal the ownership of the demand); or 3) by finding compensation for the demand (enter a demand environment âon oneâs own termsâ).
In addition, as you leave infancy and enter childhood, you have yet another option for reducing the possible contradictory effects of demand. You can abandon your relationship with the source of unwanted expectation and go somewhere else to acquire the confirmations you need: You can get yourself another Context.
Your peer Context
Peer groups or parallel Contexts can provide you with relief from demanding Primary Contexts. (Those relationally closest to you like parents and other loved ones) That doesnât mean that parallel Contexts or peer groups are able to âtake overâ the relational position of the Primary Context or that such Contexts are not themselves demanding. Parallel Contexts can, indeed, be as demanding as any primary Context. The advantage to having a parallel Context, however, is that not only is the peer group chosen voluntarily, but that such liaisons create less exposure to possible contradictions coming from their Primary Context: If youâre âmarching to a different drummerâ youâre not marching anymore to the previous one.
Peer Contexts and conformity
âMarching to a different drummerâ
Conformity to a group is that ostensible sign of allegiance to a specific Context which can provide one not only with the assurance that they are candidate for confirmation by that Context, but a way for them to demonstrate to others from what source they are receiving the confirmations they require. Even though conformity is clearly just another form of demand, he or she who submits to conformity usually does so voluntarily, thereby eliminating contradiction.
Once you are identified as being a member of a specific Context, anyone who is not a member of that Context immediately senses a loss of relational power over you. (you donât need them anymore as a source of confirmation) Demonstrating oneâs membership to a parallel Context is an effective way of disarming oneâs previous context of its power of contradiction. Indeed, once a subject is able to demonstrate that they âmarch to a different drummerâ that subject may no longer be a viable target for contradiction by any other Context.
Relational values are really all about contextual Relationability; really all about how you and your Context âmeasureâ or âquantifyâ an object or eventâs Relationability. Indeed, nothing has value unless its power of confirmation or contradiction can be quantified or measured. This is why all value experiences are contextual experiences. Only the Context is able to quantify existence. Sub-conscious experiences like the simple sensing of the world around you are not initially quantifiable and, therefore, have no ostensible value. That does not mean that sub-conscious experiences cannot have structural impact. That they can indeed, and often do. That only means that our conscious perception of any sub-conscious impact that may occur will have its âvalueâ hidden from us until it is contextually quantified. Once, however, an object or event is brought into consciousness, and its level of Relationability becomes quantified, that object or event may be assessed and valued. We may take a breath of air every six seconds or brush death daily, yet if we are not conscious of those experiences, they will have no meaning for us. In short, owning a new Porsche, taking a new drug, dreaming about our last vacation or feeling a thrill every time we listen to Brahms can either be valueless experiences or experiences that are packed with contextual meaning. It all depends on what our level of consciousness may be at the time of the experience and, therefore, to what level the self is involved.
Value, and the law of relational supply and demand.
One of the most common ways the value of an object or event can be modified or even reversed is by manipulating its level of access. This can happen basically in two ways: 1) By changing the level of âdifficultyâ required to obtain the object or event or 2) By modifying the level of âdemandâ associated with the object or event.
No man is a prophet in his own land because there he is accessible to all. Seeing the Eiffel Tower has no value for Jane because she lives only a block away from it. No one may listen to a famous violinist who plays in a subway station, as subway stations are accessible to all. Of course reversing levels of access also can also affect values. He who climbs Mr. Everest is admired because of the control needed to reach its peek. Having dinner with a famous movie star has contextual value because ânot just anybodyâ can be associated with a public figure.
Another way an object or eventâs value can be modified or even reversed is by decreasing the level of demand associated with its access.
When you learn that the houseguest who would never leave is to leave for good, you realize how interesting they were. When you hear that the only gym in town is about to close, all of a sudden you want to work out there. The lover youâd been taking for granted becomes attractive again when they announce they may not be interested in you anymore. Your neighborâs grass may seem greener than yours. After all, his yard will never be yours. Examples abound. In short, when demand is eliminated from a relationship that relationshipâs value may increase. Inversely, however, when demand is suddenly introduced into a relationship, that relationshipâs value can be put at risk.
