Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Multiple Levels of Mind

Originally posted on February 2, 2018

Mind accesses multiple levels and dimensions, becoming what I call “deep mind” at the higher levels. But we humans also have limiting “blinders” of historically-based concepts that program our perceptions. For example, consider the history of perspective: Nobody in the 14th century  knew how to represent significant features “in perspective.” The history of perspective in art is also the history of mind as expressing features in the foreground versus background.

There’s a new book on dialog in psychology, making inner dialog explicit by acting it out. I think that’s what is it about. It is psychoanalytic in theory, but psycho-analysis has been evolving! I sense it deepening and getting away from Freudian orthodoxy, and I’m trying to make bridges. Let’s call it "depth" psychology —although I have no idea what’s in the book; but let’s notice that contributions by even Jung, Adler, and Rank have something to say in the vast literature of investigations into deep mind. Indeed, there are scores of other psychoanalysts, too, that add to our understanding of the complexity of depth psychology.

It’s not a matter of one being right and the other theories being wrong. Each approach—and there certainly can be many!—builds on certain features. We are used to one truth but in many fields apart from hard science there may be many—especially when it comes to human history. I think there is room for different variations: None are true while the other are false because the mind covers several levels and have several viewpoints. In other words, one “explan-ation”  is that there are many explanations, and part of this is that there are not only multiple viewpoints, but also several levels of cognition.

Several Levels of Cognition

There’s three-dimensional space, and a fourth dimension—time—which characterizes “reality.” But there’s another level that animals have: Awareness: That’s the 5th dimension.

Then what we call “intelligent” animals and many simple-minded people  have a lower level that takes into account thinking about thinking. This is the 6th dimension. For example, one might think, “If they thinI do this he’ll probably do that—but he might not!”

Many of the various schools of psychotherapy are more focused on an area between the 6th and 7th dimension; The seventh (7th) dimension includes thinking about all this, which means thinking about thinking about thinking. Frames of reference are here considered. Thinking about thinking about thinking is known as meta-cognition. (I write about it in the Routledge Handbook of Psychodrama.) That level also includes anthropology, psycho-linguistics, advanced and intercultural / social psychology,  etc. Only 1% of the population—maybe 4%—does this.

The next higher level, the 8th dimesnion, is available to 0.1% or more, if psychically talented people are included, but they have no theory that explains their sensitivity. These folks have been called psychics and mystics—but there’s nothing mysterious about them. They just perceive and think a little at the level of mental processing available to consciousness, able to think about 7th level. It’s not objective, but that is not necessarily a complement. Perhaps there’s a 9th level—I don’t know. Maybe Jesus.

Anyway, to summarize: Animals, 5th. Thinking about thinking—Humans—6th, though they haven’t thought through the implications of their capacity for meta-cognition. So most people vibrate between these two different levels. Scholars have the 7th level but few know what that means: thinking about thinking about awareness!

Now, it turns out that there are yet other levels! Many people discount these higher levels, but that’s like dogs wondering about human consciousness—which they are in fact unable to do. :

The 8th level is mysticism. It’s accessible to all—with drugs—but very few know how to interpret what the perceive and many have "bad trips." Middle 8th are the great spiritual teachers. The reason they are misinterpreted is that what they know cannot be translated easily or accurately at the lower levels to the lower levels. Has anyone there thought about religion or spirituality or prophecy that way? There may be a 9th level but I don’t know.

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