22 October 2010

Silo, Psychology III

Silo, Psychology III

Psychology III

This material is a summary prepared by those who attended the explanations given by Silo in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, in early August, 1978.

1. Catharsis, Transference and Self-Transference: Action in the World as Transferential Form
We should consider two circuits of impulses, which finally give an internal register. One circuit corresponds to perception, representation, new capturing of the representation and internal sensation. And another circuit shows us that from every action that I launch towards the world, I also have an internal sensation. That intake of feedback is what allows us to learn as we do things. If there were no capturing of feedback taking place within me of the movements that I carried out, I would never be able to perfect them. I learn to type on my keyboard through repetition. That is, I record actions by trial and error. But I can record actions only if I carry them out.
From my doing, I have a register. A great bias exists that at times has invaded the field of pedagogy: a prejudice that says things are learned simply by thinking about them. Of course something is learned, because from thought one also has a reception of the datum. However, the mechanics of the centers tells us that they are mobilized when images reach them, and the mobilization of the centers is an overcharge that triggers their activity toward the world. There is a feedback intake of this triggering of activity that goes to memory and also goes to consciousness. This feedback intake is what allows us to say, for example, “I hit the wrong key.” In this way I register the sensation of accuracy and of error: thus I increasingly perfect the register of accuracy, and from there, the correct action of typing grows more fluid and automatic. We are talking about a second circuit that delivers to me the register of the action I perform.
On another occasion1 we saw the differences that exist between acts that are called “cathartic” and “transferential” acts. The first referred, basically, to discharges of tensions. The second allowed the transfer of internal charges, the integration of contents, and the broadening of the possibilities for development of the psychic energy. It is well known that where there are “islands” of mental contents, of contents that do not communicate among themselves, difficulties occur for the consciousness If for example one thinks in one direction, feels in another and finally acts in still another, there is a register of “things not fitting together”, a register that is not one of fullness. It seems that only when we lay down bridges between the internal contents that the psychic functioning is integrated and we can advance a few more steps.
We are familiar with the transferential works among the techniques of Operative. By mobilizing certain images and traveling with said images to the points of resistance, we can overcome those resistances. Upon overcoming the resistances, we provoke distensions and we transfer the charges to new contents. These transferred charges (worked on in post-transferential elaborations), enable a subject to integrate some regions of his internal landscape, of his internal world. We know about these transferential techniques and about others such as the self-transferential ones, in which the action of an external guide is not required; rather, one can guide oneself internally with certain images that are codified beforehand.
We know that action, and not just the work of images that we have been mentioning, can bring about transferential phenomena and self-transferential phenomena. One type of action will not be the same as another type. There will be actions that allow the integration of internal contents, and there will be tremendously disintegrative actions. Certain actions produce such a burden of grief, such regret and internal division, such profound anxiety, that one would wish never to repeat them ever again. And yet such actions have already remained strongly adhered to the past. Even if one were never to repeat such an action in the future, it would continue to pressure from the past without getting resolved, without allowing the consciousness to move, transfer, integrate its contents, and allow the subject that sensation of internal growth that is so stimulating and liberating.
It is clear that it isn’t a matter of indifference what actions one carries out in the world. There are actions that give one a register of internal unity, and actions that give a register of disintegration. If one studies this question of acting in the world in the light of what we know about cathartic and transferential procedures, many things regarding the theme of integration and development of the contents of consciousness will be made considerably clearer. We will return to this after taking a quick look at the general scheme of our Psychology.
2. Scheme of the integrated Work of the Psychism
We present the human psychism as a sort of integrated circuit of apparatuses and impulses in which some apparatuses, called “external senses,” are the receptors of the impulses from the external world. There are also apparatuses that receive impulses from the internal world—the intrabody—which we call “internal senses” These internal senses, very numerous, are of great importance for us and we should emphasize that they have been given very little thought by na├»ve Psychology. We also observe that there are other apparatuses, such as those of memory, that capture all signals that arrive from the exterior or from the interior of the subject. There are other apparatuses which regulate the levels of consciousness, and, lastly, there are apparatuses of response. All these apparatuses, in their work, at times make use of the direction of a central system that we call “consciousness.” Consciousness relates and coordinates the functioning of the apparatuses, but it can do so thanks to a system of impulses. The impulses come and go from one apparatus to another. Impulses that travel through the circuit at tremendous speeds; impulses that are translated, deformed, transformed, and in each case give rise to highly differentiated productions, of phenomena of consciousness.
The senses, which continually gather samples of what occurs in the external and internal environment, are in permanent activity. Not a single sense stays still. Even when a person sleeps and their eyelids are shut, the eyes are collecting samples of that dark curtain; the ears are receiving impulses from the external world, and so it happens with the classic and elementary five senses. But internal senses are also taking samples of what is happening in the intrabody. Senses that gather data on the blood pH, alkalinity, salinity, acidity; senses that take readings of arterial pressure, that take readings of the bloodsugar, that take temperature readings. Thermoceptors, baroceptors and others continually receive information on what goes on inside the body, while simultaneously the external senses also capture information on what goes on outside the body.
