One reality or many?
When I was a little boy, I built several tree houses throughout the vast park across from my childhood home. I shared some of these abodes with friends, others I kept as a secret, individual re-treat away from the “crazy adult world”, and still others as a place to feast on the bounty that we ghetto kids had “requisitioned” from local fruit and vegetable gardens. Each tree house had its own ambience and character. No two were alike. Although at the time I did not realize what my young psyche was practising, I now know what it was. I was bored with the stultifying oppression of the Boston (Roxbury) ghetto experience. My body-mind-spirit had generated a life-style that allowed me to migrate and transport myself freely through a variety of different “realities”.
Years later, when I started studying counselling, I was repulsed by Sigmund Freud’s mechanistic and limiting model according to which the psyche is divided into two distinct regions, the conscious and the “sub-conscious”. Initially, I did not know how to express my opposition to this artificial dissection and fragmentation of the human psyche. More recently, I have developed another approach which, by contrast, shows how extremely limiting, and perhaps even destructive, the Freudian paradigm can be. I suggest that my hypnotherapy clients consider that their psyche is holographically connected. Holographic means that the whole is in all the parts, not just that all the parts are in the whole. I then ask them to imagine that the psyche operates like the popular high tech extension of the human psyche, Microsoft Windows. By that I mean that multitudes of their different psychic “windows” are holographically stored ready for immediate display simply by “maximizing”. All windows are readily available; some are “maximized” and some are “minimized”.
What is radically different about this vision of the human psyche is that It incorporates our uniquely human characteristic….volitional choice. We choose our path at every instant and at every juncture as we move through our lives. Freud may have created the ultimate delusion, that is that one has “no choice”, as expressed in such comments as, “It must have bubbled up from my sub-conscious.” Consider that you have many tree houses, not just a city home and “the cottage”. Consider that there are many “parallel realities”, not just two regions of the psyche, the conscious and the sub-conscious.
If the range of how fully a person is living is measured on a spectrum where zero (0) is not having any life at all and one hundred (100) is fully living, then most people would fall into the boring, but secure 40 to 60 range. Many people are afraid to go outside of this limited range because of the possibility that they may experience pain. Their lives are governed by that old adage, “The higher you go, the further you may fall.” However, to fully experience life, it is essential to travel up and down through the full range of this spectrum. It seems that you cannot experience bliss without experiencing “the pits”. If you experience “heaven”, chances are you will experience “hell”, or vice versa. The two ends of the spectrum seem to be interconnected. Thus, the vast majority of people avoid or deny the many parallel realities of the complete spectrum. In the process of hypnotherapy, it is possible for clients to experience a wider range of the spectrum in a safe and secure environment. They can then re-member to live their daily lives more fully.
There are a number of common symptoms which characterize people who have difficulty moving between different parts of the spectrum. For example, they may “compartmentalize” or isolate one part of themselves from another part. They may also have “a fear of getting in because of a fear of getting out”. This, of course, leads them into a situation of “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
Another symptom could be called, “trouble in the DMZ (demilitarized zone)”, a term that was common during the Vietnam War. In psychological terms, it means trouble going from “here” to “there”. They have great difficulty in transitioning from one place or time or relationship, etc. to another. In a sense, they are “frozen” on the spectrum. For example, a cigarette smoker may state that he or she cannot imagine being without “a cancer stick” in their hand. Unfortunately, if they cannot imagine it as a possible parallel reality, then it is unlikely that they are going to be able to experience it in a cigarette smoker’s reality.
“Regular reality” in this vision of the world is a trance state. Although it is perhaps the most popular and politically correct state to be in, it may very well not lead to feeling whole and happy in one’s life and self-image. The dis-eases and the dis-functions that some people claim to be trapped in are probably negative symptoms of their own trance. Lord Byron, in his famous poem, “The Prisoner of Chillon”, stated it as follows: “My very chains and I grew friends, so much a long communion tends to make us what we are”. The ultimate trance state, or master parallel reality, is to be able to move fluidly through all realities as a free spirit.