I am not a clinical psychologist (yet) and have not much more than the basic undergraduate training in such. But I do have experience in other matters of the mind and soul, about life, and everyday brings more questions for me.
Descartes was known for his naps and long periods of working in bed. There is something to this. I’ve used the half awake, half asleep, late morning period as an experimental shop for as long as I can remember. I’ve set myself up in situations to note my automatic emotional reactions, I’ve tested out theories and stories and more. I find that I have just enough focus to render input, but not too much as to rid any unbiased outputs. It is also a time when diffused thinking is strong and my mind makes leaps and new connections are found by my awake self, already known to my unawake self.
This morning I had a variety of dreams in this state. First there was the dream of the fleas. I kept waking up due to fleas on me. I was dreaming I was in bed as I was. This isn’t too far from the truth as I have treated my cats for fleas in the past week, though I’ve only caught 2 on my person and none in bed. I would half wake up and itch the body part that I dreamed I had the fleas on, half asleep, and drift back into slumber. This occurred over and over, and I had enough realization to know that I was exiting a deep sleep for this dream. Next time I imagined 5 to 10 fleas on my calf and I could see them distinctly against my skin, under the covers, in the dark room. I noted that this must be a dream and not reality because I was able to see them in this dark environment without moving my head toward my leg, lifting the covers, turning on the lights, contorting my body, and more. And yet I felt the sensation of fleas. What’s more, I felt them other places as well. So instead of lazily swatting at them, again and again, I focused my attention on one area I knew I could not see yet could feel… the back of my head. I felt a flea walking behind my ear and I strained to noticed its path of movement and speed. It didn’t move. It wasn’t fleas. Suddenly al of my fleas were gone and I was able to drift back to sleep.
Another dream that connected to some other thoughts followed later this morning. The Earth was being invaded by aliens from outer space. I never saw them. In my dream I was in the Army Combat Uniform because I work at the Military Department Headquarters here in Salem, Oregon. There was a large ship in the sky and lots of small fighter/attack ships swarming out of it. They were the size of small cars. They were flying around and shooting everything. The world was filled with burning cars, buildings, and smoke. I ran to my convertible Mustang, put the top down, and had another soldier sit in the back, backwards (not easy to do in such a small seat), kneeling and high outside the car. The seat-belts were double wrapped and the buckles were facing me in case we needed a quick egress. And I burned rubber. I put that car through the paces, screaming around wrecks and corners, while the other soldier shot at everything with the weapons. Turns out the M4, with such a small round, was useless. Then the dream had me in the seat of a space fighter. It was roundish and able to accelerate into almost any direction at my discretion. It shot four laser burst forward and one diamond burst to the rear. Think the 80’s movie ‘Explorers’ meets the Raptors of Battlestar Galactica. So off I went into the sky, the Earth below me, and I zigged and zagged, flying into weak spots and then flying into dense spots. Firing and blasting aliens.
Now, while I was doing this, I was monitoring myself, my emotions and thoughts. In the movies the hot shot pilot flies by the seat of the pants, emotions running, and yet here I was… cool as a cucumber. My thoughts were:
- If I die I will have lost nothing as all must die
- It matters not when I die, only how I live
- the aliens cannot anticipate my moves because they think me guided by emotion
- emotions will get me killed, making me susceptible to manipulation into traps and baits
It was known in the dream that the aliens were emotionless and operated from pure logic. They understood what our emotions were, how our fears worked, and this went into how their squadrons worked. I didn’t play that game and was successful. I kept blasting aliens. But then I noted that I wasn’t using my emotions, my strength, but neither was I using logic. I was using randomness. I could have set up a remote drone to do what I did. But could I really? Was there something guiding me at a deeper level? A sixth sense? What I refer to here as a sixth sense is a deep emotion. In my dream I had confused the cognitive state of self aware feeling and classification as the emotion and had forgotten the much deeper portion of the true emotion.
Dream jump. The Showtime series Dexter. I had just started the final season where Dr Vogel is talking to Dexter about what psychopaths are, do and don’t do. In a recent episode she said that psychopaths are needed demographics, they are a part of evolution, they are not mistakes. She was curious about what Dexter thought was love, what motivated him to look after Debra, if it was self interest as she believed it was, or if it was emotion as Dexter did. With these thoughts in mind I asked myself the question: Why is it that psychopaths are assumed to always be violent? Why is it that they are treated as needing to kill? This is how Dr Vogel speaks of them, the Alphas. What is this need if not an emotion? To speak of them as having no emotion and yet a slave to urges and needs is a mistake. During my walk yesterday (non dream) it seemed to me that what we talk about as therapy, the majority of it is how to get a grip on our out-of-control emotions. Back to Dexter, perhaps it is wrong to think of psychopaths as emotionless, but that emotions are felt different in different context. Certainly I understand the violent part. I’ve contended that one of the effects of military training, culture, and war is that it dampens the emotional barriers to producing harm against others. The ‘emotional brakes’ that hamper someone from going too far in a physical altercation are not there. And as expected, many veterans are over aggressive in their dealings with family and others. Look at Domestic Violence. But while I’ve identified this in myself, I believe that it isn’t so much a wired state of affairs so much as it is a function, though complex. For as prone to violence as I’ve become, as easy as I could imagine myself hurting others, I could not stand violence in other situations, such as horror movies.
Dream jump. Back to the alien battle. I now looked at the humans in the star fighters attacking the aliens. The aliens were supposedly advanced species from outer space without emotion. Why would humans have an advantage in logic vs logic thinking? Our tactics would likely be infantile to theirs. Randomness, I believe, doesn’t truly exist. Chaos theory shows order out of randomness while it also shows the limits of knowledge. Just because we continue to push the boundaries of the unknown does’t mean there aren’t rules outside the light of measurement, rules that influence actions within. I read a great article on how the random coin flips have tiny influences we are unaware of, but might alter the result. You might not notice for one out of 100 flips, but perhaps 1 out of a trillion you would see it working. Looking at the cosmic scale, it is no wonder that that life is varied. Who knows what else is out there.
Back to the alien space war. I looked at the humans now with an evolutionary view. They weren’t merely humans, but the end result of a long line of mammals. Mammals that have worked in packs, struck out alone, hunted prey using their wits, and have been the prey of a variety of animals, notably giant eagles. All of this evolutionary behavior has created a deep system of emotions that act as the rear seat radar operator, Goose, and constantly seeks out threats to avoid as well as advantages to seize. What gets in our way is when we think that our thinking mind, the ‘I’ behind our thoughts, is what drives the show. It isn’t. The emotions are the engines, the ‘I’ is the captain, or could be the captain. In the end, it can only steer. The captains of large trading vessels could go nowhere if there was no wind. Serenity could go nowhere when it was out of gas. I saw that my earlier flying wasn’t cold and emotionless and random, as I had first believed. But that it was influenced by unseen emotions that constantly scan the environment. It was just that I wasn’t getting in its way.
Then my two cats said ‘enough of this, we know you are not asleep’ and they told me to get up and feed them. They had bee patient enough.