My understanding of this space.

I will grauduall post various things that I posted on a now defunt bulletin baord on a site called Behavior On Line that was dedicaded to Tomkins. They will be in the fourm of emages and reached therefore through links. But the hope is they will be material to start comments.

My understanding of this space.

Postby drlynch on Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:50 pm

Dear readers,

Originally posted as noted below this essay comments on the dynamics of the The "Behavior On Line" forum at that time. It however is can be read, and I wish it to be read as pertaining to this forum also. Always hoping for more interest and participation.



My understanding of this space.
Brian Lynch · 11/15/01 at 5:49 PM ET

I articulated some of these ideas in a previous recent post about how it is basic to understand that according to this theory we cannot ever really separate reason and emotion.

This is a public Internet forum. It is a public Internet forum for the exploration of Affect and Script Theory. The world being what it is and people being people the discussion is bound to go off topic much.

1) It may go off topic as the writer is in some emotional state that does not permit them to focus on what others are saying at the moment. How this will manifest itself will depend on how the person has learned to express themselves when feeling badly.

2) It may go off topic as the person, although listening and trying to learn, has just not 'gotten it' yet. Students, even serious students, often make blunders but is not that what learning is all about?

As I said previously I don't think either of these would be a problem if there was a bigger commitment by those many who do study this stuff and I refer not to Dr. Nathanson here. This is a heart felt question to many of those I have met and care for. Either this is great important stuff or 'just another theory.' For me it has been life changing stuff as much as anything can be. When I think along these lines I often think of a quote I heard about Steve Jobs the then and again present CEO of Apple trying to recruit the then head of Pepsi (name escapes me) he asked him "if he wanted to make sugar water the rest of his life or change the world?"

I make no apologies for my feeling that this material has the power eventually to change a great many things. Dr. Nathanson certainly believes this otherwise he would not be so passionate about his school program.

The rub is that since the theory shows us that human beings basically have two ways to go:

1) Believe that reason is first and emotion second


2) believe that emotion is first and reasons second

and that , for me, for very understandable reasons, man has taken the 'wrong' turn much of the time and chosen #1,so we now have a very big problem. That problem is how do we get a critical mass of adults to understand that #2 is the way to go if we are going to maximize peace and joy in our lives? We must have that critical mass in order to teach younger folks that they can come to mange emotion and reason together.

Now comes this forum. and it's role in this goal of bringing these ideas to a wider public audience. By the foregoing we see that as it is open to the world this information will be foreign to many people. It may be also upsetting to many people . Many people will think they understand the basics but don't. Many, as we have seen, will express much emotion in often hurtful ways, many will also express intense emotion and then deny that they did so. Some will have discharged their daily quotient of negative feeling in other ways appropriately or inappropriately outside this forum and thus are able to come here and be cordial and conjoin Interest and Reason in a more useful fashion.

Note that here I am going back to the basic truth that reason and emotion are always conjoined, always. This is the genius of Tomkins. This is the genius of the 'central blueprint'.

Maximize positive feeling
Minimize negative feeling
Achieve both by maximizing the expression of all feeling
Achieve this by recognizing the conditions under which these goals can be achieved

This blue print has to be applicable here. For me the most important of the four rules is the fourth. Unless the human beings that come together define the rules of engagement, and insofar as those rules do not maximize an environment where all affect can be safely expressed , then the human gathering will be less then it could be.

The interesting thing about this then is that in no why is it saying that we all have to be in agreement or not express anger, fear, distress or shame. We do not therefore have to always appear to be the paradigm of interest and joy and reason here. In fact I would much prefer to see negative affect 'out in the open' then held back by a facade. It is obvious that the public and private lives of many of our entertainers politicians and CEO's are divided such. Monsters in private/angels in public. We see these stories, read about them all the time, but then disavow their reality as we somehow need to cling to the belief that someone is prefect. This is of course dangerous. We should not expect anymore of ourselves then the reality of what we see of our public figures.

In order to disagree one needs to be informed by affect and if so might well show some of it which is certainly what we want too. If the 'central blueprint' is to work we must then be advocating the public expression of negative affect too.

