The Big Lie of Our Age

Many pseudoscientific writings speak of the parts of the brain that give rise to consciousness, as if the question of whether the brain does generate consciousness had already been answered in the affirmative

The Big Lie of our age is that the brain generates consciousness. It’s a lie characteristic of our exceptionally materialistic age, because in most other times in human history people have retained their intuitive awareness of the primacy of consciousness. In the modern West, however, it’s simply taken for granted that the brain generates consciousness, and the deleterious consequences of this belief are denied or explained away.

This Big Lie has come about as a result of a reasoning error that became fashionable in the wake of the Enlightenment. The idea was that religion had held humanity back during the Dark Ages by making scientific research impractical, and therefore religious dogma had to be discarded from the scientific reasoning process, and therefore all talk of a world beyond the material had to be abandoned, and therefore consciousness simply had to be a material property.

From this Big Lie a number of falsehoods arise. Many of these falsehoods are encouraged by the ruling classes because they make the plebs easier to rule.

For instance, the belief that the brain generates consciousness leads immediately to the belief that the death of the brain (alongside the inevitable death of the physical body) must inevitably mean the “end” of consciousness. Because if the body dies, and the brain dies with it, then the brain must logically lose its capacity for ‘generating’ or ‘maintaining’ consciousness and thus that consciousness must disappear.

This belief, while predicated entirely on a falsehood, leads to a number of other beliefs.

The most powerful of these is the belief that this life is all that there is. If the death of this physical body means the death of consciousness, then I cannot be held responsible for anything I do while in this place (i.e. Earth, more or less). Therefore, if I take money now in exchange for attacking another person, or if I murder, rob or rape, then I only have to get away with it for as long as this physical life endures.

Another odd idea that follows naturally from the Big Lie is that only creatures with brain structures similar to that which knows itself to be conscious can also be conscious. If the brain generates consciousness by means of some property inherent to it (such as a critical mass of complexity) then other creatures can only be considered conscious to the degree that they share these brain structures with the person thinking up the consciousness theory (after all, that person knows themselves 100% to be conscious).

One delusion is that mortal terror is an appropriately dignified response to mortal threats for a civilised human. It is if you believe that the brain generates consciousness, but if you don’t believe this it becomes possible to be genuinely courageous. After all, why subject yourself to mortal terror if you know that the contents of consciousness are ephemeral and transient?

Of course, the ruling classes are generally happy to have people believe that this life is all there is, for a variety of reasons. Not least of these reasons are because it discourages anarcho-homicidalist action by making people afraid of execution, and because it makes people greedy, aggressive and acquisitive as they try to cram an eternity’s worth of pleasures into one mortal incarnation.

It is ultimately because of this Big Lie that cannabis and the psychedelics are illegal. These drugs modify behaviour by making the user aware, however fleetingly, of a world beyond the material. In this world beyond are immutable moral principles, and it’s harder to pull the strings of people who are aware of these principles and believe in them. Such people tend to make their own decisions.

A common experience on psychedelics is to feel the material world slipping out of consciousness and to become aware of an entirely different world as seen through an entirely different set of eyes, but which is ultimately comprehended by the same consciousness. This often results in the tripper learning the lesson of the primacy of consciousness and how conceptions of time and space are illusions brought about by temporary separation from God.

It is because of the Big Lie that people who become privy to such revelations about the true nature of reality – whether by taking psychedelic drugs or through other means – are seen as having gone insane, and their revelations seen as chaotic nonsense of no value. After all, if a psychonaut comes to realise that the Big Lie is a big lie, then that psychonaut must be dismissed as a space cadet or schizophrenic lest this realisation catch on.

Writing the Schizophrenic

The literary medium offers vast scope for portraying the perceptual and cognitive oddities characteristic of schizophrenia

There are a tremendous number of misconceptions about schizophrenia – a combination of a cultural reluctance to confront the reality of mental illness and prior inaccurate portrayals in popular media. Avoiding these misconceptions and cliches is crucial to creating a believable and engaging schizophrenic character.

