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Mental Relativity is a new theory of psychology developed by my good friend and associate Chris and myself over several years. Its impact is far ranging, offering insight in areas of justification, problem solving, and decision making.
Because it is a RELATIVITY, the theory offers no absolutes. Rather, it defines the relationship between the processes of the mind in such a way that one can objectively see what things subjectively look like from any point in the process.
From time to time, this column will explore one of those points of view.
"B.S." That's what we see so often in the "other" sex, whichever that may be. "They" don't see things the way "We" do. "Our" desires are different from "Theirs". What makes sene to Us is gibberish to Them (and vice versa). B.S. - no matter which sex we are, we see it in the other one.
But B.S. is not what you think. It really stands for Blind Spot, and that is the reason we don't agree. You see, men and women have different Blind Spots. We can't see our own (that's why it's blind!) but we can quite easily see theirs.
What are these sex-specific blind spots? How did they come into being? From cultural indoctrination, perhaps? Some sort of learned behavior imposed upon the sexes by society? No, society ENHANCES the blind spots of each sex - the intrinsic dark void in each of our minds is placed there before birth. In fact, it is a pre-condition to the development of self-awarenes.
To Understand how these blind spots develop and why they are essential, despite their negative repercussions, we must look at how the mind is organized, and how that organization differs between males and females.
As a first step in this description of the mind, let's define awareness. According to Mental Relativity, awareness describes a mind that is able to learn. (Actually, the technical definition is much more complex, but that is the gist.)
You see, a mind that cannot learn must merely respond to its environment. Whenever a non-aware organism, through its senses, perceives a stimulation by something in its surrounding, it responds to that. If food lands on one of its receptors, it will respond by pulling it into its digestive system. It does not, however, anticipate and will not sweep the area "looking" for food.
To be sure, a non-aware organism may appear to search for food, but that is a pattern dictated at the instinctual level, not through its learning. The proof of this would be to place the organism in a different environment that requires altering the search technique just slightly in order to obtain food. A non-aware organism would not adapt to the change, and would continue to employ the instinctual method until it died of starvation, even though a slight change in approach would yield all the food it needed.
To examine an organism that DOES learn, let' take a look at good old Pavlov and hiss dogs. Pavlov set up an experiment in what came to be known as "Classical Conditioning". In Classical Conditioning, a subject (in this case, a dog) has an existing "built-in" (or instinctual) response to a particular stimulation. In Pavlov's dogs, the stimulus in question was a meat powder that he introduced into the mouth of the dog by means of a tube. As soon as the meat powder hit the dog's tongue, the animal began to salivate. This was called an Un-Conditioned Response (or UCR) to an Un-Conditioned Stimulus (or UCS) because it occurred naturally.
Next, Pavlov began to ring a bell at the same time the meat powder was introduced. The bell began at the moment the powder was present, and ended at the moment it stopped. This is called a "Contingency" between the Un-conditioned stimulus or the meat powder and the Conditional Stimulus of the bell. In other words, the sounding of the bell was contingent on the stimulus of the meat powder.
After several feeding sessions were performed in this manner, Pavlov rang the bell without providing mat powder, yet the dog salivated nonetheless. It had become Conditioned to the stimulus of the bell, and reacted in the same way as if the meat powder had been present. The salivation, in this situation, is called a Conditioned Response, since it does not naturally occur when a bell is rung until the conditioning was imposed.
Now, this conditioning is exactly how we learn from experience in our own lives, and it is really very simple. When we see two things that always occur together, we begin to assume that if we see one, the other is somewhere around. We establish a contingent relationship between the two. Although Pavlov did not test for this, it is true that if (after conditioning) Pavlov had provided meat powder WITHOUT the bell, the dog would have expected the bell to ring at any moment. Why? Because the dog is not only aware, but SELF-aware. In other words, it can look to its own experience to ANTICIPATE a future occurrence.
