Category Archives: Mind Magic

The Mental Health Pandemic Is Worse Than Covid

Created February 18, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Data from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that as of 2007, half the world’s population suffers from mental illness at least once in their lifetime. And in any given year, one in five people suffer from mental illness.

I would argue that the problem is even more severe than that. The definition of mental disease is constrained to various known syndromes including depression, schizophrenia, and so on. These statistics do not include the percent of the population who would score as not having a mental illness by standard medical tests, but who are enslaved by automatic scripts playing out in their brains. Including such people in the stats would bring the percentage up to possibly 80-90% of us who are not functioning mentally to our innate capacity to do so.

The strict medical illness definition types and the “normally neurotic” types have probably not been increasing as percentages of the total population. They probably peaked long ago, judging from human history. In fact, the meditation movement may have inched down the percentage slightly in the last half century or so.

The Institute for Health Metrics estimates that 57% of the world population has had Covid so far. The Worldmeter  tracks known cases of which there have been over 400 million globally so far, which is only 5% of the world population. The truth is probably somewhere between 5% and 57% so far. So Covid appears to be less rampant than mental illness and normal neuroses combined.

The two (mental incapacity and Covid) work together, which explains why the world appears to have flown off the handle. It is not just appearance. The world is technically off its rocker.

I visualize the mental strength of the human population to be a grey scale, a continuum, and each individual is not always at the same place on the scale. We can go up and down from minute to minute depending upon what is going on around and inside us.

When reality is too terrible to be faced, the average person will move toward the insanity end of the scale. Mass hysteria has happened many times before, but typically occurs in confined populations such as passengers on an airplane, students and faculty of a school, people living in one town. It could be related to the Mirror Neuron System (MNS) in that it starts with a few people and then others around them start to mirror the behavior of the initial cell. Dr. Richard Silberstein has taught me that the Orbito Frontal Cortex (OFC) has a function of regulating the MNS and thus acts as a check on excessive imitative behavior. Mass hysteria could arise in situations when something has interfered with the proper functioning of the OFC.

In all of the documented cases since the Middle Ages, none has become a pandemic. Until now. Why now?

Certainly, Covid is one important triggering event, causing us to lose most of the weekly experiences we considered the most fun, which make life worth living. But I think it started before Covid. Two other dystopian trends began before Covid-19. One was social media, and the other was a drift toward fascism which some have traced to the anti-terrorism stance the US took as a result of 9/11.

I never considered interactive media dystopian, I always thought it would be the stuff that brought us to utopia. I was forgetting about the large proportions of mentally ill people.

Brexit and Cambridge Analytica showed the world how social media could be used manipulatively, weaponized as a new level of propaganda warfare. The communications industry identified Cambridge Analytica and put a stop to its activities, but no one can stop rogue nations/superpowers/militias from mis-using social and all other media.

When George Washington warned us of the dangers of the party system (it was not part of the US Constitution nor did it exist for the first 20 years of the USA’s existence) he could not have foreseen how the inherent divisive effects of partisanship might interact with social media, fascist tendencies, and widespread mental illness/neurosis.

This is the Abstract from a scientific paper published about a year ago entitled “COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria : In this article, we aim to develop a political economy of mass hysteria. Using the background of COVID-19, we study past mass hysteria. Negative information which is spread through mass media repetitively can affect public health negatively in the form of nocebo effects and mass hysteria. We argue that mass and digital media in connection with the state may have had adverse consequences during the COVID-19 crisis. The resulting collective hysteria may have contributed to policy errors by governments not in line with health recommendations. While mass hysteria can occur in societies with a minimal state, we show that there exist certain self-corrective mechanisms and limits to the harm inflicted, such as sacrosanct private property rights. However, mass hysteria can be exacerbated and self-reinforcing when the negative information comes from an authoritative source, when the media are politicized, and social networks make the negative information omnipresent. We conclude that the negative long-term effects of mass hysteria are exacerbated by the size of the state.

So, it seems that we have the explanation of why the world has suddenly literally gone mad.

That in itself does not constitute a cure or solution. But it points in certain directions where we can look for a cure.

