Friday, July 13, 2007

How Do We Find Meaning at the Nexus of Words?

By Patricia Lefave, Labeled, D.D. (P)

People often ask me what I mean by that. What's the 'nexus'?

What I mean by the nexus is the point where the opposing sides meet and can be seen as one, or the same thing. So I will try to give you a very concrete example here explaining it as plainly as I can.

Communication using words is often a somewhat vague and imprecise attempt to reach understanding and human connection even if everyone involved is really trying to do so. If you get into a situation, especially one involving a group which is bent on objectifying someone, it becomes close to impossible to discern clear meaning in what happens as a result.

If the individual is then isolated and pushed outside the group, and out of his or her own perception of the subjective experience, psychosis, which is a disconnect from concrete reality, is a predictable result.

Let me use a statement that has been repeated around frequently in my own case.

“Can you imagine what it would be like to have everyone focused on you all the time?”

What do you as individuals think that statement means?
Do you think that it’s obvious and so I must be stupid or crazy to ask?
If I told you that I could hear several potential meanings in that, would it surprise or puzzle you?
Let me tell you something else first, before I tell you how I hear it.

Communication is based on an information gathering process. The more information you have, accurate or not, the more the words used to convey meaning seem to change to reflect that. In general, the more information you have, if accurate, the greater the chance that real understanding will be the result of that communication.

What we believe we know and understand is, in part, based upon what we already know, or think we know, when we begin to communicate our experience and feelings about something. We project what we understand from our own personal life experience and what we did (or did not) learn from that, into an attempt to communicate with someone else.

Back to my example now:

What WOULD it be like to have everyone focused on you? Imagine it for me and for yourself right out loud.

Doesn’t that depend upon who you are and what your experience has been of life so far? Let’s take the words of that question further and add emotion to it as a way of seeing how the meaning changes for different people.

1. Read it word for word as if you were someone who would love to be famous and use a happy upbeat tone as you say it.
2. Read it as though you were talking about someone else that you have decided you didn’t like, using a tone of sneering contempt.
3. Read it as a person who values privacy, fears mobs, and is very sensitive to the suffering of others who have been the targets of hatred.

Do you notice the same words don’t speak of the same subjective human experience and perceptions of it?
Which perception and emotional reaction is the ‘correct’ one?

Which of the three people who asked the very same question from different points of view, would you define as ‘mentally ill’?

Which one would you invalidate and attempt to control for having what you define as the ‘wrong’ perception and emotional reactions?

Better question yet, which one of the people in question are YOU?

Now imagine yourself trying to explain your right to see, hear, and feel what you do, to one of the others who hears the SAME WORDS from his or her own point of view, which he or she believes to be the only ‘correct’ one.

Now imagine that this same person has the concrete power to take over control of your concrete life and mind in order to manipulate or otherwise coerce you, and to force you to accept his, or her, point of view, or else you will face an endless game of behaviourist tactics and unwanted drugs (known as ‘hypnotics’) designed to get you to DO just that.

What would you do in an attempt to change or escape this situation?

What emotions do you think you would feel?
Would you show them?
Would you want to spend a lot of time with that person?
Would you admire and respect him or her?
Would you trust this person?

For the answers to these questions and many more in you desire to understand the ‘mentally ill’ look INWARD. "We" who, you define in this way, are really just YOU with a label. If you look deeply and sincerely enough, into yourself, you will feel like you are looking into a mirror, whenever you look with a sense of reality, at me or anyone labeled like me.

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