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The natural tragedy – and how to deal with overwhelming stress

(Michael Hrenka) #21

Well, that sounds like a realistic belief. Its negation, the belief that I can’t make the world a worse place sounds a bit crazy. How could such a belief be justified?

That’s an interesting hypothesis. Actually, I’m not even sure what it means for me to be “unchained”. Should I act on impulses immediately? That doesn’t feel like it’s the right way to do everything.

I am so critical about myself, because I observed that those who are not, and are self-righteous enough to believe that what they do will invariably make the world a better place, are those that actually have a lot of energy (since they are precisely not battling against themselves), and use that energy to create the most harm. I don’t want to become one of them, the uncritical fanatics. You might be eager to say that I’m not in danger of becoming one of those people, but that’s only because I am so critical in the first place.

(Michael Hrenka) #22

There are still issues, even if I decided to become completely motivated by curiosity, or something similar. There are of course different things that I find interesting, and it seems that those are mostly related to things that I deem as helpful for solving the problems that I’m momentarily confronted with. What do I identify as problems anyway? A problem is a situation that causes a mismatch between the things that I need, want, like, or prefer, and the things that I actually have. For proper identification of problems it would be better to know what I need, want, like, or prefer in the first place. It might seem reasonable that I should focus on the things I actually need, but finding out my actual needs (in the sense of things that would allow me to operate at my optimal potential) seems to be relatively difficult. Finding out how I operate (or “who I am”) is therefore important.

It seems that being motivated to solve my momentary problems comes at a cost. It’s a very natural way for me to operate that way. Once I consider a problem sufficiently addressed, I move on to the next interesting problem. But that modus operandi is not very compatible with how society operates. Society usually prefers people who are specialised and stable, not people who quickly jump between many different interests quickly, because they are obsessed with various different things at different times. The reason for that preference is that those who focus on one special subject or task usually become very good at that, and so their work it valued highly. Being a generalist whose work is valued highly (or at all) is quite difficult. I know that this is not an uncommon problem, but it’s a problem that is quite challenging to solve.


Yes, the phrasing I used is in the realm of sensibility. I’m not suggesting that it should be negated. The problem is not realizing you are capable of causing harm. The problem is becoming convinced you will cause harm unless chained.

The impulses are a part of your mental programming. It basically comes down to whether the particular impulse in question has been properly debugged or not. As in, will it help your overall goals or hinder them. However, it’s an important point to note that when you “chain” an impulse, you also lose the chance to debug it.

If you start properly debugging your mental impulses and understand where they come from, your need for chains will shrink as you can fix the actual causes instead of just trying to chain the symptoms. When you approach this by chaining, you also severely limit your ability to use your unconscious understanding of the world, because you don’t trust it.

Self-righteousness is bad, I agree. It’s crucial to have the awareness that your choices might be doing harm even when you don’t mean to. However, what you’re doing is quite a bit more than just that. It seems to me like you’re trying to take a “no harm allowed” policy.

On the surface, that sounds good. But having such a policy is a huge obstacle. Even a slight imagined potential for harm stops you from acting. Moreover, it also keeps you from learning. It’s our mistakes, not our successes, that we learn the most from. It limits you to the things you know well enough to fully trust that you won’t do harm with them.

Even worse, it’ll limit your ability to experimentally verify your risk assessment skills. If you perceive a risk of harm, you will never try it and thus you’ll be left with a baggage of false negative expectations that limit your actions.

You’ll achieve much better results by allowing for a degree of uncertainty or risk in what you do. Of course, if there’s significant risk, it needs to be balanced with much greater potential benefit. Otherwise there’s little point in choosing the riskier option.

You’re trying to abide by rules of your own making, that were made with imperfect understanding of your own needs and goals. There’s not much room in such a situation for your actual needs to be easily perceptible or for it to become apparent “who you are”.

I suspect you’re more of a specialist than you think. You just haven’t noticed what it is that you’re specializing in yet.

Also, a tidbit of knowledge from the corporate world. What kind of a worker do you think is the most valuable for a corporation? It’s someone who’s willing to shape themselves to become whatever it is that the company needs to thrive. The most successful companies in the world didn’t start out with people who were experts from the beginning. They started out with people who were willing to become whatever was required for the company to succeed.