One direction is inside. When a mature adult who has learned enough about life to act like a mensch most of the time (that description might fit all of us in our best moments, but perhaps only one in ten of us in terms of steadiness over time, and during today’s mass hysteria maybe even fewer of us) discovers that he or she is their own worst enemy, it causes one to pause and rethink everything. The automatic ego-emotional impulses which turn us into robots, once exposed to a sane person, begin to come under scrutiny and control, and after a long process, the individual becomes mentally and emotionally resilient. This is manifest in more authentic consideration given to others, courage, fortitude, better decision making, greater creativity, more time spent in the Flow state.

In other words, the way out of this mess is for each of us to take ourselves in hand.

The challenge has never been greater than it is today. The media pressure (social and otherwise) is not going to stop, the vast majority of one’s countrymen and women being largely (hopefully temporarily) “crazy”, the political banditos taking fullest advantage of the situation, none of those driving variables is going to stop just because an isolated few of us start to take back our selves and stop being puppets manipulated by stimuli and by parts of our nervous systems designed to be helpful but prone to becoming perverted. No, it isn’t going to be easy.

But what else is there to do? The only open path is to maximize our own sanity first (put on your airbag then help others).

The Sanity Movement is going to arise, it is a historical necessity. It will be in a sense at war with the negative idea polluters of social media and all media, but it cannot descend to warlike behavior without simply becoming another nutty group vying for attention. It has to spread good healing ideas that really work to calm oneself down and begin acting intelligently again.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

–John Lennon

Best to all,

Bill

 

Choose Resilience Over Resentment

Created February 11, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey blog.

One reader of last week’s post thanked me and made a special request: write something about resentment and how to deal with it in oneself.

Last week’s post was about the things we do automatically all the time that do us absolutely no good. Things like hating. Resentment is another one of those things that we do that doesn’t help us and in fact hurts us.

The dictionary definition of resentment that I like the most is “Bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly”. Such as having been passed over for promotion, not having been appropriately recognized for one’s accomplishments, standing by red-faced while a sibling receives inordinate parental praise which would have been more applicable to oneself.

Some philosophers of psychology have asserted that resentment is a type. People who fall into this type tend to start early, and become wounded by their perception that they are not getting the love they deserve from one or both parents. Because this came about by a comparison between the ideal conditions and actual ones, the resentful type tends to become idealistic and perfectionistic, as if subconsciously assuming that this will “right the wrong”.

The actual effect of having an invisible script that we carry with us in life, without even realizing that we have such a script, is that it will tend to cause us to experience the negative outcomes which we expect. If we expect to be treated unfairly, we will tend to bring about that undesired outcome. This happens through micro-momentary unconscious signaling.

In other words, by giving in to the automatic ego-emotional reaction of showing resentment, and/or anticipatory resentment, which is automatic, one does not lead to being treated more fairly.

Which is more important – getting treated more fairly more often – or blowing off steam by expressing resentment – or causing oneself psychological harm by repressing resentment so that it operates under the radar. It would seem far better to repair real world situations. This is why we urge people to not operate on autopilot, but to exert conscious observation of what we are doing to ourselves, automatic or otherwise, and take control of our behaviors, moving the matter out of the subconscious and into the conscious. This involves metacognition and self-metaprogramming.

Here are some actions recommended when one senses resentment within oneself.

First, don’t let others see that you feel resentful. Subconsciously we all tend to see resentment as a characteristic of weakness, someone who is “a loser” at least in the situation. Far better to show confidence, awareness of one’s own value, no concern as to what others think of you – whether you are really that strong today or not. By acting like the you that you are aiming at being, you build that muscle until it becomes fully authentic.

Take care to continue to treat kindly the person who marginalized you, even if you have evidence that they are out to get you. That demonstrates your invulnerability, and you actually can cause behavior changes in others by this turning of the other cheek.

Second, take some time to contemplate how you might have set yourself up for being underestimated. Were there any signals you sent, overt or subtle, that could have contributed to becoming under-appreciated?

These strategies are aimed at shifting the basis for your inner life experience away from automatic defensive reactions, to enlightened self-management. This shift is a profound one which very few people ever even attempt. It is a shift very conducive to greater effectiveness and happiness, which is resilient to offending experiences, and leads to creativity and Flow state.

The neurological structures and functions within a human being are pro-survival and are there as default systems when we are not in a state of enlightened self-interest performing rationally and empirically. Unfortunately, during the information acceleration pandemic which has been going on throughout recorded history, we settle into living our entire lives in these robotical fight-flight states. Only a relative handful of us conquer our own autonomic ego reaction instincts. Those that do stand out for their accomplishments and their sagacity.

