Here’s a thought I had:
I’ve noticed that many boys, especially, have attention problems and “hyper” problems.
Attention problems – easily distracted, can’t concentrate
“Hyper” problems – they have difficulty sitting still or being in a single position for long periods of time
Both of these problems are related and, it seems to me, reflects the same condition in different ways.
BEING TOO “IMAGE-FOCUSED”
At this time, I’m under the impression that these problems are caused by living too much in a world of images. These images originate primarily from things like TV, video games, cell phones, and the like. In other words, the image generally originates from some form of a screen. In this way, we could speak of these problems as a form of “screen sickness”. The prevalence of screens, nowadays, has caused a tendency of living a life where the screen plays a critical role. We could speak of this condition as being “image-focused”.
I should point out that though I emphasize the “image” there are other sensations that play a role but they typically tend to take on a subsidiary role to the image. A good example is sound. The “image”, as I’m using it, refers to a condition where one is focused on a specific sensory point (in this case, the “image”) and all other senses tend to follow this sensory point. We could call this the “sensory point orientation”. It has these characteristics:
- Single sensory stimulation and focus. That is to say, there is a “primary sense”. This is the sense that is focused upon.
- The other senses are subsidiary to it. That is to say, all other senses are “subsidiary senses”. These senses tend to “follow along” after the “primary sense” and are not focused upon by the mind.
The tendency of focusing on the “primary sense” creates a tendency of :
- Compulsive focusing. This more or less says that there is a tendency where the mind must focus on the “primary sense”. In some sense it has the quality of looking through a tube. If this is done long enough it becomes habit as well as a generalized attitude.
- Distorted reaction. Since there is a “primary sense” all the other senses are not as “open” or “digested” effectively. The effect of this is that the reaction tends to be somewhat distorted because the whole mind is not being used . . . the mind is primarily reacting to the “primary sense”. In addition, the reaction tends to only be in relation to the “primary sense” and what it offers. The other sensations that are not related with the “primary sense” can be used minimally or not at all. The overall effect is one of distortion to sensory stimuli.
As a result, we cans see that the “sensory point orientation” tends to cause problems in reacting and association with the world. This can become particularly prevalent as a result of things such as these:
- Intense concentration.
- Doing “sensory point orientation” for too long a period of time.
- It becomes habit.
I should point out that “sensory point orientation” is commonly seen in everyday life but in mild levels and sporadically. It “comes and goes” with the affairs of life and does not make a lasting impression. When there is a problem is when there is too much “sensory point orientation” and it becomes too dominant. Most of normal life one experiences can be described as “generalized sensory orientation”. It has these characteristics:
- All the senses are “open” and receiving stimuli. That is, it uses “generalized sense receptivity”.
- Any stimuli is exposed to all of the senses, not just a few. That is, it utilizes a “generalized sensory reaction”.
This more general orientation allows the overall mind to give us an overall reaction to the stimuli that encompasses more of our self and capabilities. In this way, it is more holistic. The “sensory point orientation”, on the other hand, is focuses on the “primary sense” and, accordingly, is not holistic in orientation. The “image”, primarily through the means of a screen, tends to lead to a “sensory point orientation” typically. This is because of the more singular and focused nature of the “image” or screen which makes this orientation more inevitable. The continual use of the “image”, or screen, reinforces this orientation over time and makes a habit out it. This can make the “sensory point orientation” very dominant and influential in a persons life to the point that it causes problems.
There are several forms of being “image-focused”:
- Passive. A good example is watching TV. Generally, the self and body does no great reaction to what’s on the screen. One is primarily “watching” much like watching a play. Oftentimes, one is only “sensing” the program and the mind follows along casually. This often makes watching TV relaxing. Because of this, the passive form tends to have minimal impact. The problem with the passive form primarily seems to be an issue of if it is excessive or not. If its excessive then it can cause problems, such as apathy, daydreaming, and such.
- Active. The best example of this is computer games but it could also entail things like cell phones. This is where the real problems arise as one is now actively responding/reacting to what is on the screen. As a result, the senses, mind, and body become particularly focused creating a strong “sensory point orientation”.
The active element shows that the ‘screen sickness’ is not actually rooted in looking at a screen but when one is actively participating with what is on the screen. It does this by the fact that the “image” becomes mesmerizing and dominates the senses and the mind. The “image” creates a “primary sense”. The self gets absorbed by it and the body follows suit. Everything, then, ones whole being, tries to maintain this condition of being “image-focused”. Things like computer games seem to do this the most. We could say that an active “image-focused” condition creates what can be described as an “image reality”. That is to say, a false world is created in ones mind that is based on the condition created by the “image”. One develops attitudes and orientations that are primarily reacting to this “image reality”. For some people, I believe, this “image world” becomes a particularly strong form of “reality”, one that can displace the actual reality of the world.