(TR Amat) #24

((Meta: This has gone off into ‘Realism’, if I might claim it is still philosophical, or, maybe ‘Natural Philosophy’. Is this an inevitable consequence of looking at (personal) utility? I don’t know.))

I’ve a nephew-in-law who was bed-ridden by CFS. I’ve a friend who seems to have had it since the 1970s, and can get about, though not tolerate much in the way of temperature changes. There’s another friend on crutches, and expecting to be wheelchair-bound, in due course. Another is OK, some days, and is in too much pain to do much on others. There’s a very wide range of symptoms.

You might like to look at:

I’d steer clear of the sites who want to sell you their current (hopefully harmless) herbal treatment, or latest pseudo-medical fad. There’s enough real, hopefully soundly scientific, research been done that you can usefully focus on that.

Some forms of CFS follow something like glandular fever, and reliably last no more than six months to a year. Others, I’ve been told by medical professionals, last four to six years. Some last indefinitely at much the same level, or get progressively worse. CFS can mask other issues, like diabetes, which need to be checked for. It isn’t a simple problem.

Best as I can tell, CFS seems to be an immune system problem. Strong evidence of this appeared recently, 2015 I believe, when those treated for another illness by knocking out their immune system showed an amazing improvement in their CFS, which then came back as their immune system recovered. Other research into the immune system responding differently in CFS:

On the exercise front, controlled, graded, exercise seems to provide slow improvement. I suspect you’ve heard far too much about CBT and CFS, but, it seems to help some as a coping strategy:

I don’t know if any of this is of use to you, but there are strong suggestions that a better understanding of the immune system should lead to a treatment for CFS.

On the philosophical front, to handle philosophy requires sufficient personal resource to do the stuff. So, I claim this post is ‘on topic’. :slight_smile:

(Michael Hrenka) #25

I’m not sure what you mean by “chaining” or “debugging” exactly. Isn’t “debugging” a form of “chaining”? In both cases, impulses go through a filter before they actually initiate action (or not). The mere fact that you are using a filter slows you down, and takes additional energy, which is then unavailable for action.

That’s not to say that impulsive action would be actually preferable. Blindly acting on impulses can make it harder to reach certain goals, or act according to certain values.

That kind of philosophy sounds alien to me. I’m pretty much a utilitarian, even though I value principles quite highly. The issue is rather that applying utilitarianism to actual choices in real life properly is an effectively insurmountable task, because nobody can predict all the consequences of all choices of action. If there’s a thing that held me back, it would be inhibition caused by the awareness of possible negative consequences. Thinking a lot about possible negative consequences is a serious energy drain.

I’m not sure what the point of that paragraph is. Isn’t our understanding of our needs and goals always imperfect? Aren’t we deluded if we think otherwise?

Perhaps I have, but putting it into worlds is quite difficult? Have you noticed what I have specialized in? :slight_smile:

(Michael Hrenka) #26

Ok, that’s interesting, but the descriptions on that site are too vague for me to know what type I have. And even if I knew my type, this wouldn’t be of much use within the next 20 years or so, which is about the time it would take to have a specific treatment generally available (if there were sufficient funds for needed research).

That may be true, but ultimately, I found neither approach very helpful. The only thing that really moved me forward was empirical testing out substances and treatments that just might help and track which of those actually helped. Treatments based on the pet theories of certain medical practitioners and researchers rarely yielded a lot of success (unfortunately). Since I realized that a personal empirical approach yields superior results I lost my respect for medical theories (or at least the conclusions drawn from them).

At least in my case, many of my symptoms seem to come from massive oxidative stress, which I can counter by taking massive amounts of antioxidants. The success I have had with that approach is quite remarkable. Unfortunately, it didn’t fix everything, at least not yet.

That would have been true for me, if I hadn’t experimented with lots of things, some of which improved my condition. I’ve suffered through this nightmare for more than 20 years!