We can all be that way. There is a simple method to it. It is to stop assuming anything, reset to scratch, and observe carefully everything that goes on in and around you, suspending judgment. Use my book Mind Magic as it makes it even easier. But all you really need is you, observing everything without judging it, and ignoring your own kneejerk reactions. With practice, you will find that you don’t feel the sting as much as you used to when someone intentionally or unintentionally does something that you resent. It becomes irrelevant. So long as you can keep doing your work, achieving your goals, maintaining the desired lifestyle, you can let such events roll off your confident back.

Until you really feel that confidence, by all means project it externally, but most importantly, figure out why you have that lack of confidence in yourself. Have you been Peter-Principled into a job that is not your expertise? Do you want to learn how to do that role with greater confidence? There will be ways you can get the learning you need. Or would you rather be doing some other kind of work?

It’s possible that someone is gunning for you, actively wanting to get you to leave. It comes down to how much you love everything else about the job, and what you really want.

If the moment comes when you are formally invited to leave, focus on what you want to do next, the departure although involuntary might be a really good thing for you in the long run.

Always remember the good things you have done in that job, and keep doing things you’re proud of. Whether or not they are proud of you, you can still be proud of yourself. They are not the measure of you. You yourself are the most qualified to know how good or imperfect you are. Don’t be thrown off by people who are working off of guesswork.

Best to all,

Bill

 

Loving Your Life

Created January 14, 2022

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog post.

Imagine that people have two levels. One is the one that they are consciously affecting. The other is so deep inside of them, most have lost touch with it.

The face one wishes to present at the moment is the shallow self. It’s actually a bio-AI. Most psychological thinkers through the ages have called it the Ego. In most of my writings I call it the Robot. It can be accurately called persona or mask. It’s very concerned about Others. It acts as a manager or press agent on your behalf. It’s in a defensive coping mode, compensating for perceived inadequacies in oneself/the situation.

If you feel any negativity (anger, fear, depression, etc.) you are in that shallow self. If you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list you are in that shallow self in the grips of Acceleritis.

The Deep Self is the experiencer, the essence, the core of who you are, that which observes, and where your intuition comes from. It is generally subconscious in our modern world culture. Acceleritis and a social order which prevents most of us from doing our passion work is what has oppressed our Deep Self and over-ridden it with an Emergency Simplification Network. An automaton.

When you are able to see your own insincerity in action, or in any other way notice that a part of you is running amok, you are in the Deep Self, in the Observer state.

When you are performing perfectly and immensely enjoying the fun of it, you are in the Deep Self, in the Flow state.

In both of these Deep Self states, some part of what had been in your subconscious is now revealed to your conscious mind.

The actual original purpose of meditation is to reach the Deep Self.

The Conscious

Now that one is constantly tempted to lift and see the little screen (btw, 70% of digital ad spend is now through mobile), and the level of Acceleritis (information overload) ensures a backlog of inner distractions from recent memory the mind is eager to go back to, the present world audience is in analysis paralysis mode all the time.

The Deep Self

Harvard’s Gerald Zaltman has published findings proving that 95% of the buying decisions consumers make are made by the subconscious mind. No one has taken issue with this as it is so self-evidently true. Simmons has shown that demographics and geographics combined account for an average of only 6% of brand adoption. The rest is caused in the Deep Self.

The Deep Self is always there, the experiencer of all that goes on within and without. The attention of the Deep Self is always looking for important things to focus upon, but in the absence of anything but the usual trivia, defaults to the Default Mode Network (DMN), which intuitively steers through stimuli whether presented internally or externally. The DMN, we hypothesize, is always in touch with a Subconscious Alarm Network (SAN) which always scanning for threats or opportunities. That SAN is always interested to pick up on any signals which relate to the individual’s driving motivations, the individual’s hopeful dreams about their own future life. The most important stuff in life.

In order to reach your own Deep Self, you have to change the way you relate to the contents of your moment-to-moment mind and feelings.

Right now, you probably identify yourself with the contents of your own moment-to-moment mind and feelings.

That identification is what allows you to be ruled by your robotic self.

The hidden switch in your mind is the ability to become the observer of all that, taking it as evidence of what some part of you believes and feels, but not taking it as the final verdict of what the larger you, the real you, believes and feels.

If you practice and gain proficiency at this, what will you gain?