Perhaps the most glaring misconception is the belief that having schizophrenia means having multiple personality disorder. Many people still seem to believe that having schizophrenia is like Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which a powerfully suppressed evil nature sometimes breaks through to the surface and takes over the mind of the patient.

It’s certainly possible that a schizophrenic might have powerful struggles with inner demons, but they are not werewolves. A psychopathic alter ego is more characteristic of the psychopath. Powerful mood swings might make the schizophrenic seem like different people, and might make them difficult to deal with, but the characteristic of multiple personality disorder is that the personalities are not aware of each other, and schizophrenics are not afflicted by this.

It’s also not true that a schizophrenic will just babble nonsense all the time. Although psychological disorganisation is characteristic of schizophrenia, and although this disorganisation makes it more difficult to speak and converse coherently, speaking in word salad is more characteristic of an acute state of psychosis. This is a common state for a schizophrenic to fall into, but is different to schizophrenia itself.

Schizophrenics usually spend much more time in non-psychotic states than psychotic ones because it’s extremely difficult to maintain the state of acute agitation necessary to become psychotic. This state requires so much emotion and energy that in practical cases the sufferer either wears themselves out or ends up becoming convinced (or forced) to take medication.

So it’s relatively rare for a schizophrenic to act truly crazy all of the time.

What is characteristic of schizophrenia are what is called positive and negative symptoms. These don’t mean ‘good’ and ‘bad’ symptoms but whether the loss of touch with reality is the result of something being added to the “normal” experience of reality or something being taken away from it.

Dramatic visions, delusions and hallucinations, such as those portrayed in the film A Beautiful Mind, fall under the rubric of positive symptoms. The most common form of positive symptom is that of hearing voices. This is very difficult to imagine for anyone who has not experienced it, but a character who suffers this symptom might think that someone is talking to them when no-one is really there.

Sometimes when a schizophrenic appears to be rambling, they are having a coherent conversation with someone who doesn’t appear to be there. This naturally sounds like rambling to an outside observer although the schizophrenic themselves might believe that they are having a perfectly reasonable conversation with someone right next to them.

Likewise, when a schizophrenic appears to be staring into space, it may be because they believe themselves to be in a part of the Great Fractal that is different to where the outside observer is. Much like in a dream, the material world might not be making much of an impact on the consciousness of the schizophrenic.

This means that writing a story from the perspective of the schizophrenic is likely to be a cross between surreal and terrifying. Because what other people take for granted as firm laws of reality do not seem to apply to the conscious experience of the schizophrenic, it’s very difficult for any other character to understand what the experience of a schizophrenic is like.

It’s also terrifying because having original ideas about the nature of reality brings out some powerful emotional responses in other people. It isn’t easy to have other people profoundly disagree with you about things that you take for granted. Experiences like this might go some way to explaining why a schizophrenic character would also suffer from negative symptoms.

Disengagement with society, flattened emotions and an inability to maintain routines are the characteristic negative symptoms of schizophrenia, and if you can present realistic positive symptoms to your reader then some of these negative symptoms should be easy to believe.

For example, the reader might understand why a schizophrenic character feels the need to disengage with society if they read about how frustrating and frightening is to constantly be told, by everyone that character meets, that reality is actually very different to how that character perceives it.

Likewise, they might understand why schizophrenics have flattened emotions when they read about how a schizophrenic character has to compensate for the apparent fact that many of the things they perceive to exist aren’t really there. There are good reasons to not react strongly to things, even when those things are extremely bizarre or unusual, if one ordinarily sees a series of bizarre things that aren’t really happening.

The experience of being unable to maintain routines is a natural consequence of having an unusual amount of chaos in the mind, and it could be the routines in a character’s life falling to pieces that gives the first sign to those around them that a mental illness is developing.