That’s not wrong. The immune systems seems to be definitely negatively affected in all cases of CFS. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s an immune system problem. CFS affects almost all organ systems of the body, so it’s hard to tell where the problem comes from exactly. My current understanding, after having researched CFS for years, is that it’s a neuro-immunological disease that can break out, if genetic predisposition, massive stress (of any kind), and a triggering viral and bacterial infection come together. The result is dysregulation of the immune system, the hormone system, natural homoeostasis, certain parts of the nervous systems, cellular energy production in mitochondria, and potentially/optionally a host of other systems.

My guess is that the dysregulated immune system causes massive oxidative stress, which then goes on to cause most of the symptoms (sometimes even anxiety and depression). It’s currently not known how to bring back the immune system to normal functioning (though some interventions seem to help to some degree), but addressing the symptoms with antioxidants is a real possibility.

This is only true, if one stays in the aerobic range almost all the time (at least according to my own experience and some theories). The problem with CFS is that it reduces the anaerobic threshold, so it’s really hard to tell whether one exercises in the aerobic range or not. Usually, one only finds that out many hours or even days later through a crash-like increase of symptoms. In that case, the exercise has not only not helped, but aggravated the problem. Graded exercise is an extremely dangerous treatment for CFS patients, but it seems to be necessary for eventual recovery nevertheless! That probably explains why so few people actually recover from CFS (at least while using conventional treatments).

Potentially, but so far treatments targeted at the immune system had relatively limited success – which is still better than almost no success for all other conventional treatments. I suspect that only massive personalized genetic treatments will eventually lead to a cure for CFS.

Health-limited cognitive function theory

This seems to have only indirect connections to the topic at hand, but I have a theory, which I spontaneously and tentatively call “health-limited cognitive function theory” that might explain a large part of the misery of the natural tragedy. According to this theory, there is a spectrum of health ranging from ideal perfect health (which is never actually reached by anyone ever) to extreme sickness (and of course death). Because our brain is so sensitive to all kinds of influences, whenever something goes wrong in the body, it will most likely have negative effects on it. Therefore our cognitive functioning is limited not only by the inherent limitations of the brain, but also by our momentary state of health (which is generally far from optimal).

Of course, impaired cognitive functioning typically causes a host of other problems, so it would be tremendously helpful, if we could increase the general level of health of the population. Sadly this is not so easy.

What we call “diseases” are often simply extreme cases of “states of suboptimal health”. Which actual diseases are relatively rare, “states of suboptimal health” affect a very large fraction of the population. If we strive for real health, we not only need to “fix” all diseases, but also address all “states of suboptimal health”. A focus on “states of suboptimal health” would perhaps even be preferable, if we can address them effectively before they cause or progress to actual diseases.

That approach probably wouldn’t fix the natural tragedy completely, but it would go a long way.


“chaining” is an attempt to mitigate a problematic impulse by conscious effort to counter it. “Debugging” is the act of observing the impulse in action without interfering with it in order to learn about it and to understand why it arises. So, “debugging” is pretty much exactly the same meaning as in programming. The analog in programming to “chaining” would be to write another program that constantly monitors the buggy program (impulse) and have it take some kind of corrective action if it notices the bug manifest itself.

The goals in these activities are very different. “chaining” seeks to mitigate a problem with extra resources while “debugging” seeks to understand it in order to ultimately alter the problematic behauviour itself to not be problematic.

In other words, once you have successfully debugged an impulse, it’s a permanent fix and frees the resources that were being used for “chaining” for other uses.

This is why I said it looks like you’re trying to take a “no harm allowed” policy. Doesn’t the end result resemble such a policy a lot?

In any case, the fact that thinking about possible negative consequences is a serious energy drain is a very strong hint that your mind is creating an illusory existential threat to yourself from them.

Yes, exactly. Hence, every rule needs re-evaluation every now and then. It seems to me like you’ve got rules that are avoiding this re-evaluation, even though they’re clearly becoming obstacles to your needs and goals. Some you might not even be aware of and others you might be so convinced of that you skip the re-evaluation. The point was to suggest that you ought to take a fresh look at the rules.

Putting it to words is the hard part. The only thing I can say for certain is that I don’t know of anyone else who comes even close.