There has been discussion of whether, at least in spirit, this is a public or private space. I think the way I am approaching this that is a moot question yet it brings up questions that we should all ask ourselves and among them is how and what are we going to tolerate in terms of expression of negative affect be it in public or private.

We like to think of our private space as being civil just as or public space appears so much to be civil. But thinking again about why we are here we have to look at the truth of the matter, the matter of reason and emotion in both places. When we look behind closed doors what do we find? Often we find the discharge of huge amounts of negative affect? Many will even find it acceptable, and in fact necessary, to do in the home what we would never do in public but the opposite is also true. This is personal and family scripting. It is created willy nilli in the family and in public unless we have a blueprint!

It can and has been objected that 'how can we claim to have the answer yet not be 'cured' ourselves' and it has been explained that although emotion is king reason is also very powerful and capable of producing thought outside a specific personality. I, again, may find the cure for kidney cancer but it may be too late to save myself.

Likewise much great art, maybe the majority of it, has been produced by extremely damaged persons. Yet all that said it seems to me, again, the solution is here but is there the Interest and desire for us all to solve the problem? I don't know. I would like to think of this as an important place that is needed until that magical critical mass accumulates that will make the forum passe.

So as the purpose of this forum is to talk about, among other things, the relationship between reason and emotion this forum is somewhat of a special case. That is although what is going on here in terms of the negative is quite common and more so on all other types of lists I have been on. It is essential that we at least note that at some level we claim to be expert on solving such problems. That is we believe that the 'central blueprint' is the solution.

So for me it is a matter of determining what the rules of engagement will be and how they will be enforced. It seems to me that these , for the most part, have been practically worked out and it just so happens that I just took a break and noted the post of Mr. P.T. Jonesberry of today. Thank you Mr. Jonesberry you reduced my writing load a lot. If people chose to read that post I think the answers of how to manage things and maximize Interest and Joy is pretty clear. So does this negate what I have written above in that if we have a practical solution already why bother with the theory? Well we here especially want to bother with the theory as we think the theory explains and describes why practical solutions work and it is very important to do that.

Take care.
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Postby drlynch on Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:06 pm

This is a post that was suggested by a series of comments similar to one greatly shortened and edited here:

"Truth" has has to do with "uncovering" and its meaning. Shame is "covered". When we tell the truth we "uncover shame". We only can only come close to "shame-free living. In the courts we are in essence uncovering shame.


Certainly a central "truth" that Tomkins "uncovered" was to make clear the difference between "shame" and "guilt" the problem continues however as the two words are so engrained in our vocabulary and scrapped behavior that their "other" meanings always haunt us. Shame in particular as it has at minimum two uses in this system. The first of course is the pure physiologic sensation that the brain and body feels when interest is impeded. Second the cognition that something is wrong and that cognition can be "I am confused" to "I am a bad person", including the sensation that I am guilty. That is there is a continuum of variation of feeling and thought, embarrassment et al going form the physical feeling to the most devastating feeling of guilt. Point being we can never much have "shame-free" living. Shame cannot be transcended( post 12/29/00). Shame is neutral. It is not shame that need be uncovered as if we look for it is not hidden.

What needs to be uncovered are the scripts that impede the expression of shame. If shame is expressed , if we point to what is always right under our nose then all parties par take in the experience. Defenses against shame crumble and all parties have to admit and recognize that what we have been about is NOT an uncovering of shame but a massive ritual of covering shame much of the time. Courts do not expose shame they induce guilt(shame and fear). They induce much impediment to interest. At their best they expose that such and such took place and this is not often done in any kind of non shaming way. They are finders of fact and then the meters out of justice. As you say law students go to "law" school not "truth" or "justice" school. Truth and justice, too, are certainly words that have many meanings. When we get right down to it though "justice" is most often "attack other". "He got a just sentence, fine, punishment". What is this but society codifying its own inability, simply because we are not yet that evolved, to deal with the hurtful actions of others. And often we know ,deep in our own private world of disavowal that we have ourselves disavowed that we are the same as those attached and that often those in power(maybe ourselves) have much created the conditions of poverty and hopelessness which generated much of the hurtful actions(crime). Justice, seen thus, should fall away and truth becomes more approachable. Truth can only come about when defenses are dropped and shame can be shared, when it is shared it becomes co-mingled with interested. Such is the power of conferencing.