Generally speaking, schizophrenia is an extremely difficult condition to portray accurately because of its complexity and because the experience of a schizophrenic is often fundamentally different to the experience of other people. Often the schizophrenic character will react reasonably and logically to the impressions that come into their mind and it is how those impressions get there which is the truly strange thing.

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This article is an excerpt from Writing With The DSM (Writing With Psychology Book 5), edited by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2017/18.

VJMP Reads: Anders Breivik’s Manifesto XII

This reading carries on from here.

In this section (pages 949-1067), Breivik continues to evaluate strategies and tactics for terrorist acts. Chillingly, here he writes specifically about the benefits of targeting a party conference of social democrats, for the reason that security will probably be poor, as well as expounding on why this would be so excellent a propaganda move for the cultural conservatives.

This section continues the high detail discussion about how to best carry about a terror attack. Given the comprehensive nature of the rest of the document when it comes to listing Islamic crimes, one is left with the impression that an extreme amount of thought went into the planning for the massacre that Breivik did carry out.

The idea that the ends justify the means comes through very clearly in this section. On the subject of attacking a left-wing party gathering with a flamethrower, he writes that “A severely burned category A or B traitor will in reality become a living symbol of what awaits individuals guilty of trying to sell their own people into Islamic slavery.”

There is something grimly medieval about mutilating living people to let them serve as a reminder of what befalls traitors, and this section is much darker and more demented than the sections about history. One is reminded of the admonition not to lose one’s own humanity in the course of warfare.

Again the paranoid nature of the rest of the document shines through when Breivik writes, of the largest annual conference of Norwegian investigative journalists, “98% of them are considered quality category B traitor targets”. With a worldview like this, Breivik could justify killing almost anyone.

Unsettlingly for us at VJM Publishing, this explicitly includes us – “90%+ of [writers] support multiculturalism and usually portray their world view through their works.” So we would also be marked for death if Breivik had his way, as those who work in the arts and recreational services tend to have broadly leftist sympathies.

The descriptions of how to break out from being pinned down by Police forces during an operation read like Breivik is writing about a video game. One passage describes how a car can be stolen and driven through any cordon that the first wave of Police officers might set up. This gives the impression that Breivik must have spent countless hours in dark plotting and fantasising.

Reassuringly, Breivik is able to demonstrate a sense of moderation. On the subject of using nuclear weapons in terrorism he writes that this “would normally inflict too many civilian casualties and it is therefore hard to imagine how nuclear weapons could benefit our cause.”

Breivik emphasises in this section the need to keep “civilian” casualties at a minimum. By this, of course, he means people who are not leftists. One is further reminded of the paranoid and oppositional nature of the document. It is also grandiose, which comes through in passages such as the description of how to blow up a nuclear reactor for the sake of financial damage to the “mutilculturalist regime”.

An unappreciated irony, at least on Breivik’s part, is that the document repeatedly emphasises how important it is that any prospective “operative” avoid getting flagged by the domestic security and intelligence services, yet it is possession of this document itself, with its voluminous advice for how to carry out terror attacks, which is most likely to get a person flagged by said spooks.

In fact, given that Breivik actually did go on to carry out a mass shooting, possession of this document is possibly the biggest red flag one could raise to the security services. Instead of being titled “A European Declaration of Independence” it could just as well be titled “A European Declaration of War.”

Stockholm Syndrome and Modern Society

Victims of Stockholm Syndrome might be a lot more common than is usually appreciated

44 years ago, two Swedish bank robbers took four hostages during a failed robbery attempt at the Kreditbanken in Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm. Although the robbers kept the hostages for six days and forced them to endure psychological torture, the hostages declined to testify against the robbers when freed and even went as far as raising money for their defence. This phenomenon gave rise to the term “Stockholm Syndrome“.

The psychological literature defines Stockholm Syndrome as “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” It appears to have similarities to battered wife syndrome and to learned helplessness, and is otherwise known as “capture bonding”.