(Michael Hrenka) #28

How does the understanding how or why an impulse arises affect future occurrences of such an impulse? And aren’t such interpretations mostly guesses anyway? We don’t possess the ability of deep introspection into the atomic functioning processes of our psyche.

I disagree. Thinking all by itself is an energy intensive activity. Thinking about possible positive consequences would also divert energy from action to thinking, and therefore be an impediment to action.

Coming up with and testing rules for personal behaviour is a difficult and (time/energy) expensive task. If I can’t deduct rules from theory, because such deducted rules are suboptimal in an empirical sense, then there doesn’t seem to be a clear systematic approach to coming up with alternative rules. And trying out random rules doesn’t sound like an intelligent approach. So, what’s left? Adopting the rules of other people? What kind of rules do you follow?

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? :laughing:


Replying through email this time, since it seems your forum’s certificate

Hopefully my guesses on how to get things to format properly are correct.


“Debugging” is the act of observing the impulse in action without
interfering with it in order to learn about it and to understand why it

How does the understanding how or why an impulse arises affect future
occurrences of such an impulse? And aren’t such interpretations mostly
guesses anyway? We don’t possess the ability of deep introspection into the
atomic functioning processes of our psyche.

Understanding on a motivational level tends to be sufficient. Pretty much
every impulse arises with a purpose. When you understand the purpose, you
will, at the very least, be able to become more flexible about how to
satisfy that purpose. For example, a common purpose for impulses that arise
is to keep you safe. However, your beliefs, especially subconscious
beliefs, greatly affect what perceptional stimuli provoke these impulses.
When you consciously observe an impulse often enough, you’ll become able to
perceive the chain of beliefs from the primal purpose to the actual
impulse. It’s by altering that chain of beliefs that allows you to
permanently modify what triggers different impulses in you.

We all have a great deal of subconscious processing power. Much more than
conscious processing power. Beliefs are the programming language of the
subconscious. Can you really afford to just pretend there’s nothing there
to harness? … Or worse, leave it using buggy programming while spending
conscious effort to limit the ill effects from the bugs.

I linked to information about the Lefkoe Method earlier in this thread.
It’s a reasonably effective tool for this. I used his Natural Confidence
program ( a couple
of years ago and it was extremely helpful in transforming my life into a
much more productive one. It’s pretty expensive, though, so if the price is
an issue, it’s not difficult to find a torrent.

Debugging is what I call the phase where I figure out the necessary things
to successfully use the Lefkoe Method.


In any case, the fact that thinking about possible negative consequences
is a serious energy drain is a very strong hint that your mind is creating
an illusory existential threat to yourself from them.

I disagree. Thinking all by itself is an energy intensive activity.
Thinking about possible positive consequences would also divert energy from
action to thinking, and therefore be an impediment to action.

Fair point. Thinking only makes sense if there’s something of value to be
had from it. However, our natural tendency is not too much thinking. We
tend to think too little. The only motivational mechanism that I know of
that causes too much thinking is when you’re afraid of thinking too little
and lack a good definition for what’s enough. The only way to fix this is
to actually empirically test what difference it makes to spend less time
thinking. I personally had the thinking too much problem and my
productivity skyrocketed when I removed the beliefs that were resulting in
too much thinking. That didn’t drop my thinking to zero, though. It merely
gave me conscious choice about how much to think, so I’ve been
experimenting with that since then.

You originally specifically mentioned thinking about negative consequences
as a serious energy drain. There was no mention of energy drain from
thinking about the positive consequences. I figured that’s because it
doesn’t happen enough to be an energy drain fro you. This imbalance is the
hint I’m talking about, not merely that you spend a lot of time thinking. I
interpreted “serious energy drain” to mean that you’re spending more energy
on thinking about negative consequences than makes sense. Was that a hasty


Yes, exactly. Hence, every rule needs re-evaluation every now and then. It
seems to me like you’ve got rules that are avoiding this re-evaluation,
even though they’re clearly becoming obstacles to your needs and goals.

