The Two of Me: The Rational Outer Me and the Emotional Inner Me

The Two of Me: The Rational Outer Me and the Emotional Inner Me

The Two of Me: The Rational Outer Me and the Emotional Inner Me

The Two of Me: The Rational Outer Me and the Emotional Inner Me

Synopsis

This text attempts to answer the question: how much of what we do is the result of conscious and deliberate decisions and how much originates in unconscious, unthought out, automatic directives? The answer is that far more than what we might imagine falls into the second category.

Excerpt

Humans have long understood that their emotions and motivations can direct and overwhelm their conscious wishes. Indeed, over two and a half thousand years ago, the Buddha recommended that the mind needs training to bring it under control. Without this training it is unruly and prone to impulsiveness. Shortly after, the Stoics in the Mediterranean suggested that animals differed from humans in that humans could reason. They believed that humans should use the power of reason to control and regulate their emotions. They considered that it's not things in themselves that disturb us but the view that we take of them. This basic idea became a founding principle for cognitive therapy, which has been far more influenced by philosophy than the psycho-dynamic schools have. in the sixteenth century, for religious reasons, Descartes split mind from body, thus allowing us to have both immaterial souls and physical bodies. This advanced the split between biological psychiatry (that viewed mental phenomena as the product of physiological processes) and psychology. Eisenberg (1986) aptly named this division in psychiatry brainlessness and mindlessness. Only recently, under the spotlight of modern neuroscience, has this split begun to collapse (Damasio, 1994). With the advent of psychoanalysis in the 1890s the division between emotion and reason was replaced with the concepts of the conscious and the unconscious. in both Nietzsche and Freud our minds are driven by unconscious motives that are the produce of our evolutionary past (Ellenberger, 1970). Since the 1930s, the brain sciences have been illuminating those ancient structures in the brain that are responsible for motivation and emotion (Panksepp, 1998). the more recently evolved cortical abilities that make possible symbolic self-awareness and identity are linked and regulate these emotion centres, but our cognitions are as likely to be products of more primitive emotional processing as they are to generate it. Understanding our minds has then been riddled with many dualisms.

John Birtchnell enters this important arena with original ideas about the linkage between a sense of self and our emotional and motivational dispositions. As he says, he became obsessed with the idea that we actually have two different types of self inside us: the two of me. He suggests that our emotional and motivational dispositions evolved long before our more

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