You will have more peak experiences of both Observer state and Flow state, making you more effective in life.

You will find yourself taking your dreams and passion work totally seriously and gravitating into making that what you wind up concentrating upon in your real life.

You will realize that you love your life.

A sustained realization.

Happy New You!

Created January 7, 2022

This was the message I received on New Year’s Eve from my great friend and songwriter Stan Satlin. Now the purloined title elegantly captures the sense of a brand-new year of opportunity to choose a new way of being.

Why would you want to choose a new way of being? You may be very happy the way you are.

Because you may be able to appreciate even more of what happens to you—your experiences—starting in 2022, starting right now in fact.

A person who is able to draw the lesson from every experience need not ever label any experience as a bad one. This is not just intellectualizing, it’s a state of being that anyone can feel inside, can experience on their own. Millions of people do it, just not all the time.

Admittedly today these are rare experiences of clarity which occur in specific states of mind I call the Observer state and the Flow state.

The important point is that you can bring on these states to such a degree as to permanently change your mental emotional processes.

It starts with metacognition– becoming and staying aware of what is going on in your mind from one second to the next. The practice of meditation builds the mental muscle for metacognition. Mindfulness programs such as those in MIND MAGIC train you how to consciously use those muscles.

Even for a beginner, it’s pretty easy to maintain such a self-observant state for a short while, and what typically happens unnoticed—it sneaks up on you—is that you get caught up in a thought which takes you away from watching your own mind into being your old self again, that is, either daydreaming aimlessly or talking to yourself without remembering that the real you is the observer of all these inner processes. In effect you identify with a specific process and forget your real identity as the experiencer of all of it.

This may be harmless diversion and fun anyway, or it may be negative ego exercise which is harmful to your own life and to others’ lives.

Neuroscience is bringing true science to the aspiring protoscience of psychology. Someday they will merge completely possibly also incorporating what have until now been classified as spiritual practices.

Dr. Richard Silberstein is a neuroscientist who invented a form of brain measurement that is far more precise than EEG, sort of the electron microscope for tracking brain processes. His descriptions of how different neuron networks in the brain talk to each other are going to bring together a lot of superb work being done across related fields, partly due to the tool he has created and partly due to his thorough experimentation with it. The tool has already become a staple of applied neuroscience within the media, marketing, and advertising industries, winning several Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) awards.

In a fascinating article revealing the potential positive effects of autism and attention deficit disorders, Dr. Silberstein explains that everyone’s unconscious processes are always testing untold numbers of ideas that do not get presented to the conscious mind. Located in the left hemisphere in the frontal cortex and temporal cortex, the Judgment Network—one of the networks of neurons Dr. Silberstein discusses in the article—is the decider which selects the ideas worthy of being let through to consciousness, to the experiencer, you.

In much the same way the Judgment Network is undoubtedly also judging everything that you experience, and judging you. Hasty judgments (I call hasty closure) are swift to condemn something that you’ve condemned before. I call upon the spirit of a brand-new year to inspire you to see if you can reassert control over these unconscious processes and turn them more to your own and humanity’s advantage.

Hypothesis #1: You would enjoy life much more if you sat less in judgment of it.

Hypothesis #2: You would enjoy life much more if you sat less in judgment of yourself—especially as regards the unchangeable past, in which deeds you might still be angry at yourself for, led to changes which helped you grow as a person. Too late to change it and it’s a waste of your mental energy and brings you down. That stuff will be easier to clear out if you make a fresh start right now.

Hypothesis #3: If you, from now on, hear/feel your Judgment Network as just more evidence being brought before you, and deny it the power of issuing final verdicts, you will be more open to creative new ideas, mostly your own ideas which have never been able to escape the oubliette in which they are consigned by your Judgment Network—which is not omniscient, it’s more like an AI, you can’t allow your self to be ruled by it.

Hypothesis #4: You’ll also be more open to new experiences, which may not radically change your behavior, but may vastly increase your savor of situations you’ve merely put up with in the past.

If any of these come out that way for you after you begin standing back from your own automated inner reactions, as it all assuredly will based on the testimonies of thousands of MIND MAGIC readers, it will have been worth what little effort it takes to put metacognition to work for you, in re-creating yourself more consciously than your automated processes have been able to.

This is an especially good year for us all to make a major break with the past.

We need it.

Love to all,

Bill