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The following is an excerpt from a new unpublished book from Dr. Kenneth Isaacs
A Quest for Reality
A quest had begun with my interest as a student focusing on usefulness of functions of emotion. Because feelings appear to be present in all varieties of animate creatures I surmised they must be useful. Otherwise how could useless or interfering feelings survive evolutionary discard and appear to continue universally in all animate life? With that idea of value of affect as a premise to start with, I did not foresee nor look for a step to a broad relation to health and illness. My starting goal was simply to find what was known and understood of meaning and functions of emotion, whatever those might turn out to be.
Early in my life I had recognized that thought reports a vast amount of information about what is going on in and around us while feeling simultaneously tells something else about what is going on in and around us. The feeling functions generally seem to fit with right brain process rather than with left brain activity. Eventually I realized that each specific emotion aroused is a perceptual report of what that current situation or event means to us and by degree of intensity of that feeling reports how important it is to us. Those percepts are as precise for each of us as our individual system can produce.
Conceptually, my descriptions turned out to to be extremely useful precepts to include as a basis of further exploration. Bestowal of our great array of feelings was gradually revealed as being a bountiful gift with value beyond measure. A valuable informative reporting function had been ever so long ignored.
My student aim to gain an understanding of mind occurred within a stifling academic atmosphere in which thought prevailed as the singular valuable mental process. Emotion was, at best, considered a rather unimportant subordinate process and, at worst, considered a disruptive blight interfering with clarity of thought and judgment. With those beliefs, what had been the obvious recommendations? Recommendations were to develop varieties of tactics for dealing with feelings by controlling those “bad” emotions that disrupt our thought processes: Managing, confronting, controlling, distracting, substituting, ignoring or suppressing that “unfortunate” feeling aspect of human life were common guidance. Millennia of opposition to experiencing emotion endowed to all animal life was fateful error that blighted and wasted human lives but continued as protection in all other animal life. Misguided beliefs severely interfered with human use of a vital gift of Nature over unknown numbers of millennia.
A barrage of confident sounding assertions, about perfection of their theoretic formulations, emanated from each school of thought. I assumed the knowledge I sought about the functions of emotion was hidden within such theory. Each school conveyed the message that it had devised perfect understanding of illness and the resulting ideal method of treatment of psychological illness. Each implies that their method only needs to be used more effectively for successful cure. It has been and still continues to be a prideful service industry made up with a cluster of schools of thought with conflicting assertions as explanations of health, illness, and treatments that have been used millions of times without curing anyone. All are puffery of unfulfillable truths.
When I accepted an invitation to become a student at the local psychoanalytic institute, I had supposed that there was some arcane knowledge that made the complicated pattern of psychoanalytic treatment technique effective. Why else would there be such a prideful stance among those who practiced it? I had embarked upon a long, slow, career project of solitary exploration of theories in my searching for realities. I would, on that path, eventually recognize the aim of each school of thought is to educate technicians to apply a very well marketed pseudo science game based on a brilliant, imagined persuasive theory with each of those formulation having premises irrelevant to the mental processes of neurosis. Knowing that cure does not result from such fantasy game playing increased persistence of my quest for realities.
Thought provoking fact came from recognition that honored, recognized leaders who were sought after as therapists and as teachers in each school of thought did not cure patients of neurotic problems. Not mentioned or discussed was the even more thought-provoking fact that the most honored therapists’ curative results were equaled by the most bumbling of tyros. No one had been curing anyone with those popular games — Psychoanalysis, Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Biological Psychiatry.
Study of explanations of each of the popular schools of thought had quickly made it apparent that each of the declared explanations of basic cause and mental process of neurosis differed sharply with others. Explanations written by various confident authorities whose creatively brilliant conjecture, persuasively logical formulations explaining fundamentals of illness including cause, process, and treatment of the many manifestations of neuroses were starkly disparate and mutually conflicting. How could it be possible for more than one of several truths to be perfect explanations of fundamental mental process of disorder? The pride and confidence within each school did not come from research support but from devotion to indoctrinations.
Authorities within each school used creatively brilliant conjecture and persuasive, logical formulation of the fundamental nature of neurosis to explain the many manifestations of neurosis. With each explanation being starkly different, and each claimed as basic to the same phenomenon defies logic. It was not acceptable. Exploration showed none of the explanations to be substantive. None curative. Marvelously marketed, persuasively supported incurative theories were the basis of marketing in a multi-billion dollar industry over centuries. Leaders in each school of thought prospered and were honored as brilliant remediators of human troubles.
My journey had arrived at a temporary destination. The information guided discarding my false hope of minor improvements resuscitating those failed theories. Recognition that theories based on imagined fundamentals created irrelevant hypotheses that were utterly useless as curatives. The hope of understanding neurotic troubles requires a basis in facts of reality. That path calls for recognition of the sad informatives of why, over the ages and continuing through our current Fourth Phase, there had not yet been sufficient knowledge available. Lack of knowledge of modern scientific thought, method, and structure of theory prevented comprehension. Understanding of processes of illness and health had to await the availability of knowledge of science properly used. With that use, came reliance upon explanations based upon reality instead of imagined truths.