The legal system itself will only change through parallel movements like conferencing. It will change when a critical mass of individuals see the power of the method or similar methods. It seems that this will only happen when we have massive education about shame. The system will not change form within as it has its origins deep in humanities need to maintain order form earliest times, we did the best we could. It is still said that the legal system tends to be, on average, one hundred years behind the general populace. Law is too bound up in conflicting moral systems which bolster its use of shaming tactics. Without massive education about the role of emotion we seem to be spinning our wheels. On many levels we seem no better then the Greeks or maybe even worse at times.

That is the Greeks had enough sense , often, to know that they did not know. They knew that life was precarious, random and cruel and so they blamed it on the gods. We leave it up to the judges or police or prosecutors who, while doing the best they can, after all, live and work in a system based in morality or worse yet ones fate is thrown upon the mercy of a single judge's shame management scripts(at least if you are rich you have hope of appeal)and not state of the art psychology.

Any decent TV program illustrates these issues over and over: Law and Order, NYPD Blue, The Practice. I believe it was last weeks "Practice" that had a nice set up of a case involving the shooting of a mother by her son. An upper middle class family at a dinning table. The boy wants to go on a trip or something with friend, mom says "no". The child is quite disturbed and in agony holds his head and leaves the table. The father says to the wife that maybe they should "explain" more and not just say "no". She says she had explained why. The boy comes in with a gun and shoots the mother dead. The story then centers around whether the boy will be tried as a child or an adult. The prosecutor goes for the adult status, the judge agrees. Her reasoning is that children cannot be capable of such things therefore he must be charged as an adult (he is 14). That is to me she attacks the child as she is shamed by the reality of a child that is capable of doing such a thing. But of course a child did do this and she redefines childhood wily nilly to soothe herself form her horrible thought ,"If a child can do this then there is no childhood"(and of course there has to be idyllic CHILDHOOD). Logically she and the prosecutor would call this "justice".

So I think that really we will stumble about until we understand the centrality of shame and how we all respond to it. It is the only thing, seems to me, that will get us all on the same page. Certainly there are good judges, good laws and lawyers but in the end it is haphazard.

Lately I have given a lot of thought to what I see as part of our conundrum and that is that those that are doing ok, are doing a good job. Most of these people will not be interested in learning a new system, of learning about shame. Why? Because they are doing ok and possibly because to learn about shame might take some credit away form themselves, i.e. be shaming to them. Then those that seem to act out of shame in the larger world, most of whom have never even considered seeing a therapist, are of course less easily convinced.

I have thought that part of our job, then, is to be creative about taking success stories -because there are many, many success stories in all walks of life, yet we tend to concentrate so much on the negative- taking success stories and using them as examples to show why they work in terms of shame and interest. What is happening when Phil Jackson couches a team vs. someone that abuses their players, what happens when a Jack Welch(CEO of GE) runs a company(I am not sure, it seems that he is a "good" guy - sounds like it anyway)? Again point being neither Phil Jackson nor Jack Welch would probable be approachable about learning about shame as they feel they are doing fine. In general everything seems based on "talent", "personality", "charisma" and we are not much more specific than that. We take the view that humanity just has to wait around until some leader appears. Really what we are saying is that we have a way of "making" people talented and charismatic, that is we see that so much of who we are is simply about how we manage shame and that there is an enormous amount of talent out there that is never expressed due too large a burden of shame and guilt. The more you think about it the more one sees what a quantum leap in understanding this is. This makes things difficult but also exciting. Can the leap be one of all people and not only some? So to end on a positive note; last night I was talking a little about chaos theory with a friend and about how a hurricane does not begin with massive storm systems but with an extremely local event, so revolutions can start in one persons mind and if the conditions are right can take us to a new level quickly. Lets hope and lets hope the legal system comes along with us.

Brian Lynch, M.D.
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