A couple that had been living happily together for 10 years finally breaks up only months after signing their marriage âcontractâ. When Maryâs doctor tells her she âmust eatâ five tablets of chocolate a day, her passion for chocolate vanishes. The vacation spot you always dreamt about becomes a nightmare when you learn its been quarantined and âyou cannot leaveâ there for six months.
The power of the collective Context
âEvery time I need to convince Mom she should give me something, I just tell her
âeverybodyâ has one. Iâve always had the feeling that I will have a better chance of getting what I want that way.â
In general there are two kinds of Contexts that can echo back to us their version of who we are: Individual and Collective. Individual Contexts are made up of animate or inanimate objects (individual things that are alive and individual things that are not). Collective Contexts represent entire groups of animate or inanimate objects, like the members of your community or the number of shoes you have in your closet.
Groups of just about any kind have a greater echoing power than almost any individual object ever could. Relationally speaking, there really is âpower in numbers.â A singular object that echoes back to us who we are is one thing, but 100 of those objects has one hundred times as much echoing power, and thatâs a big deal. Our Context is an important source of confirmation, so the more numerous the representation of that Context may be, the more motivated we may be to contextually behave in one way or another. If our buddy Jerry suggests we take a listen to the new rock group âPlanet Xâ we may drawn to listening to them. If suddenly we hear âeverybody talking about âPlanet Xâ, however, we will definitely give them a listen.
Our existential structure and mental illness
By understanding the existential structure that guides us, we may more easily understand the powerfully decisive role contradiction plays in our psychological lives. In essence, due to each of our unique genetic backgrounds as well as the unique relational circumstances we all face over a lifetime, each one of us finds our own unique way to deal with the destructive effects of contradiction. In the end, no matter how, or in which way, we may choose to deal with contradiction, each diverse example of our behavior should not be separately categorized or diagnosed as if it were a separate malady, but rather, understood as a manifestation of one singular structural event: An existentially based structural reaction to the presence of self-contradiction.
Part II of this site will be forthcoming.
With regard to the content expressed in the above hypotheses this writer welcomes your comments, observations, and criticisms as well as any constructive suggestions that you feel might either enrich or challenge its validity. Please see the âContactâ option in the options window found on the home page.
Thank you for your interest.
Rogers V. Follansbee PhD
Pour comprendreÂ la structure existentielle qui nous sert de guide.
Il est facile de constater que nos Contextes sont constamment Ă lâaffut de la moindre faute. Cela peut prendre des allures de chasse Ă cour mise en scĂšne par le Contexte. Mais pourquoi donc ? Pourquoi nos Contextes sont-ils si contents de trouver un coupable ? Et pourquoi le sommes-nous au mĂȘme titre, puisque nous sommes le Contexte aux yeux des autres. Encore une fois, câest une question de Structure.
Â« Quand jâai besoin de convaincre Maman de me donner quelque chose dont jâai envie, je lui dis que âtout-le-mondeâ en a un.Â Jâai toujours eu lâimpression que Ă§a augmentait mes chances dâobtenir ce que je voulais. Â»
La nociĂłn tradicionalmente aceptada que existe una parte de la conducta humana la cual es mecĂĄnicamente defensivo es falsa. La conducta humana no es ni mecĂĄnica ni motivada por fuerzas irracionales. El comportamiento humano es el resultado estructuralmente motivado por la realidad psicolĂłgica de cada uno.
La contradicciĂłn estructural es la causa primaria de todo trastorno mental.
La modificaciĂłn artificial de la composiciĂłn electo-quĂmico del cerebro humano puede modificar los efectos de la contradicciĂłn estructural.
El si-mismo humano no es creado por el Ego. El si-mismo es creado por el mundo objetivo del ser humano.
LA ESTRUCTURA EXISTENCIAL QUE DIRIGE NUESTRO COMPORTAMIENTO
Empezando por el principio
El siguiente estudio es el resultado de una investigaciĂłn cientĂfico llevado a cabo con la intenciĂłn de revelar las causas ultimas del comportamiento humano. Para mejor garantizar la precisiĂłn de tal investigaciĂłn usamos el punto de partida mas amplio posible: La existencia en cuanto tal.