Strangely, none of the schools of thought was devised including acute observation of conscious emotion process of suffering people and relating that to realities of illness. Instead reliance upon speculative inference about possible out-of-awareness events (metapsychology) produced their persuasive theories. Despite their prideful claims of value of those highly regarded theoretic formulations none included sufficient validity to provide suffering people a better way of life.
Each of our highly regarded 19th century schools of thought brought curative attempts with improved capacity to consistently and more safely ameliorate or palliate neurotic illness than the preceding theoretic views. It is a puzzle, how each could have continued to be persuasive for so many years without serious attempts to reconcile or reject those disparate varieties of conflicting truths? Why was there no serious activity in a broad search for validity? Among the answers to the question are several faults: Disinterest in increased fuzziness of taxonomy, increased cluttering of formulations with irrelevant issues, strangely faulty observation, and pernicious burden of faulty scientific thought.
With recognition of why and how all the formulations failed to cure, I began to explore anew; free of weight of bondage to the incompetent formulations. My focus was influenced by increased recognition of relevance of my initial research realities of emotion. Affect dynamics were clearly more promising to study than the now unconvincing, conjectured suppositions that were being hazily but enthusiastically taught by the dominant schools of thought.
A new era of bettor lives for everyone was to come from these explorations. Continuing exploration of dynamics and uses of emotion led to the singular valid explanation of cause, mental process, and cure of neurosis. The concept of emotion dynamics was fought against by many when I first introduced and explained their usefulness. With this knowledge of emotion processes, neuroses now can be obliterated by the combination of very simple cure and prevention. There will be considerable advantage to people who grow up with childhood understanding enabling use of Nature's endowment of vital functions of emotion. Knowing worth of affect dynamics, and its indispensable function for adaptation and survival brought the many advantages of greater access to awareness of reality. Within each person, that increased comfort in awareness of reality can bring benefits of increased realization of personal potential. It becomes possible for humanity to develop more productive, more civil societies. Explanations of cause and illness process that regularly enables cure and prevention of such life wasting neurotic illnesses inevitably will replace the many interminable, utterly incompetent, wasteful, applications of irrelevant therapeutic efforts.
Advanced research techniques and methods of 21st century applied to inadequate 19th century concepts of the Fourth Phase of psychological thought and belief had been tried. Of course those were unable to accomplish the wished for goal. The advanced techniques needed the later to arrive advanced scientific thought correcting inadequate underlying basic premises in each of those schools. Marvels of advanced research techniques would later demonstrate their great worth when paired with the Fifth Phase advance of scientific thought and method and Fifth Phase premises.
Moving through a critique of advancing formulations from thousands of years ago to the present time in the attempts to understand the puzzle of neurosis had become increasingly sophisticated from use of advancing knowledge. With our retrospective view, in thousands of years of erroneous answers to the puzzles of neurosis, each of the premises of the various theoretic formulations was intriguing, but not a solution. It was In the 1950s, by my noticing that there was a near universal reaction to some affects as unwanted, bringing unease and a sense of burden, I offered the term “affect phobia" to describe that experience. This was in conflict with the idea that some emotions are hedonic and others anhedonic as though these are aspects of the emotions rather than the personal views of those who experience them. For me the concept was linchpin to the several facts of reality I could recognize as functioning in our feeling systems. Although I spoke of this concept and then wrote about it, the concept took decades more to be considered by others as of importance and begin to be of general use.
By happening to observe and ponder interconnections among what most people had considered a congery of unimportant and probably false ideas, I comprehended those as factual, related, and important. Also, while comprehending how those "unrelated" elements smoothly interrelate revealed important emotion dynamics. Specifically, the misunderstandings of emotion resulting in affect phobia, leading to affect potentiation, and sometimes becoming a self sustaining storm of emotion that is the actual basis of neurosis!
From accomplishment of that task came the means of describing details of cause, process and cure of affect potentiated disorders beyond what are considered neurosis: Re-categorization of the illnesses that had been termed neuroses was an obvious necessity. With that explanation it has been easy to bring full cure.
Various excursions into the formulations of highly respected schools of thought helped critique those to gain comprehension of why there are both merits within each school for their methods of comforting patients and why all of those treatment formulations are absolutely useless waste of time and effort — beyond comforting none are steps toward cure. From the vantage point of our perspective, now supported by a formulation corroborated as valid by 90% cure rate with each cure achieved in a few tutoring sessions. That places us in position to question, judge, and reject fundamental premises of each of thee currently popular previous formulation of theory of health and illness.
We move to the recognition that emotion and thought are equally important aspects of sensory perceptual processes in their task of supporting adaptation and survival. The comprehension that consistent cure means validity, releases us from the long subjection to significant errors of early history’s brilliant and usually thoughtful icons.