Coming up with and testing rules for personal behaviour is a difficult and
(time/energy) expensive task. If I can’t deduct rules from theory, because
such deducted rules are suboptimal in an empirical sense, then there
doesn’t seem to be a clear systematic approach to coming up with
alternative rules. And trying out random rules doesn’t sound like an
intelligent approach. So, what’s left? Adopting the rules of other people?
What kind of rules do you follow?

Well, first of all, it’s almost impossible to just try out random rules.
Human mind is not capable of random. There’s always a heavy portion of goal
oriented purpose in there, even if it might be difficult to perceive. The
subconscious tends to understand things better than the conscious mind can
and it’s surprisingly often that the correct solutions just pops up in your
mind. The only challenge is where to get the courage to try it out when you
don’t feel like you understand it.

Other people’s rules are an interesting reference, certainly. However, it
can be a challenge, sometimes, to fit them into your own ruleset. As for my
own rules… I don’t think I’ve added any in a while. I’ve been throwing
them out every now and then, though, as I’ve discovered they work against
my current goals and needs. The interesting part is that some of the ones
that went out the window were ones originally intended to help these goals.
However, they turned out to be actively harmful to those very goals because
they ignored my needs. I guess you could say that the most important
current rule I’m following is to deeply understand my own rules, their
purpose and to be aware of how they’re serving that purpose.


The only thing I can say for certain is that I don’t know of anyone else
who comes even close.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? [image: :laughing:]

Good thing, of course. It means you’re doing things that no-one else I know
of can do.

(Michael Hrenka) #30

Recently I’ve spent some time thinking about positive scenarios, but I didn’t find this to be especially useful, though it’s fun for a change. I’m not sure how much thinking makes sense. I feel like I have to redesign my life / future. Somehow I guess that requires a decent amount of thinking, but maybe I’m wrong. Letting things emerge naturally might be a better approach, even though that usually doesn’t work very well for me, usually.

When my current crisis started I felt like hiding in the forests and trying to survive there. I’m not sure whether that would have been a good idea. It would have been something new and different for me in any case. :smiley:

Now I’m interested. What kind of things am I doing that no-one else you know of can do?


You know, letting things emerge naturally is precisely the same as leaving it to your subconscious. It works better when you pay attention to what you’re requesting from the subconscious.

While I cannot be definitely certain that this particular idea was bad, it certainly seems so :innocent: Anyway, that’s a fair point. You can’t just trust everything that comes from the subconscious. You need to pay attention to which request from your conscious mind the given suggestion is a response to. Hiding in the forests sounds like it was a response to your desire to run away from the mess you’ve surrounded yourself with. The subconscious is pretty powerful, but it won’t, by itself, discard or filter the requests. Rather, it’ll continue generating impulses to achieve them until you specifically request it to stop or the goal is attained.

Well, in a strict sense, it’s more that you’re actually doing those things, not that others aren’t capable of them. Anyway, building a community of interesting people is something I don’t see done too often. Especially with the focus you have. That’d probable be the part no-one else is capable of. You also have the integrity required to keep the community from breaking apart.

I suspect that if you put your attention into understanding the model and used that as a base for a decentralized organization doing something else, it might actually get pretty close to what you were trying to accomplish with quantified prestige. As far as I can tell, the base incentive structure there is pretty well engineered. The structure encourages people to primarily seek to benefit the whole organization with everything they do.

I think your skill set allows you to be an effective community leader. That’s something that a very small percentage of people can do and even fewer want to. Although, it’s good to make note that this is not the same thing as a boss. A leader inspires others through example and inspiration. A good leader provides a cohesive force that allows groups of people to stick together and actually achieve something.

Being a generalist works very well with being a leader because a leader isn’t supposed to do things. He’s supposed to help others coordinate their work, so it all becomes part of a cohesive whole. For that, you need to be able to understand what different people are doing and be able to effectively communicate with all of them. That’s something only a generalist can do well.


but how could you distinguish which impulses are results of bugs and which are not?


Look at the results of the impulses and update the beliefs, so subconscious takes those into account the next time. Then rinse and repeat.