Cuando examinado de cerca, la existencia se revela como una fuerza estructurada implĂcita la cual es compuesta de tres imperativos implĂcitos: Se postula que dada la presencia de tales imperativos en todo aquello que existe, es inexorable que ellos formen la base causal del comportamiento no solo de nuestro mundo objeto sino igualmente sobre el comportamiento general humano en todos sus aspectos: Como el ser humano piensa, siente emocionalmente y reacciona cuando uno o mas de esos imperativos es contradicho por las circunstancias de la vida.
Los imperativos mas fundamentals de la existencia son:
Relacionabilidad, continuacion, conformacion.
Relacionabilidad: Es autoevidente que nada puede existir a no ser de forma relacional. O un objeto en existencia es, de una manera u otra, en relaciĂłn con por lo menos algĂșn otro objeto que no es ese, o tal objeto no podrĂĄ existir.
Continuidad: La Existencia es, por necesidad implĂcita, un proceso de continuaciĂłn. Al momento que la existencia de cualquier objeto deja de ser, su existencia implĂcitamente se transforma en auto-contradictorio y, por lo tanto, tal objeto, como es necesario, deja de ser.
Conformidad: Todo sujeto consciente precisa que su realidad existencial sea confirmado por aquel objeto con el cual se encuentra en relaciĂłn o percibirĂĄ que tal esta siendo contradicho y, por consiguiente, se vera obligado a reaccionar correspondientemente.
El desafĂo relacional el cual se nos presenta a todos es indisputable: Â O recibimos confirmaciones relacionales de nuestros Contextos o ingeniamos maneras de defendernos, compensar o neutralizar aquellas contradicciones que recibimos del exterior.
Al contrario a algunos enfoques mas bien tradicionales, desde un punto de vista estrictamente existencial y, por consiguiente, estructurado, el hombre no nace como si fuera un papel in blanco si no, como un ser ya hecho y derecho al cual la sociedad (el Contexto) ejercerĂĄ una influencia sustancial en cuanto a la persona que estarĂĄ llegando a ser hasta el ultimo dĂa de vida.
La primera mitad del puzle relacional que somos al nacer ya ha sido diĂĄfanamente establecido de modo genetico gracias a los millones de aĂ±os de actividad relacional de nuestros anti-pasados. Desde el momento en el cual uno nace y, como una central nuclear que espera el momento en el cual alguien encienda por primera vez una bombilla, su labor psico-existencial principal serĂĄ de relacionarse con su Contexto de tal suerte que la existencia de cada uno sea confirmado por el mismo y uno comience su que hacer vital de llegar a ser la persona que estarĂĄ llegando a ser hasta el ultimo minuto de su vida.
Desde una perspectiva existencial esa pregunta es imposible de contestar ya que como el comportamiento de todo ser existente, el comportamiento humano no depende exclusivamente ni de las caracterĂsticas de su propio ser ni de las caracterĂsticas de aquello con que se relaciona sino de cĂłmo estas caracterĂsticas se compaginan con la estructura existencial que gobierna toda relaciĂłn entre seres existentes.
La existencia no es solo un fenĂłmeno relacional.Es un fenĂłmeno que evoluciona continuamente. Toda existencia tiene que ser asĂ. La continuaciĂłn es un imperativo existencial. De hecho, la continuaciĂłn forma el nĂșcleo mismo de todo aquello que âes.â
Es por eso que cuando aquello con lo cual nos relacionamos presenta un futuro dudoso, cortado o potencialmente contradictorio, el Ego vivencia la contradicciĂłn como depresor del imperativo de continuaciĂłn y todo nuestra estructura se deprime.
Nuestra evolucion existencial y las noticias del dia.
Hablando de la evoluciĂłn relacional y el concepto general de la renovaciĂłn, dese cuenta de cuanto estamos todos interesados en todo aquello que es ânuevo.â Curiosamente, eso mismo, âlo nuevoâ forma la base misma de las noticias que leemos en el periĂłdico, vemos en la televisiĂłn o escuchamos con atenciĂłn de la parte de un conocido u amigo: En fin, no hay nada que mas nos interesa que las ultimas noticias. Es por eso que la novedad, venga de donde venga, nos llama la atenciĂłn ya que la noticia es aquello que promete satisfacer el imperativo de la continuaciĂłn.
Los textos arriba expuestos estĂĄn en vĂa de disarrollo. Mas capitolos seran aĂ±adidos en breve. Gracias