I should point out that when I say “image reality” I do not mean that in the respect of something like a psychosis where people are living in a fantasy world. What happens in the “image reality” is that the senses, mind, self, and body become “accustomed” to the “image reality” world. Its not that they “live in a fantasy world” but that they have become “accustomed to a false world”. The false world, of course, is the “image reality” created by being “image-focused”.
PROBLEMS OF THE SELF
So we see that the condition of being “image-focused” establishes a pattern in regard to the self:
- The senses focus on the “image” or screen – the “primary sense”. This is when one is aware of images, and such, that is on the screen.
- The mind focuses on the “image” or screen. This is when one makes sense of what is going on. One understands the story, can make sense of the characters, etc.
- The person focuses on the screen. This is one gets “involved” with the image (plot, story, etc.). It gets interesting, tense, etc. One “feels a part of it”.
- The body follows the above actions. This is the bodies reaction to the above, such as relaxing, getting tense, working a joystick, etc.
What we see is a movement from senses to mind to person to body. And this process is initiated by the focusing on an “image”. In other words, the “image” is what comes first, everything else responds to it. To put it another way, the mind is so focused on the “image” (the “primary sense”) that it is unable to give an overall generalized reaction. In this way, we see that it effects the whole person:
- The senses.
- The mind.
- The person.
- The body.
We can see that the “image reality” is not just a “mental reaction” but something that has impact on ones entire being and person. One effect of this is that it creates a constraining effect on the self. It deprives one of the overall experience of the self and, subsequently, the world. This is because the world is experienced through the self . . . the self is the window in which a person experiences life. This is why this it can have such a dramatic effect. As a result of this, the “image reality” only effects a small aspect of a persons self. One could say that it has minimal effect compared to the “real world”. In this way, one could say that it tends to develop a “narrowed self”. That is to say, its a self that is only using a small part of its makeup and capabilities. This makes it so that the self is only “half used”. When the “narrowed self” becomes a dominant makeup in ones self it creates a self that is incomplete and insufficient. Relating with the “real world” can be awkward and even difficult to the point they avoid it. This narrowing of the self is seldom known and the person is unaware that it has taken place. This is because there are two different aspects of the self:
- A sense of a self. This is a sense of ones self, of ones existence and what one is.
- The behaving self. This is the self as it actually behaves and does.
These are two separate and distinct things that can become disassociated. In other words, a person may have a sense a self but not a sense of the behaving self. That is, a person is not aware of what they are doing even though they feel a sense of a self (they feel a “complete person”). This shows some interesting things about the self:
- That the self assumes that the self is complete (that one is a “complete person”).
- That the self assumes an entirety of ones makeup will be used (that ones “whole being” will be used).
In other words, the sense of self makes one “assume” that certain things will be there. This shows that the sense of self is an already “pre-wired” aspect of ones makeup that makes one feel complete and whole, as a single entity, regardless of the conditions or whether its true or not.
Typically, experience with the “real world” tends to do things like:
- It unifies the sense of self and behaving self.
- It “harnesses” the whole self.
- It develops many aspects of ones self, mind, and capabilities.
In short, the “real world” tends to develop the whole person. It as if creates a complex that uses all aspects of our being, such as:
- A world sense
- An overall unified experience
In these ways, it shows that the “real world” as if harnesses and disciplines ones whole self and capabilities. It gives them all these qualities and capabilities a place and a purpose. Being “image–focused” only uses part of the self. In this way, it makes it so that a person is as if “living through a tube”. This more or less says that the “real world” fosters growth and development of a person. The “image reality”, on the other hand, only develops a small aspect of ones self and, as a result, actually hinders growth and development of the person. This is simply because growth and development of a person requires ones whole self, not parts of it. In this way, the “narrowed self” is a self that has become limited in its manifestations and lacks growth and development.
The “real world” is also made up of many sensations, situations, impulses, reactions, and such that one must adapt to, manage, and deal with. In the “image reality” there is an absence of these varying qualities of the “real world” which make it so that there are no distractions or altering qualities to contend with and adapt to. In other words, it creates something like a “pure sensation” . . . the “image” is all there is. One effect of this is that it creates a more intense and impactful experience because of things like these:
- The mind is particularly focused.