Every signal that is received by the intraceptors passes on to memory and arrives to consciousness. Better said, these intrabody signals unfold and all the samples gathered arrive simultaneously to memory and consciousness (to the different levels of consciousness that are regulated according to the quality and intensity of these impulses). There are impulses that are very weak, subliminal, at the limit of perception. There are impulses on the other hand that become intolerable, precisely because they reach the threshold of tolerance. Beyond that threshold, these impulses lose the quality of being the simple perceptions of a given sense, becoming converted into a homogeneous perception irregardless of the sense they come from, and delivering a painful perception.
There are other impulses that ought to reach the memory, the consciousness, and yet they don’t arrive because there was an interruption in an external or internal sense. It also happens that other impulses do not reach the consciousness, not because of a break in the receptor, but because some unfortunate phenomenon has produced a blockage at some point in the circuit. This can be illustrated with some cases of blindness known as “somatizations.” The eye is examined, the optical nerve is examined and the occipital location is examined, and so on. Everything in the circuit works fine and yet the subject is blind, and their blindness is not due to an organic problem but to a psychic problem that they were confronted with. Another subject goes dumb or deaf, and yet everything is working well in the circuit as far as its connections and localizations… but something has blocked the path of the impulses.
The same happens with the impulses that come from the intrabody, and this is not recognized very much but it is of utmost importance, because it happens that there exist numerous “anesthesias”—to give them a name—of impulses from the intrabody. The most frequent are the anesthesias that correspond to impulses from the sex, such that there are many people who, because of some type of psychic problem, do not adequately detect the signals that originate from that point. When a blockage has been produced and these signals are not detected, what should normally arrive to the consciousness (whether in its foremost attentional field or at subliminal levels), undergoes powerful distortions, or does not arrive.
When an impulse from the external or internal senses does not arrive to consciousness, the latter carries out work as though it were trying to reassemble that absence by “borrowing” impulses from memory, compensating for the lack of the stimulus it would need for its work of elaboration. When because of an external or internal sensorial defect, or simply due to a blockage, an impulse does not arrive from the external or internal world, then memory launches its sequence of impulses, trying to compensate. If this doesn’t happen, the consciousness takes charge of capturing a register of itself. A strange job that the consciousness does is one in which it becomes like a video camera positioned in front of a mirror, and now one sees, onscreen, a mirror within a mirror and so on, in a process of multiplicative reproduction of images in which the consciousness re-elaborates its own contents and tortures itself, trying to obtain impulses from where there are none. These obsessive phenomena are a little like the video camera in front of a mirror.
Just as the consciousness compensates by taking impulses from another point, when the impulses from the exterior or from the intrabody are very powerful, the consciousness also defends itself by disconnecting the sense, as if the consciousness had its own safety valves. We also know that the senses are in continual movement. When one sleeps, for example, the senses that track the external noise reduce their threshold; then many things that would be perceived in vigil no longer enter when the threshold closes, but just the same, signals are being captured. And normally, the senses are lowering and raising their thresholds according to the background of noise, that surrounds us at that moment. Of course, this is the normal work of the senses, but when the signals are irritating and the senses cannot eliminate the impulse no matter how low the threshold, the consciousness tends to globally disconnect the sense.
Let’s imagine the case of a person subjected to sustained external sensory irritation. If the city noise increases, if visual stimulation increases, if that entire bundle of news from the external world increases, then a kind of reaction can be produced in the person. The subject tends to disconnect his external senses and “fall inward.” He begins to be at the mercy of his intrabody impulses, to disconnect, his external world in a process of ‘estrangement’ of the consciousness.
But what we refer to isn’t so dramatic—it is about an entering inside oneself when one tries to avoid the external noise. In this case, the subject who wanted to reduce the sensory noise will encounter nothing less than the amplification of the intrabody’s impulses; because, just as there exists a regulation of limits in each one of the external and internal senses, so too the system of internal senses compensates the system of external senses. We can say that, in general, when the level of consciousness drops (towards sleep), the external senses lower their thresholds, increasing the perception thresholds of the internal senses. Inversely, when the level of consciousness rises (towards waking), the subject begins to lower the perception threshold of the internal senses and the threshold of external perception opens up. But it happens that even in vigil, as in the previous example, the thresholds of the external senses can contract and the subject can enter into a situation of “escape” in front of the irritation that the world produces in him.
To continue with the description of the large blocks of apparatuses. We observe the operations performed by the memory upon receiving impulses. Memory always captures data, and in this way a basic substratum has been formed since early infancy. On the basis of this substratum, all of the data of memory that progressively accumulate will be organized. It seems that the first moments of life are the ones that determine, to a great extent, the subsequent processes. But the ancient memory becomes increasingly more distanced from accessibility by the consciousness in vigil. Over the substratum, the most recent data accumulate until arriving at today’s immediate data. Imagine the difficulties that exist in this matter of recovering very ancient contents of memory that are at the base of the consciousness. It is difficult to get there. One has to send out “probes.” Moreover, the probes that are launched are sometimes rejected by resistances. As a result, fairly complex techniques have to be employed so that these probes can collect their samples from memory, with the intention of rearranging the contents that in some unfortunate cases were poorly fitted together.