This is a complex issue, so let's spend a bit more time on it. When the dog responds to the Conditioned Stimulus as if it were the Un-conditioned stimulus, it has learned. But when the dog is presented with the Un-conditioned stimulus and expects the Conditioned stimulus, it is anticipating. The learned response defines awareness, the unlearned or anticipated response defines self-awarenesss.
So what is the difference in the operation of the mind between being aware or self-aware? In awareness, the mind merely responds to experience. The more it experiences something a certain way, the more likely it is to respond to it. In self-awareness, the mind is responding to what is NOT there that was there before. In other words, the mind is not merely comparing the environment to experience, but is also comparing experience to the environment.
What's the difference? In Awareness, the mind never questions its experience. To be sure, conditioning can erode if not reinforced (called Extinction) but it is not questioned by the mind, just the experience begins to average out to another conclusion. But in Self-awareness, the mind doesn't just go with what experience says, but tries to judge if experience is valid when there are factors that have not been experienced before.
Now pause for a moment, and examine the incredible ramifications of this notion. A self-aware mind, in the face of contradictory information, can still cling to its pre-conceptions! Take a new look at prejudice, teaching an old dog new tricks, stubbornness, and clinging to goals against strong opposition. Suddenly, the mechanism behind these (and many other) human attitudes and responses becomes much more clear.
But what of the differences between the blind spots of men and women? How does anticipation and self-awareness fit into that? To take the final step toward our understanding, we need to examine the mechanism of anticipation more closely.
When a mind is only aware, it is triggered by a pattern of conditions in the environment as an arrangement of items (contingency) or a progression of events (causality). Arrangements are experienced and learned as a spatial pattern, whereas sequences are experienced and learned as a temporal pattern. Space or time has no effect on the way AWARENESS operates. In fact, AWARENESS in both men and women operates with both.
The ability to anticipate, however, exists in a mind that compares its spatial experience to its temporal experience. Again, a big concept that needs fleshing out. The key here is that the mind is no longer just comparing its experience to the environment, now, triggered by a situation in the environment, it compares its spatial experience to its temporal experience. Rather than seeking relationships or associations from internal to external, SELF-awarenss seeks relationships that exist completely internally.
The process of self-awareness then, is all within the mind itself and not dependent upon direct external reference. So we describe a self-aware mind as having TWO kinds of experience, one based on space, the other on time.
So much has been written about the nature of the left brain versus the right brain. Volumes of research have been done to map and describe the spatial functioning of the left half of the brain and the temporal functioning of the right. In contrast, Mental Relativity is concerned with relationship BETWEEN the two sides of the brain.
Let's pace an experienced mind in an environment. The environment has a spatial arrangement of things and a sequence in which things happen (or change). The mind has a set of experiences based on how things are arranged, and a set of experiences based on the sequence in which things happen. In order to anticipate, we need to see how the arrangement of things changes over time, or how the sequence of things changes in different situations. The first measure the changes in space against time, the second measures changes in time against space.
The two kinds of experiences build up until patterns (that are essentially averages of all that has been observed) are created. These averages do not give an absolute certainty that some things will go together or happen in a certain order, but provide a LIKELIHOOD or probability that things will progresss in time or arrange in space a certain way.
But when the probability indicates one future based on spatial experience and a different future based on temporal experience, the mind must decide which one to go with. It must "weigh" its experience of space against its experience of time. A MIND CANNOT CONSIDER BOTH AT THE SAME TIME.
This is the key concept to the understanding of Blind Spots and how they differ between men and women. When a mind is faced with a conflict between spatial and temporal conclusions, it would be hopelessly deadlocked. Both "sides" of the mind are giving conflicting information that leads to no clear-cut pattern of response. So although either set of experiences, temporal or spatial, if existing alone would have a precise guideline for the organism to follow, taken together, the organism cannot "decide" how to respond.
In terms of evolution, any organism that became "mind locked" would be easy prey, and not likely to continue its line. However, organisms that gave more credence to one set of experiences over the other in the event of a deadlock, although biased in its evaluations, would have a significantly greater chance or survival. And that is just what happened. All self-aware species weeded out the genes that lead to balance and favored those that led to a biased view. But WHICH biased view?
Objectively, both sets of experience are equal in their validity for survival. So, as one might assume, chaos being what it is, BOTH kinds of organisms evolved. We call them male and female.
Before there was such a thing as physical sex, before there was such a thing as humans, the earliest protozoa evolved into two distinct branches: the temporal-favoring line and the spatial-favoring line.
How does this "favoring" work, and which one is male and which female? A mind that favors one set of experiences over the other functions by giving consideration preference to space or time. In a favoring system, the mind processes an observations FIRST by one set of experiences, and only then by the other.
Imagine an incoming observation. It contains both an arrangement of things and the vectors of how things are changing. The mind searches the lower level of awareness and finds the two patterns in conflict. Temporary mind lock: what to do? Unable to respond immediately without thought, and rather than not react at all, the mind will hold that observation in short-term memory and examine it either with spatial experiences or with temporal ones. But whichever it uses first, the very act or examining the short-term memory, changes its nature.
We have all heard how the act of observation changes that which is observed. This is where it happens. By examining a "held" observation first by space, for example, the short-term memory itself is organized into a more spatial bias or pattern. Then, when the temporal experiences come into play, the temporal nature of the original observation has been polluted, diluted or filtered in such a way that the time sense is slightly hobbled.
This is not to say that the time sense gets nothing at all, or even that what it gets is greatly mangled. If the original observation, although deadlocked between time experience and space experience would have called for a very similar reaction in either case, then the alterations caused by space-first may be minimal, and time sense will get an almost faithful reproduction of the original observation to compare to. But if in a dead lock, space experience and time experience each call for widely divergent reactions, then the original observation is extensively deteriorated by the space-first processing, and the time sense gets an extremely inaccurate version to compare to.
This is the cradle of the conscious process of consideration, but again, that is beyond the scope of this article and will be reserved for future explorations.
The point here is that one kind of mind will favor space, the other time. The space-favoring mind will have an inaccurate temporal appreciation of observation, the time-favoring mind will have an inaccurate spatial appreciation of observation.
There is one last step. Let's look OBJECTIVELY at space sense and time sense. From this perspective, space can see the arrangement of things directly in an observation. It does not even need to refer to short term memory or experience to locate areas of sensory stimulation. Surely to IDENTIFY an item would require experience, but to be affected by it does not. Time sense, on the other hand, cannot glean anything from observation without comparing one arrangement of thing to a later arrangement of things to see how they have changed.
In this respect, time sense is once removed from observation already, which makes it more fallible to inaccuracy. But in another respect, time sense contains one more dimension of information than space sense, because it is not only aware or two sequential arrangements of things (doing the job of space sense) but also compares them together to see how things are changing, a feat space sense cannot do.
So, each has a special ability and a special drawback that cancel out in the long run, making each as effective for survival as the other. But more importantly, we can see that space sense operates DIRECTLY on the observation and time sense operates on a STORED observation. That is how the sense of time is generated within us. And that is the last step:
A space-favoring mental systems focuses on the EXTERNAL world, a time-favoring mental system focuses on the INTERNAL world.
It's no great leap to see how this figures into a concept of male and female minds an how one favors external things and the other internal. And it immediately adds clarity to our understanding of the relationship between spatial and temporal ability (accuracy) and the sexes.
Mental Relativity defines the framework of a mental systems as a BOS or Brain Operation System, since it dictates how the brain will operate. SBOS refers to a Space-favoring Brain Operating System and TBOS refers to a Time-favoring Brain Operating System.
Now, in terms of evolution, an organism with an SBOS would be aided by a external ability enhancing biology, and we see this clearly in the aggressive and muscle building effects of testosterone. A TBOS mind would be aided by an internal ability enhancing biology, and we see this in the pacifying and emotion building effects of estrogen.
Physical sexes did not evolve into male and female mind. Female and male minds evolved into physical sexes.
The biochemistry and the biology evolved to enhance the functionality of the two primary species of organisms that first evolved: male and female. The two primary species of male and female branched into all forms of animal life including humans. Symbiotically, parasitically, the two species grew along many parallel branches, in tandem, inseparable, intimately dependent upon each other for survival, similar physically due to their similar environments, but as different mentally as aliens from two different planets.
See the temporal (Emotional) Blind Spots that can occur in the male. See the spatial (Practical) Blind Spots that can occur in the female. Future articles will discuss common Blind Spots of each: how they occur and how to deal with them in ourselves and in our co-species.
As a final thought, born of my feminist leanings, consider that in a savage environment, males are best equipped to tame it. But as they do, they structure it according to their own spatial bias. This is not intentional, they simply operate that way. As the environment is controlled, language comes into being, science evolves, society and religion ore established. But These are all second generation from the natural environment itself, and begin to intrude upon the special temporal domain of females.
Eventually, humankind moves from a frontier society to an information society, and the immediate observation of the unaltered natural order of the environment becomes increasingly rare. When was the last time in our work-a-day world that we saw a tree that was not planted, but just grew there? Who planted it and where? When was the last time we saw more dirt than pavement on our way to the office? Who paved the streets? In what pattern, SBOS or TBOS? Who designed our educational system? Our communication system?
All that a woman sees, all that she learns from the moment of birth, is already biassed by a male point of view. Just as the mind suffers inaccuracy in one sense or the other based on bias, women are double-hobbled by having their very environment and education already reflect the way men see things. So a woman's mind has no language, no logic, no religion all her own. She only has what she can make out of the male versions provided her.
This is the hear of my message and the thrust of my future career: to bring things back into balance.
In an information society, the focus of importance has shifted from the external world to the internal one. But women, who are best prepared to handle this new frontier do not even know what it is to think like a woman. To be sure, they think AS women, but have been trained to think LIKE men.
Women are realizing this more and more as their intrinsic value to the Inner Frontier is becoming more and more apparent. But in order to fully realize their potential as members of humanity and as individuals, they must develop their own language, their own culture, their own religion. Only when women can speak as women AND like women will they be able to tame the Inner Frontier with the same pioneer resolve of their male counterparts in the wilds of the old one. But a warning: the real danger is that women will seek to make over their brothers and subjugate the, as Surely as males had done to them. Whether out of revenge or through ignorance, we might turn the tables on our brothers and force them into the mental prison from which we are just escaping.
"So what!", a militant feminist might ask. So this: if we allow the pendulum to swing the other way, we will hobble our ability as a species to deal with a savage environment. Things that are intrinsically obvious to males would elude us, and the men we had cast in our image. The infrastructure would eventually crumble and we would fall with it, once more into the wild world we so recently anguished in. And then... when culture and science were gone, males would rise once more as the dominant species and force our great grand-daughters into slavery anew. Just as with the mind, time sense must be built on space-sense, not replace it. We cannot take revenge, we cannot ignore the needs of ourselves nor our brothers. Yet, Equality is not the answer for we are not equal - we are different. The answer is Equity which will divide our resources and our power in ways EQUALLY BENEFICIAL to the special needs of the two species of humanity.
That is our calling, that is our change: to stop the pendulum once and for all and let each species prosper in its own way toward its own ends, recognizing our mutual dependency, revelling in the splendor of our differences, striving not against each other, but pioneering together, male and female, to the stars of the heavens and the stars in the mind.
For most of us on the Exploration trail, trying to determine if we are Transvestite or Transsexual is of paramount importance. We wonder if we just happen to enjoy wearing women's clothes or if perhaps there is something more innate: perhaps we really ARE women in man skin.
Naturally, the answer to this question is central to our choices for the rest of our lives. And yet, we cannot seem to get a grip on it. This is because it is an issue of feelings, not logic. But how are we to know if the way we "feel" is male or female? After all, we have nothing to compare with.
This issue troubled me throughout my life. I read what I could (always secretly), watched television programs, scoured the pulp magazines, and more than once suffered the depressions brought on by ripping my psyche up in search of the Truth. Even when I began living fulltime I had not achieved any certainty, and had to settle for saying, "Yes, I want to change my sex, but I don't know if I am really a woman inside." All my time with my therapist, all my meetings in a support group brought me no closer to satisfaction.
