Overcoming the Amygdala Part 91
If you’ve been following this series, you should have realised that departures from ideals are what we call in other contexts ‘insanity’ and that, conversely, correct ideals indicate sanity.
If you fully understand ideals, existing sets of circumstances, departures, and quantification you can bring about sanity in individuals and groups — even nations, if you’re ambitious.
The trouble is that most people accept the existing conditions as ‘normal’ and think that what they see and experience around them is ‘just life’. They come to that conclusion because they are drowning in departures. The whole culture in which we live has been overwhelmed by departures and considers them to be a part of the scene. You have only to look around you at the world of politics, international relations, and domestic government to notice how insane it is. Social media gives us the opportunity to appreciate just how crazy things are all over the place. Very few seem to recognise that politics in its current form offers little hope of any kind of resolution of the world’s problems. That’s partly because politicians tend to be those who want positions of power in order to enforce fixed ideas of what they consider to be ideal, working their way to the top over their opponents, whose ideas are more or less the opposite. Not exactly sane.
We hear daily of soaring insanity, crime and riots. Economic, political and social scenes are apparently deteriorating at a rapid rate so that it sometimes seems that countries will soon lose any will to fight or any economic or social power to resist external take-overs.
In brief, then, people can and do get drowned in their own irrationality. And civilisations rise and fall accordingly. Irrationality is a plague far worse than Covid 19 or any other covid. But it’s not that humanity has a death wish — it simply lacks any clear path forward, out of the mess.
To resolve any unwanted situation at any level — individual, group, social or national — all one would have to do is set some sensible ideals, count up the departures, look at quantities, drop some fixed ideas, and re-channel resources according to what came up.
Would there be any resistance? Possibly. But it would only come from those who did not serve the best interests of the individual, group, society or nation. (It’s an interesting study in itself to trace where resistance comes from when one tries to install an ideal.)
Big situations, then, can be analysed as well as little ones. Some cost in time and action is involved, but it is nowhere near as costly as letting the departures continue.
Rather than continuing to live irrationally, it’s far easier to work out an ideal, look over the existing scene for departures, work out what statistics should exist, find out why the departures are occurring and implement a programme to move towards the ideal.
What Can Go Wrong 1. One fails in this to the degree that one fails to work out the correct ideal.
It’s too easy to quickly invent some notion of what might be ideal. A person might think, ‘I know! I’ll just lose three stone in weight and that will make me happy!’; a group might think ‘All we have to do is cease to recruit people and we’ll be OK’; a country might decide ‘If we were to take over our neighbour, all our problems would be solved.’ As someone tries to work with an incorrect ideal, he or she usually becomes rapidly discouraged without recognising what’s happening.
2. Another reason one can lose one's way in handling a situation is refusing to admit that something oneself did was the reason for the departure. Recognising one's own errors takes some guts. Many people would rather blame someone or something else or justify what they did; others would rather criticise than observe and analyse.
There is a pretty much infallible test of whether you have established a correct ideal or not.
Can it be staticised?
Any set of circumstances which one is trying to improve has to have a statistic or the whole thing goes nowhere. One just can’t tell what’s going on unless there is an adequate means of quantifying things. So we get a maxim:
A correctly stated ideal will have a measurable statistic.
A statistic is a positive numerical thing which can be accurately counted and graphed.
One should be able to assign a proper ideal a correct statistic. If a correct statistic can’t be figured out for it, the ideal is probably incorrect.
In the above examples, the individual person might think losing weight is correct because that’s quantifiable — but what he or she is postulating as an ideal is ‘happiness’. How are they measuring that? Establish that, and everything else starts to fall into place.
A group might think cessation of recruitment is what it will take to make them ‘OK’ — but how are they measuring ‘OKness’?
A country might decide conquest of neighbouring countries will solve their problems — but what are they defining as problems and how are they measuring solutions?
The exercise of testing the statement of an ideal to keep it real and not vague, dreamlike or unrealistic is to work out a realistic statistic for it.
One can go back and forth between the statistic and the ideal, adjusting them together until one gets an attainable statistic that really does measure the validity of the ideal. Once one has a correct statistic, one has a clear point of stability with which to measure departures and their remedies. It also has to be proof against falsification. A person might have as an ideal ‘to make money’. A proposed statistic might be ‘Number of books sold’. Seems right, yes? But look at what happens: to get more books sold, the person drops the price = no money; to simply make money, the person tries to sell the books for far higher than market price = no customers.
Let’s try: ‘To provide interested readers with books which will enable the author to continue writing for years.’ Statistic: Percentage of interested readers purchasing books at a profit.
Even that might take some work, but it at least opens the door to something: tracking down interested readers, working out profit per book and establishing some channels for sales, all would contribute to a movement towards the ideal — and it would all be measurable.
How does any of this apply to the amygdala?
Well, as soon as reason and sanity is applied to any area, the amygdala feels that its warnings need to be a little less strident. The more rationality is applied, the less warnings are needed. What’s actually happening here is that, as one learns to think properly, one is slowly making the amygdala redundant.
Think about that:
Your amygdala is active in direct proportion to the lack of rationality being applied in your life.
That is initially perhaps a little frightening — ‘Oh my goodness, per my amygdalic activity there must be so little rationality in my life!’ — but after a pause, you might realise that the amount of rationality applied to your life is directly under your control.
You just need a few tools, and this stuff about ideals, departures and statistics gives you a whole tool box worth of sanity.
Stay tuned for more.