There are other apparatuses, such as the centers, that carry out a task that is considerably simpler. The centers work with images. The images are impulses, originating from consciousness, that are fired at the corresponding centers and these centers move the body in the direction of the world. You are familiar with the functioning of the intellectual, emotional, motor, sexual and vegetative centers, and you know that in order to mobilize any of them it will be necessary for the appropriate images to be triggered. It could also happen that the charge, the firing intensity is insufficient. In this case, the center in question would move weakly. It could also happen that the charge is excessive and then a disproportionate movement would be provoked in the center.
On the other hand, when these centers—which are also in continuous movement and working in structure with the rest—mobilize charges toward the world, they take energy from the contiguous centers. An individual has some problems that are reflected in his intellectual motricity, but his problems are of an emotional nature. Thus, the images that are proper to the motricity of the intellect are contributing to the reorganization of contents; however, the emotional problem isn’t remedied by that re-elaboration of unbridled images, or by a “churning around” of fantasy images. If instead of abandoning himself to his reveries this person were to get up and start moving his body, working with his motricity, it would suction the negative charges of the emotional center and the situation would change.
However, normally people try to manage all the centers from the intellectual center and this brings about numerous problems, because, as we have already studied elsewhere, the centers are managed from “below” (where there is more energy and speed) and not from “above” (whence the psychic energy is invested in intellectual tasks). In short, all the centers work in structure; all the centers, upon launching their energy toward the world, suction energy from the other centers. Sometimes one center is overcharged and when its potential overflows it also energizes the other centers. These spillovers are not always negative, because even though in one type of overflow one might become enraged and lash out with reprehensible actions, in another type of overflow one can become enthused, joyful, and this energetic overcharge of the emotional center can end up being very positively distributed throughout all the other centers.
On the other hand, sometimes a great deficiency is produced, a great emptiness, a great suction from the emotional center. The subject begins to work in the negative with the emotional center. To illustrate with an image, it is as though a “black hole” is produced in the emotional center that concentrates matter, contracts space and absorbs everything towards it. Our subject becomes depressed; his ideas become darkened and his motor potential—even his vegetative potential—goes down. Dramatizing a little, we add that even his vegetative defenses drop, and so a number of responses that his organism normally generates are now attenuated; his body is now more prone to illness.
All the apparatuses work at greater or lesser intensity in accordance with the level of consciousness. If our subject is in vigil, he is awake, very different things happen than if he is asleep. Of course there are many intermediate states and levels. There is an intermediate level of semisleep that results from a mixture between vigil and sleep. There are also different levels within sleep itself. Paradoxical sleep—sleep with images—is not the same as deep, vegetative sleep. In this deep vegetative sleep, the consciousness does not take in data—at least, not in its central field. It is a sleep similar to death, that can last quite some time, and if on awaking one did not pass through paradoxical sleep, one has the sensation of a contraction of time. It is as though time had not passed, because the time of consciousness is relative to the existence of phenomena in it; such that, there being no phenomena, for the consciousness there is no time. In this sleep where there are no images, things go too quickly. But it is not completely like this, because when one lies down to sleep and sleeps for a few hours, what has actually happened is that there have been many moments of cycles. Thus one has passed through paradoxical sleep, then through deep sleep, then through paradoxical, then through deep, and so on. If we wake the subject when he is in deep sleep without images (which we can verify from the outside thanks to EEG or REM), he may not remember anything from the streams of images that appeared in the stage of paradoxical sleep (where one observes from the outside, the Rapid Eye Movement beneath the sleeper’s eyelids); whereas if we wake him at the moment he is dreaming with images, it is possible that he may remember his dream. On the other hand, to the one who woke up, it will seem that time got shorter because he doesn’t remember everything that occurred in different cycles. of deep sleep.
It is in the low levels of consciousness, as in the levels of paradoxical sleep, where the impulses of the intrabody do their work with the greatest ease; it is also where memory works with great activity. It happens that when we sleep, the circuit restores itself—it takes advantage of sleep not just to eliminate toxins but also to transfer charges, charges of contents of consciousness, of things that were not properly assimilated during the day. The work of sleep is intense. The body is still, but there is intense work being carried out by the consciousness. Contents are reordered, the film is rewound and once more fast forwarded, classifying and putting in order the day’s perceptual data in a different way. During the day a very great perceptual disorder accumulates because the stimuli are varied and discordant. Conversely, in sleep an extraordinary order is brought about. Things are classified in a very correct way.
Of course we get the impression that it is the other way around, that what we perceive during the day is very orderly and that in sleep there is great disorder. In reality things may be very well ordered, but the perceptions that we have of those things are tremendously fortuitous, very random, whereas the sleep state in its mechanics goes about re-elaborating and placing the data in their “card indexes.” Sleep does not only perform this extraordinary task; besides this, it tries to reassemble psychic situations that have not been solved. Sleep tries to launch charges from one place to another, to produce cathartic discharges because there are excessive tensions. In sleep many problems with charges are resolved; profound distensions are produced.