(Michael Hrenka) #34

Just a general update here. It seems like each day I’m coming up with a new approach for solving my current crisis. Yet, until recently I didn’t get the feeling that I really comprehended what this crisis was all about, but now it kinda makes sense. And It’s actually connected to ME/CFS on a deep level.

Sympathetic hypersensitivity

Here’s my hypothesis: The underlying physical problem I seem to suffer from is extreme susceptibility for the downsides of activity of the sympathetic nervous system (this might be the cause of ME/CFS or one of its symptoms, but it’s present in any case). The increases stresses at my previous workplace caused a slowly increasing activity of my sympathetic nervous system. That was because I didn’t stay calm in the face of all the problems I have identified. Because my sympathetic nervous system was ramping up, duration and quality of my sleep declined, which in turn made me even more susceptible to getting stressed out. It’s a vicious circle. At the end of it, there was something I’d call a “sympathetic crash”. A severe overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system that completely disrupted my ability to sleep and continue my usual activities.

Why did that happen? Because I wasn’t good enough at staying calm in every situation. That is a skill that I was slowly getting better at, but my skill level didn’t suffice for the rapid increase of chaos (and feeling of loss of control) in my personal and professional situations. My conclusion is that there’s no other sustainable alternative to learning how to stay calm even in extremely unpleasant and threatening situations. That is a skill that healthy persons don’t actually need to learn, because they don’t get hit by a wall when they get really stressed. But I need to learn that skill, and I need to become extraordinarily good at that, because otherwise I will inevitably crash again once things get messy again – and they will get messy again, that’s just how life is like.

How do I develop that skill of unconditional calmness? By subjecting myself to increasingly unpleasant and stressful situations while at the same time maintaining my composure. That’s basically the “Extreme Calmness Therapy” from a previous post, but now I’m pretty sure that it’s a quite necessary and sufficient approach not only for fixing my current crisis, but also for fixing my whole life.

The dark background

I also seem to become more sensitive to subtle feelings in my body that indicate that there is something wrong in the way that I feel (yes, this is a bit meta). There seems to be an ever present subtle background of tensions, pressures, and anxieties that I’m rarely even aware of. I’m not sure where that comes from, but I feel that it’s a very disruptive force, especially because it’s there all the time. Even while meditating I can hardly get rid of that. This background feels wrong. It seems like it makes everything I do much harder than it’s supposed to be. I never seem to feel completely at peace and rest, not even in my sleep or dreams. My guess is that this is how persistent activity of my sympathetic nervous system feels to me. I wished I knew how to shut it off. Having a biofeedback device for that might be tremendously helpful.


but this could be no good psychotherapy for a serial killer. what, if he tells you, that the result of following his impulse, to kill somebody, gave him a good thrill, the feeling of power and satisfaction? and he did what you said after his first murder: he updated his belief, that killing someone is evil, because it felt great for him and so he repeats following his impulse.


If you interpret the results only very narrowly, then yes, garbage in, garbage out is the result. Although, then again, with this example you managed to hit on the exact mechanism that causes people to get stuck in general. You do realize, I hope, that in your example, the serial killer focused solely on how the external action influenced his own internal state and that was the only input through which the action’s desirability was evaluated.

In short, the only goal he has in killing others is to influence his own internal state. This basically means that if he is taught other ways to influence his internal state, killing will become less interesting. Possibly completely uninteresting. I mean, do you really think the external results of such an act are such that he’d actually consider them acceptable? I don’t think so, that’s unrealistic.


While Extreme Calmness Therapy is useful, I use something similar myself too, I just never thought to name it, I think it needs to be supplemented with something that stimulates the parasymphatetic nervous system. In short, something that allows you to completely relax, feel safe and at peace. Having something like that allows you to cut the vicious circle before it ends up in a crash. Without such a way, if you misjudge the amount of stress you can handle, it might trigger another crash.