- Being “pure experience” it is very intense.
- A tendency of an atrophy, neglect, or lack of consideration of everything else.
This causes a tendency of something like looking through a tube. The mind gets accustomed to this condition and only learns this condition and becomes adapted to it. As a result, when they are in the “real world” their mind and body are always trying to change its orientation to recreate the “image-focused” condition. We could speak of this as the “narrow self jerk reflex”. That is to say, their “narrow self” keeps trying to “jerk” itself back to the original “image reality” condition. It seems, to me, that this jerk reflex plays a big part in attention problems and “hyper” problems.
The tendency to the “narrow self jerk reflex” seems to show that there has been a number of qualities created by the “image reality” on the person:
- That it is excessive. That is, there’s too much of it.
- That it is intense. Its sensory element is overwhelming and draws them into it.
- That it is impactful on the person. Many boys, in particular, are greatly impacted by this (see below). In many ways, the impact on the person may be its greatest danger.
Because of these, it has had great influence on the person. In some ways, one could say that these sucks a person into the “image reality” and makes them stay there.
THE PROBLEM OF ASSOCIATING WITH SELF AND WORLD
When the “image reality” becomes dominant it creates things like these:
- They can’t seem to control themselves (mentally and/or physically).
- They don’t care how they look or behave.
- They have difficult with the loudness of their voice.
- They have bad or no manners.
- They tend to be concerned only with themselves often with no regard, or even awareness, of other peoples concerns.
- They are over-reactive to conflict (they may get mad easily, are rebellious, confrontational, argumentive, etc.).
- They have no interest in things that normally interest people at their age (such as dating or getting a job).
- They can’t seem to concentrate on things or bounce around erratically.
- They have difficulty sitting still and seem fidgety and nervous.
These problems show a tendency of things like these:
- Of being too preoccupied with some other condition (not the “real world” condition they are in).
- Of an inability to deal with the variable conditions of life.
- A lack of personal discipline.
In other words, the “image reality” condition causes a tendency of being unable to associate (respond/react) with the “real world” and with themselves. They have become “conditioned” to the “image reality” and are always expecting the world to replicate it wherever they go and whatever they do. If the “image reality” condition does not appear then the “narrow self jerk reflex” as if forces them back to that condition causing them to develop odd reactions, such as the above. This is the “image reality replication”. In this replication they are actually reacting to a condition that is not there but in which their mind expects to be there. Its like a drunk trying to drive as if he were sober but continually swerving across the road due to his altered sensation and motor reactions. In many ways, it is a similar situation. In some respects this shows that this problem has taken on the qualities of a habit or an addiction and can probably even be considered a form of them.
The examples above show that there are many manifestations of “image reality replication”. That is to say, it affects a person in many ways. It seems, though, that all these manifestations can be put into two groups:
- Mental – attention problems. This shows the intensity of the mind the “image-focused” condition creates. The mind is trying to focus on the “image” that isn’t there.
- Physical – “hyper” problems. This show the physical effects the “image-focused” condition creates. The body is trying to react to the “image” that isn’t there.
This range from mental to physical shows the effects the “image reality” can have upon the person (as described above: senses, mind, person, body . . . the “narrowed self”), that it can affect a person mentally to physically. It seems to me, though, that a person will be more susceptible to one or the other. That is to say, they will be more affected mentally or physically. Some things that may cause this include:
- A persons character.
- The effects of intensity.
- The effects of excess.
- How it is experienced.
From what I have seen the mental reactions are more prevalent. In other words, attention problems are more prevalent. These attention problems tend to reflect two conditions:
- A tendency to focus.
- A tendency to neglect.
In other words, attention refers to a focusing on certain stimuli while neglecting everything else.
The “image-focused” or “sensory point orientation” tends to cause a prevalence of being too focused on a specific thing and being too neglectful to other things. The example of “looking through a tube” is somewhat descriptive of this condition.
When they are in the “image reality” condition (such as playing computer games) they are displaying the focused tendency. That is to say, they attention is intensely focused on the “image”. People don’t normally see this as it is not displayed in normal everyday life. When we see these people in normal life what we are actually seeing is the neglectful tendency. This is because there is no “image” for them to focus on in everyday life and, accordingly, their focused tendency is not demonstrated. As a result, all we are seeing is the neglectful side and it is this that causes many of the conditions described above (no manners, voices too loud, over-reactive, erratic concentration, etc.). Normally, these things are “checked” by a decency and manners in everyday life . . . one could call this a “maturity”. Because they are so “image-focused” they are neglected. When we look at these symptoms we can see several forms of the neglectful tendency:
- Social. They have no “social sense”: they’re rude, inconsiderate, don’t “check” their behavior with societies conventions (voices too loud, etc.).