But also in sleep, transferential phenomena are produced, of charges that are dispersed from some contents to others, and from these to still others, in a forthright process of energetic displacement. Many times, after a beautiful dream, people have experienced the sensation that something “fell into place,” as though an empirical transference had been produced, as if the dream had carried out its transference. But there are also “heavy” dreams from which one awakens with the sensation that an internal process hasn’t been properly assimilated. The dream is making its attempt to re-elaborate contents but is unsuccessful, and so the subject comes out of that level with a very bad sensation. Naturally, sleep is always at the service of restoring the psychism.
3. The Consciousness and the “I”
What does the consciousness do while the different apparatuses tirelessly work? The consciousness has a sort of “director” of its diverse functions and activities, known as the “I”. Let’s look at it like this: somehow I recognize myself, and this is thanks to the memory. My “I” is based on memory and the recognition of certain internal impulses. I have a notion of myself because I recognize some of my internal impulses that are always linked to a characteristic emotional tone. Not only do I recognize myself by my biography and my memory data; I recognize myself by my particular way of feeling, my particular way of comprehending. And if we were to take away the senses, where would the “I” be? The “I” is not an indivisible unit, but results from the sum total and the structuring of the data from the senses and the data from memory.
A few hundred years ago, a thinker observed that he could think about his own thought. He then discovered an interesting activity of the “I”. It wasn’t about remembering things, nor was it about the senses providing information. Moreover, this gentleman who noticed that problem very cautiously tried to separate the data from the senses and the data from memory; he tried to carry out a reduction and be left with the thought of his thinking, and this had great consequences for the development of Philosophy.
But now we are concerned with understanding the psychological functioning of the “I”. We ask: “Can the ‘I’ function then, even if we remove the data from memory and the data from the senses?” Let’s look at this point carefully. The entirety of acts through which the consciousness thinks of itself depends on internal sensorial registers; the internal senses provide information on what occurs in the activity of the consciousness. That register of the consciousness’s own identity is given by the data from the senses and the data from memory, plus a peculiar configuration that grants the consciousness the illusion of identity and permanence, despite the constant changes that take place in it. That illusory configuration of identity and permanence is the “I”.
Let’s comment on some tests performed in a sensory deprivation chamber. Someone has entered and immersed their body in water, let’s say at a temperature of around 36°C (that is, he gets into a bath in which the ambient temperature is equivalent to skin temperature). The chamber is climate controlled to ensure that the parts of the body that are above water are kept moist and at the same temperature as the liquid. All ambient sounds, olfactory and luminous stimuli are suppressed, etc. The subject begins to float in the darkness, and soon begins experiencing some extraordinary phenomena: one hand seems to grow noticeably longer, and his body has lost the sensation of its limits.
But something curious is produced when we reduce the ambient temperature slightly inside the chamber. When we lower the temperature of the external environment in relation to that of the liquid by a couple of degrees, the subject begins to feel that he “exits” through the head and the chest. At certain moments, the subject begins to experience that his “I” is not in his body, but outside it. And this extraordinary rarefaction of the spatial location of his “I” is due, precisely, to the modification of the impulses from the skin at some specific points (i.e., on the face and chest), while the rest of them are totally undifferentiated. But if the temperature of the liquid and the chamber are made the same again, other phenomena begin to take place. In the absence of external sensory data, memory begins launching streams of data that compensate that absence, and very old memory data can begin to be gathered. Most notable is that these data from memory sometimes do not appear as they normally do when one remembers images from one’s life—instead they appear “outside” the head. As if the memories were “seen over there, outside oneself,” like hallucinations projected, on an external screen. Sure, one doesn’t have much notion of where one’s body ends; therefore neither does one have much of a reference of where the images are emplaced. It feels like the functions of the “I” are strongly altered A kind of alteration of the functions of the “I” is produced through the simple expedient of external sensory suppression.
4. Reversibility and Altered Phenomena of Consciousness
In this scheme that we are describing once again, the apparatus of consciousness works with reversibility mechanisms. In other words, just as I can perceive a sound—mechanically, involuntarily—I can also pay attention to the source of the stimulus, in which case my consciousness tends to lead the activity towards the sensorial source. It is not the same to perceive as to apperceive. Apperception is attention plus perception. It is not the same to memorize (wherein consciousness passively receives the data, and now something crosses my mind, arriving from the memory), as to remember—wherein my consciousness goes to the memory source, and works with unique procedures of selection and discarding).
And so the consciousness is equipped with mechanisms of reversibility that work according to the state of lucidity that the consciousness is in at that moment. We know that as the level drops, it becomes increasingly more difficult to voluntarily go toward the sources of stimuli. The impulses impose themselves, the memories impose themselves, and all of this starts controlling the consciousness with great suggestive power, while the defenseless consciousness limits itself to receiving the impulses. The level of consciousness drops, critical sense diminishes, self-criticism diminishes, reversibility diminishes with all its consequences. Not only does this happen in a fall in level of consciousness, but also in altered states of consciousness.
It’s clear that we do not confuse levels with states. For example, we can be in the level of vigilic consciousness but in a passive state in an attentive state, in an altered state, and so on. Each level of consciousness allows for different states. In the level of paradoxical sleep, the states of tranquil sleep, altered sleep and somnambulistic sleep are different from each other. Reversibility can also fall in one of the apparatuses of consciousness due to altered states, and not because the level has dropped.