Then, about six months into fulltime, a friend I had known for 13 years asked me to breakfast. He reminded me of the theory of story structure we had toyed with while at the USC School of Film. In the past 10 years, he had (with his partner) built a million dollar a year business creating software for the entertainment industry. He asked me if I would like to work with him developing the theory into a software program for his company. I agreed, little knowing that I would spend the next three years developing a new psychology that would ultimately explain the REAL differences between men and women.
We began by hypothesizing that stories were not just about a bunch of different characters reacting like real people, but that each and every story was an analogy of a SINGLE MIND dealing with a problem. That meant that every character, plot point, thematic progression, Act break, scene structure, EVERYTHING IN A STORY, was part of the analogy of the mind: the STORY MIND.
The Story Mind was not intentionally created by authors but was a by-product of their effort to build successful story arguments by anticipating all the ways an audience might consider the story's problem. Only by pre-including the audience in the story could the author be certain not to leave a "plot hole" of faulty logic or untrue feeling. Over generations, quite unaware of its significance, authors had created conventions of story structure and dynamics that actually represented the functioning of the human mind.
This concept has now been developed into a program at a cost of over a quarter of a million dollars in development expenses, and will be released along with a book on the Theory of Story around the middle of this year. Certainly big rewards are to be had. But the REAL reward for me, is that in order to create the program, we had to map and understand the psychology of the Story Mind, which is an analogy to our own psychologies. In so doing, we developed the concept of Mental Relativity, that explicitly defines the manner in which the processes of the Mind relate, one to another. And the best part of all was that Mental Relativity not only explained, but REQUIRED there to be differences in the thought structures of men and women in order to work.
What does this mean? Simply that the minds of men and women work differently at a STRUCTURAL level. That is to say that the way data is received, stored, retrieved and processed is DIFFERENT between men and women at a BIOLOGIC level. This is not just a BIOCHEMICAL level, but in the Brain Operating System (or B.O.S.) that is hardwired before birth.
As we know, ALL fetuses start out in female form and then alter to the male blueprint if the child is destined to be a man. Different parts of the body's development are triggered at different points in the pregnancy. Recent medical theories of transsexualism have it that at the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy, a developing male fetus must receive a flush of testosterone over the brain in order to trigger it to hardwire in the male pattern of data processing. If that hormonal flush does not happen, the body will develop male, but the brain will be irrevocably cast in a female pattern.
Such a child would be assumed to be male. But that is only the physical body. INSIDE, the child thinks as a female. And yet, even though this is an internal/external type of hermaphroditism, the inside cannot be seen, and the child has no other way of thinking to compare to. So, the child learns to think LIKE a man, even though it always thinks AS a woman. The Subconscious mind operates according to the FEMALE hardwiring, but the Conscious mind operates by training and choice.
If you look at the Mind, there are four parts: The Conscious, The Memory, The Subconscious, and the Pre-Conscious. "Pre-Conscious" is a term we coined in Mental Relativity to define the area of mental and physical response that occurs as a result of observation before the Conscious mind is even aware of stimuli: like pulling your hand away from a hot pot. Subconscious, in contrast, is biased by the biochemical stew (which includes, but is not limited to, the effects of hormones). The Subconscious fosters our predilections to one thing or another. Memory is structured by the cumulative impact of experience, and Conscious is the arbitrator that shifts the balance of credence between experience, observation, and predilection.
In essence, both Conscious and Memory are open to manipulation, by choice and experience respectively, as to the structural way in which they operate. Then, that structure is filled with data from observation and internal considerations. But the Subconscious and Pre-Conscious are not subject to direct manipulation of STRUCTURE. Rather, the Subconscious must defer to the biochemistry, and the Pre-Conscious is subservient to the hardwiring set before birth that determines the B.O.S. Male Hardwiring freezes Space to measure things through Time (causing a linear logic base to the Sub and Pre Consciouses. Female Hardwiring freezes Time to measure things in space (causing a non-linear logic based on proximity rather than order). Mental Relativity calls these two hardwired thinking patterns, Mental Sex.
