Sunday, May 05, 2013

Conflicts and Mental Constraints, Part 5: Back to Constraints

Where do our constraints come from? To me, they are related to "safety". Think of a child who closes her eye when she is in a car and they are in a dangerous road. Typically we adopt ways of doing things, they feel comfortable and safe, and we continue using them even after the circumstances have changed. If the child continues closing his eyes when he grows up and becomes the driver of the car then he gets himself into big trouble :)

Here is D.B. Stern's take on the origin of mental constraints and their relationship to ``dissociation'':

From a constructivist position the primary defense is the unconsciously motivated refusal to create or formulate experience, a turning away from the possibilities ... When one does not deploy curiosity, experience goes ``unmade'' and is therefore literally absent. ... Dissociated self-states, therefore, are potential experience ...
Because the next moment is unformulated, it may be shaped in many different ways---but not in just any way at all. There are significant constraints, ranging from tight to loose, on the experience we can construct without lying or succumbing to madness ...
Dissociation, then, is the unconscious refusal to consider a certain range of the possibilities that might be articulated or formulated in explicit experience (i.e., the possibilities within the constraints), a shutting down of the curiosity that might have revealed them. ... ---pp. 95-96, Partners in Thought

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