It could happen that a person is in vigil and yet, because of a special circumstance, they suffer from powerful hallucinations. They would observe phenomena that for them would be from the external world, when in reality they are externally projecting some of their internal representations. Those contents, those hallucinations would be exerting great suggestive power over the person, just as a person in deep sleep is under the suggestive power of their oneiric contents. However, our subject would be awake, not asleep. Likewise, because of a high fever, the action of drugs or of alcohol, and without having lost the level of vigilic consciousness, a person would find herself in an altered state of consciousness, with the resulting arisal of abnormal phenomena.
The altered states are not so all-enveloping; rather, they can affect certain aspects of reversibility. We can say that any individual in full vigil can have a blockage in some apparatus of reversibility. Everything functions well, their daily activities are normal; they are an average person. Everything works wonderfully…except in one point. When that point is touched, the subject loses all control. There is a point of blockage of their reversibility. When that point is touched, their sense of criticism and self-criticism diminish, self-control is diminished, and strange internal phenomena take control of their consciousness. But this is not so dramatic, and it happens to us all. To a greater or lesser extent, we all have our problems with some aspect of the reversibility mechanisms. We do not manage all of our mechanisms quite at will. It can happen, then, that our famous orchestra director, the “I”, may not be such a director when some aspects of reversibility are affected, when dysfunctions occur among the different apparatuses of the psychism. The example of the chamber of silence is very interesting; in it we comprehend that it is not a matter of a fall in the level of consciousness, but of the suppression of impulses that ought to reach the consciousness—and there the notion itself of the “I” is altered, is lost. Ranges of reversibility are also lost, ranges of critical sense, and compensatory hallucinations occur.
The sensory deprivation chamber shows us the case of the suppression of the external stimuli, and phenomena of interest seldom occur there if not all the sensory references have been eliminated. At times there is a lack or insufficiency of impulses coming from the internal senses. We give these phenomena the generic name “anesthesias.” Due to some kind of blockage, the signals that should arrive do not. The subject enters a rarefied state their “I” becomes distorted, some aspects of their reversibility are blocked. And so, the “I” can become altered due to an excess of stimuli or from a lack of them. But in any case, if our director-“I” were to disintegrate, the activities of reversibility would disappear. On the other hand, the “I” directs operations by using a “space,” and depending on the emplacement of this “I” in that “space,” the direction of the impulses will change. We speak of the “space of representation” (different from the space of perception).2 On this space of representation—which the “I” also takes samples of— impulses and images are continually being emplaced. According to whether an image is launched at a certain depth or level of the space of representation, a different response goes out to the world. If in order to move my hand I visually imagine it as though I were seeing it from the outside, I imagine it moving toward an object I want to reach for, not because of this will my hand really displace itself. That external visual image does not correspond to the type of image that must be fired in order for my hand to move. For this to happen I must use other types of images—a cenesthetic image (based on internal sensation) and a kinesthetic image (based on the muscular register and the register of the position of my hand when it moves).
It could happen that all of a sudden I make a mistake in the type and emplacement of the image towards the world. I might have suffered a certain “trauma” (as people liked to call it in other times); and then, when I want to get up from the chair I’m sitting in, I make an error in the emplacement of the image in my space of representation, or I get confused and choose another type of image What would be happening to me? I would be sending out signals, I would be seeing myself get up from the chair, but it could happen that I was not triggering the correct cenesthetic and kinesthetic images, which are the ones that move my body. If I were to make a mistake with the type of image or its emplacement, my body might not respond and remain immobile.
Inversely, it could happen that this person who has been paralyzed ever since the famous “trauma” and can’t emplace his image correctly, might receive a powerful emotional impact from a shaman healer or from a religious image, and as a result of this phenomenon of faith (a powerful emotional cenesthetic register), he reconnects the correct emplacement or correctly discerns the appropriate (cenesthetic) image. And it would be quite an impressive event for someone in front of these strange external stimuli to end their paralysis and come out walking. It could happen, if they were able to correctly reconnect the image. And just as there are many somatizations, there can also be many de-somatizations, according to the play of images that we have been discussing. Empirically, this has happened many times and numerous and diverse cases have been duly recorded.
This subject of the images is not a minor question. There’s our “I”, firing off images, and each time an image goes out, a center is mobilized and a response goes out to the world. The center mobilizes an activity, whether towards the external world or towards the intrabody. The vegetative center, for example, mobilizes firing activities towards the intrabody and not towards the external motricity. But the interesting thing about this mechanism is that, once the center mobilizes an activity, the internal senses take samplings of the activity that was triggered toward the intrabody or toward the external world. Then if I move my arm, I have a notion of what I’m doing. This notion of my movement is not given by an idea, but by cenesthetic registers proper to the intrabody and by kinesthetic registers of bodily position delivered by different types of introceptors. It happens that as I move my arm, I have a register of my movement. It is thanks to this that I can go about correcting my movements until I reach the right object. I can correct them with greater ease than a child, because a child still doesn’t have the memory, the motor experience, to perform such controlled movements. I can correct my movements because I receive the corresponding signal for each movement I make. Of course this happens at great speed and I have a signal of each movement I produce in a continuous feedback circuit, that allows for correcting as well as for learning the movement. Thus, I have a feedback intake from each action that a center mobilizes towards the world, that returns to the circuit, mobilizing in turn different functions of the other apparatuses of consciousness.