These last, in concept, are not exclusive to Mental Relativity. For example, the January 20, 1992 issue of Time magazine ran a cover story on the differences of men and women in which eight pages were devoted to recent research about the hardwired differences between the sexes. In fact, they even report the 12th to 14th week hormone theory as the point at which the hardwiring sets in. Also, a new book, Brain Sex (which has also been produced as a three part television series) describes the biologic differences between male and female minds.
So is Mental Sex the answer to the gender question? No, it is only one fourth of the answer. The other three parts are Anatomical Sex, Sexual Preference, and Gender Identity. Let's look at each one, and then how they work together.
Anatomical sex is simply that: male or female. Certainly everyone has some physical traits that are more associated with one sex or the other, but in the end all of us (except hermaphrodites) are clearly male or female.
Sexual Preference can be straight, gay, bi, or none. And this is true of men as well as women. So, just being a male or a female does not dictate one's Sexual Preference. Already we can see the number of variations are possible just between Anatomical Sex and Sexual Preference.
Gender Identity is a SPECTRUM running from completely masculine to completely feminine and covering all the ground in between. Some straight men are very feminine, and some straight women are very masculine. So, once again, Gender Identity is not attached directly to either Sexual Preference or Anatomical Sex. Certainly, even an individual slides around a range on the Gender scale depending upon mood, present company, and task at hand.
Finally, we return to Mental Sex - the hardwiring of the brain. And this also is not absolutely tied to any of the other three. When you combine Gender outlook with Mental Sex Hardwiring, influenced by cultural pressures of role based on Anatomical Sex and Sexual Preference, THEN you end up with all the variations of human beings that we see in real life.
Now, I was a completely masculine man as Dave, but I could not relate to men on the most basic of levels because my data processing was not operating with the same system. Its kind of like trying to run MAC and IBM programs on each others machines without translation or some kind of shell. Well, that "shell" was the pseudo personality I developed as a child, based on rejecting my own operating system and adopting a functional but non-intrinsic system that ran other programs: thinking LIKE a man, even while thinking AS a woman.
Yet this does not make me any more "authorized" to be transsexual than anyone, regardless of hardwired Mental Sex. In fact, someone with a strong feminine Gender Identity, is equally justified in seeking surgery to allow for a SOCIAL role more compatible with their MANNER of approaching life.
None of these four aspects of Sexual Identity is more important than the others. It is the combination and interplay between them that determines the sort of sexual/gender animal you are. But knowing that there ARE four, and WHAT they are, has aided me in understanding why I have felt and feel as I do, and has made me comfortable in accepting that my personal decision to have surgery was not only right for me, but also the most efficient way to resolve many of the inequities in my life in one bold stroke.
The moment any of us realizes we have questions about our Gender selves, we have begun a journey of exploration. And we must see it as such. Answers are not obtained by snap decisions, but by gathering information and learning every step of the way. Just because we have made the decision to explore, does not mean we are obligated to go further than we really want, nor are we forbidden from realizing we have gone too far, and that our answers lie far closer to us than surgery.
So what is the difference between a Transvestite and a Transsexual? Ultimately the Transvestite is the person who enjoys a feminine side but really does not wish to have surgery, and the Transsexual is a person who has it. Trite? Not really. Happiness is an ethereal thing: hard to grasp and harder to define. But that is the real goal - to be happy, whether by accepting our desire to adopt the female role from time to time, or to embrace it permanently. If you do not have surgery and you are happy, you are a transvestite. If you have it and are happy, you are a transsexual - regardless of your hardwiring, upbringing, affectations or anything else.
So Mental Relativity holds some answers that may even ultimately determine absolutely the hardwiring of any individual. Yet, even if we knew for sure, in the end, each of us must find our own path to self-acceptance. Still it is better to search for our way in the bright light of knowledge than in the moonless night of ignorance. Shine a light and take a step.
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