This phenomenon appears strange to neutral onlookers because the expected emotional consequence of subjecting someone to the trauma of being taken hostage is hatred. Because one loses one’s ability to move and talk freely on pain of being shot dead, it could reasonably be expected that a hostage would feel, at first, fear and anger, and then hatred.

Stockholm Syndrome doesn’t only occur in cases of botched robberies. The specific phenomenon is probably related to behaviour that naturally occurs in dominance hierarchies – in other words, Stockholm Syndrome is a manifestation of a specific submissive strategy that probably had frequent application in the brutal biological past of the human species.

For the vast majority of the history of the human species there have been no laws, and nothing even approaching a justice system. The first ever code of laws is thought to have been introduced by the Babylonian King Hammurabi almost 4,000 years ago, which means that for 96%+ of our existence the only thing that passed for justice was what you were physically capable of beating out of other people with your fists.

Because humans are a social species, this environment of easy violence meant that a large range of behaviours relating to how to show aggression and how to show submission evolved over time. Of course, many of these behaviours would have evolved long before humans ever became a separate species, and many of them are so old that their expression is more subconscious and instinctual than a deliberate attempt to manipulate.

Stockholm Syndrome is similar to the phenomenon of learned helplessness, in which a creature that has been brutalised without hope of escape for long enough comes to “learn” that no escape is possible, and can consequently fail to take an opportunity to escape when one does arise. In this sense it could also be considered similar to clinical depression.

What most people don’t realise is that we, the people of modern Western societies, have also been brutalised into submission by our own ruling classes, and so badly that our relations to them are akin to a hostage with Stockholm Syndrome towards their captor. In the middle of an election campaign – as we can see all around us – it’s possible to observe the abject state of emotional submission to which the populace has been reduced.

This is partially achieved by the kind of sadism that is common in primary school students. Like Winston Smith in 1984, who had a form of Stockholm Syndrome deliberately inculcated in him by the sadistic O’Brien, we have been meticulously brutalised by a control system that has had 5,000 years to perfect its tactics for manipulating the peasantry.

From childhood we are forced to get up early in the morning so that we can be most efficiently conditioned into a life of factory work. Anyone who has not received enough sleep by this time, for whatever reason, is severely punished. Absolute submission to authority is rewarded, on a daily basis, for over a decade, and all instances of failure to submit are punished mercilessly.

After a decade, it’s generally assumed that the brains of the victims have been tenderised enough for the teachers to hand us over to the employers, with whom we remain until it’s time to throw us on the scrapheap.

If at any time during this period of servitude we get the idea that we would like to smoke a medicinal flower to take some pain away, or to take some magic mushrooms in order to bring us closer to God, then members of a group of enforcers specially chosen for their willingness to follow orders will come and put us in a cage with rapists and murderers.

It will not be possible to reason with this enforcer class. One cannot argue, for example, that this enforcer class has no right to put you in a cage for simply trying to heal yourself physically, emotionally or spiritually. If you resist you will be attacked, and if you continue to resist you will be killed.

Neither can one count on the support of your fellows to resist such laws. The vast majority of the people has been conditioned to bow their heads and shrug their shoulders when they hear stories about the crimes that the enforcer class have committed against them. Ideologies of freedom, like anarcho-homicidalism, are mocked and rejected.

Such arbitrary laws, against medicines and sacraments that have been used by humans since before the Code of Hammurabi, can only have the effect of demoralising the people who fall under their whip.

Most of the people who don’t find the current state of affairs appalling are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, where they are the hostages and the ruling class are the captors. Essentially they are those who have been brutalised so hard that they have lost all will to resist and can be directed by the ruling class as easily as sheep can be led to slaughter.

We can see them being led to the voting booths right now in order to show their consent to the whole ghastly procedure. Here we can see that the emotionally mutilated citizenry will not only cast a vote in favour of the Establishment that mutilated them, they will also cast a vote to give that Establishment permission to emotionally mutilate their children too.