We know there are forms of motor memory. For example; when some people study, they can do it better walking than sitting down. In another example, someone interrupts their dialogue with another person they were conversing with as they were walking, because they’ve forgotten what they were about to say. However, when they return to the place where they lost the thread of the conversation, they can recall it completely. And to conclude, you know that when you have forgotten something, if you repeat the bodily movements previous to the moment of forgetting you can recover the forgotten sequence. In reality there is a complex feedback of the outgoing action: samples are taken of the internal register, it is re-injected into the circuit, goes to memory, circulates, is associated, transformed and translated.
For many people, above all for Classical Psychology, everything ends when an act is carried out. And it seems that everything is just beginning when one carries out an act; because this act is re-injected, and the re-injection awakens a long chain of internal processes. Thus we work with our apparatuses, interconnecting them by means of complex systems of impulses. These impulses are deformed, transformed and substituted, some by others. In this way then, and according to the examples previously given, this ant that’s crawling up my arm is quickly recognized. But an ant that crawls up my arm while I’m sleeping isn’t easily recognized; instead that impulse is deformed, transformed and sometimes translated, giving rise to numerous associative chains, depending on the mental line that is working at that moment. To complicate things a bit more, when my arm is in a bad position, I realize it and shift my body. But when I’m sleeping and my arm is in a bad position, the sum total of the arriving impulses is captured by the consciousness, translated, deformed and associated in a unique way. It happens that I imagine an army of wasps attacking my arm, then these images will carry a charge to my arm and the arm will move in a defensive action (which will get me into a better position), and I’ll continue sleeping. These images will be useful, precisely, for sleep to continue. These translations, and deformations of impulses will be at the service of the level’s inertia. These images of the dream will be serving to defend their level itself.
There are very many internal stimuli that give out signals during sleep. Then, at the moment of paradoxical sleep, these impulses appear as image. It happens that, for example, there is a deep, visceral tension. What will happen? The same thing that happened with the arm, but inside. That deep visceral tension sends a signal and it is translated as image Let’s suppose something easier: a visceral irritation sends the signal that is translated as image. The dreamer now sees herself in a fire, and if the signal is too intense, the “fire” will end up breaking the inertia of the level; then the subject will wake up and take an anti-acid, this sort of thing. Otherwise, the level’s inertia will be maintained and other elements will be associated to the fire that will contribute to diluting the situation, because the same image can work by firing inward and provoking distensions. In dreams, impulses from different internal tensions are continually being received, the corresponding images are being translated, and these images that mobilize centers also mobilize the vegetative center, which gives responses of internal distension. Thus the deep tensions emit their signals and the images rebound inward, provoking the distensions that are equivalent to the tensions that had been triggered.
When the subject was a small boy, he received a strong shock. He was deeply affected by something he saw. Many of his external muscles contracted. Some deeper muscular zones contracted as well. And every time he remembers that scene, the same type of contraction is produced. Now it happens that the scene is associated (by similarity, contiguity, contrast, etc.) to other images that are apparently unrelated. Then when these images are evoked, the original images appear and the contractions are produced. Finally it happens that with the passing of time, the first image that was the one that produced the tension has already been lost in ancient memory. And now, inexplicably, upon receiving an impulse followed by the release of an image, the contractions are produced. It happens that when he is in front of certain objects or situations or persons, powerful contractions awaken in the subject, and a strange fear that he is unable to relate to what happened in his childhood. One part has been erased and the other images have remained. Each time that in his dreams, images are released that trigger the contractions, and samples are taken of them that once again are translated into images, an attempt is being made in the consciousness to distense and to transfer the charges that are fixed to an unresolved situation. In the dream an attempt is being made, with the triggered images to resolve the oppressive tensions; and besides, an attempt is being made to displace the charges of certain contents to others of a lesser potential, with the aim of separating or redistributing the original, painful charge.
Keeping in mind the empirical cathartic and transferential work that is carried out during sleep, the techniques of Operative can follow the process of capturing impulses and firing images at the points of resistance. However, a few brief digressions are necessary here concerning the classification of the techniques of Operative, the general procedures and the objective of such works.
We group the different techniques of Operative3 in the following way: (1) Cathartic Techniques: Cathartic Probe, Feedback Catharsis, Catharsis of Climates and Catharsis of Images. (2) Transferential Techniques: Guided Experiences,4 Transferences and Exploratory Transferences. (3) Self-Transference Techniques.