Socrates statement, as he was facing imminent death, ‘I clear my mind of feelings so that I think clearly’. Later Aristotle stated, “Emotion is the slave of the intellect.” Many other brilliant philosophers over centuries before those icons and continuing today also have adopted and fostered denigration of emotion while lauding thought. Descartes is one who applied the same false wisdom, not recognizing emotion in its important role in concept of self. He would have made the point of his famously eloquent statement more solidly if he had stated, “I feel and think therefore I am.” Many other brilliant philosophers, indeed, most humans across the world vast numbers of others over centuries and continuing today have made the error of adopting the same false common wisdom and fostered deprecation of emotion while lauding thought.
Emotion is a crucial component of our sense of being, our sense of existing, our sense of self. It is the developing complexity of maturational stages of feeling qualities in sense of self that enables of our maturing, civilizing views of qualities in our recognition of others. With our sequence of advancing capacity in strings of related emotions, we move through epigenetic steps of capacity to comprehend and relate to both self and others. I have termed those as steps in “Relatability.
Starting in infancy our beginning registration of awareness of others as being separate things that exist, merely through various feelings about the services to us. Recognizing that persons are involved in that service is a significant step. Further steps from stage to stage of relatability brings advantageous varieties of awareness (of others as well as self). For instance, development of processes enabling capacity for interpersonal feelings range from pity, through sympathy, make societies possible. Those can be helpfully followed by empathy and too rarely to exopathy. Qualities of the person are changed by each step.
The past schools of psychological thought that have served for so long and now will be supplanted have a common basic difficulty. They will be abandoned because in their futile attempts to cure they applied clear logic to imagined truths and irrelevant premises. It should not have to be said that reliance on reality is more effective than relying on fantasy, no matter how charming the fantasy.
Over decades most professionals who heard about my consistent successes with neurotic patients did not opt to adopt the knowledge. They rarely argued against the basis of my success: Most simply ignored it: Some acted aggressively to suppress that information. Fortunately, a few thousands so far and increasingly among the general public who have come across the knowledge have understood, adopted the knowledge to better their lives and self cure illness with its use.
A minute number of practitioners have bothered to learn and use the formulation. Those also inform others. To most professionals it has seemed to be too much of a change and they cling to whichever long standing theory they had learned and adopted. The young therapist who came to the podium after a lecture said, “I-don’t care if in a few years everyone is using your explanation. It took me too long to learn my treatment method to bother learning your new one.” Such people are in a natural way, individually protecting their turf. Commonly, it brought realization to them that rapid cure, and prevention would reduce and limit their practice. Few seemed to realize that genuine advances in knowledge do not cut away practices but improve and broaden worth of activities of professionals. Practitioners and peer reviewers, when approached, self protectively derided the theory as not fundamental, not important, not worth study or discussion, and not worthy of conference presentation or publication.
My decades long, serendipitous path seeking knowledge of emotion had gained a new direction with discovery of the simple valid explanation of cause and process of neurosis. That persists with the obvious, straightforward, unambiguous knowledge of cure and prevention. That digression from aim of my original search will continue to be of value until the world is free of the many related mental health illness disturbances . The search can then resume exploration of the far more important, more enduring issues of the nature and value to our lives of our multi-millennial disregard of our built in system of sensory-perceptual- consciousness-awareness for our informed judgmental capacities. Further understanding of natural functions, meaning, and uses of emotion have yet to yield its full measure of value.
In the process of learning more about our mental processes, it also will become recognizable to readers that broad application of available scientific knowledge and thought will more rapidly advance theory. It will result in blossoming of other Fifth Phase psychologic formulations of fact expanding psychological activity. That new phase will supplant science fiction theory formulations and enhance future usefulness of a scientific psychology in many ways.
Muddled antique taxonomy also had deterred, obstructed, and obscured observational tendencies because the field had become completely a technique oriented field of therapies. That taxonomy obscured recognition of distinct categoric separateness among various types of what had been considered neurotic illnesses. What had long been indiscriminately declared neurotic troubles are seriously disabling disorders comprising what we now can view as three distinctly different disorders. Being improperly grouped as if they have the same cause and process, it was therefor erroneously supposed one remedy would fit all.
These three diverse illnesses: Character pattern disorders that have a genetic or other physical basis; character pattern disorders that have a psychological basis; and those many symptomatic disorders now recognizable as being various disruptive protean manifestations of emotion potentiation and emotion storm. This latter group of emotion storm disorders along with information about their consistently effective, relatively simple cure and of most importance, prevention is the focus of this book. Belief that the three disparate illnesses being a single category with the same cause and illness process misguided technician therapists. They thoughtlessly adopted the futile path of using a worthless remediative formulation of treatment for all. That error of irrelevance andover inclusiveness muddled, obfuscated, confounded, distorted and consequently omitted the search for cure of any of those. Meaningful differentiation and redefinition has helped the search for comprehension.