That a random person suffers from Stockholm Syndrome is not the exception but the iron-fast rule in our modern societies.

Writing the Narcissist

Portraying believable narcissistic characters in your creative writing poses a set of challenges that are similar to those posed by writing psychopathic ones. This is because both types of characters are extremely selfish, but there are many differences nonetheless. This article looks at the typical qualities of the narcissist so that a creative writer can most realistically portray such a character.

In that the narcissist is arrogant, self-absorbed and exploitative they are similar to the psychopath. Where they are different is that the psychopath seems dead inside to those that really know them, whereas the narcissist is full of emotions and life.

For example, narcissists are highly prone to strong feelings of envy. If the protagonist of your story achieved a major personal milestone, and received adulation from all around them, this could be the plot point that drove a secondary narcissist character into action.

That character might feel so bitter about the positive attention received by your protagonist that they began to scheme to bring them down. This could result in anything from gossip, to spreading false rumours, to a false accusation or even to violence. The more likely it is that the narcissist would step into the shoes of the protagonist if they took them down, the more strongly the narcissist will be motivated.

Narcissists also have a marked tendency towards magical thinking. If the narcissist makes a mistake, or lets someone down, or has an embarrassing failure of some kind, they are likely to use all kinds of implausible and bizarre explanations to escape any feeling of shame. Often they will simply distort reality rather than admit to being at fault for anything, and distortions of reality can lead to all manner of problems.

They are also likely to project their failures onto others, as a way of dealing with the internal feeling of shame. They are extremely reluctant to admit to either failure or weakness, and experience admitting such things as very humiliating. An intelligent character will be able to use this tendency as a way of determining the narcissist’s secrets, because they tend to accuse other people of what they themselves are guilty of.

Perhaps the defining characteristic of the narcissist is grandiosity, which manifests as a deep sense of superiority. This frequently becomes difficult for other characters in short order, because in the mind of the narcissist this sense of superiority gives them the right to treat others with contempt or disdain.

For this reason, narcissists tend to upset other characters. The more narcissistic those other characters are, the more they are likely to get upset – which is why it’s often dynamite when two narcissists meet. The coming together of two narcissist characters could make a fitting climax to any story or comedy.

Similar to the psychopath, the narcissist is capable of engendering powerful feelings of hate in other characters. These other characters are bound to feel that the narcissistic character is arrogant and rude, and the narcissistic tendency to be completely oblivious to the damage they cause only makes it more aggravating.

The narcissist is also capable of engendering powerful feelings of hate in themselves. Not being the centre of attention and adulation can be extremely damaging to the self-esteem of the narcissist. They might find meeting someone like a famous politician or distinguished intellectual to be an extremely unpleasant and belittling experience, enough to cause them depression for a while.

A narcissistic character will not necessarily bring misery into your story world, and this is another major way they are different to the psychopath. They may have found a way to sublimate their narcissism into bringing a lot of joy to people, such as becoming an actor or professional sportsman. Such a character might struggle with the excesses of their narcissism at the same time as mostly succeeding in bringing people joy.

Usually, however, narcissists do bring misery to those they encounter. The nature of the narcissist demands that they try and get the most adulation possible, and this means that they are prone to aggressively seeking high-status positions, even when there is another candidate who is obviously better qualified (a narcissist is not likely to realise that someone else is better qualified).

The narcissistic character might have an unpleasant early history that partially explains why they themselves are not a pleasant person. Many theorists believe that narcissism in adults is frequently caused by a lack of empathy and respect towards them when they were children, leading them to overcompensate as adults.

Frequently the narcissist will have one, or both, parents who did not seem to treat them as valuable when they were children. This lack of a normal, healthy level of positive attention in childhood is what makes the narcissist so desperate to receive it in adulthood. The narcissist might reveal, in their behaviour and actions, the resentment they feel towards perceived neglect.

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This article is an excerpt from Writing With The DSM (Writing With Psychology Book 5), edited by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2017/18.