In transferences, the subject emplaces himself in a specific level and state of consciousness, in a level of active semisleep in which he descends and ascends in his internal landscape; advances or retreats; expands or contracts; and in doing so, our subject encounters resistances at certain points. For the person guiding the transference, these resistances that the subject encounters are important indicators of blockage, fixation or contraction. The guide will do what he can so that the subject’s images may gently reach the resistances and overcome them. And we say that when a resistance can be overcome, a distension is produced or a transference of charge is produced. Sometimes these resistances are very great and cannot be tackled head-on because they produce reactions, or rebounds, and the subject will not feel encouraged to undertake new works if he has gone through a failure upon attempting to overcome his difficulties. Therefore, in cases of big resistances the guide does not advance frontally, but rather retreats, and “in a roundabout way” approaches them again, but reconciling internal contents and not acting with violence. The guide always orients herself based on the resistances, in the procedure of the work with images. He works in semisleep on the part of the subject, so that the latter can present a series of familiar and manageable allegories. Working with allegories in the level of active semisleep, the guide can mobilize images, overcome resistances and liberate overcharges.
The final objective of the works of Operative is that of integrating contents that are separated, such that this vital incoherence that one perceives in oneself may be overcome. These mosaics of contents which do not fit together well; these systems of ideas wherein one recognizes contradictory tendencies; these desires that one wishes one didn’t have; these things that have happened and that one would not want to repeat; this tremendous complication of unintegrated contents; this continual contradiction, is what we mean to gradually overcome with the support of the transferential techniques of integration of contents. And once familiar with the transferential techniques, our interest is to venture into diverse types of self-transferential work, in which one can already do without an external guide, using a codified system of images to orient one’s own process. In self-transferences, unreconciled biographical contents are retrieved and it is possible to work on imaginary fears and sufferings located in a psychological present or future. The sufferings that are introduced into consciousness through its different times and different pathways can be modified by using self-transferential images that are fired at the appropriate level and ambit of the space of representation.
We have oriented our works in the direction of overcoming suffering. We have also said that the human being suffers because of what he believes happened in his life, because of what he believes is happening, and because of what he believes will happen. And we know that the suffering that the human being undergoes because of what he believes is real, even if what he believes is not real. By working on oneself, one can access these painful beliefs and re-orient the direction of the psychic energy.
5. The System of Representation in Altered States of Consciousness
In our displacements through the space of representation, we reach its limits. As the representations descend, the space tends to darken; and inversely, as they go upwards, the clarity grows. These differences of luminosity between the “depths” and the “heights” surely have to do with the information from memory, which since earliest infancy associates the recording of luminosity to the high spaces. One can also verify the increased luminosity of any visual image emplaced at eye level, whereas its definition diminishes as it is located away from that level. Logically, the field of vision opens up with greater ease in front of and upwards from the eyes (towards the top of the head), more than forwards and downwards (towards the trunk, legs and feet). Despite the above, some painters from cold and foggy lands show us, in the lower planes of their canvasses, a special lighting where there are often snow-covered fields, as well as a growing darkness towards the high spaces, which often appear as covered with clouds.
In the depths or in the heights, objects appear that are more or less luminous; but upon representing such objects, there is no modification in the general tone of the light that may be found at the different levels of the space of representation.
On the other hand, and only under specific conditions of altered consciousness, a curious phenomenon is produced that irrupts, illuminating the entire space of representation. This phenomenon accompanies powerful psychic commotions that deliver a very profound emotional cenesthetic register. This light that illuminates the entire space of representation manifests in such a way that, even if the subject goes up or down, the space of representation remains illuminated, without depending on any particularly luminous object; rather, the entire “environment” now appears to be affected. It is as if the TV screen were set to maximum brightness. In such a case, it is not a matter of some objects that are more illuminated than others, but of a generalized brightness. In some transferential processes, and after registering this phenomenon}, some subjects return to vigil with an apparent modification of their perception of the external world. Thus, objects are brighter, sharper and have more volume, according to the descriptions usually given in these cases. When this curious phenomenon of illumination of the space is produced, something has happened to the system of structuring of the consciousness, that now interprets habitual external perception in a different way. It isn’t that “the doors of perception have been purified,” but that the representation that accompanies perception has been modified.
Empirically and by means of diverse mystical practices, the devotees of some religions try to make contact with a phenomenon that transcends perception and that seems to irrupt in the consciousness as “light.” Through different ascetic or ritual procedures, through fasting, prayer or repetition [chanting], they seek to make contact with a kind of light source. In transferential and self-transferential processes, whether by accident in the first case or in a directed manner in the second, one has experiences of these curious psychic events. It is known that they can be produced when the subject has received a strong psychic commotion; that is, his state is approximately an altered state of consciousness. Universal religious literature is full of numerous accounts regarding these phenomena. It is also interesting to note that, on occasions, this light “communicates” and even “dialogues” with the subject, just as is occurring in these times with lights that are seen in the sky and that, when they reach the fearful observers, give them their “messages from other worlds.”
There are many other cases of variations in color, luminous quality and intensity, as occurs with certain hallucinogens, but such cases are unrelated to what is commented on above.
According to descriptions in many texts, some people who apparently died and returned to life had the experience of leaving their bodies and directing themselves towards an ever-brighter light, without being able to describe very well whether they were moving towards the light or it was moving towards them. The fact is that the protagonists have an encounter with such a light that has the property of communicating and even of giving instructions. But in order to be able to tell these stories, one has to be given an electric shock in the heart, or something of the kind, and then our heroes will feel that they are retreating and moving away from the famous light that they were about to make interesting contact with.
There are numerous explanations concerning these phenomena, explanations along the lines of anoxia, the accumulation of carbon dioxide, alterations in certain brain enzymes. But for us, as usual, it is not so much the explanations that are of interest—they can say one thing today and something else tomorrow—but rather the system of register, the affective emplacement that the subject undergoes, and a kind of great “meaning” that seems to erupt unexpectedly. Those who believe they have returned from death experience a great change due to the fact of having registered a “contact” with an extraordinary phenomenon, that suddenly emerges and whose nature they cannot quite comprehend—i.e., whether it is a phenomenon of perception, or of representation—but which appears to be of great importance since it has the ability to suddenly change the meaning of human life.
Furthermore, it is known that altered states of consciousness can occur in different levels, and, of course, in the level of vigil. When one is enraged, an altered state is produced in vigil. When one suddenly feels euphoria and a great joy, one is also brushing against an altered state of consciousness. But when people talk about an “altered state,” they tend to think of something infra-vigilic. However, altered states are frequent, they manifest in varying degree and quality. Altered states always imply the blockage of reversibility in one of its aspects. There are altered states of consciousness even in vigil, such as the states produced by suggestion. Everyone is more-or-less easily influenced by the objects shown in advertisements or magnified by media commentators. Many people in the world believe in the bounties of products promoted over and over again through different marketing campaigns. These products can be consumer commodities, values, points of view on different topics, etc. The decrease of reversibility in altered states of consciousness is present in each one of us and at every moment. In more profound cases of susceptibility we are already in the presence of the hypnotic trance. The hypnotic trance works at the level of vigilic consciousness, even if the one who coined the word “hypnosis” thought it was a type of sleep. The hypnotized subject walks, comes, goes, moves around with their eyes open, carries out operations, and also, during the post-hypnotic effect, continues to act in vigil, but obeying the mandate given them during the hypnosis session. We are dealing here with a powerfully altered state of consciousness.
There are the pathological altered states, in which important functions of the consciousness are dissociated. There are also non-pathological states, where it is possible to provisionally split, divide the functions. For example, in certain sessions of spiritism, a person can be talking and at the same time his hand begins writing automatically and starts passing on “messages” without the subject’s being aware of what is happening.
A very extensive list of altered states could be drawn up with the cases of functional divisions and splits in the personality. Many altered states accompany defensive phenomena that are activated when adrenaline is triggered in front of danger, and this produces serious modifications in the normal economy of the consciousness. And of course, just as there are very useful phenomena in the alteration of consciousness, there are also very negative ones.
Altered states of consciousness can be produced through chemical action (gas, drugs and alcohol), through mechanical action (whirling, forced breathing, pressure on the arteries) and through sensory suppression. Also through ritual procedures and a ‘placing-in-a-situation’ thanks to special conditions using music, dances and devotional operations.
There exist the so-called crepuscular states of consciousness, in which there is a blockage of overall reversibility and a subsequent register of internal disintegration. We also distinguish some states that may be occasional and can well be called “superior states of consciousness.” These can be classified as: “ecstasy,” “rapture,” and “recognition.” The states of ecstasy tend to be accompanied by gentle motor concomitances and by a certain generalized agitation. States of rapture are rather more marked by powerful and ineffable emotional registers. States of recognition can be characterized as intellectual phenomena, in the sense that the subject believes, in an instant, that he “comprehends all;” in one instant he believes there is no difference between what he is and what the world is—as though the “I” had disappeared. Who hasn’t suddenly experienced a great joy for no reason: a sudden, growing and strange joy? Who hasn’t experienced—without any apparent cause—a realization of profound meaning in which it became evident that “this is how things are”?
It is also possible to penetrate into a curious altered state of consciousness through the “suspension of the ‘I’.” This presents itself as a paradoxical situation, because in order to silence the “I” it is necessary to keep watch over its activity in a voluntary way, which requires an important action of reversibility that reinforces, once again, what one wishes to annul. And so suspension is only achieved through indirect routes, by progressively displacing the “I” from its central location as object of meditation. This “I”—a sum of sensation and memory—suddenly begins to silence itself, to de-structure. Such a thing is possible because the memory can stop delivering data and the senses (at least the external ones) can also cease supplying data. The consciousness is then in a situation of finding itself divested of that “I” —in a kind of void. In such a situation, a mental activity that is very different from the habitual one can be experienced. Just as the consciousness nourishes itself with the impulses that arrive from the intrabody, from outside the body and from the memory, it also nourishes itself with the impulses from responses that it gives to the world (external and internal), and that once again feed the reentry into the circuit. And through this secondary path, we detect phenomena that are produced when the consciousness is capable of internalizing towards “the profound” in the space of representation. “The profound” (also called “the Self” in one contemporary psychological current), is not exactly a content of consciousness. The consciousness can reach “the profound” through a special work of internalization. In this internalization, that which is always hidden, covered by the “noise” of the consciousness, erupts. It is in “the profound” where the experiences of sacred spaces and times are encountered. In other words, in “the profound” one finds the root of all mysticism and all religious sentiment.

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