My spell check is bull-shit with me. It insists that I correct the spelling of the tittle of the essay. But I intend to keep it even if my agent were to object because it is more correct that its alternative. What I enjoy so much about the word is that it was coined by a delightful patient who refuses to believe in the unconscious mind. This patient is convinced that if he is not conscious of a feeling or a thought it cannot be his. And who is the blame him, the very structure of the mind points to childish dependencies, irrational outrages, tremendous pangs of sadness as well as deep-seated lacks in self-esteem as the occupants of this not so sweet unconscious location in our minds.
To further the argument, these dilettantes of subconscious behavior come charging forth like wild animals that have finally managed to escape from the zoo. Who, if they had a choice would embrace the idea that dirty little sex secrets and semi-violent fantasies about throwing the neighbor under the bus live inside all of us just waiting for the opportunity to break free from repression and embarrass the hell out of us in some social setting. No — we do not want to know the content of our unconscious mind, the content is ugly and primitive and full of savage rage.
So, psycho-semiautomatic, is perfect. It is not entirely automatic like the autonomic nervous system, but it also has a mind of its own and can pull the trigger on rage without my full and conscious permission.
Pulling the trigger on rage:
Philosophy, psychoanalysis and medicine are closer to being on the same page in the last few recent decades than ever before in the history of consciousness. This is a good thing. As long as we need to consider the most unpleasant aspects of life as not permitted in consciousness, we are going to continue to set up the matrix of conflict as the predominant culture of thought. Conflict within is where resolution can be applied. As long as we persist in externalizing half the conflict to another noun — another person, place or thing, we are forfeiting our ability to resolve the aggression in a masterful way internally.
The “It” of our unconscious is the foundation on which later evolutions of our triune brain was built. The ego and the super-ego were later developments and although they know somewhat of the content of the id, their job was primarily to help the organism to survive. Humans, of which you and I are a piece of this classification, survived to a great extent because of the linguistic, communicative capacities developed in the higher brain. Nonetheless, the higher form that we have taken is still built on the foundation that sex and aggression were the earliest prototypes for the later more complex mind. The alligator brain holds the “semi-automatic” responses that we see. For example, in the driver who suddenly transforms his behavior from a mild-mannered commuter into what looks more like a killing machine–Dr. Strangelove riding the autonomic bomb into Moscow is a cinematic picture of road rage.
Narcissistic rage erupts from within the deepest structures of the mind. The trigger to behave in a semi automatic way is pulled long before the ego has a chance to decide on its efficacy. Once the trigger is pulled it takes a nearly super human strength to call it back. This is somewhat the concept of it being impossible to un-ring a bell. A feeling that is triggered in the unconscious has tremendous strength of passion attached to it and if you think of it as a rocket launched from deep underground you can envision that by the time we see the rocket above ground it is too late to stop it forward motion.
Narcissistic rage is perhaps the single most identifiable culprit of socially and morally misfit behaviors. That is because the location of narcissistic rage is below consciousness and we (the egoic we) is not privy to the mechanisms that trigger and fire the rage. Who we are, the persona, the egoic part of us that lives entirely above ground, was not involved in pulling the trigger on rage. So, by the time we see the results of the pulled trigger, the shot has been fired and all we can do is witness the aggression somewhat as mortified by it as any spectator would be.
The semi-automatic response is about as thoughtful as that of an alligator that sees a small animal out of the corner of its eye. There is no thought process involved. The alligator does not sit in contemplation. HUMMMM, is that little furry animal some one I know? Should I let it cross my path, after all it means me no harm. NO, the alligator brain snaps into action entirely on the passions and the neuronal activities that coordinated the eye to mouth sequence.
Again, we have to remember that as a triune brain, some aspects of the self can operate in total isolation from another aspect of the brain. All that the “IT” wants is for the essence of the pleasure principle to be met. Essentially, I want what I want when I want it.
Along with the narcissistic rage the “IT” houses other aspects of our mental life. It is almost a misnomer to call this automatic reaction– rage. It is rage by definition of how we perceive the results of rage, but in its infancy the rage response began innocently enough as a means of survival. And in our capitalistic environment we can hardly fault an organism for being too big to fail.
Let’s review for a moment where we are. The brain has three distinctive arenas of development. They do not correspond to the psychic structure which is also said to have three distinctive areas. However, there is a great deal in common between the “IT” that Freud wrote about and the biological base of the brain which has loosely been referred to at the alligator brain.
The ego has been seen as the seat of executive function. That is to say, the egoic part of us is the part of the mind responsible for coordinating our bodies with the environment around us. It has, as it major distinguished characteristic, language to set it apart from any other living organism and therefore is also concerned about survival. But here the survival begins to take on a more deliberate mission. With the advent of language and our descent from the trees, the snap response of the alligator brain has only limited value.
The ego can distinguish friend from foe and as such uses itself to better itself in time. The ego not only uses the idea of time, but in many ways can be seen as having invented it.
We are approaching the conflict: both the ego and the id have our survival at the heart of their mission. However, the id uses guns and rape and pillaging while the ego uses diplomacy and espionage and covert operations to accomplish its goals. A conflict arises within the organism much like the conflict that might emerge between say, the Secretary of State and the C. I. A.
Although both arm of the government the methods employed to reach the goals of the state will be entirely different.
Within these differences lies a conflict within. The resolution of which must take place inside the organism or else a method of survival might be employed that goes against the wishes of the self. Once a fight has ensued between Washington and North Korea and once a narcissistic missal has been fired it will be next to impossible to return to the diplomacy that the ego had in mind to use.
The use of guns and other semi-automatic weapons in the executing of our personalities and our selves is in direct conflict with our need for diplomacy and peaceful co-existance. The ego and the id are in conflict and as an organism we are entirely tied to the politics of this conflict.
The conflict is so great within, that frequently the government is rendered dysfunctional because internal conflict is so great that a central decision is not possible. Once this stoppage has occurred everything in the organism becomes backed up behind this lack of resolution and empires have fallen due to the lack of internal resolution. Frequently nothing less than revolution is necessary to put an end to the ruinous ambivalence.
When a body becomes so mired down in its own conflict, illness and dysfunction become the central actors on the stage and rather than being concerned with the survival of the organism, we now have an organism that is destroying itself in its attempt to win supremacy.
Psychosomatic symptoms are the victims of an internal war. The narcissistic rage that was designed to protect the organism is forced to turn against the self in order to cooperate with the ego which has decided on another mission. As long as the rage is pointed at the self the symptom is exacerbated.
It has taken forever, it seems, to bring this very elementary concept home to medicine where it belongs. Much like the flatness of the world, or the center of the universe being the earth, or man as independent from the rest of the natural world, psychosomatic symptoms are as central to disease as are virus and bacteria.
But like the electromagnetic field, we can not see the cause of a psychosomatic condition and man has been so trained to believe only his five senses that he has difficulty dealing with inductive science. If I am unaware of my unconscious, it must not exist.
In another essay, we will take up the specific development of a symptom.