These background tensions, pressures and anxieties are the results of old requests to your subconscious that you’ve completely forgotten about. You can ask your subconscious to stop creating them, but to do so, you need to first focus on each of those feelings individually and find out what the request initially was and what was the goal. Then you know enough to ask the subconscious to stop creating the impulse.


this is why i chose the example: because it is obvious, that killing is not ok. but with that we have a new element in the debugging process: ethics!

it is nice, how you describe the debugging but it could not really give an orientation. there are less obvious actions than killing, like mild drug abuse to socially accepted drug abuse right up to eating unhealthy things, where you could not apply the idea of right and wrong, ethical or not, socially acceptable or not to gain orientation. so the main problem i see, is, to identify, that an impulse is the result of a bug and then do the observation, why it arises.

yes, probably. but if you are a therapist for a serial killer you have to give him the chance to observe his impulses as well ( he could do that by hypnosis or memory) and to understand why this impulses arise.
but the problem with ethics or what you call “external results” and the idea “what is acceptable” is, that it is somehow arbitrary. debugging your programming is a spiritual path to become more conscious even to become enlightened, if you are good. so you could live alone in a forest to choose that path and never gain any external feedback. or what, if you grew up in a dictatorship, where they violate the human rights? when you rebell against it you gain the feedback from others( “external results”) that your behaviour is not acceptable and they will imprison you like a killer ( although you might have written just a pamphlet).

so the problem remains. how could i know, if an impulse is the result of a bug or not? and what if i believe that it is a bug, because of external results ( “they imprisoned me because i felt the need to fight our regime, i have to debug that need”?) ; is it possible to program myself with bugs?

(Michael Hrenka) #39

That makes sense. Do you have something specific in mind? There’s a YouTube guided mediation video that seems to work rather impressively for me:

What other things stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system?

Fascinating. I’ll try that approach. The biggest problem I see is that I’m totally used to that state of these background feelings, so that it’s really hard for me to even become aware of them.


I think ethics is something that pretty naturally follows from starting to understand how the mind actually works. I don’t think it’s something that can be taught effectively but rather has to come from experience to really take root. You can scare people into following the most important practical elements of ethics, but without an understanding of why, the ethical behavior will be restricted to things that are enforced and even then will slip if the person thinks he can evade the enforcement.

This is true for superficial debugging. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll start getting a grip on the motivational level and how it affects your life on a larger scale. There are certain kinds of motivations that by themselves are bugs and will increasingly wreak havoc on your life, as well as those around you, if not dealt with. In fact, even debugging becomes buggy if it’s motivated by such motivations.

Most of the motivational bugs are closely intertwined with the idea of self, which is why a lot of eastern philosophy focuses on taming the ego.

Yes, thankfully, that’s usually just one of the symptoms and there are others routes to the core problem. The core problems usually cause many different symptoms and when that core is dealth with, all of the symptoms it caused cease. Games can be wonderful tool for this. When you play a game, you can get a glimpse of how you’d live your life if there were no restrictions, no responsibilities and very limited repercussions for doing whatever you please. Especially the games that allow players to choose to be evil if they want to.

I suspect role playing games (the pen and paper ones) might be the best in his respect. At least, as long as the game master is willing to allow the players a large role in shaping the story. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people who’re successfully running games with the idea of helping the players understand deep things about life and themselves through the fictional world of the game.

There is external feedback even in this scenario. It’s not limited to just interactions with people. It refers to everything that’s external to you.

It’s a process of trial and error and then learning from it. The less experience you have, the more likely it is that you pick the wrong lesson to learn from. Or more accurately, you pick a lesson that is good enough at that point and that lesson will sooner or later stop being good enough as your situation changes.

In other words, the process of debugging also needs debugging. Unless you begin with the optimal method from the start, which is unlikely, you’ll eventually find that your method of debugging has become the biggest issue in your life and you need to figure out how to fix it. I think this is why many people reach a certain point and then never progress further. That is, their current debugging method is not able to debug itself. So, unless someone else intervenes, that’s where their progress will end.

I suspect many repressive regimes try to push the majority of their people to this state to keep them controllable.

Anyway, to answer the question, there’s no glaringly obvious way to determine whether something is a bug or not. The best I know of is to figure out what you, yourself, really want from life deep down and use that as a guide and a measurement stick. With that, it becomes a simple matter. When you really know what you want from life, your subconscious will always be looking for ways to get there and no amount of repression will convince you otherwise anymore.