- Personal. They can’t control themselves, fidgety, nervous, don’t care how they look or behave, etc.
In many ways, there is a complete neglect of everyday life. It can make some of these people appear odd, nerdy, goofy, unappealing, rude, etc. One can see that this tends to have great impact on their “social life”. In fact, there often isn’t any. The people they associate with are often like-minded people. That is, people who are “image-focused” like themselves. Its probably not surprising that much of the association with these people tends to not be personal at all (that is, face-to-face) but impersonal (that is, “screen-to-screen” as on a computer screen or cell phone). In this way, they often have no social skills.
These effects can range from mild to severe. In fact, one could say that the bulk of the younger generation probably displays these problems at least in some small amounts. It can be so severe that it literally destroys some peoples lives (almost like drugs).
These problems are more dramatic with boys. I believe this is because the male tends to be more ‘world-centered’, by nature, and are more needing of world association than the female (see my article “Some thoughts on the difference between male and female in children“). In this way, it shows that the “image reality” condition tends to attract the ‘world-centered’ nature of the male. In fact, my observation is that it is so strong that many males are somewhat helpless to its pull. Because of this, males are more susceptible to it and fall to it easily. In some respects, it becomes like a drug and they become addicted to it.
The pull of the “image reality” is so strong that it will dominate much of boys lives, self, and time. If this becomes excessive then it tends to interfere with the males growth and development. This then often ends up causing a great disruption in the males association with the world and with his self (as described above). The result of these can be the symptoms we have been discussing.
Because it affects growth and development it is particularly severe during the period of time when the male is growing. It seems particularly damaging from about six to the teenage years. If a male becomes “image-focused” in his later years (say his early twenties or later) he does not seem to be as impacted and its effect is minimal. This is because his self has grown and developed and he has been more disciplined by the “real world”. This seems to show that the more the male has been disciplined by the “real world” the less likely he is to fall to the problems created by being too “image-focused”. This is because, being more “real world” oriented, the “image” is more minor. In this way, the “image-focused” condition tends to take on the quality of being a “diversion” or “entertainment”, instead, and has minimal dominating effect on him.
GETTING BACK TO THE “REAL WORLD”???
Since the disciplining of the “real world” tends to decrease the problems created by the “image reality” it seems to suggest a number of ways to alleviate these problems:
- To make the person participate in the “real world”.
- To minimize the “image-focused” condition.
I would think that this would help in many cases (but what do I know?). In some respects, what may have to happen is something like a “retraining” back to the “real world”.
Many boys especially, it seems to me, need to be more rooted in the “real world”, beginning at a young age, for the sake of their mental health and growth. In fact, I think the focus and orientation of young males should be in the “real world”: learning crafts and trades, camping, hunting, sports, touring different places, and such. In addition, they need to be under the guidance of older males to give them direction, identity, and someone to look up to. I should point out that these things have been part of the life of males since the beginning of time . . . they have now become absent and, in a sense, been replaced by the “image reality” of TV, computer games, cell phones, etc. This shows that this problem isn’t just rooted in the “image-focused” condition and a screen. It has a root in the failure of society and culture in the modern world. As a result of this we could add a third way to alleviate this problem:
3. To live in a stable culture and a society.
But, it seems to me, for some people these problems have become too deep. As a result, the things above may not be effective. It seems this may be a result of things like this:
- When it has appeared early in the child’s life.
- When the child has been too exposed to it.
- When it has been too intense.
- When it has had too much impact on his personality.
- When it has become habit.
- When it has become an addiction.
Conditions, such as these, can make it harder to alleviate the problems. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some people who can’t be cured of these problems. This is probably primarily because it has become too ingrained in the persons psyche and has affected them too deeply.
Interestingly, these same problems seem to be reflected in what is called ADHD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Though they appear the same I’m not sure if we are looking at the same thing. I should point out that I am not a great believer in “mainstream psychology” or the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – used to diagnose mental problems). Though I was in psychology many years ago I have become very skeptical of its dictates, explanations, and solutions. That is to say, I do not immediately accept “mainstream psychology” as an authority.
My observations above (and elsewhere in this blog) are primarily a result of my own personal inquiry and what my “gut” and intuition tell me. To be frank, my observations above are a result of my disagreeing with what psychologists were saying about these problems, its explanations, and its solutions. They describe how it appears to me at this time.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen