another curated window into my blog: human systems, psychodynamics, metacognition, meditation

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Table of contents:

  1. Phenomenology and Coordination Mechanisms of Heterogeneous Human Systems
  2. Personality Types (e.g. Gender) and Developmental Psychology
  3. Beliefs, Psychodynamics, and Behavioral Dynamics
  4. Personal Metacognition, Tactics, Strategy
  5. Meditation

1. Phenomenology and Coordination Mechanisms of Heterogeneous Human Systems

It’s easy to say that human behavior is influenced by status, power, prestige, belonging, sexuality, meaning—monkeys monkeying for monkey purposes.

And, one can study all that (“status,” “power”) from the outside. But one can simultaneously study these phenomena from the inside, too, as subtle, sneaky, powerful impulses, urges, thoughts, and behaviors. Human consciousness and metacognition only tenuously, intermittently, and, usually obliquely, represent and apprehend these phenomena. We mostly infer their influence retrospectively (episodic memory) or in aggregate (research constructs), let alone consciously experiencing their phenomenological dynamics in the moment. But they influence, motivate, and bookend our experiences, subtly driving our behavior over minutes and decades while often pretending they don’t.

In any case, how do communities (let alone countries) effectively engage with all that? How do we maximize the chances for efficient and effective collaboration, among diverse sets of values, needs, aesthetics, and personalities? Tragedies of the commons, common pool resources—much is at stake, be it sublime friendship or romance or geopolitical energy reserves. I’m developing lightweight tools, which hopefully add something to the discourse:

2. Personality Types (e.g. Gender) and Developmental Psychology

Individual humans have propensities and tendencies, in their interests, thinking patterns, sexuality, etc. Across many humans, one can abstract useful psychodynamic patterns—maps—for navigation, for ethically coaxing, coordinating, collaborating.

(What is the best that psychometrics has to offer? And can we do better? The pop stuff, e.g. Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram have signal but also uneven factor loading and epistemological impoverishment—they don’t carve up reality at the joints, and neither do existing research constructs. How about prenatal endocrinology? Neurotransmitter profiles? Genetics? Nurture? We can do better.)

In addition to snapshot personality profiles, critically, there are also patterns in time: in the purview of developmental psychology, human beings tend to change in predictable ways over years (in values, ethics, concerns, aesthetics, goal pursuit, time horizons, epistemology, ontology…). How can we facilitate that change? What are all the dimensions of that change? What are the far limits of that change? What comes after normative, conventional adulthood? How do we flesh out all the dimensions of that?

3. Beliefs, Psychodynamics, and Behavioral Dynamics

Years ago, I tracked down and realized the commonalities between Focusing, Internal Family Systems Therapy, Coherence Therapy, and more. I’ve spent many hours working with these tools, and thinking about extracting the (neurophenomenological) invariants from these tools, in order to make them more efficient and more effective. Where do supposed hypocrisy, self-defeating behaviors, overreaction, defensiveness, shame, so-called alienated birthrights, learned helplessness, limiting or rigid beliefs, “the shadow,” “neuroses,” “defense mechanisms,” impulsiveness, emotional violence, loss of voice… where do these come from? How does one effectively engage with them? What does the positive, extreme opposite of this stuff look like?

4. Personal Metacognition, Tactics, Strategy

Sometimes explicit habits and tools can greatly improve the quality of one’s life, making the difference between anxious perseveration versus decisive, cumulative traction towards deeply valued, idiosyncratic, personally meaningful goals. How can we explicitly teach the invariants behind those habits and tools, in ethical, palatable ways to people who want them? Different personality types and belief systems will respond to very different language and superficially different tools. How do we find the right language and tools for different people, so they can adapt them to their own aesthetics and needs?

5. Meditation

I have been meditating for many years. Neuroplasticity, for the win. I have tried to guide my meditation practice by extracting invariants from all major traditions and examining everything under the lenses of neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, western phenomenology, and much more. I suppose I meditate, as carefully and skeptically as I can, to facilitate ontological flexibility, equanimity, and intense, intelligent, reflective, heartfelt engagement with self, others, and world. I’ve tried to provide useful, nondogmatic framings for intermediate meditators:

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